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Antrim

Grange event features mustang foundation founder

Greenfield resident Kris Kokal was featured in the 2011 documentary "Wild Horse, Wild Ride," and will be present at the Antrim Community Awards on Wednesday night at the Antrim Grange.

Greenfield resident Kris Kokal was featured in the 2011 documentary "Wild Horse, Wild Ride," and will be present at the Antrim Community Awards on Wednesday night at the Antrim Grange. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

ANTRIM — Two members of the 2011 “Wild Horse, Wild Ride” documentary film, where competitors in the Extreme Mustang Makeover Challenge spent 100 days using non-punitive methods to train and convert a wild mustang into a docile companion, will be among those at the annual Antrim Community Awards at the Antrim Grange on Wednesday night.

Kris and Nik Kokal were competitors in the 2008 and 2009 Extreme Mustang Makeover Challenge and featured in the subsequent documentary, which follows eight competitors during their 100-day quest to train wild mustangs.

Their father, Andrej, will be giving a presentation following the awards detailing his Greenfield HorseTenders Mustang Foundation, which he founded in 2011. The non-profit foundation is meant to provide veterans and their families with emotive healing through equine therapy. Andrej is a 24-year veteran of the Air Force.

“Both [service members and mustangs] are required to adapt, cope, persevere, learn to survive and deal with their herd, just as a service member would with his family,” the foundation’s website, horsetendersmustangfoundation.org, states. “Horses and humans display remarkable behavioral parallels, especially when dealing with life’s challenges. At HMF, we’ve discovered there is an amazing synergy when these two groups come together.”

It’s as much learning about and studying ourselves as it is about the horses, Andrej said in a phone interview Monday.

Nik, who just returned to the country from Scotland, said in a phone interview Monday that he isn’t sure if he and Kris will be presenting at the community awards as well.

Nik and Kris have competed twice in the competition. They picked the horses up in Illinois and brought them back to their farm in Greenfield to train.

“These mustangs are completely wild, and not the biggest fans of people,” Nik said. “But once you earn their trust, it sort of snowballs from there.”

He added that it’s a very powerful moment when the connection is formed between horse and trainer.

The community awards will begin at 7 p.m. at the Antrim Grange. There will be a auction held throughout the night, Antrim Grange President Beth Merrill said in a phone interview Monday.

A total of five awards will be given: Community Citizen, Educator, Agriculturalist, Community Spirit, and Special Service awards will be presented to recipients selected by the members of the Grange.

“We’ve been doing this for many, many years now,” Merrill said. “[Andrej’s] work in the community was outstanding. We’re looking forward to having him present.”

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