A future for wild horses
When Bill Newman toppled off the horse he was riding during a race in Del Mar, Calif., he had hardly had any idea that he was going to die. But he did. Sort of.
Second from the lead, his horse stumbled spilling him headlong into the path of eight other horses.
Paramedics and emergency rescue officers had given up on the 29-year-old jockey. He suffered a crushed chest, broken femur and broken vertebrae in his neck.
“My heart had stopped completely,” Newman said.
Emergency crews worked on Newman for nearly 27 minutes, then gave up.
“They didn’t know that I had a broken neck, but I was dead, really,” he said. “So they loaded me up on a flat board without securing my neck, put me in the ambulance and headed toward the morgue.”
Newman, who stands 5-feet 5 and weighs 110 pounds, said he doesn’t remember much of the accident. He didn’t have any spiritual experience on “the other side” or anything like that.
“On the way to the morgue, the ambulance went over two hard bumps,” he said, “and I suddenly drew in a breath. It surprised the paramedics real bad.”
Newman said he ran away from home in Taylor, Okla., to become a jockey. Growing up on a ranch, he had dreams of horse riding, breeding and ranching.
“I rode my first race at 13,” he said. “I had to go to Texas, because they had a track.”
That was the beginning of a love for horses and understanding of how it all works.
He has wrangled and trained horses, shoed and cleaned, mucked stalls and hauled hay – all to be near the horses he loved.
After his accident, it looked as though his dreams may have died.
“I was back at the track about a year later, but my competition riding was over,” he said.
So when he met his wife, Stella, it was a perfect match. Both train animals. Stella also has been training horses since she was a girl.
Together, they are fulfilling a dream of what the future of wild horse adoption should be.
Wild Horses In Need Inc. – WHINI, for short – is a different wild horse preservation program that takes the horse, gentles it and then begins the adoption program.
“We currently have an agreement with the state of Nevada to help with adoptions of the mustangs that are gathered on state properties,” said Stella.
There has been debate in Congress in recent months about turning the care of mustangs and their rangeland over to the states to manage. It has been argued that the Bureau of Land Management has mismanaged the mustangs and the program designed to care for them, she said.
WHINI has 80 acres north of Reno for its proposed gentling center. The land was donated to WHINI for the purpose of helping the mustangs.
“We’re still in the very early stages,” said Stella. “We believe like many others that if a horse has been gentled in some ways, such as haltering, touching, loading in a trailer, that the demand for these horse would be greatly increased.”
Stella said that statistics show a large portion of mustangs adopted will go through five different homes before they are settled into a permanent one.
“We also see no reason for destroying one percent of horses that will never be suitable for training for the public,” she said.
He suggests those horses be left on the range and in the wild.
“Once exposed to man’s holding facilities, these animals often come into contact with domestic horse ailments that can be transferred to entire herds of healthy mustangs,” she said.
WHINI was organized to bring the mustangs into the holding area, gentle them through a technique of touching, handling and persuasion.
“It’s commonly thought that they are difficult, dangerous, or virtually impossible to train,” Stella said. “This is a fallacy. We’ve found that less than one percent are too difficult to train or are too dangerous to handle.”
Bill said he hopes that by changing the method of adoption, the horses will find homes sooner and remain as good riding stock.
“The state doesn’t donate the animal to the facility,” Bill said. “They are bought by WHINI, and then adopted out.”
Wild Horses In Need, Inc.
2300 Harvard Way #125E
Reno, NV 89502