Fran Ackley, a wild horse and burro specialist for the Bureau of Land Management, was pleasantly surprised at the conclusion of Saturday's wild horse adoption at the Moffat County Fairgrounds. More than half of the 20 horses available found new homes, most of them locally.
"We had 11 adopted," Ackley said. "That's actually better than I thought we'd do. Ten was an optimistic number, so I was pleased with the final results."
All told, five studs, five mares and 10 foals were available Saturday. The BLM recently gathered the horses, along with hundreds of others, from the Sand Wash Basin Herd Management Area as part of a wild horse gather, a periodic event conducted throughout the West to control herd numbers.
On Saturday, four studs, three mares and four foals were adopted. Bidding for the horses started at $125, and the average price per horse was a little more than that, $130.45 per horse.
Eight people adopted, Ackley said. The adopters all were from Craig or Moffat County, except one, who was from Steamboat Springs. The veteran horse specialist said he was encouraged that the adopters mostly were local residents.
"I like that," he said. "That's good, because it shows that the locals are supporting the herd."
The remaining nine horses that didn't find new permanent homes Saturday were transported Sunday morning to a holding facility in CaÃ±on City, where they will be maintained by inmates involved in a wild horse program. The facility is capable of holding as many as 1,800 horses, and it soon could expand in 2009 to hold as many as 3,000, Ackley said. The BLM will host another wild horse adoption in the summer of 2009 at the Eagle County Fairgrounds.
The holding facility in CaÃ±on City hosts adoptions twice a month for people interested in adopting a horse, Ackley said.