BLM Adoption Program?

As the adoption event of the Calico Complex horses draws closer I want to take a moment to begin discussing the concepts of bringing a wild horse into your life and what BLM adoptions/sale policy represents.

Last week Rob Pliskin sent me an article he wrote in honor of a horse named “Tobey.” Tobey was one of our wild ones that had a sad story that turned into a “happy ending” because humans stepped up to the plate at their own expense. Tobey was abused. He ended his life with hands that cared around him. He was one of the lucky ones.

Tobey (photo courtesy Denstar)

Kiva is the name of a BLM mustang that did not end his life with such fortune. Kiva was BLM branded. It was reported he worked as a camp horse with kids. I know he ended his life at the slaughter house. I tried to help Kiva. He had a home that I could have taken him to. A woman that would have tried her best to give him dignity and recognition of the service he gave after he left his life of freedom was hoping to give Kiva retirement. The packing plant owner needed to “make weight” on his shipment. Another so-called “unwanted horse” shipped to slaughter in a business that has more to do with supply and demand than any assertion that it is a “humane solution” toward solving a “problem.”

All that having been said what is “BLM adoption?”

Here is a link to the BLM page about adoptions.

If you can get past the reasons (spin) that these horses need to be adopted (removed from the range in such large numbers)  there is some good information there.

You must provide a minimum of 400 square feet (20 feet x 20 feet) for each animal adopted. Until fence broken, adult horses need to be maintained in an enclosure at least six feet high; burros in an enclosure at least 4.5 feet high; and horses less than 18 months old in an enclosure at least five feet high.

Other facility requirements are listed on the site.

It also lists the coding system for BLM freezebrands.

The BLM uses freezemarking to identify captured wild horses and burros, which is a permanent, unalterable, painless way to identify each horse or burro. The freezemark is applied on the left side of the animal’s neck and uses the International Alpha Angle System, which is a series of angles and alpha symbols. The mark contains the registering organization (U.S. Government), year of birth, and registration number.

There are many ways to obtain a mustang, not only from the BLM. There are several organizations that have given sanctuary to mustangs and adopt out horses that have already been “titled” and gentled to halter and handling. For some of you this may be a better option. A quick search on the Internet can pull up options, many you may find in your immediate area so you can visit and meet the horses available. By adopting from one of these places you free up a spot for another horse and help to keep these facilities in operation. And help keep a “safety net” in place for horses like Tobey and Kiva. BLM has no program that protects these horses after they are titled. That net is left to the private sector to maintain.

The BLM also has training programs at several Correctional facilities. More information can be found here. Many really wonderful horses have come out of these programs. ABC News clip from a program segment of the Outsiders here.

If you decide you want to bring in a horse and do all the training yourself this is a link to the adoption schedule for 2010.

You will not find the Calico adoption listed on the schedule. At this time the horses from the Calico round-up will be offered via Internet adoption in July. Further information will be forthcoming.

The horses currently at the Palomino Valley Facility in Nevada are being “moved” to make room for the horses coming in for the adoption event that will, at this time, include approximately 100 horses from the Calico gather.

Recently the horses at PVC were offered for adoption via the internet. I urge you to take a peek at the page before it gets pulled.

What I would like you to notice are the number of horses that had no bids. Many of these horses now have “one strike” in a “three strike” system that moves them closer to long term holding. It doesn’t matter that the event was held with virtually no publicity, photographs that have many of these horses looking afraid and dirty. The effort involved in placement has nothing to do with the individual life moving towards a life sentence.

Photo taken from BLM INet site

Sex: Filly Age: 1 Years   Height (in hands): 12.2

Necktag #: 6017   Date Captured: 04/01/09

Color: Brown   Captured: Born in a Holding Facility

#6017 – 1 yr old brown filly, born in a holding facility, NV, in Apr 09

She is available at PVC. Please note she was born in captivity. NO bids.

Photo taken from BLM INet site

Sex: Gelding Age: 1 Years   Height (in hands): 12.2

Necktag #: 6106   Date Captured: 01/01/09

Color: Bay   Captured: Born in a Holding Facility

#6106 – 1 yr old bay gelding, born in a holding facility, NV, in Jan 09.

He is available at PVC. Please note he was born in captivity. NO bids.

Photo taken from BLM INet site

Sex: Filly Age: 1 Years   Height (in hands): 12

Necktag #: 6149   Date Captured: 09/18/09

Color: Sorrel   Captured: Beatys Butte (OR)

#6149 – 1 yr old sorrel filly, captured Sep 09, from Beatys Butte HMA, Oregon.

She is at PVC. NO bids.

Photo taken from BLM INet site

Sex: Mare Age: 3 Years   Height (in hands): 13.3

Necktag #: 6953   Date Captured: 10/31/09

Color: Palomino   Captured: Tobin Range (NV)

#6953 – 3 yr old palomino mare, captured Oct 09, from Tobin Range HMA, Nevada.

She is available at PVC. NO bids.

Notes on the availability of the above horses from BLM site:

This horse is currently located in Palomino Valley, NV. For more information, call 775-475-2222 or email or

Pick up options (by appt): Palomino Valley, NV; Litchfield, CA; Burns, OR; Elm Creek, NE; Pauls Valley, OK; Ewing, IL.

Other pick up options: Marshall, TX (4/15-noon-2pm); Asheville, NC (4/16); Springfield, OH (4/16); Midland, MI (5/7); Marshfield, WI (5/21); Kenansville, NC (5/21).

