Auctioning Off a Piece of Unbranded

Time on the trail is over, but the adventure continues: The Unbranded Project


Last night I auctioned off Luke, my Paint Mustang, at the Mustang Million contest in Ft. Worth, Texas!  The O’Brien family of Tulsa, Oklahoma, purchased Luke for $25,000, all proceeds will go to the Mustang Heritage Foundation to promote more mustang adoptions. I knew Luke would sell high but $25,000 blew away all expectations.  Now more than 12 hours later, with Luke in the hands of his new owner, I’m trying to figure out why in the world I gave away a horse that I deeply cared for. I know the answer but I still miss my horse.

The mustangs are in a bad spot right now. There are nearly 50,000 wild horses in holding pens and long term pastures that will live out their lives unused and in captivity. Your tax dollars buy their hay. Legally, the Bureau of Land Management is mandated to maintain the Mustang population in the wild to 27,000 animals. This number has already been exceeded, possibly to 40,000, but the BLM cannot continue gathering horses because there is no place to put horses that are rounded up. Too many horses can cause rangeland degradation that negatively affects native wildlife, plants and rural communities that depend on range health. Currently, the only method of reducing the numbers of horses in holding facilities is adoption. I put Luke up for auction because I want to see more wild horses get adopted. The O’Brien family donated $25,000 to see more wild horses get adopted. The non-profit Mustang Heritage Foundation’s sole purpose is to get more wild horses adopted.  Adoption gives these horses better homes, reduces taxpayer expense, and alleviates western rangelands of potential ecological harm. What can you do to help?

The BLM, Mustang Heritage Foundation and other mustang organizations have different ways to acquire gentled, formerly “wild” horses. A lot of mustangs are really good horses, especially for people looking for ranch or trail horses where a good mindset is more important than a timed event. They really aren’t that hard to train. People train mustangs all the time. It takes time, dedication, and a lot of hard work but it’s an incredibly rewarding experience that you have to experience to believe.

Can’t train, adopt or buy a mustang? Dive deeper than a Google web search and learn the facts about the impact of the wild horses, different methods of population control and the options available to correcting a bad predicament. The Mustang issue, which is growing daily, is an incredibly emotional debate. People connect with horses more so than any other animal, except possibly dogs. Lots of people allow emotion to overpower rational thinking, and they value the momentary happiness of an animal over the long term ecological health that the future of that animal depends on.

Get educated, learn the issues, they’re your horses on your land.

—Ben Masters

One Response to “Auctioning Off a Piece of Unbranded”

  1. Lisa Kellett says:

    Great points made by Ben, Mustangs are running themselves out of food and range. The BLM is doing what they can which is catching and caging them, but that is where it gets expensive….feed, immunizations, med care…and remember, these guys are not used to close quarters. There is no good answer… Thank you Ben and your amazing unbranded team for shining this light.

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