Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Border Patrol Horse Patrol

Our community had the opportunity to visit our local Border Patrol horse patrol unit that is right down the road from us. We learned a lot about this Border Patrol unit that utilizes captured and trained wild mustangs.  It might seem old fashioned, but the mustangs are a very effective way of patrolling the border.  They're able to access areas that ATVs and other vehicles can't, and the horses are able to sense the illegals, by sight and smell, quite often before the agents themselves.  The horses patrol an area of the Rio Grande Valley sector which covers Brownsville to Falcon Heights.

In 1924, agents signing up for the newly commissioned Border Patrol were required to bring their own horses, according to the agency.  Washington furnished a badge, a revolver, oats and hay for the horses, and a $1,680 annual salary.  The horse patrol was phased out in 1935, as motorized vehicles were put into use.

The horses are making a comeback though due to a partnership with the Bureau of Land Management that captures feral mustangs on federal lands and sends them to prisons to be broken.

Inmates at Hutchinson Correctional Facility, in Kansas, broke and trained the mustangs acquired by the Rio Grande Valley Sector.  Once at Border Patrol stables, the horses are made accustomed to loud noises, such as gunshots, and people.

They patrol in pairs, casing the wooded bluffs along the Rio Grande, and muscling through thick brush that ATVs and pickup trucks can't penetrate.  Since arriving in July, the horses here have assisted in arresting 355 suspects and seizing more than 1,900 pounds of marijuana.

The Border Patrol officers built this facility themselves, with land given them by Fish and Wildlife.

As part of the socialization, this four year old is having his first pedicure.

All the horses are mustangs, except for three which were captured during a bust.  Those three horses are supposedly retired race horses.

The agents go through four weeks of training, and Agent Garcia said it’s extensive.  The Border Patrol aims to put the best riders in the field, because what they’re doing is dangerous, he said.

“We are literally a mile from the river in one of the busiest zones in the nation,” Garcia said. “From here, the agents deploy immediately to where the threat is.”

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