The wild horses and burros of the American West are a source of great contention that stretches far beyond their herd territories. The ranchers want them gone. The activists want them to run free. The Bureau of Land Management is caught in the middle and armed with policies that, as has been noted elsewhere, may be making things worse not better.
NickerNews and BestHorsePractices have always advocated for these animals but our position has evolved as we’ve learned more and visited with more folks about the complicated issues. For the next several weeks, we’ll look closer at the topic from an on-the-ground perspective, with interviews with advocates and BLM program managers and mustang owners. We’ll visit a facility in Delta, UT, talk with its manager, and interview Utah’s top dog in the BLM program.
For starters, we offer coverage of the Impact of the Horse, a model event in Heber City, Utah.
The Impact of the Horse showcases yearlings and older mustangs, rewards trainers for a 100-day challenge, and invites mustang owners to compete against domestic horses and their riders. Best of all, organizers and event judges place a premium on the horse-human partnership.
The two-day event wraps up with an auction-style adoption for the mustang yearlings (which local youths have gentled), the older, saddle mustangs, as well as a handful of untouched burros.
It’s a positive, well-run collaboration between public (The Wild Horse & Burro program of the BLM) and private entities (Sage Creek Equestrian Center in Heber City) as well as several other organizations including the Mustang Heritage Foundation.
The event highlights the beauty, athleticism and intelligence of this American icon and also the impressive talents of men and women who work to transform a relatively wild animal into an arena performer. While the weekend was full of flash and pizazz, it doesn’t take much to realize that the bulk of the progress was made in small, quiet moments full of patience, understanding and experience.
To all who contributed and participated, our hats are off!