CEDAR FALLS — You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but Lisbon native Morganne Reinboldt hopes to prove horses are a different story.

She has less than six months — with seven weeks remaining — to take 15-year-old male pinto horse Radin from unwanted and untrained to being a serious candidate for adoption.

There have been some bumps along the way. Literally, when Radin tried to join Reinboldt in exiting the straight-loading trailer through an escape door. And figuratively, when she struggled to get him to lope or to even accept getting sprayed with fly repellent.

But Radin has made amazing progress since he was acquired by the Minnesota Hooved Animal Rescue Foundation in April. The nonprofit has challenged nine trainers to groom neglected horses for adoption.

“There are a lot of horses out there that this is a problem for; they don’t have a purpose in their life, and maybe they’re not treated right,” said Reinboldt, 20.

Meeting Radin

Reinboldt, a University of Northern Iowa student majoring in religious studies, wanted to spend the summer working with horses. She has loved equines since riding her first pony at 6 years old, but sold her horse before entering college.

When she came across the Minnesota nonprofit, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Reinboldt thought it was a great way to volunteer.

“We’ve found that an untrained horse is an unwanted horse,” said Drew Fitzpatrick, founder and director of the Minnesota Hooved Animal Rescue Foundation. “We’re trying to give trainers a leg up to make a job of it, to support themselves by being horse trainers. The more trainers that are out there, the more horses that get trained, the less horses I’m going to find in humane cases.”

Reinboldt picked up Radin early in April after securing free boarding thanks to rural Cedar Falls family Nate and Lisa Wetzel, who asked only that Reinboldt help train their girls on the family’s horses. Reinboldt also worked to secure riding locations so Radin doesn’t get bored circling the same arena regularly.

Radin was nearly too old to be considered for the program. He was donated with two other horses by a family who never trained the animals after getting them for children who quickly lost interest.

It has been difficult for Reinboldt, a barrel racer, to get used to a more mature horse, but she has grown to appreciate him. She says he’d be a great fit for a younger or older rider who wants an easy-going mount.

“I think he understands that this is something big for him, and I understand that, so it’ll be really hard (to give him up). ... I think I’m one of the first or few people who have ever given him this much attention, so that’s hard to watch that go to somebody else.”

She hopes whoever adopts Radin will reach out to her before his training is over so he can have a transition period to ensure a good fit.

“I learned pretty quickly that he needs to be bonded with someone in order to do good work for them. He really thrives off of that deep connection, so I had to work on building that before I could really go from there,” Reinboldt said.

People can follow Radin’s progress at their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/MHARFRadin/ to see if he would be right for an adoptive home.

A forever home

Reinboldt will continue to train Radin until Sept. 16, when he will go to the Leatherdale Equine Center at the University of Minnesota. There they will join nine other pairs competing in the challenge.

The trainers will demonstrate their skills and the feats they’ve accomplished and be eligible for cash prizes. More importantly, there will be a silent auction where pre-approved bidders can bid on the horses and adopt them.

Fitzpatrick said the foundation pre-approves bidders so the horses go to good homes. That also allows adopters to interact with trainers and horses and decide what’s right for them.

The trainers have little incentive to mislead potential owners since they don’t get any money from the auctioned horses.

More information about adopting Radin or other horses in the challenge can be found at http://mnhoovedanimalrescue.org/ under the trainer’s challenge tab.

“I like him a lot, and I would like to keep him, so it’s even more important that he gets something really good,” Reinboldt said. “And if I can get to know them a little bit too … it’ll make it that much easier.”

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Staff Writer

Political reporter at the Courier

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