The wild mustang saddles a mystique that few American animals carry. Its muscular body and relentless spirit have been used by millions of United States soldiers in war, and it continues to roam the western plains today.
But while its population grows, the land around it does not.
Mike Branch of Grainger County has been hired by the Federal Bureau of Land Management to help.
“There are roughly 35,000 in captivity that need good homes,” says the expert horseman.
Branch gentles several dozen mustangs each year. Then, he tries to get them adopted, but it’s the way he does it that’s brought him worldwide attention.
He’s one of an elite group of horse whisperers, much like the character played by Robert Redford in the movie by that name.
“You have to develop a relationship so that the horse is willing to trust you with its life,” says Branch, who does countless demonstrations at horse shows across the country.
Members of the royal family even invited Branch to England a few years ago to teach his techniques.
“As far as the horse world goes, this is why I’m here,” says Branch.
Now, he might have his toughest challenge yet, teaching 10News anchor Russell Biven to break and ride a wild mustang using his techniques.
“Well,” jokes Branch, “if he gets bucked off it should help ratings.”