Largest Wild Horse, Burro Show to be Held in Reno

The largest wild horse and burro show in the country is coming to Nevada later this month at a time organizers say it is important to educate the public about the animals and their fate on the range.

The National Wild Horse Center will host the Western States Wild Horse and Burro Expo at the Reno Livestock Events Center Aug. 15-17.

The event has been around for 17 years but sponsors say this year's event is especially important because of the large number of horses that are increasing both on the range and in captivity.

With more than 33,000 wild horses in federal holding facilities, the Bureau of Land Management is considering euthanizing some to offset the high costs of keeping them--an estimated $30 million this year.

Bart Lawrence, the agency's vice president, said hopes people will begin to see the mustangs as an "American symbol."

"They deserve as much," Lawrence said.

The event will feature contests for mustang and burro owners as well as clinics that will allow owners or potential adopters to ask questions about keeping wild horses, demonstrating the training process of the former wild animals.

The expo includes shopping and a show from Tommie Turvey, a world-renowned horse trainer, and his mustang, Blade, a silent auction of mustang yearlings and an open auction of saddle-trained horses.

Proceeds will go toward adoption, rescue, education and training services for wild horses and burros.

Part of the effort to prevent the mustangs' deaths are encouragements from the BLM and outside organizations for more people to adopt the horses.

By exposing people to the horses in this setting, it shows people that the mustangs are not "wild" in a dangerous sense, Lawrence said. People will have the chance to see the horses and interact with them, whether by grooming and feeding them or watching them in the barrel contests.

Lawrence acknowledged the mustang issue had become political since the euthanasia debate began last month.

"We want people to see the viability of these horses," he said. "It makes a difference, if one person who was considering getting a horse decides to go with a mustang. Maybe if we show people what amazing animals they are, they can put pressure on the BLM to go with other options."

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The Associated Press

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