Life on the road

Wild horse wranglers spend most of their time away from home


It is a scene most only see in the movies.

Eight months out of the year, KG Livestock Corporation travels to the most remote locations in the western U.S. and captures wild horses. On Thursday, they worked with the Bureau of Land Management west of Rio Blanco.

"It's tough work, between being away from home for long periods of time, weather extremes and lots of traveling," BLM rangeland management specialist Jim Dollerschell said.

The chilly mid-September morning marked the middle of the third month KG Livestock Corporation, a mustang herding contractor, had been on the road helping round-up wild horses.

As the winter piles on, Greg and Karen Cook, owners of the herding company, will have precious few times to see family and friends.

"I was so grateful to have my granddaughter visit us out here," Karen Cook said while standing outside her trailer.

Yards away, cattle grazed where they set up camp in the Piceance-East Douglas Creek Herd Management Area.

Karen Cook said that when she and her family are home, they're getting ready for next year.

"It seems like it flies by and it's time to go back to work," she said about her time off.

Earlier that day, shortly after dawn broke in the rocky hills of the herd management area, herders set up two rows of netting, a trap that funnels horses into a corral.

As the buzz of a helicopter grew louder, a smaller herd of horses dashed out from behind the neighboring hill, caught sight of the lead horse, and followed it into a corral for the first time in their lives.

"It's a difficult country to gather horses in," Meeker BLM rangeland management specialist Mark Hafkenschiel said. "They're pretty in tune with their environment."

It's that rugged environment and the horse herd size these round-ups are designed to protect.

Since the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act passed in 1971, the BLM has played a large role in the effort to maintain a healthy herd population among wild horses.

The BLM also has to determine how many horses a range can hold, burn and seed the land and roller chop to control vegetation.

About every four years, the herd needs to be reduced, and that's when KG Livestock Corporation comes in.

"They already have a schedule for next year," Hafkenschiel said.

The White River Field Office of the Piceance-East Douglas Creek can be reached at (970) 873-3601.

John Henry can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or

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