Kathy Garcia said she was excited and nervous to be getting a wild horse.
The Triangle woman got her horse for a $160 bid at the Adopt-a-Wild Horse & Burro Program auction at Meadowood Special Recreation Area in Lorton on Saturday.
Bidding for the horses started at $125.
Garcia said she was excited because she got a new horse, but nervous about having a wild one to train.
“I think I’m up to it,” Garcia said.
Garcia’s husband, Chris, the owner of First Choice Construction, said he wasn’t the least bit nervous about having a wild horse around.
All he has to do is keep the corral in shape. His wife will be doing all the training.
The Garcias and about 100 others from around the region came the Bureau of Land Management auction to look at the wild horses and consider adoption.
Eric and Sher Hendrickson-Lambert came Frederick, Md., to look but not adopt Saturday.
They wanted to make sure they were ready for a wild horse.
People who wish to adopt a horse should have sturdy corrals at least 6 feet high, shelter, transportation and the wherewithal to care for the animals.
Sher Hendrickson-Lambert said she wanted to get one Saturday instead of waiting for the next auction in the area.
“We’ve got to check our corral and make sure the fences are the right height,” the 32-year-old geneticist said.
Sher Hendrickson-Lambert said it would be difficult watching others adopt the small yearling mustangs.
“I think it will be hard to see them go,” she said.
Eric Hendrickson-Lambert, 36, said they’d be back to get a horse.
The horses at the auction came from Nevada, Wyoming, California, Colorado, Arizona and Oregon, said bureau spokesman Bill Davenport.
“These horses come from the western public lands,” Davenport said. “Wild horses run on public lands essentially throughout the West.”
Some wild horse herds in the West can be traced directly back to the Spanish conquistadors. Other herds are of mixed stock, Davenport said.
Over the years wild horses bred with horses that got away during the western expansion. The cavalry lost some, as did civilians. During the Great Depression, farmers and ranchers who could no longer care for their horses released them to fend for themselves. Those horses bred with wild herds as well, Davenport said.
Today there are 32,000 wild horses “running” on public land in the West, Davenport said.
“They reproduce at about a 20-percent rate. So every five years you’ve got a 100-percent increase,” Davenport said. “That’s one of the big reasons we’ve got to gather them up and bring them back east to be adopted.”
It’s easier to adopt the horses in the eastern states, Davenport said.
“That’s where the people are,” he said.
More than 204,000 animals have been adopted since the program began in 1974, Davenport said.
About 1,800 horses have been adopted in Virginia, Davenport said.
Tina Marie Jones got her horse, Cisco Kid, about three years ago before there was a bidding process.
Her turn came up and she got the blue roan.
“It’s the best $125 I ever spent,” she said.
Like others who came to the auction to show their former wild horses, Jones praised all wild horses.
According to Jones, wild horses are the smartest, strongest, easiest to train and the all around very best horses in the world.
Natural selection in the Wild West made them so, she said.
“If they’re not strong enough, they don’t survive. If they’re not smart enough, they don’t survive,” she said.
Additionally, wild horses are less prone to some of the problems that strike their domestic cousins.
“They have excellent feet. Their bone density — they’re not going to go lame on you,” she said.
Jones said she brings Cisco Kid to Wild Horse & Burro Auctions so people can see what they can expect of their yearling when they are grown.
“It’s helpful to see what the after-product is going to be,” she said.
Horses that did not sell Saturday will be auctioned today at the Meadowood Special Recreation Area at 10406 Gunston Road between 8 a.m. and noon.
Staff writer Keith Walker can be reached at (703) 878-8063.