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Wild horses, burros up for adoption Tuesday in Pauls Valley

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

Along with taking care of the herd's general health and vaccinations, they gather about 50 horses to prep them for on-site adoptions or remote adoptions.

They herd the horses from the 400 acres of pastureland into corrals so they can check the animals' condition and hooves.

Someone once said the only predictable thing about a horse is its unpredictability. Hofmann and Hughes have witnessed that adage in action. They've seen them run wildly into fences and have even watched a few leap over the 6-foot fences.

“But not very often,” Hofmann said.

The cowboys turn to technology to boost their horse-whispering skills.

When the animals need their hooves trimmed, the men urge each one into a padded, hydraulic squeeze chute, where the horses are strapped in and placed on their sides for hoof-work that's safer for man and beast.

“Once they get in there and it squeezes them, they don't fight. We try to avoid the wild, wild West scene as much as we can,” Hofmann said.

One of his favorite horses is Dakota, a 12-year-old palomino gelding caught as a 2 year-old on rangeland in Nevada. Dakota was trained and became the BLM mascot that stars in TV commercials, takes children on rides through Dallas and is used for work around the Pauls Valley center.

Dakota isn't available for adoption but the bureau has about 11,860 other wild horses and burros available at horse centers nationwide, McGuire said.

He said people who adopt horses help put a dent in the $65 million wild horse management and adoption program, and also personally feel the benefits of a warm heart.

“Every horse we find a home for is not only one more horse going to a good home,” McGuire said, “it's also making another family happier and richer.”


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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