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Utah Wild Horse & Burro Areas

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BLM-Managed Wild Horse & Burro Herd Management Areas:
Arizona  California  Colorado  Idaho  Montana  Nevada  New Mexico  Oregon  Utah
BLM Holding & Adoption Centers Long-Term Holding Facilities  Back to Gallery

Learning about the specific herd management area where one's own horse or burro is from can enrich your appreciation for your adopted animal. It is in that spirit that these pages are offered. Do understand, however, that HMAs (Herd Management Areas) are not breeds. A horse or burro from one HMA has far more in common with all others from all other HMAs than it has differences. Within any particular HMA one will find variation in size, body type.

If you wish to know more about your horse or burro's ancestry, please also read the HISTORY section.

UTAH  WILD HORSE & BURRO HERD MANAGEMENT AREAS

Utah has 24 wild horse herd management areas and an additional 7 Herd Areas that are no longer managed for horses and burros:

Bible Springs
Blawn Wash
Bonanza
Canyonlands
Cedar Mountains
Chloride Canyon
Choke Cherry
Confusion


 
Conger Mountains
Four Mile
Frisco
Hill Creek

King Top
Mt. Elinore
Muddy Creek
North Hills

 
Onaqui Mountains
Range Creek
Robbers Roost
Sinbad
Sulphur Springs
Swasey
Tilly Creek
Winter Ridge

LuLu from North Hills HMA,
gentled by http://cowponies.us  mare, age 4, sabino paint

Bonanza from Bonanza HMA, gentled by http://cowponies.us  mare, age 2, appy roan
 
Moon Dancer -Hill Creek HMA near Vernal, UT - gentled by IWHBA
 
Yogi, an Olympic Horse from Blawn Wash HMA
Both of the above mares are being readied for a ride across country from Georgia to California, to be ridden by "the Journeyman" in late 2004 and early 2005 ,     http://cowponies.us has a non profit division that is called Friend of the Wild Horse in Georgia, and offers hauling, reassignment help, BLM adoption help, gentling, boarding, and mentoring thorugh LRT and natural horsemanship to adoptors and owners of all types of BLM horses.
 
Thanks for posting our girls.
Jan Davis
West Georgia

Lucy - Hill Creek HMA near Vernal, UT- gentled by IWHBA
 

Bible Springs


 

Blawn Wash


These are Blawn Wash horses being trained by the Intermountain Wild Horse & Burro Advocates
 

Bonanza


Canyonlands
 

DESCRIPTIONS OF HERD MANAGEMENT AREAS
(excerpted from the Utah BLM website http://www.ut.blm.gov/WildHorses/whherdmap.html )

CEDAR MOUNTAINS

"These four were adopted during the IWHBA festival of learning in 2005.  They were three year olds at the time.  They are now at the Danada Equestrian Center in Wheaton, IL   -  Vicki StrykowskiThe Cedar Mountains Herd Management Area (HMA) is located 50 miles west of Salt Lake City. The HMA extends from Hastings Pass southward to the Dugway Proving Grounds and contains 179,584 acres of Federal, State, and privately owned land.

Cedar Mts. HMA: Utah's Dreamcatcher, adopted 2000 by Sandra

Slick - Cedar Mtn HMA
- gentled by IWHBA

Star from Cedar Mtns
(Gail of Tennessee, adopter)

Tinker Belle - Cedar Mtn HMA - gentled by IWHBA

Hobie from Cedar Mtn - gentled by IWHBA
   

The vegetation on the upper elevations of the Cedar Mountains is comprised of junipers. The foothill and valley regions include mixed desert shrubs. Due to range fires during the past 10 years, the area is dominated by cheatgrass.

Wild horses have occupied the Cedar Mountains since the late 1800s. It is suggested that the original stock was controlled by the Standard Horse and Mule Company that provided remounts for the U.S. Army. However, many of the horses on the Cedar Mountains are descendants of horses that escaped from local ranches.

The dominant colors within the herd area are bay and black. Other colors found include sorrel, red and blue roan, buckskin, black, palomino, and gray pinto.

The wild horses on the Cedars are classified as average in size. Mares weight 750 to 800 pounds and stallions weigh 850 to 1000 pounds.

The BLM management goal for this herd is to maintain a herd size between 180 and 375 head.

Chloride Canyon

Choke Cherry

CONFUSION
 

The Confusion Herd Management Area (HMA) is located approximately 90 miles northwest of Delta in the Confusion Mountains. The HMA is bounded by Cowboy Pass on old U.S. 50 & 6 on the south and the Weiss Highway on the north. Horses can usually be found anywhere throughout this HMA.

The Confusion HMA contains 235,000 acres of federal and state land..

The vegetation on this HMA is dominated by sagebrush/shadscale/bunchgrass communities.

The original source of the animals in this herd is unknown, but it has been augmented through historic times, and probably up until the late 1960s, with domestic horses from local ranches.

The herd has a large number of gray and light colored horses and is being managed to maintain these colors. These horses also tend to be a hand or so taller and a bit heavier than other West Desert horses. This may be due to the proximity to the ranches at Gandy, Partoun, and Trout Creek and the possibility of the introduction of domestic stock prior to 1970.

The BLM management goal for this herd is to maintain a herd size between 70 and 100 head.

CONGER MOUNTAINS



This is Diego. He is 4 years old and from the Conger HMA in Utah.
- Yvonne Powe
 

The Conger Mountains Herd Management Area (HMA) is located 75 miles west of Delta. The HMA is bounded by old Highway 50 & 6 (Cowboy Pass) on the south. Horses can be viewed from any of the main roads and springs within the HMA.

The HMA contains 147,000 acres of federal and state lands.

The vegetation on the upper slopes of the Conger Mountains is comprised of mountain brush and juniper communities. Lower slopes are dominated by shadscale/ricegrass and low sagebrush types.

The original source of this herd is unknown. However, many of the horses in the Conger Herd are descendants of horses that were turned loose or escaped from local ranches.

This herd is being managed to maintain the black, roan, palomino, and dun colors.

The wild horses on the Congers average 13 to 14 hands tall and 700 to 1000 pounds.

The BLM management goal for this herd is to maintain a herd size between 60 and 100 head.

Four Mile

Frisco

Graying pinto from Frisco HMA on a 2014 Internet Adoption

Hill Creek

 

KING TOP MOUNTAINS

The King Top Mountains Herd Management Area (HMA) is located 70 miles west of Delta. The HMA is bounded by old Highway 50 & 6 on the north and the Crystal Peak Road on the south. Horses usually range along the foothills in the southwest portion of the HMA.

The HMA contains 149,567 acres of federal and state lands.

The vegetation on the upper slopes of the HMA is dominated by pinyon and juniper communities. The lower slopes are covered by sagebrush, shadscale, and ricegrass.

The original source of the animals is unknown. However, this herd has be augmented through historic times with domestic horses from local ranches.

The King Top horses tend to be a bit smaller than the Conger horses. The herd is dominated by black, bay, and brown colors. Light colors are uncommon.

The wild horses on this HMA average 13 to 14 hands tall and weigh 700 to 900 pounds.

The BLM management goal for this herd is to maintain a herd size between 40 and 60 head.

MUDDY CREEK

The Muddy Creek Herd Management Area (HMA) is located 15 miles south of Emery. It extends 5 miles north and 10 miles south of I-70 from Dutchman Arch to Fremont Junction. Horses can be found throughout the San Rafael Swell.

The Muddy Creek HMA encompasses a total of 137,110 BLM acres: 72,150 yearlong usage acres, 64,960 critical usage acres. There is state land scattered throughout the HMA. There is no private land within the HMA.

Wild horses and burros have occupied the San Rafael Swell area since the beginning of the Old Spanish Trail in the early 1800s. Early travelers would lose animals or have them run off by Indians or rustlers. Many of these animals were headed for California to be traded or sold and were of good stock. The herd was also augmented through the release of domestic horses from local ranches.

The Muddy Creek Herd is dominated by bay and brown horses.The average size ranges from 700 to 1000 pounds.

The BLM management goal is to maintain the horse herd at near 50 head.

Mt. Elinore
Muddy Creek
North Hills

no pix available

 

ONAQUI

The Onaqui Herd Management Area (HMA) is located 40 air miles southwest of Salt Lake City. The HMA extends from Johnsons Pass south to Look Out Pass. Wild horses can be seen on the bench and flat areas along the east and west sides of the mountain range. The HMA contains 43,880 acres of Federal, State, and privately owned land.

The vegetation on the upper elevations of the Onaqui Mountains is comprised of mountain brush and scattered stands of conifers. The foothill area is vegetated by stands of juniper trees. Areas that have burned or have been mechanically revegetated contain bunch grass. The valley areas are comprised of sagebrush and annual cheatgrass.


Dawn Rystrom's Misty: My Misty (Onaqui Mountain Mist) was gathered from the Onaqui HMA.  She is a gorgeous roan grulla, 14.2 hands, and DNA typed as Spanish.


Onaqui wild stud photographed by Janet Tipton


Ali from Onaqui HMA
adopted by Diane of NC

Wild Stud on the range of Onaqui HMA

Onaqui Range wild horses photographed by Janet Tipton

Wild horses have occupied the Onaqui Mountains since the late 1800s. Most of the horses are descendants of horses that escaped from local ranches.

The dominant colors within the herd area are brown and bay. Other colors found include sorrel, roan, buckskin, black, palomino, and gray. The wild horses on the Onaquis are classified as average in size. Mares average around 900 pounds and the stallions, around 1,000. The horses are good to average in conformation and generally remain healthy even during periods of drought.

The BLM management goal for this herd is to maintain a herd size between 70 and 120 head.

RANGE CREEK



A Range Creek mustang in holding in Utah
 

Robbers Roost


no pix available

SINBAD HERD MANAGEMENT AREA

(Click here for current Utah BLM website Sinbad page)


Photo by Maria Wright


Photo by Maria Wright

Angelo - from Sinbad HMA - adopted by Jacqui Crews


Smootchie, an Internet Adoption horse from Sinbad HMA. Originally adopted by Amy Hackett of TN now owned by Deb Bazell in New Hampshire

I visited the Salt Lake regional wild horse and burro center a few days ago. They had a number of horses and burros in from Sinbad HMA that had been emergency gathered last month due to drought conditions.  The horses were primarily dun factor colors with a few black and bay individuals and one super thick gray stallion, about 14.5hh on average. The burros were almost all black. The animals all appeared to be in good condition.  I've attached a few photos. 
- Maria Wright


Photo by Maria Wright


Photo by Maria Wright

The Sinbad HMA is located 30 miles west of Green River, UT. It extends up to 18 miles on both sides of I-70 from the San Rafael Reef to Eagle Canyon. This HMA contains 234,000 acres of Federal and state lands. Wild horses and burros have occupied the San Rafael Swell area since the beginnings of the Old Spanish Trail in the early 1800's. Unlucky travelers would lose animals or have them run off by Indians or rustlers. Many of these animals were headed for sale in California and were of good breeding. The herds were also augmented through the release or escape of domestic horses from local ranches.

During the late 1800's and early 1900's, a man named Joe Swasey was the owner and operator of the Temple Mountain uranium mine. The mine was on the northeastern boundary of what is now the Sinbad HMA. His family was known for their sheep herds and horse operations. In the early 1900's they ran as many as 800 head on the San Rafael Swell. Near the Muddy Creek HMA they ran Thoroughbreds from Kentucky and sold them to the Army. A few of these Thoroughbreds ran on open range near the Sinbad HMA, but Swasey also bred Welsh ponies. (note: see below: they might have been Shetlands, and the "Thoroughbreds" might have been "Purebred" something else) The pony herd was started sometime between 1925-1930 with 30 head from Kentucky. There was only one stud in the band, named Moony. The ponies were used briefly in the mining operations, but were soon retired and put out on the desert just in case they were ever needed again.

