(Enlarge) Leslie Flanagan, of White Hall, adopted this mustang, Shelby, from the federal Bureau of Land Management. Area residents interested in adopting wild horses or burros can do so July 11 through July 13 in New Freedom, Pa. (staff photo by Eli Meir Kaplan)
Two years ago, Leslie and Mark Flanagan had six horses, four dogs, one llama and one cat at their White Hall farm.
The Flanagans really weren’t looking to add to their menagerie. Then Leslie fell in love online and adopted a wild mustang from the federal Bureau of Land Management’s wild horse and burro adoption program.
The mustang, captured in Oregon, is light brown with a dark brown mane and a white diamond on her forehead, and weighs about 850 pounds.
“A mustang isn’t really a breed,” Flanagan said. “If she were a dog, she’d be what you call a mutt.”
Flanagan has worked patiently to tame the horse she named “Shelby,” now 4. She has gained the animal’s trust and expects to saddle her and ride her soon.
“She is smart and strong, and she just needed to get used to me,” Flanagan said. “I’ll have to wait and see what she likes — trail riding, dressage, or western riding. It’ll be up to her.”
Flanagan adopted online, but area residents will have a chance to adopt wild horses and burros in person next week.
The Bureau of Land Management is bringing about 70 horses and several burros to New Freedom, Pa., on July 11, 12 and 13. All of the animals have been examined by a veterinarian, been vaccinated, been de-wormed, and had blood tests.
Adoptions will be on a first-come, first-served basis. The adoption fee is a minimum of $125 for animals under 3 years old, and $25 for animals 3 and older.
After caring for an animal for a year, the adopter will legally own it.
“These horses and burros are diamonds in the rough, with excellent legs and hooves, and they have plenty of stamina,” Juan Palma, the bureau’s eastern states director, said in a statement. “You’ll not only be caring for your own living legend, but also helping to save the horses left on the range from competition for limited food and water.”
Since 1973, when the program began, some 200,000 animals have been adopted nationwide.
The Bureau of Land Management manages 258 million acres, mostly in 10 western states, monitoring wild horse and burro herds to determine how many animals the land can support. The animals have virtually no natural predators and herd sizes can double every four years or so.
Flanagan, an engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers, knew about the adoption program and went online last year to look at available horses.
The horse she bid on had previously been adopted by a woman on Maryland’s Eastern Shore — but the woman was afraid of it, and consequently didn’t care for it properly, Flanagan said. The horse was removed by bureau officials and made available again.
Flanagan said she will visit the adoption activities next week, but doesn’t plan on getting another horse. She’s quite happy with Shelby, she said.
“Working with Shelby has been a great experience,” Flanagan said. “The other horses accepted her right away and she’s slowly coming to accept me.”
The horse and burro adoption runs on July 11 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.; on July 12 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and on July 13, from 8 a.m. to noon at Red Man Ranch and Arena, 359 Strawberry Road in New Freedom.
For more information, including a list of fencing, corrals and trailers a prospective adopter must have, call 866-468-7826 or go to www.wildhorseandburro.blm.gov. Potential adopters are asked to call early for approvals, which will help them avoid waiting in line.