Researchers Study Predictors for Successful Wild Horse Adoptions

Many adopters of BLM Mustangs relayed they had a “strong, trusting bond” with their horses, and the animals fulfilled their expectations.
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Researchers Study Predictors for Successful Wild Horse Adoptions
Over the last two decades the number of horses living in Bureau of Land Management (BLM) holding facilities has far exceeded the number of adoptions, creating an obvious crisis. | Photo: iStock
Shortly after the passage of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, an amendment was added, allowing for removal and adoption of “surplus” animals. Though this program was successful in the beginning, over the last two decades the number of horses living in Bureau of Land Management (BLM) holding facilities has far exceeded the number of adoptions, creating an obvious crisis.

Only a handful of studies have focused on wild horse adoptions, so to address limitations in previous studies as well as gain a broader geographic perspective, two researchers recently aimed to examine predictors for successful adoptions in Colorado and Texas—two states with the highest rates of wild horse adoption.

“We posited that the first year was the most crucial in determining adoption satisfaction and, thus, wanted to follow adopters in real time,” said Mary Koncel, MFA, MS, from the Center for Animals and Public Policy at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University.

The researchers recruited 52 study participants (half from Colorado, half from Texas) at satellite adoptions or Extreme/Supreme Mustang Makeover competitions and conducted three in-depth interviews: Phase I, upon adoption; Phase II, during the first six months after adoption; and Phase III, between months six and 12 after adoption

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Casie Bazay is a freelance and young adult writer, as well as a certified equine acupressure practitioner. She also hosts a blog, The Naturally Healthy Horse. Once an avid barrel racer, she now enjoys giving back to the horses who have given her so much.

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