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Wild Horse Adoption Success Stories

Former BLM Nevada Student Employee Takes Pride in Adopting from the Prison Program

When you hear the name “Rocky,” it tends to conjure up images of a feisty, heavy-weight boxer from Philadelphia who never gave up. In this case, Rocky is a five-year-old sorrel gelding that weighs in at 1,100 pounds and stands 15-2 hands from the Twin Peaks herd management area near Susanville, Calif. Rocky is far from being feisty and a fighter, but no one gave up on him—not his trainer Kenneth, nor his new adopter, Andi Bolstad.

Rocky was gathered during the Twin Peaks wild horse gather in the fall of 2010 and was eventually taken to the Northern Nevada Correctional Center (NNCC) in Carson City where the Bureau of Land Management has an agreement with the prison to hold, care for and even train wild horses. NNCC Wild Horse Trainer Hank Curry plucked Rocky, formerly called “Red Bull” during his stint in prison, from the gathered horses for having potential to be trained as part of the Saddle Horse Training Program—a partnership program between the BLM and the prison. Rocky was assigned to Kenneth, an inmate trainer, who worked with him for about six hours per day for four months before he was offered up for adoption at the prison adoption on February 23, 2013. Out of 15 horses offered for adoption, the highest bid amount was for Rocky, who was adopted after a highly-spirited bidding process, for $3200.

“He was worth every penny,” Andi emphatically said.

Rocky couldn’t have gone to a better family of true horse lovers. Andi, who has ridden horses all of her life, worked for the BLM in the Reno, Nevada State Office as a college student through the BLM’s Student Temporary Employment Program, or STEP, from Aug. 2011-Feb. 2013 in the Minerals Adjudication department. Her father, Dean, has worked in the Wild Horse and Burro Program exclusively for the past 16 years, and periodically prior to that, during his 37 years with BLM. He currently serves as the program’s senior advisor. 

Andi has competed in hunter jumper horse shows since the age of 12 in Oregon, Nevada and northern California. She intends to ride Rocky for pleasure, and takes him for rides in the hills near her home.

When horse enthusiasts attend a prison adoption with the intent to bid on a horse and take one home, their reasons for wanting to adopt a trained wild horse can vary—some want a horse they can get on and ride immediately, some want to compete with them or go trail riding, some choose them for their rugged durability and attentiveness, even preferring them over their own domestic horses. Andi was looking for a horse with a laid back attitude that was smart and would be good around her two-year-old son Kaden.

“The thoroughbreds I’ve used for hunter jumper competitions tend to be hyper,” she said. “At this point, I was looking for a calm, level-headed horse. I saw those qualities in Rocky at the prison adoption—he did what was asked of him and remained calm, and he’s that way with me at home.”

Once she got Rocky home, Andi was immediately able to get on him without a halter and he instantly took to her leg cues. 

“He’s really calm when I’m on the ground, which is a great trait to have. He’s taught me to be more careful about how I ride, expressing a bit of irritation if I’m not using my feet and legs,” Andi said. “I can take him for a twelve-mile ride with no problem.”

It looks like it’s smooth sailing for Rocky in his new home with the Bolstad family.

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Photos of Rocky with his new adopter, Andi Bolstad.

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Andi laying on Rocky Andi and Kaden with Rocky Kaden giving a kiss to Rocky Rocky and Andi cover photo Rocky and Andi photo Kaden riding Rocky Rocky and Andi thumbnail photo