Wild Horses & Wild Men: Horse whisperer tames wild hearts in Arizona


Good boy. Never touched a human in his life. Lot of energy. We ask a horse to do a lot in a short period
of time. There we go. We’re asking them to change the way they think,
their natural instinct for flight, and not only change that but respond to us that is
initially perceived as a predator. I’m in here for domestic violence assault,
and I was a very angry man when I came to prison. I got locked up 18 years ago for a murder
I committed. I called it self-defense, the lay people said it wasn’t. We’re the oldest state prison in Arizona. Right now in the wild there are maybe 58-60,000
wild horses and it’s much more than the range will support. So Bureau of Land Management, when they have
too many horses for a specific range, they’ll gather them and they’ll get them to a facility
to find homes for. I basically call this my morning therapy. The best trainers have no training experience. Because some guys with horse experience aren’t
teachable. So the inmates now in the program, the majority had zero horse experience, some
had zero animal experience. There wasn’t many cowboys where I grew up. That would have been hard to fathom. But here
I am. I never even had a puppy. I’ve seen goldfish
and people having fishes and people taking on pets, it just was never my thing. When we first got him, we couldn’t get near
him. Do you trust me with your foot this morning? Huh? Good boy. Here it is a year-plus later and I really
couldn’t imagine life without horses. Any. Somehow in some form in some fashion. Somebody’s gonna fall in love with her.
My baby. They come out of the wild with certain behaviors
that were key to their survival. These inmates, a lot of them come in with certain things
that they have picked up, right or wrong, that they felt they needed to survive or function. They’re going from, from wild, if you will,
to gentle. There you go, good. Some of the guys that are in for the, what we would consider the more serious crimes,
the more violent crimes, I think they have more to relate to. When these horses first come in, their problem
is trust. When I first come into prison, that was my problem. Eighteen years ago it probably
wouldn’t have worked because my attitude wasn’t right. I had a a a, for lack of better words, a street
mentality. I don’t think I’d have had the patience. He just bein’ ornery this morning. He has
his days. Now this is what you get now, now I’m just goin’ stand here. He gets it. What I learn from my horses is patience, love
and caring. And trust. Humans hold a grudge. Horses don’t hold a
grudge. The inmate’s not just in there saying I’m
going to teach this horse how to change, but the inmate needs to understand, I need to
learn from the horse on how to change him. You know when I got locked up, it’s like,
you know, because I believe in God, and I asked him, I said, God, you know, give me
the silver lining in this whole thing so I can accept this and be OK with it. And this
is the silver lining in my sentence is this job. You’re not breaking the horse, you’re softening
the horse. We’re not just throwing on cowboy boots and
a cowboy hat and bucking them out. We’ll start a horse just going in a circle.
And that horse is going to have a natural tendency to run. And starting to get that
horse to turn inside, every time the horse turns inside or does what we want, my emphasis
is that we take all the pressure off. Sometimes it comes along quicker. I’ve had
them within … I’ve had them within 15 minutes walk from one of the … well, no, let me rephrase
that. One time in my life I’ve had them, 15 minutes, this horse went from one side of the pen to the other. And came and put his nose my chest. The method of training is referred to primarily
as horse whispering. Good for you. Good boy. I think the reason we say that is because
the trainers are whispering. (singing) And why should my heart … (off camera) The trainers are speaking softly
but it’s to keep us soft as well as have that gentle approach. You like that one, huh? (off camera) It almost sounds like you’re
doing something a little mystical. You’re whispering something. Good for you, good boy. (off camera) And in reality you’re just trying
to keep that horse calm. What we really are doing is finding a way to say yes to the horse. Never had one bite me. Had ’em nip at my shirt.
They’re just trying to figure me out. And I’ve had ’em pull my hat off so I don’t want
them to pull my nice hat off. And after awhile the horse figures out, oh,
every time the pressure goes away, I must have done something right. He can be in there for five, 10 minutes, and
that horse is squaring up with him. Walking up, smelling his hand. The old way of training horses pretty much
was pressure, pressure, pressure, pressure. You get a saddle, bridle on a horse, you get
