Mustang Adoption - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 37 Old 02-29-2016, 11:00 PM
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post #12 of 37 Old 02-29-2016, 11:20 PM
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I would actually disagree with some and call them a more cold blooded type of horse. Most I've known have been kids ranch horses.

The problem with adopting them, like another poster said, is they after the purchase price they cost the same as a horse bred for a specific type of disipline. Even on the ranch we pride our horses for their cowiness, lightness, and other traits attributed to breeding. While we may not spend for training they do eat and require vet bills. Usually they are around for quite awhile, so it is appropriate to spend more money on something you truly want. If you want to sell them they are worth much less than a bred horse...

Now, in my undersanding when ran by ranchers they were bred selectively like cattle, and numbers were managed, thereby holding a value. Culls were valuable for slaughter.

I do not think the answer is to let them starve. That is sad. I think they need to be removed before doing more damage to the land and sold or slaughtered as humanely as possible. Small herds could remain under better management practices.
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post #13 of 37 Old 02-29-2016, 11:31 PM
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I yacked about my experience with some that I've known, but didn't really answer the OPs question.

Pros and cons to the horses.

Pros may include:
Regular vet care. Better nutrition. Improved access to water. Farrier care. Protection from predators and weather. Usually, horses owned by someone don't get eaten alive when they get too frail to flee, most people euthanize one way or another.

Get trained well. Most often their space to travel is severely limited, and horses like to move around. Get trained poorly or with unnecessary roughness. Get passed from home to home to home with no skills.

I am unlikely to get more of the BLM horses because I need horses that can handle large bovines. Too many of the BLM horses are too small. Their size was okay years ago, because cattle were smaller. Now we have super-sized bovines and fewer people are adding to the genetic pool of the horses with our larger domestic horses. The result is the BLM horses are stuck 40+ years ago.

Used to be, a rancher would kick some mares out to get picked up by a herd stallion he liked. This was done to a lesser extent with stallions being let out to cover feral mares. Then the rancher(s) would gather and retrieve the offspring as two and three year olds.
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Last edited by boots; 02-29-2016 at 11:37 PM.
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post #14 of 37 Old 03-01-2016, 12:20 AM
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Mustang size. Two data points:

Cowboy is a BLM mustang. 13.0 hands...built like a tank, great hooves, but too small for most ranch work. At 160, I'm at his upper weight limit for rough ground. He can handle me fine for 2-3 hours, but not if the going gets rough.

Bandit - the fellow in my avatar - is 15.0 hands, and weighs in at 805 according to the vet last week. He is half Arabian, half mustang. He has good endurance and I'm told he's fast, but he wouldn't handle a lot of male riders and doesn't have the power to handle a lot of ranch work. Maybe sheep.

It boils down to what others have said - why take a chance on a mustang when for about the same price you can have a horse bred for what you want to do? Most folks with horses can tell you the acquisition cost is a tiny part of the overall expense. Over the lifetime of the horse, a $3000 horse that is bred for the job is a better bet than a free horse who is not.

BTW - I have a lot of respect for little Cowboy. For a 13.0 hand pony, he's a horse - and a good one! I spent the first 6 months thinking I'd ride Bandit out and then sell him after a year, but the skinny fellow with the awkward way of moving is growing on me. He might be turning into a trail-savvy horse, and I admire good trail horses! So I am not, in any way, anti-mustang. But Cowboy didn't have 6 previous owners because everyone liked him, either...and Bandit's movement is awkward in part because his previous owner was 220+, which was more than an 800 lb horse ought to be carrying for long miles.
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Last edited by bsms; 03-01-2016 at 12:26 AM.
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post #15 of 37 Old 03-01-2016, 12:38 AM
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My niece adopted two BLM mustangs. The first one seemed to be making good gentling progress, but the first time she let it out into a larger area it decided to head for the hills. Unfortunately, when it ran into the hi-tensile 5-wire electric fence it bounced backward so violently that it flipped over backwards and smacked its head on the frozen ground. Death was more or less instantaneous.

The second BLM mustang seemed crazier than the first, but gentled very quickly and turned out to be an unusually calm, brave, and curious horse. She is the horse I wanted my daughter on when we went to the mountains together. I wish I owned her. Even though she is a pig about peeing in the trailer.

