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Mesa Verde horses go up for adoption

Towaoc is a big bay mare who is the herd leader. She is happy to work with people and will make someone a great riding horse. She was estimated to have been born in 2019, is 15 hands high and very sensible. (Courtesy of Mustang Camp)
Wild herd has been tamed by Mustang Camp; adoption sign-up started and application process begins soon

Sign-up has begun to adopt a horse from the wild herd recently gathered from Mesa Verde National Park, and an application process is pending.

In September, 19 horses were successfully rounded up using a bait-and-trap, low-stress capture method.

Ownership transferred to the National Mustang Association Colorado Chapter, which will oversee the adoption process.

The band of 14 mares, a stallion and four males were transported to the Mustang Camp in Blanco, New Mexico, to be tamed by horse trainer Patricia Barlow-Irick.

Eight mares and four geldings (castrated males) will be ready for adoption within the next two weeks, said Becky Leonard, ambassador of the Mesa Verde Horse Adoption Project.

The horses have been gentled, are trained for halter lead and trailing, and have spent time socializing with domestic horses outside their band. They are not ready to be ridden.

The horses are healthy, have been treated by a veterinarian and farrier and have received appropriate shots.

“The next step is finding their forever homes with owners who will love and train them further,” Leonard said. “There is a lot of interest.”

Interested adopters should visit the Mustang Camp website. Click on the Explore Mustang Camp, and scroll down to Mesa Verde horses section.

View the gallery of horses, then click the sign-up link for potential adoption. Check the box of the horse or horses you are interested in. The adoption fee is $1,000 per horse.

Cortez is a well-built filly who takes her training seriously and is very athletic. She was born in 2022. (Courtesy of Mustang Camp)
Pagosa is a very stout stallion. He will be gelded before adoption. He was probably born in 2020. (Courtesy of Mustang Camp)
Tiffany is the busybody of the herd. She can be annoyingly friendly, but willing to do what ever the human wants. She was probably born in 2021. This little buckskin is always first in line for everything. She loves people and needs someone who will love her back. (Courtesy of Mustang Camp)
Rico is a handsome young colt and will be gelded before adoption. He was born in 2022. Rico has an air of confidence. He has no fear to leave his mother’s side and engage with life. His two-tone mane is stunning. (Courtesy of Mustang Camp)

The next step is an application process. The link to the application is not live yet, but will be at the same location as the sign-up. The application will also be posted on the National Mustang Association Colorado Chapter website at nmaco.org

Applicants will be carefully vetted, Leonard said, and there are required conditions.

  • Adopters should have adequate land, such as a farm or ranch with maintained fences.
  • Adopters must have adequate facilities and finances for keeping horses, and have experience caring for and training horses.
  • Horses are social animals, so an adopter should already have another horse or horses.
  • Adopted horses must be kept and cared for over their natural life span, and are not allowed to sold or given away. If an owner no longer wants the horse, it must be returned to the Mustang Camp.

Applicants will go through a video education process. Potential adopters will view a series of videos about horse care and training and then answer questions. They are encouraged to visit the Mustang Camp to view the horses up for adoption and meet with trainers.

The Mustang Association along with the Mustang Camp will review applicants and make final decisions on adoptions.

Oct 9, 2022
First band of wild horses captured at Mesa Verde National Park

Follow-up visits by organization officials will occur to check on the horses that are adopted. Titles are released after six months.

The Mesa Verde horses are exceptionally calm and trusting toward people, according to the Mustang Camp website. They are all larger than most mustangs and correctly proportioned.

The low-stress round up technique used at the park has translated to an easier gentling and taming process, Leonard said.

“They love human contact, and there have been no incidents of wild behavior,” she said. “Because that trust has been established, they are not fearful of humans or trailers.”

Tamed wild mustangs have varied and sometimes unique personalities. They tend to be a bit smarter than their domestic counterparts.

“These horses are very hearty and can do most anything,” Leonard said. “Wild horses become very loyal to their owners.”

Once adopted, the horses can be trained and put to work as a pack horse, riding horse, compete in rodeo events, work on the ranch or used for recreational trail rides.

Additional low-stress roundups are planned by Mesa Verde National Park to capture the estimated 65 to 70 wild horses that still remain in the park. The horses will go through the same process that the first captured band went through and be adopted out.

jmimiaga@the-journal.com