Since 2001, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has offered gentled wild horses for adoption at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility (HCF) in Hutchinson, Kan. These are animals that are halter- or saddle-trained by inmates in a rehabilitation program there. Adoption fees for well-trained animals once commonly ranged between $600-$1,000.
Now, through an expanded partnership with the Mustang Heritage Foundation, the BLM can offer gentled wild horses for adoption at the facility for just $125 (the minimum fee set by law).
This unique arrangement is made possible by HCF’s participation in the Foundation’s Trainer Incentive Program (TIP). For each horse the facility trains and successfully adopts, the Foundation pays a stipend to support the training program at HCF. Note: Only solid color adult horses qualify for the TIP. Certain special use horses (e.g. driving teams), colored horses and burros are not offered through the TIP and may command higher fees.
In addition to benefitting the horses and the adopting public, the training program at Hutchinson also helps prepare inmates for their eventual reintroduction into society, by instilling important values such as discipline, respect and hard work. Approximately 14-18 minimum security inmates participate in the program at any given time. As they progress through the program, inmates move from providing basic care for the horses (feeding, watering, cleaning), to actually training them under the supervision and guidance of a professional trainer and correctional staff.
The HCF is designed to hold 350 horses in multiple enclosures and pens. In addition to boarding and training stalls, there are several riding rings and a large enclosed building that can be used for training during inclement weather. The entire facility was built by inmates using donated materials, including surplus highway guardrails from the Kansas Department of Transportation.
A large number of untrained horses and burros in holding at HCF are also available for adoption. BLM pays a $500 care and feeding allowance to adopters of adult untrained horses (four years old and older).
Wild horses – iconic symbols of America’s western heritage – are renowned for their strength, endurance, agility and intelligence, characteristics bred into them in the wild that make them ideal for work or recreation. The BLM periodically removes excess animals from the range in order to maintain healthy herds and to protect other rangeland resources. The adoption program is essential for achieving these important management goals. The Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping BLM promote and carry out an effective adoption program.
For more information, call BLM toll-free at 866-468-7826, or visit www.blm.gov/nm. Call HCF directly at 620-728-3296. Learn more about the Foundation at www.mustangheritagefoundation.org.
Directions to Hutchinson Correctional Facility: From Wichita, Kan., take Kansas State Route 96-West toward Hutchinson; in Hutchinson, take US Hwy 50-East/State Route 61-North. The horse pens are located on Avenue G.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield. In Fiscal Year 2014, the BLM generated $5.2 billion in receipts from public lands.