5 Things to Know About Caring for a Wild Horse
Have you ever thought of adopting a wild horse? Mustangs are deceptively easy and inexpensive to adopt in the American West, but don’t be fooled. The real challenge of adopting a wild horse isn’t paying for it, but making it yours. There are some significant differences between wild horses and domestic horses, which any prospective Mustang owner should be aware of.
Here are five things to know if you’re considering adopting a wild horse.
- They may require tall, strong fencing. If your Mustang is right off the range, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) initially has some pretty strict requirements on fencing. This is required to keep your formerly wild horse from becoming a wild horse all over again. In the wild, Mustangs are long-distance travelers, clever, and adept at getting through fences and around other impediments, so your fencing will have to be up to the task of convincing your new horse that he’s not wild any longer.
- Mustangs aren’t used to eating grain. In the wild, Mustangs feed themselves on forage only. The result is that they aren’t very accustomed to grain, treats, and other things we tend to feed domestic horses. Since abrupt diet changes can cause even domestic horses stomach upset and colic, you can imagine what it could do to a horse that has been used to eating a certain way its entire life! Take any diet changes slowly with your new wild horse, and watch for any sign of trouble.
- Mustangs require a lot of face time. And we don’t mean video calling! It takes a lot of work to build trust with a Mustang. After all, until recently they viewed humans as predators, and probably still do on some level. Therefore it’s recommended that you handle your horse nearly every day until he comes to see you as a friend and a trustworthy leader.
- Taming a wild horse requires some serious training know-how. If you have no horse training experience, a Mustang straight off the range is probably not the horse for you. It takes a lot of knowledge and experience to train a Mustang from the ground up, especially since Mustangs can be so different from domestic horses in how they think, react, and learn. If this doesn’t sound like you, though, don’t worry, as you may not have to give up on your dream of adopting a Mustang quite yet: There are many Mustangs up for adoption that have already gone through training programs to turn them into well-mannered equine citizens.
- You’ll want a good support network. If you’re thinking of adopting a wild horse, start getting your support network in place now. The first person you’ll want to find is a good trainer if you don’t have those skills on your own, or even if you do, someone experienced with training Mustangs in particular. There are also many local Mustang groups, which can be found on Facebook and through local barns. These groups are an invaluable resource for all the things you need to know before adopting a Mustang, or help for any hurdles you may face along the way.
Adopting a wild horse is a challenge, to be sure, but many Mustang owners would tell you that it is the most worthwhile challenge you’ll ever face. Mustangs can be loyal, smart, steady horses once they adapt to domestication. For more information on how to feed these noble beasts, contact Sacate Pellet Mills at 602-237-3809.