Horses For The Border

Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 2:21pm

Prisoners train wild mustangs for use by the U.S. Border Patrol.

For years, prisoners at Texas' Hutchinson Correctional Facility have trained wild horses for adoption, but now for the first time, some of those mustangs will be used to patrol the U.S. border.

"These horses are really tough and durable, and the jobs they'll be doing require that," said Dion Pope with the Hutchinson Correctional Facility. "I think they'll really do a good job."

In fact, mustangs have a long history with the U.S. Border Patrol, even though it is the first time agents have adopted horses from the Hutchinson prison.

"They currently have about 100 mustangs on duty on the northern and southern borders," said Paul McGuire, of the Bureau of Land Management.

"It's perfect and they love it," said Mary Olivares, with the U.S. Border Patrol. "They get to go out and do what comes naturally to them. They're roaming for eight hours with an agent, then they get to go home and rest."

The strength, agility, and intelligence that once helped these horses survive in the wild now make them fast learners in training.

Inmates at the Hutchinson prison teach them to trust through a process called gentle breaking.

"It's doing a lot of stuff on the ground, getting them used to the touch and feel of people and objects and different things, getting them used to all that."

Now ready to ride, the mustangs will use their training and natural instincts to keep the U.S.-Mexico border safe.

"They're American horses that are going to be protecting America."

Once in Texas, each adopted horse will be assigned to a federal agent, who's responsible for his care.

Much like a police dog, the two will together patrolling the Rio Grande Valley.

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