MADISON COUNTY, Idaho - The Bureau of Land Management is facing a crisis: too many wild mustangs on too little land. The BLM is getting creative in finding ways to get people to adopt the mustangs. One project underway in Madison County involves 4-H kids. They take a young mustang from the BLM, work with the colt or filly during the summer, and prepare the animal for auction Aug. 16 at the Madison County Fairgrounds.
Bailey York, 13, of Bonneville County, decided to take on the challenge, and picked a little 6-month-old chocolate filly she named Smalls.
"She's a good horse. She learns fast, that's for sure," says a smiling Bailey.
Bailey's job is to get the filly gentled enough a buyer might be more interested in taking on a mustang. She's done an impressive job so far. She passed the hoof test.
"I just kept pulling on her feet until she finally let me pick them up and hold them," says Bailey.
She passed the rustling grocery sack test. Bailey shakes the bag all around Smalls until the horse doesn't give it a second look, "so if you're on a trail ride, and a bag suddenly flies by her she doesn't freak out."
She passed the parachute test, where Bailey leads Smalls onto a tarp, and family members flip the tarp under her hooves. Smalls doesn't even switch her tail.
When it comes to loading in the trailer, Bailey leads Smalls right in with no hesitation.
The only thing Bailey hasn't gotten Smalls to do yet is trot on a lead line. That will come.
It's been quite the summer for Bailey and her entire family.
"I thought it would be hard, but once the two of them developed a bond, it was really easy," says AnnE York, Bailey's mother. "It's about Smalls trusting Bailey."
"It's going to be hard to sell her because I've grown such a good connection to her," Bailey admits.
The sale is Aug. 16 at 2:30pm at the Madison County Fairgrounds. There will be several mustangs to choose from, each gentled by a 4-H member.
For more information on the 4-H & BLM Wild Horse Project, click here.