Mustang Adoption - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 37 Old 02-28-2016, 09:52 PM Thread Starter
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Mustang Adoption

Hi all,

My name is Jason and I am new to horses so thanks in advance for your patience. I am doing a project about wild horses for my Ethics class, focusing on the pros and cons of mustang adoption (pros/cons for the horse, not the person!). As I am sure most horse people are aware, the mustangs live on dedicated rangelands across the western half of the U.S. They are allowed to roam free but their populations must be controlled by the Bureau of Land Management to protect the sustainability of the pasture land. Initially I figured the BLM was the "bad guy" who was puting horses in captivity and that mustang adoption saved them from a life of imprisonment.

After doing a bit of research I found some other viewpoints that suggested that among adopters, some had good intentions but were lacking the time, facilities, experience, or the knowledge to give a mustang a happy home. I also came across stories of people mistreating horses. In both of these instances it seems the mustangs were better off in the BLM holding pens. I am sure that there are also many, many people who adopt mustangs that are wonderful owners that provide great environments for their horses, so I don't mean to discount their efforts.

The focus of my project is to look for a more ethical solution to the problem of the wild horse overpopulation based on the understanding that this is a human problem, not a horse problem. So far the solutions seem to be adoption, holding pens, fertility control, and a three-strikes policy that puts the horse at fault. Is there any effort to increase the number of ranges? I am specifically interested in ranges in the Pacific Northwest where I live.

I really want to get involved with helping to ensure that wild horses have a place in this country because they deserve a decent life and helped to build this country in the beginning.

What do you all think about mustang adoption and the idea of increasing the rangelands available for the wild horses? If any of you have farms, what kinds of impediments and/or barriers exist that prevent you form adopting wild horses. Where can I volunteer to find out more?

Just curious and want to find a way to help!


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post #2 of 37 Old 02-28-2016, 10:00 PM
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Subbing so I can find this later. I'm too tired tonight.

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post #3 of 37 Old 02-29-2016, 10:11 AM
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I think wild horses should be treated like wild elk or wild deer, and controlled thru hunting. I don't understand why it is morally OK for humans to prey on deer but not horses. If we eat cattle, why not horses?

As far as adoption goes...ANY horse can find a good home or a bad one. Most end up somewhere between. My three horses live in a corral. They move themselves around, but it is a very limited space. To really stretch their legs, they need to be ridden. Some say that I am cruel to keep horses that way.

They also eat hay or hay pellets. No free grazing in the Sonoran Desert! No pastures. Some say that makes me a cruel owner.

OTOH, the BLM mustang I own had at least 6 previous owners. Someone has ridden him well at some point in his life. I suspect an older woman, because he acts best with an older woman on his back. He also has been badly ridden and poorly used as a lesson horse at a nearby (25 miles) horse stable. He HATES being in an arena, but is a very sensible trail horse. Or pony, since he is 13.0 hands.

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #4 of 37 Old 02-29-2016, 10:21 AM
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I have a lot to say about this, but I'm on my phone, so my reply might not be great.

First and foremost one must understand that mustangs are feral rather than natural. I won't explain because that can be researched.

When ranchers ran the mustangs it was a better situation. Anything that can profit you you usually manage well. They added bloodlines and culled and didn't allow for overpopulation.

I see the mustangs now. Many of the range mustangs are starved due to overpopulation. They don't have a true natural preditor. It is sad and I don't understand what people are thinking that want them running free.

I have heard the idea of hunting them, and I think it is good if it would work. I personally think they should be run by ranchers or if that is too unpopular of an idea they should treated much like feral dogs. This is a city problem taken care of by pounds. There is not difference between a feral dog or a feral horse.
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post #5 of 37 Old 02-29-2016, 10:32 AM
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I'm going to re-post something I just put in the "Tell Whole Foods" thread, about mustangs. It also goes to the issue of feral vs wild vs natural vs domesticated.

"Back in the day before they became "protected to death", when they came off the rez they were little, skinny and not a huge danger or problem to train.

A woman, whose name I don't know, got sucked in by the AR group in her area when she was looking to buy a horse and she got conned into adopting 2 mustangs from.....yep, Pauls's Valley. Someone gave her 2 mares, aged 5-7 years old, HUGE mares, and very very fit. Also very very unhandled. She sent them to my trainer to be gentled and maybe saddle broke. She'd been assured by the AR folks, they'd be really easy, no harder than a domesticated 2 year old. WELL, after they tried to tear down the round pens, kill the trainer and his hands, they finally were able to get some hands on these mares. Yeah, better him than me. Now if these had been the youngstock she'd been promised, it might have been ok, but she got slipped some ringers. These mares were TOUGH. It's been several months now, she's out of money and the mares are no longer in training. She's got them out on cheap board in someone's field and they will not let anyone near them. She won't make arrangements to get them hauled to her, she doesn't have the facilities or the know how to deal with them. So now what? Eventually she'll quit paying board and guess what? They'll end up at an auction, no doubt. Or she'll have them put down. Who did that help? We'd all be better off if they'd be sold for meat.

The mustangs are not all pink, fuzzy, free Bubble Up and Unicorn F*rts. They are feral, wily and not easy to train and handle. THAT is why they shouldn't be "adopted" out to the general public. The population needs to be controlled to fit the lands they're on and excess needs to be culled, just like we do with deer. Ever heard of deer season? We need something like that for these excess horses. We do NOT need to keep more and more and more of them on private reserves funded with taxpayer dollars."