By the early 1900's wild horse and burro numbers had soared and they were being captured and sold by "mustangers." This practice continued until the passage of the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act in 1971. Since then, the herds have been managed by the BLM. The dominant colors of the burros in the HMA are black and gray. The most common colors of horses are black, buckskin, grulla, and bay in that order. The horses range from 700 to 1000 pounds and stand 13 to 14 hands. The Sinbad HMA has enough forage to support 50 horses and 75 burros. To prevent overgrazing and habitat damage, the BLM gathers excess animals every 2 to 5 years.

MORE ABOUT THE SINBAD HORSES FROM JOE SWASEY'S GRAND-DAUGHTER, PATRICIA AXELSEN:

Hi Nancy,
My name is Patricia Axelsen, my great grandfather was Joe Swasey that you talk about on your website.  I really enjoyed the information you have on my grandfather!  Thanks so much for giving the credit to him! 
 
I have hunted forever and only been able to come up with one other resource saying he started the herd of Welsh ponies in Sinbad...... You also say that he sold horses to the Army.  I  know that to be fact as my grandmother (Jessie Swasey Jensen) often talked about that.  What I wanted to ask is if you have found documents that state this, and if so would you mind telling me where you found them? 
 
I am really digging for stuff on my Grandpa, he was and will always be a hero in my eyes.  Some people don't understand how important it is to "keep the history going" and let people know the important role of how things was. 
 
I found this Newspaper piece sometime ago.  I wanted to let you read it as for me it really says alot as far as the "Welsh" ponies. I will quote it as a whole so you can read the whole thing and see what you think about it.

I attached three pictures to this....The first one is a picture of the horse herd at Reid Nielsen Pond......it gives you an idea of the horses Grandpa Joe had.  I also sent two of his son Joseph Swasey Jr on his pony as a kid.  (Joe Jr. was born in 1908)

Thanks so much for your time,

Patricia Axelsen
Price, Utah
From the Emery County Progress, 1907-12-14, page 1
 
Some Fancy Stock
Joseph Swasey of Molen received from Chapman Kansas this week the smallest Shetland pony stallion in Utah.  The little fellow is a thoroughbred (sic - "purebred" is probably what is meant) past two years old and weighs but 160 pounds.  With him came a running stallion, the son and grandson of famous running sires. He is a brown and although but a year past weighs 1040.  Mr Swasey expects to get some world beating progeny from this horse.  From the same place came a thoroughbred Poland China sow and boar."


Swasey horse herd at Reid Nielsen Pond in the Sinbad area of Utah in the early 1900's

Joe Swasey's son, Joe, Jr. on one of their ponies (you decide: Shetland or Welsh?)


Here's Joe, Jr again on a different pony - this one look a little more Welsh and less Shetland. 
Any and all commercial use is strictly prohibited without the express written consent of the Authors, (c) Patricia Axelsen, or Cheryl Manzanares, all rights reserved, August 2001

 

 SULPHUR SPRINGS

The Sulphur Herd roams a vast, unpopulated region of alternating high desert basins and expansive mountain ranges. Their home, the Needle Range, is a starkly beautiful mountain block that lies about 45 miles west of Milford, Utah, along the Nevada State line. In some spots, the range rises to nearly 10,000 feet in elevation. from north to south, the mountainous spine of the Needle Range is comprised of two main peaks--Mountain Home and Indian Peaks.

These horses draw their bloodlines from the old Spanish Type, the first horses brought to America by the Spanish explorers in the late 1500s. Through time, the Sulphur Herd has bred with escaped ranch livestock, but most still hold many of the Old Spanish traits. According to Dr. Gus Cothran, the Sulphur Springs herd has been blood-typed and found to be the closest to "pure Iberian" of all the wild herds in the United States today.

