Creative Commons photo by BLM Wyoming is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Is it time to start living your Black Stallion dreams? We looked into the BLM’s Adoption Incentive Program to learn more

Maya Wong  – March 27, 2019 | Updated March 28, 2019

If you’ve ever wanted to ride a wild horse through a lush open field, now may be the time. Plus, you’ll get paid for it—the Bureau of Land Management is offering up to $1,000 to people willing to adopt the wild horses (and burros) that roam the West.

This Adoption Incentive Program was created to offset the department’s “recurring costs to care for unadopted and untrained wild horses and burros,” according to a statement from the bureau, “while helping to enable the BLM to confront a growing over-population of wild horses and burros on fragile public rangelands.”

BLM estimates nearly 82,000 of the animals roam public rangelands, primarily in Nevada, California, Wyoming, Arizona, Utah, and Oregon; that’s about three times more than the land can support. Overpopulation leads to hunger and sickness among the animals.

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Those who decide to join the program will be eligible to receive $500 within the first 60 days of adopting the horse or burro, and another $500 within 60 days of titling the animal. (It’s like getting paperwork for your car.) Adopters will also need to pay a $25 fee to BLM.

The program, which officially launched March 12, has already seen some success. “We placed around 24 [horses and burros] at three locations the week of March 12,” says Debbie Collins, a wild horses and bureau outreach specialist for BLM.

People realistically looking into adding a wild mustang to their family can bid on available horses and burros at Wild Horses Online, the BLM’s online adoption service, which lets you browse a gallery of available animals and filter by gender, age, color, and location. Each animal listing includes photos, videos, and a description à la “This is a 5-year old, gray mare. She is UN-TOUCHED with NO training and due to our wet winter months, is VERY dirty.” You get the point. Over on Instagram, you’ll find horse enthusiasts like @skydogsanctuary documenting life with their horses post-BLM adoption.

The BLM isn’t letting just anyone adopt, though. To qualify, horse-owners-to-be must be over 18 years old, able to provide adequate space, and have no convictions of inhumane treatment of an animal. Keep in mind that caring for a horse and its luscious mane isn’t on the cheap side. The cost of boarding at a barn or stable averages $400 to $500 per month, but can reach as high as $1,200 to $2,500 in metropolitan areas—and that doesn’t include proper bedding, property maintenance, or utilities. As for food, a healthy 1,100-pound horse requires $100 to $250 worth of feed and hay a month. There’s also grooming (brushes, hoof pick, bimonthly nail clippings, shoes, etc.), which will set you back another $350 a month. In other words, that $1,000 will help—but it’ll only go so far.

We can still dream, though, can’t we?