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Mustangs 4 Us
Herd Management Areas

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Mustang Heritage
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(Wild Horse, not the Car!)
Wild Horse & Burro Watching
Gentling and Training
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Wild Horse & Burro Herd Areas
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Our "Wild " Herd
How to Read a Brand
Helpful Videos
"Working With Wild Horses" Book


This is a non-commercial, independent website, owned and written by Nancy Kerson, for the benefit of actual and potential adopters of BLM Mustangs and Burros and similar animals.

Cool Stuff to Buy:
(Believe me, I am not getting rich off this stuff. But occasional sales help pay for the expenses of keeping this website up on the Internet.)

Mustang T-Shirt


Sizes & Style

Working With Wild Horses, Second Edition
Working With Wild Horses (book)
Second Edition

 Printed Book $23
$7.50 Download

Now available on iTunes!

This website is owned and created
by Nancy Kerson, a private
citizen - I am not the BLM or any other branch of  government!

Information about BLM adoptions is offered as a service, to help mustangs find homes and to promote public appreciation of
wild horses and burros.

For information about the BLM Wild Horse & Burro Program,
please call (866) 4MUSTANGS

Please direct adoption questions to the BLM, not to me.

And I sure as heck am not a
Mustang car dealership!

I do not sell horses or burros am not interested in
buying or listing or otherwise promoting your sale animals!

This website:
Copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014,2015,2016
All Rights Reserved.
I am happy to share, but please give me a credit when you "borrow" things off my website!


Kitty Lauman:
From Wild to Willing:
Using the Bamboo Pole to Gentle Mustangs
More from Lauman Training available now!

2-DVD set: almost 3 hours of instruction!

$39.95 plus $5 shipping/handling = $44.95 total

BUY 2 DVD Set:

Can't Order Online?
No Problem!
Just email us and we'll tell you
how to mail order

Lesley Neuman:
The First Touch
Gentling Your Mustang

Lesley works with 3 wild horses at a BLM adoption, and very clearly explains what is happening, what she is doing, & what she sees in each horse as it progresses. Study this video and you can learn "pressure and release" gentling techniques to gentle your own new mustang!


Help for Burro adopters!
Crystal Ward
Donkey Training

All the basics of gentling, handling, and training. A MUST for new burro adopters! Good for domestic donkeys, too!






Herd Management Areas
Where is YOUR horse or burro from?

BLM Herd Management Areas:
Arizona California Colorado Idaho
Montana New Mexico Nevada Oregon
Utah Wyoming  

Bureau of Land Management Herd Areas and Herd Management Areas
Please note that not all wild horses are managed by BLM. BLM management is restricted to the Herd Management Areas on this map.

What's an HMA? When the Wild Free-Roaming Horse & Burro Protection Act of 1971 was enacted, BLM was first tasked with identifying where wild horses and burros lived on public lands. In many cases, these studies were done rather quickly and without thorough research or understanding of the life patterns of the horses and burros on the areas. From these identified areas, only those which proved to be adequate to support healthy herds were accepted. Boundaries were drawn and they were labeled Herd Management Areas. The map above shows where they are. Note that only horses and burros living within these boundaries, and similarly-set US Forest Service Wild Horse Territories, are covered under the Act. National Parks, State Parks, USFWS reserves, etc. are not included, nor are the private and County lands around Reno and Carson City, Nevada. Indian reservations often have large herds of free-roaming horses, mostly of recent domestic origin but wild nonetheless. These, too, are not protected by the Act.

Learning about the specific herd management area where one's own horse or burro is from can enrich your appreciation for your adopted animal. It is in that spirit that these pages are offered.

Do understand, however, that HMAs (Herd Management Areas) are not breeds. A horse or burro from one HMA has far more in common with horses or burros from all other HMAs than it has differences. Although some herds are managed more intensively than others for identifiable traits (like color, size, temperament, etc), currently no HMA is consistent enough to be treated as a brand name or breed. The nearest to being a unique breed would be the Kiger, which has been very intensively managed from the beginning of the HMA. But even Kiger is quite genetically diverse, variable in qualities such as temperament an size, and it closely resembles neighoring HMAs in genetic tests.

