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Adopting or Purchasing a Wild Horse or Burro – Frequently Asked Questions

Providing a home for a wild horse or burro is a challenging and rewarding experience. For qualified individuals, this is a unique opportunity to care for, then own a symbol of American history. Found below are answers the most frequently asked questions about adopting a wild horse or burro. Additional information will be provided to adopters of a wild horse or burro at the adoption site.


What are the minimum requirements to adopt a wild horse or burro?

For a summary of requirements to adopt or purchase a wild horse or burro, click here.

To adopt a wild horse or burro, the minimum requirements are:

1.    Applicant must be at least 18 years old.


2.    Adopted animal must remain in the United States until it is titled. (Occurs on its 1 year adoption anniversary).


3.    Applicant has no convictions of inhumane treatment of animals or for violation of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses & Burros Act.


4.    Applicant must provide a facility with access to feed, water, and shelter. Facility refers to an enclosed area such as: corral, barn, stall, etc. NOTE: Facility approval is NOT BASED ON A PASTURE FENCE HEIGHT, but the HEIGHT OF THE FACILITY. You should not release an ungentled animal into a large open area, such as a pasture, as you may not be able to recapture the animal for training or to provide veterinary care. However, once the animal is gentled, you may release it into a pasture or similar area.


5.    Basic facility requirements are:

·         Minimum of 400 sq. feet of corral space per animal, i.e. 20' x 20’

·         Suitable materials: pipe panels, wood posts, planks (min. 1.5" thick), horse fence (V Mesh or 2" x 4" square). Barb wire and electrical materials will not be approved as part of the facility description

·         5' High Facility for yearling or gentled horses of any age

·         6' High Facility for an ungentled horse two years or older

·         4.5' High Facility for a burro of any age

·         CFR 4750.3-2 Qualification standards for private maintenance: (3) (iii) Shelter shall be available to mitigate the effects of inclement weather and temperature extremes. The authorized officer may require that the shelter be a structure, which shall be well drained and adequately ventilated. Wild Horse and Burro Adopters are responsible for being in compliance with their city, county, and state regulations for horse shelter.


6.       Applicant must provide a stock or horse trailer with rear swing gate and covered top. Provided the dividers are removed or are folded back, three-horse slant trailers are acceptable. No drop ramps or one-horse trailers. Two-horse trailer approved on case-by-case basis.

How many wild horses or burros may I adopt or purchase?

You may adopt or purchase up to four wild horses or burros within a 12-month period. However, you may seek an exception from the BLM to adopt or purchase more than four, in which case the agency requires additional verification of facilities and compliance checks. Though you may adopt more than four in a 12-month period, you can receive title to only four adopted animals within that period.



Why adopt or purchase a wild horse or burro?

With kindness and patience, a wild horse or burro may be trained for many uses. Wild horses have become champions in dressage, jumping, barrel racing, endurance riding, and pleasure riding, while burros excel in driving, packing, riding, guarding, and serving as companion animals. Both wild horses and wild burros are known for their sure-footedness, strength, intelligence, and endurance.


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How do I adopt a wild horse or burro?

If you meet the adoption qualifications requirements, either:

1. complete the Adoption Application and mail it to BLM office serving your area or,

2. complete the online Internet Adoption Application to participate in an Internet Adoption event.

The BLM will contact you during the application review process to verify that your facilities meet the minimum requirements for the number of animals you want to adopt. When you adopt, the BLM requires you to sign a Private Maintenance and Care Agreement. This agreement includes the following statement:

"Under penalty of prosecution for violating 18 U.S.C. 1001, which makes it a Federal crime to make false statements to any agency of the United States, I hereby state that I have no intent to sell this wild horse or burro for slaughter or bucking stock, or for processing into commercial products, within the meaning of the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, 16 U.S.C. 1331 et seq., and regulations 43 CFR 4700.0-5(c)."

You must agree to sign this statement at the time of adoption.

How do I purchase a wild horse or burro?

If you are interested in purchasing a wild horse or burro, please complete the Application to Purchase Wild Horses and Burros and send it to or fax to (202) 912-7182. Here is a sample bill of sale that you will receive once you have purchased the animal(s). Please review the clauses in the bill of sale. If you have questions regarding the sales program, please contact the Wild Horse and Burro Program. More information on the Sale Program can be found here.

Where can I adopt or purchase a wild horse or burro and where can I get more information?

To adopt a wild horse or burro from the BLM, you can visit an adoption facility near you, bid for a horse on the Internet, or attend an adoption event. The BLM holds adoption events at different locations throughout the United States. Animals are also available for adoption from BLM’s adoption facilities year-round..

A wild horse or burro may be purchased at a BLM adoption facility.

How much does it cost to adopt or purchase a wild horse or burro?

The minimum or base adoption fee for each wild horse or burro is $125. Mares and jennies (female burros) adopted with their unweaned foal are $250. The base adoption fee applies to adoptions using a lottery draw or a first-come, first-served method. Some adoptions use competitive bidding to establish the adoption fee. Some animals, primarily trained or gentled animals, adopt for a higher amount during the competitive bidding process, but the fee to adopt untrained animals averages approximately $125.

