News Release

For Release:  Feb. 25, 2009             
Contact:  Jeff Fontana (530) 252-5332

Horses, Burros Available for Adoption in Turlock

Event Runs in Conjunction with Back Country Horsemen's Rendezvous

Residents of the San Joaquin Valley and surrounding areas will have the opportunity to add a horse or burro to their families, when the Bureau of Land Management brings its Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program to Stanislaus County Fairgrounds in Turlock Saturday and Sunday, March 21 and 22.

The BLM will offer 40 horses, mostly yearlings, and 10 burros for public adoption.   Anyone interested can preview the animals when they arrive at about 2 p.m. Friday, March 20.

The event gates will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.  Adoptions begin with an hour of silent bidding at 9 a.m. Saturday.  Animals not taken during bidding will be available for a $125 adoption fee.

Horse and burro fanciers can make a full day of their visit to the adoption event by taking in the exhibits and vendor booths at the Back Country Horsemen of California Rendezvous, which will be underway at the fairgrounds.
"With spring and summer days ahead, this is a good time to begin training an adopted mustang or burro," said Pardee Bardwell of the BLM's Wild Horse and Burro Program.  "Our horses and burros are certified to be healthy and they are ready to begin training."
The horses were gathered last fall from northeast California herd management areas near the California-Nevada border, including the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area, known for producing good-sized mustangs.  Burros (donkeys) came from Southern California deserts.
All available animals have received de-worming treatments and vaccinations for West Nile virus, rabies and common equine diseases.  All have negative Coggins test results.  Adopters receive complete health records for their animals so they can begin health care programs with their veterinarians.
To qualify, adopters must be at least 18 years old and have no convictions for inhumane treatment of animals.  BLM staff members will interview all prospective adopters to be sure they meet the BLM adoption requirements.

Newly adopted horses and burros must be kept in corrals with at least 400 square feet of space per animal (20 feet by 20 feet), surrounded by a fence built of pipe or boards.  Six-foot fences are required for adult horses.

Horses under 18 months old can be kept in corrals with five-foot fences, and four-and-a-half-foot fences are allowed for burros.  Adopters must provide a two-sided, roofed shelter to provide protection from extreme weather.

"Adopted animals should be kept in this corral until they can be approached, handled, haltered and led," Bardwell explained.  "Non-gentled animals should not be placed in large, open pastures."

At the adoption event, Adopters must provide a halter and lead rope.  BLM wranglers will halter and load adopted animals.  Adult horses must be transported in stock trailers with side-swinging gates. 

Title to adopted wild horses and burros remains with the federal government for one year.  After providing a year of good care, adopters can receive title.  The BLM or a representative will check on the condition of the animal during the adoption period.

"Wild horses are strong, loyal, intelligent and very trainable," Bardwell said.  "Adopters love their horses for pleasure riding and trail riding, back country packing, ranch work and competition.  People train their burros for back country packing, pulling carts, and riding."

Wild horses and burros are protected by a federal law, the Wild and Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act.  The law recognizes the animals as "living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the west," and requires the BLM to manage the wild herds.

The BLM periodically gathers horses and burros to control herd populations on ranges shared with wildlife and domestic livestock.  Herd sizes are controlled to ensure there is sufficient feed and water for all range users and to ensure that natural resources are not over-used.

There are about 29,500 wild horses and burros roaming on public rangelands in the western states.  More than 220,000 animals have been placed in private care since the BLM’s Adopt-a-Horse-or-Burro Program began in the early 1970s.

For additional information on the adoption event or wild horse management, contact the BLM toll free at 1-866-4MUSTANGS or Bardwell at (707) 468-4055.   Information is also available online at


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