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Dedicated Mustang Trainers Establish Assistance Fund

Bertram, Texas, July 12, 2008 – As the auctioneer’s voice called out the bids, Sandy Anderson anxiously waited with her mustang Outback Jack. A competitor in the Western States Mustang Challenge, Sandy had agreed to take a wild horse from Nevada and gentle it over a period of 90 days. She had also agreed to give it up for adoption to whoever wanted him.

That was before she met the mustang, gave him a name and decided she wanted to keep him.

Now, she and husband, Rick, want to help other trainers keep their charges, as well, and with the Mustang Heritage Foundation, have established a fund for trainers who wish to adopt the mustangs they are gentling for Extreme Mustang Makeover and Mustang Challenge events.

“We were fortunate we had the resources to adopt Outback Jack,” said Sandy, “but we met a lot of other trainers at the Mustang Challenge who weren’t able to contend with other folks who wanted to adopt the horse they had trained. On the one hand, it’s sure a vote of confidence when you see how much people want a horse you have trained, but on the other hand, it can be a real heart break to let one go.”

The Dawn Lapin Trainer’s Assistance Fund, named for the young protégé of the famed Wild Horse Annie who championed the Wild Horse Act, will provide a limited stipend to assist in paying the adoption fee for trainers who wish to adopt their Mustangs. Selection will be made by the Foundation based on a trainer’s financial needs and ownership plans.

“This fund is truly a unique one in the horse industry and one sorely needed by the Foundation,” said MHF Executive Director Patti Colbert. “Our primary mission is to ensure that these mustangs are adopted and placed in responsible homes and the success of the events have drawn a large audience of knowledgeable horse owners who want to care for a mustang. So, it can be a challenge for the Foundation to face a trainer who has given so much and say, ‘it’s time to let go.’ This fund will help us help them so it’s a win-win for everyone.”

Nearly 30,000 Mustangs roam federal lands across the country. In order to manage the herds and maintain both land and herd health, the BLM oversees the adoption of wild horses and burros through public adoptions held throughout the United States. Since 1973, more than 219,000 wild horses and burros have been adopted.

Horses between ranging from yearlings to six years old are typically selected from the herds for adoption, while older horses are placed on privately-held pasture lands to live out their normal lives. However, some horses aged 11 or older or that have been passed over for adoption three times can be sold, according to a law passed by Congress in 2004. Since that time, the BLM has worked with livestock owners and ranchers to encourage the purchase of this population of horses.

Protection for these celebrated animals began in 1950 when Velma B. Johnson, known as Wild Horse Annie, began a grassroots campaign, involving mostly school children, to save the horses from unscrupulous ranchers and “mustangers” gathering horses for commercial purposes. While the bill passed by Congress in 1959, called the Wild Annie Act, did prohibit the use of motorized vehicles in gathering horses, it did not provide for the protection or management of the herds. In response to the public outcry, Congress passed and President Richard Nixon signed into law the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 that provided funding for the management care of these wild horses.

All horses competing in the Makeover and Challenge events are made available for adoption. Potential adopters apply for the opportunity to be included in the competitive bidding process at Foundation events with BLM personnel available to review and approve the application on site. In order to apply, applicants must be at least 18 years old, have no prior conviction for inhumane treatment of animals or violations of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act and be able to demonstrate that adequate housing, food, water and facilities will be available to humanely care for the animal. Specific facility requirements also apply that pertain to type and height of corral as well as shelter from the elements.


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