Yes, Pop

My grandfather (Pop) died three days before Memorial day several years back.
A man you needed to comprehend the language of “grumble” to understand.
An original Teamster he delivered dairy in Brooklyn with a team of percherons.
He fought in WWI and took his eldest sons with him to fight in WWII.
Pop was not a “touchy-feely” kinda guy.

So when he displayed any emotion besides annoyance I noticed. (No disrespect Pop, you know how much your grumbling made me smile).

When I was very young I had my first horse. I was one of the only kids in my “neighborhood” to go to school smelling like horse poop… my favorite fragrance to this day.

So Pop told me a story: It started like most of them did. He liked to try to gross you out… he lost most of his audience that way, but he only drew my attention.

“You know people eat horses?”

“Aw pop, get outta here.”

“They eat soldiers, too.”

“Ok Pop, what ya’ got.”

My grandfather then told me the story of the horses that went to Europe with them. He told me how his unit had Mustangs. He choked up as he noted the spirit of Freedom we were sent to Europe to defend and how the Mustang was the living embodiment of that spirit.
How the strength, love of Freedom and the will to “never give up” was wrapped up a package of loyalty. The best “man to have your back.”

“You put your mask on him first cause he can carry you out. You can’t carry him and without him you’re dead.”

Then in true Pop fashion he said, “So we left them there to be eaten.”

Pop then walked away.

The sense of betrayal, not only to the horse, but to the concept of “American” stuck in my 10 year old heart like a knife.

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Isn’t it about time we begin to recognize the contribution these horses have given to our country?
Can’t we actually get it together long enough to recognize the value of America’s horses?

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I’m on the road and just got the “go” sign….

I pray with you all this Memorial Day that the way toward communication to actually protect, not just manage, our wild horses shows itself. And that we all step down that road with the strength and will our wild horses can teach us.

Palomino Valley Stallion Update

I am back in the field so this update will be brief.

Just received word from Dean Bolstad that the stallion issue has been dealt with.
Another water source was added and there was no rush to the source indicating no urgency. The stallions must have gotten determined… and successful after we left.

Yes, there were mares on the other side of the fence and they are being removed.

Dean informed us that the stallions were video taped to show that the behavior witnessed was not continuing. Due to the holiday observers could not visit the facility.

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NOTE: I’m adding portions of a comment from Lisa Reid into the body of my post as I did not get to my blog until this am.
She includes a very well documented timeline.

But I do feel the need to also add another reminder that this is the second time an attempt was made to address issues with these horses at PVC. A simple “Thanks, we will check it out,” and then a bit of follow-up would alleviate the need for communication to occur in this manner at all.

We were told the facility was closed for the holiday weekend as we arrived Friday an hour and fifteen minutes before closing. At that time we were told we had fifteen minutes to see the horses and we needed to go.

Thank you, Lisa.

Portion of Comment: Lisa Reid

I just wanted to follow up with you and others what happened today since there was no one there from this group to update the concerns you are discussing.

I was notified last night that there were concerns that the palomino horse was guarding the water source in the Calico stud pen. So first thing upon my arrival (approximately 7:50 am), I located the pen as this was my first time to PVC since these horses arrived. What I observed at approximatley 8:10 am on my first observation is that the studs were quietly feeding. No footage taken at this time.

I revisited the pen at 9:25 am, this time taking my flip camera and recording my observation. What I observed this was the pinto stud at one set of feeders and the other studs including the palomino still feeding. No one at water trough.

I revisited at 10:20, this time I found the horses still feeding and no one near the water trough.

I think this is about the time that Sue called.

At 11:15, I revisited the pen to find the palomino stud standing on the small hill located near the water, but it didn’t appear that he was guarding the water source, he just seemed to be standing there dozing. The pinto stud was still in the same location with the other studs still feeding.

At 12:15, I revisited the pen to find the palomino next to the water trough with all the other studs still in their same proximity.

As I said I would do….if I thought there was concern then I would address it. In keeping my promise, the wrangler and I took a water trough and placed in on the opposite side of the pen, near the feeders and a water spickit, primarily to see if the other studs would rush to get water or what. I did not want to leave without seeing at least one of the studs drink. While waiting for the trough to fill, it appeared that the palomino was placing claim on the mares located in a nearby pen which happened to be the same side the water source is located. Once the new trough was full, the truck was moved and we just watched the studs. After a few minutes, a roan walked over to the over-flow sniffed, then sniffed the trough, then walked away. About 15 mins later the roan walked back with 2 bays following. The roan did drink from the new trough but the 2 bays sniffed around then walked back to the feeders. I filmed the roan both times. The second time, when he drank, took about 2 1/2 minutes. I did notice the palomino stud watching but not concerned. The wrangler and I finally left the pen about 1:30 pm.

First thing tomorrow morning (by 8:00 am), the wrangler will move the nearby mares hoping to eliminate any more concerns.

Palomino Valley Stallions

Today we arrived at Palomino Valley to be told we had 15 minutes. They decided without posting that they were closing early for the holiday weekend.