on and the horse typically is going to either run or explode, especially the wild horses.
And it was all corrective. This is all progressive. Bottom line is you’re not going to force a
horse to do anything you don’t want to do, the way we train out here. And once you learn how to recognize the body
language of a horse, they talk to you and basically in so many body language words that
tell you, hey, you know, you’re pushing me too far, slow down. You know, I’m trying to
figure out what you’re asking. It’s a spiritual connection because you’re
pretty much listening to them but you have to listen not with your ears because they
don’t say anything. You kind of listen with your heart. Oh now you want a kiss? No, I don’t kiss.
I don’t like kisses. Wild horses just in general there’s a certain
romantic attachment we have. And I think rightly so. They are very much symbols of the American
West. Mustangs, for one thing, they’re just, they’re
amazing animals that have learned to survive in the wild. They have real diverse genetics.
There are some of them in the northern areas that came in with the wagon trains. The Native Americans had horses, some of those
had a Spanish genetics or Spanish lineage. You had the cavalry come in with horses that
had Morgan influence. You had ranchers that come in, their horses
got away or they turned them loose. So over a period of time, just survival of the fittest,
you have this strong genetic strain that begins to emerge where they have strong bones, strong
hooves. This the cream of the crop right here. You
see their attitude before and then you see their attitude in about a couple months. It’s
a lot different. (slightly off camera) Guys, be picking names
out of that list. Don’t be coming up with these innovative names that nobody knows what
they mean. (group laughing) And once I know what they
mean, I don’t want to know. So none of those names. Nice horse names. Nice horse names. I’ve had inmates come up and say, I never
had on the outside, I never had success and saw something through to fulfillment. I always
took shortcuts. It really is a big success when they are able
to see this horse come in, nobody’s touched it as far as the horse willingly allowing
somebody to touch it. And to have that horse responding and then
progressing on up to saddle training where they’re riding it through obstacles and, uh,
it is really amazing to see. Any time you came in the pen, she would keep
that head away from you and swing her behind to you. But with a little love and care and understanding,
not forcing her, letting her take her time, letting her figure it out, letting her understand
that I’m not trying to hurt her. Now I can take this and slip it right on in.
She has no problem with it. I’m pretty good at it. I’ve actually found
something I’m pretty decent at. I can make a living doing this. I have no other trade,
you know, and I could actually get out of here and make a living training horses. If I had to choose between these inmates leaving
here with a great career or great character, I would choose character in a heartbeat. It’s a sense of accomplishment. And for some
people, they might look at it is, you know, it’s small and insignificant. But for somebody who let’s say didn’t believe
in himself, to actually get that type of response from an animal. I don’t know, it does something
to you. It validates the hard work that you put in. Not just in training the horse but the hard
work you put in itself. Getting to this point. I’m not a kid. I’m 40 … I’ll be 46 years
old this year. And to finally say, OK, you have something
to stand on, you’re not as worthless as you believed you are. For me, that’s, that’s an
accomplishment. Yeah, it’s huge, it’s big. You know, and I
don’t take it lightly. They all come in with baggage and it doesn’t
excuse what they did. But you get insight into maybe why they, why
they did those things. And what happens over a period of time is,
they begin to understand they don’t have to go back out and live that way. And I’ve learned through working with horses
how to step back. On the streets I didn’t know how to step back. I didn’t know how to stop and say, OK, enough’s enough, I’m gonna leave and I’m gonna think about what’s going
on, you know, and why my anger’s getting the best of me. And that’s really the key, regardless of why
they’re here, I want them to understand that they can live a different way when they get out. And I don’t have a rehabilitation manual or
a rehabilitation plan, it is just a part of the whole process. And I want these guys to think about what
they’re going to do when they get out. We let these horses prove themselves, why
can’t we let the inmates prove themselves as well? We all need each other. Hmmm? Yeah. And we need
them too, huh? I need you too. Or else you wouldn’t be here. Right?


