Magic Mustang Tamer

Course Objectives

Section 1. Basic Wild Equine Care

Staying Safe

  •  interpret horse body language indicating an intent to harm
  •  explain the relationship between equine fear and human safety
  •  demonstrate personal responsibility for maintaining a safe environment
  •  explain what to do in case of accidents with horses
  •  discuss the implications of NM equine liability limits

Wild Horse Husbandry

  •  Recognize the signs of colic and how to minimize the risk of this traumatic illness
  •  Feed correct amount of either grass or alfalfa hay in an appropriate place
  •  Describe the general method to refeed a starving equine
  •  Connect high glycemic foods to health issues in mustangs
  •  Be able to calculate the weight of a horse or donkey
  •  Formulate a plan to introduce other foods to a mustang or burro
  •  Provide adequate and suitable water and salt for an equine
  •  Recognize the signs of health and illness in a horse
  •  Recite the healthy horse values for the five vital signs
  •  Recognize quidding
  •  Give reasons for mucking pens

Wild Horse Medicine

  •  Describe preventative measures for common health problems.
  •  Recognize the symptoms of each of the diseases for which there is a vaccine.
  •  Describe a safe protocol to worm horses with a high parasite load.
  •  Associate methods of control with various equine parasites and pests.
  •  Define sheath cleaning.
  •  Discuss safety aspects of dealing with a cast horse.
  •  Describe what to do about a horse quidding.
  •  Identify the symptoms of colic.
  •  Compare and contrast the major causes and mortality of colic.
  •  Discuss the latest research and current understanding of colic.
  •  Describe how to euthanize a horse in an emergency.
  •  Describe how obesity is related to metabolic syndromes in mustangs and donkeys.
  •  List eight contagious diseases to watch for in animals coming from holding facilities.
  •  Describe how to quarantine an animal.

External Equine Anatomy

  •  Identify any part of the horse unambiguously using the correct terminology.
  •  Interpret anatomical terminology.

Equine Branding

  •  Decipher alpha angle brands.
  •  Describe the application of freeze brands and microchips.
  •  Become familiar with the brand inspection system of your state.

Age Estimation

  •  Estimate a horse’s age by its teeth.
  •  Confirm an age estimation by comparing to the animal’s teeth.

Gelding the Wild Stallion

  •  Describe the gelding process.
  •  Outline the major BLM policies for gelding.
  •  Identify some aspects of gelding practice that may impact equine welfare.
  •  Care for a recently gelded animal.

Horse Conformation

  •  Identify and name major conformation faults.
  •  Calculate the weight of the horse and the maximum weight it should be asked to carry.
  •  Identify common horse colors.
  •  Name body markings.
  •  Read and interpret a signalment key.

Donkeys are Different

  •  Compare and contrast Equus asinus with Equus caballus
  •  Describe special care needed by burros

Equine Behavior

  •  Name behaviors using the correct terminology
  •  Describe behavior objectively 

Section 2. Animal Training

Ethology and Behavior

  •  Explain why an animal trainer needs to know something about the ethology of the species.
  •  Differentiate between objective descriptions of behaviors and interpretations of behaviors.
  •  Reflect on your own cognitive biases about the behavior of animals.

Animal Emotions

  •  Discuss the neurochemistry of common motivations.
  •  Compare and contrast the action of adrenaline, cortisol, dopamine, and opioids.
  •  Describe the evidence for saying that animals feel emotions.
  •  Describe the 7 basic emotions.

Fear Itself

  •  Recognize signs of fear.
  •  Discuss the sympathetic and parasympathetic system response to a threat.
  •  Differentiate between the sympathetic system stress response and the HPA-axis response.

Over Threshold

  •  Apply the theories of fear to on-the-ground training situations.
  •  Describe how to use several strategies to solve a fear-based training problem.

Hierarchy Hypothesis

  •  Discuss the evidence for a linear hierarchy within the herd.
  •  Critique the dominance model of training.

Equine Personality

  •  Draw conclusions about the utility and limitations of personality descriptions.
  •  Devise ways to create informative personality descriptors.
  •  Develop an animal time budget.
  •  Score an animal on a qualitative behavioral assessment (QBA)

Equine Welfare and Ethics

  •  Discuss the welfare implications of horse training.

