Wild, but dependable

Clinic aims at helping horse owners learn how to train

Even for a seasoned horse owner, a wild horse can present a difficult set of challenges, Steve Mantle said.

But that doesn't stop horse enthusiasts who want to adopt wild horses that are difficult to train -- and the owners often get in over their heads, Mantle said.

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions," Mantle said.

Mantle, who runs a ranch in Wyoming with about 100 wild horses, taught a clinic in Craig on Sunday about training wild horses.

Helping well-intentioned people is the goal behind clinics like the one Mantle held.

The differences between wild horses and domestic horses aren't always glaring, Mantle said.

"Some of the problems are just little, bitty stuff," Mantle said.

But no matter how small the difference between a domestic horse and a wild horse, taming wild horses can be difficult, Mantle said.

"Their sense of self preservation is 10 times higher (than a domestic horse)," he said.

Those survival instincts can make the initial stages of training difficult. But after people gain the trust of a wild horse, the animals can be trained, Mantle said.

Mantle said people regularly ask him why he is willing to get into a corral with wild animals.

He points out that the animals may be wild, but they aren't vicious.

"Horses are inherently gentle," Mantle said.

Horses aren't wild in the same sense that bears and cougars are, he said.

"I would not get into that corral with a 2-year-old grizzly bear," Mantle said.

Debby Ellinwood, of Hayden, was one of about 25 people who attended Mantle's clinic at the Moffat County Fairgrounds.

Ellinwood had a wild horse for 24 years before it died recently. She now has another wild horse that was rounded up in the fall in Sandwash Basin.

Wild horses are sturdy and dependable, Ellinwood said, but working with them is different than with domestic horses.

"They just have a different mindset," she said.

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