100 Responses

  1. teajenni

    October 14, 2017 7:40 pm

    Excellent upload… I wish all the men and all those that had lost hope all the best in a very harsh world. Share the spirit of the majestic horse. Thank you to the prison programme. May this continue as it will benefit so many in the long run. Thank you Randy for making a huge difference and for having the vision to make change happen xx

  2. Clandestino ForLE

    October 21, 2017 5:44 pm


    If you were sexually assaulted in any capacity (e.g., including with a vibrator or told to "eat p*ssy"/"suck d*ck") have the authorities investigate the Human Services Campus, especially St Vinnie's @ 1075 W Jackson St and CASS @ 230 S 12th Ave, because sex offenders and their associates were caught saying they're replacing Police Departments for domestic/foreign dictators and to delay sentencing by destroying the officers and disabling their spouses via legal motions/smearing in social media/rape.

  3. Eddie Hubbard

    October 29, 2017 1:53 am

    The outside of a horse is good for the inside of man. This is good for these men to see they can do something else beside the crimes they did to get there. It will give them a way to make a living in the horse world.

  4. Eddie Hubbard

    October 29, 2017 1:55 am

    Damn are these black man in to William ( Bill ) Picket? I wonder if they might know who he is? It might just surprise them.

  5. Ladybug Sarah

    November 9, 2017 9:00 pm

    Excellent. .I think all prisons should have this..๐ŸŽ๐Ÿ‡
    ๐Ÿ„๐Ÿ‚๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿ‚ Good therapy.

  6. Luna Prior

    December 5, 2017 2:25 pm

    Beautiful work training bothe horses and men, with gentle kindness, empathy and understanding… love this approach that work in so many directions…

  7. Sohaila LUVN NM

    March 27, 2018 2:47 am

    I tear up, if not cry every time I watch this. Mr. Helm, you are my hero. And all you inmates…may God continue to bless you and your lives prosper. Your willingness to shoot this video has blessed me and others…You've already started giving back.

  8. 46Rambo

    July 21, 2018 3:59 pm

    many people with far more experience haven't learned this much about themselves in twice as much time. Ride hard, shoot straight, and tell the truth. Thank you Gentlemen for your efforts

  9. Sel Akery

    August 21, 2018 4:26 pm

    We need these types of programs in every prison across our country. The problem is finding the proper instructors. This gentleman knows horses and men and he's damn good at both.

  10. Popeyes

    August 22, 2018 4:50 pm

    So the guys get to see how to tame their wildness…..through the training of the Wild Horses… Perfect!!

  11. Janet Wells

    August 28, 2018 8:50 pm

    Wonderful program. Horses are such great teachers for us humans. We really need them here on this planet to help us in so many ways. Great guys and they have a very, very good man to lead them it seems.

  12. Ray Vega. Miami, FL

    September 5, 2018 3:32 am

    Pattern on all this inmates: old school. You don't see "jits" working on this program or trying to learn "how to horses" dedication pays off. Hat off to ADC.

  13. peacey

    September 5, 2018 7:56 am

    This is awesome!! I love horses, but now I love them even more for helping those men find much more self confidence than they ever knew before their opportunities with learning in training horses!

  14. 000i 0006

    September 8, 2018 7:00 pm

    Great project !!! Love to see human finding that each one is important to society, learn respect for us and others is a society

  15. Triesta Wunder

    September 14, 2018 5:33 pm

    I had the pleasure of meeting Randy Helm at a trail ride. He is an amazing human. Thank God for men like him and programs like this.

  16. Kwei Quartey

    September 14, 2018 6:17 pm

    So heart-warming. Although dogs are in many ways more bonded to humans, I feel horses teach us more about ourselves. They are more enigmatic and they make us go deeper inside ourselves.

  17. Virginia O'Flaherty

    September 15, 2018 2:08 pm

    Thank you Randy Helm. I taught very aggressive and violent 7-8 year old boys and intuitively came to the conclusion that their behavior was adapted to the community in which they lived. An aggressive male was more likely to be successful in his community… not that I agreed or liked their behavior, but I had an understanding of where it came from. Their behavior was not, in my opinion, the result of some deep psychological issue, simply culture and conditioning.

  18. Marie Miller

    September 16, 2018 12:18 pm

    so the blm gets to harvest these horses when they want then use prison labor to clean them up and tame them some then they get to sell them and keep the money… why can the blm take our natural resources to use as they wish…

  19. Oneda Zinn

    September 17, 2018 10:56 pm

    Amazing idea…amazing therapy…then life change for both man and horse. Wow you had me tear up on this. Thank you!

