Pigeon Fever at Broken Arrow

The horses gathered by the Bureau of Land Management from the Calico Complex in Nevada are currently held at the privately contracted facility named the Broken Arrow in Fallon Nevada. Observers have been allowed to monitor the horses through a two-hour window each Sunday. No observers will be allowed in this weekend due to the holiday.

Pigeon Fever at Broken Arrow this past Sunday (photo Craig Downer)

The presence of Pigeon Fever among the population was observed nearly two weeks ago.

Processing and sorting of horses has continued “business as usual,” with no change in protocol despite the highly contagious disease.

John Neill, currently the manager at the Broken Arrow for the BLM said, “Yes, there is pigeon fever but only a handful of cases.”

When asked if the cases were confined to the horses gathered from a specific area and isolated in the pens sorted by area gathered he replied, “No, we’ve been moving horses around.”

Many of you have sent me questions that seem to confuse Pigeon Fever with strangles. This is not a strangles outbreak.

*** I also need to add that Pigeon Fever does not come from pigeons. It is not a disease associated with “cities.” (Sometimes I don’t know where this stuff comes from.) It is called Pigeon Fever because the most common form causes abscesses that develop on the chest that give a resemblance to that of a pigeon.

What is Pigeon Fever?


Clinical signs: Early signs can include lameness, fever, lethargy, depression and weight loss.

Infections can range from mild, small, localized abscesses to a severe disease with multiple massive abscesses containing liters of liquid, tan-colored pus.

External, deep abscesses, swelling and multiple sores develop along the chest, midline and groin area, and, occasionally, on the back.

Incubation period: Horses may become infected but not develop abscesses for weeks.Animals affected:The disease usually manifests in younger horses, but can occur in any age, sex, and breed.

A different biotype of the organism is responsible for a chronic contagious disease of sheep and goats, Caseous lymphadenitis, or CL. Either biotype can occur in cattle.

Disease forms: Generally 3 types: external abscesses, internal abscesses or limb infection (ulcerative lymphangitis).

The ulcerative lymphangitis is the most common form worldwide and rarely involves more than one leg at a time. Usually, multiple small, draining sores develop above the fetlock.

The most common form of the disease in the United States is external abscessation, which often form deep in the muscles and can be very large. Usually they appear in the pectoral region, the ventral abdomen and the groin area. After spontaneous rupture, or lancing, the wound will exude liquid, light tan-colored, malodorous pus.

Internal abscesses can occur and are very difficult to treat

Note: There is a low incidence in foals.It has also been diagnosed in cattle, and a similar disease affects sheep and goats. The disease is not transmissible to humans, although humans can carry the infectious agent on shoes, clothing, hands or barn tools and transfer it to another animal. Although the disease is considered seasonal, with most cases occurring in early fall, a number of cases have been confirmed during winter months and other times of the year as well..

Treatment: Hot packs or poultices should be applied to abscesses to encourage opening. Open abscesses should be drained and regularly flushed with saline.

Surgical or deep lancing may be required, depending on the depth of the abscess or the thickness of the capsule, and should be done by your veterinarian.

Ultrasound can aid in locating deep abscesses so that drainage can be accomplished.

External abscesses can be cleaned with a 0.1 percent povidone-iodine solution

Antiseptic soaked gauze may be packed into the open wound

A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as phenylbutazone can be used to control swelling and pain

Antibiotics are controversial. Their use in these cases has sometimes been associated with chronic abscessation and, if inadequately used, may contribute to abscesses, according to one study.

The most commonly used antibiotic for the treatment of this condition is procaine penicillin G, administered intramuscularly, or trimethoprim-sulfa.

In the case of internal abscesses, prolonged penicillin therapy is necessary

Care required: Buckets or other containers should be used to collect pus from draining abscesses and this infectious material should be disposed of properly.

Consistent and careful disposal of infected bedding, hay, straw or other material used in the stall is vitally important.

Thoroughly clean and disinfect stalls, paddocks, all utensils and tack.

Pest control for insects is also very important.

Recovery time: Usually anywhere from two weeks to 77 days.

The BLM is moving forward with preparation toward an adoption event of Calico horses currently scheduled for May 15th and 16th at the Palomino Valley Center in Nevada.

Pigeon Fever at Broken Arrow (photo Craig Downer)

Rob Pliskin

I first met Rob Pliskin at the Society for Range Management Conference in Reno a few months back.

Rob Pliskin with Duster and Mel (photo Tracy Gantz)

The conference is supposedly a dialogue toward solutions to issues surrounding the management of public range land. The conference provides continuing education credits for Bureau of Land Management employees. If you have the extra money order a copy of the event, it is pretty interesting. It has little gems on it that include Bud Cribley (last minute substitute for Bob Abbey) of the BLM admitting that the Salazar plan was created because of fear of ROAM. Repeatedly they express a lack of confidence in any Congressional legislation… often to laughter from the audience. A priceless statement to the credibility of the event, Sue Wallis was the Ethics speaker at the conference (OK, stop choking). But I’m getting off track.

I was told to look for Rob that he might have some questions. He sat next to me for the entire second day. (Three day conference). I watched Rob become increasingly vocal and passionate.

Rob Pliskin is a volunteer for the BLM. You may differ in opinion on some of his positions, you may not. In truth we all have subtle differences that in the big picture wont amount to anything if current protocol does not stop now.

I asked Rob if he would send me a copy of his speech from DC and a photo.

These are Rob’s words….

Rob Pliskin (photo by Mom and Tom)

(First, let me say, don’t ever introduce yourself as “just a volunteer.”  Like “hi, I’m Rob Pliskin, I’m just a volunteer for….”  You people who volunteered to come here are the most important horse people in the world today.)

(Now, look behind me.  What do you see?  I see the powerful flanks of the horse that General Lafayette rode in on, helping to bring a positive change to a new America that needed some help.  Remember that, because in a few minutes I am going to ask you a question about the horse we Americans rode in on.)

Since 1998  I have had the privilege of my life. To be a volunteer for the Bureau of Land Management Wild Horse and Burro Program, gentling wild horses and burros at BLM corrals, in adoption events around the west, and in workshops that teach the public about gentling them. Here is my BLM Volunteer I.D. badge right here.  I am wearing it throughout our events.   I say this is the privilege of my life, because on one level or another, every one of these horses let me meet them where they live, and some of them despite their superior size, strength, speed, agility, and brains, even trust me enough to put their heart in my hands.

Ironically to some people, this privilege came to me from President Richard Nixon in 1971 when he signed the Wild Horse Annie act into law, protecting our American wild horses and burros.  It’s he, and all the good BLMers I know, because there are some, who I can thank for this badge.  It’s hard for me to tell you this right now, I used to wear this badge proudly, but today I just can’t.  I can no longer look at this badge, without seeing that it is terribly tarnished.

Today, while I still wear it, and these horses still courageously give me their hearts, the BLM lets men and women with steel and dollar signs in their eyes and blood in their throats remove wild horses from their own federally protected lands.  And we pay the BLM to do it with our tax dollars.   Some of these same men and women will tell you, you know, out on our western lands, we have a real horse problem.  Right there is where I stop listening.  Because in my experience, a lot of what you learn in horsemanship from the horses, you can apply to the rest of life.  And you know what?  People don’t have horse problems. Oh no.  Horses have people problems.  And our wild horses have people problems too, with the govt. that is supposed to protect them.

