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Bureau of Land Management tracks down wild horse in Winchester

Union Leader Correspondent

September 20. 2018 9:17PM

This wild mare ran away from its adoptive home in Winchester before heading off into the Mount Grace region. Homeowners saw the horse for weeks before it was tracked down by employees with the federal Bureau of Land Management. (COURTESY)

WINCHESTER — A wild horse that had been on the lam for several weeks is now back in the custody of federal agents.

Steve Meyer of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s office for Wild Horses and Burros Program saddled up recently to scour the woods between New Hampshire and Massachusetts for an escaped horse.

“I don’t know the particulars of how it got loose; I do know that it got loose,” Meyer said.

Winchester resident Lisa Reynolds adopted the horse at an August BLM event at the Cheshire Fairgrounds in Swanzey, but the horse reportedly ran off soon after being adopted.

Reynolds could not be reached for comment.

Meyer said the horse — a gray mare about five years old — came to New Hampshire from Utah. It was put up for adoption through the program for wild horses and burros in which people across the country can take in one of these animals. Most of them are caught in western states. There are around 82,000 wild horses and burros on public lands today.

Once this horse got loose and the owner was unable to bring it in, Meyer said he had an obligation to go out and bring it back. “Because that animal is still government property,” he said. “I can’t have it run loose.”

Meyer said the government has adopted out more than 200,000 horses and burros since the program started in 1971. Under the adoption program, all of the animals remain government property for one year after the adoption. At that time, the adoptive owners are able to apply for a title from the government to formally take ownership.

This particular mare was not considered dangerous, he said, but Meyer worried that it might run into a moving vehicle and cause an accident. Wild horses are not saddle ready, Meyer said, and they typically don’t mind walking through the electrified fences that many horse owners use to pen their animals.

Once out, the horse presented a problem for Meyer because she was roaming free in the Mount Grace conservancy area with plenty of food and water, so he wasn’t able to set out food to lure her back. The situation was exacerbated by local attempts to bring the horse in, he said. Wild horses will establish a daily circuit of about 20 or 30 miles and stick to that. Meyer said because of a few botched capture attempts, the mare wasn’t able to establish its circuit.

Meyer and another BLM employee headed out to the region with their own horses to track the mare down. As they got closer, she started showing up on a Warwick, Mass., woman’s property, he said.

Finally, last week, the horse turned herself in, wandering into the Warwick woman’s barn. She called Meyer, and he was soon able to get the horse under control.

“Basically, the horse caught itself,” Meyer said.

The mare is back in BLM custody and will undergo some training before she’s adopted out again.

Public Safety Human Interest Animals Outdoors General News Keene Swanzey Winchester

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