Wyoming's 2017 wild horse and burro adoption season is off to a strong start after all animals offered at Saturday's Bureau of Land Management-Wyoming Honor Farm event were adopted. Twenty saddle- and halter-started horses and 10 saddle- and halter-started burros found new homes in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana after being gentled by inmate trainers.
'I was so pleased with the great turnout, the positive support from attendees for the BLM-Honor Farm adoption program, and especially that all of the animals were adopted,' said Scott Fluer, BLM program specialist for the Wyoming Honor Farm.
About 150 potential adopters and interested onlookers gathered for the adoption. Winning bids ranged from $125 to the high bid of the day: $1,700 for Khal, a 15-hand, saddle-started bay from the Muskrat Basin Wild Horse Herd Management Area (HMA) east of Lander. The average winning bid for the 30 adopted animals was around $550.
New this year, the Honor Farm offered two riding burros in addition to eight halter-started burros from California, Nevada and Utah. Buster, a 13-hand, saddle-started burro from Nevada, fetched the high burro bid of the day: $975.
Eddy DeMers of Lewiston, Montana, adopted Buster, along with two other burros and a horse named Courser from the Divide Basin HMA northeast of Rock Springs. His grandson, Cole Hunsicker, also adopted three burros.
'We're going to pack them into the backcountry and use them for working on the ranch,' said Hunsicker. 'I'm even going to train Penny, the little one, to pull a little cart.'
Kelsey Wicks, ranch manager for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), continued the tradition of adopting horses from the Honor Farm to use for NOLS courses. Holly, a paint mare from the Muskrat Basin HMA, will start out on day trips with NOLS staff, carrying supplies to students on courses in the backcountry. If she does well, she will eventually carry her own students.
'Mustangs have a different level of curiosity than domestic horses,' said Wicks. 'When I'm in the backcountry I want a horse that is thinking along with me, keeping an eye out for me and paying attention to our surroundings. Plus, mustangs are strong and tough.'
NOLS uses the story of gentled wild horses and their journey from public land to camping courses as a way to educate their students about public land issues. Past students have even fallen in love with the wild horses they met during NOLS courses and come to the Honor Farm to adopt their own.
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