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No Mustangs or Burros Left Behind at Recent BLM Adoption Event


April 10, 2019

Karen AuBuchon Johnson

Melissa Justice from Denver was the high bidder at the auction purchasing Licorice, a beautiful black two-year-old gelding. She said her mother, Pat Thrash, purchased Licorice's uncle, StarFire, (also from the Little Book Cliff range) for her 20 years ago. She was 17 at the time and not old enough to bid on a horse at that Book Cliff Adoption. StarFire is now 21 and she said she wanted to adopt one of StarFire's two nephews that were going to be available. When she saw Licorice, she knew he was the one. Melissa plans on showing Licorice at mustang and open shows after he's trained. Melissa Justice holding a picture of her new mustang Licorice and her mother Pat Thrash.

"No Mustang Left Behind" became a reality as all 26 horses and two burros found homes at an adoption event hosted by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and an on range volunteer support group for the Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Range, the Friends of the mustangs. The event was March 29 and 30 at the Rimrock Adventure Rodeo Grounds in Fruita.

For all the photo highlights of the mustang adoption, click the link below the caption at left:

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) gathered 55 wild horses from the Little Book Cliff Herd Management Area last September/October, taking them to the Canon City wild horse facility prior to being available for adoption. Encompassing around 36,000 acres, the range is located about eight miles northeast of Grand Junction. Concerns there might not be enough forage for the herd of approximately 190 horses this winter due to the extreme drought conditions last year and an excess of the BLM's recommended number of horses for the range prompted the gather.

Colorado's State BLM Wild Horse and Burro official Steve Leonard, who is also the Canon City Wild Horse Facility Manager, said, "It's been a lot of years since we've had a 100 percent adoption, 28 at this adoption and 27 at the last adoption event in November."

Leonard said most adopters at the event have or have had horses before and follow the Friends of the mustangs Facebook pages or have seen the horses out on the range. He felt the biggest contributor to the success of the event was directly related to the partnership the BLM has with the Friends of the mustangs volunteers within the organization explaining "they did a vast amount of work for us."

Friends of the mustangs organized instructive demonstrations by trainers from the Trainer Incentive Program (TIP), mustang gentling clinicians, and 4-H kids presenting the mustangs they adopted last November.

Leonard said, "They brought the awareness to the program and the horses that we (the BLM) wouldn't of had otherwise."

Representatives from a majority of Colorado's mustang groups/Herd Management Areas were also at the adoption event educating people about Colorado's wild horses.

The Canon City prison facility has an adoption event through its Colorado Wild Horse Inmate Program once a month, visit Untrained horses and burros are available starting at $25. For additional funds, there are usually some halter trained horses and some with saddle training available from different herd management areas across the west.

Front range residents Jade Walker, 8, and her grandmother, Lynn Walker, purchased a handsome, four-year-old blue roan gelding named Cole. Jade said she and her grandmother saw Cole a year ago while hiking out on the Little Book Cliff Range.

Karen AuBuchon Johnson

Friends of the Mustang Volunteer Group Supports Adoption Event Friends of the Mustang members are pictured left to right: from the back Cindy, Billie, Kathy M., and Peggy; next row Nancy, Monica, Judy, Ana, Kathy D., and Ann; front row Diann, John, George, Sharon, and Jim.  

When she learned he was rounded up and was going to be available at this adoption, by a silent auction, she knew he was the horse she wanted to take home. The day prior to the auction a variety of mustang clinicians and demonstrations were going on and attendees could walk around and see the mustangs up for adoption. (I noticed Jade didn’t seem to go very far from Cole’s pen and she told several people he was the horse she was going to buy and she had saved up $400.)

The next day the bidding started and other bidders topped her $400. Her grandmother contributed some money so she could keep bidding and then people at the event she had told about wanting Cole contributed extra money so she could stay in the bidding.

At the close of the silent auction, Jade and her grandmother and another lady both still wanted Cole. While waiting for an official to come and have a final bidding between them, the other bidder crossed off her last bid on the sheet so Jade could have him. Jade and her grandmother made arrangements for Cole go to a mustang gentling trainer at the event prior to bringing him home.


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