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Let's Get Wild

Wild Horses are the answer! If only more people asked the question. Seriously though, as I write this, there are over 60,000 wild horses already gathered from America’s range lands who are currently spread around the country in off-range holding facilities. Picture that for a moment. That’s over 60,0000 horses of all colors, sizes, ages, and stature. Just standing around. Living in captivity. Waiting for a new home. Perhaps even hoping for a new purpose!

Are you part of the answer?

So it is perfectly clear Wild Horses are beyond fabulous! They are intelligent, hearty, capable, and curious and, once they trust you, are willing to do anything you ask of them. That’s the catch. Once they trust you.

How easy is it to get a captured wild horse to trust you? That’s the fun part! Each one is different with its own personality, and particular time it needs before it puts its guard down, begins to trust, and then lets you into its inner circle. Once you’re in there, there’s nothing like that bond. As this bond grows, there are few things that can surpass this rewarding human/wild horse connection. Maybe it is tied to living in a band within a herd.

“These are sentient beings, and when you have an opportunity to live around them and to watch their very subtle, yet, very deep interactions, profoundly connected to each other, how subtly and how well they work together as a community… We have a lot to learn from them. We have a lot to learn,” professes Neda DeMayo of Return to Freedom, a sanctuary that gives wild horses a place to live out their lives freely on open land instead of being contained in corrals.

I think mustangs have a very strong fight-or-flight instinct, and the weird spiritual axiom of it is that when you give them a lot of space, they often choose to make a connection with you. There is nothing more special to me than to take in a wild horse that is so wild and demands so much space between you and them, for them to come a full 180 back and their natural curiosity overcomes them in the end, and you'll suddenly find them right there, and you’re touching them. It never, it never, it never gets old.,” joyfully reveals Claire Staples, founder of Skydog Sanctuaries, another option for our majestic icons to live out their lives in a natural and free environment.

As nice as it is for that portion to make their way into a sanctuary, I would say the biggest value for each equine in holding is to be adopted out to become part of a loving new home. Along with their new home, many will find a new purpose, and for some of you reading this, your new adoptee will become yours. If you are doubtful about a Mustang’s ability, I challenge you to find there is little, if anything, a Wild Horse cannot do that you would expect from any other.

“I actually think Mustangs are the most intelligent horses that I have ever encountered,” vouches Staples, while Horse Whisperer , Mike Kevil concurs, “Once you remove the fear, the Mustangs think, operate, work and train just like any other horse.” I dare to offer; they bring with them more heart and soul.

“The Mustangs through the generations of being out in the wild and having to fend for themselves and learning where it is you can eat, learning what you can eat. Learning what animal is ok, and what animal isn’t ok. Once they come into captivity, that intelligence translates to training,” proclaims Steve Meyer of the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program. The main goal of their efforts is to find new homes for every horse in holding.

Two outstanding qualities wild horses possess are their endurance and ability to maneuver rough terrain. Imagine how this will make your trail riding all the more enjoyable! I have my own story about riding a wild horse almost straight up and out of a rocky area at night. That experience made me a firm believer that a wild horse will take you anywhere you point them!!!

So how can I get my hands on one of these fabulous creatures, you ask?? Depending where you are in ability and gumption, you can get a wild horse that is as wild as wild can be, has never been trained by anyone, and even receive a $1000 incentive to do so. If training wild horses are appealing to you, then The Mustang Heritage Foundation has a training community and offers different challenges around the country and throughout the year. One of the main showcase events is The Extreme Mustang Makeover. After 100 days of training, you compete with your selection, and winners receive thousands in prize money and offer incentives to all trainers whose animal is adopted at the final auction.

I know not everyone is up for this type of challenge, but maybe ‘your particular horse’ is in the competition, and your destiny is to go there to adopt? For most everyone else, you can search within a network of qualified professionals where you will find a fully trained wild horse that is ready to meet its new best friend and partner for whatever kind of work or trails you have in store! There are wild horses available at every level of discipline, so search for the one that’s best for you. It is also possible to tailor their instruction to meet your needs and expectations. (Look for links to different sites at the end of this article to help locate the best Mustang match for you).

I think now, we can all decide that Wild Horses are indeed sacred animals. Perhaps you are more curious or even fully interested and sold on the idea of adding a wild horse to your life and are excited to begin to develop the unparalleled bond between the two of you. If all of this were not enough, let’s discuss another aspect of the nature of the wild horse that makes them even more valuable…One very distinct characteristic that is so beneficial to humans is their initial lack of trust. What good is that you ask? Wild horses are naturally scared of people and getting around them in this early stage can solve a handful of our human issues. They possess such an heightened survival instinct that they sense when someone near them is calm inside or not. If not, then the wild horse will fearfully respond to that individual as a life threat.

As we all collect emotions along with our experiences, some of our traumatic memories are more ‘charged up’ inside of us than other calmer memories. These past moments and feelings can take over our minds and even run our lives if we are not careful. If these memories persist, we can find ourselves in a state where we feel depressed, alone, and disconnected.

his disconnection and the lack of feeling of belonging is especially challenging to some of our military veterans who are no longer performing active duty but continue to feel the effects of their past traumas. Some veterans are still living at high alert, even though the threats of combat are no longer present. For some, when their mind wanders out beyond the present moment, their anxiety begins to run high, constricting their every move. In walks Wild Horse Recreational Therapy. When we pair a troubled veteran with a captured Mustang, they are both confronted with a new situation. “There’s a language there, and it’s a respect, and one might be scared, and one might be too aggressive, but then they learn how to mirror that in themselves and in each other, and they produce this great example for each other to live by,” shares Aaron Ralston, professional horse trainer of Ralston Ranch.