We can ask important data based questions about this.  Like, why did the BLM take away over 19 million acres of wild horse areas and let even more cows and sheep back on some of them, but no horses?   Or, why did our BLM management team have to kill 79 wild horses and cause 39 mares to abort their foals in the recent Calico Complex roundup, and pay a contractor over 697 thousand dollars to help them do it?  If you had a nice big ranch and 118 of your horses were killed by your own crew in just a few weeks of work, would your manager still be working for you?  Would you have paid them 697 thousand dollars and just gone on business as usual?  Or would you be saying hold everything, we need to take a serious look at how we do things around here, and nothing moves until we do.

Make no mistake, Federally protected lands in the Great Basin are YOUR ranch, the wild horses that live there are YOUR horses, and YOU pay the BLM with YOUR dollars to do what they do with YOUR horses every day.

There are too many questions like these whose answers the BLM offers just make this badge dirtier and dirtier.  They betray the horses they are supposed to protect and they betray the American people.  Doesn’t a horse just want a leader who is honest, kind, and effective?  BLM, if you want to lead, then you need to start telling the truth.

Let me close now with that one question I told you to remember I was going to ask.  In the words of Deanne Stillman, author of Mustang, why are we, a cowboy nation, destroying the horse we rode in on?   President Obama, I ask you why?  Secretary Salazar, BLM Director Abbey, Wild Horse and Burro Program Director Glenn, why are we killing our horses and removing them from their own ranges when we are supposed to be protecting them?   And what’s the name of the agency charged with this duty to protect?  The U.S. Bureau of Land Management.  And what does U. S. spell?  It spells US.  It is up to us, all of us, to protect our horses.  It always has been up to us.

Richard Nixon described wild horses as America’s living legacy, which deserved protection “historically.”  Instead, the history our president, our Congress, and the BLM write today takes wild horses away to the tune of millions of our dollars every year.  So I ask you, in closing, please, pray for the wisdom we need to write a different history.  I ask you as a citizen or a leader to act with that wisdom, and protect our horses.  If in your native language,  you have a horse song, I ask you to sing it for the horses.  So that they may be protected.  So that we may all act rightly.  So that one day, this badge – this badge – will be redeemed.  If you believe in Change for America, then believe in Change for America’s Wild Horses.  Thank you very much.

P.S. Rob just sent me this:

Tonight is Erev Pesach, the Eve of Passover — an old festival celebrating freedom from captivity.  Tonight, let’s remember the wild horses and burros.  We can’t celebrate freedom with them yet.  So we continue to work towards their modern day exodus, repairing the world in their name, until we can. They can’t say Let My People Go, so we will say it for them.
Here is the March 29 reading from Joyce Sequichie Hifler’s A Cherokee Feast of Days. Imagine that it was written for the horses and burros and us as their voice this night. (Stanzas mine)
Nothing ever quite remains the same –
But a time comes when we have to
Follow new guidelines and think new thoughts
And do new things.
It does not take a superhuman,
But it does take a believer –
A worker with ears to hear and eyes to see –
Not just the physical but the spiritual.
We cannot take for granted that any other human
Can have accurate perception and spell things out
For us.
The miracles are not all in other heads, other hands,
Other methods.
There must be a burst of inner fire that sparks a miracle,
That opens a door to a greater life,
A greater calm.
We are never so blind as when we close ourselves off
By our critical views, our hardened hearts, our failure
To perceive the greatness of gentle things.
O friend, look away from lack and need and pain.
Alter your vision and it will alter life.
O, great blue sky; see me roaming here.  I trust in you,
protect me!
As if they could talk, and all of us could listen,
Rob Pliskin

Then the “Cavalry” rode in…

I have spent the day attempting to construct a way to convey to you all that happened in DC.

There is so much to share. The meetings, James Kleinert’s film Desperation Valley, more meetings, the rally, more meetings… and so many wonderful people.

So many wonderful moments.

Hope Ryden and Ginger Kathrens (photo Laura Leigh)

Like when Hope Ryden took to the podium with a small box in her hands. I wondered if they were letters she had saved from children during the fight years ago that helped inspire our legislators to action in 1971? Then Hope passionately removed the contents from the box, held it up and pounded it on the podium. It was a mustang hoof! “You could pound nails with this!” she exclaimed as she extolled the virtues of our mustangs. (I have to admit I did not see that one coming). It was something I wont forget.

So many wonderful people, some I have known for years but never met. I often refer to Vicki Tobin as “the best friend I never met,” I can’t say that anymore.

But there is a single event that best sums up the “feeling” I have after DC. There is a real sense that our voices are beginning to be heard. A real sense that if we continue to raise our voices and unify as a group… we will see change.

I had meetings to attend the morning of the rally. The day was hectic and there was not even time to change clothes. Un-tucked my shirt, grabbed my cowboy hat and headed down the street, 10 minutes late, to meet the others already walking to Lafayette park.

We listened to amazing speaker after speaker as the crowd continued to grow.

Then we marched to the Department of Interior to hand deliver a letter to Secretary Salazar. The crowd stretched for blocks as we made our way through the streets of our capitol. When we reached our destination we chanted, held up our signs and delivered that letter.

And then it happened….

Coming down the street toward our group were four members of the mounted patrol. Aboard mighty steeds the officers moved in and took their position across the street.

The "cavalry" arrives! (photo by Vicki Tobin)

What a beautiful sight they were. This symbol of what the horse means to our country and to the history of the entire world of man. Those horses represented every horse that stood in battle with us, plowed our fields, carried our burdens and inspired us.

Our group cheered and gathered around the horses.

(photo Vicki Tobin)

In an excerpt taken from an article by John Holland from Horseback Online:

I told him that if they were looking to intimidate us, they picked the wrong crowd! I said I face three times that many horses every morning for their feed. He said “We are not here to intimidate you.”

Perhaps they were there to support us? Because that is what they did.

Our “cavalry,” our symbol, our horses stood there as we raised our voices with words they can’t speak. But their presence is something we can never truly express, only allude to.

So they came and stood with us. They spoke as only they can.

Louder than words (photo by Mom and Tom)

I have a renewed sense of Hope.

I was also able to use the example the next day in my meetings at the Capitol. Horses have always been an integral part of our history… and they still play an essential role in our present. This is an important issue for us as a country. At a time of restructuring our economy, health care… our country, the symbols of what it means to be “American” can aide and inspire us to become a greater nation.

March for Mustangs (photo Vicki Tobin)

Video by RT and Terry Fitch to the amazing voice of Maria Danes.

March for Mustangs 2010

DC Rally (post 1)

So much happened in DC. meetings with Representatives, the protest, great media coverage.

But the piece that stands out the most in my mind are the advocates themselves. I have several stories I want to share with you. I will post them this afternoon.

But for now I am going to share stories written by others and a link to the wonderful coverage by CNN.

Jane Velez-Mitchell report on CNN here.

RT’s great story about the DC rally

Cloud Foundation Update

I spoke with Vicki Tobin just a minute ago and she is working on an update for Equine Welfare Alliance.

EWA photo Elyse Gardner

Here is a picture from the rally of some of the EWA folks Elyse Gardner sent to me last night. Left to right… RT Fitch, Craig Downer, John Holland, Vicki Tobin and myself… and the “support” troops standing behind us.

It says so much that when we as a nation need to make a “statement,” we send in the mounted patrol.

