The Space Force has added a once-wild mustang to its conservation program. But don’t worry, they won’t be sending it to space.
The 5-year-old horse named Ghost is part of the Bureau of Land Management at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Southern California.
The conservation unit and military working horse program have been a part of Vandenberg since 1996. It is the only equine patrol unit within the Department of Defense and one of four conservation units in the US Air Force, a military spokesperson told CNN.
The military working horse program supports the Space Force and is key to mission assurance for the Western Range, which is more than 98,000 acres.
“We use the military working horses to patrol the coastline,” SSgt Michael Terrazas explained in a video posted to Twitter.
Ghost is about 10 years younger than the other four horses in the conservation program and is the only mustang. He is undergoing a rigorous training program, being ridden three times per week by a personal trainer.
“We’re trying to get him up to speed to handle the work load of a military working horse,” Terrazas said.
Wild mustangs across the US plains are currently overpopulating their natural habitats, resulting in diminished food resources. This initiative helps to protect the at-risk mustangs and integrates them into the working horse program.
With conservation as the main goal, the horses perform perimeter sweeps of the areas on the base that aren’t accessible to vehicles or ATVs.
“Mustangs are sturdy horses that can handle the work we need,” Terrazas said.
Six patrolmen at Vandenberg play a role when it comes to caring for the horses. They clean the stalls, groom the horses, and inspect them for injuries daily. The team also monitors nesting seasons for endangered species, patrols hunting and fishing areas on the base, and enforces California state and federal laws.
“We are excited to see what the future may hold for these once wild horses,” Terrazas said.