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Because of Horses

Mar 16, 2018

Elise’s guest on today’s Because of Horses helps save hundreds of wild Mustangs every year, in the process also providing life skills and hope to the prisoners who volunteered to gentle them.


Randy Helm heads up the Wild Horse and Burro Inmate Program within the Arizona Department of Corrections. Randy supervises and trains about 40 prisoners, and over 500 horses and burros, ensuring the animals' careful gentling and making it possible for them to leave BLM's holding facilities and get adopted into loving homes.


And while it wasn't initially the program's focus, the very nature of working with horses has been incredibly beneficial to the prisoners, themselves – giving them hope for life after prison, building their self-confidence, helping them connect with other living beings, and teaching them life skills that many were never before exposed to. The outstanding results speak for themselves: while about 40% of Arizona prisoners will be back behind bars within three years of their release, those who participate in Randy’s wild horse training program have a recidivism rate of less than 15%.


This episode, Elise and Randy discuss the program's role in saving wild Mustangs and providing them with a shot at new lives, the changes he sees in the prisoner-trainers, and why rehabilitating horses – and men – is so important to him... a former narcotics officer, life-long rancher, and devoted horseman.


Topics of Discussion:

[1:23] The changes Randy sees in prisoners as they participate in the program.

[2:28] How are inmates selected to participate?

[3:48] The inmates' varied backgrounds.

[4:11] Why the program requires prisoners to have their high school diploma or be working toward their GED.

[6:42] How the program guides inmates toward self-improvement.

[7:48] Why Randy believes these programs with horses are so meaningful.

[9:38] What Randy has observed in the interactions between the horses and the inmates — especially in the early days.

[11:16] The program's objective and the bond between horses and inmates.

[13:20] Teaching the inmates to work with the horses’ nature through low-resistance training and natural horsemanship.

[18:40] The important, teachable moments between the inmates and horses.

[21:48] Reading listener feedback!

[23:38] What the program looks like on a day-to-day basis and how it helps prisoners develop a strong work ethic.

[25:45] The stats don’t lie — the program's impressive success rate.

[27:34] How Randy’s own life experiences have been critical in providing a good background for the work he is doing today.

[20:10] How Randy drew from his past experiences to coach former inmates to avoid the habits that led to their incarceration.

[30:48] The many roles required by Randy's job.

[32:20] Why Randy believes wild Mustangs tend to take to Border Patrol fairly easily — sometimes even better than a domesticated Quarter Horse.

[39:18] Other ways Mustangs can be better accustomed to trails and different types of environments.

[40:44] The complex issue of managing the wild Mustang and how the program helps.

[43:17] How the horses are selected for the program.

[45:50] From start to finish, what training wild Mustangs is usually like.

[46:54] Where to learn more about the wild horse program.


Know Someone Inspirational, Whose Life Has Been Forever Changed Because of Horses? Because of Horses would love to get to share their story!

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Discover More About this Week’s Guest — Randy Helm

Arizona Correctional Industries’ Wild Horse Program


Mentioned in this Episode:

Arizona Correctional Industries’ Wild Horse Program

Northern Nevada Correctional Center Wild Horse Training Facility

Wild Horse Inmate Program in Colorado Correctional Industries

Wild Horse Program at the Kansas Correctional Industries

Wyoming Honor Farm


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