Real solutions for the BLM Mustang & Burro programs
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The American mustang is not an unwanted horse as the media stories would have us all believe. Every year thousands of people make an effort to adopt these horses. The problem? Restrictions. Let me explain.
Several facilities are located on prison grounds, requiring an appointment. The appointments are limited to one day a week in the morning and you may only view the handful of horses that have been separated into the front pens. Yes a facility holding over 800 head of horses only permits you to view as little as 12 horses that they have separated. And due to requiring an appointment only a handful of people can view per week.
The websites. They're useless. 100's of horses are being held at each adoption facility and yet very few animals have been posted to the sites. Something as simple as taking a photo & posting with the brand # would allow people to view ahead of time.
Prison programs. Several have been shut down. They're considered unsuccessful. But, that is due to the nature of how they are ran. Most people don't even know the programs exist or how to contact anyone to adopt a saddle trained horse from a prison program.
TIP program through mustang heritage foundation. This is a big one. A grant provide to MHF gives incentives of $1000 to a trainer to teach an untouched mustang to pick up all four feet, halter training to lead, & load into a trailer. This is a preferred method of adoption for many as it removes the requirement for a 6ft tall fence needed on an ungentled horse. But, the TIP program is suspended in 2017. Why? Because they were too successful. That's right. The TIP program hit their adoption goals for the year in April 2017. So the numbers can't go up because the funding is gone until October.
But, speaking of numbers let's talk about them for a moment. It is touted that it costs approximately $48,000 per horse to feed them for the entirety of their life in holding. That's probably a fair estimate assuming a lifespan of 20 years in holding. However, remember that it only costs $1000 per horse to pay a trainer to gentle them and adopt them out through the TIP program thereby saving approximately $47,000 per horse as they then become the responsibility of their adopters.
Now, let us consider adoption options. Why is it that the TIP & prison programs are the only options to adopt a gentled mustang yet they are limited on adoption numbers by funding or poor management respectively. Right now there are prospective adopters looking for mustangs, but cannot get one simply because the TIP program has been suspended.
It takes a special type of person to get a mustang to trust a human. Many adopters simply don't know how to do it. That's why the TIP program is the most popular option. That part is already done and we as adopters can move on into training the horse to be a willing partner. That's huge.
But, I continuously hear how unwanted these horses are and I think people are believing it. So, let me tell you about my weekend with one of my mustangs. His name is Boomer, and he's one of the best horses I have ever had. And trust me that's saying something considering the pedigree on his barn mate. Boomer and I attended a clinic this weekend with the trainer who started him under saddle. That little mustang only had about 45 rides on him and it was only the 2nd time I myself had been on him. It was also his first time going on a trip, or riding in a group of other horses, & he was nervous. But, he never once quit trying to do what I asked all day. We watched the instructor & worked our way through each exercise. As young and as inexperienced as he is he gave me his all the entire day. And he's been like that since the day I adopted him. If there was only one word a mustang owner could use to describe their mustang, that word would be "loyal".
So, please stop this false agenda that these horses are unwanted. I'm not going to go into the nuances of round ups or fertility control. I don't know enough about those programs to offer solutions. But, I do know a little about adopting them. I find it disheartening to see low adoption being touted as an excuse to send the animals to slaughter. This is nothing more than an attempt to sweep the problem caused by poor management under the rug.
You are forgetting about one thing though. Remember that 1 word to describe our mustangs? "LOYAL". You know why that's the word? Our mustangs would probably choose the same word for us.
So fix the adoption programs and stop acting like the failing numbers are the faults of the American people. The failing numbers are because the programs are engineered to fail. And the truth will be told.
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