Horse News

Wild Horses And Inmates Expected To Learn Important Lessons From New CA Jail Program

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

“Although it is our preference to have wild equines managed on their rightful range and not ripped apart from family and freedom but it is good to see that there a few programs out that that can assist those who have already been stricken and harassed.  With good training, the odds of the horses finding a forever home are greatly improved versus heading off to slaughter like way, way to many national icons already have.  I hope the very best for them.” ~ R.T.

The Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center in Sacramento County is now the temporary home of 20 wild horses. Inmates at the jail will train them as part of a new program.

A four-year old mare is warming up to Joe Misner as he gently encourages her to follow him around a small corral. “Now you got it,” he says. He has been training horses for 30 years. As the ranch manager for the brand-new program at Rio Cosumnes, he is tasked with teaching inmates how to train wild animals.

“You come with pre-conceived ideas on what you’re gonna do and how you’re gonna accomplish your goals,” he says. “And that wild horse says, ‘Ahhh, I don’t think so. I think we’re gonna do it this way.’ As a person, that’s where you have to learn how to adapt.”

Eight inmates will spend four months training the animals before the horses are  adopted out at auction.

Sheriff Scott Jones says he expects the program to teach inmates vocational skills and life lessons.

“Anecdotally, we’ve learned from inmates involved in the programs in other jurisdictions they learn humility and sometimes for the first time,” says Jones. “They put on a tough facade, but that doesn’t work and has no relevance to a horse. And the horse is in charge and they have to be partners in their training. And that partnership values carries with it skills for their entire life.”…(CONTINUED)

15 replies »

  1. Let’s see, 20 horses and 8 inmates taking 4 months to train a horse. So, here we go again. Putting horses into a per diem agreement with BLM, selling the horse and starting a new one. I hope that a few months we do not hear of 50-100 shippped there and only a few being trained. Like Carson City (being shipped hundreds and hundreds of horses – some for experimental birth control labs – but only 15-20 being trained every 4 months.

    The worst is Gunniston shipped thousands (some dying in their gelding frenzy) and according to their Wrden only 80 inmates – over the span of their decades long taming program benefitted. I can tell you there are way more than 8 inmates at
    Consumnes Prison.

    So, yeah, I’m cynical. Another feel good program with horses being shipped all over the place, never settling in – ever. The stories are surfacing and quickly snuffed out of horses becoming burnt out after these gentling programs and MHF. Of course, both these programs are handled by good ‘ol cowboys.

    Local hay men will love this program too. I’m not so politically correct these days. Its a bad program, enriching so many, draining taxpayer funding, benefitting a VERY few men and the horses – not so much.

    Hw about build a low security bunk at the holding facility? And work directly with the adopters to tame their horse? Because then the money on that inmates head will go elsewhere, the transporter is cut out, the prison’s per diem charge is cut out, the local fence guy is out, as is the barn guy, the irrigation guy, etc etc. Stop throwing money into the wind.


  2. I’m not do confident if the BLM is handling the money and the horses. It seems to be just another program where the BLM will pocket a good portion of or tax money and they will supplement their pockets as well as the good ole boy network of cattle..oops I meant cattle ranchers. They’re a sick lot the BLM.


  3. Sharing with the strong desire to have our wild ones free of human intervention. The BLM and federal government “Managing to Extinction” harrassment of our wild horses has put over 50,000 mustangs and wild burros in harms way. Now, we, the tax paying citizens, MUST step up to continue to fight to stop the roundups and in the meantime, save our wild ones from disease, imprisonment, starvation, torture, death from the “3 Strike” policy that most certainly means slaughter, and from an all ready over burdened economic crisis that has private citizens dumping their domestic horses into kill pens because of the lack of funds to pay high hay prices, etc. Here’s a program that helps mustangs and humans.


  4. Putting them in the hands of inmates is frightening, and I personally don’t care about inmates getting help. They are there as a sentence for crimes. These are not the types of people that you can trust to take care of the voiceless, and I daresay that taking advantage of those who can’t speak for themselves probably landed them in prison in the first place. There’s no need for our wild horses to go to prison with abusers too. These programs have failed in the past – the bad hay that killed the horses, and the recent ‘lack of interest’ in participation by inmates, allegedly leading up to the cancellation of the program.


    • Ah, horses have and always will help humans. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover because horses don’t discriminate this way. The reason the Gunnison Prison program failed was because of government corruption. The inmates loved the opportunity to work with the mustangs and this was for many the first time, that they learned respect. To respect themselves and to respect others thru learning to respect the horse. The BLM expects everyone to drop everything and adopt 50,000 captured mustangs, they are fng CRAZY and blaming everyone and everything while they WASTE billions in the roundups and subsequent warehousing of our magnificent creatures. Do some research: and check out HARD TIME Corral at Gunnison video in 2013. The inmates loved the horses!!!!!!!!!!!!


      • I totally get the differing sides of this discussion. My first hand experience with the program was in Santa Fe almost 20 yrs ago. I rode the school bus around the holding pens. Only one other person was on the bus, a native man from one of the pueblos. The pens were categorized by age, the horses with tags were already spoken for. I was told the taller horses were from Oregon. I wanted a buckskin filly so badly but could not afford the shipping home to PA at that time. When we were done, we went into the office, an old modular ranch. The manager was so welcoming, so happy that people came to look. He walked me over to file cabinets filled with photos of success stories. He was s proud of what the inmates achieved, how much it had helped them and how the horses went on to caring homes. He pleaded with me to write to the Dept of Interior to ask that the program not be cut because it was slated for closure. I did. I wrote to Secretary Luhan and neither he nor his office ever responded. I was young, didn’t have resources to follow up. But never forgot that no bureaucrat cared, which is why I understand peoples’ reservations about this whole new program.


  5. I guess I’m saying I’m leery of putting innocent creatures into the hands of the immoral, unethical and those lacking empathy – and I’m not just talking about the BLM. And I’m sick of our tax dollars going to yet another silly, feel-good liberal programs trying to make decent people out of scumbags.


  6. One has to ignore the BLM propaganda BS, but the prison wild horse training programs worked just like we have juvenile offender horse training & human therapy programs. Everyone deserves a second chance. I’d prefer the BLM keep their cotton picking fingers off our wild ones, but at least these horses get a shot at a decent home because they are trained. They also give the inmates a whole new perspective in life!


    • Maybe I’m being harsh (and I’m sure that in some instances these programs can and do make a difference for a minority of inmates), but I get tired of human problems that never seem to get fixed and have the lion’s share of funds already constantly taking the focus away from animal welfare issues, as if animal welfare alone isn’t enough to warrant any attention.

      Isn’t there anybody law-abiding that can take care of our horses, especially in the way The Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act prescribes? Is everything always about us, all the time? Why can’t we make it about helping the horses only for a change?


      • Its not about the VERY few inmates who are helped by having something to do. Now of the very few horses to benefit by gentling. It is everything about the prisons charging per diem, the vendors making a buck off the operation. We don’t hear about the continuing death and injuries when transporting and moving the horses around constantly or their fatal reaction to different feeds. None of this is about the horses. 80 inmates at Gunniston and thousands of horses (mostly stallions) went through their gates. Hundreds died of botched gelding and thousands were never handled at all.

        It has nothing t do with the horses some see as a mane$tail.


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