Laws of Behavior

  •   Appreciate how science is a valuable tool for animal training.

Stimulus & Response

  •  Engage in a credible conversation about applied animal behavior learning theory.
  •   Write a contingency statement for any behavior.

Respondent vs Operant

  •  Compare and contrast the primary modes of learning.
  •  Describe the roles of habituation and systematic desensitization in horse training.
  •  Plan for and carry out a respondent conditioning training project to create a desirable conditioned emotional response. 

Antecedents & Behaviors

  •   Investigate and manipulate antecedents to behaviors.
  •   Describe the parameters of desired behaviors.


  •  Predict the effect of the trainer’s actions on the behavior of the animal.
  •  Design consequences to change the probability of behaviors using appetitive or aversive motivators.
  •  Recognize behaviors associated with changes in the reinforcement schedule.


  •  Describe several ways to increase or strengthen any naturally occurring behavior.
  •  Condition a bridge signal.
  •  Describe the consequences of various schedules of reinforcement


  •  Discuss various methods of reducing undesirable behaviors.
  •  Identify the potential problems of using punishment.
  •  Create a plan to reduce a behavior using positive reinforcement.

Functional Assessment

  •  Use accepted ABA  assessment practices to investigate and plan for desirable behavior changes.

Section 3. World of Mustangs

The BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program

  •  Demonstrate familiarity with the BLM program and website.
  •  Demonstrate understanding of the application process.
  •  Provide a verbal explanation of the adoption process that would be suitable for addressing the questions of a potential adopter.
  •  Summarize The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971.
  •  Discuss some of the controversies which the WH&B program faces.

Disposal of Excess Equine

  •  Distinguish opinion from fact.
  •  Describe the slaughter system with facts.
  •  Describe the adoption system with facts.
  •  Discuss the economics of the WH&B program horse disposal.

NEPA for Wild Equine

  •  Describe the NEPA process for federal projects.
  •  Analyze and critique an environmental assessment for a mustang gather.

The Mustang Heritage Foundation

  •  Describe the role MHF plays in the adoption effort.
  •  Observe (live or video) a Mustang Make-Over event.
  •  Describe how the TIP and StoreFront programs work.
  •  Apply to the TIP program if you want to be certified.

Wild Horse Annie and Wild Horse Advocacy

  •  Describe the role of WH advocacy in the welfare of the captured horses.
  •  Compare and contrast helicopter gathering with bait gathering.
  •  Describe opportunities for public input into the process.
  •  List and describe the landmark court cases between advocates and the government.

Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board

  •  Describe the role the Advisory Board plays in feral equine management.
  •  Observe (live or video) an Advisory Board meeting.
  •  Describe who is on the board and the interests they represent.
  •  Prepare a 3-minute presentation for the board on training for adoption.

Prison Programs and the Archetype of Taming

  •  Compare and Contrast the documentary Wild Horse Redemption with the movie The Mustang
  •  Describe the role of prisons in the WH&B Program.

Birth Control in Feral Equines

  •  Describe the biological effects of PZP.
  •  Detail the invention and marketing of PZP.
  •  Review the major studies of PZP usage.
  •  Compare PZP usage with surgical sterilization approaches.

Rangeland Management Fundamentals

  •  List the three aspects that define a grazing system
  •  Enumerate the values that should inform a good grazing system
  •  Compare and contrast the dietary preferences of cattle, burros, and horses
  •  Compare and contrast the landscape use of cattle, burros, and horses
  •  Compare and contrast grazing systems for cattle, burros, and horses
  •  List 5 ecosystem factors that control forage production on rangeland
  •  Describe the issues wild horses create for ranchers
  •  Describe the issues wild horses create for fish and wildlife


  •  Understand the issues that predict adoption success or failure.
  •  Compare and Contrast various Adoption contracts and Bills of Sale
  •  Prepare marketing collateral to attract adopters.
  •  Take illustrative photos of horses that are suitable to advertise them.

Doing Business with the Federal Government

  •  Outline the federal government procurement process
  •  Compare and RFQ, IFB, and Cooperative Agreement
  •  List the main requirements to become a federal contractor
  •  Be able to use technology to search for contracting records and opportunities.