BLM will make wild horses available Saturday in Grand Junction auction
Folks seeking to own a living, breathing, authentic piece of the Wild West will get their chance this Saturday, when about 20 wild mustangs collected from Bureau of Land Management-managed herds are put up for auction.
The horses — recently gathered from herds in Wyoming, Oregon and Colorado — will be part of an auction from 10 to 11 a.m. at the Mesa County Sheriff’s Posse Grounds, located at F 1/2 and 25 roads.
There will also be a few burros gathered from wild herds available for adoption as well.
People hoping to adopt one of the animals will have to register and be approved before the auction begins, however. Registration will happen Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. and from 8 to 10 a.m. on Saturday.
“We don’t just let anybody adopt them,” said Chris Joyner, spokesman for the BLM’s Northwest Colorado District.
At minimum, someone looking to adopt one of the animals needs to be at least 18 years old, and have a 20-foot-by-20-foot enclosure for the animal, other shelter and a 6-foot-high fence on their property.
And even if a person is approved for adoption and offers the highest bid for one of the horses or burros, full legal ownership won’t happen until after a year-long probationary period.
“We want to make sure that the animals are taken care of, that they have plenty of forage and that the living conditions are appropriate,” Joyner said, adding that volunteers will make site visits after the auction to make sure conditions are adequate.
As for the horses, several have already been desensitized to human contact and are either saddle- or halter-trained. The horses with some level of training were broken through the Wild Horse Inmate Program at the prison in Canon City.
The minimum bid will be $125 for untrained animals and $1,025 for saddle-trained horses. Opening bids for halter-trained horses will be indicated on bid sheets.
Mustangs typically mature to between 14 and 15 hands, and the horses and burros available are of a variety of colors and markings.
None of the horses at this auction came from the nearby Bookcliffs herd, which Joyner said today counts about 140 horses.
So what’s the difference between a wild mustang and a traditional domestic horse? Quite a bit, actually.
Joyner said that often people who adopt mustangs won’t ride anything else.
“If you go up to, say, the Bookcliffs, with one of these — they navigate through the brush a lot better,” he said. “They’ll tackle terrain that the average horse will not.”
Georgia Manus, president of the Friends of the Mustangs advocacy group, said wild horses often have unique personalities as well.
“Once you gain the trust of a mustang, they’ll take care of you,” she said. “Once they realize that you care about them, you’re almost like the lead mare or stallion of the group. They respect you and they will listen to you.”