Can Wild Horses Be Tamed?

Can Wild Horses Be Tamed? [Mustangs]
"This Photo" by Mark Lundy is licensed under CC BY-ND 4.0

Have you ever seen a movie with a truly free-spirited and out-of-control horse chasing around gallantly in the field and then comes a knight in shining armor and magically the horse (with the mildest of touch or control) goes from I-am-not-listening to-anyone to obedient and calm? Yes, right. It’s not that easy however and certainly not everyone’s pie. 

If you have ever wished to tame a horse and understand how to do it before buying one to charm your stable, here is everything you need to know about wild horses, mustangs, and burros and whether they can be trained, tamed. The biggest question we will answer is if they can be trained, how do the masters do it. So don your cowboy hat and keep going.

Can a Wild Horse be Tamed?

Can a wild horse or a mustang (or a burro) be tamed? The answer is yes. Horses are just like most other animals and they can be tamed with a careful and strategic approach.

Training them is a different deal but taming a horse is all about proper training and skills. If you talk about steading a wild horse so that it doesn’t run around gallantly and harm somebody, taming them depends on their temperament. 

However, if we are talking about taming wild horses over a course of time, you can do it with basic training given to horses before they are sold. 

Once these wild mustangs and horses are tamed over a specific duration, they can be ridden by experienced handlers or amateurs, apart from just the trainer.

Taming a wild horse is like training a dog or a cat, only much different. The similarity here is that horses just like domestic pets have different temperaments and personalities and as a horse trainer (if you are one), you have to grasp on that and let that be the foundation of the bonding between you and the horse. 

So grab your lasso and set it on with gleaming eyes to learn what all you need to be able to do so you can tame a horse. Because they can surely be tamed and trained with the right amount of will and commands. 

How to befriend a wild horse?

It’s definitely not magic but it isn’t rocket science either. Befriending a horse depends much on your measures and its temperament. You can make the horse stride towards you by luring it in with an apple. Horses love apples, just as much as they love grass and it is often a good change from the usually green they stuff their mouths with. A carrot cut lengthwise is also an ideal deal to lure the horse which is the first step to laying a basis of friendship with it. 

If it’s summer, you can easily approach a wild horse with salt lick block or loose salt. The maths is simple. Horses love to feast on salt when it’s sunny outside.

Next, you should let the horse see the lasso from far away so they do not panic while you’re trying to get your way around it. Befriending a horse starts with building trust with it. Thus, if the wild horse or mustang approaches you and sniffs you, do not swat it off or retreat. It is just the animal’s way of getting to know you.

What does it take to train a wild horse?

Certainly, it’s not how it goes in the movies, but here is what you need to be able to do prior to jumping into the field and trying to train a horse.

You surely do not want to be kicked by one while trying to figure your way out! 

In order to train a wild horse, you should be able to get a good grasp on the animal. In other words, you silently need to express who the master is. Haltering the animal comes next so you have access to its movements.

Much importantly, you must know how to lead the mustang, because there’s a reason it is wild. Grooming and handling the hooves come next and they are just as important as being able to halter the animal with the lasso in the most heroic way. Just saying.

Needless to say, training a horse also needs to tie the animal and get it into a horse trailer. 

How long does it take to tame a wild horse?

A wild horse doesn’t straightaway follow your commands and therefore can be dissident at the beginning. However, over the course of time, it can be tamed and soothed to embrace your presence around it.

Taming a wild horse doesn’t come with a strict duration within which it will magically start taking in your commands. Some wild horses can be tamed within 6-7 hours of approach while some may take up 4-6 weeks of training to be comfortable around the trainer and get tame. To be fully tamed and ready to accept commands at the go, a horse can take up to 6-8 months of training to be tame and obedient. 

How to tame a wild horse/burro/mustang?

The idea is to let the horse understand who rules and who’s the boss while also spending a couple of days building a mutual level of comfort and trust from the scratch. Once the wild horse is tamed, it gets really respectful and loves working with the master. 

Once you’ve approached the horse, you can let it get comfortable around you by sniffing and circling around you. Next, you can mildly pat the horse to soothe it and build a connection with you. Once both you and the horse are comfortable around each other, you can move to train the horse to be respectful and willing to accept the commands of both the trainer and the riders.

How to train a wild horse/burro/mustang?

Once you have tamed the wild horse, burro, or mustang, you can start with basic training such as teaching the animal to carry a rider. The initial stages of training a mustang also include being able to teach the animal to give a proper response to leg or vocal chain of commands. 

If we go by the rule book, there are four stages of training a wild horse so it can be ridden by riders of any level. The four stages are: 