Accomplished trainer Paddy McKevitt insightfully illustrates the regenerative process our veterans go through when getting around recently captured equines. “The men and women that come here don’t want to make these horses feel uncomfortable, so they have to adjust their own behavior because they are getting a biofeedback loop from the horse in the moment. They’re getting information provided that’s non-verbal. So it’s not a doctor telling them. It’s not cognitive therapy. They’ve heard all that before, and they can’t make the adjustments. But as they start to practice it with one of these wild horses, it becomes second nature, and they make the adjustments in other areas of their lives.”

Army Veteran Mitchell Reno points out how his experience training wild horses aids him outside of the round pen. “It’s a process that you get to learn, and you can take that with you wherever you go. It’s another tool in your toolbox for whenever you’re about to freak out in the grocery store.” One of the auxiliary missions that have emerged from Operation Mustang™, BraveHearts Therapeutic Riding’s wild horse/veteran initiative, is the Trail to Zero. A 20-mile “trail ride” through major cities demonstrating the fact that wild horses save veterans' lives. The goal of Trail to Zero is to end veteran suicide through promoting the expansion of wild horse therapy programs.

It doesn’t matter if it happens at a PATH Certified Facility or in the backyard of a rental property; every wild horse is valuable and can become an inspiration when we least expect it. This story is shared by an army veteran… This horse right here. I owe my life to her. She might not be what everyone thinks of when it comes to a mustang. She doesn't carry a BLM brand on her neck; she doesn't come from some herd with a fancy name. She is a Yakima reservation mustang. She came to me in November 2019, completely untouched, wild as a horse could be. I was as inexperienced as could be. My name is Brad; I served as a combat medic in the army from November 2003 to June 2011. I had two combat tours to Iraq, from November 2005- November 2006 and November 2007 to February 2009. As so many others did, I came home broken. Physically and mentally, I just had nothing left. For years, and to this day, I suffered through life on the edge of ending everything. A failed marriage, completely antisocial, depressed, and angry. Five years ago, the wheels of fate would find me searching for a new place to live; that is how I began a path that would lead me where I needed to be. A friend of a friend knew a lady who just so happened to have a rental. That rental just so happened to be vacant, and that rental just so happened to be on her property, where she operates a horse rescue. I had ridden a little in the past and knew some basics on how to handle a horse, but I quickly found something else out. Horses heal the invisible wounds we carry. After a year of living here, my then girlfriend and I rescued a big unhandled appy mare, un-handled but gentle. She turned out to be pregnant, and 5 short months little Ember came into the world. What a blessing she has been.

But that's not the horse that saved my life; something was missing. I still never felt like living another day. But that would change on November 26th, 2019. I learned of a couple of wild horses that needed homes. A friend decided to take one on. We drove the 200 miles over to pick her up, and I caught my first glance of this scared little sorrel with the softest eyes I'd ever seen. We had room in the trailer, and I couldn't leave her behind.

To say I bit off more than I could chew would be an understatement. For Six months, I worked with her; for days on end, I would just sit with her and slowly every day she would get a little more comfortable. To make an even longer story just a long story, one day it clicked and we have been inseparable ever since. A horse will never "fix" my PTSD, but here is what I have learned. I can live with anything that is thrown at me, I can live with all of the pain. And the one thing that stopped me from taking my own life is the bond and love of just one special mustang. My baby girl Nova.-Retired Combat Medic Bradley Balch.

These veterans’ stories highlight the healing power wild horses have for some of the most challenged individuals in our population… Now imagine what a wild horse can do for you and how getting one in your life can improve your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being! If you feel getting a wild horse is right for you, adopt yours now and change both of your lives for the better!!! You never know where one might take you!!!

Happy Happy Trails!!!

If you are looking for a horse:

You can find Trained Wild Horses here

If you are up for training wild horses yourself, then this link is for you https://

If you are interested in supporting a sanctuary that offers our wild horses a free ad natural environment to live in peace, then follow these links:

Support Veteran Equine programs offered by BraveHearts Therapeutic Riding by visiting

Support the Trail to Zero to help end veteran suicide by visiting https://

Watch the documentary Mustang Saviors to experience a journey of healing through horses…

Visit and follow the links at the bottom for on-demand streaming options: *All quotations taken from Mustang Saviors

Chicago native David Glossberg grew up in the city, spending much of his time watching movies in the basement. Then, he happened to ride horses at summer camp two or three years in a row. Fast forward to 2016, now a member of the city’s film and television production world, David acted on a dare and embarked on the production of Mustang Saviors, a documentary about the life-saving benefits of wild horse therapy within a group of veterans.

Still working in production on the sets of Chicago Fire and Chicago PD, Glossberg gives some of his free time to promote programs that harness the healing power of the horse. David currently sits on the board of The Rising Star Ranches, a cost-free network of equine therapy options for Chicago’s first responders.


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