Jim Urquhart/Reuters
  • The Wild Horse Inmate Program trains wild mustangs that will eventually be adopted by the U.S. Border Patrol, providing the agency with inexpensive but agile horses. Inmates, who help tame these horses, develop skills and insights that will help them in their post-prison life. </br></br>A wild horse attempts to escape being herded into corrals by a helicopter during a Bureau of Land Management round-up outside Milford, Utah, Jan. 8, 2017.
    Jim Urquhart/Reuters
  • Wild horses attempt to escape being herded into corrals by a helicopter during a Bureau of Land Management round-up outside Milford, Utah, Jan. 8, 2017.
    Jim Urquhart/Reuters
  • At least 80 percent of the U.S. Border Patrol's current stable of 400 horses come from inmate training programs in Arizona, Colorado, Kansas and Nevada. The horses are critical for patrolling the rugged and remote stretches of the Mexican border to detect illegal crossings by migrants and drug trafficking. </br></br>Wild horses are herded into corrals by a helicopter during a Bureau of Land Management round-up outside Milford, Utah, Jan. 7, 2017.
    Jim Urquhart/Reuters
  • Participating prisoners round up their horses before dawn and work all day under the watchful eyes of Randy Helm, a third-generation rancher, former narcotics officer and self-proclaimed "cowboy preacher" who supervises the program. </br></br>A U.S. Border Patrol horse goes for a run during an off-patrol day at their station in Boulevard, California, Nov. 12, 2016.
    Mike Blake/Reuters
  • Most prisoners who apply for the program don't have experience with horses so Helm teaches the prisoners to "gentle" the horses rather than "break" them. </br></br> U.S. Border Patrol horses Hollywood, left, and Apache roll in the dirt at their patrol station in Boulevard, California, Nov. 12, 2016.
    Mike Blake/Reuters
  • Over the course of four to six months, the men train their horses - with names like Billy, Rocky and Patches - to tolerate bridles and saddles, respond to commands to trot and canter and perform footwork that will come in handy on the uneven desert terrain along the border. </br></br>A farrier applies a new horseshoe to a U.S. border patrol horse at their station in Boulevard, California, Nov. 14, 2016.
    Mike Blake/Reuters
  • An inmate's saddle and helmet sit on a fence inside Florence State Prison at the Wild Horse Inmate Program (WHIP) in Florence, Arizona, Dec. 2, 2016.
    Mike Blake/Reuters
  • Pictures of horses hang on a wall at the U.S. border patrol station in Boulevard, California, Nov. 12, 2016.
    Mike Blake/Reuters
  • U.S. Border Patrol adoptions are key to the government's effort to stem the nation's growing population of mustangs. A federal law passed in 1971 tasked the Bureau of Land Management with managing wild horse and burro populations in the American West, both to protect the animals and to ensure that vegetation was not overgrazed and water sources depleted. </br></br>Program manager Randy Helm looks over the names of horses being trained as part of the Wild Horse Inmate Program (WHIP) at Florence State Prison in Florence, Arizona, Dec. 2, 2016.
    Mike Blake/Reuters
  • U.S. Border Patrol agents prepare their horses for patrol at their station in Boulevard, California, Nov. 14, 2016.
    Mike Blake/Reuters
  • U.S. Border Patrol agents on horseback patrol along a beach just north of the U.S.-Mexico border near San Diego, California, Nov. 10, 2016. </br></br>Border Patrol is the biggest single purchaser of mustangs from the inmate programs.
    Mike Blake/Reuters
  • U.S. Border Patrol agents from Boulevard Station inspect three men near Jacumba, California, Nov. 14, 2016.
    Mike Blake/Reuters
  • A full moon rises behind U.S. Border Patrol agent Josh Gehrich as he sits atop a hill while on patrol near Jacumba, California, Nov. 14, 2016.
    Mike Blake/Reuters
  • U.S. Border Patrol agents from Boulevard Station look out over a ridge after sunset near Jacumba, California, Nov. 14, 2016.
    Mike Blake/Reuters
  • Randy Helm rides a horse, while inmate Gabriel Curtis gestures, as they train a horse as part of the Wild Horse Inmate Program (WHIP) at Florence State Prison in Florence, Arizona, Dec. 2, 2016.
    Mike Blake/Reuters
  • Inmates tend to horses as part of the Wild Horse Inmate Program (WHIP) at Florence State Prison in Florence, Arizona, Dec. 2, 2016. </br></br>The horses are critical for patrolling the rugged and remote stretches of the Mexican border to detect illegal crossings by migrants and drug trafficking.
    Mike Blake/Reuters
  • An inmate rides a wild horse as part of the Wild Horse Inmate Program (WHIP) at Florence State Prison in Florence, Arizona, Dec. 2, 2016.
    Mike Blake/Reuters
  • An inmate rides a wild horse as part of the Wild Horse Inmate Program (WHIP) at Florence State Prison in Florence, Arizona, Dec. 2, 2016. </br></br>The inmates, though, say they don't mind that the horses help law enforcement. They are simply happy the animals no longer face thirst and starvation in the drought-stricken West.
    Mike Blake/Reuters
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus