Used since the founding of the Border Patrol in the early 1900s, horses have continued to be a key mode of transport for agents patrolling rugged and otherwise inaccessible areas along the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada.
The Innovative Wild Mustang Program
The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Division of the Department of Homeland Security, has 334 horse patrols deployed on an average day. A number of these horses are wild mustangs that have been trained and deployed along the U.S. borders.
Frequently mustangs that have been rounded up in the wild languish and end up neglected or abused. To help ameliorate this situation, federal authorities of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) teamed up with state authorities in Colorado to have inmates train wild mustangs and make them available to qualified applicants. Started in 1986 in Canon City, the Wild Horse Inmate Program (WHIP) has been a great success and is a source of mustangs for the Border Patrol.
Mustangs Along the Northern Border
Horses have long been used to patrol the southern border, which is known for its inhospitable and dangerous terrain. The use of these animals has let agents penetrate areas that otherwise could only be accessed on foot.
In 2007, the Border Patrol implemented Project Noble Mustang along the Spokane sector of the northern border. This sector encompasses seven border stations, including ones in Idaho and Montana. This program uses mustangs trained by the inmates in Colorado to patrol inaccessible sections of the border. Benefits of this program include:
- Enhanced ability for safeguarding the northern border
- Cost savings
- Minimal impact on wilderness areas and tribal lands
An additional benefit of these mustangs is that they have proven to be a hit with the general public, generating goodwill for the Border Patrol.
New Mustangs in Laredo, Texas
In August 2012, seven new border patrol agents graduated to join the Laredo Sector Horse Patrol using wild horses from the Colorado program. This made for a total of 18 horses in the Laredo sector. This sector encompasses 116 counties in southwestern and northeastern Texas.