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Horse show kicks off in Rock Springs for formerly wild horses

A wild horse and trainer from last year's show.
Pat Doak
A wild horse and trainer from last year's show.

Horse trainers will be showing off their skills on formerly wild horses in Rock Springs this weekend.

Back in May, 20 people went out to the wild horse holding corrals in Rock Springs and they each picked a horse or burro to train. They have had 90 days and will now put their skills to the test.

Molly Pittman, public affairs specialist for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), said the show will have everything from halter to trail class.

“So everything is really just an example of what can be applied outside,” Pittman said. “So if you're competing in a trail class, you're showing how well that horse would perform on an actual trail.”

After the show, the trainers may choose to adopt out their animals. It is a $25 fee and the new owner has to meet certain BLM requirements, like having proper corrals and feed for the animal.

Pittman pointed out that training these horses is no easy task, although it is usually very rewarding.

“They are learning all sorts of new things. They're learning what a tarp is, they're learning how to trust people,” she said. “I think that process must be one of the biggest rewards just to see that capacity and that change in that animal.”

The first show is today, Aug. 18, featuring the 90-day challenge. On Saturday, Aug. 19, there will be another show with formerly wild horses that have been owned for years.

“You might see a higher level of trust because they've had that time to build a stronger relationship with their animals,” Pittman said. “And so you'll see that in the way that they compete.”

Both events will be held at the Sweetwater Events Complex.

The BLM estimates about 800 wild horses are living at the holding corrals in Rock Springs, many awaiting adoption. They hope the show will raise awareness. People can find more information about adopting wild horses from the BLM here.

Wild horse numbers remain a polarizing topic in the West. Wyoming removed about 50 percent of them from the landscape over a year ago. The BLM also approved a plan to reduce herd sizes in southwest Wyoming by hundreds, sparking a lawsuit by an animal advocacy group.

Caitlin Tan is the Energy and Natural Resources reporter based in Sublette County, Wyoming. Since graduating from the University of Wyoming in 2017, she’s reported on salmon in Alaska, folkways in Appalachia and helped produce 'All Things Considered' in Washington D.C. She formerly co-hosted the podcast ‘Inside Appalachia.' You can typically find her outside in the mountains with her two dogs.
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