Mustang Gentling and Rehoming
The difference between a mustang and a domestic horse is the human involvement … or, not. In the wild, horses see human’s as predators, something to fear. Domestic horses, born in a barn, see people as a source of nurturing, a source for food, comfort and survival, and they learn from an early age that humans are good. When a mustang is caught, it is most likely taken to a holding facility that can house up to hundreds of horses. In the holding facilities, these wild horses have very little human contact. They are gathered once per year, run through a chute and given vaccinations. The vast majorities of these mustangs spend the rest of their life in these holding facilities. A fortunate few will go from the range to a place where they are trained and adopted.
When taking on the job of training and building a partnership with one of these mustangs, it is imperative to lay a solid foundation and gain its trust; the horse must learn that you are not going to cause it harm. Keep in mind, mustangs have never been touched by human hands. Their prey instinct is deeply imbedded and the process of getting your hands on, and all over their body, while imperative, can be slow and tedious. It is easy to take for granted that the horse will accept our touch, but, this is their personal space, and they are very protective of it. There will be quivering and blow-outs as your Mustang feels this foreign touching for the first time. Slow and steady, approach and retreat, always leave them an opportunity to move their feet, and always give them an exit. Never cause your wild horse to feel trapped; it will go into either fight or flight mode … neither one of which is conducive to building a strong partnership. If this initial work can be done at liberty, you will gain ground much quicker. This process is absolutely worth the time, patience, and effort put in.
After the horse becomes accustomed to my touch I can begin the process of working on halter, desensitization to sounds and movement, grooming, etc. At this point, there is very little difference between a domestic horse and his wild counterpart. As with all horses, consistency with a firm but fair hand is key.