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Public benefits at BLM horse adoption

Jun 3, 2012 - Staff

One burro and 16 halter and saddle-started horses found new homes at the spring wild horse and burro adoption and gentling clinic on May 18-19 in Riverton.

The Bureau of Land Management and the Wyoming Honor Farm held their adoption and gentling clinic that offered animals that began the gentling process with inmate trainers at the prison.

The event marked the 24th year that the BLM and the Honor Farm have worked together to train and adopt wild horses. Two adoptions are held at the Honor Farm each year, and the next one is scheduled for Aug. 24-25.

Honor Farm Training Supervisor Jeff Martin demonstrated the gentling process on the first day, emphasizing the necessity to lay the groundwork with the horses.

"The repetitive round pen work that we begin with is very important," Martin said. "It builds the foundation for halter work, saddling the horse and finally the rider being accepted by the horse. Without groundwork, there will be no respect and partnership between the horse and the trainer."

Potential adopters and those just interested in the process gathered Saturday morning for the adoption. Martin and BLM Wild Horse Specialist Scott Fluer talked about the history and experience of each horse as it was brought in by its trainer.

Adopter Bonnie Ballou was looking for horses that were proven and chose three saddle-started horses as well as a beautiful 2-year-old halter-started palomino.

"I could tell by the way the trainers rode them that they were well-trained," Ballou said of her new charges.

Ballou plans to use the horses for ranching on her Angus bull, sheep and cattle ranch north of Hulett. She hopes the two younger horses that she adopted will also become "kids' horses" for her grandchildren.

"The Honor Farm staff did a fantastic job of offering the horses and making the event run smoothly," said Fluer, who also served as the auctioneer at the adoption.

The high bid of the day was $1,000 and the average bid was approximately $234.

The Honor Farm has found that the wild horse training program contributes to inmate rehabilitation. All inmates of the Honor Farm are given productive, meaningful work and some spend long days working with wild horses gathered from Wyoming public lands, readying them for adoption.

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