Courtesy of Wrangler Network contributor Charlie Coon
Steve Mantle has been working with the Bureau of Land Management wild horse adoption program for many years. The Wheatland, WY rancher has watched ten American military veterans connect with some of those horses in a round pen on Cheyenne’s Frontier Park this week in ways he cannot explain. The vets are introduced at the start of the Cheyenne Frontier Days afternoon rodeo performances daily. Each has sustained physical and mental harm to one degree or another from combat duty.
A large-scale wild horse and burro adoption culminates a week of gentling work. Under the direction of Mantle and his family the group of vets called Bravehearts based near Chicago has been a valuable asset showing by example how strong a bond can be formed between human and animal in a very short period of time.
It was a life-saving connection for Army veteran Mitchell Hedlund from northern Illinois. He sustained severe injuries in Afghanistan five years ago.
While Hedlund may have been rehabilitating physically he was a complete mental wreck until six months ago. And Mitchell attributes the fact that he is alive to a wild horse.