Lightening is keeping the other horses from the fence line. My guess, from his posture and extreme aggressive behavior, is that there is at least one mare on the other side of the fence. Problem here is that the only water source in the pen is on that side of the pen.

General tried twice to lead the group to water and both times was chased off. The second time Lightening separated General (25 years old) out of the group and became aggressive.

We have two band stallions in this group, Lightening and General. General is leading the boys around…. Lightening has chosen the horses on the other side of the fence.

A horse is now limping in that pen that was not on Wed.

Move the water tank…. or better yet move the mares.

When we tried to point it out we were told “they will work it out.”
And then they waited for us to leave. Not just leave the facility, but they waited until we left the public road the facility is on. And then the two employees present left for the holiday weekend.

These stallions have been under considerable stress. Every stress… every single one… will contribute to the potential difficulties any adopter will face. Every stress contributes to the possibility of injury.

Feel like I’m banging my head on a brick wall.

Mustang Magic

Yesterday we went to the Broken Arrow facility as this is a holiday weekend and visitation was rescheduled.

The weather was a interesting mix of sunshine to hail and wind. After using moms bodies for shelter during the hail the foals gave us a nice “show” of playful activity when the storm passed. We are working on a youtube.

Mom is a "port in a storm"

Mom is a "port in a storm"

We were given more info about the adoption event. Mares with foals (or mare/foal pairs) will not be available until foals are weaned. Pairs will be kept at the Broken Arrow.

Aprox 400 animals are slated for adoption events around the country. 82 have been shipped to PVC for the Internet adoption. That adoption event includes the horses advocates have expressed interest in. Another group has already been sorted for an event in Montana.

If you are interested in adopting a mustang please visit the BLM adoption pages and read them carefully.

Some of you have adopted Mustangs… some of you have not. I’d like to just take a minute and address “relationship” with “horse.”

Many of us have watched abused horses learn to trust. To overcome their fear of the human hand because they have been treated so badly. A mustang has no knowledge of the human hand.

Curious beginnings (photo Laura Leigh)

Curious beginnings (photo Laura Leigh)

Bringing a wild horse into your life is a unique opportunity. You are (for the most part) a complete unknown. Mustangs are really smart… they have to be. Survival depends on instant decisions.

I have heard so many say the same thing… “It’s all about Trust. If you can show them they can trust you a bond forms as strong as that of herd. If you break the trust they don’t forget.”

A relationship developed over a commitment of time, slowly… lasting.

When a wild horse makes the decision to approach you they have invited you to a beginning. Remembering it is their space that you walk into… the space where wild meets human… it reminds us how very precious these animals are. We can learn so much from them.

Calico Filly (photo Elyse Gardner)

Calico Filly (photo Elyse Gardner

Wait for the invitation… if you are patient and still it will come. Learn to listen to their voice… they have one.  They will guide you. But remember you are a guest. Watch closely… if there is any discomfort they tell you, at first quietly. If you are a clumsy guest they get “louder.”

Remember they truly need nothing from you if left to be what they are. Their society exists in it’s own order. We have decided we need more land, more resource, more, more, more. In our history we needed them to carry our burdens, expand our ability to travel and win our wars. But they needed nothing from us. We are fortunate to share this planet with a being so willing to give us what we need.

That moment of first touch… if you wait for it, is their choice. They decide I want to touch you…. it is magic. It is a gift that should be honored. And in truth perhaps a moment we can truly learn to appreciate the relationship of “horse.”

The next person to approach this girl and wait for an invitation will most likely receive her permission to touch her legs. She is an amazing ambassador to the bravery of a wild horse. Every horse that watches her gains confidence… let us not break the trust they are willing to give.

Palomino Valley Update

Stallions have been moved to the “Big Pen.”

The dynamic among the group of horses was much more relaxed than yesterday. We saw some “stud pile” socializing and witnessed no aggressive behavior today. A bit of space in a more secluded place in the facility provides a much safer environment for horses and also the handlers.

The "Big Pen"

In order to get to this larger pen you need to walk around the facility a bit. If the idea of keeping them (stallions) in the small pen was to facilitate visibility… walking visitors around to see these horses might just facilitate an adoption or two.

#6171… Sweet and actually pushy for attention.

Ready for a place to call home (Elyse Gardner)

True has been moved to a hospital pen that is off limits to public view.

The BLM staff vet finally paid him a visit.

I asked the assistant manager if he would use my camera and take a quick photo for me. He took my camera but I failed to show him how to use the zoom. He took several pics to let me see that the wound had been treated saying he got as close a pic as he could. He said the flaps of skin had been cut off to reduce proud flesh. The wound treated and bandaged. He told me that he personally had to stick his head into the chute and the blood that was visible at the fetlock was from the injury to the foreleg. I thanked him for getting the pictures for me.

True 5/25 (PVC staff)

I don’t know when they will put him back with his dad. This little guy was gathered, separated from family, then found dad, then was separated from dad and gelded, then put back with dad , then moved and injured and now separated again. Sweet True boy… you will be back with daddy soon.

Putting together more pieces of pieces… will update again tomorrow.