Need to add this release from Sen. Landrieu:

WASHINGTON. (Laudrieu) – U.S. Senator Mary , D-La., today joined the call for a better federal plan for the treatment of wild horses and an end to the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) unnecessary wild horse roundups.

The international March for Mustangs, a public protest against the inhumane treatment of wild horses, took place today in four cities across the globe: London, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. Led by celebrity activist, Wendie Malick, in Washington, D.C., the protest comes in reaction to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar’s attempts to persuade Congress to provide more than $42 million to move animals from the West to the East.

“I have repeatedly called for an end to these inhumane roundups until a more sufficient plan is set in place by the BLM,”said Sen. Landrieu. “There is a civilized way that we can handle these horses, by providing for their adoption or their relocation to a sanctuary. But the cruel and horrific roundups, such as the recent Calico roundup that resulted in painful injury and even death for some horses, cannot continue.”

Last year, Sen. Landrieu fought to protect wild horses by championing language in the Interior Appropriations Bill to prohibit the BLM from using taxpayer dollars for the destruction of healthy, unadopted horses and burros. At Sen. Landrieu’s urging, the Senate directed BLM to develop a new comprehensive long-term plan for wild horse populations by September 30, 2010.

Sen. Landrieu also supported language that encouraged all federal agencies that use horses to acquire a wild horse from the BLM prior to seeking another supplier. In addition, Sen. Landrieu supports the BLM developing an expedited process for providing wild horses to local and state police forces.

As a result of the recent 40-day BLM Calico Roundup, at least 79 mustangs have died and nearly 40 females have aborted their late term foals in the Fallon, Nevada holding pens—where the death toll rises daily as a result of the winter roundup.

Currently, the wild horse and burro population in the United States is about 69,000, and there are 36,000 horses in short-term and long-term BLM holding facilities.

DC Rally quick update

I have lots to share about the DC rally. I will be back at the keyboard tonight with pics and news.

Just want to let you all know that the turn-out was good. The spirit of the community of “voice” is strong.

Keep calling… run those faxes at the Whitehouse until the printers run out of ink!

We need your voices!

Video distribution info will be posted as soon as I return from DC.

Calico Retrospect

As I prepare to head off to DC to join other advocates to raise our voice for the wild horses and burros I am putting the finishing touches on many projects. The one I am most proud of is a new video of the Calico Complex gather. The pride stems not only from the piece itself, but from the process of creating the piece.

This effort came together very quickly. It required fast communication and a real cooperative effort from many people. The process truly speaks of the effort that is needed to be that voice for our horses and burros. This is an effort made by “just people.” People that devote their time and resources to stand for something they believe in.

In that space personal differences become meaningless… self transcends into a collective space of “voice.”

The complete DVD will have a short film and history of the gather as well as personal statements by those that contributed to the piece. Distribution information will be available within the next 24 hours.

Once more I want to remind you that even if you can’t make the trip to DC set the 25th of March aside and contact your local media, set up a table with brochures, wear a ribbon, a t-shirt… start a conversation… for our wild horses and burros.

More Spin than Maytag

Wanted to add this before Horseback moves on to the next story.

If you read the other three… here’s the next soap opera installment to “How the Horse Turns…” Or “Days of the BLM.”

The Big Story

BLM Spins as More Horses Die

Photo by Laura Leigh

By Steven Long

HOUSTON, (Horseback) – The federal Bureau of Land Management’s Washington spokesmen, Tom Gorey, is one of the best in the business. He’s able, articulate, savvy, and to use a term often bandied about in the nation’s capital, a master of the fine art of spin. On Thursday, he spun a web worthy of the fictional Charlotte herself.

For the better part of a week, Horseback Magazine has featured a series of articles on the missing credentials of two veterinarians attending the captured horses of Nevada’s Calico Mountains. Thus far, at least 115 have died, including miscarried foals. Horseback has repeatedly asked for the credentials of the vets who have set such a dubious record of death on their watch. Gorey finally complied, albeit in a round about way, dodging five questions drafted for the magazine by a physician and academic veterinarian and submitted to the agency.

The vets in the spotlight are Dr. Richard Sanford, the vet in charge of the BLM holding and processing facility at Fallon, and Dr. Albert Kane who is not licensed in the State of Nevada.

“Between them, Drs. Kane and Sanford have more than 40 years of experience
as equine veterinarians and over 30 years of that includes working with
wild horses,” Gorey wrote. “They each have all the qualifications, credentials, and
licenses that are appropriate or required by law. The BLM is fortunate to
have such experienced and dedicated professionals working in the agency’s
Wild Horse and Burro Program.”

But you didn’t answer the questions, Tom. Medical and veterinary professionals have questioned the sudden dietary switch from sparse desert grasses to rich hay in captivity as a likely cause of the deaths. In fact, the BLM’s published reports frequently mention the gastrointestinal condition, colic.

“The diagnosis for most of the Calico mares that have died at the Indian
Lakes facility is hyperlipemia characteristic of metabolic failure
attributed to re-feeding syndrome, he continued. “This condition is a result of the very
thin body condition of some of the horses because of starvation conditions
on the range, in combination with the late-pregnancy status of some mares.”

Horses in hundreds, if not thousands of photos shot by activists show fat healthy horses, not animals on the brink of starvation as BLM continues to spin.

The pregnant mares Gorey mentioned were stampeded for miles in the dead of winter by a roaring helicopter hired from a government contractor. Two foals were put down after painfully shedding their hooves after the stampede, which Sanford earlier acknowledged was caused by the chase.

“What Tom is conveniently neglecting to recognize is how the actual stress of the helicopter roundups and subsequent confinement and change in diet, placement in truly overcrowded conditions, etc. pushed these wild horses over the edge,” said Craig Downer, a famed wild horse expert on assignment for Horseback Magazine.

“Diagnostic and other information on the horses has been posted to the BLM’s
Website at http://www.blm.gov,” Gorey continued. “The BLM will continue to post updates on its Website under the Calico gather links as the horses continue to improve and
are readied for adoption.”


I don’t normally post “reprints” this often but this “trail” is important to follow. This is the third story in a row from Steven Long of Horseback Magazine on veterinary credentials.

The responses Steven gets to what should have been very simple requests speaks loud and clear. These types of responses are what we receive most often. The “straight answer” never comes. It creates an atmosphere of absolute distrust.

If these are the responses to simple questions, imagine how convoluted the responses are when we ask more complex questions?

The BLM representatives will stand in front of a television camera and give a reporter a quick sound bite response while wearing a uniform. An advocate will then need to express to the reporter how those responses are incorrect or misleading and then try to represent the “truth” as we know it… and the real truth will remain an unknown until an investigation occurs.But the reporter walks off with the sound bite… and the majority of the public never “gets it.”

This example of a simple request, the type of response and the potential consequence is so clearly illustrated by Steven in these three articles.

If you want to be “educated” on standard BLM operating protocol… these three articles are really all you need.

Death Toll for Calico Now 115 While BLM Has No Credentials for Vets on File

Photo by Elyse Gardner

By Steven Long

HOUSTON, (Horseback) – The record death toll for a federal Bureau of Land Management roundup has again risen with the demise of two more horses raising the count to 115. Specifically, 69 have died at the agency’s Fallon holding facility, 7 died at the site of the Calico roundup itself, and there have been 39 miscarried foals.

The animals are under the care of BLM veterinarian Dr. Richard Sanford. Horseback Magazine asked for his vitae under the U.S, Freedom of Information Act. In a certified letter to the magazine dated March 9, 2010, the agency responded.

