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May 22, 2011 3:50 PM by Matt Stafford

BLM inmate wild horse program celebrating 25 years

The Wild Horse Inmate Program is celebrating its 25th Anniversary with the Bureau of Land Management.

"This program is responsible for training thousands of wild horses gathered from the range as well as providing inmates with beneficial work skills they will take with them after they are released," Fran Ackley, BLM Colorado Wild Horse and Burro Specialist, said.

In 1971, Congress passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act to protect and manage wild horses and burros on public lands. In 1986, the BLM and the Colorado Department of Corrections formed a partnership creating the WHIP, which is administered by the Royal Gorge Field Office in Cañon City, Colo. The WHIP was the first of its kind and supports what is now the BLM's largest wild horse and burro holding facility in the nation.

As part of the program, select wild horses and burros receive personal and extensive training from inmates. Since the inception of the program, more than 3,000 inmates have gentled or trained more than 5,000 animals gathered from western rangelands. The inmates benefit from learning meaningful and marketable work experience they can use when they are released. On average, seven to 10 horses are trained every month and are ready for adoption.

The BLM has also created a partnership with the U.S. Border Patrol to provide trained mustangs from the WHIP to protect the nation's borders. The U.S. Border Patrol has adopted 100 saddle-trained mustangs from the BLM through this partnership.

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