For the second year in a row the Lewisville ISD Future Farmers of America (FFA) members have become part of the solution for the wild (feral) horse problem.
Five FFA members under the leadership of Agriculture Science Teacher (AST) and FFA Advisor Melissa Barnett have adopted five horses from the BLM’s Palomino Valley Adoption Center.
The horses were picked up June 1 at the Pauls Valley, Oklahoma holding facility. Before then, none of the horses had been handled or haltered. Each student is individually preparing their horse for the Mustang Heritage Foundation’s Trainer Incentive Program (TIP) to be held in Graham, Texas in August. FFA members participating in the program are: Trevor Moreno, Lewisville FFA, Maddie Trussell, Marcus FFA, Rebecca Wittek, Marcus FFA, Abigail Smith, Marcus FFA, and Bri Gutierrez, Lewisville FFA.
When asked why they were participating in the time-consuming summer program all the students agreed that they wanted to be part of the solution to the transfer of excess feral horses to permanent homes.
Individually, they had other reasons. Wittek said she loves being around horses. Moreno said he had a bad experience with horses and this is helping him overcome that and learn about horse behavior. Smith said she wants to be a certified equine therapy trainer. Gutierrez, who owns other horses, said she wants to see her horse go to a good home. Trussell, who has never been around horses, said she wants to enjoy this great experience.
The training process started with unloading the horses individually in a small pen, where each student began “noodling” their horse with a soft training stick and pool noodle. Once the horses responded to this desensitizing the haltering process began.
After 40 days all the horses had been gentled, halter broke to lead, so that they can back and side pass. All the horses now walk, trot and canter on the lunge line.
In addition, they trailer load and stand for their feet to be inspected and trimmed. All the horses go willingly to the livestock scale to be weighed. This didn’t all just happen overnight. It has taken numerous, twice-a-day training sessions and a lot of sweating in the hot Texas sun.
Barnett is the driving force behind this project as exemplified by the passion she has for being a part of the solution to the Mustang problem. She indicated that they will pick up four more horses this fall that will be trained for the Fort Worth Stock Show event in January.