Thinning the wild horse population through adoptions

MARIANNA, Fla. (WTVY) -- You hear a lot about helping stray cats and dogs, but you might not think much about horses and burros.

The wild horse and burro program helps manage the population of these wild animals.

“Right now we have 86,000 horses in the wild and the population doubles every four years," says Shawn Farnsworth, wild horse and burro supervisor.

When the population gets too high both the land and the animals feel its effects.

“You know, over-grazing and over-grazing leads to starvation,” Farnsworth said.

In order to adopt a horse, you must meet the requirements under federal law.

“The horse has to have 400sq/ft per horse. It is a must to have six foot panels.”

Without six foot panels - “a five and a half foot fence they can actually get over them. They’ll crush them" Farnsworth says.

Training these wild horses and burros takes time.

“Once you gain the mustang’s trust, once they trust you and you become their leader, then you can pretty much do anything with them.”

Manny Velez has interacted with wild horses before.

“They were putting their faces on us and eating out of our hand and eat our hair and stuff like that," Velez said.

His previous interactions give him hope that training the horse won’t be too hard.

“It can be done and I was petting one of the younger males over on the side here and then another one in the back, so they’re not as ‘bad’ as they say hopefully.”

The federal government is reimbursing those who adopt these animals up to $1,000 for the cost of one year's care.

Saturday is the last day to adopt a horse or burro.

You can visit the AG Center in Marianna from 8 am until 4 pm.

It is recommended you bring your horse trailer with you since the animals are available on a first-come first-serve basis.