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Wild horse adoptions set for Ohio Horse Park

FRANKLIN FURNACE — Roaming the range may be at the heart of cowboy ballads, but for the 40,000 wild horses in this country that kind of freedom is fraught with hardships and dangers.

Rescuing them to train them for a new and more productive life as a companion animal has been the goal for the past 13 years of the wild horse and burro adoptions program sponsored by the Bureau of Land Management.

“Once the animal is gentlered, they are pretty easily trained,” Steve Meyer, supervisory wild horse and burro specialist, said. “They tend to like challenges. They like to learn. You can teach them anything you want to teach them. All kinds of disciplines like Western, English, dressage. There are horses attached to the Army pulling the caissons. They are with the border patrol.”

Thirty-five horses and a few burros will be brought to the Ohio Horse Park for adoption this weekend. They will be yearlings to 5-years-old. Adoption fee for animals up to 3 years old is $125 and for those older the fee will be $25.

The animals can be viewed on Friday at the horse park from 2 to 7 p.m. The adoption will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

“When we sit down with potential adopters, we pick their brains and find what they know, if they are willing to learn something,” Meyer said. “We have good success with novice people.”

There are several ways to retrain these horses, but all revolve around allowing the animal to become familiar with its new owner.

“My way is to visit with them every day,” Meyer said. “The horse is a very social animal. When you take their social environment away from them, you become their social environment. They are going to want to have a friend and a boss. What you are going to do is to be their friend and their boss.”

Horses that are not adopted this weekend will have two more chances to get new owners. If they are not adopted then, they are put on long-term holding and offered for sale. That is by law.

“One of the caveats is we won’t sell them to be killed,” Meyer said. “We pretty much don’t like that. We do house thousands of animals on long-term holding.”

Saturday’s adoption is on a first-come, first serve basis.