Banner Icon could not be loaded.

 

Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center

"Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command"

Twentynine Palms, California
Wounded Marines care for, train wild mustangs during reconditioning program

By Lance Cpl. Ali Azimi | Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center | December 14, 2012

Photos
prev
1 of 3
next
Lance Cpl. Josh Clark, Wounded Warrior Battalion West, lunges his horse, Nevada, during his semiweekly visit to Sinwood Ranch Dec. 11, 2012, as part of the Horsemanship Program.

Lance Cpl. Josh Clark, Wounded Warrior Battalion West, lunges his horse, Nevada, during his semiweekly visit to Sinwood Ranch Dec. 11, 2012, as part of the Horsemanship Program. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Ali Azimi)


Photo Details | Download |

Sgt. Carlos Trejo, Wounded Warrior Battalion West, grooms his horse, Molly, during his visit at Sinwood Ranch Dec. 11, 2012, as part of the Horsemanship Program. The Marines visit their adopted horses twice a week to help train them. The wild horses are collected from herds across Calif. and Nev. and brought to the ranch for domestication.

Sgt. Carlos Trejo, Wounded Warrior Battalion West, grooms his horse, Molly, during his visit at Sinwood Ranch Dec. 11, 2012, as part of the Horsemanship Program. The Marines visit their adopted horses twice a week to help train them. The wild horses are collected from herds across Calif. and Nev. and brought to the ranch for domestication. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Ali Azimi)


Photo Details | Download |

Cpl. Steven Kurkwood, Wounded Warrior Battalion West, cleans the hoof of his horse, GT, during his visit to Sinwood Ranch Dec. 11, 2012.

Cpl. Steven Kurkwood, Wounded Warrior Battalion West, cleans the hoof of his horse, GT, during his visit to Sinwood Ranch Dec. 11, 2012. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Ali Azimi)


Photo Details | Download |

MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --

Cpl. Steven Kurkwood, Wounded Warrior Battalion West, was doing footwork exercises with his horse, GT. An old Styrofoam Halloween decoration blew against the gate; GT spooked but Kurkwood kept his cool. The horse acknowledged his master’s poise and scrambled around trying to hide behind his protector.

This is the kind of trust Marines build with horses in the Wounded Warrior Horsemanship Program. The program is a part of the Warrior Athlete Reconditioning Program, one of eight different options given to wounded warriors, including archery, shooting, archery, basketball, swimming, cycling, volleyball and track and field.

Marines choosing the equestrian option are taken to a ranch and are paired with a wild mustang, which they tame over the course of the following months. The Marines build bonds with the mustangs, as they care for and train the horses.

“Working with the horses, in my opinion, helps the Marines and the horses to relax,” Kurkwood said. “It takes their minds off stresses; it’s very therapeutic. It teaches you to keep calm, because the horses feed off the emotions you have.”

Earlier this year, the Marines from the Combat Center detachment of WW Bn. West started the program and continue to visit their mustangs at the Sinwood Ranch.

Twice a week, the Marines make the trip to the ranch to help maintain the mustangs’ health and aid in the long process of their domestication. They spend their mornings grooming and cleaning them followed with some lunging and footwork, to help get rid of some of the anxiety they build from being in the stables.

“The Marines are working to build trust with the mustangs and eventually they’ll be rideable, but some of these mustangs aren’t even used to having a saddle on them,” said Tara Bright, warrior athlete reconditioning program manager, WW Bn. West. “So it takes some time for them to get adjusted to the saddle and have someone lead them around.”

Many of these horses have only been out of the wild for a few months, still stubborn and fighting for control.

Kurkwood has had a great deal of experience with many different types of horses in his home in Michigan, but working with mustangs was still a great challenge.

“Growing up, I’ve always had horses,” Kurkwood said. “My grandma had 15 horses, then my grandpa had two or three. I’ve worked with big horses, miniatures, but never with mustangs and to see the difference between a domesticated horse and a mustang that’s pulled from the wild is a wonder in itself. ”

How long it takes for a horse to be domesticated is largely dependent on the animal, however, sooner or later they learn that their care takers are only there to help and this relationship is mutually beneficial.

Many of the horses, described to be rowdy upon arrival, are now more timid and follow direction from the Marines. The relationship the Marines build with their mustangs goes beyond the semiweekly visits, as some of the Marines talk about visits to see their mustang after separation from active duty.
ImageHorses ImageWounded Warrior

No Comments


Add Comment

(required)
  Post Comment
 
Unit News
What I've Learned: Nick Carboni

What I’ve Learned: Nick Carboni

By Lance Cpl. Kasey Peacock | April 04, 2014

Nick Carboni is a Marine with G-6 communication and information systems who shares a passion for being a Marine and for automobiles. He drives a sports car that is no longer made, and one day aspires to own a Lamborghini. MORE
Comments 0 Comments
23rd Dental Co. fixing smiles, tracking files

23rd Dental Co. fixing smiles, tracking files

By Lance Cpl. Kasey Peacock | April 04, 2014

Aboard the Combat Center, Marines and sailors are familiar with the reality of deploying. As the Combat Center is the largest live-fire training center in the Marine Corps, keeping the Marines and sailors medically ready is a top priority. MORE
Comments 0 Comments
Healthy Base Initiative supports base-wide healthy lifestyle campaign

Healthy Base Initiative supports base-wide healthy lifestyle campaign

By Cpl. Charles Santamaria | April 02, 2014

MCCS’ Semper Fit division is supporting the initiative by implementing more youth sports, fitness testing and fitness based activities for families aboard the base. One such program is the Homeschool Physical Education Program which hosts a weekly class for children aboard the Combat Center who receive home schooling. MORE
Comments 0 Comments
Marine stays true to values, earns meritorious promotion

Marines stays true to values, earns meritorious promotion

By Lance Cpl. Kasey Peacock | April 02, 2014

On that cold September day in 2001, mixed emotions filled the hearts and minds of many as the wreckage caused was displayed live across America. Some lost family, some lost friends. Some became fearful of the future, and some decided to make a difference. MORE
Comments 0 Comments
SMP hosts free poker tournament at The Zone

SMP hosts free poker tournament at The Zone

By Cpl. Charles Santamria | March 28, 2014

Pvt. Alexander Sexauer, student, Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School, took the experience he gained from that moment and applied it during the Single Marine Program’s free Texas Hold ’em Poker Tournament at The 5th Street Zone, March 28, 2014. The tournament is held on a monthly basis and saw the participation of 41 service members this time around. MORE
Comments 0 Comments