Have the wild horses and burros received any medical treatment?

The BLM vaccinates, deworms, and freeze marks all of the wild horses and burros it offers for adoption or sale and a veterinarian provides necessary pre-adoption medical care. The BLM will provide you with a record of the animal’s medical history, including a negative Coggins test. A negative Coggins test indicates the animal does not have Equine Infectious Anemia.

What is a freeze mark?

The BLM uses freeze marking to identify removed wild horses and burros, which is a permanent, unalterable, painless way to identify each horse or burro. The freeze mark is applied on the left side of the animal’s neck and uses the International Alpha Angle System, which is a series of angles and alpha symbols. The mark contains the registering organization (U.S. Government), year of birth, and registration number.

Does the animal belong to me or the Federal Government?

In the case of an adopted animal, a wild horse or burro belongs to the Federal government until the BLM issues you a Certificate of Title. After you have had the adopted animal for one year, the BLM will send you a Title Eligibility Letter. You must obtain a signed statement from a qualified person (such as a veterinarian, county extension agent, or humane official) verifying that you have provided humane care and treatment for your adopted animal. Once you sign and return the Title Eligibility Letter, the BLM will mail the Certificate of Title to you. After you receive the Certificate of Title, the animal becomes your private property.

In the case of an animal purchased through the Sale Program, a Bill of Sale will be issued immediately upon an approved purchase of a wild horse or burro. A Certificate of Title is not issued for an animal purchased through the Sale Program; however, a Bill of Sale relinquishes Federal ownership of the animal.

Note: There are no additional Federal fees involved in the titling process.

What should I bring to the adoption?

You should bring either cash, a personal check, a money order, traveler’s check, or a credit card such as VISA, MasterCard, American Express or Discover, to pay the adoption or sales fees. If your personal check is not made good in 30 days, the BLM will repossess the animal(s) and will charge you for the hauling expenses.

It is recommended you bring a double-stitched nylon webbed halter and a lead rope for each animal you adopt or purchase. BLM employees will place the halter on your animal and load the animal into your trailer. The lead rope should be about 12-20 feet long, made of cotton or nylon and able to hold a 1,000-pound animal.

You must provide transportation for your animal from the adoption/sale site to its new home. While someone else may transport the animal, all trailers must meet these minimum standards:

  • covered top, sturdy walls/floors, and a smooth interior free from any sharp protrusions;
  • ample head room;
  • removable partitions or compartments to separate animals by size and sex, if necessary;
  • floor covered with a non-skid material; and,
  • adequate ventilation.

The BLM requires stock-type trailers with rear swing gates to transport adopted or purchased animals. Three-horse slant trailers are allowed so long as the slants can be removed or folded back. Drop ramp, divided two-horse trailers, and trucks with stock racks are not acceptable. The BLM will inspect trailers and reserves the right to refuse loading if the trailer does not ensure the safety and humane transport of the animal.

What else should I know before adopting or purchasing a wild horse or burro?

Do not select a wild horse or burro based on color or looks alone. Base your selection on your goals for the animal.

You may not transport adopted animals for longer than 24 hours without unloading for food, water, and rest. Corrals used for this resting period must meet the minimum facility requirements stated above. You must allow at least five hours for the animals to rest.

If your journey home crosses state lines, you should check with each state prior to adoption about any additional requirements or certifications they may require.



What are wild horses and burros like?

Every wild horse or burro is different. They come in all shapes and sizes, and each animal has its own personality. They are of no particular breed, although some exhibit characteristics associated with certain breeds. A typical wild horse stands about 13 to 15 hands high (52- 60 inches) and weighs about 700 to 1,000 pounds. Wild burros average 11 hands high (44 inches) and weigh about 500 pounds. Because the BLM only recently removed them from public lands, wild horses and burros put up for adoption are not accustomed to people. As an adopter, your challenge will be to develop a trusting relationship with your wild horse or burro.

What should I feed my wild horse or burro?

Good quality grass hay is adequate for a wild horse or burro. At the adoption, the BLM provides additional information about feeding. In addition, your veterinarian can advise you about proper care and feeding.

How much does it cost to care for a wild horse or burro?

The cost of caring for a wild horse or burro is comparable to caring for a domestic horse or burro. Depending on local costs and conditions, this can exceed $1,000 per year. You are responsible for all costs associated with the care of your animal. If you adopt a mare, there is a very good chance that she is pregnant if she was recently removed from the range, so you may have the additional expense of caring for a foal. Though the adoption fee may seem minimal, you should also consider the following costs when calculating your wild horse/burro budget:

  • Deworming
  • Vaccinations
  • Feed Salt/Supplements
  • Grooming Supplies, tack and farrier services

Note: If your adopted wild horse or burro escapes from your property, you are responsible for any and all costs associated with recovery of the animal.