Post of the Week, April 17, 2017

blm mustang brand

Onaqui Herd Management Area horses that were released 02/20/12.

In the US, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is responsible for protecting and managing wild horses and burros to ensure the herds and public rangelands on which they graze and roam remain healthy. Part of the process of managing the herds requires rounded up horses to receive a brand. In this post you’ll learn how to read a BLM mustang brand.

All wild horses and burros who have been gathered off public lands by the BLM are freeze marked on the left side of their necks, with a set of symbols.

Horse Talk – freeze marking or branding: A “freezing” branding iron is used to mark the hide of an animal. Freeze branding uses extreme cold to kill the cells in the animal’s skin that produce pigmentation (colour). A freeze branded animal will have white hair where the freeze branding iron touched the skin.
Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Each brand includes the following information:

  • it identifies the horse as the property of the United States government,
  • the horse’s estimated age,
  • the state where the animal was first brought after capture (usually, but not always, the state where the horse was captured),
  • and an individual 4-digit code (which corresponds to the neck tag that the animal wears before adoption).

How to read a BLM mustang brand:

Alpha Angle Symbol Key

Click to enlarge

To read the freeze mark you need to know the code. The code is based on the International Alpha Angle System. Each number corresponds to an angle or set of lines.

For example, the number ‘7‘ corresponds to this angle symbol alpha angle symbol 7

1. What number corresponds to the following angle symbol? blm mustang brand 

2. What number does the following angle symbol represent? blm mustang brand

Two numbers are associated with lines, not angles.

3. Which number is associated with two vertical lines?

4. Which number is associated with two horizontal lines?

Let’s apply what we’ve learned.

Below is a sample brand. Use this brand to answer the following questions.

Click to enlarge

5. In what year was this mustang born?

6. What is this mustangs registration number?

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Look at the mustang in the photo at the right.

7. In what year was this mustang born?

8. What is this mustang’s registration number?

Click here to download a drawing of a mustang’s head and neck. Print out the image for the following activity.

9. Using the information below, draw the brand on the horse’s neck.

  • This horse was born in 2013.
  • His registration number is, 520146.

Note: If you do not have a printer, draw the side view of a horse’s head and neck and use your own drawing. 

Do you love learning about mustangs? Here are more posts for you to explore:

The Mustang Gals are three friends who work hard to protect existing wild horses still roaming free on public lands, and find homes for the captured wild horses in Nevada. Read more

The top photo for this post was taken at a Mustang Makeover competition. There’s a youth division! Here’s a post about a yearling competition that took place in Texas. Exhibitors had to be 8 to 18 years old at the time of application. Each youth had 90 days to train their young mustang. Yearling horses are too young to be ridden and so competitors in this category competed in hand only.

Read about three young men who saddled 12 wild mustangs and set out on a six-month, 3,000-mile journey from Mexico to Canada. They followed a patchwork of public lands from Nogales, Arizona, to Montana’s Glacier National Park, crossing the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone along the way. Only one of them had grown up on a ranch.

Click HERE to check your answers.

4.MD.C – Geometric measurement: understand concepts of angle and measure angles
5.OA.B – Analyze patterns and relationships

Onaqui HMA 02/27/12 by BLM – Utah; CC BY 2.0

Icon made by Freepik from is licensed under CC BY 3.0

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