I don't object to professionals taking them and training them and using them as riding animals and eventually selling them on to JQ Public for his riding animal. And they'll land in good homes and in bad, but for MOST of the public, they are WAY above their pay grade to train and understand. This whole business of adopting them out for $50 or whatever the fee is, is ridiculous. The money the get comes no where near supporting the remaining unadopted, unadoptable horses. In a private ranch, these horses would not be a commodity because they aren't self supporting.

Once they get full grown and past babyhood they're too big and strong for MOST people to safely handle and train. I agree with hunting or just about any other method to cull the excess. I don't agree with keeping them at tax payer expense.

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post #6 of 37 Old 02-29-2016, 11:10 AM
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I have sounded off on this in the past, but I would just be echoing what has already been said. I will state however, that feral horses are hard on the land. they graze the grass to the dirt and pound the dirt to dust. They trash and foul water holes by stomping them into bogs that dry up.
However, mustangs themselves can make excellent saddle horses, I would suggest you contact Wylene Wilson, Robert Carlson, or Madeline Leclerc. They are all multiple mustang makeover challenge winners. to get a pro's insight.
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FYI, it is spelled W-H-O-A.
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post #7 of 37 Old 02-29-2016, 07:54 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for responding. I am surprised that the collective opinion here is so anti-BLM I guess, but it's all part of the learning process for me. I would never have thought of hunting horses, but that sort of makes sense to control populations and I'm sure that is the way it was before the BLM. The idea of eating horses doesn't sound too appetizing to me... but I confess I've never tried it.

I think it's very interesting that many of you think that the ranchers should manage the mustangs. If the ranchers have an incentive to put most of the available resources towards the health of their cattle, many horses would not have access to food and water. Is the argument that de-populating the ranges by starvation is the best solution? Of course I am a hypocrite because I eat meat and from what I understand meat comes from cows. ;)

I will definitely look into what feral vs natural is, thanks for the tip. Thanks to all for sharing your personal experiences.

Does anyone have any good information about success rates? Do the majority of mustang adoptions turn out well? Lastly, could anyone expound on my question about the business/practical reasons why mustangs are not adopted more often?

Thanks everyone for your responses, it's been a real learning experience!

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post #8 of 37 Old 02-29-2016, 08:27 PM
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Originally Posted by flyliberty View Post
Does anyone have any good information about success rates? Do the majority of mustang adoptions turn out well? Lastly, could anyone expound on my question about the business/practical reasons why mustangs are not adopted more often?
I may not be able to give accurate info on the first 2 questions but I can answer the last the best I can. Practically, unless you run a training barn chances are you do not have the facilities to handle these horses. I've known mustangs who've BUSTED down barn doors.... and the thing was a long yearling. You need to have high fences in paddocks because many don't respect boundaries, and that's IF you can even handle the horse to turn it out. Usually, they get locked up in stalls for months until they are manageable enough to lead around. Can you imagine paying $600 a month (which is cheap for most areas), to have your horse sit in a stall and only have hands on it? Most people aren't going to spend that money.

Business wise, most people rather spend the money to get a domesticated horse and put it in training then get a feral horse, put it in training, and maybe have it turn out to be a whacko. When a horse has been around humans since it was a foal it knows what we are. Wild horses have no idea. They either see us as the scariest predator they've ever seen, or something they need to kill.... yes kill. The fight and flight instinct in these animals are REAL and have not been watered down by humans.

I've known people that have gotten mustangs and honestly, you never hear much afterward. Chances are they took too big a bite with the horse and either can't handle it so it goes to waste (same as it would at the BLM), or off to the slaughterhouse it goes. Mustangs should not be adopted to someone who doesn't understand feral horses. They should only be owned by extremely experienced owners, and/or trained by individuals who respect the horse as a wild animal.
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post #9 of 37 Old 02-29-2016, 08:35 PM
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I come from Australa where we don't have mustangs but we have similar problems with our feral horse population, ours are called Brumbies. Like the Mustangs, the Brumby is descendant from domestic horses who escaped or were released and have developed a distinct type.

Management is an issue for us as well. Perhaps we are less concerned about farm lands and more about the damage this non native animal does to fragile ecosystems.

The barriers to adoption are similar. The reality is that horses are mostly hobby animals. They're not cheap and as owners and riders we often want to do a lot with them. To this end many horses have been purposely bred to be useful to people. This means that they can be easier to train and more suitable for sports. The costs to train a horse will be the same regardless of breed - so the real question for many people is should they spend money on a purpose bred horse who likely to be successful and useful and also reasonably valuable to sell on, or should they spend the same money training a feral horse who isn't as likely to succeed in any particular sport and will not ever have the similar value as a well bred horse?

I've known a few Brumbies and some have been alright little horses and others have Just sat in paddocks with minimal training as unfinished projects. I've seen very few in show rings even at amateur levels and not many at pony clubs or being used regularly.

It's not saying that they are bad it's just that for most people there are better horses out there for them.
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post #10 of 37 Old 02-29-2016, 09:43 PM
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My daughter went with a friend of mine, unknown to me, and the two of them picked out a really spiffy looking BLM horse. He was a looker.

We got him gentled for trimming feet, grooming, shots. She could lead him anywhere. We could saddle him. But try to climb on his back and it was a nuclear explosion. With hooves.

We took him back and I picked out SIX that had been passed over at three different auctions. Three time losers can be sold and you can have full title.

I selected based on conformation and brains.

My three daughters trained those six over the summer, and into the early fall. Shortly after school started.

They then sold them as family-friendly mounts and bought their own clothes and paid for their own extra activities.

Granted my kids had been raised around horses. Lived horse back as much as they could. And I did work with each horse when we got it home to make sure my initial assessment was accurate before I turned the kids loose with them. But they did everything from halter to saddle, neck reigning, going under English tack. All of it.

We knew others that did okay with theirs.
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