  20. CA Catr

    September 18, 2018 11:36 am

    No, 60,000 horses are not more than the range will support. We are taught repeatedly to say there's not enough forage for the horses on the range, but that's not true. It's an issue of the cattle that are being added to the range, and the figures that are quoted, are figured according to the high number of cattle they want to add. "The BLM's claims of wild horse overpopulation are grossly exaggerated and designed to dupe the public into accepting the continued costly, cruel and unsustainable roundup, removal and stockpiling program," said Suzanne Roy, executive director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign. "We don't have an excess wild horse problem, we have a federal mismanagement problem."

  21. Petra Holtze

    September 18, 2018 9:15 pm

    this is so inspiring! well done! i just love it. We need purpose in our lives and what a beautiful purpose this is…

  22. Robert Queberg

    September 21, 2018 1:14 am

    I am seventy years old, and have had two years in my life that were horse free. I was first taught the old way of making the horse do it. Breaking a horse. When my wife and I took over the care of Dadโ€™s retired Standardbreds, I learned what these guys are learning in this program. Teach the horse to trust you, and to be willing to meet you, and follow you.
    When I was a kid, Dadโ€™s horses would come in from the pasture a feeding time. When I showed Dad a three year old stallion that would come when called from a pasture of Timothy and clover, he did not understand. Every day they get scratched enough to wear my nails crooked. They have given me a place to go where no one judges. You stand in the pasture or barn with horseโ€™s asses all around. Start scratching.
    Being responsible for the care of an animal, makes these guys important. As I listen to these guys talk, it is clear that they are getting โ€œitโ€. Guys, I salute you. A salute is also due the people who set this program in motion and found a qualified teacher to keep it rolling.

  23. Dolly Flop

    September 21, 2018 4:40 pm

    I loved this video and the thing about the horses is that you cannot force it to love you or trust you and if you are a wrong one that horse animal will see it from a mile away and you won't get near him and if you do he'll kick you but you go to that horse with an open heart and an honest agenda and respecting him and caring about what he wants then that horse is going to pay you back tenfold and he's going to love you back and thats the really special part because like I said you cannot force it if an horse tells you someone is a ood man or woman then you can trust that to be true……..not like humans they usually lying sacks of shit…lol…but the horse he gives honesty no matter what…

  24. MrVvulf

    September 26, 2018 8:28 pm

    "Soft training" works best with most animals. I can't tell you how many dog owners I've seen who have owned dogs all their lives and yet still have no CLUE how to read dog's body language. Pay attention, listen to their feedback. Be kind, soft and patient with all animals. They will reciprocate.

  25. Bryce Bertolino

    September 27, 2018 5:42 am

    I hope these horses go to hunting, packing or ranching. A horse has to be worked. I'd cry if they ended up in the backyard starving

  26. Donna Armstrong

    September 28, 2018 2:04 am

    that is an awesome video.ย  I give those inmates a lot of credit for working as hard as they do with the horses.ย  horses can teach a lot.

  27. Bee American

    September 28, 2018 3:29 am

    one of my favorite things to do is ask people if they could be any animal in the world what would they be I've always chosen the horse

  28. jimmie200

    September 28, 2018 3:45 am

    Let's simplify this: It's familiarity. I was raised with horses. They have to become familiar with you and what you do to them.

  29. Shapyra

    September 28, 2018 10:06 am

    Ive seen violent trainers being cruel to gentle domestic horses…and these men have comitted crimes, they are frown upon society, but they are gentle with wild horses, this is…amazing

  30. Saskia de Moor

    September 28, 2018 10:18 pm

    how touching , how beautiful and isn't the bottom line that these inmates (like everybody else) need to feel that they matter, that they are capable, that they need relation, connection, trust, love. We humans have the potential for peace and justice! Just give us a chance!!!!! How would society look like if the values were cherished, spread widely?

  31. Rawr_Kitten

    September 29, 2018 8:02 am

    Not all wild horses get to a place that can care for them… they go up for auction and anyone can buy them ….. for any use…

  32. Gail Howes

    September 30, 2018 6:13 am

    What a great thing to create something good for man and animal that makes them both feel loved with no strings attached. They feel the vibrations between each other that makes sense.

  33. Anne K

    October 3, 2018 5:19 pm

    A horses stable was set up next to a big estate in Brixton South London UK. Young children after school and in holiday time have been encouraged to turn away from the heavy gang culture that estate life brings with free riding lessons and taught how to care and look after these horses .. This is now being explored for other big estates in other U.K. cities. The children have benefited greatly, they have been able to focus on care and love of fellow beings instead of carrying knives ready to inflict big harm ….

