U.S. turns to horses to secure borders

ALTAR VALLEY, Ariz (Reuters) – U.S. Border Patrol agent Galen Huffman leans over the saddle to look at faint tracks in a cattle trail leading up from the Mexico border.

He follows the tracks at a brisk trot through thick brush, up and down into rocky washes, then pauses as his horse twitches its ears and turns around nervously.

“I have bodies,” he says, as the first of a group of 11 illegal immigrants, wrapped in hats and scarves against the chill morning air, peel themselves up from the desert floor several miles from the nearest road.

Horses have been part of the Border Patrol since the agency was founded to secure the United States borders against liquor smugglers and unlawful immigrants in the 1920s, and now they are making a comeback.

Agents dressed in leather chaps and broad-brimmed hats are increasingly being used to regain control over the most rugged areas of the southwest frontier with Mexico and now on the northern border with Canada.

“Most of the traffic is being pushed into these mountainous areas which are harder to work. They are very remote,” said Bobbi Schad, a horse patrol supervisor from Tucson. “With a horse you can get up in there.”

“They realized we were so much better at controlling certain areas, so they said ‘hey, let’s keep utilizing an old-school tool and go back to the basics.'”

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