Yesterday, Patrick and I made our first trip to the corrals in Burns (5 and a half hours SE of our home base here in Silverton). It's a little overwhelming at first, admittedly. There are several hundred horses there, and many of them are too far away to see very well as they huddle in their herds in large paddocks.
Although I had seen several fillies on the BLM
website before we left, it was hard to figure out at first where they were because they were too far away to see neck tag numbers. We watched the wranglers sorting through a new herd close to the barn. They were taking photos for an upcoming internet adoption. There were several nice looking horses, all young geldings (recently castrated--some were still swollen). We asked about the fillies, and the ladies told us that mares wear red neck tags and geldings wear green ones.
So we went back out to the far corrals in search of the girls. There had been another visitor
driving by, and this had scared most of the horses away from the fence. Each paddock is several acres, so we sat by the fence of the one that obviously held young mares, and we waited. Pretty soon, they were curious enough to come closer (still hundreds of feet away)--close enough that usingthe zoom lens on my camera, I could read the neck tag numbers.
I knew that I wanted a filly, and my preferred age was two years. A yearling was my next choice. Two years I figured was young enough to be easier to tame, but old enough that the range had already "shaped" the horse. I wanted to make sure the filly wouldn't suffer from any of the genetic issues common in domestic horses. Two years seemed enough to have good feet and a solid mind. These horses pictured were just rounded up in July, and they are mostly yearlings and two year olds. They come from the Cold Springs HMA, which is east of the town of Crane, Oregon (you'll need a magnifying glass to find that on a map).
The middle one with the large white star was our first choice, but after talking to the BLM, we learned there is someone else interested in her. However, there are several to choose from. I liked their personalities. They seemed curious enough about us but still cautious. They are well built, solid little mares. Perfect riding horse material.
So we picked up an adoption form, filled it out, and stopped back by the BLM office to get it approved. The form is three pages long, and they make you describe your facilities as well as
provide directions to the nearest highway. In case you are wondering, you are required to provide at least 400 square feet, shelter, and at least 6 foot fences made of either wood or metal. No mesh, no wire--solid materials only. And it's easy to see why, as we saw several horses attempt to scale even the 7 ft fence at the corrals when frightened.
Since with a little creativity and a few extra round pen panels, we've got this covered, our application was approved. Any time in the next year, I can adopt a mustang (which, by the way, costs $125).
On Thursday, I am driving back to Burns with the horse trailer. The wranglers have offered to run the fillies up closer to the barn so that I can make a final choice. Thursday night, the filly will be in the corral in our pasture here in Silverton!
FYI, there are several HMA's in the state of Oregon. Visit the BLM site here for information about them and the types of horses that run in them. http://www.blm.gov/or/resources/whb/herd-manage.php
Some herds are genetically related to Spanish horses and others more to Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds.
When the BLM rounds up the mustangs, they use a freeze brand to distinguish horses. The freeze brand shows the year of birth and state where the horse was rounded up. Horses with registration numbers from 0-80,000 are from Oregon. Here is a key to the freeze brand: