The Mustang Project By Ron Malone, Executive Director
For the past 24 years Assurance Home in Roswell, New Mexico has been providing therapeutic group home services to boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 18 who have been abused and/or neglected, or who have been abandoned and are homeless.
The young people who live at the Home help to gentle the horses
and train them to become therapeutic riding horses . . .
The Home is well known for the variety of therapeutic opportunities they offer to the young people in their care. Several years ago Assurance Home expanded their clinical programs and added a project that allowed their young people the chance of working with recently captured, "green broke" Mustangs.
The little horses that came to Assurance Home were captured by the BLM in their efforts to help thin wild herds of Mustangs in an attempt to maintain healthier herds. The horses were then shipped to the prison system in Colorado where inmates would saddle break them, but the future for many of these animals was uncertain.
Assurance Home adopts 3 to 4 Mustangs a year and the young people who live at the Home help to gentle the horses and train them to become therapeutic riding horses for handicapped riding programs around the nation. This process helps ensure that the Mustangs will lead appreciated and productive lives. Along with this obvious benefit, the youngsters who live at Assurance Home are also able to learn much about themselves as they work with these incredible creatures. Learning how to adjust your own behaviors in order to teach a horse to do what you want, helps youngsters learn that when things are not going right in their own lives, they may need to modify and change the the way they are approaching their problems. In the three years of this project the Assurance Home Mustangs have been placed in therapeutic riding programs in Nevada, Montana, Colorado, South Carolina, and New Mexico. Recently a Mustang was placed with the therapeutic riding program at Texas Tech University and the Mustang that the children are currently working with will go to a well known program in Virginia this coming spring.
The project is funded through donations by people and foundations who are willing to sponsor a Mustang through Assurance Home. Sponsorships are $1,400 per horse. The animal is then given free to the therapeutic riding program that adopts it.
In May of 2002 the Assurance Home Mustang Project was featured in an article in Western Horseman. In November of 2002, the young people of Assurance Home won the Milagro Award from Animal Protection of New Mexico for their efforts to help the plight of these American treasures, Mustangs.
. . . My Mustang, Spirit . . .
Robert with Spirit the night
we returned from Colorado with him.
It is bright and early, just as the warm New Mexico sun invites you to begin a new day. I have school in one hour, but those dreaded essays and the ever heavy math test are the furthest thought from my mind. You see, at this time in the morning the horse in my back window is gently grazing the land. Almost as if he was only taking what he needed. He probably got this respect for his land from his wild ancestors. He too was wild, but now he captures my heart rather than the gentle dew in the desert. I have worked with this Mustang for the past two months and start to miss my new friend every time I cannot attend to his growing need and desire to learn. I am trying to help this huge hearted creature learn to love what life brings his way. I learned much more from him than he will ever know. He has helped me realize my prejudices and my faults. He cannot speak, so naturally he is a good listener. When the day has been long I can go see my best friend and tell him my worries and all he does is open his heart to my needs. I can teach him and he learns; at the same time he brings me such a comfort beyond any other I have known. I am hoping less fortunate people enjoy something that I have enjoyed as well. I hope I will continue my new passion to help these people, and to help wild mustangs learn things that maybe they thought they could not achieve or vice versa. I know for myself I can say I love my Mustang . . . Spirit.
-Robert, age 18
I can go see my best friend and tell him my worries . . .
Myria and the Mustangs
Myria is a young lady who has lived at Assurance Home for the past 6 months and loves working with the Mustangs. She calls the Mustangs her "favorite animals because they know how the kids at Assurance Home feel." The horses give her comfort when she is feeling down and she describes her activities with the Mustangs as "one of the greatest experiences of my life."
Myria says the mustangs know how
the kids at Assurance House feel.
Myria says that the little horses are friendly and loving and that she knows of some great stories where lonely children and horses connect with each other.
One of the greatest benefits from working with and trying to gentle horses revolves around how you approach them. If things aren't going the way you want them to, often you have to change the way you approach the horse. In life, when things aren't going the way you want it to, you also may have to change the way you approach certain problems in your life. "It's a great learning experience," says Myria, and "I would not trade it for anything in the world."
-Myria, age 17
I learned much more from him
than he will ever know.
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