However, in 2013 an individual from Sulphur Springs was DNA-tested by Dr. Cothran, with these results: "Lakotas came back as follows......#1Carriage Horse - Hackney - Cleveland Bay, #2 QH, and #3 Morgan - Saddlebred. He also wrote at the bottom of the page.......Very mixed carriage horse......is very unusual." For Dr. Cothran's 1995 Blood typing (pre-DNA) analysis, click here: http://www.americanspanishsulphur.org/GusCothran.html
Note that the Sulphur herd has two home ranges. Only one ("Mountain Home") is believed to be pure Old Spanish.

Excerpt from this report:

"Genetic distance and similarity analysis of the Sulphur herd to selected domestic breeds shows greatest resemblance to breeds of Iberian descent. The second closest mean similarity and distance was with a group of horses I call the gaited North American breeds. These breeds all have Spanish ancestry. 
 
Highest individual similarity values were to the Chilean Criollo, Puerto Rican Paso Fino and American Paso Fino, all Spanish breeds. Mean similarity and distance to other major groups of breeds for the Sulphur herd were consistently lower... 
 
The above data show fairly strong evidence that the Sulphur herd has Spanish ancestry. It is not possible to quantify this ancestry. Additionally, there is evidence that this population is not of pure Spanish ancestry, although again it is not possible to quantify the non-Spanish component of this herd."

VIDEO INTERVIEW WITH RON ROUBIDOUX ABOUT SULPHUR ORIGINS

The California Vaquero Horse Association says this about the Sulphur horses:

"They descend from the Spanish horses that were stolen during Indian raids on the vast Spanish missions and ranches during the middle of the 19th century. The most famous of these raids was conducted by Ute Indian Chief Wakara and Thomas “Peg Leg” Smith in which they reportedly stole 3,000 Spanish horses and drove them down the Old Spanish Trail. What is presumed is that there were escapees from these raids as a herd of old Spanish horses were found on the Mountain Home Range in Southwest Utah. Ranchers nearby knew of these old Spanish horses and at one point during the 1950’s some draft stock was turned loose to breed the smaller Spanish horses up in size. It didn’t work. Locals in the area reported that the Spanish horses segregated themselves and moved further up the mountain away from these new horses that were put on the range.

When the BLM was charged with the management of wild horses they soon discovered that there was something very different about the horses on the Mountain Home Range and blood was drawn and sent to Dr. Gus Cothran who is a geneticist at the University of Kentucky (now at Texas A&M). In his report in 1997 he confirmed what everyone was thinking of these horses and that they were indeed old Spanish horses whom genetically were similar to the Puerto Rican Paso Fino (noted for its purity), Chilean Criollo, and American Paso Fino. While relating to breeds that gait, this breed only has 3 clean gaits of walk, trot, and canter. Their coloring was from a time and age where it was believed that the buckskin or tan colored horse was the best mount money could buy. Subsequently, this breed comes mostly in dun and grulla coloration and also comes more uncommonly in red dun, black, bay, and chestnut. Other color patterns are absent.

It is by a miracle that these horses even exist today. During the later part of the 19th century, a new way of ranching cattle required a heavier horse than these smaller Spanish steeds and the recent introduction of the Thoroughbred in horse racing in California also made the more agile, but not as quick Spanish horses obsolete. So to have found a remnant of these Spanish horses up in an isolated and remote area in the mountains of South West Utah is a miracle.

This herd managed to survive in the wild due to the way that their ancestors were kept on the great missions and ranches of Southern California. The vaquero would keep a string of 20 horses and would ride his horses very hard over a 2-3 day period. The horses lived semi-feral lives and no extra grain was given to these hard worked horses. Thus, they were already very sturdy and tough horses when they were stolen during horse raids by Chief Wakara and “Peg Leg” Smith. These horses were found 40 miles from the Old Spanish Trail and there isn’t any documentation suggesting that there could be any other explanation for why they are there. Thus, with their history pointing to California, their genetics revealing them to be old Spanish horses, and their conformation being that of a Spanish horse has lead those to understand that these are the last of the Spanish California horses and was subsequently named the California Vaquero Horse to honor their heritage.