“We have conducted a thorough search of our files and were unable to locate any records responsive to your request.”

Sanford is the second BLM veterinarian who appears to have no credentials on file with the bureau. Dr. Albert Kane, who has worked on the Calico “gather” is not licensed as a veterinarian in Nevada according to state records. Sanford holds a Nevada vet license.

According to a physician, veterinarian, and emergency medical technician contacted by Horseback Magazine, virtually all medical professionals have credentials on file where they are employed and carry them as well.

These same professionals have raised questions regarding moving wild horses from a sparse diet of desert grass to one of rich hay as soon as they were captured. They have raised questions that the Calico tragedies are the result of gastrointestinal problems such as colic.

Never a Straight Answer

Here is a follow up article from Horseback Magazine to yesterdays story.

The Big Story

The BLM Punts

Photo by Laura Leigh (photographer note: Processing horses at Palomino Valley center. “T” is for the Tobin herd. Also note they don’t call it the “squeeze” for no reason).

By Steven Long

HOUSTON, (Horseback) – The federal Bureau of Land Management has punted on whether it employed a veterinarian on its Calico roundup who is not licensed in the State of Nevada. Responding to a query by Horseback Magazine regarding the credentials of Dr. Albert Kane, the BLM referred questions to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal, and Plant Health Inspection Service.

This far, 113 horses and miscarried foals have died after a helicopter driven stampede in Northern Nevada. The bureau’s fiercest critic in Congress, Sen. Mary Landrieu told Horseback late Tuesday that she will sit on her hands regarding the deaths.

“Sen. Landrieu will not call for an immediate hearing, but the Senator continues to be engaged on the matter and is working to find a permanent humane solution,” Landrieu spokesman Aaron Saunders said.

Late last year Landrieu called for BLM to clean up its act within a year or risk losing management responsibilities over wild horses and burros on its 260 million mostly vacant acres of federal land in the West.

The BLM responded in detail Tuesday to Horseback’s story on Kane’s lack of credentials, reveling that about another vet working the Fallon Nevada holding facility is in good standing with the state, but only mentioning Kane in a brief punt to another government spokesperson in another federal agency. The BLM cited a gap in the Nevada’s veterinary practices act which would permit an unlicensed vet to work.

Other vets and physicians find the gap in credentials troubling.

“Unlicensed vets cannot perform veterinary duties in NY (no exams no nothing and you do get fined here),” said a vet who has tangled with Kane in the past but declined to be identified.

A physician active in the movement to stop the BLM wild horse roundups was even more harsh in her criticism.

“If Kane is still there, it is possible he is helping with the “disposition” of the horses.  This is really criminal” the doctor said. “The BLM needs to hire vets who are expert at dealing with metabolic syndrome.  I bet they are colicky.  This is a travesty of the first order.  These people spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a helicopter contract but then they skimp on proper care?  It is a very chilling thought that the vet used by the BLM may not have sufficient knowledge on metabolic syndrome and doesn’t know how to provide proper care to these horses.  I am very concerned about this possibility even if he is licensed elsewhere.  The BLM should have hired a vet who has extensive knowledge on metabolic syndrome so that the horses do not develop this condition.”

Medical professionals have been critical of the BLM practice of feeding wild horses rich hay immediately after their capture in a dramatic departure from their lifelong diet of sparse desert grasses.

The BLM said in exquisite bureaucratese:

“On the issue of veterinary credentials: The BLM ensures that veterinarians working within the Program (sic) have the necessary qualifications (graduate education and legal credentials) to work within each state. Private practitioners who work under contract for the BLM are required to bevlicensed by the boards of veterinary medicine in the states where theyvpractice. State veterinary medical practice acts generally exclude veterinarians in the employ of the United States Government or respective state governments such that they are not required to be licensed in each state for the performance of their official duties. In Nevada, for example, the practice act for veterinarians does not require a state license (see citation below) for Federal veterinarians performing official

NRS 638.015 Applicability. Nothing in this chapter applies:
1. To the gratuitous castrating, dehorning or vaccinating of
domesticated animals nor to the gratuitous treatment of diseased animals by friends or neighbors of the owner thereof, except that all vaccinations for zoonotic diseases must be administered by a licensed veterinarian or a
person under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian.
2. To debar any veterinarian in the employ of the United States
Government or the State of Nevada from performing official duties necessary for the conduct of the business of the United States Government or the
State of Nevada, or a political subdivision thereof, upon which he is assigned.

Dr. Rich Sanford is the attending veterinarian providing care for the Calico horses at the Indian Lakes Facility. Dr. Sanford’s license is NV #565. He has 25 years of experience working with wild horses.

APHIS has requested that all questions about Dr. Kane be referred to Lyndsay Cole, APHIS Public Affairs. Her email address is:


JoLynn Worley, 775-861-6515
Office of Communications
BLM Nevada State Office

Horseback has requested the USDA provide the biographical information on the veterinarian that both Kane and the BLM have refused to reveal.

Dr. Kane, BLM DVM?

Reprint from Horseback Online

The Big Story

Unlicensed Vet Working Nevada Gather Where 113 Horses Have Died or Have Been Miscarried

By Steven Long

Photo by Laura Leigh

HOUSTON, (Horseback) – A government veterinarian working for the Bureau of Land Management in its Nevada office has treated horses there without a state license.

At least 113 captured horses have either died or been miscarried after a grueling chase by helicopter over rocky mountain land in the dead of winter.

Horseback Magazine confirmed late Monday in a check with the Nevada Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners that there is no record of a veterinary license for Dr. Albert Kane. Last month the magazine sought the vitae of the veterinarian but the BLM refused to supply it.

Kane is a Veterinary Medical Officer with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Animal Health Policy and Programs staff. In this position he serves as a staff veterinarian and advisor for the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program, according to spokeswoman JoLynn Worley.

“Dr. Kane doesn’t have a current bio or CV available at this time and has declined to prepare one specifically at your request,” Worley said at the time.

After the refusal to respond to the magazine’s request for Kane’s credentials, a request for that information under the Freedom of Information Act was filed. Thus far there has been no BLM compliance on the FOIA.

The 113 dead horses came from BLM’s Calico Wild Horse Management Area in Northern Nevada. The “gather” was a tightly controlled operation in which press and public was held in a viewing area far from the actual roundup and helicopter driven stampede.

Horses captured in the operation are now held in the BLM’s Fallon processing facility.

Horseback Magazine has now asked the BLM if Kane is licensed elsewhere other than in Nevada.

The Fallon facility is under tight control with press and public barred from observing horse processing in other than rare and brief media days and observation opportunities.

Opponents of the gathers have charged that the government agency is rendering America’s wild horse herds genetically bankrupt on its 260 million acres of mostly vacant land.

Last year, in a 68 page document titled “Alternative Management Options” the BLM discussed killing thousands of wild horses. It also addressed the issue of neutering horses in enormous numbers.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, a former rancher, has proposed that thousands of horses be sent to seven holding areas in the Midwest and East as tourist attractions. The proposal has been ridiculed by equine welfare activists as “Salazoos.”

The Horses at Heart

I’d like to take some time to share with you another “voice.”

The other day I shared an essay by Monica (Monika) Courtney with you. Monika and I have been buddies through the web for some time now. I admire her bravery and commitment.

I have shared a story about Craig Downer and an amazing stallion of the Calico Complex.

