Brian Smith of the Summerlin area has devoted much of his life to caring for the West’s wild horse population.
For six years, Smith, 54, has run a Centennial Hills-based nonprofit dedicated to informing the public about the history of American mustangs while also preparing the horses for adoption.
“Funny Farm Mustangs is the only nonprofit organization in the state that solely gentles mustangs and burros strictly for adoption purposes,” Smith said, “and we don’t charge the adopters for any training or any of that.”
“Gentling” is a way of taming the the horses while developing a trusting bond between horse and human.
Smith’s organization hosts informational events throughout the Las Vegas Valley and often takes horses along so people can see how calm they are, Smith said. He and his wife, Jill, have several horses living in their backyard; five stalls house them, but they roam freely in the fenced area throughout the day.
As an authorized trainer with the national, nonprofit Mustang Heritage Foundation’s Trainer Incentive Program, Smith may draw horses and burros from holding corrals in any of 10 Western states, he said. He picks his up in Ridgecrest, California.
“Through the TIP program, I’m paid a $1,000 stipend for successful horse adoptions,” Smith said. “If we do a burro, it’s $750. The money helps, but it goes fast. We just got 30 bales of hay today that cost us $515. I go through about 30 bales of hay in 22 days; 95 percent of this is out of our own pocket.”
Regardless, Smith said, the group provides adoption, pickup and training for free. The only thing the “adopter” has to pay, Smith said, is the $125 adoption fee to the BLM.
Desire Schultz of North Las Vegas found the organization while searching for a place for her 13-year-old daughter, Ariena, to volunteer. Her daughter’s goal is to train with one of the horses for competitions.
“It took a while to find them,” Schultz said. “But my daughter’s been volunteering for about a year now. She has a passion for horses and wants to be a veterinarian when she’s older. She goes to volunteer every morning that she doesn’t have school.”
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