  • Green Broke: Remember the part of the movie where the cowboy successfully manages to get on the back of the horse. Well, that is when a horse is officially labeled a ‘green broke’ from a rather wild horse. This is the first step of training a wild horse and includes the foundations such as mounting on a saddle. A green broke, when referred to as a horse means that the horse is comfortable wearing its saddle and has taken the first rider on its back. It, however, isn’t very respectful and doesn’t buck here and there. 
  • Broke: Though a broke horse is now gaining some experience, it still can not be ridden by beginner riders. Experienced riders, however, can easily tag along with the horse without any difficulty. A broke horse knows a great number of vocal commands other than just allowing a man on its back and leg swats. It can respond with accurate responses to reins, cues, crow spooks, and more of the soft commands. A broke horse mostly listens to the trainer and has a lot of vices, while also being well-behaved and much more respectful than the green broke.  
  • Well Broke: A literary upgrade from the broke horse, a well broke horse can be ridden in public places. The horse is more responsive to a wide array of commands and thus more confident in its ways and stride. The good part is that you have come far from a wild horse and it can now be ridden by people with little knowledge and experience in horse riding. It is very respectful upon rigorous training and shares almost the same behavioral characteristics equivalent to domesticated horses. The well broke horse answers to soft mouth and listens to leg cues while also focusing on the rein and vocal cues. At this point of training, the wild horse has now turned out to be very respectful and obedient. 
  • Dead Broke: Most horses are usually only able to reach the third stage of training that is well broke. The dead broke on the other hand is considered the highest level of horse training wherein the horse never causes any discomfort or plight during travel to crowded towns and streets. It also offers a beginner-safe ride to individuals with no prior experience in horse riding. A dead broke doesn’t usually ‘break’ (get the joke?) during intense environments and maintains a composure which is much lacking in wild horses or mustangs that are usually intense and much prone to come at you. 

This is the highest level of training any horse can have. Not all horses might be able to reach this level. Now it’s completely safe to ride for any beginner and it will be very patient and never cause you any trouble on the road or in the stall.

You can even trust that it will behave well in stressful and intense environments and situations. A bombproof/ dead broke isn’t just highly responsive to cues but also the most respectful out of all horses both to the handler and the riders enjoying a trip across the block.

How to identify if a horse is wild?

We mean, of course, a horse doesn’t come with the label ‘Wild’ on its back but identifying one is not very tough if you could take a grasp of its behavior and movements. Before we understand how you can identify a wild horse or mustang, let us understand the characteristics and behavioral process of a domesticated stallion or horse. 

Tamed or domesticated horses are relaxed in the presence of humans and fellow horses. Although tamed horses can put up a good fight, they have a low propensity for flight and they easily follow commands or oblige to restraints by their masters or handlers. The one behavioral feature of tamed horses is that they aren’t anxious and do not make much movement unless they intensely sense fear or plight.

Having understood how you can identify a tamed horse, you can petty easily identify a wild one. Why? Well, they are more or less the opposite of the domesticated ones. Wild horses have a low threshold for flight and are usually surrounded by an intense fear of predation or attack which is why they are very prone to attacking somebody or something, even though the person or object in question poses no real danger to the horse. Wild horses are tense in the presence of humans and resist obligation and do not easily accept restraint from anybody. 



What is the difference between a stallion and a mustang?

A Stallion is a male, uncastrated horse that has a phenotype of its own breed. They have thick and cresty necks with a muscular physique than the female or the other castrated males.

Due to their instincts of a herd animal and their genes, their temperament is cool and calm. They need to be trained more carefully by knowledgeable handlers, as they are prone to violent behavior and they become effective equine athletes with proper training. 

Mustangs are originally Colonial Spanish horses, who were descended from the horses that were brought to America by the Spanish. They are the wild or free-roaming horses of West America. The contribution of other horses breeds the phenotype of a Mustang. 

Can you legally capture a wild horse in the U.S.?

In the U.S. it is mostly illegal to catch a wild horse. In order to catch them one requires permission from the landowner on whose land the horse is found roaming. On Federal lands, the removal and handling of excess numbers of Mustangs are handled by the Bureau of Land Management.

The BLM may allow you to adopt one of those Mustangs that have already been captured by them and have received all basic health care. Adoption helps you to know the basic information of the horse like color, gender, height, age, overall health, and vaccination dates as well. 

Where can you find a wild horse in the U.S.?

With the sunny upside, and the sun shining on the creature’s muscular body,  the best time to see the wild horses grazing and galloping across the countryside on the vast fields is obviously during the summer season. You get to see the wild Mustang roaming all over the great expanse of land with a wind-swept mane.

Nevada has a huge number of free-roaming houses across its lands. The Pryor Mountains are also considered as the home of more than 160 free-roaming horses, living in the northeast region. These horses have increased in the population at the Outer Banks of North Carolina which has readily brought dramatic impact to the beach resort region. The majestic beauty of these horses makes them an attraction for nature and animal lovers.

Are wild horses dangerous?

Wild Horses are mostly considered dangerous because they are accustomed to any kind of interaction with other animals or humans, they perceive them as potential threats. When they find themselves in a confined and unfamiliar environment they become nervous and scared, and at last, when they find no place to retreat, they tend to attack.

Though they can attack humans, they don’t usually do it. It is preferred to sit at a safe distance and watch these horses showing a myriad of fascinating behaviors through your binoculars. 

What does a horse trainer do?

A Horse trainer is a person who can train a horse for racing, showing, and riding. The training includes feeding horses, talking to them, exercising them, and making them familiar with human contact. Some of these trainers are specialized in equestrian disciplines which include showing jumping, reining, endurance riding, polo, vaulting, racing, and rodeo.

Their job is to help the horses to adapt to wearing saddles and bridles, to make them understand riding commands, and to work with people without becoming nervous. It is not an easy job, there are chances of getting kicked or bitten by horses, but the trainer should have patience and a cool head while training these powerful animals. 


Read More

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