Wednesday, September 27, 2023
Sandoval County

County Opens Up Applications for Horse-Feeding Permits

Only non-profits, experienced horse handlers need apply


Applications are being taken online for horse feeding permits, Sandoval County announced late last month, but not everyone is eligible to apply, according to the resolution that was approved by the County Commission.

The resolution approved by the commission during a contentious meeting on May 24 limits applicants to nonprofit organizations registered with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service as 501(c)(3)s/ They must also have “demonstrated experience and knowledge in the care of horse management and protection,” according to the resolution.

The ordinance to ban the feeding of wild horses kicked up quite a bit of controversy. It was first rejected by the commission in March but was approved two months later after concerns over the permitting process were overcome.

“This permitting application is the first step in our efforts to assure safety of the public and the free-roaming horses in Sandoval County,” said Deputy County Manager John Garcia in a statement.

The permits cost $25 and are good for one year. Applications, which can be found at, are to be submitted to the county’s Planning and Zoning Director.

Applicants are required to identify where and when horse feeding will take place and describe what kind of food and nutrients will be provided. They are also asked to describe “the ability, skills, and knowledge of the care of horses of each individual connected to the organization who will be conducting and overseeing the horse feeding.”

A “consultant with scientific expertise and special knowledge of horse management and protection” will review applications and recommend approval, approval with conditions, or denial to the county’s Planning and Zoning Director.

The county has operated on a limited contract with Mount Taylor Mustangs to help manage the free-roaming horses. Roughly 150 wild horses roam open space north of Placitas and the Sandia Mountain foothills. However, some of them wander into residential areas in search of food or water.

The resolution was passed at the same time the county commission adopted a new ordinance that banned the feeding of free-roaming horses in the county. While the ordinance applies throughout the county, the proposal was brought to the commission in an effort to increase safety on roads in Placitas. In the past two years, three wild horses had to be put down after being struck by vehicles on NM 165.

The ban against feeding horses goes into effect Sept. 1. It is meant to keep the horses from wandering away from open spaces and into Placitas neighborhoods in search of handouts. Many Placitas residents opposed the ban, calling it inhumane and an infringement of their property rights.

Violators are subject to a $300 fine and/or 90 days in jail.


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