Lifelong horseman and rancher Ron Knodel returns to Husker Harvest Days to demonstrate his techniques and share his wild horse gentling philosophies. Knodel's demonstrations begin at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. daily in Lot 1050.
The Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wild horse and burro facility in Elm Creek has partnered with Knodel to provide mustangs for the wild horse gentling sessions. These mustangs have never been handled before, only recently brought off the range from Western states. After being used in a demonstration, the horses are returned to the BLM for adoption. Often times, these mustangs are adopted immediately after Husker Harvest Days.
Knodel focuses his sessions on the basics of getting started and halter breaking a mustang. "I put a lot of emphasis on haltering and gentling," Knodel says. "This first session of halter breaking sets the tone for this horse's entire life." Knodel stresses it's important to take your time and listen to the horse.
Knodel likes to vary his sessions to make sure he gives the crowd different types of information. Often times, he'll bring a horse that has more training and show visitors more advanced work along with the basic steps of horse gentling. "The basic principles used when starting are the building blocks for the advanced work later," comments Knodel. Using a horse with more training gives people another option on how to work their horses at home. Knodel likes to show the audience many different ideas that work so they can choose the one that will work in their own situation.
Helping people and helping horses is a passion of Knodel's. His goal is to make it easier for both horses and humans, to bridge the gap between the two species. He enjoys being able to travel across the country doing demonstrations, sharing his knowledge and positively influencing people and their horses.
The message Knodel wants visitors to leave with after watching a demonstration is straightforward. "I want to show people how to communicate better, how to get along better with their horses."
Knodel has been doing demonstrations at Husker Harvest Days for twelve years. He loves seeing the crowds every year and having the opportunity to share his knowledge with others. Often he sees the same people coming every year and each time they tell him they learned something new. Knodel believes that you can always keep learning, always pick up something to try with your horse.
"As long as people keep coming to the demonstrations, I'll keep doing them. I do the demonstrations for the people and the horses, not for me."