Volunteer Spotlight: Jen Stahl

(Feb 14, 2023) This month we talked to volunteer, Jen Stahl, about how she got involved on Nevada's Virginia Range. Read on to see how she got the “wild horse bug”! (Be careful, this bug is contagious!)

Tell us how you got involved in wild horses 
I think “horse” was one of the first words I spoke as a child and they have always “been in my blood”. I pestered my parents enough that finally at the age of 13, I got my first horse. I continued to ride and show through high school and college. While I don’t own a horse at the moment (and I hope to soon change that), I have owned and ridden throughout most of my adult years. When I first came to Reno a couple of years ago, I began seeing the wild horses in the area and through some neighbors, learned about WHC. One thing led to the next as I talked to Corenna….signed up to volunteer with WHC…..got involved with LRTC and started helping with rescues…. then learned about fertility darting….raised my hand to train to dart as part of AWHC…..and so on it goes

What is your favorite part of volunteering? 
I appreciate being part of a team and working towards a common goal. Being part of something bigger than yourself brings reward and fulfillment. Horses have always been a passion of mine so volunteering to help them is the best of all worlds.

Why are wild horses special to you? What do they represent to you? 
They are special to me first of all because they are horses. Horses are beautiful, noble, sensitive, athletic and genuine. Our domestic horses are so dependent on us – hooves to trim, teeth to float, certain hays to eat, etc. The wilds do it all on their own. They are fully capable of living lives independently of us and there is something unique and fascinating about that. I can only hope that through the efforts of groups such as ours, we are able to give them the chance to continue their lives with as little human intervention as possible. Free to be themselves.

What is/was your day job?
I am a sports/orthopedic human physical therapist and also a registered veterinary technician. I no longer practice clinically but use my administrative background and work for friends of mine as part of their management team. I am also on the board of a dog rescue in Oceanside, CA which specializes in medical need dogs and fill roles as the board president, medical director and intake director.

Do you have a favorite memory from the range that you can share with us? 
Probably one of my favorite days to date was the day that I was out training with Chuck and darted Spanish Dancer. Chuck had told me she was a bit elusive and could be hard to dart so the gauntlet had been laid down. It took patience and quite a bit of the “little dance” that you sometimes do as you work to get close to them while acting like you don’t really know they are there. Anyway, I darted her but what made it special was the fact that I had encountered this mare months earlier on a call as part of LRTC. She had jumped into a pasture with some domestic horses and a couple of cattle. She gave us a run for our money trying to separate her from them and get her out an open gate. I remember watching her float across their pasture in an extended trot looking like her hooves were barely touching the ground and thinking she was such a thing of beauty. We finally accomplished our goal that day but she didn’t make it easy. It just seemed ironic that of all the horses in that area that needed to be darted, she would be one of my first.

What other animals have you seen on the range? 
Rabbits, deer, coyotes, snakes

Okay, aside from horses what is your favorite animal? 
Dogs – I have two German Shepherds, a female named Tegan and a male named Liam.

If a theme song played every time you go out on the range, what would your theme song be? 
Live Like You Were Dying by Tim McGraw. It reminds me to appreciate every moment and do the things that make us happy and are important to us.

What’s something (a fun fact) that not many people know about you? 
While I don’t spend any time currently practicing or playing any instruments, when growing up, I took lessons on/played 9 different instruments – piano, organ, trumpet, French horn, trombone, saxophone (alto, tenor and bass), guitar, violin, and viola.

What’s the next place on your bucket travel list?