wild horses

Spring Creek Basin Wild Horse Herd Management Area

In the late 1800s, the first horses brought to Disappointment Valley belonged to a Montana rancher. The United States Cavalry used this original ranch stock for their military mounts. In 1940, local residents removed most of the herd, leaving behind a few horses that formed the present day herd.

The Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area (HMA) covers more than 20,000 acres in the Disappointment Valley area of southwestern Colorado. Terrain varies from open, rolling hills to rugged mountainous country to the north, south, and east boundaries. Elevation ranges from 6,200 to 7,400 feet.

The HMA is characterized by salt desert shrub community in the valley and pinon-juniper woodland on the slopes and higher elevations. Green rabbitbrush, shadscale, black sage, galleta grass, Indian ricegrass, winterfat, and needle-and-thread grass make up the primary forage items in the horses' diet.

At various times of the year, the HMA provides habitat for elk, mule deer, bald eagles, golden eagles, peregrine falcons, coyotes, prairie dogs, and the occasional black bear and mountain lion. Rattlesnakes are common throughout the HMA.

Spring and summer are the best seasons to observe wild horses in the Spring Creek Basin HMA. Be sure to bring a pair of binoculars and a telephoto lens for your camera so you don't disturb the horses by getting too close.

Use a "good neighbor policy" when traveling through this herd management area. Motorized vehicle use in the area in limited to existing roads and trails. Leave the gates as you find them. Please do not trespass on private or state school lands; access to these lands is available by permission only. These areas are marked on the Dove Creek surface management status map available for purchase at BLM offices in Durango or Montrose, and at the Anasazi Heritage Center near Dolores.

Herd Information

Spring Creek Basin Wild Horse (85k)

Map of the Spring Creek HMA

Herd Size - Herd size ranges between 35 and 65. A herd size of 50 best maintains a thriving ecological balance within the HMA.

Horse Colors - Bays, sorrels, grays, and pintos can all be found in the Spring Creek Basin herd.

Size of Horses - The horses are generally around 14 hands (56 inches) in height and weigh 700-800 pounds.

Spring Creek Basin 2011 Wild Horse Herd Gather    

The Bureau of Land Management issued the final environmental assessment and decision record for its gather plan for the wild horse population in the Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area southwest of Norwood, Colo.

On Sunday, Sept. 18, the Bureau of Land Management finished wild horse gather operations in the Spring Creek Basin Wild Horse Management Area. The staff, contractors and volunteers with the Disappointment Wild Bunch gathered 53 horses. After the examination, horses were selected and returned to the HMA to ensure the long-term management and genetic diversity of the herd. Of those gathered two foals, five mares and six studs were released back into the HMA.  Released mares would be given a primer dose of native Porcine Zona Pellucida (PZP) one year immunocontraceptive vaccine to control fertility as defined in the gather environmental assessment.

The Herd Management Area, which is a 21,932 acre area managed for a healthy wild horse herd that is in balance with other resources and uses. The estimated population of wild horses in the HMA prior to the gather was about 90. This number was based on a ground survey completed in May 2011 by volunteers with the Four Corners Backcountry Horsemen and included the 2011 foal crop.

The appropriate management level identified for the population in this HMA is between 35 to 65 wild horses. Up to 10 of the captured adult horses will be released to maintain herd population within the established appropriate management level. The application of the contraceptive porcine zona pellucida (PZP) was be administered to the mares upon release.

Wild horse numbers have increased an average of 23 percent per year since the HMA was gathered in 2007, the use of PZP is with the objective of reducing the frequency of future gathers.

20 of the wild horses gathered were made available for adoption through BLM’s wild horse and burro program at the Montezuma County Fairgrounds, east of Cortez, CO on Saturday, September 24th beginning at 9AM. Individuals interested in adopting a horse must meet corral and shelter requirements. These standards can be found by visiting the following website: https://www.blm.gov/adoptahorse/requirements.php

Excess wild horses from Spring Creek Basin HMA may also be available for adoption through the Colorado BLM Wild Horse facility in Canon City, Colorado.  Wild Horses not adopted may be placed in long-term pastures.

Information on the completion of the 2011 gather is available at the 2011 Gather Website