On average, I would guess the mustangs in the BLM holding pens live better lives than the ones that get adopted out, in spite of the BLM efforts to qualify owners. The BLM is not the bad guy here. They are just administrating the compromise that has been reached so far. The real solution would be readically culling the least desirable animals, but the hands of the BLM are tied by the utopians. We don't need a non-native invasive species running wild in our marginal western plains. If we decide we want one, we should keep their numbers under control.
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post #16 of 37 Old 03-01-2016, 06:11 AM
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There are wild horses in Alberta too, but they don't receive the protection that US-American horses have from the BLM. The horses are rounded up when the numbers are perceived to be a problem. There is one private organization (WHOAS) that has a holding facility where they strive to put training on some horses and adopt them out. Other than that, the person who caught them is free to do what they want, so almost all of the horses go to auction.
The horses fall under the stray animal act, so they cannot be snared, shot or trapped, but it is relatively easy for e.g. ranchers to get a permit from the goverment to catch wild horses during a roundup.
As far as I know, WHOAS is the only organization that works with the government on this. They strive to establish a program of contraception with a Zona Pellucida vaccine (which has been used successfully to manage the Assategue Island population), combined with catching and adopting those horses that get themselves into trouble on private land (e.g. busting through fences to get into someone's pasture). They claim that this will be enough to eliminate rounding up and auctioning altogether - how true that is, I don't know.

I kniw a few people who have successfully gentled and trained Mustangs. There was a girl on here (I think her screen name was Crosscountry) that successfully did the mustang challenge with a little Mustang called Rueger. There also seem to be more sought after herds like the Kiger, so I guess not all Mustangs are created equal...

I think since this is for an ethics class, we should consider ethics over other practical aspects. How to finance a program ("I don't want taxpayer money to be spent on this") is not exactly a question of ethics. I guess the ethical questions we should be asking here is whether us humans have a responsibility for those horses.
From an ethical standpoint, I also think that Americans should be eating the horse meat that they produce. I always thought it is hypocritical to advocate slaughter, but reject the meat and export it to some ominous overseas country cause "they eat it".

On a similar note, I find it a little odd that these horses are deemed so useless. We have this big trend towards all "natural" - natural hoof care, natural horsemanship, "at liberty" horse training, natural nutrition, etc. You'd think that Mustangs, that are about as natural as they come, would be perfect and completely unspoiled for these endeavors. Yet most people prefer chasing their purpose-bred 17hh warmblood with a little flag and pat themselves on the back how natural they are.
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post #17 of 37 Old 03-01-2016, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Regula View Post
From an ethical standpoint, I also think that Americans should be eating the horse meat that they produce. I always thought it is hypocritical to advocate slaughter, but reject the meat and export it to some ominous overseas country cause "they eat it".
How is it 'hypocritical' of Americans when not only is it illegal to sell horse meat for human consumption in the US, the anti-slaughter people got the idiot bureaucrats to deregulate the slaughter facilities, which means they had to close down?

There are even some states where the lunacy has ratcheted up even higher, and the slaughter of horses is actually illegal. Thank goodness they're few and far between.

This is not new information; it's been out there for years, so how you missed actual facts before deciding on your sanctimonious opinion, I have no clue.

If horse meat were readily available in grocery stores in the US, you bet I'd buy it. Probably not as much as chicken, fish or pork because I try to limit my red meat intake, but I'd definitely eat it.

Please do some actual research and get your facts straight before you decide Americans are 'hypocritical' about horse slaughter.

Originally Posted by Regula View Post
On a similar note, I find it a little odd that these horses are deemed so useless. We have this big trend towards all "natural" - natural hoof care, natural horsemanship, "at liberty" horse training, natural nutrition, etc. You'd think that Mustangs, that are about as natural as they come, would be perfect and completely unspoiled for these endeavors. Yet most people prefer chasing their purpose-bred 17hh warmblood with a little flag and pat themselves on the back how natural they are.
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Tell me, do you have a feral mutt horse, or a purpose bred one? If you have an actual breed, why the holier-than-thou attitude about folks who have them too?

Not sure what 'chasing them with a little flag' means, unless you're talking about the Pepperoni Brigade. Even then, what business is it of yours as long as they take proper care of their animals? So what if they don't use them the way you think they should?

Honestly, come down off that high horse of yours before you get a nosebleed.
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post #18 of 37 Old 03-01-2016, 03:30 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 don't have success rate info for you, since I have no interest in actually working with the mustangs, so haven't researched it.

How do the adoptions turn out?

I'd say the majority end up not being used at all, going back to being above most folks ability to train them. The ones who get adopted by capable trainers and learn to work with humans are probably good horses, look at our own BSMS's Cowboy. But I'd venture a guess that most end up not being used due to being very difficult to get through to. The successful mustang is very wily and untrusting, hence getting it to the point of being handleable and and enjoyable to be around takes a lot longer than a domesticated horse. When you have a horse that is always on guard and ready to fight or flee on an instant, that make most people afraid rather than just healthy respect.

