Winter tough on the inmates and horses at NNCC

Published: Apr. 13, 2023 at 4:04 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Each time we come out to Stewart Conservation Camp; the inmates are ready to show their trusty steeds.

Some of the horses should have already been adopted to good home. But The Bureau of Land Management, a partner in the program, made the decision to cancel their event last month. The snow, wind, ice, and temperatures made it too risky for spectators and the horses themselves.

Ask the inmates what it’s been like, they’ll tell you the weather forced some of their colleagues to quit the program.

“It was a struggle every day just to get out here,” says Shawn Kennedy, an inmate and trainer whose been with the program for more than a year. “And then to prepare the stalls and get everything ready and then get the horses out here. To just feed it was a difficult process.”

But for other inmates the rough conditions just solidified their commitment to the program.

“I felt like I had to be persistent in working with him,” says Brett Badger of his horse Moli. “I couldn’t miss a day or he would progress backwards. You just have to be persistent and show up every day.”

The alleyways, the water, even the feed is all dried out these days. But chief trainer Hank Curry says that just happened about three weeks ago.

The conditions he says were downright dangerous.

“We had a couple of injuries with ice over the winter,” says Curry. “Horses actually slip, slip fall on the ice. One guy did break a leg. One guy has been gone for over two months.”

Curry says most of the inmates worked with their horses inside the arena and did the best they could. But some outright quit.

In the meantime, he says the US Border Patrol and the Army’s Calvary were here and took horses to their facilities in Texas and Kansas. The Bureau of Land Management called off the March adoption citing hazardous conditions on roadways to get here as well as unpleasant cold and wet surroundings.

The call meant inmates would continue with their original horses and add one or two more for the scheduled June Adoption.

During that event there will be 20 horses looking for good of the largest adoptions in recent memory.