Veterans & Mustangs: Built on Trust

By Bill Hancock ~

Why wild mustangs? Because they’ve never been touched by human hands. There’s a unique bond that happens between a horse and their very first owner, and there’s something special about their wild spirit, something that veterans can connect with. A mustang can be gentle in one second and a fierce defender of the herd in the other, very much like the soldiers I know.

When the Veterans & Mustangs program was first started, it was built on trust. Trust that you have to earn from your horse and the trust he must find in you. When a wild horse allows you to touch it the first time, something extraordinary has taken place. One of the most emotional moments for me in the program was when my horse let me groom him. Just the simple brushing of his mane was a very personal experience for us, and this is one of the reasons that mustangs are chosen for the program.

Adopting a mustang also helps with the management of the herd. Currently, there are approximately 68,000 wild mustangs on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land and what many people don’t know is that the BLM is in charge of all the wild mustangs in the US. Another bit of information not commonly known is they are overpopulated, and this is where the Mustang Heritage Foundation comes in. Veterans and Mustangs is an adoption program created by the MHF. The MHF is currently responsible for over half of the wild mustangs and donkeys adopted every year.

Located in Weir, TX, the MHF kicks off the program each year by driving all chosen participants (vets and first responders) up to Pauls Valley, OK, for an overnight stay. Early the next day, they go out to select their very own wild mustang from the BLM herd. Once the horses have been selected, and paperwork verified, they’re loaded into trailers and brought back to the MHF facility in Texas.

Once the mustangs are back at the facility the training begins.

Read the full article in the July 2017 issue of Able Outdoors magazine. Subscribe today!