A New Year?

It’s a New Year?

Another HMA awaiting roundup. Many HMA’s awaiting roundup as “Multiple Ruse” continues.

Clan Alpine scheduled for February

Sanctuary proposals never answered by BLM. Significant public interest in wild herds on public land continually overlooked and minimized.

A so-called “Summit” to discuss with “multiple public interests” the welfare of American Equines begins in Vegas tomorrow. Yet missing from the table is any representation of actual equine welfare. A farce, a circus, an abomination of dialogue is given the label of “public forum.” A forum where even audience members (that have to pay significant cash) are denied access by the king and queen of slaughter-world. It is disgusting that members of a branch of our government are slated to not only attend, but speak. As no advocate voice sits as a speaker… not one.

The BLM ran a “public forum” for dialogue on wild herds in Denver last year. The king and queen of slaughter were significantly out numbered and out documented. Not a single concrete outcome from that workshop. Each advocate that attended was asked if they would volunteer for solution based action… not a single one of us has been contacted.

Yet Bob Abbey, the head honcho at the BLM, is slated to speak at this (cough, gag) public forum. 

However last year he was slated to speak at the Society for Range Management “summit” that was another push by the “red handed” to reinstitute the slaughter of wild horses. He bailed ten minutes before showtime. The objective of that show was to give BLM employees continuing education credits (I’m not kidding) and endorse Salazars proposal.

That “fun time” included the panel (including Bud Cribley, BLM) making fun of Congress, blaming wild horses for decrease in Salmon populations (I swear to you) and Sue Wallis, their Ethics speaker, regurgitating her “poetry.”

Needless to say I aint going to this one.

Instead I will go and sit yet again on the range and see no activity of our governments contractor at the trap. I will again be denied access to watch horses captured. I will yet again be denied the ability to view the horses in holding facilities where they are shipped.

"Silver King" HMA

I sat in Silver King today… where Galahad fought for his family, Silver King and so many others lost their Freedom, and Braveheart broke his neck. Where all activity at the moment of capture and any significant ability to observe the condition of our horses was obstructed. I saw no horses today.

Yesterday I sat with the Silver King horses that Return to Freedom is trying to reunite with their families… I sat with Bravehearts mare and youngster… it hurt.

Galahad and Mare

Single horse chased at Silver King

Single horse... just one

 We have two suits right now in Federal court. From what I understand Bob claims not to know about anything that has been happening out here and when he was told said “we need to change that.” Months ago… that conversation actually did occur with an advocate… in a closed meeting… months ago.

But this week will be the same old same old… the “Summit” will be the same old same old…

Hey Salazar… do you and Bob know what “New Direction” means?

And for all of you that asked about General and Crew…

General... I love that old man

Ranger and Commander

True.... kept getting too close for camera

Oh yeah… one year ago…  the only “new direction” is that they try to stop us from seeing it.

Together Forever…

General and Crew

Just a few photos I’ve been saving.

General, Commander and True are among the horses Return to Freedom will give sanctuary to. The boys will stay together…

My True Boy

Best Friends


I love these guys.

So much to do… so much heartache… but this makes it so much more bearable.


Calico Internet adoption

Please know that this information is flexible… 

Stallions going to Return to Freedom. 

You can go to their website to help that effort. 

I am not spearheading the mares. That information should be coming soon. 

As with ANY auction event there are unknowns that may change the horses that are pulled… 

If you don’t see a bid on a horse on our list it is because we may be waiting to place a bid…. 


Young Gelding that still needs a home at PVC


Calico Horses 

This past winter wild horses were gathered from the Calico Complex in Nevada. This roundup was one of the deadliest in recent BLM history. 

The horses in this roundup have been some of the most comprehensively documented from roundup through adoption event. Many of these horses that were virtually unknown have now become dear to the public that knows some of their stories and names. 

Elyse Gardner and Laura Leigh are attempting to facilitate placement of many of these beautiful horses. 

Return to Freedom and Dream Catchers have stepped up to give many of these horses a safe haven where they can be as free as we can help them remain. Several people have come forward that can take in a couple and train them toward adoptive homes in a foster situation. 