Here is my story about two more amazing people that raise their voices with “horses at the heart.”

The Horses at Heart, RT and Terry Fitch

One very snowy day in Nevada the Bureau of Land Management held one of their Advisory Board Meetings. Meetings that claim to be a component of “public process.” The truth is that these meetings are simply a show. The public is told the “what is” according to “BLM Math” and convoluted logic. The advocates are given just minutes, timed, to read their pre-submitted comments into record. A record that goes into the untold gulf of comments deemed “of no significant impact.”

A winter storm had raged the night before. It dumped feet of snow. The icy roads and continued snowfall created significant, almost impossible, driving conditions. Flights were canceled and airlines were turning back many that were waiting to land.

One woman made her journey from Texas. But the need to add her voice was so important the soft-spoken woman braved that journey, alone. Her name is Terry Fitch.

It was my first time meeting Terry “face-to-face.”

When the time came to speak she was sitting behind my chair. She expressed how nervous she was and that speaking in public was not something she did often. Yet she rose as her name was called and made her way to the front of the room.

She added her voice. Her papers shook. Her voice cracked and filled with emotion. She spoke from her heart.

When she took her seat she expressed that she was afraid that her emotion got the best of her and had a negative impact on her words. It is such an odd feeling to be criticized by those that oppose the advocates that we are “emotional.” When an issue is so outrageous and dwells within the areas of your heart that truly care, of course there is emotion. The real truth of her voice showed how this gentle soul truly spoke with the integrity of who she is and the love of horses that beats in her heart.

A couple of days ago I had the honor of being welcomed into the home of that woman. Her husband, R.T. Fitch, treated me to BBQ and “Texas hospitality.”

As I drove up I actually wondered if there were a servants entrance to park my old truck.

But there was a man standing in the driveway waving me in. The man was wearing an old straw cowboy hat, shorts and muck boots. A very familiar fashion statement.

RT and Harley by Terry Fitch 2010

I pulled my truck into the drive. The man leaned in and said “Does it leak oil?” and then he laughed. The laughter was deep and pure.

We shook hands. “Hi R.T.”

He led me over to Terry who was out with their horses. I was greeted by their dogs. I met Harley, Apache, Pele and Bart. I felt truly at “home.”

The entire afternoon the feeling never changed.We shared laughter, love, and really good BBQ. The genuine nature of these two people and the love they have for their world, animals and each other truly lives at that little ranch.

When I returned home I shot a quick e-mail off to let RT know that my old truck had returned me safely to my keyboard. He answered “could have used more time.”

I shared the sentiment, but know there will be more.

Our hearts truly join together as we move past the constraints that our lives place upon us and come together in this place of “horse.” That heartbeat grows stronger and pumps all the nutrients needed to wash away the toxins of man’s world. It cleanses our lives. Our voice grows strong.

Please join that beating “heart of the horse” and raise your voice on March 25. Even if you can not make the trip to DC. Contact your local media. Set up a table outside the local grocery store, your school, your front yard and educate the public to what is happening to our wild horses.

Speak with “Horses at Heart.”

United We Stand

Outrage Over Wild Horse and Burro Removals Crosses the Pond

CHICAGO, (EWA) – The outrage over the round-up of America’s wild horses and burros has spread internationally. Groups in the United Kingdom will be holding a rally in front of the American Embassy in London on March 25. On the same day, Americans will be holding a rally across from the White House in Lafayette Park that will conclude in front of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) offices.

United We Stand (photo:Elyse Gardner)

The London Protest was organized by Jane Bravery, Mary Alice Pollard of Cornwall’s Voice for Animals (CVFA), Maria Daines, singer/songwriter and board member of Saving America’s Horses and international actress, Melita Morgan. The rally is cosponsored by the Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA) and The Cloud Foundation (TCF).

Maria Daines commented, “If we do not stand as one on issues that affect all species whose purpose is to live wild and free, we cannot expect our own species to evolve in a compassionate and considerate way towards each other. Wild horses deserve their time and place, they deserve our protection and we must exist peacefully with these glorious creatures or risk losing them forever.

Mary Alice Pollard adds, “Cornwalls Voice for Animals represents seven thousand supporters worldwide and stands united in ending wild horse round-ups and seeing the wild horses being born free and living wild and free.”

The Washington DC rally and press conference is hosted by Friends of Animals and is cosponsored by EWA, TCF, and In Defense of Animals. A screening of James Kleinert’s documentary, Disappointment Valley will be held the night prior to the protest. Celebrities, advocates and organization members from across the country are expected to attend the two day event.

There is a groundswell of support for the preservation of America’s Mustangs. The BLM would like the public to believe this is just a minor uprising but this is a major international movement.” ~Ginger Kathrens, volunteer executive director, TCF.

The recent deadly round-up at the Calico Complex in Nevada has added to the tremendous support for a moratorium on round-ups. To date, 113 wild horses have lost their lives as a result of the round-up. At least two foals literally had their hooves run off.

“Our wild horses don’t have the luxury of time to waste while we grapple with bad policy. We must not allow special interests to methodically eliminate these horses from public land or our future generations will be robbed of their natural heritage.” ~Mariana Tosca, Actor and Social Activist/Animal Activist

CVFA, EWA and TCF urge the public to attend these rallies and ask that President Obama issue an immediate moratorium on round-ups and reject BLM plans to relocate wild horses to the East and Midwest until current range studies and independent population counts are available.

EWA’s John Holland notes, “The United Call for a Moratorium originally sent to President Obama and the Department of Interior in November, remains unanswered.”

The Equine Welfare Alliance is a dues free, umbrella organization with over 100 member organizations. The organization focuses its efforts on the welfare of all equines and the preservation of wild equids.



Monica’s Voice

There are so many amazing people I have come to know that have opened their hearts and raised their voices for the voiceless.

I spoke to an advocate that may not be able to attend the rally in DC. Her name is Monica Courtney. Monica was at the Pryor Mountain round-up. She sent me this piece she wrote that was originally posted on “Straight From The Horses Heart.”

I’m sharing her voice with you today. Please raise yours…

Freedom Lost

by Monica Courtney

In this land of wide open spaces, lush forests and mystic canyon lands… war has begun.

Where once peace and serenity were our inspiration to appreciate the sacred gifts who live in these lands… a battle of destruction has intruded, a merciless aircraft has caused a panic mode and havoc to set in, the peace is shattered, the strength of family bonds destroyed.

An operation has begun, under the false facade and guise of a propaganda called management. A merciless hunt that reflects the greed of a corrupt government is at work again. This calls any freedom-loving American to duty now. The very freedom of our legacy, the American Mustang, is stolen as I type this. The symbol of Freedom is hunted under aircraft, pushed off their homes, separated from their bands, forced down the mountain range for 12 miles to exhaustion…to the point of no return, where a Judas horse, symbolically called this for betrayal, is sent out by BLM to lead the confused, exhausted and terrified mustangs into their dead end corrals… the trap.

The sound of despair fills the air. The clouds of dust from panicked horses settles, yet the spirit does not. The mustangs desperately whinny for their band, their families, their security, their instinct to protect them from harm…. the aircraft is still hovering, the noisy darkness has overshadowed the victims of the hunt…. trapped by an agency who deceives not only the public with false statements, lies and misleading information… but the very ones they were ordered to protect many years ago. The wild mustangs.

