They came for different reasons but the people who showed up at the Sacramento Horsemen's Association corrals Saturday looking to adopt a wild horse or burro agreed on one thing - there is an element about horses that casts a spell of tranquility and happiness on those around them.
Ranging from black to tan to gray, 14 wild horses and five burros trotted in pens at the North Highlands facility for the Bureau of Land Management's adoption program, which featured a silent auction in the morning and an open adoption in the afternoon. Horses that didn't receive morning bids were available for $125 in the afternoon.
One of the oldest horses available, a 6-year-old black mustang that had already been "gentled" - or halter trained - caught the eyes of many.
Cariel Hollmer, a 19-year-old Sierra College student, won the horse with a $440 bid. She said she's loved horses for longer than she can remember and she likes mustangs for their sturdiness and dependability.
"You've got horse in your blood," she said about her attraction to the animals. "You can't get it out."
The horses mostly hailed from Nevada. The burros were mostly from Twin Peaks, near Lake Arrowhead. Until last fall, all of the horses were living in the wild, according to Amy Dumas, manager of the wild horse program for BLM in California.
She said they had been gathered in a round-up, a BLM tactic used to maintain the growing population of wild horses. She likened the process to a helicopter acting as a sheepdog and herding horses into pens.
Roundups are controversial - on Tuesday, about 15 people from throughout California and Nevada protested BLM's roundup program outside of Sacramento's federal courthouse. The protestors said horses are a national symbol of freedom that deserve to stay in the wild and roundups are abusive.
Dumas said most people who protest roundups don't understand them. Beverly Moss, who attended Saturday's event with family members, agreed and said she has watched a BLM roundup.
"I did not see abuse at all," she said. "I felt like they really cared about the horses."
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