Program Director & Trainer Jim Hiatt, has lived in Warner Valley since the 1980’s. During his time in the valley, he has owned and ridden several mustangs. Even before becoming manager at the facility, I specifically remember over hearing him talk about mustangs – he said, “once they figure out that you aren’t going to eat them, they become like puppy dogs.” Today, he rides his 18 year old mustang, “Louie”, at the facility.
Jim received Louie as a weanling from the Sheldon Wildlife Refuge (that would be about seventeen years ago). Although he is majorly calm today, he wasn’t always this way. Jim recalls that he was “kind of nasty when I started him.” I suppose that over time, Louie learned that Jim was not going to eat him, and he decided to be gentle as ever, forever. It is special to see Louie, who looks like he could be a close relation to Flash Gordon, be able to help train the younger horses.
Jim’s holistic training techniques have allowed for wild horses to find home homes within 60-90 days (give or take). Jim has a real vision of where a horse starts and where they need to be. Not only does he work from ground to saddle, Jim takes time to get to know each of horses’ personality and how to best work with that particular horse. He knows that some horses take time and will spend more time with them on the ground. He can see potential for all the horses and provides an experience that is custom to the horse. He will spend many hours getting the horse used to him and others by grooming them, working around their legs/hooves, and other types of human interaction.
Jim provides different environment exposures for all horses in order to get them used to working and riding outside of the pen. There is a process that is used to get horses comfortable being ridden out of their element. Some horses are ready sooner than others.