Inmates Prepare Mustangs For Adoption - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Inmates Prepare Mustangs For Adoption

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Tomorrow, the first saddle-trained horse adoption of the year will take place, in Carson City. Fifteen horses are up for sale with bids starting at $150.

But the horses and their trainers are in a unique situation. They are captured mustangs and the people that train them are inmates.

And the horses and their trainers have more in common than you might think. 

Fred Winkler is in prison for burglary.

Today, he spends his time on the back of a mustang named "Little Joe."

The two are both preparing for life on the outside.

"Makes the time go way fast, in here," Winkler said. "It's the best thing in the system, I think."

More than a dozen inmates are part of a unique program, training mustangs.

Cozy Jones is training a horse called "King."

"You're not locked up anymore, once you get out here," Jones said. "Just a little walk from over there to over here. I'm at ease and I'm free."

The Northern Nevada Correctional Center is the home of about 1,500 mustangs.

75 of them are trained and sold every year to a variety of people including Nevada ranchers, the Border Patrol and Marine Corps.

"I'm a team roper," Hank Curry said. "I've got about four of them at home and we use those for team roping. They're great on the range. Hunters love them because they're sure-footed."

Curry is a supervisor for the corrections department, overseeing the program.

Over the last decade, more than 700 wild horses have been trained and adopted.

While the program helps domesticate the mustangs, Curry says it also teaches the men respect, loyalty, and discipline.

"I always tell my guys, if you deal with a horse and you don't fix a problem, one day, that problem will be there to greet you in the morning," Curry said. "So, you might as well go ahead and fix it."

Statistics show that inmates in this program are more than twice as likely to stay out of prison, once they're released.

These cowboys agree that they get more reward from the horses than they give.

"It's changed me," Winkler said. "It's made me more outspoken, just trusting people. It's made me a better person."

"It helped me out with my temper and calmed me down," Jones said. "Something I should've been doing a long time ago."

The inmates get paid 60 cents per hour for their work but a portion of that pays for room and board at the prison.

Horse adoptions happen four times a year and the horses are each trained for four months.

Tomorrow's event starts at 10am at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center at 1721 Snyder Avenue in Carson City.

Written by Paul Nelson

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