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Horse lovers seek others to adopt wild steeds
Adoptions will continue until 4 p.m. today
Jo and Tony Stone of Gainesville look at a stable of horses Saturday at the Wild Horse and Burro Adoption at the Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Wild horse, burro adoptions

When: Until 4 p.m. today
Where: Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center, 1855 Calvary Church Road
Fee: $25.

If you've ever wanted to be a cowboy and tame a wild mustang, here's your chance.

The Bureau of Land Management is holding adoptions of wild horses and burros at the Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center in Gainesville this weekend.

The animals come from the wild rangelands of the western states.

The bureau monitors the rangelands to determine how many animals the land can support. The excess animals are herded together, vaccinated, dewormed and marked, and then are offered for adoption to qualified applicants.

"A lot of people don't realize these are wild horses, so I like to make sure people know exactly what they're getting, these horses are wild, they are mustangs, they're unbroke," said Mike Branch, founder of the American Mustang Society.

To qualify, an applicant must provide a suitable stable or stall for the animal, and have adequate water, feed and facilities to provide care.

The adopter also has the challenge of building a loving relationship with their new horse.

"It's going to take a while before they can trust you," Branch said.

"They've just been captured and put into a steel cage by two-legged upright creatures, so naturally they're like ‘I don't really like that guy,' but once they understand they can trust you ... that you really love and care for them, I really believe a mustang would walk through fire for you."

Branch makes himself available to help with the gentling process of all adoptions. He says one of the main challenges in breaking a wild horse is the amount of time it takes.

He said the process of gentling is different for all horses because they each have their own "horse-analities" just like people have different personalities.

He gave a demonstration as potential adopters watched and asked questions. He explained that ancient Rome named the horse "equus," which means equal. He said the horse has to realize you and it are equals.

Philip Reid and his daughter, Ashley, are adopting a wild horse this weekend. Reid has had experience in breaking wild horses and said the trick is to "stick with it."

"I'm getting a 4-year-old mare," Reid said.

"I like the quality and the look of her. I think she'll make a good horse. She's mainly for my daughter, and she's just fit to be tied."

Other people are adopting for the sake of the challenge.

Jennifer Whisnart is considering adopting a wild horse.

She said her sister will help her care for it while it is getting used to humans.

"I've never done this, but I want to see if I can," Whisnart said.

Forty horses have been adopted but more horses and burros available.

The application fee is $25. Adoptions will continue until 4 p.m. today.

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