All their lives they have been roaming the public lands of the western United States. But they have the potential to become beloved pets, blue-ribbon winners and stablemates.
Nine burros and 43 horses will be available for adoption or sale through the Bureau of Land Management adoption event in West Columbia this weekend.
“They can do absolutely anything if you take the time and the patience to train them,” BLM spokeswoman Shayne Banks said.
“They all have been roaming on public lands and they’re all wild horses,” she said. “If you’ve never been out to see the wild horses, this is a good opportunity to come out and see what they look like and talk to people that have had them before. We will have a trainer on site that’s going to be doing some wild horse demonstrations so he can give you a lot of tips, if you’ve never done this before, for how to start training your wild horse.”
The adoption event is at the South Congaree Arena in West Columbia. Adoptions are available from 9 am until 7 pm Friday and 8 am to 4 pm Saturday. Taylor McIntosh will be giving a free training demonstration. Call (866) 468-7826 for more information.
Potential buys can either buy a horse for $125 or adopt it for the same amount. Potential adopters must fill out an application and prove that they have at least a 20×20 corral with 6-foot high fences for adult horses and 5-foot high fences for yearlings or burros.
“We do want to make sure that all the animals are going to good homes,” Banks said. “Basically you sign a contract with us saying that you will take care of the horse until you get title. It’s a very easy process and there will be someone that can help you through it.”
The horses range in age and come from a variety of BLM sites in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. Here is a list of the animals available for sale or adoption in West Columbia:
BLM manages herd populations on public land by cutting some horses from the herd and putting them up for sale or adoption at events throughout the country.
“It comes down to an overpopulation problem,” Banks said. “The issue is not that there’s not enough land for the horses. There’s actually millions of acres identified for the horses. The problem is there’s not enough food and water on that land.”
The BLM estimates there are about 90,000 wild horses on public land it manages.
“These horses are coming from primarily desertous areas. And if they have an area that may have forage, they probably don’t have a lot of water,” she said. “If they have water, they probably have to travel 10 miles to forage. And so to keep the herds healthy and to keep the rangelands healthy we go in and we round up some of the hoses every year.”
Banks said with patience and training, these horses can serve a variety of disciplines.
“These horses can do absolutely anything any other horse can do if you’ll take the time and the patience to train them,” she said. “A horse to trail ride on the weekends; you might be looking for a show horse; might be looking for a horse to do some jumping or for 4-H for your children.”
Banks encourages people to come see the horses in West Columbia, even if they are not planning to take one home.
“Even if you don’t think that you’re ready to adopt right now, come out, see the horses, see the process, talk to people who have done it before. We’ll be back and we’d love to have you come out and see us.”
Banks said the bureau has had previous success bringing horses to South Carolina for adoption.
“The people in the area have always opened their hearts and their homes to the wild horses and we’re always happy to come back.”