Now I have a few questions for y’all:

While national attention focuses on the round-up that the BLM spent considerable taxpayer resources on, while the court case from IDA moves forward that the BLM is spending considerable taxpayer resources on, did any of you see a public campaign that reflects considerable resources mounted toward an adoption program? I’m not talking about a few hundred thousand spent on an “Extreme Mustang Makeover” event or a few thousand spent on a small adoption event… but anything that reflects a balanced program?

It almost seems as if the BLM relies on the public to not only attempt to create a safety net for these horses vulnerable to abuse and slaughter, but to do the majority of publicity toward adoption, like with the Pryor horses and Calico.

“We need to get AML down to a level that supports the adoption program.” Gene Seidlitz, Winnemucca district manager BLM.

Maybe getting your act together on resource management on the range, bringing the adoption program up to support current populations, creating a management strategy that stops destabilizing populations that increase reproduction, utilizing birth control in existing populations, etc. etc. etc. might possibly represent the concept “management” in a more productive fashion? Instead of keeping the “full steam ahead” approach on a management strategy that clearly DOES NOT WORK?


10 thoughts on “BLM Adoption Program?

  1. Rob Pliskin says:

    Ride on Laura. Great article and great points and questions. The number of beautiful horses that are now in BLM captive pens defies counting. Just look at the photos!

    If any of your readers want my gentling articles from the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Online Newsletter for “Hands On” info on one way to learn gentling, here it is:

    I will also put it in the Comments for “The Hands and Heart of An Adopter”

    My best, for the horses, Rob Pliskin

  2. Adoption seems to be an afterthought and the continued roundups and holding of horses does not seem aimed at a management strategy just a ‘get rid of’ mentality. This is what the suits are aiming at. They make the big deals that look at the wild herd presence as a nuisance over their designated and traditional lands while big business moves mountains.

    Selective management is a dream. Protection seems out the door. Money is spent to keep horses unseen and unadoptable. All the inter governmental criticism did nothing to check this as BLM collects herds and imprisons them at huge expense. We keep fighting the ‘get rid of them all’ mentality and these broken attempts to connect the public to the adoptable horses seems anemic and now depends on how much the public knows about the herds’ hardships at the hands of BLM and those who have watched a herd dwindle in recent years. Horses are being saved at adoptions from entering into the no mans lands of 3 strikes and long term invisibility.

    Horses not under attack by BLM/DOI/USDA are also out there and at risk. We still have herds wild, today. In 6 months it will be the biggest fiasco ever
    allowed to continue to self destruction by a government agency with the public fighting it to stop every inch of the way. It is that now. But it is not ending or even winding down. The Mustang Removals continue brought to you by prejudice, manipulation, waste and greed and an arrogance we have no need for and which, at the end of each day, seems to be the biggest obstacle out there.

    We want to adopt horses. It is the only way we will own again. Our fences are not any good for a wild horse who is not gentled. The adoption programs that have to deal with the huge influx of horses from roundups that release less and keep more, have not got the time and budget to give the public a prepared and gentled wild horse. Where they can be found is the exception. This system suffers from the arrogant decisions made on high and attempts to give us our wild captives to train and love. Yet the adoptions are few and far between. This is a not working for any of us. mar

  3. Jan Eaker says:

    Laura, I follow all the internet adoptions, it really bothers me to see all these horses passed over, through no fault of their own. I have emailed to the contacts given and called, too, the numbers posted, for general information, and for particular horses, like will # 1111 be on the next internet adoption/ what will happen to him/her? never a response, it is really disheartening, when so much more could be done FOR THE HORSES, instead of for the contractors and suppliers and everyone else who is happy with the status quo.

  4. Anne says:

    hi Laura: thanks for the info; so only people who own pastures or land can adopt I guess…I live in a studio apt. !

    no offense; but what is that mud doing over the hooves of one of the mustangs for adoption?
    what type of condtions are these mustangs kept in;

    no water hose to wash their hooves?

    like i say; they make the mustangs look as unattractive as possible
    so they won’t be adopted

    the BLM sells any Mustang not adopted after 3 attempts

    WHAT A SCHEME ! ! ! The BLM wild horse and burro prog. imo is just about to be

    closed….trust me…mark my words Big Brother is watching the BLM;

    case in point: you cannot keep a mustang knee deep in mud; if u do…

    u could be indicted on animal cruelty charges; this is Law !

    • Laura Leigh says:

      I don’t know if the adoption program will be closed down… but if I had a hose I think the horses would not be the first thing to get “cleaned up.”
      : )
      The program is so out of balance.

      Hang in there Anne.

      • Anna says:

        thanks Laura; why would the BLM not “hose the Stangs with water before they take pix? could you imagine if a private equine ranch put up pix like that ? ? ! Cripe !

        • Anna says:

          ps I mean the entire Wh & B program is to be shut!
          (i hope !
          a. the mustangs are to have shelter they do not
          b. mustangs should not be made to “lie in mud…
          c. that is not mud…that is Manure Slurry; imo

          ps yes a light colored Mustang would “get sunburn easier in a blm corral than out in the wild; in the wild the sage brush and conifers provide shade…
          Zinc Oxide creme can protect from bright sun…a.

  5. Anna says:

    ps thanks again for the mustang litchfield pix; the one of the foal lying in the “man made straw pit is…”pitiful…

    do you know which Corral the Silver King Mustangs are at? tia

  6. Céline says:


    I’m from france and I would like to know if it is possible to adopt a mustang, is there any associations able to do this? Is it legal? How does it work?


    (sorry for my bad english)

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