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Frequently Asked Questions

Wild Horse and Burro Hotline 1-800-237-3642
What is a wild horse or burro?
A wild free-roaming horse or burro, as defined by Federal law, is an unbranded, unclaimed, free-roaming horse or burro found on Western public rangelands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).
Why does the BLM offer wild horses and burros for adoption?

The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 gave the Bureau of Land Management the authority to manage and protect wild horses and burros on public lands to ensure healthy herds and rangelands. Federal protection and a lack of natural predators have resulted in thriving wild horse and burro populations that grow in number each year. Today, when an over-population exists, the Bureau offers excess animals for adoption to qualified people. The BLM has placed more than 230,000 wild horses and burros into private care since 1971.
Why adopt a wild horse or burro?

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 are known for sure-footedness, strength, intelligence, and endurance.
What are wild horses and burros like?

Every wild horse or burro is different, with its own unique personality. They are of no particular breed. 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. Wild horses and burros are not accustomed to people.
How can I qualify to adopt a wild horse or burro?

To adopt a wild horse or burro, you must complete an adoption application and be at least 18 years of age (Parents or guardians may adopt a wild horse or burro and allow younger family members to care for the animal.); have no prior conviction for inhumane treatment of animals or for violations of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act; and, show that you can provide a home for the adopted animal.
What facilities must I have to adopt a wild horse or burro?

You must provide a minimum of 400 square feet (20 feet x 20 feet) for each animal adopted and a two-sided shelter. Younger horses should be kept in corrals with fences 5 feet high. Fences must be at least 4.5 feet high for ungentled burros and 6 feet high for mature ungentled horses. Once the animal is gentled, you may release it into a pasture or similar area.
What should I feed my adopted animal?

Good quality grass hay is adequate for a wild horse or burro. Horses and burros are very sensitive to abrupt changes in what and when they are fed. Your veterinarian can advise you about proper care and feeding.
How many wild horses or burros may I adopt?You may adopt up to four wild horses or burros within a 12-month period.
How much does it cost to adopt a wild horse or burro?The minimum or base adoption fee for each wild horse or burro is $125.
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.
Have the wild horses and burros received any medical treatment?

The BLM vaccinates, worms, and freezemarks all of the wild horses and burros it offers for adoption, while a veterinarian provides necessary medical care. The BLM will provide you with a record of the adopted 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 freezemark?

The BLM uses freezemarking to identify captured wild horses and burros. This is a permanent, unalterable, painless way to identify each horse or burro. The freezemark is applied on the left side of the animal’s neck. The mark uses the International Alpha Angle System, which is a series of angles and alpha symbols. The mark indicates the U.S. Government, year of birth, and registration number.
Does the animal belong to me or to the Federal government?

A wild horse or burro belongs to the Federal government until a Certificate of Title is issued. After you have had the 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) verifying that you have provided humane care for your adopted animal. Once the BLM receives the completed eligibility statement, you will receive a Certificate of Title. Then the animal becomes your private property.
What should I bring to the adoption?• A source of payment. Adoption fees can be paid with cash, personal check, money order, traveler’s check, or most credit cards.
• A double-stitched nylon webbed halter and a lead rope for each animal you adopt.
• Stock-type trailers with rear swing gates to transport adopted animals.
Where can I adopt a wild horse or burro and where can I get more information?The BLM holds adoptions at different locations throughout the United States, depending on public interest. Most BLM facilities and BLM contract facilities have animals available for adoption year-round by appointment. Call toll free at 866.4.MUSTANGS, or visit the Bureau of Land Management’s web site at for more information.
What else should I know before adopting a wild horse or burro?• Allow plenty of time to view the animals prior to the beginning of the adoption selection process. 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. 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.
• Visit your local library, Humane Society or veterinarian. They are often a good resource.
Do I have to keep the animal in the 6', protrusion-free corral until I receive title to the animal?No. Once the animal is gentled, you may release it into a pasture setting. Keep in mind, you do not want to move it into a pasture until you are comfortable that you can catch it when necessary for feed and care.
Why do I need a covered stock trailer and does it have to be a solid top?We require a covered stock trailer because the animals have never been loaded into a small trailer. In addition, it is safer, and less stressful, for BLM personnel to load the animal into a stock trailer. The covering is required since the animals have the ability to jump outside an open trailer.

Covered stock trailer refers to: solid top, pipe rails, tarp over an open-top trailer, etc. The idea is to prevent the animal from jumping out.