U.S. Will Pay $2 Million So Prison Inmates Can Teach Wild Horses to be 'Gentle'

March 22, 2013 - 11:57 AM

wild horses

Wild horses (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – The Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management will pay $2 million in taxpayer funds over five years so that prison inmates in Kansas can teach wild horses and burros to be "gentle."

The grant description reads: “This program provides funding for the rehabilitation and positive animal husbandry work experience for inmates by allowing the inmates to train and care for wild horses and burros and preparing the animals for adoption.”

The grant, which is yet to be awarded, is for a minimum of $125,000 and is not to exceed $2 million over the next five years. The money is designed to continue a program already in place with the Kansas Department of Corrections.

There are similar programs in Canyon City, Colo., Riverton, Wyo., Carson City, Nev., and Gunnison, Utah, according to BLM spokesperson Sally Spencer.

“We currently have an inmate training program in Hutchinson, Kansas, and that’s what this is for. So it’s to provide additional funding to a program that is already established,” Spencer said.

“And something that is very cool is that the U.S. Border Patrol uses, the majority of horses they use to guard the northern and southern borders are wild horses that were trained through our prison training program,” Spencer added.

“The trainer for the Kansas City wild horse program will select wild horses to be trained. If they select a stallion, BLM will decide whether it will be gelded (castrated) or not. Normally, we do geld the horses,” Spencer said.

BLM provides the horses, while the prison provides the infrastructure, which includes the corrals and the inmates. BLM will pay the prison to feed the horses, “because they’re government property,” Spencer said. The agency also provides veterinarian care for the animals.

Once the wild horse is selected for training, Kansas Correctional Industries will assume all responsibility for feed and boarding costs for the horse until the horse is adopted, or it’s returned into the holding pens, “because sometimes the animals are untrainable,” Spencer added.

In order to make the horses available for adoption, the inmates will gentle the horses.

“So they gentle them, from halter gentling – which means you put a halter on them, and you can pick up their feet and things like that – to riding them,” Spencer said.

“You would not believe the results,” said Spencer. “It’s saving horses, saving men.

Spencer said the “high-risk inmates” are not involved in the program, and inmates have to earn the privilege of taking part in the program.

The prisons have found that recidivism for inmates in the program drops, “because you teach people to trust again,” Spencer said. “Anyway it just makes the folks that are involved in the program better people.”

The notice of intent to award was posted on March 12, and the last day to submit applications is March 27.