The Gentling of a Mustang
The Adoption Center
When I was growing up, a neighbor had adopted a wild mustang that they named
Floppy. She was a two year old dun mare which had a droopy ear--hence her
name. Over the course of the years I saw her be gentled, trained, and then
turn into a nice trail horse.
This experience planted a seed in my head which grew as time passed. I was
completely intrigued with the idea of adopting, gentling, and training a
In the last year and a half, my husband John and I bought a house with horse
property. We had corrals built for my two older "boys", Cameron and Chico.
Both are quarter horse geldings.
Last summer, I saw the ads for the wild horse and burro adoption in my city.
Since we now have the space for a third horse, I knew this would be my
chance so I called the Bureau of Land Management in my state and asked for
them to send me an application. They sent the application and their brochure
"So You'd like to Adopt a Wild Mustang or Burro". This brochure explains the
adoption procedures, what equipment and facilities are needed, and how to
care for the animals. I filled out the application and impatiently awaited
for the adoption.
The viewing of the animals for the adoption was on Friday morning. Everyone
who was interested could come an sign up for pre-approval. Pre-approval
means that those persons whose applications are approved before the end of the
viewing day can participate in the
random drawing. Each "adopter" would draw a number which would determine his
or her placing for the order of selection of the wild mustangs or burros.
With my application and the brochure about adopting
mustangs and burros, I headed down to the adoption site, following the
directions on the flyer.
The BLM had brought about 50 head of horses and 10 head of burros. Each had
an identification number tied around their neck. I
submitted my application with the office and headed to the corrals with pen
and paper in hand. I decided to select several horses in case my first
choices were taken by other adopters.
I wanted to choose a young filly, so I went to the
first corral which contained about 7 yearlings. Some of them had hernias
drooping from their abdomens. There was a tall colt which seemed older than
a yearling. He was a bright bay and had a calm expression. There were two or
three bay fillies that seemed to have good conformation. All of them looked
tentatively at the spectators gathered around the corral. Some would eat
nervously, while others had calm expressions. Of the lot, three bay fillies
and one chestnut went on my list. I decided against the large colt since I
truly wanted a filly.
The next corral had older mares with a few younger fillies. The leader of
the group was a seven year old gray mare. She had the
down the pen with her ears laid back and bared teeth. I had never seen
horses in such a state. They grouped together and moved in sync like a flock
of birds or a school of fish eluding a predator. I had a difficult time
observing individuals because they were galloping from one end of the corral
to the other or they would huddle in the middle.
Most of the older horses had long manes knarled into knots or twisted into
dred locks. Some had visible bite marks on their shaggy bodies. When they
would calm down and
huddle in the middle I
could discern some individuals.
In the midst of the fray, a paint filly caught my eye. The
listing showed her to be 2 years old. She looked like a yearling to me. She
went on my list. Another gray yearling filly also stood out in the crowd.
I had a difficult time observing individuals while they were from one end of
the corral to the other. Dust billowed up making it more difficult to see.
By the time I left that corral I made twelve selections.
I wandered around the grounds looking at the other animals. The burros
seemed to be less frightened than the horses. Several individuals even
rolled on the ground with the crowds standing around their corrals.
There were two babies in the group.
The stallion/gelding corral had several beefy looking fellows. They too ran
around their pens like a flock of birds. Several old looking fellows had
scars on their rumps and backs. I really did not want the trouble of having
an older stallion to gentle then geld, so I left that corral.
Feeling confident about my selections, I started to rank them. The hot
sun made ranking difficult so I took one last look at the horses and
headed home to meet the BLM agent who would come to inspect my facilities.
At home, I had just finished my ranking just as the agent arrived. My
husband and I led him to our corrals. The facilities needed to have 6' high
fence with shelter, no protruding sharp objects, a water and feed trough
with no sharp edges. With my breath held tight, I watched the agent walk
through our corrals. Cameron and Chico greeted him with slobbery lips. He
checked each area on his list. When he was done, he told us that our
facilities passed the inspection.
The Mustangs Running