Sunday, January 28, 2007

Why Wild Ones?

Why do I want a wild horse? Don't ask. I can't answer. It's just the way it is...I wanted a wild one when I was a kid, and I wanted one when I was an adult. It's my passion. Some folks want a boat, some folks fancy cars. I want wild horses.

A dozen or so years ago I was wandering about the internet and came across the BLM internet adoption website. All those passions that had burned as a child flared up again as I read through all the requirements and scrolled through the horses.

Wild horses, Mustangs, are feral animals. Not native to North America, they don't receive the same priveledged treatment of animals such as eagles or other endangered or protected animals. At one time in history, they were considered a blight on the landscape by ranchers, who's cattle competed for grazing lands. Horses were shot; many were rounded up and hauled off to slaughter under very inhumane conditions.

Enter Vera Johnson, also known as Wild Horse Annie. She witnessed first hand the abuse that was being dealt the horses that roamed America and fought hard to stop the senseless abuse and slaughter. Her work brought about the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971:

An Act Of Congress

"Congress finds and declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; (and) that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people ..."(Public Law 92-195, December 15, 1971.)

Since this time, the BLM has been holding adoptions for mustangs. You can visit a holding site, adopt over the internet, or go to a live competitive bid adoption to find your horse. You'll need to fill out the adoption application, of course, and there are inspections done to insure that the horse is being cared for properly. After you've had your horse for a year and shown that you've taken reasonable care, you receive the title and clear ownership of the horse.

Adoption fees begin at just $125. Of course, if you're adopting over the internet or at a live adoption, you may find someone has taken a fancy to the same horse you'd like to go home with. That may start a bidding war, driving the price up. A recent adoption I went to had a four year old palomino mare sell for just shy of $1000. Most, however, can be adopted for less than $200 at the live, competitive bid adoptions.

When I was little, and my Irish grandfather finished telling me stories of wild horses, he'd always end his conversation with, "Tracey, if you ever find a wild horse, promise me you won't touch it. Stay away from it, they're dangerous!" And while I haven't totally heeded Grandpa's advice, it's still a good bit of advice for most people. Wild horses are just that. Wild! They'll jump over six foot fences without a thought, crash through gates, and run right over the top of you if you're not paying attention. The adoption requirements are there for a reason; to keep both the horse and you safe. I love my wild horses, but they're work. There's nothing I'd like more than to be able to try my hand at one a little older than the yearling or two year olds I've currently got; but my facilities are not built up enough at this point to bring a four year old home. If you've not got the facility, don't bring home a wild horse.

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