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Can Wild Horses Be Tamed? Here’s What You Need to Know!

Oliver Jones

Have you ever wondered whether wild horses can be tamed? In short, the answer is yes, wild horses can be tamed with the correct training. In this article, we will define what a wild horse is, discuss where wild horses live in the United States, and how to train and adopt a wild horse.

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What Is a Wild Horse?

What exactly do we mean when we talk about wild horses? A truly “wild” horse is an undomesticated horse. The only breed of horse in the world that meets this criterion is the Przewalski’s horse, which can be found in Mongolia, also known as the Mongolian wild horse. These horses were once common throughout Asia and Europe, but over time they migrated east due to a combination of environmental changes and loss of their natural habitat. They came close to extinction but were successfully reintroduced into the wild. Despite the intervention of humans in various zoos and sanctuaries that prevented these animals from going extinct, this breed has never been successfully domesticated.

Other species of “wild” horses around the world are actually feral members of domesticated horse species. Some of the most well-known breeds of untamed domesticated horses that roam free in the wild are mustangs, which can be found in the Western United States, and brumbies, which are commonly found in the Northern Territory of Australia. In this article, we will be referring specifically to “wild” untamed domestic horses in the United States.

wild horses
Image Credit: Pixabay

Can You Capture a Wild Horse?

Wild mustang horses can be found in the Western states of Utah, California, Wyoming, New Mexico, North Dakota, Montana, Arizona, Oregon, Idaho, and Nevada. Over half of all mustangs in the United States live in Nevada. If you are an experienced horse owner who is interested in capturing and taming a wild mustang, you should know that these animals are protected by the Bureau of Land Management. Under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, Congress called wild horses and burros “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West.” This act protects wild horses from being branded, harassed, killed, or captured.

Adopting a Mustang

Although you cannot capture wild mustangs yourself, there is an adoption program that you can take advantage of. Because mustangs don’t have many natural predators, they can cause problems if their population goes unchecked. The Bureau of Land Management has a program in which a specific number of horses are removed from the wild each year in order to maintain their population in the wild. The BLM maintains several hundred adoption events each year in order to find homes for these excess horses. Many of these animals stay in corrals for years before they are homed.

In order to adopt a mustang, you must meet certain requirements. Firstly, you need to certify that you will be able to provide a good home for your horse. You must be at least 18 years of age, have no history of convictions for inhumane treatment of animals, and plan to keep your horse within the United States for a year until it is titled. Your horse shelter must provide at least 400 square feet of space per horse and it must be at least 6 feet high. The BLM website provides additional guidelines for your horse’s facility depending on the location and climate of its future home.

If you meet the above requirements, you can begin the adoption process by filling out a physical or online application and mailing it to the closest Bureau of Land Management office in your area.

wild horse
Image Credit: Pixabay

Taming a Wild Horse

If you do adopt a wild horse, you will likely get a chance to tame it and train it yourself. The time it will take to tame a wild horse depends on how experienced you are. An experienced trainer will be able to ride a wild horse after 4-6 weeks of training, whereas a beginner should expect to spend several months working with their horse.

No matter your experience level, all wild horses will go through the same basic stages of training. The four stages are green broke, broke, well broke, and dead broke. A horse that has received no training whatsoever is referred to as unbroke. Below, we have described some of the key differences between each stage.

1. Green Broke

A horse that is green broke, also called dumb broke, has just begun its training. It will learn the basics, such as carrying a rider and learning fundamental cues to walk, stop, and turn.

2. Broke

A broke horse has some experience with a rider and knows many different leg and voice commands. A beginner shouldn’t ride a broke horse, but someone with a lot of experience will likely be able to handle one. Although they are learning, broke horses still need practice and shouldn’t be ridden in public areas.

3. Well Broke

A well broke horse is more accustomed to riders and may even be ridden by those with less experience. Whereas a green or broke horse is going to be more unpredictable, you can trust that a well broke horse will listen to your commands. You would find a well broke horse to be on par with a domesticated horse in terms of its level of training.

4. Dead Broke

A dead broke horse has reached the highest level of training of any horse, including domesticated horses. Some horses may never reach this level of training. A dead broke horse is extraordinarily safe and patient and is not easily spooked, meaning it can be ridden by anyone.

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Final Thoughts

Wild horses can be tamed, but training these animals is not a job for just anyone. First of all, you will likely need to go through the Bureau of Land Management’s adoption process in order to obtain a wild Mustang here in the United States. Once you have purchased your horse, you will need to be patient as your horse gets used to mounting, carrying a rider, and learning leg and vocal commands. Because you will be spending so much time with your horse, you can expect to develop a bond you may not have with other horses. As a result, the process of taming a wild horse can be a very rewarding experience if you have the time and patience to dedicate to the task.

SEE ALSO: Fjord Horse: Facts, Lifespan, Behavior & Care Guide (With Pictures)


Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.