Did you know that horses are as in need of rescue as dogs and cats? As a childhood equestrian, I was familiar with adopting former race horses so they wouldn’t be shipped to slaughter; however, I only recently learned that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rounds up wild mustangs so that cattle can graze on their land. The BLM makes these animals available for adoption, which you can view here.
Because wild horses haven’t had contact with humans, they appear terrified during the BLM roundups, which use helicopters to herd horses into catch pens (footage here) where they are held until adoption.
The BLM says that without these roundups, wild horses would overpopulate and die from starvation or dehydration as they compete for limited range and water resources with other wild animals and livestock. Drought, disease, and fire are also cited as reasons for the roundups.
Wild mustangs can be gentled and turned into excellent trail, show and companion horses. I’m especially fond of the Mustang Heritage Foundation’s (MHF) Veterans & Mustangs program, where military veterans choose a BLM mustang, untouched by humans, and transform the animal into an adoptable companion. Working with the mustang is an experience that connects the veterans with an animal need, but has also proven life changing for the veteran. This sounds like a win-win on par with the Paws in Prison program.
The next session of the Veterans & Mustangs program begins October 8. During the six-week session, veterans help the horse move from “wild to mild” by working directly with their chosen mustang, and learn marketable equine vocational skills. At the end of the session, the mustangs that participate in the program are available for adoption by the veteran participant or placed into private care. That means you can adopt one of these formerly-wild animals, and support a program helping both humans and horses.
The MHF also hosts Extreme Mustang Makeover (EMM), where trainers compete for cash and prizes by displaying the trainability of wild horses in hope of finding each animal an adopter. After being selected as an EMM participant, a trainer picks up an American Mustang that has been virtually untouched by humans and has approximately 100 days to gentle, halter break and saddle train, build trust and develop a relationship with the horse to compete and win. Learn how to adopt one of these trained mustangs here.
Just like with dogs and cats, please make adoption your first option with horses. If mustangs aren’t a fit for your equine needs, there are former racehorses, show horses and trail horses all over the U.S. in need of re-homing. Some of my favorite facilities are Save a Forgotten Equine (SAFE), The Right Horse, Hart for Horses, Sycamore Tree Ranch, and New Vocations Racehorse Adoption.