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Wylene Wilson on Taming and Training a Wild Mustang

taming and training a wild mustang dvdWhere do you start to tame and train a wild mustang?

If you’ve ever wondered, have a hankering to try it yourself or just love to watch exciting horse training in action, then the DVD “Taming and Training a Wild Mustang” is for you. The two-hour video, featuring Wylene Wilson and Al Dunning, is offered on HorseBooksEtc.com for $39.95.

This video follows Wylene, whose trademark is “Wild West Horsemanship,” and her journey with Trooper, a wild mustang from Nevada.  Wylene has just 120 days to prepare for the The Mustang Heritage Foundation’s Mustang Magic challenge based in Fort Worth, Texas.

Al Dunning joins her and together they demonstrate what it takes to get this mustang from wild to mild. This transformation is amazing to watch and will leave you in awe of these beautiful wild horses and the incredible horsemanship it takes to work with them.

I had the great fun of talking with Wylene recently, and the spunky horsewoman shared the ups and downs of taming and training a wild mustang and what it was like to make that DVD:

MyHorse Daily: What year was that, and how old were you at the time?

Wylene: It was from October 2008 to January 2009. I had just turned 29.

Horsewoman and wild Mustang trainer Wylene Wilson. | Photo by Charlie Brooks

Horsewoman and wild Mustang trainer Wylene Wilson. | Photo by Charlie Brooks

I already competed–that was my third mustang makeover. And the next year I won, on my fourth horse, and I also won on a fifth one two months later. So basically I was training two mustangs at a time.The first one was the Fort Worth Mustang Makeover and two months later in November it was the Mountain Valley Mustang Makeover in Utah.

MyHorse Daily: How did you get that particular horse, Trooper?

Wylene: It was a random draw. They picked up several of us and turned all the horses loose in the arena and brought us out in a pickup truck and you drew your horse.

I thought man, he was huge. He was the biggest mustang I’d ever seen, 15.2 hands. He’s a big ol’ boy.

We drove home from Fort Worth and stopped at someone’s facility and I worked with him. I laid him down, handled him. I knew he was a wild son-of-a-gun then. I thought (sarcastically), “This is going to be great!”

He was big and stout but he moved really well. He felt really eloquent underneath me. It was amazing how quickly he could move.

MyHorse Daily: Did you plan out the entire 120 days?

Wylene: You can never have it mapped out. And with mustangs–you have to approach them in a different manner.

Mustangs are a little different than high-bred, high-quality domestic horses. They have no pedigrees, no special stud fees, it’s just a random horse.

And Trooper was one of my toughest horses. As of today, he was my toughest mustang. Normally I’m on a horse in 24 to 48 hours, and it took me three weeks to get on him. He’d run sideways, kick and bite and strike…but once I rode him, he was a piece of cake.

He’d be crazy on the ground, but under saddle he was a ballet dancer/Ninja.

Sometimes you never know how they’re gonna pan out and you’re scared to death. So I learned a big lesson from that horse.

MyHorse Daily: What are the training differences between mustangs and domestic horses?

Wylene: What I love about mustangs is they’ve never been lied to. They’ve never had anything handed to them. They’re not spoiled and they don’t get into your space. so when you teach a wild horse, and y ou get them to trust you, they’re going to be 10 times more loyal. They’d give their life for you.

A domestic horse is often pushy, spoiled, entitled.

Whereas a mustang–I like that no one has touched them. So the second you teach them something they listen. They know how to do something right for themselves. So when you go to trail ride them, they already know how to trail ride. They don’t look at something sideways or spook becuase they’ve already lived on the trail.

A domestic horse will flip over with you becuase they’re scared.

So I love mustangs bc once you establish that relationship, they are dialed in. They are really good partners.

MyHorse Daily: How did you come to work with Al Dunning on this DVD?

Wylene: Al asked me to do it. And I was very intimidated, but very honored. What an honor to be sitting with a legend who was my mentor.

He still says, “I’m so thankful we did it, Wylene.” And I have people come up to me to this day who say they’ve seen it.

Everybody loves Al because of who he is.

MyHorse Daily: What about the romanticized ideal people have of adopting a wild mustang?

Wylene: I love mustangs. but even I don’t know it all, and if you don’t know what you’re doing you’ll get hurt.

Last October I broke my back. A mustang bucked me off. I was roping cows and the rope went under her tail. Still, I was staying on until she bucked the bridle off her head.

It made me realize I’m human, and you gotta know what you’re doing and be really careful.

I get emails from people who say, “I’ve got a mustang and he’s 12 and never been ridden and I was wondering if you’d start him?” And I say no.

There’s good ones and bad ones, just like any horse. They will strike you in the forehead and kill you in two seconds if they want to. So for most people, there needs to be some reality brought back.

People want to help them and want to save them, but when you have an animal you can’t trust–if there’ s a possibility you can be hurt, it’s not worth it. No horse is worth it.

It’s a tough subject. People don’t want them to be slaughtered.

MyHorse Daily: You’re currently participating in a project by ABC Big Picture Productions for a possible reality television show about your experience through The Mustang Million. How did you pick your mustang?

Wylene: I look for the ones that look nothing like a draft horse, because they’re wilder and bigger.

This last one–I looked for a good-looking one. I go for more feminine qualities, more petite. I named him King of Hearts.

MyHorse Daily: How can we see you on the show?

Wylene: The show is called The Mustang Million. It’s being filmed and will air this fall on Nat Geo Wild.

MyHorse Daily: How many wild mustangs have you tamed and trained?

Wylene: About 40 wild mustangs in all.

MyHorse Daily: Where is home?

Wylene: I live in Missouri now, on the Oklahoma/Missour/Arkansas corner, with my husband two kids.

MyHorse Daily: Why is the “Taming and Training a Wild Mustang” DVD so popular?

Wylene: Because there’s something about taking a wild animal and having it bond with you, teaching it trust and respect. You can turn into a partner. In the long scheme it’s really rewarding to know you’ve changed a life–but they change yours, too.

My  husband and I wouldn’t be together if not for wild mustangs. I met him at a mustang makeover.

Categories: Wild or Rescued Horses.

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2 Responses

  1. In the interview she said ” I worked with him. I laid him down, handled him.” Does she really mean that she roped and tripped him and forced him down so she could handle him all over? I thought the days of flooding, and force were over in horse training. Maybe these contests of training a mustang in a few days or a few months is bringing back the days of “breaking” horses, ie: “break” their spirit so they will submit. So that the “trainer” can sell books, DVDs, and win money.

    Laura Pajot, OregonJuly 23, 2013 @ 11:40 am
  2. Hi, Laura,

    There are many well-respected horse trainers, including Buck Brannaman, who will on occasion lay a horse down in training in order to help that particular horse learn to trust humans.

    I understand it may not be a method that everyone agrees with, but I do believe if the trainer is experienced, as Wylene is, that the purpose isn’t to break the horse’s spirit but rather, help them understand that when they are vulnerable, a human can be loving and gentle.

    As always, I really appreciate that you care enough to write.

    -Amy

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