Many people have a certain size in mind when they adopt. Certain herds are known for having a high incidence of certain size parameters (examples: Pine Nut Mtns and Swasey for smaller pony-type and Twin Peaks and Owyhee for larger-than-average horses) but even within those herds there will be exceptions. Large and small horses can occur in just about any HMA. Likewise, certain herds, like South Steens, are known for certain types of coloring (In South Steens, it's pinto patterns. For Kiger, it's dun, etc.) Yet even in South Steens and Kiger, there are many bays, reds, and solid blacks, and an occasional gray.

So when adopting, choose an individual, not just the "brand name" of HMA.

If you wish to know more about your horse or burro's ancestry, please also read the HISTORY section.

The Bureau of Land Management manages wild horses (mustangs) and burros (wild donkeys) in 10 Western States, with the largest share being in Nevada. There are also noteworthy wild herds in other areas, or managed by other governmental bodies or private groups.

Management Issues that contribute to HMA differences:

The number one management issue is maintaining a healthy eco-system within a multiple use format, as mandated by law. This includes determining how many animals of each species can be supported by a section of land, given the resources and other demands on the land. That is a huge subject, which a person who wants to understand wild horse issues should delve into, AND it is too big a subject to cover here in a paragraph or two.

Another issue that deserves mention is SELECTION.

When herds become too large, who gets removed and who stays? Is it "gate cut" or is some other criteria applied? (An example of gate cut would be  - if 40 horses need to be removed, the first 40 who come into the trap would be the ones removed.) Or should the herd be carefully managed for desirable characteristics (perhaps size, color, conformation, historically accurate regional characteristics, temperament and trainability, or other qualities)?

What about age and gender balance? We know that young animals have the best chance in adoption, but we also know that when a high percentage of youngsters are removed, the herd reproduces even more rapidly in order to compensate. If the old, non-productive animals are removed, the younger population starts behaving in ways they would not have, if they had access to older, wiser mentors. So it's a complicated subject. Different districts handle it different ways, and philosophies have changed over time. Most BLM districts have a specially trained Wild Horse (or burro) Specialist to lead in these decisions.

As an example of different management philosophies, Oregon has always been at the forefront of intense human management of their 19 herds for unique characteristics and adoptability. With only 19 HMAs they are in a position to do this, and they believe strongly in the concept. They have several "showpiece" herds with recognizably distinct characteristics (examples: Kiger, South Steens, Warm Springs) and they do have high adoption rates, in part due to this, as well as geography (Lots of horse-friendly country in several states, within easy driving distance of the Burns BLM Corrals)

However, just as avidly, there are other districts in other states who believe that wild horses are meant to be managed as wildlife, and, as such, should have as little human interference as possible. They believe that Mother Nature is often the best breeder, and it should not be up to us to judge or influence the quality of a wild animal or herd of wild animals. They feel passionately that the adoption program is there to support range management, and that range management should not be driven by the adoption program's needs.

Each viewpoint has passionate supporters and good reasons, and who is to say that one is wrong?

The majority of districts do not openly fall into either category. Many are careful not to publicly state their management and selection style, and I am sure they have good reasons for that, too.


Choose from:
BLM-Managed Wild Horse & Burro Herd Management Areas:
Arizona  California  Colorado  Idaho  Montana  Nevada  New Mexico  Oregon  Utah
BLM Holding & Adoption Centers
Long-Term Holding Facilities

Western States Non-BLM Wild Horse Areas:
State of Nevada Dept. of Agriculture (Reno-Area Comstock/Virginia Range "Estrays")


The US FOREST SERVICE has Wild Horse Territories (all western states) which are protected under the same laws as BLM horses and burros.

US Forest Service Wild Horse & Burro Territories
(usually managed by or with BLM until late 2015)

BLM/USFS Complexes:

Wild Horses & Burros Not Covered Under the 1971 Act:
Comstock - Virginia Range
(Reno/Carson City area of Nevada)

Sheldon USFWS  Pronghorn Preserve 

Atlantic Coast  Central USA 
Central US


Areas that may have wild or recently feral horses, not included in this website: Indian Reservations, Private Lands, Anywhere East of the Rockies (Louisiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Florida, Virginia and Carolina Coastal Islands, etc. The National Park System
Theodore Roosevelt National Park




copyright 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017  Nancy Kerson, all rights reserved - I'm happy to share, just need to be asked and have credit given where due.

Disclaimer: Horses are inherently dangerous. Use the information contained within this website at your own risk.