Standing O Ranch
Houston  Texas
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Horses Represented the Way They Are

Please call - We have many horses not listed yet.

December 12, 2011 - We just got in two new Texas Prison Horses - two geldings - a sorrel and a grey, both are big and both are sound. They usually don't last long.

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This information is not official but is based upon word of mouth of people that have worked with the prison horses for years.

The Texas prison system controls over 142,000 acres (about 200 square miles) and operates the largest horse and cattle herds in the entire state (more than 10,000 head of cattle and around 1,500 horses).

Inmates are used to work the fields and the correctional officers use horses to help guard the inmates.

Almost all the horses used as security horses are born and bred in the prison system. They use mostly quarter horses and often cross out to draft breeds for size. Most geldings don't have papers and most horses are sold without papers.

At one time horses that were moved out of the system were sold in the "good old boy system." A few people with connections bought the horses. Enough people complained about not getting an opportunity to purchase prison horses and now all horses leaving the system must go to auction so everyone has an opportunity to buy a prison horse. The system has an occasional high-end sale in Navasota and a few sales a year where the rest of the horses are sold.

Most riding guard horses have saddle stains, white marks on the withers, where the saddles have scarred them. If you find a prison horse without saddle stains it's probably a brood mare that isn't broke.

Why are horses sold? Some are mares that don't produce what they are looking for. Some are older and some are lame. An 18 year old prison horse that has probably worked for 16 years may have a little touch of arthritis or some soreness. This is like a pro football player that has old injuries that might slow him down some but he still has the experience and ability that a team will pay him millions to play on Sunday. Even with his little problems he still wins. These older geldings are perfect for the inexperienced or young riders that aren't going to run a horse to death but need an experienced and safe ride. We value a slightly off prison horse that has years of experience and will take care of a beginner rider. We evaluate each horse and will give you our honest opinion of their condition. You may ask a vet for their opinion but expect to find at least some minor problems with the older ones.

Some inmates are selected to help care, break and train the horses. It's considered a good job so the inmates do the best they can to stay on the job. There is zero tolerance on abuse. Horses are not permitted to be hit and you can tell when you handle them.

There are two types of prison working horses. The guard horses are known for easy trailering, standing still while mounted for long periods of time, nice neck rein and a good handle. They spend hours each day with a guard on their back, standing under a shade tree. They usually have smooth and slow gaits. They are usually ridden slow but will pick up the pace if an inmate is escaping. The others are used in the cattle operation and are a little quicker so they can work cattle. We usually pass on the quicker ones. We did find one mare that was a little quick but was so well trained that she is now a champion kid's barrel racer.

We have handled lots of these horses and are rarely disappointed. They usually go fast.

Every prison horse we've seen is branded on the left shoulder with a star. Most horses have a single digit on the left shoulder that is the year of their birth. A "O" on the shoulder means the horse is either ten years old or 20 years old. It's easy to tell between a 10 and 20 year old mouth so aging is usually simple. Some are branded on the left hip which means they are out of a Texas Prison horse stud. Some are also branded on the left butt which lists which unit it was used on.