After elk ran through a fence keeping the Spanish Q Ranch’s wild horses contained near Ennis, one horse remained on the loose for two weeks. A resident discovered the horse on Dec. 9 in a subdivision near Laurin.
Lili Thomas, the National Wild Horse and Burro Program Manager with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), said that with 34,000 wild horses across the country they have not had a problem like this one, but that does not mean it cannot happen, especially with hunting activity in the area and the possibility of gates being left open. Greg and Karen Rice acquired the horses for their Spanish Q Ranch through The National Wild Horse and Burro Program. While the BLM pays $1.36 per horse, per day, the Rices are responsible for the construction of fences, providing feed during the winter and caring for the horses.
The other horses that escaped through the broken fence were all recovered soon after the incident. According to Pat Fosse, assistant field manager in the Dillon BLM office, when the Rices realized one was still missing, they continued to look for it for approximately two weeks. Their first attempt at recovering the horse failed when attempts were made to load the horse into a horse trailer. The horse panicked and fled.
On Dec. 9, Carol Delisi, a resident of the Sundowner Subdivision up Mill Gulch, said she saw the horse in her neighborhood after a neighbor called and asked her if one of her horses had escaped. Delisi realized it was not her horse–though she wasn’t sure who it belonged to–and she secured the horse so it was not on the subdivision road where it could continue wandering further.
“It would not let me get close, but it was interested in my horses so I was able to get it in one of the fenced areas,” Delisi said.
In an attempt to get the horse back to its owner, Delisi called other neighbors and heard that the horse was possibly one of the government-owned wild horses from the Spanish Q Ranch. She called the ranch and verified it was one of their horses. Delisi said the horse’s brand is visible along its mane.
Delisi said she was initially concerned about the wild horse’s proximity to her horses because of the possibility of diseases spreading. She said she was unsure if the wild horses underwent the same vaccinations as domestic horses.
Thomas said domestic horse owners in the area have no need for concern. All the wild horses receive vaccinations prior to being placed. She said the wild horses probably receive more shots than most domestic horses.
“They really should not be getting out,” Thomas said. She said once the horse escaped, it eventually found people who fed it and took it in like a stray cat or dog. “From what I gathered, it became acclimated and liked the people.”
Fosse said a trailer is the best method to return the horse to the Spanish Q Ranch due to recent weather and the large distance it roamed. She said the horse seemed gentle so they tried the trailer but were unsuccessful. Also, Fosse said the horse should not have an aversion to being trailered since that is how the horses were shipped to the ranch, but did say the horse is still a wild animal and has natural wild tendencies.
The horses that now inhabit the Spanish Q Ranch originated from short-term holding areas and various herd management areas in western states like California and Utah. From Feb. 27—March 1, BLM shipped 710 geldings to the Spanish Q Ranch and additional geldings were to have been shipped to the ranch until its capacity was reached.
According to Delisi, Colin Rice of Spanish Q Ranch returned to retrieve the horse from Delisi’s property on the afternoon of Tuesday, Dec. 10 and the horse was immediately on its way back to the Spanish Q Ranch.
Calls made on Tuesday to Karen and Greg Rice of Spanish Q Ranch were not returned by press time.