The BLM is not the agency body to protect the West anymore. They have risen above their own law to destruct what is rightfully ours, what is rightfully the horses’…. our future generations might never see a wild horse again as the master plan of BLM is to wipe them out. The spirit of America is stolen, caged up and sold off at auction.

The viability of herds is seriously at risk and the BLM’s statements of their “management” plan untrue, full of lies hiding an ulterior motive. Despite all common sense and evidence presented, our government chooses to ignore the public’s outcry and more pressure is needed NOW.

Wild mustangs… dispatched into unknown futures, ripped away from their homes and families, stolen off the range that is legally theirs… forced into corrals,  getting marked with numbered collars, strained by devastation and fear…. degraded to objects in pens, to be adopted out as stolen property of the American public.

The prospect of losing freedom is unimaginable to Americans. Yet this dark movement conducted by an agency with a plan of destruction is guaranteed the future of the wild mustangs to be lost, and to become an exhibit in the wax museum for your grandchildren to see, an only reminder of what once was and should have been preserved.

America, Land of lost Freedom. We defend our freedom. At any cost. We must rise above tolerating such heinous acts inflicted by our very own government agency, BLM. We must fight the battle right here in our own backyard…. to protect the very ones whose lives, spirits, families, and existence has been stolen.

This is a call to anyone with a sense of duty and responsibility to preserve this American Icon. I am reaching out to your conscience to speak up and represent what America is supposed to be, for all: A Land of the Free, where the mustangs roam – let’s prevent the BLM from gathering more trophies for their morally depraved and sick plan – This is much deeper than a love affair for horses….. It is about defending Freedom.

With my own eyes I saw the theft of freedom, inflicted on innocents on the Pryor Range. The dead spirit, confused and hurt minds, the betrayed look in their eyes…the panicked cries…  is something I will never forget.

Stories always end. May those be cut down that inflict this unforgiving harm to our legacy and heritage of Cloud’s herd and other wild horses doomed by BLM in this land.

Exploit me not. I was once a horse on the Pryor Mt. Range in Montana.

This is my tale. What can be worse than freedom lost ?

You decide!

No Investigation of High Death Rate

Government Contractor Paid Almost $700 K – 113 Horses Dead and no Investigation of Calico Capture

(Taken from Horseback Online)

"Freedom's Escape" 2010 Craig Downer

By Steven Long

HOUSTON, (Horseback) – A Nephi, Utah, government contractor was paid $697,359 for a Nevada roundup of wild horses in the Calico Mountains. The roundup was held against the advice of federal judge Paul Friedman of Washington D.C. who wrote that holding wild horses in large privately owned facilities is likely against federal law.

At least 113 horses have died thus far, including two foals that shed their hooves after a helicopter stampede over rocky ground in the dead of winter. A BLM vet has acknowledged that the roundup was the likely cause for the foals to lose their hooves in an excruciatingly painful end of their lives.

Information on fees paid by the federal Bureau of Land Management to Cattoor Livestock Roundup, Inc. was released late Friday to Horseback Magazine by Deputy Division Chief Dean Bolsted of the agency’s Wild Horse and Burro Program.

The large number of deaths in the roundup is unusual.

In 2008, 45 percent of the roundups resulted in at least one fatality, and on one in Nevada, 27 horses died. The total number of deaths through injury or for other reasons totaled 126 animals that year.

Alternatives to the helicopter stampedes approved by the agency include baiting and trapping, however, BLM directs the type of capture when a “gather” is scheduled.

According to Bolsted, government horse capture contractors are paid for the number of horses captured, feeding and watering for animals kept at the gather site overnight, and transport of animals from the capture site to designated short term holding facilities such as Fallon, a Nevada holding pen and processing site..

Private landowners in a capture area do not reimburse the government for removing wild horses from their property. The animals are often considered a nuisance to western ranchers and have been sometimes referred to as “the cockroaches of the west” by some.

The percentage of dead horses on BLM roundups in 2009 was slightly worse than the previous year at 46 percent resulting in at least one horse death. A mid-summer Wyoming gather proved fatal to 11 horses – tiny by comparison to this year’s Calico roundup.

As of late 2009, a total of 205 horses over a two year period died at the agency’s hands during roundups to thin the herds despite the vastness of the lands managed by BLM. The agency controls almost 260 million acres, much of it is vacant, and over a million cattle graze unmolested on the land, some of which was once reserved for wild horses. The number of 205 dead horses does not reflect the number of foals lost due to miscarriages.

Asked by Horseback Magazine if BLM plans to launch an internal investigation, Bolsted said, “No internal investigation of deaths is planned.”

The roundups by BLM have drawn protests from coast to coast. The next is planned for Washington D.C. on March 25, when activists will set up shop across from the North Front of the White House in Lafayette Park.

The BLM response to the burgeoning scandal has been a proposal to set aside seven wild horse refuges, dubbed “Salazoos” by activists after Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, a former Colorado rancher.

Sen. Mary Landrieu and others have called for a Congressional investigation of the Bureau’s Wild Horse and Burro Program which administers the animals under the 1971 Free Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act, or “Wild Horse Annie Law,” named for the late Velma Johnston of Reno.

Horseback Magazine has repeatedly sought an interview with BLM director Bob Abbey, who has thus far turned a deaf ear to repeated requests.

The captured Calico horses are currently held at the BLM’s Fallon facility. Neither press nor public are allowed to observe the agency’s treatment of the animals, conduct a census, or to spend prolonged periods in their presence. The gates are opened to infrequent and tightly controlled viewing by small screened groups for one and one half hours. Only one reporter or photographer will be permitted from each media outlet during the next scheduled viewing.

Press and public were also not allowed unfettered access to observe the Cattoor roundups of horses in the wild. Horseback Magazine offered to have only experienced mounted journalists and wildlife experts in the field with company and BLM wranglers to observe the helicopter roundups.

Armed guards were on site to prevent observation of the “gather,” as was the case in late 2009 at Montana’s Pryor Mountain when the iconic wild horse, “Cloud” was captured. The horse was the star of three PBS specials by Emmy award winning documentary filmmaker Ginger Kathrens.

Kathrens will speak at the Washington D.C. rally.


Calico Complex 2010 Cattoor contractor

I noticed in my “internet” wanderings that Sue Cattoor has mention me by name on her companies website.

Before I address what she actually posted, (if I decide to address what she wrote pertaining to my name) I want to address the forums in which people use the Internet and their implications.

Many of you that follow my blog know that the use of language is a subject I find rather interesting. From the way we communicate with each other daily, to the way language is taken from a theory into practice, is becoming a subject that occupies much of my thoughts.

As we attempt to move the issue of “Wild Horse and Burro” in America into a phase where dialogue toward problem solving becomes a possibility, the use of language will clearly take on more importance. I urge you all to become very aware of terminology and it’s implication.

In “electronic space” you and I now occupy “the blog zone.” I am an artist by trade that has created a blog to share “Information, thoughts, photographs, expression (with horses at the heart).” My site takes comments for open discussion of what I blog.

Courtesy of dictionary online:

Main Entry:              blog

Part of Speech:              n

Definition:              an online diary; a personal chronological log of thoughts published on a Web page; also called Weblog, Web log

Example:              Typically updated daily, blogs often reflect the personality of the author.

Sue Cattoor is writing about the gather activities on the Home Page of what appears to be her business website. Not a blog page, not a page nestled in the site that promotes her livelihood… but the “Home” page. Her writing is not on the BLM website. She does not publish her website with BLM approval of content nor does it represent the BLM. She is a private contractor running a business. That business receives revenue from the BLM as well as from other government contracts and private entities.

