The Mesa Verde Horses


For several years NMACO lobbied Mesa Verde National Park to leave its horses wild and manage the population. The Park’s mandate to protect the antiquities and archaeological sites, however, was deemed to be incompatible with wild horses and the Park is finalizing its plan to remove the horses from the Park. NMACO is collaborating with the Park, Whit Hibbard (Stockmanship Journal), and Tim McGaffic (The Nature of Natural) to make this a pilot project for capturing the horses without helicopter or horseback chases, using habituation principles, bait trapping, and low-stress livestock gathering techniques. We are hopeful that this will result in better domestication for the horses and successful human-equine connections.

In the interest of finding the best possible outcome for the horses, NMACO has agreed to take possession and title to all of the horses gathered, and to re-home them to adopters or sanctuaries. Toward that end, we will be releasing a select few horses to qualified trainers and transporting the remainder to the Mustang Camp in Milan, New Mexico. Patricia Irick of Mustang Camp has developed an innovative, scientifically-based training program that uses positive reinforcement without punishment to domesticate, tame and train these horses, who will then be available for adoption. The horses will be trained to be touched, groomed, haltered, trailer loaded, and to be ready for saddle training.

NMACO will be responsible for costs of the horses while they are held at the Park, for feed and transport costs, and for paying Mustang Camp for their feed, care, and training.

YOU CAN HELP, even if you cannot adopt a horse, by donating to this cause. If you are interested in adopting a Mesa Verde wild horse, stay tuned to our Facebook page for updates as this project unfolds.


The Park has agreed to utilize a pilot program of low-stress gathering methods that will hopefully mitigate any animal welfare issues, and prevent the necessity of disposing of horses through other methods. NMACO is optimistic that these low stress gather methods will translate into better domestication and successful training for these horses, ultimately affording them better lives.


NMACO will be coordinating with the Park to take title and possession of the gathered unclaimed horses after the requisite holding period (up to 30 days). We will be seeking appropriate adopters, sanctuaries and trainers who qualify to take horses. Horses determined to be inappropriate for adoption (e.g. too old or poor dispositions) will be released to sanctuaries.  We will also be offering opportunities for qualified adopters to have their horses gentled and begin their training before taking them.


The memorandum of understanding between NMACO and the Park requires NMACO to share some costs and assume others, over the basic costs NPS will bear.  NMACO will have costs involved in transporting horses, holding facilities (for gelding studs, holding mares with babies, and waiting transport), veterinarians, feed and supplements, and payments for trainers and facilities. We need and appreciate your financial support for this important project!

You can make a difference

for the horses of Mesa Verde




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