  34. bmc06239

    October 5, 2018 12:42 pm

    What amazes me is how well your horses move..they are more fluid then most racehorses in training at today's top four Tb racing stables. You guys could teach them a thing or two…nice work.

  35. Ganhiwa

    October 6, 2018 5:59 pm

    I really can't understand why more prisons don't do rehabilitation like this or other types, instead of just punishing people.
    How do you expect someone to change for the better if you treat them like scum.
    Crime in general would go down if released prisoners were shown a better way and didn't commit new crimes.

  36. susan brown

    October 7, 2018 6:51 am

    A lot thoses imates have had nothing steady in their past lives,so are often side tracked into bad ways,
    Give them something to totally concentrate on,and spiritually connect with that helps them to get a inner calm.
    The horses can teach them that connection…wild meets wild, equals calm and success..a brilliant programme that needs to spread round for all prisons.

  37. Jaynie Fahrner

    October 9, 2018 7:25 am

    My heart is heavy with joy watching this video. These men, no matter their backgrounds are changed from the experiences they alone share with these horses. Wonderful, heart warming story. Thank you.

  38. Sheiona Finn

    October 11, 2018 5:40 am

    As a horse owner…there is no words for the bond i have with my horse. This is fantastic to watch…well done all so proud and the guys too well done lol ๐Ÿ™‚

  39. KayeAllayne

    October 11, 2018 11:53 am

    What a great idea. Here in Australia we cull our wild horse population either by shooting them, sometimes by helicopter which must be absolutely terrifying or we allow wild brumbies to starve in our national parks. Meanwhile our prison population grows with little hope of finding a purpose better than what they have known and becoming more and more disconnected from humanity and their own feelings. A program like this one could absolutely be of benefit to horses,inmates and ultimately the wider community.

  40. Pheeno Barbidoll

    October 11, 2018 1:45 pm

    Horses don't hold a grudge.


    Never met my mare lol

  41. ButtStallion ForLife

    October 15, 2018 10:49 am

    The bond between rider and horse is just something elseโค๏ธ

    My horse taught me Patience
    His name was beau

    Got him back in 2007
    He died in 2012

    He was amazing

  42. Shokara2

    October 15, 2018 5:31 pm

    "Its much more than the land will support." BULL! Complete and utter BULL. They compete with the cattle for food. The cattle ranchers run more and more cattle every year. That means less and less for all of the other wildlife, including horses. So their way of dealing with the shortage of food is to blame the horses. The horses are NOT at fault: the cattle are. If the cattle ranchers have their way there will be NO wild horses to compete with their cattle because to them cattle is $$. THAT is the bottom line. They want MONEY. Horses stand in the way between them and their greed. A HUGE misconception is that cattle ranchers keep their cattle on their on lands… they DON'T! They run their cattle everywhere they can because its cheaper than keeping them on their own lands and *gasp* having to pay to feed them themselves because it would mean less profit for them. They are all for slaughtering every horse in America so long as it means they can make money. Their goal has ALWAYS been to kill all of the mustangs. This has been their campaign since whites first came to the west. Don't believe thier lies about 'the range cant suppor the horses,' YES IT CAN, what it cant support is the millions of cattle they put on it as well.

  43. Elaine Raynor

    October 15, 2018 7:56 pm

    My horse taught me patience, better understanding of situations, caring, kindness. They are smarter than most people think. They are one of Gods' many gifts to us!

  44. Some random ghost 19

    October 21, 2018 10:15 pm

    That is so touching that a hardened heart can be melted by love and care for an animal๐Ÿ˜Œ

  45. robyn 05

    November 4, 2018 3:13 am

    You all treat the horses amazing and the rehibilition program is great, but I do not agree with capturing wild horses and imprisoning them and tearing families of horses apart just so we greedy humans can steal there land for cattle to make money…Im no expert on this! Just my opinion

  46. Tera Martindale

    June 20, 2019 4:32 pm

    To be able to learn the skills and how to gentle a wild animal is life Long they can do anything now

  47. Karen Bishop

    July 21, 2019 1:01 am

    I recently adopted a yearling who I named Star…she is such a love, we have a ways to go, but we will make it through…..


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