According to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) website, there are approximately 58,000 wild horses and burros on-range (on public land). The BLM has determined the Appropriate Management Level (AML); the number of horses and burros that can thrive in balance with other public land resources and uses at just under 28,000 animals. In 2015, there were 47,000 animals that had been removed from the wild. They are housed indefinitely in holding pens, at a cost of more than $49 million per year.
In the perfect world the mustangs would be properly managed by the BLM and their removal from the open range would stop and they would roam free, their families and social structures intact. Until that happens, we will rescue some of the horses who have been condemned to life in overcrowded holding pens and ensure they are cared for. Some horses will stay at the ranch for the remainder of their lives, while others will be adopted by well screened individuals or even the vets who go through the program (we’ve all heard the stories about failed placements because people underestimate the time and energy a “tamed" not “domesticated" animal demands).
The mustangs are hardy and intelligent animals, having survived the rigors of mother nature from birth until capture. Patterned on the methods used by horsemen like Buck Brannaman and Monty Roberts, our program will approach them with respect and care so the gentling process is one of building trust and respect, not one of domination or intimidation.
Read below for history of the horse in North America.
North American horses disappeared somewhere between 8,000 - 10,000 years ago. Hunting by early Americans, climate change, and disease are thought to have helped contribute to their demise. They disappeared around the same time as other large mammals like Wooly Mammoths.
In 1519, Conquistadors re-introduced horses to North America. Fifteen horses were brought by the Cortez expedition and were imported by Spanish homesteaders to Mexico and New Mexico. The re-introduced species made their way north through the western U.S. west of the Rocky Mountains to the coast, following the expansion of the Mexican/Spanish. Although greatly valued by their owners, they occasionally escaped, fueling Navajo raiders as early as 1606. Trading and warring among Natives resulted in a rapid spread pf horses through the continent.
Within 150 years of the first colonizers, herds of millions ÿ mostly Spanish Andaluz Mustangs — were roaming the plains. The following centuries saw other European settlers bringing their own horses from the east. British and French colonizers introduced Thoroughbreds, where as Russians are thought to have brought horses to the continent from the Northwest, but this is unestablished. Most non-Spanish stock blended together, becaming "North American breeds" through cross-breeding. In the 1800s in the U.S., millions of horses were collected for riding and other use by ranchers and the military. By the late 1800s millions of wild horses were killed due to increasing land conflicts with ranchers.