Arizona prison inmates taming wild mustangs

Horse Cultures of the World

Inmates Brian Tierce works with a horse at the Arizona State Prison Complex in Florence, Ariz. He is part of the Wild Horse Inmate Program that uses inmates to tame wild horses gathered from BLM land. (Pat Shannahan/The Arizona Republic via AP)

There’s a lot to be said about the bond between man and beast, and it seems the inmates at Florence Prison in Arizona, USA are being rehabilitated through their work with horses. Most of the mustangs who become part of the Florence Prison Wild Horse Inmate Program have never been domesticated. Their first interactions with people come from men who have been convicted of terrible crimes. Both horse and man must come to the exchange with an open mind and the desire to form a connection. This is when magic happens.

At Arizona State Prison Complex in Florence, inmates and wild horses learn how to trust and teach each other through a program led by Randy Helm (below). Horse whisperer Randy Helm leads a program at the Arizona State Prison Complex in Florence where he teaches inmates how to train wild horses. The program adopts out around 150 horses a year. (Pat Shannahan/The Arizona Republic via AP)

The inmates involved in this very popular program work under the direction of Randy Helm, a natural horseman and Supervisor for the Wild Horse Program. Inmates working with the horses must be held in minimum security, which means they have less than five years remaining on their sentences. Days are long, starting at 4am and often working through to dusk. But despite this, there is a waiting list of inmates who wish to join the program.

Inmates Brian Tierce works with a horse at the Arizona State Prison Complex in Florence, Ariz. He is part of the Wild Horse Inmate Program that uses inmates to tame wild horses gathered from BLM land. (Pat Shannahan/The Arizona Republic via AP)

These wild mustangs are perhaps the best form of education prisoners can receive, teaching the men patience, respect and self-control, and a trade they can use once they are released from prison. They learn about the care and treatment of animals, while building self-confidence. As Helm says, “What happens over a period of time is that they begin to understand that they don’t have to go back out and live that way. We let these horses prove themselves, why can’t we let these inmates prove themselves as well?”

So I guess this is what second chances are all about, don’t you think globetrotters?

References: Arizona Correctional Industries & Horse Network

Image credits: Pat Shannahan

Comments