The 19th annual Utah Horse & Burro Festival took place this Friday and Saturday at the Legacy Events Center in Farmington. The event is designed to showcase the talents of previously adopted horses from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Wild Horse & Burro program, and also to give attendees the chance to adopt some of the new performers. This year's festival featured adoptable fillies, colts and burros from the "Extreme Trail Challenge" and "Youth and Adult Trainer Challenge."
The event began Friday at noon with Showmanship, featuring the Mustang Heritage Foundation's Trainer Incentive Program (TIP) Challenge in the Youth, Adult, and Burro categories. The TIP program has already helped to place 1300 wild mustangs into private care this year.
The wild horse and burro adoption event occurred at 11:00 AM on Saturday and featured 20 available halter-started yearlings and fillies. The day finished with show classes in Trail, Hunter Under Saddle, Hunter Hack, Costume Class, Freestyle, Western Pleasure, Poles, Stake Race, Barrels, Flag Race and Keyhole.
Events like the Utah Horse & Burro Festival are especially important now, with proposed budget cuts putting America's wild horses at great risk of mass euthansia and/or unregulated sale. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) created the Wild Horse and Burro Program in response to the Wild-Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act, passed by Congress in 1971.
Under the law, the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service have the responsibility to manage and protect herds, but population control has proven a challenge with herds increasing by as much as 20% annually. The law requires that animals be removed from federal lands once "appropriate management levels" are exceeded.
Nearly 50,000 wild horses and burros have been rounded up and are currently cared for in offsite corrals by the government, and 46,000 additional "excess" animals are still roaming on federal rangelands. The BLM is completely overwhelmed and considering humane euthanasia to cull the herds down should the new budget proposal be approved.
In the meantime they are attempting to place as many animals as possible by adopting them out to other agencies or individuals. Click here to view all upcoming BLM sponsored adoption events for 2017.
Featured Image via Utah Wild Horse & Burro Festival