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April 15, 2010 3:12 am

Mustang adoption

Written by Tribune Staff

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A halter-started bay from the McCullough Peaks herd, captured by the Bureau of Land Management in October 2009, waits to be adopted at the auction at the Northwest College Agriculture Pavilion. Twenty-five horses were up for bid Saturday. Tribune photo by Carla Wensky

Most bought in Saturday auction

Twenty-five mustangs — 18 from the McCullough Peaks herd captured in October — were up for adoption in Powell Saturday, and 21 were adopted.

The highest bid price was $500 and the lowest, the $125 bid starting price set by U.S. the Bureau of Land Management, said Lorraine Keith, bureau public affairs specialist in Rock Springs.

The bureau manages the wild horses in the West.

The four untamed horses from the Peaks and Fifteenmile Horse Management Area near Worland that were not adopted will be halter trained, gentled and possibly saddle trained at the Mantle Ranch in the Wheatland area.

They will be available for future adoption, Keith said.

BLM auctioneer Scott Fleur was the master of the ceremonies, so to speak, seeking bids from approximately 100 people in attendance.

Fleur haggles like any auctioneer, endeavoring to drive up the price. Cowboys standing in front of stands on each side of the arena raise their hands when a bidder in the stands offers a bid.

One paint goes for $300.

Next, wranglers lead a gelding around the arena. He tosses his head, displaying spirit, but does not appear overly distressed by Fleur at the microphone or the crowds talking and walking around the arena.

The gelding goes for $175 and receives light applause either for him or Fleur.

Jeff Martin, Wyoming Honor Farm wild horse supervisor, rides a bay mare into the arena.

The bay is around 14 hands, and she's pretty.

She likes to travel, has a smooth trot and is a bit bossy with other horses, Martin said atop the mare.

Martin lopes lightly around the corral, his mount thudding the soft ground and sending a light spray of dirt at the fence like a water skier's wake.

The bay sells for $500.

Three untouched McCullough Peaks 3-year-old geldings run abreast as though pulling an invisible chariot. Their luck is not so good; there are no takers.

A gelding bay paint from the Mantle Ranch that has been introduced to the saddle is picked up for $125.

The barnyard atmosphere is pleasant with the aroma of dirt, hay, horses and manure. A little dust wafts when horses are led out. In the corner, a few pigs relax in a pen, oblivious to the people and the auction.

A paint is led out. Fleur tries for $300 to start, but there are no takers. He drops the bid to $125. “... Don't let her go folks.”

The price rises to $225, $300, $325 ... Sold for $350.

Fleur said the horses not bought could be had on a first-come, first-served basis for $125.

Keith indicated that getting 21 out of 25 adopted in this iffy economy is not bad.

“That is very good,” Keith said, “because the market is very slow for horses right now.”

Mustangs become very loyal to their rider, Keith said.

“You become their herd,” Keith said.