ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo. — When Cody Haeck got off from his graveyard shift at Church and Dwight on Saturday morning, he didn’t head to his home north of Rock Springs to rest. Instead, he made a spontaneous decision to go check out the wild horses available at the adoption event going on at the holding facility on Lionkol Road.

A yearling filly caught his eye. She was standing apart from the others doing her own thing. He liked that. Before long, he was filling out the adoption paperwork. After a quick nap at home, he returned to pick her up. His mom, Tracy Haeck, came along and ended up adopting a yearling pinto, as well.

It was Cody’s first time adopting a mustang, but he has been a horse owner for some time. He grew up around the animals and gained experience with gentling after working with his mom. Now, Cody is determined to provide the time and patience necessary to earn his new horse’s trust and eventually transform her into a mountain horse to be used for pleasure riding.

Other prospective adopters trickled in throughout the two-day event at the Bureau of Land Management Wild Horse Holding Facility in Rock Springs despite chilly, windy weather and precipitation including rain, snow and hail flurries.

Seventeen horses were adopted. Four went to Utah and the rest found homes with families from Wyoming towns including Rock Springs, Evanston, LaBarge and as far away as Dubois. Some drove for up to several hours just to see the horses.

Sisters Kylie Wilkinson, 20, and Kacee Wilkinson, 16, came from Evanston, knowing they wouldn’t get to bring an animal home since they didn’t have a trailer with them. They wanted to see how the process worked and scope out available horses. Kylie Wilkinson brought along her camera to photograph the ones they liked. They planned to share the information with their parents and likely return with them another time to adopt one.

If they do, it will be the second mustang to join the Wilkinson family.

They adopted Loula, short for Matoskaloula, early in November. They said the change in Loula’s behavior since they got her has been drastic.

“She was kind of crazy at first, but it has been fun,” Kylie Wilkinson said.

“Watching the change has been the best thing overall.”

At first, family members had to walk very slowly toward Loula and couldn’t look directly at her, or she would run away. Now, she follows family members around like a dog would, and she comes to a call or a whistle. Her curious, playful personality has emerged as she’s become more comfortable. Loula loves cameras and phones and wants to inspect them whenever they’re near. She also enjoys sneaking up behind people to seize a hold of their belts or grab zippers to pull them down.

Loula doesn’t mind a halter but isn’t quite ready to be ridden.

“You can get on her bareback, but once you try walking, she starts hopping, and you’re down,” Kylie Wilkinson said. Loula will allow a saddle to be placed on her but doesn’t like the cinch.

Although the two sisters didn’t return home with a new horse, they and other interested people don’t have to wait for another event in order to adopt. Anyone wanting to acquire a wild horse must fill out an application, conform to the BLM’s minimum adoption requirements, and have their application approved by the BLM.

The BLM launched a new wild horse adoption incentive program in early March, and everyone who adopted a horse Friday and Saturday took advantage of the new initiative. It makes qualified adopters eligible to receive $500 within 60 days of the adoption date and an additional $500 within 60 days of titling for each animal. Titling normally occurs one year from the adoption date. The incentive is available for all untrained animals eligible for adoption including those at BLM facilities, off-site events or on the agency’s Online Corral website. Through the new incentive program, adopters will only pay a minimum $25 adoption fee per animal, according to the BLM.

The next wild horse and burro event is scheduled May 17 and 18 at the Wyoming Honor Farm in Riverton. BLM Public Affairs Specialist Nikki Maxwell expressed appreciation to the dedicated volunteers who come to support and assist staff during each adoption event: Vonnie Reinbold and Les Reinbold of Rock Springs and Kirren Seiler from Colorado.

For additional details on wild horse adoption, go to go to www.blm.gov/WHB.

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