I asked Tom Gorey of the BLM about Sue Cattoor’s Informational authority on BLM protocol. This is his response, (it was the expected answer):

Laura ~

Sue Cattoor speaks for herself and her company. The BLM has its own

representatives to speak for the agency.

The Bureau shares information with Ms. Cattoor that is relevant to the

contracting work she does for the agency. Beyond this, she has access to

the same information available to the public that is posted on our


~ Regards,


So within the parameters of human language there are certain implications to the manner in which her writing is presented.

  1. The importance of these “updates” would be priority to her company because it is listed on the “Home” page.
  2. The implied official capacity she writes from as the holder of a government contract adds weight (implied) to her writing.
  3. The inclusion of her Company address adds another “communication” tool that again implies the authority from which she writes.

Cattoors website can be viewed here.

Many of you that follow this issue will read what she writes and see the manner in which she presents “what happened” as distressful. But consider the source, consider the placement, consider the language as you read. Consider the business that she operates.

Yet do keep in mind that her testimony is relevant to the perpetuation of her contract as utilized in BLM assessments on gather operations. Then read again what Gorey wrote in response to my question.

Now go back to Cattoor’s website. Click the “Information” tab.

She answers questions such as this one:

Problems Inherent in the Passage of the 2009 ROAM Act

…with excerpts from an article by Sue Wallis. Highlighted in yellow is a provision I have not seen in all the hours I have poured through ROAM looking for issues with language.

(OK, so I should have put the “remove liquid from mouth” warning prior to directing you here)

Or this:

How can you watch a wild horse roundup?

“Some of the lies being circulated on the internet this summer contain statements that say the contractors and BLM do not want and sometimes do not allow people to watch wild horse roundups.  As contractors, we always work with the BLM to accommodate visitors and photographers…”

Do I need to go on?

You might like this one:

Things that we do to assure the welfare of foals.

“…If the pilot sees the foal or even a weak or old animal is getting tired, he radios the wranglers at the trap and they go out with saddle horses and a horse trailer and load and transport the foal or other animal to the trap…”

The photos make you want to grab the kids and head out to a gather for a picnic.

So my dilemma is this:

Does this actually deserve more of my time? Or do I just prepare for DC?

Thursday Thoughts…

Just waking up, having my coffee, gearing up for another busy day. As I sift through my e-mails there are many issues that arise to “wrap your head around.”

A few links for the day:

Continued coverage of the Jason Meduna trial and the “Three Strikes” horror. Read RT’s post on his blog here

Horseback has a story up about a rescue horse named “Cider.” This horse was featured in a Clinton Anderson TV special. Read it here (while it is up, news on this page changes every day or so).

The issue of “Horse Slaughter” in the US is a battle heating up again. It is filled with misinformation. This issue is most likely the single most important “frontline” for all of our American horses. An article on the subject here.

In reference to the horse slaughter issue I am adding a link to an article written by John Holland called “Selling the Unwanted Horse.” You all know how “words” and how they are used interest me. I suggest you give this article a read.

Now just for a moment bear with me…

The horse slaughter debate in our country centers around the term “Unwanted Horses.” The pro-slaughter folks love to banter this phrase around to support re-opening horse slaughter plants in the US. (And just an FYI folks horses go to slaughter just like they did when the US plants were open. Just because the plants in the US closed doesn’t mean that those looking to profit from the slaughter of horses can’t do it anymore. We just don’t deal with the disastrous environmental issues and property devaluation we saw with US plants… but I digress).

If the issue is “Unwanted Horse” as portrayed by the pro-slaughter folk we are talking about solving a problem. If the issue is about creating a horse meat industry in the US we are talking about supply and demand that will not decrease the so-called original issue… it has the potential to compound the problem.

There is a better way to support horse owners in these hard economic times that really begins to comprehend the heart of the issue. A better path towards healing the country…

Watch this… ‘nuf said.


For Their Own Good

This is just a quick post.

I’m working on funding options for observation and a”pull” fund and will post details by tomorrow. For now my web gallery at Barn Door Studio is offering 50% of all sales to go to Observation and the “pull” fund. The Rescue Friends is offering 10% of the cover price of “Annabelle and The Pink Slippers.” These funds will be channeled through The Cloud Foundation.

But my brain has been playing with phrases and definitions of words.

Phrase of the day: “For Their Own Good.”

George Knapp does a real good job with poking that button here.

And then in a follow-up report Knapp hits it again here.

And this post on RT’s blog here.

Everywhere you look you hear that these actions are being taken “for their own good.” We hear that phrase from parents when they refer to their children. But within the realm of human psychology it is a “watch phrase” used to spot abusive relationships.

Just a “thought for the day.”

Just noticed Sue Cattoor has written about me on her website. My response will be posted soon.

More Wild Horse “Talk”

Wild Horse Processing at Palomino Valley Center

The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources is holding hearings that include Secretary of the Department of Interior, Ken Salazar’s budget requests for the 2011 Wild Horse and Burro program.  You can listen here to Senator Landrieu (D-LA) say in part, “we are on the verge of a disaster policy.”

On Tuesday Ken Salazar will ad his testimony. You can listen to it here streamed live. He will ask for $42.5 million to purchase the first “Salazoo,” and request an additional increase of $12 million. The last request he made for additional funds to address this program was granted. The funds were not used to change policy but to ramp up the same protocol that has created the current crisis.

In Defense of Animals (IDA) has set up an action page. The page will send letters in your name quickly and easily, but action must be taken prior to Tuesday.

On April 30th a federal court will hear the arguments from IDA that the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management is violating the 1971 Wild and Free Roaming Horse and Burro act by currently mass warehousing wild horses on land where they did not exist in 1971. They will argue that the Act never gave authority to create the current system. A final decision is expected by May 26.

I have read several articles recently in various mainstream publications.

I find it interesting that so many of these “discussions” begin with an assumption that a protocol that was never based on fact ever functioned accurately. “Guesstimates” were used to come up with herd counts. Best “guesstimates” were used to determine where “horses were in ’71” that never took in to account the “roaming” behavior of a “free-roaming” horse or burro. Yet we begin discussions with statements such as “Since the population count in 1971…”

In 1974 an actual ground count was done. Yet the numbers found in the ground count were never used. An “adjustment” was made to the ’71 number that employed what many of us have come to call “BLM math.” It doesn’t add up.

When asked about horses in long term warehousing we get inconsistent numbers. When asked about gather expenses we get inconsistent numbers. When we look at gather schedules that have the BLM numbers on them and apply the “BLM” mathematical equation of a 20% increase, we often see increases that would imply that even the stallions must have given birth to twins that year!

There are other areas where the information provided by the BLM is “sketchy” at best. For example requests made for vet reports have no specified intake dates nor identification marks of any kind. Treatment dates are even omitted.

When you enter into a phase of dialogue and expect improvement shouldn’t that dialogue be based on facts? If the actual agency that supplies those facts is the agency that can benefit from those “facts,” then shouldn’t the information be independently verified? In simplistic terms if I gave a 5 year old with a history of lying a bag of cookies to share… I’d look to see how many he had already eaten. I wouldn’t take his word for it.