If you are interested in helping with this effort and desire more information please contact: 



This list is subject to change as bidding progresses. It is our intention to sanctuary or home as many of these horses as possible. If you are bidding on a horse, or know someone that is, please let us know so we do not bump heads in bidding. 

Please let your “fellow bidders” know the horses we are working on to avoid the same confusion. 

If you see a horse drop from our list it is because it has found a private bidder. You may see horses added to the list (priority to sale authority) as space opens up. 

Again, to be perfectly clear: The Sale authority Stallions are the core group list that will not change. Please do NOT bid on those horses and discourage anyone else from doing so. We have found a sanctuary situation for them so they can be as free as we can provide for them…. 

The core mares are also horses we are committed to providing that manufactured freedom to…. 

PLEASE know that all the sale authority horses are on our list as well. We will add them as safe places for them to land come forward and solidify. 


Sale Authority Stallions – These are the Stallions we are committed to. 






Priority Mares 




Mares (Fillies) 








Other people bidding on these horses (these horses have homes to go to) 




Geldings that still need a home at PVC


If you need help getting through the application process please contact us as well. 

Please be patient awaiting a response from me over the next two days… 

My plate is a bit full at the moment.UPDATE COMING SOON.

Calico Adoption Upcoming

The BLM is listing horses for the upcoming Internet adoption.


Only a few of the horses brought to Palomino Valley are listed.

But it’s time to get this effort organized.


To make a pledge for the core group of old stallions.

If you are an adopter, or foster for an adopter, get your applications into the BLM and email me that you have done so. If you are a sponsor email me and I will give you info on how to submit your pledge.

We have found a place for the old boys to stay together as a bachelor band and can place some of the others into safe places to be trained toward permanent homes.

Include your phone number when you email me and I will call you this weekend… I need to get back on the road so I have a couple of days to pull this together. Please be patient waiting for a response… I am working on several projects.

Boyz at the pile

The beat goes on

Been on the road and have a minute to try to catch up. I have received a ton of email in the last week. Some of it I have responded to, some not. It’s hard to dig through. If you have sent something urgent that I did not respond to, please send it again… and accept my apology.

So much is happening right now.

People keep asking me “what can I do?”

We had the meeting in Denver. It was honestly filled with promising dialogue. But it is just dialogue at this point. The report wont go to Congress until the fall. Who knows if anything will come after that.

But for now we hear the same beat of the same old song.


More meetings where we will be told not heard.

A very suspicious gather of horses deemed “estray” by the BLM to be turned over to the NV Dept. of Ag. They go to slaughter… legally under current law. But the timing and the area make you go hmmm… for many reasons.

Rental rates for Solar energy developers are announced. But there is no cost comparison for you to see… for that to be known you need to dig.

Horses continue to die from the Calico roundup. Observers denied an ability to witness the gelding of older horses… told “you have seen all there is to see.”

Gene Seidlitz of the Winnemucca district doing quite the sidestep after talking about cooperative monitoring.

And the beat of helicopters … http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/wild_horse_and_burro/wh_b_information_center/monthly_statistics.html

Change in this issue will only come when we have a full cost recovery system on public land. When lease holders actually get off the welfare line. But that action will only come through Congress. On all public land, not just places where horses are being forced off through manipulations of the multiple use mandate, lease holders are being allowed to reap private profit off of the taxpayer. Each lease requires an environmental impact statement that BLM field offices can’t perform in the manner truly needed to determine what those leases will do to our land. Ongoing effects to our wild resources can not be monitored as they should because the “powers that be” (in each field office) are not accountable to anyone but themselves. Conflicts of interest within our BLM/DOI are overwhelming and if they existed in the private sector would find themselves wrapped up in our judicial system in a manner that does not require the public to privately attempt to bring suit.

Write your Congressional representatives.

Write your newspapers.

Write your President.

The issues we are dealing with attempting to gain protections for our wild herds are identical to issues faced with any group looking for reform. In many respects our country is not regulated by our government… our government is regulated by special interests. The “checks and balances” have been removed through the lobby efforts of “industrializing” public land (not just on public land, everywhere)… on the back of a rapidly decreasing middle America.

But the symbol of the spirit of “freedom” is paying a great price.

