Wild horses find good homes at Grand Junction adoption event

What makes a successful adoption event? Happy, healthy horses find good homes – which is exactly what happened in Grand Junction this past weekend.

Four horses in pens eating green hay.
Its feeding time! The horses were enjoying an afternoon snack after being dropped off at the Mesa County Fairgrounds on Thursday after a quick trip from Axtell, Utah.

Last week, BLM Colorado hosted a wild horse adoption event with 33 wild horses from the Piceance-East Douglas Herd Management Area and one from the Sand Wash Basin ready to be adopted. The public was able to view horses and attend events on Friday afternoon before the silent auction began at 10 a.m. on Saturday. The silent auction allowed bidders to write their bid in front of pens for the horses they were interested in. Silent auctions are transparent which makes participation easy – especially when you have a lot of excited wild horses ready to go to their new homes!

Three horses stand in a row.
Tags on the neck allowed adopters to bid and identify which horse they wanted to bid on. These tags were removed before the horses were loaded into trailers to go to their new homes. These numbers are associated with freezemarks which allow the BLM to track medical records for each of the horses to ensure the new owner has a complete history of vaccines and any other notes from our veterinarians.

Now that we have you hanging on the edge of your seat… We successfully found homes for 26 horses and eight of the remaining horses were fostered to Training Incentive Program (TIP) participants! While some adopters are getting their first wild horse, we also had local sanctuaries willing to take some wild horses with them. Wherever they go, it warms our hearts to know these wild horses will be cherished in their new homes.

A crowd of people bidding on horses at an event.
Lynae Rogers, Rangeland Management Specialist, was the coordinator for this event and helped ensure everything went smoothly! These events take a lot of coordination, especially with our partners, and Lynae was a key part of organizing this adoption. In her own words, “it takes a village to find good homes for horses and we couldn’t do it without the BLM team and our partners.”

Our adoption event also featured wild horse presentations from 4-H trainers and TIP participants who specialize in training wild horses. Wild horses can be a challenge to gentle, but like all other horses, time and patience will help bond owners to their animals. Hopefully seeing a “wild to mild” wild horse in action will encourage the public to continue getting involved in adoption events!

On the left photo, a horse is standing with its trainer. On the right, the same horse is licking someone's hand.
Paige Burnham and her horse, Fantasia, gave a presentation on positive reinforcement to train wild horses. Paige is currently studying anthrozoology, the study of interaction between humans and other animals. Fantasia even ended up going home with a new friend… Paige adopted a 1-year-old gelding at the event this weekend!

Not only are these events important for supporting healthy horses on healthy rangelands, but it is also an excellent opportunity for the public to get involved with their wild horses and their public lands. We are lucky to have a supportive, engaged community in Grand Junction and all throughout Colorado who are willing to come meet land managers and adopt their wild horses. Meeting with our local communities gives us an opportunity to show off what the BLM does and get wild horses into good homes!

A horse trainer sits on his horse.
Eric Pfleuger showcases how to gentle a wild horse. We also had 4-H trainers showing their "mild to wild" mustangs. We give a big shoutout to the Piceance Mustangs for organizing these presenters at the adoption event – this allowed the public to see wild horses in action and engage with public lands!

This event would not have been possible without local collaboration from our partners at the Piceance Mustangs – this local group is very active on our herd management areas and passionate towards wild horses. Our partners helped us setup this event, schedule trainers, spread the word, and share a passion for wild horses in Colorado. We also had Friends of the Mustangs and Mild to Wild partner groups attending to support the event. Partnerships are a priority for the BLM, and we will continue to work with local groups to ensure we are making the best possible decisions with your public lands.

 

Story by Brittany Sprout, Public Affairs Specialist