Gentling Wild North Dakota Horses In Minnesota

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Wild horses that roam in Theodore Roosevelt National Park are a popular site for visitors.

But the horses have no predators in the park – and seem to have no trouble breeding.

That’s why biologists are studying methods for reducing the herd’s growth – while the National Park Service is culling the herd each year, moving several horses to private ownership.

But how do you take a wild horse and make it fit into a domesticated setting?

Jim Olson takes us to Minnesota where a husband and wife team dedicate themselves to making that happen.

(Jim Olson, KX News) Meet Pinnacles. A wild horse captured at Theodore Roosevelt National Park now moving to a new stage in life.

(Bob Fjetland, Full Moon Rising Wild Horses) “She’s soon to be given a little more freedom.”

(Jim Olson, KX News) And that’s Bob Fjetland. He and wife Deb run Full Moon Rising Wild Horses,

(Bob Fjetland, Full Moon Rising Wild Horses) “One of my favorite things at the end of the day with working outside a lot is watching that full moon come up in the eastern sky over there it’s just a beautiful sight and we love it. That’s how we got our name Full Moon Rising.”

(Jim Olson, KX News) It’s just southeast of St.Paul, Minnesota

(Bob Fjetland, Full Moon Rising Wild Horses) “We have 30 acres here  –  a lot in the woods.”

(Jim Olson, KX News) They’ve become well known for how they help wild horses from Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota find new homes with private owners.

(Bob Fjetland, Full Moon Rising Wild Horses) “These horses are honest, smart, and it’s just amazing the connections that can be formed with these horses when given half a chance.”

(Jim Olson, KX News) Bob gives them that chance – by gently getting to know the animals

(Bob Fjetland, Full Moon Rising Wild Horses) “We’ll go up here at the end of the barn, you can munch on some grass and we can talk some more. My philosophy is to build on whatever the horse offers me. And if he’s willing to let me rub him right from the start, boy I’m going to build on that. You take what they give you.

(Jim Olson, KX News) It’s a process known as ‘gentling’

(Deb Fjetland, Full Moon Rising Wild Horses) “The term ‘gentling’ literally means you gentle that horse and you do it understanding their behavior, their body language, what they’re telling you and it’s more on their time frame.”

(Jim Olson, KX News) Horses captured at the national park…

(Blake McCann, Theodore Roosevelt National Park Biologist) “One animal has gone in and the rest decide that’s the best place to be.”

(Jim Olson, KX News) …are sold to private owners – and many come here…

(Bob Fjetland, Full Moon Rising Wild Horses) “Wanna come visit?”

(Jim Olson, KX News) …where they stay for months/

(Bob Fjetland, Full Moon Rising Wild Horses) “Once they get the this stage they get very connected to the person’s that’s been spending time with them. I could probably take the lead rope off and she’ll follow me wherever I go.”

(Jim Olson, KX News) When I visited, Pinnacles was getting close to leaving for her new home.

(Deb Fjetland, Full Moon Rising Wild Horses) “It’s hard to see them go.”

(Jim Olson, KX News) And while that can be difficult for the Fjetlands,

(Bob Fjetland, Full Moon Rising Wild Horses) “Should we fix your hair?”

(Jim Olson, KX News) They know it’s for the best.

(Bob Fjetland, Full Moon Rising Wild Horses) “Smile for the camera…”

(Deb Fjetland, Full Moon Rising Wild Horses) “Every single horse we’ve had a hand on whether we owned it or gentled it for somebody else is going to a fabulous home.”

(Jim Olson, KX News) And so Bob and Deb will continue to operate this ‘halfway house’ for wild horses

(Bob Fjetland, Full Moon Rising Wild Horses) “You take what they give you, build upon it and make it better.”

(Jim Olson, KX News) And trust they’re helping move the animals on to a new, beneficial stage of their lives.

(Bob Fjetland, Full Moon Rising Wild Horses) “It’s all about the trust, it really is.”

(Jim Olson, KX News) In southeast Minnesota, Jim Olson, KX News.

Full Moon Rising Wild Horses began working with wild horses from Theodore Roosevelt National Park about seven years ago.

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