By Megan Burns, AWHC investigations volunteer and Volunteer Ambassador
(Mar 28, 2023) On Saturday, March 25, 2023, I attended a BLM Wild Horse and Burro Adoption event in Temecula, CA. The same facility was also hosting a ‘Backcountry Horseman’ three-day event that weekend. I arrived early at 8 am and left around noon. The horses and burros were calm and eating hay off of the ground. They arrived the day prior and had been available for viewing only. I was surprised that there were very few people at the pens, even with the adjoining event going on. A lady standing next to me made a comment saying “they are much calmer today than they were yesterday!”
There were a total of 18 wild horses and 14 burros available. All of the burros were from California’s Chemehuevi Herd Management Area (HMA). The wild horses were from California and Nevada. The mares were all from Centennial HMA and the geldings were from High Rock, Fox Hog, and Twin Peaks HMA They were separated into 6 pens all with 4-5 animals per pen except for the 10 burro geldings, all of which were in the same pen. All of the burros were yearlings and the horses were 2-4 years old.
A couple of the horses were very curious and walked right up to the gate and had no problems being pet. There were two sorrel geldings that were very bonded and stood together the entire time I was there.
The burros really didn’t have any interest in human interaction and kept their distance. Overall, the body conditions looked good. I did not see any injuries. One of the geldings had somewhat of a runny nose with green snot but the most common condition I noticed was diarrhea.
The majority of the burros had dried manure caked onto the inside of their hind legs. The same was evident on a few of the horses and I also noticed one mare pass a very watery stool. I could only assume this was from the stress they endure from being trailered for 3+ hours and now being in an unfamiliar environment.
I noticed in one of the pens, the mesh screen was pulled down and some of the horses were chewing on it. After the auction was over, one BLM employee walked over and fixed it. The two men from BLM were friendly and were available to answer questions. At one point I overheard a woman asking questions about the burros and what people used them for. The BLM employee answered by saying he has ‘used them to break his colt.’
The live auction started a little after 9 am and finished very quickly. A few more people showed up to watch but only four people had bidding cards. All of the jennies were sale authority and sold right away. Five of the gelding burros sold. Most of the horses were also sale authority and sadly, only a total of three horses were adopted while I was there. After the auction ended, all remaining horses and burros would be available to purchase on a first come first serve basis until the following day at 12 pm. After that, they would be loaded back up and returned to Ridgecrest holding facility.