The leap to incorporating an untouched mustang into our program was several years in the making. I (Allison) had always been intrigued by the herds of wild horses & had heard of the prisons that utilize mustangs in their programs. Then a local gal started working with mustangs & participating in mustang training contests. We became friends & the possibility became a little more tangible. Soon after I attended a PATH Intl workshop on developing effective veterans programming at a program that had a mustang program & I was hooked. Check out BraveHearts if you want to learn more about their impressive operation.

So I got home from the workshop, ordered a 6 ft tall round pen & bid on a mustang on the BLM website. I got this right? Phew, if I knew what I was getting into. So I bid on a little guy no one else bid on from California. Looked fairly chill in the 20 second video, seemed like a good foot in the wild horse door. I contacted the people that ran the facility he was kept & she said he was one of his favorites & that she was glad he had a purpose to grow into.

So just like that he was loaded in a semi with 63 of his new friends & transported across the country from sunny dry Southern California to the Midwest.

I drove the 8 hours to pick him up, nervous & excited about the adventure I was about to embark on. I got to the facility & after working through a couple communication bumbles set out to find my new wild horse. Peering into the corral with about 40 horses with tiny neck tags with numbers I wondered how we were going to pick him out, then I realized he was looking right at me like, “”there you are, I’ve been waiting for you” Right away his presence was captivating

Isolating one horse from the herd can be difficult & because of the miscommunication there was only one employee there that morning. He set in with his flag & the whole herd moved like a school of fish, around the arena then into the shoot. Except my horse, he had moved to the top of the pen by himself. “huh, that never happens” So the gentleman moved the rest of the herd into another space, moved my horse into the shoot & I backed my trailer to the loading dock. As I drove away with my gorgeous horse I was more convinced that I had chosen the right horse & that together we were going to do big things.

Over the next couple months I put in incredibly long, spellbinding hours trying to understand how to connect with this horse. I spent time with him, I followed all the advice on “breaking your mustang”, I had Maddy (my mustang training friend) come help me. I learned SO much about myself, how I work through frustrations, when I breakdown, how I try & skip steps, then humbly go back & attempt to repair things. This horse taught me so much more than I could have anticipated about myself, how I can better connect with others, listening to my gut, the importance of authenticity & not being afraid to fail than I could have ever imagined. The way I interact with people is different, the way I see time & “progress” is different.

This little horse from California with great hair & a captivating presence has not been an easy teacher, I have been so frustrated, felt defeated, then so humbled at his willingness to let me try again. He continues to teach me things & together we’re doing big things.