Some horses are looking for new homes in Vermont. But they are not just any horses, they are wild mustangs, brought to Vermont by the Bureau of Land Management, whose job it is to manage and protect the wild herds.
There are just 30 horses at this adoption site in Rutland, which is less than half the usual number. It's a sign of the times."Normally back in 2005-2006 we would have had 100 or over 100 horses here and they would have been all adopted out. The way the economy is running right now, we will probably adopt out about half of these animals," said Martha Malik of the Bureau of Land Management.
Anyone interested in adopting has to fill out an application and meet several criteria.
"You have to have a 20 by 20 corral, sturdy corral that is built directly to the shelter and also a 6-foot high fence for an adult horse, fencing cannot be wiring or electric," Malik said.
The horses that are not adopted Saturday will be shipped back to a holding facility in Nebraska.
These wild horses were rounded up using a helicopter which herded them into a holding pen. Some criticize this technique, saying it harms the horses.
Not so, says Betsy Greene.
"They actually worked the horses like a cattle dog would or a sheep dog would," she said.
Greene is an equine specialist for the University of Vermont. In 2010, she witnessed one of the roundups in California as part of a group sent to monitor the process. The Bureau did use a helicopter and then a trained horse.
"They have one horse that has been trained to run back to the pens for feed and they call it the Judas or Prada horse. So basically they turn that horse loose and all he says is look, come this way. The horses all follow and it is amazing to watch," Greene said.
Shirley Langloise of Fairfax adopted a mustang in 2000. She comes back every year to encourage others to adopt, too. She admits there are many challenges to training these wild creatures.
"And I try to tell people about them and they do make wonderful horses, but you have to be patient. That is the main thing, having patience," Langloise said.
Adoption fees average about $125. Friday was a preview day for potential buyers. The gates at the fairgrounds in Rutland open Saturday at 8 a.m. and the horses will be adopted out on a first come, first served basis.
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