Nevada HMA Stocking Rates

The chart below shows the stocking rate in animals per thousand acres as a function of land area for HMAs in Nevada.  Stocking rates are based on the upper values of the AMLs and include both horses and burros.  The stocking rate for the Virginia Range (horses only) is based on a census in early 2018.

Three observations from the chart:

  • Most stocking rates are less than 2 animals per thousand acres
  • Stocking rates vary inversely with HMA size
  • Stocking rates for large HMAs (above 500,000 acres) are basically constant

The average HMA in Nevada has 193,000 acres.

The HMA with the largest stocking rate is Fort Sage (formerly Fox Hog).

The largest HMAs are the Nevada Wild Horse Range and Triple B.  The smallest is Fort Sage.

The average stocking rate for Nevada HMAs is 0.84 animals per thousand acres.

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Hay Reserve

Your emergency preps should include hay for your horses, enough for a month.  Keep it dry and away from sunlight.

Natural events, such as earthquakes, wildfires and hurricanes may force businesses to close for weeks.  Transportation may be interrupted.  Power and fuel may be in short supply.

Your back may go out, where you can’t even scoop poop, let alone stack hay.  (You do stack your own hay, right?)

The quality of the hay may deteriorate over time, so after a period of six to twelve months, rotate it out with fresh bales.  But always keep a one-month supply on hand and don’t touch it unless there’s an emergency.

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Nevada HMA Population

The chart below shows the population target for HMAs in Nevada as a function of HMA size.

Inspection of the chart yields three conclusions:

  • Most of the HMAs are smaller than 200,000 acres in size
  • Most of the AMLs are less than 500 animals
  • AML varies with size but not linearly

Regarding that last point, HMAs with a size of 100,000 acres have an average AML of about 150 animals.  If AML varied linearly with size, an HMA of 500,000 acres would have a population target of roughly 750 animals, which is not the case.  Larger HMAs have a disproportionally low population target.

The Virginia Range, in the western part of the state, has been included for comparison (actual population, not a target, mostly private land).  It does appear to be an outlier compared to the HMAs, with a disproportionally high number of animals for it’s size.

And no, the VR horses are not standing around on dry lots starving to death, as you can see in this video from 2016.

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Keeping a Safe Distance

You just drove two and a half hours to your favorite HMA.  Or maybe you went for a hike on the Virginia Range.  Just to your west, barely visible, you spot a band of wild horses.

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As you’re watching, some of the horses drift closer, including a mare and foal.  A yearling steps in first for a closer look.  What should you do?

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If you’re in a remote area, where the horses have little or no contact with people, this probably won’t happen.  You’ll need a long lens.  They’ll make sure you keep a safe distance.

What if you’re in a area where the horses are familiar with people?  (Recall this example involving burros.)

Some folks say get out of there if approached by a wild horse.  Good advice?  Or bad lesson for the horse?

Look at the photo above.  No high head, no ear pinning, no tail swishing.  If you step back, if you move your feet, he wins.  You just told the horse you’re lower.

If a horse approaches you respectfully, as in the case above, don’t yield to his pressure.  Stand your ground.  Push back if you have to.  He’ll probably take a few sniffs and move on.

Backing away tells him he’s higher, which may encourage more boldness, more interactions with people.  Bad lesson for the horse.

If a horse approaches you aggressively, pick up a rock, a stick, whatever you can get your hands on, and be ready to throw it.  Raise your posture, look bigger.  Use your voice.  He’ll probably steer clear of you.  Horses are comfort-seeking animals and don’t like confrontation.

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Pain and Confusion

Round pens are great.  Especially when you have multiple riders and long-shank bits.  The horse goes left, he gets pressure.  The horse goes right, he gets pressure.  Turns to the inside, he gets pressure.  Turns to the outside, more pressure.  There is no right answer.

Let’s round up more of our wild ones and put them in programs like this.