Continuing from the last post:The basics of wild horse adoption
What is a wild horse? Federal law defines a wild horse (aka mustang) or burro as “an unbranded, unclaimed, free-roaming horse or burro found on public lands in the United States.” They descend from horses that escaped or were released from Spanish Conquistadors, ranchers, miners, cavalry, and Native Americans.
How are the animals captured from the wild? Low and slow-flying helicopters drive the herd to a temporary pen from which they can be culled and trucked to regional holding centers. The BLM maintains that this is the most humane method of driving wild animals across uneven terrain. Some people disagree with this logic. I have never witnessed a wild horse roundup, so I am not at liberty to weigh in. I can say only that while observing the horses at the BLM holding corrals south of Boise, a helicopter on its way to the nearby airport buzzed very low over a pen of mustangs. Although my ears squinched at the noise, the horses munched complacently. This herd had clearly not been traumatized from air.
How do I adopt a mustang or burro?
- Fill out an application, found on the BLM website. The BLM will review and verify the information on you provide.
- Attend one of the adoption events in your area to select your mustang. Adoptions are held yearly or as often as needed by each management area.
- Select your animal, complete the bid and be prepared to load the animal and take it home with you. There are additional regulations regarding transportation lasting over a 24 hour period. Check ahead of time with each state for regulations about crossing state lines.
- At the time of adoption you must sign a Private Maintenance and Care Agreement.
Who can adopt a wild horse or burro? The BLM has strict regulations for adopters:
- Must be at least 18 years old and have no prior conviction for inhumane treatment of animals or violations of the WFRHBA
- Have adequate food, water, and facilities to provide humane care for the number of animals requested
- Keep the animals in the US until receipt of Certificate of Title
- Minimum of 400 square feet per animal; corral with minimum of 6-foot, heavy duty pole, pipe, or plank fence with no protrusions for holding the animal until it is gentled
- At least a 2-sided shelter with roof, drainage, and ventilation for protection against inclement weather
- $125 per horse ($250 per mare and foal) for up to four horses per year. Bidding is competitive, so if someone else like the same horse you’ve fallen for, be prepared!
- Double-stitched nylon halter and lead rope for each animal
- Covered, sturdy-walled and floored transportation rig with non-skid floor material and adequate ventilation What can I expect from my adopted horse? Wild horses are hearty, strong, and sure-footed. They can also be extremely loyal. Their intelligence makes them capable of becoming champions at a variety of skills: dressage, jumping, hunting, roping and rodeo events, endurance riding, and most of all, pleasure riding. Burros make good packers, cart horses, and excellent companion and guard animals. Working with a horse fresh off the range requires patience and horse psychology. Even if you’ve owned and trained horses before, working with a wild horse will be a challenge. It is a good idea to work with a skilled trainer who has worked with wild horses before. The Boise BLM adoption events include seminars conducted by expert horse handlers. My next post will feature on such session.
More detailed information regarding mustang adoption can be found here. In my next post I’ll talk about what awaits adoptees and adopters when they leave the BLM corrals.