California inmates get to work with wild horses

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Twenty mustangs are the first to join a new wild horse training program at a Sacramento correctional center.
Twenty mustangs are the first to join a new wild horse training program at a Sacramento correctional center.

Inmates at a California jail are now able to work with wild horses to help get them going under saddle in a program aimed at reducing repeat offending.

The program at the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center is the result of a partnership between the Sacramento County Sheriff Department and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which is the federal agency responsible for the care of wild horses.

Sheriff Scott Jones is eager to see the program develop, as he says it fits well with efforts already under way since the introduction of California’s Public Safety Realignment Act of 2011, which aims to reduce the cycle of incarceration for many offenders.

Offenders eligible for the program will have no less than 120 days until their expected release date and will go through a three-step curriculum on facility and animal safety, horse care/gentling, and training to accept a rider.

Offenders working in the program are required to participate in educational and substance abuse treatment programs as needed, along with individualized pre and post-case management.

The BLM delivered 20 wild mustangs to the correctional center on September 12, all of whom have adapted well to their new surroundings.

The wild horse project will provide an environment for mustangs and incorporates a curriculum in which an end goal is to provide offenders with work skills and sensitivity training through working with animals. Another benefit is that the program will provide gentled wild horses for public adoption.

The program is funded through grant awards from the Department of the Interior/Bureau of Land Management under their Wild Horse and Burro Program.

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