Wild horses, burros up for adoption Tuesday in Pauls Valley

BY SONYA COLBERG scolberg@opubco.com Published: November 7, 2011

— The soft-eyed burro and the dappled gray mare that once galloped with wild herds across the West won't be scrambling to find a mouthful of grass or shelter from winter winds whipping through the rangelands.

They'll be looking for something completely foreign to them.

These living legacies of the old West are looking for a warm heart.

The animals are among more than 50 horses and burros that will be offered for adoption Tuesday at the Pauls Valley wild horse holding center.

New owners have taken home mustangs and trained them to do everything from performing in parades to team roping to joining their owners in wild hog hunting, said Pat Hofmann, a federal Bureau of Land Management employee and Pauls Valley center manager.

He said there's a horse for virtually everyone: pretty ones, extra stout ones, yearlings, older ones, all with a variety of aptitudes and skills waiting to be discovered.

“It's kind of like a picture. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder,” Hofmann said. “A lot of people come out looking for a certain type, and then a horse will come up and let them pet it. That's the horse they fall in love with.”

In an effort to achieve a balance between wild horses and other uses, the BLM rounds up the animals periodically from public land in 10 western states and places them for adoption.

Last year, 535 animals from the Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and New Mexico horse-holding region found homes.

More than 200 were adopted from the Pauls Valley center, said Paul McGuire, an Oklahoma-based BLM spokesman.

Hofmann and Gary Hughes routinely get eyeball-to-eyeball with the wild mustangs at the Pauls Valley center.

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IF YOU GO

Wild horse and burro adoption

Where: Pauls Valley Adoption Center. From Interstate 35, take exit 74 (Kimberlin Road) west and go about one-quarter mile to facility entrance.

When: 8 a.m. to noon Tuesday and 8 a.m. to noon Dec. 13.

Cost: Adoption fee is $125.

Qualifications: To qualify, applicants must be at least 18 years old with no record of animal abuse. Adopters must have at least 400 square feet of corral space per animal and free access to food, water and shelter. A six-foot corral fence is required for adult horses and five-feet fences for yearlings. Covered stock-type trailers with swing gates and sturdy walls and floors are required to pick up horses.

Information: For more information, go to www.blm.gov/nm or call 866-468-7826.

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