Adopting a horse? Mantel Ranch can help! |

Adopting a horse? Mantel Ranch can help!

Judy Wertz makes a new friend. Photo by Catherine Werner by Catherine Werner

Fort Lupton, Colo.

It was surprising to see the variety of license plates: California, Illinois, Colorado and even Oregon mixed with an abundance of Wyoming plates at the Adopt-A-Horse Clinic with Brian Neubert, which was held at Steve Mantel’s Ranch. The weather was raw with pelting snow and a constant Wyoming breeze, a typical March morning for this part of the country.

More cars were pulling in after turning off of 1-25 north of Chugwater, Wyo., and proceeding west down a 6-mile gravel road that ended at the Mantel Ranch Training and Adoption Center. This was now the temporary home for approximately 40 mustangs that had arrived in December 2000. Ten of these animals had been pre-adopted and were the focus for the clinic. The mustangs are part of a new BLM program.

As a successful bidder, Steve contracts for 100 head of horses to be delivered to his ranch over a one-year period of time. He and his two sons, Bryan and Nick, gentle the horses by catching, leading, halter breaking and loading them into a trailer.

All horses at the adoption were started under saddle. The BLM directs what the training will be for the animals to be adopted. Steve receives only older animals from 3 to 6 years of age which are often considered not adoptable. He also receives only geldings. This batch of horses had come from Idaho, Utah, and Nevada.

The BLM supplied a chute to help with veterinary care. Tim West, a neighbor, created a new model that allows a horse to be safely placed on its side for hoof care and other procedures.

Tim also had BLM-approved portable corrals available for those who adopted a mustang but did not have a proper holding area.

Steve reviewed many of the training methods available and decided to use the experience and expertise of Brian Neubert, feeling that Brian’s method of training would work best with mustangs.

The clinic centered around the new owners working with their animals on a one-on-one basis under the supervision of the person who originated their training foundation.

Another important aspect of the clinic was to learn how these once wild animals were settling into their new chance for life and to dispel some of the old beliefs that mustangs “are just broncs and not worth training.”

Brian allowed each animal and owner to make a mistake in order for them to understand what was being taught. Mustangs are extremely observant and intelligent survivors. Their “flight and fight” reaction has to be slowly desensitized.

Brian and his helpers allowed the horses to choose a response of stepping away and then asked them to calmly try again. This method proved very successful.

Safety was always everyone’s first concern. The reward of seeing these animals overcome their fear and step forward to try again in a calm, relaxed and trusting manner was what everyone came to see and learn.

What better way to learn the true nature of horses and how to train them than with a wild mustang? What better way to learn about our own inconsistency than with an animal that demands consistency?

If you are interested in adopting a mustang or learning more about training these horses, please contact the Mantel Ranch Training and Adoption Center in Wheatland, Wyo., at (307) 322-5799, or contact your local BLM office.


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