To: “Chris Robbins” <>

Subject : Urban Legend or Real?

Chris, I have been getting a lot of questions regarding people abandoning their horses to run with BLM horses. Is there any truth to this or is it just a rumor? If there is any basis to it these horses may not survive. The band stallion may take in some mares but surely would not allow a gelding in. They also would not be able to find food/water in the summer months since they would have no experienced herd leader to follow. Not to mention domestic horse don’t have hooves as tough as Mustangs and would stone bruise easily. You know all this already, don’t know why I had to go on about it. Just thinking how stupid that would be to do that. Any truth to it? I’m hoping not. It’s too expensive to gather the ones as is.


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  1. Chris Robbins

    There actually may be some truth to that nasty rumor. I have heard (only heard of) that some people have released their horses on BLM (may not be within HMAs) due to cost of hay, disposal, etc. and people may not be able to care for their horses. We haven’t experienced any of that on our HMAs or other BLM lands in the Boise District that I know of, but the concern is out there and I have heard other offices may be dealing with minor issues. If horse and hay prices keep getting worse, who knows. But you are right, I doubt there is a domestic horse out there that could fend off a herd stud. We will know come gather time how true it is in our district. I’ll keep you posted.


    Chris Robbins
    Wild Horse & Burro Program Lead
    Rangeland Management Specialist
    BLM-Boise District Office
    (208) 384-3348 / fax (208) 384-3493

  2. Ralph & Sharon Truax

    Can not resist adding some information to your discussion of the horses that may be being turned out with existing free roaming horses on BLM land. We have lived in this area for a bit over 2 years coming from Northern Nevada,
    my husband being a native and I spent over 25 years there. Free roaming horses are very common and always in the ‘news’. In both areas where I lived, Washoe Valley and the Gardnerville-Minden area these horses were
    always around. We were able to watch their ‘life style’ up close and personal for many years. For one thing, it is the boss mare that is the real leader of the group. The band is only as strong as that mare. In addition, the bachelor stallions form their own little band and stick fairly close to a larger band, after all one of them may decide to challenge the stallion with his group of mares or he may decide to see if he can steal away a mare or two. Geldings have been known to hang with these bachelors on the fringes of their group. We only saw two stallion fights but they were awesome.

    Please know that turning horses lose is nothing new. That is one way these herds developed in the first place. Also remember that nature did not develop the horse to live in barns, paddocks and yes, even larger pastures.
    The horse grazes and roams over very large areas and usually makes a track around their territory. It is not at all unusual for the horse to go a long time [by our standards-we all keep water in from of them 24/7] between
    water and believe me they can smell it from a long distance. The wild horse trails in the desert of Nevada were very well worn and provided us with miles and miles of trails to ride.

    In the past, one of our most fascinating sights was the reaction of the entire herd when they caught sight of us sitting on a ridge watching them. The boss mare would herd the mares [with any babies to the center] and
    patrol around them while the stallion would be out 30-50 feet patrolling screaming, dancing around, warning us to stay away while the boss mare made the escape with the herd. By the way, it was not unusual to have foals.
    These mares foaled all year long, with the majority being in the early summer.

    Sorry to go on and on, at least I didn’t get started on what happens when man gets involved!

    Happy Trails