Monday, June 06, 2016

Border agents train in NM for mounted patrol

...The six-week horse patrol training course is considered among the most challenging the Border Patrol has to offer, and along New Mexico’s rural border, its graduates are among the most in demand. The grueling training puts agents on horseback – many for the first time – eight hours a day, five days a week, for four weeks in an arena and two weeks in the field among the sharp-toothed mountain ranges of the Bootheel region...But in the rugged, rural region that characterizes New Mexico’s Bootheel, many agents – and the ranchers who live out there – say old-fashioned horse patrol is just as indispensable. “We spend most of our time in the mountains,” said Agent Gerald Hancock, who runs the horse patrol program at the Lordsburg station. “We go where no one wants to go.” Border Patrol shifted about a dozen horses to the Lordsburg station in recent weeks to bring the stable to 30 quarter horses and mustangs. The shift came after an outcry earlier this year by local ranchers over border security. One of their demands was to see more agents on horseback – considered a more effective and environmentally friendly manner of patrolling an area with sensitive ecosystems and few passable roads. “We’re working on expanding the barn,” said Agent José Gardea, the Lordsburg station’s patrol agent in charge. An “ideal” number of horses would be 40, he said. The terrain is so rough that the horses can’t be ridden day in and day out, nights, too; they must rest. Meanwhile, Lordsburg has 30 certified riders, both men and women, and a waiting list of agents who want to train to ride, he said...more

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