Think back to your favorite Western; the romantic mountain getaway, with the mustangs running wild and free across the plains of the west. Built for the rugged terrain of the Colorado Mountains, the cowboys tamed and trained some of these wild mustangs. Many herds of these horses still running free today. In an effort to manage the land and prevent their population from exceeding its carrying capacity, the Bureau of Land Management has begun adopting some of these wild mustangs into the Wild Horse Inmate Program (WHIP).
Since 1971, Colorado has protecting and ensuring the future of our beautiful wild mustangs with the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act passed by Congress. In 1986, the WHIP program was created. The Wild Horse Inmate Program was the first of its kind, bringing the horses to corrections facilities to be gentled and trained by inmates before being adopted. Besides an emotional and relationship building outlet with these horses, it has given the inmates the opportunity to learn equine skills to use when they are released.
These mustangs have a distinct feature that makes them stand out right away in a herd: their distinguishing code on the left side of their neck. This code gives three identifying pieces of information: the registering organization or state they came from, the estimated year of their birth, and the horse’s registration number within the BLM system.
Just this past spring, we adopted 3 new horses for our family dude ranch, giving them a new home and a bright future in the mountains of Colorado. Our horse program was introduced to Cuatro, Cheyenne, and Caddy, our new, once wild mustangs. They joined Crow, another mustang who has been here for years. Cuatro has already carried his share of guests as the 4 year old gelding is a joy to ride. Cheyenne, 6, and Caddy, 4, are still perfecting their skills with our wranglers this season. From their time with their wild herd, these horses understand all too well herd dynamics, so when they came to Vista Verde they adapted very quickly to our herd of over 100 horses. We are excited to have them with us and be able to give them a purpose and new life guiding guests who are on ranch holidays, while staying in the mountains of their home state.
If you would like to learn more about the WHIP program you can visit the BLM website at http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/BLM_Programs/wild_horse_and_burro/Wild_Horse_Inmate_Program_Colorado.html .