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MEEKER | Horses are always finding ways to make their trainers learn new ways of teaching. No two horses are alike, and the training from horse to horse always differs, former Meeker resident Steve Mantle has discovered in his numerous years of working with horses.
Mantle’s time with horses starts back to when his father and uncle started the Sombrero Ranch in Meeker. He was constantly immersed in the horse world, learning new things every day.
After graduating high school in Meeker, he moved to Craig and worked for his father at Sombrero Ranch. He split his time between Browns Park during the winter and Clark, north of Steamboat, during the summer and fall. His summer and fall time consisted of packing in fishers and hunters while he spent his winters sorting and taking care of the horses at Browns Park.
The time he spent with his father taught him what Mantle calls “the old way” of training horses. “I was super fortunate to work with my dad, who has forgotten more than I know,” he said. His father taught him not only how to train horses but how to manage, take care of, gather and sort horses also.
When Steve moved to Wyoming, his journey training wild horses began. Currently, he has 100-200 head of horses on his ranch at all different levels of training and has had a contract with the BLM for the last 20 years. He’s constantly training, getting horses ready for clinics or clients. The summer is always his busiest time of the year. With around 20 head of horses going to Cheyenne Frontier Days for demonstrations and auctions, he also has a clientele coming to check out the horses on his ranch.
The knowledge he acquired post-high school has proven to be extremely useful. In Wyoming, Mantle had started his work with wild horses, and in his day-to-day work, he continues to use what his father and other old-timers taught him. But during the next 20 years, his training style had to change. “I had been doing the wild horse thing, but I was struggling to get them gentle. But then I ran into a guy by the name of Bryan Neubert,” he noted. This discovery started Mantle on his new style of training wild horses. He had seen this unique style before, but the tape was what made it click. “You’re using what the horse is offering with him, rather than making him do things against his will,” Mantle said, describing the new style.
In 2019 Mantle returned to his hometown to help with the Meeker Mustang Makeover as a judge for the competition. This year, as trainers were loading out their mustangs, he put on a clinic to help this year’s trainers. With the two extra mustangs at the clinic, Mantle gave a preview of his training style.
Mantle will again be a judge at this year’s upcoming Meeker Mustang Makeover on Aug. 28, at the Rio Blanco County Fairgrounds.
By Sophia Goedert – Special to the Herald Times