Business/practical reasons a mustang isn't adopted more often. They aren't quickly profitable. My trainer can take an unhandled domestic horse and have it under saddle in 30 days, the owner on it in 60 if the owner is timid. Mustangs could take that long to allow you to handle them at all. Take every step of the training process and multiply it by several weeks and your profit margin is less than $0 when you figure out all your time and costs. Your basic grade horse, while well trained and safe to ride, will only sell for around $1000-1500 as a decent trail mount. Most training costs around $650/mo around here, add in farrier and vet costs because with mustangs you know nothing has been done, and you take any possible profit right away.

Here's kind of a limited break down of domestic vs feral:

Domestic Colt, registered, 2 years old

HAS BEEN BRED TO TRUST HUMANS and at least handled a little since birth

Comes to the trainer already halter, lead trained
Has had his feet trimmed several times
Current on shots, Coggins

Trainer works on ground work and saddling in the first week. Is riding the horse by the 3rd week at the latest. After 4-6 mos training, horse is sold for $7500 or more.

Mustang Colt, grade, unknown exact age

HAS BEEN BRED TO BE VERY SUSPICIOUS AND WILD, never handled prior to arriving at the trainer

Can't be caught, was herded loose into transport, comes out to catch pen
Can't be haltered,
Can't be brushed or groomed or petted
Never seen a farrier
Never had shots or Coggins

Trainer works 2 weeks just to get hands on horse without being kicked or struck
2 more weeks to be able to walk up and touch horse, possibly gets halter on and leaves it
Rinse and repeat until after 4 more weeks, trainer can approach and brush horses but still can't handle feet

When observed in round pen by strangers the horses will stop and face off with the stranger and will not remove their eyes or focus on the trainer until stranger leaves.

2 months later, horses are still not under saddle and not really considered reliable, will let trainer pick up feet most of the time, have been trimmed once

2 months later horses are just starting to lunge under saddle and not blow up, owner runs out of money, patience, time and horses are abandoned or put in "storage".

It's kind of the difference between buying a pet store kitten or one from a breeder and taming a feral cat and running the risk of getting rabies and cat scratch fever. Why would you?
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post #19 of 37 Old 03-01-2016, 05:01 PM
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DA, I'm sure that timeline is accurate for mediocre mustang trainers, but for ones who actually know what they are doing, we can refer to mustang makeover trainers. They get those horses from completely unhandled to not only riding but doing flying changes, reining patterns, cutting/roping, jumping, dressage (all depending on discipline for most of those), and something I see frequently in the freestyles is riding onto and standing on a moving truck/vehicle. Some of them do completely tackless runs. And these horses do all the basics as well: trailer, farrier, ground manners, etc. They get them to do all this in two months. To me, that is an extremely impressive time frame, especially so for the ones who have done it tackless!
So I would say it probably very much depends on the trainer/handler/owner and somewhat on the horse what the time frame for training is.

flyliberty, if you have netflix, you would probably enjoy the documentary called Unbranded. Its about a bunch of guys who train a string of mustangs and ride them from Mexico to Canada. They've got a lot of footage that both showcases the really good parts about mustangs, and the really bad parts. Some of these horses are so nice looking I couldn't believe they were mustangs.

My biggest concern with mustangs is their heightened instincts. Some, not all, but some, have what I call a 'switch'. I have encountered this in domestic horses as well, but less often. What I mean by switch is when the horse suddenly and for no apparent reason (to the rider) has a major freak out either by bolting, rearing, etc. usually out on the trail. If they are with buddies, often what is bothering this particular horse, the other horses are not affected by. It's a sudden switch to the feral side, in which they go into fight or flight mode and it can be very difficult to get their brain back in the right place. And don't mistake what I am speaking of for a nervous/spooky horse. Most of these horses are quiet 99% of the time even on the trail.
Granted, I have seen the heightened fight or flight instinct in all breeds of horses, but I think its more common in mustangs, since any good horse breeder selects their stock for soundness of mind as well as physical qualities.

Most people don't have time to ride their domestic horses enough to get them and keep them quiet. On a mustang with heightened feral instincts that needs worked several times a week to keep their mind in the right place, its not going to happen.

Not all mustangs are like this. Some, dare I say a good half of the trained mustangs out there, will never give you any problems and are sound of mind. The problem is that nature is the one breeding these horses, not people. Nature is not breeding for a sound quiet mind. Rather, the ones who have heightened feral instincts are more likely to come out on top in survival of the fittest.
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post #20 of 37 Old 03-01-2016, 06:02 PM
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The Mustang Makeover trainers are not riding 20 other horses a day to make a living. They are in the competition and devote X amount of time to one horse. I'm talking your average joe trainer and certainly your average owner. Not a show off whose in it for the press, ego strokes and magazine articles. Actually, I think you just insulted 95% or better of American trainers.

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