PHOTOS: Wild Horse Auction at Northern Nevada Correctional Center

Sixteen formerly wild horses found new homes in the March 30 adoption program at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center in Carson City. The program pairs inmates with wild horses and burros for approximately 90 days of training. The animals are then offered to the public through a competitive-bid auction several times a year. Today’s auction had 50 registered bidders.

“In the last five years that I’ve been doing this, it is definitely the highest,” says Jenny Lesieutre, Wild Horse and Burro Public Affairs Specialist for the Bureau of Land Management. “On top of that, I would say the attendance was close to 500 people at any given time. We had trailers still coming in when we were about to start bidding!”

The high bid went to Artax, a 6-year-old palomino gelding who sold for $5,600. The average sale price in the auction was $3,400. The auction raised a total of $55,700. A small portion of the revenue from the sale goes to the prison, but the majority goes back to the Bureau of Land Management to help care for horses in holding facilities.

The Carson City program is one of a handful in the country that pairs inmates with wild horses, but it has become one of the most well-known. It’s popularity is only expected to grow with the release of The Mustang, a new Robert Redford film about the Carson City program. “This program is getting a lot of attention from different sources,” says Lesieutre. “It’s definitely got a great reputation. It has just been exciting and I see it growing more and more.”

The next auction will be held June 8. The Bureau of Land Management will release of catalog of available horses about a month prior to the auction.