With more and more mix breeding being noted on the HMA, it is imperative that these horses are preserved... "


Sulphur Springs horses at 2001 Adoption

Sulphur Springs horses at 2000 Adoption

Choco from Sulphur Springs HMA


Cora from Sulphur Springs HMA


2009 Internet Adoption horse from Sulphur Springs

2009 Internet Adoption horse from Sulphur Springs
 
Mariza, owned by Pamela Fyffe


Music, owned by Pamela Fyffe


Rocky from Sulphur Springs, ridden at Western States Wild Horse & Burro Expo by Kitty Lauman

Noche, owned by Pamela Fyffe


Desert Beauty and De Luna, owned by Pamela Fyffe
 


Corbeau, adopted by Pamela Fyffe


Sulphur colt on 2009 Internet Adoption


2015 Internet Adoption horse

Sulphur Prince, Sulphur Springs stallion, born in 1995, captured northern HMA in 1996, and adopted by Steve Maxfield/Utah. In 2003, Chuck & Judy Cubel, purchased Sulphur Prince, from Mr. Maxfield.

Sulphur colt on 2009 Internet Adoption

2015 Internet Adoption Sulphur Horses

 


SULFUR HERD Adoption - Hurricane, Utah, March 16 -18, 2001 , photos by Lesley Neuman

Because of the "Old Spanish" connection, many people associate Sulphur Springs horses with Oregon's Kigers, and expect dun coloring. By no means are ALL Sulphurs dun or grulla (actually grulla is a type of dun) nor has it been until recently, perhaps inspired by the commercial success of the Kiger program, the intent of Sulphur preservationists and fanciers to select for it. Unfortunately, the public seems sold on the dun concept, and the black, brown, sorrel and bay and roan Sulfurs have been harder to adopt out.

Matthew Pestour: Sulphur Mustangs of Sulphur HMA and Mountain Home Range. Matthew toured the SUlphur HMA ranges and took these amazing photos of Sulphur horses in the wild:

 

SWASEY MOUNTAINS

The Swasey Mountains Herd Management Area (HMA) is located in the Swasey Mountains in north-central Millard County, approximately 30 miles west of Delta.

The Swasey HMA contains 120,113 acres of federal, state, and privately-owned lands.

The vegetation on the upper elevation of the Swasey Mountains is comprised of mountain brush and aspen groves. The foothill region is predominantly vegetated with shadscale and ricegrass.

The original source of the animals is unknown. However, many of the horses in the Swasey Herd are descendents of horses that were turned loose or escaped from local ranches.

The Swasey Herd is dominated by gray and light colored horses. Other colors include black, brown, bays, buckskins, and pintos.

The average size of herd adults is 14 to 14 1/2 hands.

The BLM management goal for this herd is to maintain a herd size between 60 and 100 head.


Tilly Creek
 

WINTER RIDGE

 

 

 

https://scontent-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/575740_746582172034213_1082436427_n.jpg
This is my 2 year old Winter Ridge, UT gelding. Got his DNA back and it says 1. Heavy Draft 1 (Belgian, etc) 2. Non-Arabian Oriental (Caspian, Akhal-Teke, etc.) and 3. Pony 1 (New Forest, Highland, etc)
- Tawny Thomas

STATISTICS FOR UTAH HERD MANAGEMENT AREAS:

data from http://www.wildhorseandburro.blm.gov/statistics/2005/index.htm

Wild Horse & Burro Habitat Areas:

BLM-Managed Wild Horse & Burro Herd Management Areas:
Arizona  California  Colorado  Idaho  Montana  Nevada  New Mexico  Oregon  Utah
BLM Holding & Adoption Centers Long-Term Holding Facilities

Non-BLM Wild Horse Areas:
Atlantic Coast  Central USA 
State of Nevada Dept. of Agriculture (Reno-Area Comstock/Virginia Range "Estrays")
US Forest Service Wild Horse Territories  Sheldon USFWS 

Wild Horse Areas not included in this website: Indian Reservations, Private Lands