Palomino Valley Wild Horse Facility Tests Shade Structures

Summer temperatures in the Silver State can reach triple digits. So, the Bureau of Land Management is testing shade structures that they say could offer some relief for their mustangs and burros.

The Palomino Valley National Wild Horse and Burro Center holds about 1,000 horses and burros.

Zachary Reichold is the Acting Deputy Division Chief of the Wild Horse and Burro Program. He says the animals have adapted to extreme conditions. "Wild horses are actually a very resilient animal," Reichold said. "If you look at the environment that they were actually gathered from, they're exposed to very harsh winter and summer conditions."

In August of 2013, the BLM started testing three different types of shade structures for the animals' comfort. Some use the shade, while others stay in the sunshine. "We're going to conduct studies later on in the summer to look at how, when and why these horses actually use shade," Reichold said.

Adding these structures is something Reichold says has to be done responsibly, saying the safety of the horses and people is number one. "We're going to do what we can to increase their quality of life," Reichold said. "We're trying to do it in a responsible manner so that we can make sure that as we move the animals within the facility, that we're not actually harming the animals."

Shade is also available for horses that have health issues. The BLM provides medical treatment for all of their horses, including vaccinations, deworming, and hoof maintenance. The facility goes through 12 tons of hay per day, with each horse drinking about 10 gallons of water. "The water troughs are spread out so that multiple horses can drink," Reichold said. "There's usually not another horse that has to wait long before it can actually get a drink of water."

The idea is to keep every mustang as healthy as can be until it gets adopted. Something that offers a sense of accomplishment for staff members. "The people that are involved in the program are compassionate individuals that got into the program because they do love these animals," Reichold said.  

The horses are often adopted online, as far away as the east coast. "If we could, we would like everybody in the country to take home a wild horse that's removed from the range and provide it with quality care and a loving home," Reichold said.

The horses come here from all over the western United States and this facility, alone, adopts out a couple hundred of them every single year.

Written by Paul Nelson