Domesticated HorsesMany domesticated horses are not cared for by their owners, often because they are financially unable to do so. The horses are not fed, watered, or sheltered properly, and/or the horses are physically abused. The mission of Wild Places is to accept such horses after they have been confiscated by a government authority or animal welfare organization (or surrendered by the owner). These horses are rehabilitated, both physically and emotionally, and a decision whether to re-train and adopt these horses to new families is made on a case-by-case basis. (If rehabilitation/adoption is not feasible, the horses can remain at Wild Places for the remainder of their lives.)
As space and resources allow, Wild Places may also accept injured or older horses that are ready for retirement from "active duty" (trail-riding, cutting, racing, polo, jumping, hunting, etc.). (Some owners sell such horses (indirectly) to slaughterhouses, an act that Wild Places wishes to prevent.) In most cases, this service requires a commitment of financial support from the horse's owner.
In times of disaster (hurricanes, wildfires, etc.) in other parts of the state or country, Wild Places accepts animals that have been displaced by the disaster (as space and resources allow).
Wild HorsesAnother mission of Wild Places is to provide responsible and compassionate treatment for America's wild horses, to educate the public about wild horses, and to foster greater appreciation of the beauty, strength, and grace that these animals symbolize.
Wild horses are systematically captured from their native rangelands by the federal government, and auctioned off to the public by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) at 10 to 20 auction events each month in various states, plus an internet adoption program. Some say this is done because the horses no longer have any natural predators and have become over-populated in the West; others say it is because there are other demands for these public lands (primarily mineral extraction and cattle grazing, and through powerful lobbies, the interested parties have convinced the government to eradicate the horses). Regardless of the motivation, as long as the government continues these round-ups, the fact remains that these horses need a place to go.
According to the BLM's website:
"The minimum or base adoption fee for each wild horse or burro is $125. Mares and jennies (female burros) adopted with their unweaned foal are $250. Most adoptions use competitive bidding to establish the adoption fee. The base adoption fee applies to adoptions using a lottery draw or a first-come, first-served method. Since March 1997, when competitive bid regulations were approved, the average adoption fee has remained around $125 per animal. Some animals do adopt for a higher amount during the competitive process, but the average remains within the $125."
Many wild horses are auctioned to private individuals, who then train the horses to be used as trail horses, cutting horses, and so on. Other horses (illegally) end up at slaughterhouses to fuel the horsemeat industry (horsemeat is used in dog/cat foods, glue, and other household & industrial products, and is exported to Europe and Japan where horsemeat is used for human consumption). The mission of Wild Places, in regard to wild horses, is to rescue those that the BLM has deemed "unadoptable" due to their age, conformation, injury, or health.
According to The Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971:
"Congress finds and declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people ..."
The mission of Wild Places is to allow these horses to remain as free-roaming, unbroken, "living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West". The intention is that each wild horse acquired by Wild Places be allowed to roam the property freely, and not be trained or ridden by humans. (Wild Places reserves the right to change this policy if the survival of Wild Places is at risk due to financial concerns. In this case, only selected wild horses would be trained, and would only be adopted to families/individuals who satisfy a rigorous set of criteria.)
On a case-by-case basis, domesticated or wild horses may be adopted out as companions for other animals, or for other purposes that are in alignment with Wild Places' philosophies (for example, a therapeutic riding facility for children with disabilities).
Any adoptions that Wild Places agrees to will be done with the explicit requirement that the horses never end up at a slaughterhouse.