Wild horses find jobs with USFS

JACKSON, Wyo. — Law Enforcement Officer Katrina Haworth was initially skeptical about recruiting wild horses for the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) mounted patrol program.

“But then I had the opportunity to see how the Honor Farm trainers work with their horses, starting with essential groundwork and spending time to instill a great foundation,” Haworth said in a press release.  “I brought that information to the decision-makers and made the case that we could bring good, lightly-started young horses to the program for little to no cost.”

Congress authorized the transfer of excess wild horses and burros removed from public land to federal, state, and local government agencies to use as work animals in 2018. And last spring, Haworth and USFS officers Ryan Linhart and Corey Scevers visited the Wyoming Honor Farm in Riverton and met two saddle-trained geldings who were just right for the mounted patrol.

The horses needed to have good conformation and the endurance to ride many miles in the backcountry. They also needed to have an easy-going disposition for overcoming backcountry obstacles — steep, rocky trails, people, other animals.

Linhart and Scevers worked with the horses for months to build trust and basic skills needed to patrol the vast Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex in western Montana.

“I exposed Waylon J to many different things he has potentially never seen or had to deal with before,” Scevers said. “With a little patience and drive we worked through these obstacles together and we grew together as the year went on.”

“I’m really impressed with the start we have and the things we were able to accomplish in our first summer together,” Scevers continued. “Don’t get me wrong, there are things we still need to work on but I’m looking forward to the challenge and continuing this relationship throughout my career.”

Haworth, Linhart and Scevers all agree that Max and Waylon J are great conversation starters when the officers are talking to hikers and horseback riders out on the trail.

“Max is a valuable ambassador for the BLM’s wild horse program, as well as the heritage of the U.S. Forest Service,” said Linhart. “Making public contacts, Max shows the continuing traditions of our agency.”

“He has received multiple compliments from members of the public on his disposition,” continued Linhart. “He continues to improve every day.”

The BLM has partnered with the Honor Farm to train and place wild horses for 32 years. Encouraging the transfer of wild horses to other federal agencies is another strategy of the BLM’s commitment to place horses removed from the range.

“Government agencies using federal wild horses to do their day-to-day work is a promising strategy we can use to find additional homes for excess horses,” said BLM Program Officer Scott Fluer. “It showcases these animals to more members of the public.”

The next public adoption at the Wyoming Honor Farm will be May 16.

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