Low turnout for annual wild horse, burro adoption

Monday, June 26, 2006
Larry Yount stroked a bay mare that was captured in Nevada last year. The horse was available for adoption along with many others at Flickerwood Arena as a part of the Adopt-A-Wild Horse and Burro program. (Aaron Eisenhauer)

You can lead a horse buyer to water, but you can't make him drink.

At the seventh Adopt-A-Wild Horse and Burro program, held Friday through Sunday, 70 horses and 11 burros were available for adoption, but only about 16 animals were adopted.

The program, sponsored by the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management, was held at Flickerwood Arena in Jackson. The last time the event was held in 2004, almost all of the horses and burros were adopted.

Randy Anderson, head organizer of the event, was disappointed with the low turnout. "This is the worst that we've done here," he said. "Two years ago was the best we'd ever done."

Anderson suggested many factors that could have induced such a sharp reduction in horse demand.

"Normally in Missouri, we do pretty well. But nationwide, the horse industry is going through some challenges," he said. "There's a lot of animals out there, less people to adopt them, a lot of competition from other organizations, the price of fuel and economic considerations."

Mark Boardham, owner of Flickerwood Arena, said the underwhelming attendance may have stemmed from low public awareness.

Changing market

"I think the federal government doesn't promote this like they once did. You have to keep the public aware all the time," Boardham said. "I thought the bureau brought some outstanding horses, but you're looking at a horse market that's changed."

Larry and Robbie Lott of St. Louis adopted two mares at the event to put on their farm in Marble Hill, Mo. Larry said these horses require time and monetary commitments.

"I wouldn't suggest a novice buying one of these horses," he said. "You need a place to put them. These are wild mustangs. You have to put the time in."

Some people attending the event weren't interested in buying an equine, but were there to view the wild horses up close. Todd and Amy Buffington of Cape Girardeau brought their 2-year-old son.

"He likes horses, so I figured I'd show him some wild horses," Todd Buffington said. "He's never seen them before."

John Parson and his wife drove from Park Hills, Mo., and spent an hour at the arena looking at the horses. "We're thinking about getting one, but not right away," Parson said.

Anderson noted that area people interested in adopting a horse or burro through the Bureau of Land Management who missed this event will have the opportunity at a similar happening July 8 to 9 in Sterling, Ill.

For more information on horse adoption through the Bureau of Land Management, call (800) 293-1781.

sludwig@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 211

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