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Wild horses bought for border-patrol work

November 3, 2010

Ten wild horses trained by prison inmates have been bought for border patrol duties by US authorities.

Wild horses from the Noble Mustang Programme on patrol in Colorado.

The Noble Mustang Mounted Unit marches in front of the Presidential viewing booth and receives a wave from President Obama during the 2009 Inaugural Parade.

Arizona's Tucson Sector Border Patrol has adopted the horses from the Bureau of Land Management's wild horse and burro programme.

Selected horses gathered under the programme are trained under the Colorado Correctional Institute's Wild Horse Inmate Programme (WHIP).

The Border Patrol launched its Noble Mustang Programme in the Spokane Sector in 2007, under which it buys mustangs from WHIP.

By buying horses through the programme it eases the bureau's burden of locating suitable homes for the wild mustangs.

As part of their inmate rehabilitation programme, the Colorado Correctional Institute provides preliminary training for the horses.

Before buying the wild horses, the Tucson Sector bought horses from vendors across the US at double the cost.

The programme, it says, is an way of increasing Tucson Sector's Horse Patrol Unit at half the cost.

It says mustangs are known to be tough, durable horses that have very solid hooves and strong bone structure, which makes them less prone to lameness, and better suited for the rocky mountainous terrain found in Southern Arizona.

The inmate training provides mustangs with basic skill sets which Border Patrol agents enhance and build upon. Once they have been trained and have adapted to Border Patrol operations, they will be added to the Tucson Sector's Horse Patrol Unit.

"The Noble Mustang Programme is a win-win situation for all parties involved, including these magnificent animals," said Chief Patrol Agent Victor Manjarrez Jr.

"The Tucson Sector is proud to implement the legacy of these mustangs into the traditions of our Horse Patrol Unit."

The Tucson Sector Horse Patrol Unit was responsible for more than 18,000 apprehensions and more than 93,000 pounds of marijuana seizures from October 1, 2009, to August 31, 2010.

Horses have a low impact on the natural environment and therefore do not disturb wildlife and the ecosystem, the Border Patrol said.

US Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of US borders.



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