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Horse lovers gather at Chicopee Ag Center to adopt worthy steeds
Eli Martin pets one of the horses being offered for adoption Saturday by the Bureau of Land Management at the Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center. - photo by Tom Reed

Horse lovers trotted to the Gainesville Wild Horse and Burro Satellite Adoption on Saturday at the Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center.

The adoption began Friday with 66 horses available and continued Saturday with about 30 left. The adoption fee was $25.

“Horses are companion animals,” said Marty Neugebauer, a wild horse and burro specialist from Jackson, Miss. “They get attached to you, and they are just like having any other animal.”

Neugebauer was put on a horse for the first time when he was 2 years old. Ever since, he has loved horses, but he isn’t the only one who has a passion for these animals.

Neugebauer said anyone wanting to adopt needed to fill out an application and have the materials to hold the horse until it is “gentled down.”

On the application, hopeful adopters had to describe their facilities.

“We are so overpopulated out West that we have to do something with these horses,” Neugebauer said. “We are mostly concerned with finding good homes for them.”

Gainesville resident Debra Samples, who has two horses at home, came to the adoption because of her love for them.

“I am an animal lover,” said Samples, who became interested in horses as a young child. “I have nieces and nephews, and horses are a good outlet for them — they have learned to love them and ride them.”

Neugebauer said the adoption was a good place for horse lovers because the horses there “are really sturdy once you get them gentled down, and they have good stamina.”

Neugebauer said by coming to the adoption, kids could learn about how the horses move and what some of their tendencies are.

“These are not kid horses,” Neugebauer said. “I wouldn’t recommend someone adopting one for their kid until they get the horse gentled down. But kids are always welcome to come look.”

Neugebauer said that he has watched kids become fascinated by the horses.

“They really like the burros,” he said. “The burros will come up to the fence so the kids can pet them.”

David Lee of Gainesville has eight horses at home and has been riding since he was 7 years old. He came to the adoption curious to see what it had to offer.

Lee believes that there should be stricter guidelines for adoptions because some people have no idea what they are getting into.

Because of this, Lee believes that those who adopt horses should be checked on six months afterward to make sure they are taking care of it properly.

Lee believes that it is important for people to remember that horses are smart animals that learn quickly, but fear can control them.

“When fear takes over what a horse is doing, it will hurt itself and anyone around him,” Lee said.

Lee said that an element to being a good horse owner is the understanding of the horse.

“You need to understand their psyche,” Lee said. “They are just like people — some horses will go out of their way to try and please you, and there are others that will go out of their way to hurt you.”

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