Wild horse gentling training sessions, conducted by Ron Knodel, have been a part of Husker Harvest Days for nearly 21 years. Over that time, Knodel has probably demonstrated his techniques with 250-plus horses at HHD.
That won’t change this year. The Federal Bureau of Land Management and Knodel’s horse gentling moved to a new location last year on Lot 50E, near South Shuttle Road, just east of Syngenta Square. And the key information about training wild horses will be back as always at daily sessions running at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Sept. 10-12.
Wild horse gentling is something that takes patience. Knodel’s goal is to make it easier for both horses and humans to get along. He says it is all about listening to the animal and understanding that each horse is different.
“It is just like people. They get tired. They get scared,” Knodel says. “You have to try to understand each individual horse and adjust your techniques accordingly.”
Knodel enjoys traveling across the country conducting horse gentling demonstrations, sharing his knowledge, and positively influencing people and their horses.
This year, visitors can stop by the horse gentling sessions to meet Knodel’s personal horses that will be assisting in the demonstrations. For Knodel, watching audiences react to the progression of the wild horses he is training is part of the fun.
“I love watching the audience reaction when they see how these techniques work,” Knodel says. “We work with different horses that are in different phases of the training, because we only have a short time in the sessions and we want people to see how the horses come along.”
During each session, Knodel will focus on something different, often polling the crowd to see what they are interested in learning. He might start with a young horse during the morning session and then continue to work with that same animal throughout the day, showing the change and growth that can take place in a short amount of time.
The Federal BLM wild horse and burro facility in Elm Creek has partnered with Knodel to provide mustangs for the wild horse gentling. These mustangs have never been handled before and were only recently brought off the range in the western U.S. After the HHD sessions, the horses are returned to BLM for adoption.
Since 1971, more than 230,000 wild horses and burros nationwide have been adopted from BLM.