Adopting a #8216;living legend#039;

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Today, herds of wild horses and burros roam free on public lands in the American West. These beautiful animals are proud descendants of those owned centuries ago by Spanish conquistadors, cavalry riders and miners in search of a fortune.

This weekend, an opportunity to adopt one of these &#8220living legends” comes to Mobile


The Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management-Eastern States (BLM-ES) will hold a special wild horse and burro adoption at the Mobile County Agri-Ed Pavilion in Mobile on Saturday and Sunday, January 20 and 21.

&#8220A special selection of animals will be available to good homes for adoption fee starting at $125,” Mike Nedd, BLM-ES director, said.

Some 60 horses and 15 burros are expected at this event, including geldings, mares and yearling horses. A preview will be held on Friday, January 19, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

&#8220This is your chance to get the special wild horse or burro you have always wanted,” Nedd said.

Keeping nature in balance

Why are the wild horses and burros taken from western states for relocation?

It goes back to the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971.

The act gave the BLM and the Forest Service the authority to manage, protect and control wild horses and burros on the nation's public lands in order to insure healthy herds and rangelands.

&#8220To maintain a thriving natural ecological balance, the BLM gathers excess animals from their home ranges where vegetation and water could become scarce if too many animals use the area,” Nedd explained.

&#8220Since 1973, nearly 200,000 wild horses and burros have been placed in adoptive homes, with more than 3,959 adopted in Alabama alone.”

The BLM manages more land - 262 million surface acres - than any other Federal Agency. Most of this land is located in 12 Western states and Alaska. Most of the wild horses and burros adopted out come from Nevada, Wyoming, California and Colorado.

Why adopt?

The BLM cautions prospective families to remember: these are wild animals unaccustomed to people. An adopter will have to be willing to show much kindness and patience in order to develop the trust of the animal. Once that is accomplished, wild horses and burros can be trained for many uses, said Nedd.

Wild horses have gone on to become champions in barrel racing, endurance riding, dressage and jumping as well as excellent mounts for pleasure riding.

Wild burros excel in driving, guarding, packing, riding and as companion animals. Both wild horses and burros are known for their sure-footedness, strength, intelligence and endurance.

The animals come in all shapes, sizes and colors and each has its own unique personality. They are of no particular breed, &#8220though some exhibit characteristics associated with certain breeds,” Nedd explained.

Donavan Tea of Gallatin, Tenn., adopted a wild horse he named &#8220Nevada.”

&#8220When I adopted Nevada from the Bureau of Land Management, I thought I was just helping preserve the nation's wild herds. I never imagined I'd bet the best all-around horse I've ever encountered, too. Nevada is smart, sure-footed and a great friend to boot.”

Tina Marie Jones of Damascus,

Maryland and her husband are the proud owners of &#8220Cisco,” a wild mustang they adopted more than seven years ago.

&#8220It's been a truly amazing experience. There's a special bond between a mustang and its owner; a bond unlike any other. Combine that with Cisco's willing heart and great physical assets and you will see why I love this horse,” Jones said.

What is required?

To adopt a wild horse or burro, you must be at least 18 years of age and have no prior conviction for inhumane treatment of animals or for violation of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.  Adopters must have adequate feed, water and facilities to provide humane care for the number of animals requested, and provide a home for the adopted animal in the U.S. until a Certificate of title is received from the BLM.

After one year, the adopter will receive a Title Eligibility Letter and must obtain a signed statement from a qualified person (such as a veterinarian or humane official) verifying the animal has been given humane care and treatment. Once the eligibility letter is signed and returned, the BLM mail the Certificate of Title to the adopter. The animal now becomes the adopter's private property. There are no additional federal fees, but a minimal fee is required for transfer of ownership.

What are the costs?

The cost of caring for a wild horse or burro is comparable to caring for a domestic horse or burro.  In addition to the adoption fee minimum of $125, the adopter is expected to cover all costs associated with the care of the animal.

If adopting a mare, there is a chance she could be pregnant, so the additional expense of caring for a foal should be factored in.

While the adoption fee is small, many other costs should be considered:

n Stall or corral rental

n Feed

n Shoeing

n Grooming supplies

n Tack

n Salt or other supplements

n Medical-veterinarian

 In addition, if an adopted wild horse or burro escapes from their new family's property, they are responsible for all costs in recovering the animal.

The animals are vaccinated and de-wormed by the BLM prior to their adoption and a copy of their medical history is also provided.

What do I bring?

If you decide you want to adopt a wild horse or burro, here's what you need to bring to Mobile this weekend:

n Cost of adoption fee. The BLM accepts Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discovery, travelers' checks, money orders, personal checks and cash.

n Equipment. A halter and lead rope will be needed for each animal adopted.

n Transportation. A sturdy trailer with ample headroom, covered top and adequate ventilation is a must.

The wild horse and burro adoption will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, January 20 with an opportunity to preview the animals on Friday afternoon.

 Any remaining animals will be available for adoption from 8 a.m. until noon on Sunday. The arena is located just off Interstate 65 at 1070 Schillinger Road North, and is open to the public with no admission charge.

For more information and applications for the Mobile adoption, call 1-888-274-2133.

You can also visit or to get requirement information or to download an application to become a qualified adopter.