The other part of current discussion that I find troubling is the “wild v. feral” debate. It doesn’t pertain to the current discussion. The law has BLM/USFS horses designated as “wild” under their jurisdiction. The term “feral” applies to horses under other jurisdictions. Often this makes little sense as the same horse standing on one side of the Carson River in Nevada is covered under one set of protections, yet if this same horse happens to be found on the north side of the river, those protections don’t exist and a different set of rules apply. But that debate is for another day.

The current issue is should Secretary Salazar’s request for funding of his proposal be granted? Or is it time to call for an investigation into the current practices that created this situation in the first place?

Action Alert! By March 9

Mares in Holding

On March 9, this coming Tuesday, Ken Salazar will add his testimony to his proposed 2011 budget request that includes the financing of the Wild Horse and Burro program. Included in this is the  $42.5 million dollar pricetag to purchase the first of his “Salazoos.”
He also asks for an additional $12 million in his budget for the already broken program that asked for additional funding last year to address the strained program. Instead of creating new policy they simply amped up the “gather-machine” and compounded the issue.
It’s time to say “ENOUGH!”
We need a moratorium and investigation into this program before irreversible damage is done to our American Heritage.
Make your voice heard!
Take action before March 9!

Lightening and a man named Downer

Once upon a time I left my world to head off to follow the wild horses. I went straight to an area many refer to as “where the horse turns.” That phrase is used to compare the area to the drama contained in soap operas. Not only because of the concentration of horses that inhabit the area, but because of the political climate. This climate encompasses not only the government, but the advocates as well.

Let’s just say the term is an understatement.

When I first became involved with this issue, some time ago, it was difficult to find cohesive action among the advocate groups. This issue is so large that communication was often splintered into selective focus out of necessity. Gaining information in a timely manner proved to be a challenge, with a few exceptions. One of those exceptions was a man named Craig Downer.

Where's Craig?

From the moment of our initial contact involving the horses at Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge, Downer sent me volumes to sift through. He said take what you need and “run” with it. He gave no direction, advise, nor gossip.

Before I ever met Downer I heard things about him that ranged from “He’s a man of God,” to “If you expect him to have your back you better have your butterfly net handy. He can fly off into the stratosphere!”

I finally met Downer face-to-face at the Society for Range Management conference in Reno. Soft spoken and shy, he was a perfect caricature of the “absent minded professor.” He said to me, “Laura, we have the truth on our side.  Keep speaking it and we will win.”

He spoke with a conviction so pure it was like that of a child. It made me painfully aware of my own cynicism. He had a way of being that we all held in some distant memory that has been buried by the constraints “life” has imposed on us. That ability to believe that “truth, justice and the American way,” meant the things you thought they did when you were first taught the “pledge of allegiance” in school was alive and well in Mr.Downer.

His words galvanized me with a new purpose. Not only did we need to win this for the horses, but for Downer, and to fan that flame of belief deep inside of all of us.

Craig Downer

Since then Downer and I have shared information, collaborated on a few projects and gone to see the horses still free.

While Craig was in court trying to protect the horses at the Calico Complex from the threat of the BLM round up, I made a slideshow from some of his photos. It was my way of supporting his effort. It was my “prayer.”

One of the horses in the video is a magnificent stallion Craig named Lightening. Lightening is the palomino with the lightening bolt marking.

After the slideshow was posted on You Tube I received several e-mails that commented directly on the beauty of that stallion. The slideshow did not show any starving horses living on a degraded range as the BLM claimed. It shows healthy, thriving horses free on their range to be what they are.

Recently I received a phone call from Elyse Gardner. She was calling to soften a blow. She wanted to let me know that she was writing on her blog that Lightening had been seen again, in his holding cell at Fallon. We shared our grief and mourned his loss of freedom. She has written her account of the day she and Downer found Lightening again on her blog.

I was grateful for the call.

Downer said to me, “Laura, we have the truth on our side.  Keep speaking it and we will win.”

I will try to keep my cynicism in check.

Lightening by Elyse Gardner, 2010

General’s Saga continued

General’s Saga Part 2

His story

She had no answers for him. She could not tell him why he was there.

Yet he knew she had heard him.

She turned to leave. He sighed. She had her freedom.

He joined the other stallions that were milling around the pen. The younger ones were attempting to gain position in the ranks and needed to be reminded that this was not the time or place. The older ones were lost in their fatigue. Many, like him, listened to the confused calls from their family members through the metal bars.

Foals at the Holding Area

View the rest of General’s Saga Here.

The Road to DC

On March 25 there will be a big rally for the wild horses.

The Cloud Foundation has a write up on all the details here. This sheet includes an itinerary as well as info on carpooling.

Please join if you can.

If you can’t attend use this opportunity to notify local media in your area to the march and set something up at your school, grocery store, front yard where you can pass out information on the Moratorium and the real crisis that wild horses and burros are faced with today.

Personally I am offering 50% of all sales from my online Art Gallery during the Month of March to the effort of funding observation and involvement toward protection of our wild horses and burros. This effort is being channeled through the Cloud Foundation.

Also 10% of all sales from the book “Annabelle and the Pink Slippers,” will go to the effort!

Urgent Action Needed For Wild Horses

Congress is involved in the appropriations process.

Stop the funding of the current protocol of the Bureau of Land Management.

Stop the funding for Salazar’s proposal to throw more of your tax-payer dollars into an ill conceived, knee-jerk proposal, born out of fear that the ROAM act will pass and he will have to get his program under control!

You must act by March 2!

IDA, In Defense of Animals, has a web page set-up for quick action.

Click Here to go to ACTION page.

(Long Essay I wrote explaining the issues surrounding wild horses and burros. Good for basic info on ROAM.)


(At about three and a half minutes into this YouTube is the video footage  of the foal chased by helicopter and the ultimate consequence of such actions. This is a long video… it attempts to show the endless feeling of despair.)

NOTE: If you receive e-mail notification that your letter to those on the Committee will not be responded to because you do not live in their state, here are the phone numbers. You can remind them that the funding for this program is a National crisis, not one confined to their state.

Energy and Natural Resources Committee

Chairman Jeff Bingaman (NM) – Chair – Phone (202) 224-5521
Byron L. Dorgan (ND) – Phone (202) 224-2551
Ron Wyden (OR) – Phone (202) 224-5244
Tim Johnson (SD) – Phone (202) 224-5842
Mary L. Landrieu (LA) – Phone (202) 224-5824
Maria Cantwell (WA) – Phone (202) 224-3441
Robert Menendez (NJ) – Phone (202) 224-4744
Blanche Lincoln (AR) – Phone (202) 224-4843
Bernard Sanders (I) (VT) – Phone (202) 224-5141
Evan Bayh (IN) – Phone (202) 224-5623
Debbie Stabenow (MI) – Phone (202) 224-4822
Mark Udall (CO) – Phone (202) 224-5941
Jeanne Shaheen (NH) – Phone (202) 224-2841


Lisa Murkowski (AK) – Phone (202) 224-6665
Richard Burr (NC) – Phone (202) 224-3154
John Barrasso (WY) – Phone 202-224-6441
Sam Brownback (KS) – Phone (202) 224-6521
James E. Risch (ID) – Phone 202-224-2752
John McCain (AZ) – Phone (202) 224-2235
Robert Bennett (UT) – Phone (202) 224-5444
Jim Bunning (KY) – Phone (202) 224-4343
Jeff Sessions (AL) – Phone (202) 224-4124
Bob Corker (TN) – Phone (202) 224-3344