Fish Springs wild horses find home

Five Pine Nut range mustangs that once grazed on lawns in Fish Springs and the Bently agricultural fields were rounded up under the auspices of the Bureau of Land Management, but they won't be going to a bureau holding facility.

Thanks to the efforts of Sheila Schwadel and other members of the Fish Springs Wild Horse Posse, three are going to a ranch in Montana. One colt has been adopted and another, an 18-month-old filly up for adoption, is being gentled.

"We'd like to see more wild horses on the open range, but the best we can do is work with the bureau to get the horses in holding to good homes," she said. "It takes a little work, but these horses are great pets and riding companions.

"Once these horses start trusting their owners, they're friendlier than domestic horses," she said. "They seem to develop a deeper, more natural bond. They learn to trust people as if they were a member of the herd."

The filly still up for adoption watched with a wary curiosity from her round pen as Schwadel eased around her.

"She's smart," Schwadel said as she patted the horse gently, halter in hand.

"The last one I trained was gentled as soon as she got used to the halter, but this one is different," Schwadel said. "She's more dominant and it will take more time, but she'll make a good gymkhana horse."

Schwadel said these horses are small, but good looking. They'll grow a height of between 14.1 and 14.3 hands.

A 2-month-old filly born in captivity to one of the mares is also up for adoption. She pranced up to greet Schwadel from behind her shelter while her mom, a dark bay mare, watched. The mare is one of the three that will be sent to Montana after the filly is weaned, in about two months.

A small group dedicated to the welfare of these animals, the Fish Springs Posse works in conjunction with the Bureau, just part of a network of horse rescue groups and advisors dedicated to the preservation of these animals.

"The attitude has changed when it comes to wild horses," Schwadel said. "In the old days these horses were considered a dispensible commodity, but with the increase in population and higher visibility, people want them preserved."

The Fish Springs Wild Horse Posse was formed in 2001, following removal of 40 horses in the Fish Springs area in 2000.

Since that time, the posse has successfully adopted 15 wild horses and colts through the auspices of the Bureau.

"Our group just completed work to gentle mustangs at the Bureau's Adoption Center in Palomino Valley," Schwadel said. "We're hoping to do have a mustang adoption and training event with another group called Least Resistance Training Concepts and BLM in Douglas County later this summer."

"Having the Posse there works really well for us," said Jim Gianola, lead wild horse and burro specialist with the Bureau.

He said 118 wild horses roam the Pine Nut Range and that is number considered appropriate for the herd management area.

Statewide, there are about 14,700 wild horses in Nevada, very close to the 13,500 recommended for Nevada's 102 herd management areas, said Maxine Shane, spokesman for the Bureau.

Susie Vasquez can be reached at or 782-5121, ext. 211.


Wild horse and humane interest groups have joined with the Bureau of Land Management to offer a $15,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the shooting deaths of three wild horses Feb. 14 near Leadville, about 40 miles north of Gerlach.

Wild horses and burros are protected under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. Any person who kills a wild horse or burro without authorization will be subject to a fine of not more than $2,000 or imprisonment for not more than one year or both, for each violation.


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