Hillsborough teen aims to tame, adopt wild mustang
Posted June 8
Hillsborough, N.C. — The federal government helps manage wild herds of mustangs, which at times has become overpopulated and one program aims to help save the horses by taming them and adopting them out.
Carley Wheelis, 14, of Hillsborough calls Shiloh her miracle horse.
“The first couple of days, he didn’t want anything to do with me. Then, the rest of the week, he was hard to catch and then wouldn’t move,” she said.
Wheelis said Shiloh came from Nevada and was born in 2016. Two months ago, he was a wild mustang who was thin, mangy and uncomfortable around humans.
“I thought we’d made a big mistake. I was like ‘what have we done?’ That was my first thought,” said Whellis’ dad. “It was so wild when we released it from our trailer into the holding pen.”
In the 70 days since Wheelis got Shiloh, everything has changed.
“A lot of people think mustangs can’t be tamed because they’re going to be forever wild. Yeah, they’ll always be wild in their heart, but you just have to learn to harness the wildness and turn it into playfulness and everything good,” she said.
Wheelis and her horse have spent hours each day training and learning to trust each other.
In July, the pair will compete in Kentucky in the Extreme Mustang Makeover, a program designed to show the wild animals can be tamed.
The goal is to get as many of the horses adopted as possible as overpopulation often means many starve to death or die of thirst in the wild.
“You just have to learn to bond with them. They’re not scared, they’re brave and cautions,” Wheelis said.
Since the Extreme Mustang Makeover began 10 years ago, more than 8,000 wild mustangs have been tamed and adopted. The Bureau of Land Management says there are about 25,000 mustangs roaming open ranges in 10 western states and another 40,000 in holding facilities that are waiting to be placed in permanent homes.