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Juliane Dykiel's Horsemanship Blog

Adoption vs. Holding Pens or Slaughter: The Current Situation of BLM Mustangs

Wild Sulphur Mustangs of Sulphur HMA, UT. Photo by Matthew Pestour.

Wild Sulphur Mustangs of Sulphur HMA, UT. Photo by Matthew Pestour.

I wanted to address a topic that has come up constantly throughout my participation in the EMM.

First of all, I would like to clarify that I, and everyone else at Windflower Farm, would only participate in an event that benefits these amazing animals.

I did some further research about BLM mustangs to make sure I could back up this claim. I reached out to other trainers in the competition, as well as my own trainer Ainslie, and the good old Internet to learn more about the situation of the BLM mustangs.

EMM trainer Rob West and his current project, Wildfire.

EMM trainer Rob West and his current project, Wildfire.

First of all, I want to make something clear: the mustangs in this even were not rounded up for the sake of the competition.

The Extreme Mustang Makeover does not take their freedom away.

The government rounds the mustangs up “to protect herd health,” says Emma Minteer, a fellow EMM trainer out of Rose Hill Ranch. “A herd can double in size every 4 years and they have to remove some excess horses.”

Emma and her mustang mare, Amazing Grace.

Emma and her mustang mare, Amazing Grace.

Few people know that mustangs are not native to North America. They were brought over by the Spanish hundreds of  years ago and the population must be kept in check.

Another issue pertaining to mustang round-up is that the BLM is caught in a debate with cattle ranchers. The mustangs are losing their land so that cattle can have more grazing lands. For more info on this, check out this article.

The extra horses are kept in holding pens. “If we, the trainers, don’t do what we do,” says Stacy Garner, another trainer in the competition, “those mustangs in those competitions will spend the rest of their lives in holding facilities.”

Trainer Stacy Garner and her mustang, Rain.

Trainer Stacy Garner and her mustang, Rain.

Ainslie, my trainer, points out that my girl, Rocío, would most likely have been shipped to slaughter eventually, as some of them are. The fact that she was wild and never handled would have made her adoption very tough without this competition. The Extreme Mustang Makeover not only helps raise awareness, but makes the competing mustangs much more appealing for potential adopters.

Our lady, Rocio. She will be available for adoption in August. Photo by Sheridan Studio.

Our lady, Rocio. She will be available for adoption in August. Photo by Sheridan Studio.

Emma, some other trainers and myself agree that we want to stick to our area of expertise: training! If anyone has any concerns or wants to learn more about the BLM mustangs, I hope that they will conduct their own research before forming an opinion.

Rocio seems to love having a job. Photo by Waxler Imagery.

Rocio seems to love having a job. Photo by Waxler Imagery.

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4 thoughts on “Adoption vs. Holding Pens or Slaughter: The Current Situation of BLM Mustangs

  1. I have a few questions: how large are the holding “pens”? How many horses on how many acres? I see most of these Makeover horses were rounded up a few years ago, as yearlings/weanlings. I assume they have had some human contact? Someone must be throwing hay and they must get vet care; vaccinations and such? Who foots that bill? (Questions by no means being negative, I’m very interested in this whole program. Trying to learn more..) btw I worked on a huge breeding farm once. We had a set up where we ran the yearlings through a chute/stocks when they needed attention. Was efficient, safe, minimal handling. Figure same sort of set up?

  2. ok, so pretty confined. They have gotten used to human = food/water at least. hmm I am sooo tempted to give this a try. Broke lots of colts with my father growing up. He was a stb racehorse trainer, had a reputation as a “colt man”. All our horses had good manners and soft responsive mouths, somewhat unusual for racehorses, lol. He always said he’ld rather have one fresh out of the field, never handled, a blank slate. We’ld round them up and herd them onto the trailer much the same as the mustang pickup. Nowadays most come from the Sales and totally used to being handled. We did all driving, though. Don’t know if my riding skills would be up to this, plus the fact that I aint no spring chicken. That’s why I asked if anyone did driving in the competition. That I could do.

    • JulianeDykiel on said:

      Yes, used to humans around them but never handled. No muscle tone. I hope you choose to do it! Not sure if anyone has driven but I’m sure it would be unique and welcomed.

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