Thursday, May 5, 2011

Adopt a Mustang: 5 Things to Think About

Another BLM online mustang adoption is happening now, which is always an exciting event for zen cowgirls like me. You can check out the online adoption here.

Having adopted, trained, and placed multiple mustangs (the picture is of Samantha, my current mustang) I highly recommend mustang adoption to anyone who is a capable hand with horses and is looking for a new adventure. Anyone who has been through the process of gentling and training a mustang knows exactly what I mean! Even those who have adopted previously trained mustangs can probably tell stories of how mustangs are just, well, different.

5 Things to Think About Before Adopting a Mustang
If you are thinking of adopting a mustang, three cheers for you! Not only are there over 30,000 mustangs in captivity who need good homes, but you will find some of the most unique horses in the mustang breed ... not to mention part of the American West.

At the same time here are 5 things to consider before you adopt:

1. BLM Adoption Requirements
Before you adopt you will need to meet BLM's requirements for housing and transport of your mustang. In short, you need to have a 20' x 20 corral at least 6' tall (5' tall if you are adopting a mustang under 18 months of age or a gentled mustang). The fencing needs to meet BLM approval, and you also need a shelter of some sort. Finally, you need a stock trailer or a trailer in which the dividers can be folded back to bring your mustang home. Get the specific requirements here along with the terms of adoption.

2. Wild Means Wild
When you adopt a mustang you are adopting a wild horse, and wild means wild. Even a mustang who has spent significant time at a holding facility is still wild. What does that really mean? In my experience that means that a mustang's main goal is to survive while a domestic horse generally tries to get along. Be prepared to take more time in the beginning to help your horse transition from wild freedom to a life of domesticity. When gentling or training your mustang, think through each action and take your time. Mustangs have lightning-fast reflexes. When they feel trapped, they tend to kick and whirl first, and ask questions later. Survival tops the list of their priorities so it is important not to allow your mustang to feel cornered.

3. Opinions x 10
Mustangs are sort of like mules when it comes to opinions. Having worked with horses, mules, and mustangs, I have to say that mules and mustangs run neck and neck in holding strong opinions. That means that if you are adopting a mustang for a specific job, you will need to allow for a mustang's strong personality and choose carefully. For instance, my mustang mare, Samantha, is a Shao Yang temperament type (see Dr. Madalyn Ward's Horse Harmony typing system for more info). That means she doesn't like to be touched and has two speeds: fast and faster. No amount of sacking out and ground work changes her opinions, and working a trail course at a versatility horse show is usually a disaster. She does them at top speed and puts all her attention on steering clear of objects like gates ... which makes it difficult to score points! On the other hand, she is an excellent jumper because she never touches a single rail. It's never a matter of changing Samantha's mind but more a matter of finding a job that matches her particular temperament.

4. Room to Roam
Each mustang is an individual but one thing almost all mustangs share in common is the need for plenty of room. Mustangs are accustomed to traveling up to 25 miles per day and find confinement difficult. While it is necessary to confine ungentled mustangs in the beginning, it is important to offer gentle horses generous space to romp. The need for space is one of the main requests mustangs have for their humans, as transmitted through animal communication (check out Leta Worthington's excellent animal communication website). If you don't have access to pasture, plan to spend plenty of effort keeping your mustang well exercised!

5. Horse Health Care of a Different Kind
Any new horse can present unanticipated health challenges, but mustangs need a special level of horse health care. The stresses of being gathered, transported, kept in holding facilities, vaccinated, wormed, and eventually adopted can throw a wild mustang into a health care crisis. Prepare to really support your new mustang's digestive, nutritional, and emotional needs. I have found that my special Horse Goo is cost effective way to bring stressed mustangs back to full health during the transition to domesticity. To get the Horse Goo recipe, send a blank email to

Well that's it. That's my plug for adopting a mustang along with some possibly helpful tips that adopters can use to ease their mustang's transition into their new home.

Again, check out the BLM online adoption here and enjoy!

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1 comment:

    We would like to place up to 200 wild horses in homes where they will be cared for and treated with great respect,” Sussman said. “All our horses have had ceremonial blessings by Arvol Looking Horse, the Keeper of the Sacred Pipe.”
    Sussman also said people could donate land, or offer leased land to the ISPMB at reasonable terms.

    Contact or ISPMB President Karen Sussman

    In subject box put (adopt special mustangs)Transportation to your home is available. Pictures as to special horse and descriptions will be furnished.

    Thank you