Do you dream about adopting a wild horse from the Bureau of Land Management? It's not as hard as you think it might be to give a wild horse a home. But it's best to know the facts before you apply to adopt a Mustang or wild horse.
Wild Horses have lived in North America since the 1700s. The horses were brought over to America in ships by Spanish conquistidores (explorers) and settlers. These horses were mainly Andalusians and Spanish Barbs. The Spaniards settled in the western states.
Some of the horses escaped from their owners, while others were simply set free by people who didn't want them any more. The horses formed herds and settled in Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. The horses multiplied, and by the early 1900s, it was estimated that there were one million wild horses roaming the western plains. In the 1970s many were killed, and their meat was made into pet food or imported to Europe where it was eaten by humans.
Luckily, in 1971 the United States government stepped in and proposed a law to protect the wild horses. The law stated that, "Wild, free-roaming horses shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment or death."
The BLM arranges regular adoptions of these horses to reduce the size of the herds. Why? Because if there are too many wild horses in one area, they may run out of food to eat and water to drink. The BLM rounds up groups of horses and takes them to a preparation facility and gives each horse an exam to check for abnormalities, injuries or illness. The horses are sorted into groups by age and sex, and then given vaccinations and a Coggins test. Finally, the horses are given an identifying mark (a freeze mark) on their neck. The horses are kept at the preparation facility for 30 more days so they can have booster vaccinations, and then they are transported to adoption sites all over the country. Between 6000-8000 horses are offered for adoption each year. They range in age from several months to nine years old.
You can adopt a horse!
First you must write to the BLM and request the brochure entitled "So You'd Like to Adopt." Ask for a list of adoption sites to find out if there is going to be one near your home. You must be 18 to adopt, so your parents will have to fill out the application from the BLM.
Applicants must prove that they can provide a suitable home for a horse. You must have a well-fenced field or pen, and you should know how to look after a horse.
If you are approved, you'll travel to the adoption site to look at horses. The adoption fee is $125 and it must be cash, check or money order. Bring a halter and a lead-rope, and arrange transportation for your new horse in advance. That means bring a sturdy trailer.
Once you arrive at the site, you'll look at the horses. Their handlers may be able to tell you a bit about each horse. But remember, these horses have only been handled for about 90 days, so they may not be tame or well-behaved. Once you choose a horse, the handlers will help you load him up.
Your new horse will not belong to you immediately. The government owns him. After a year, you'll get a "Title Eligibility Letter." Then you have to obtain a statement from a vet, county extension agent, or humane society representative, verifying that you've looked after the horse properly. Send the statement to the BLM and they give you the certificate of title to the horse. Within a year of the adoption, BLM inspectors may visit you to make sure that you are caring for your new horse.
To get a fact sheet about adopting a wild horse and an application, write to the Adopt a Living Legend Program, Bureau of Land Management, P.O. Box12000, Reno, NV 89520 or call 1-800-417-9647.