T-Minus 6 (17Jun2017)
Information on the BLM Mustang adoption program can be found here.
The requirements for adopting a Mustang from the BLM can be found here.
I currently have round pen made of 5’ high corral panels. I need to have a 6’ high containment area for the Mustang. I considered adding something to the top of my current panels to make it 6’ high. However, I decided to leave the current round pen as-is so I still have it to use for my other horses on occasions.
In the early days, it’s possible I won’t be able to halter and lead the Mustang. So, I bought 6’ high panels and made a round pen that will serve both as the holding pen as well as the training area. That way I won’t have to move the Mustang from one place to another. Providing water poses a challenge in the round pen as the stock tank could be in the way when I’m working with the horse. I have a few ideas on how to address that and I’ll add details as when I figure it out.
When I get to the BLM holding facility, I will be led to a holding area where I will get to observe and select a Mustang. I don’t know how many will be in the holding area, but I suspect there will be quite a few. There will also be other people there looking for a horse as well.
So, how am I going to decide which horse to adopt? My basic requirements are:
- a gelding (mares are from Venus, stallions are from Mars, geldings are from heaven; just my personal preference)
- minimum age: 5 years old. I want a horse that is done growing so he’s ready to train to ride. I don’t believe in starting horses until they are done growing.
- Minimum size – preferably 14.2 hands. 15 hands would be even better if possible. I’m 6’ tall and weigh 200 pounds. I don’t want to unduly burden a too-small horse.
- conformation – I’m no conformation expert. However, I will make sure there are no obvious (at least to me) issues such as excessive toe-in or toe-out. I will also be sure that he is not out of proportion (e.g. really long neck, undersized hind quarters, etc.)
- movement – in as much as I am able to watch them move I want to make sure they’re moving fluidly and evenly
Other than that, I have no specific requirements. Here are a things that I will observe. These observations will not actually be deciding factors; they will just be observations that I will note and think about as I am looking at the horses.
- alpha behavior – I should get a bit of a sense about a horse’s dominance characteristics by observing him with other horses.
- prey instinct – does the horse seem to have an extremely strong prey instinct (e.g. fearful, spooky, etc.)?
human interaction – I expect some horses will be more human-friendly than others.
- Color – not important. However, if he’s a buckskin that will just be icing on the cake.
- Intuition – I don’t consider myself to be particularly intuitive when it comes to horses. However, for the very first horse I ever owned (Cody), the vet that I had do a check recommended that I not buy him. I had a strong intuition about him and decided to go ahead and buy him. That was the best horse purchase decision I ever made. Maybe I’ll have a intuition about one of the Mustangs, maybe not. I’ll just have to see.
My general feeling is 99% of horses can be great horses if you know what you’re doing. I think the odds are extremely small that I will get a horse that doesn’t work out.
Picking Up and Unloading at Home
The Mustang will be loaded into the trailer at the holding facility. I have a 3 horse, slant load trailer with 2 back doors. I have to remove the dividers (that’s a requirement). He will be free to move around in the trailer and won’t be haltered.
When I get him home I have to have everything ready and planned out to unload him. My plan is have one of the panels unhooked and swung out just enough to back the trailer up to the round pen area. Then, I have to open the doors and let the horse come out. It would be ideal for both doors to open at the same time, so I want to have a second person on hand to help me do that.
Once the horse is out, I’ll just stand back and observe and see what happens. I’ll decide how to begin the training process based on what I observe.