Mustang sanctuary: How a rancher saved 1500 wild horses

By | April 26, 2019
 the United States of America Bureau of Land Management has been scratching its caput Mustang sanctuary: How a rancher saved 1500 wild horses
Alan Day

For decades, the United States of America Bureau of Land Management has been scratching its head, to the indicate of going bald, over the conundrum of what to produce alongside our country’s overwhelming surplus of wild horses.

Currently, to a greater extent than than 55,000 wild horses live on the opened upwardly range, but that attain tin displace alone sustain almost 27,000 horses. Another 35,000 wild horses live inwards off-range pastures, but those pastures are reaching capacity.

On March 4, the BLM issue a telephone band for somebody landowners interested inwards providing character aid for 200-5000 wild horses. This innovation may test to last a feasible as well as sustainable way to ease overpopulation spell giving horses good homes as well as putting a smiling on the faces of wild horse advocates. What’s more, this innovation has a proven rail record.

In 1988, I pitched this exact visit to the BLM. I had lately bought a 35,000-acre ranch inwards South Dakota as well as was casting almost for an operating plan. At that time, the BLM had 2000 excess unadoptable wild horses locked upwardly inwards feedlot prisons. It occurred to me that I could give those horses a fine retirement domicile on a ocean of prairie grass.

 the United States of America Bureau of Land Management has been scratching its caput Mustang sanctuary: How a rancher saved 1500 wild horses
Pryor Mountain wild horses on the Montana-Wyoming border. © Brad Purdy, BLM Montana/ Dakotas

The BLM took a smooth to the visit but insisted that I antechamber Congress to learn a mouth passed giving the way permission to contract alongside me. Senator Dennis DeConcini from Arizona helped me learn approving for our country’s commencement government-sponsored wild Equus caballus sanctuary. Within the year, semi-trailers trundled downward the ranch route delivering a total of 1500 wild horses. I was the caretaker of that herd for 4 fabulous years.

Would I recommend that someone alongside reason as well as a dear for horses and jeopardy apply to last a wild horse caretaker? Quicker than a hawk dives for a champaign mouse.

But here’s the rub. The BLM contract stipulates, amid other things, that the horses get got lilliputian human contact, that they are moved regularly to fresh pastures, as well as that they are monitored. What the BLM fails to mention, however, is it’s darn hard to motility as well as monitor animals that get got a deep-seated fright of human beings. It is nosotros the people who get got chased them off the attain alongside helicopters, separate upwardly their families, forced them onto trucks as well as into captivity. No wonder they humans to a greater extent than than anything. Had I non befriended the wild horses, those 4 years on Mustang Meadows Ranch mightiness non get got been thus spectacular.

When the horses first arrived on the ranch, a crew of cowboys couldn’t learn closer than one-half a mile earlier those horses would bolt. Somehow I had to contrary their preparation inwards fear. I needed to learn those horses that I was their friend, non their enemy. I had to run alongside them gently as well as kindly, win their trust thus that they would follow me across the prairie as well as through a gate onto fresh grass. I developed a computer program that I called “herd demeanor change training”. Monty Roberts would later on telephone band it “horse whispering”.

The cowboys on the ranch visit I was nuts. Three times a day, nosotros got inwards a corral the size of a football game champaign alongside 100 horses. The races would start. Back as well as forth those frightened animals sprinted until they figured out nosotros weren’t going to impairment them. Pretty soon, they started next a cowboy on a Equus caballus to a greater extent than or less the corral, as well as thus through the gate, as well as thus through the lane to the pasture. The entire preparation took almost a week. By the fourth dimension jump rolled to a greater extent than or less as well as nosotros had to motility the entire herd to summertime grazing, all the horses had graduated from school. Of course, 1 enquiry remained: Would the preparation stick?

As it turned out, it did stick. When nosotros moved the herd across vi miles of prairie, including through gates, non one horse bolted. Imagine leading 1500 wild horses at an slow gallop, the closest ones almost viii feet behind you. I’ll never forget the audio of the horses grunting, the experience of the reason vibrating. It was the highlight of my ranching career.

Without a doubt, somebody wild Equus caballus sanctuaries tin displace last a win-win for wild horses as well as Equus caballus lovers. With to a greater extent than sanctuaries inwards place, mayhap the BLM tin displace concentrate on ways to continue the free-roaming wild horses from overpopulating the opened upwardly range. Then maybe, simply maybe, the Wild Horse as well as Burro Program volition cash inwards one’s chips every bit manageable every bit a trained herd of wild horses.

Alan Day was the possessor of Mustang Meadows Ranch close St. Francis, South Dakota; Rex Ranch close Whitman, Nebraska; as well as Lazy B Ranch inwards southern Arizona. Alan relates the storey of working alongside the wild horses inwards his award-winning memoir The Horse Lover: H5N1 Cowboy’s Quest to Save the Wild Mustangs.
With his sister, supreme courtroom guess Sandra Day O’Connor, he also coauthored Lazy B: Growing Up on a Cattle Ranch inwards the American Southwest


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