The Bureau of Land Management or BLM is a government agency that seeks "to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. It administers more public land – over 245 million surface acres – than any other Federal agency in the United States. Most of this land is located in the 12 Western states, including Alaska."
Among its many responsibilities, the BLM "protects, manages, and controls wild horses and burros under the authority of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 to ensure that healthy herds thrive on healthy rangelands."
Source: The U.S. Department of Interior
I am an avid supporter of various wild mustang rescue organizations, many of whom paint a much darker picture about the BLM's wild mustang and burrow management practices. But regardless of how I or you or anyone else might feel about the BLM's practices, their public adoption events can be a positive compromise between two possible extremes (unmanaged, free roaming and slaughter houses).
This past weekend, my community's saddle club hosted a BLM adoption event, and let's just say that "wild horses couldn't keep me away." (Sorry, I couldn't resist being a bit corny.) There in divided pens stood small groups of mares, geldings, and burrows. Some seemed to be vying for attention, willing to interact just a bit with the humans. Some distanced themselves from the herd and us. The rest passed their time munching on hay while establishing themselves in temporary pecking orders...nips here, kicks there, sudden waves of motion within 20x20 pens. They were beautiful and sad and frightened...mere shadows of the majestic creatures who once ran free. My heart broke for these beauties, and I wished I could take every one of them home, to answer the questions that seemed to hang in the minds.
For some, "what's next" means another long ride in a packed trailer, back to a holding facility.
For the lucky ones, "what's next" means a new life, a home, learning to trust, and love.
Either way, these are the lucky ones. These have hope. These aren't among those injured during helicoptor roundups, culled due to poor health, and sent to auctions where slaughter houses frequently bid. (Though we do not consume horse meat here in the US, we do export it to other countries.")
Hope takes time, however, and many of these horses have already been in captivity for several years. Perhaps those are the ones who seemed withdrawn...or...perhaps those are the ones who have learned to "play the game" and interact just a bit with humans.
But taking one home isn't as easy at sounds. These are wild, fearful creatures who have been stolen from their homes, separated from family herds, and hold little trust for humanity. They need special owners who understand their wild natures, this fear, and exactly what it takes to establish a bridge of trust. They need someone skilled in horsemanship, who knows how to teach a horse to accept grooming and medical care, to accept the training necessary to transition from wild to "green" broke to fully trained. They need someone to help them understand that though they can never again be what they once were, there is still much goodness in this world, and there is still much happiness to be found.