I do not understand why in this time when America herself stands at this cross road we do not find it inside of ourselves to hold the symbol of the American Mustang high? We need all the reminders we can find of what it once meant to be resilient, brave, free…

not this…

So much for talking…

While we were in Denver listening to BLM’s hired gun Michael Harty act as if his meeting actually meant something … the stallions at Fallon have been castrated. I wonder how many of those smiling faces at that  meeting knew what was happening?


Gelding of the five years and older stallions took place this week.  During gelding, one stallion was noted with two cryptorchid testicles and was euthanized, one stallion suffered a spinal injury while in the chute and died on his own and one gelding was found dead in the pen.

The letters I have written (we all have written) go unanswered. Instead Gene Seidlitz of the Winnemucca district replied to Craig Downers letter and cc’d us all.

That is not a reply to MY letter.

He addressed Craig’s fly over… never my questions directly… NOT EVEN CLOSE.

He never responded to my last letter. He has never sent me the schedule for data collection that he invited me to participate in… that started today. He is side stepping and squirming instead of simply answering. Does someone behave that way when they have legs to stand on? Or when they are acting like someone with something to be ashamed of?

A proposal sits unanswered that would have taken in all of these horses at a savings to the tax=payer that would not have required gelding!!!!!!

Does our president care that his BLM… yes Obama’s BLM… behaves in such a manner? A manner that only deserves the label “sociopathic.”

How can anyone go to work in the morning for the BLM and look their children in the eye at night?

Before I left for Denver I said to watch them… best face, big hit.

Watch them now while they close air space and deny me access to observe data collection…. what are they really doing?

I am in the desert and rather beside myself at the moment…. we will NEVER even be permitted to see these older stallions that the BLM has castrated… who died? Does the BLM even care?

I will write more later… I need to walk or something.

How can anyone go to work in the morning for the BLM and look their children in the eye at night?

SaveWildHorses posted this in comments. I think this is a great idea…. start cc ing the White House, Senators on your emails to the BLM.

Yes! And on every correspondence with any BLM official please make sure they see your cc: to the following

Your Senators
Barbara Boxer
all the chain of command in the WH&B and BLM (Don Glenn, Bob Abbey, Ken Salazar)
and the President

Soon, I think we may need to start contacting the Justice Department

Disposition of Inventory?

Many of you sent letters to Gene Seidlitz of the BLM’s Winnemucca district in reference to the “Disposition of Inventory” at the Broken Arrow.

Gene’s response (he chose to respond to the group using Craig’s letter as the one to respond to. He did NOT respond to my request) :

Thanks for your continued interest in the Calico Complex. This note serves
as a response back to all of you regarding the recent flight by Mr. Craig
Downer which indicated only 50 wild horses and 350 livestock within
portions of the Complex.

As stated during the Calico Complex Gather, we have been planning for the
post gather population survey for this area and/or areas within the Tri
State area. Based on the significant amount of wild horse movement in and
outside of the HMA’s in this general area (northwest portion of Nevada)
this is the first time we will count the NW corner of the state to get a
comprehensive inventory. We intend to implement the Simultaneous
Double-Count with Sightability Bias Correction method. This methodology is
outlined in IM 2010-057. This method should yield the most accurate counts
possible. The BLM considers the methodology a valid tool for developing
estimates of horses (wild and feral) populations. It is a peer-reviewed
methodology, recommended by the USGS and BLM National Horse and Burro
Program research coordinator and tested on some BLM HMA’s and National
Wildlife Refuges.

This flight is tentatively scheduled for the summer of 2010 with a
certified pilot and three crew members. Although we have had offers from
some of you to fly with the BLM, regulations, policy and protocols that
address both safety and liability issues are grounds to deny your requests.
Once the population survey is completed, the data will have to be compiled,
analyzed and then presented. At this time, I can not provide you with an
exact date for this data to be available to you and others.

Thanks for your continued interest in the WH/B program and the Calico

775-623-1503 (fax)

My response to Gene:

I thank you for responding. However your response is not a response to the requests.

The requests were directed, not at the survey that we all know is going to be done this summer, but to the disposition of inventory at the Broken Arrow. The disposition of that inventory is premature until the survey is complete using the parameters of current knowledge.

1. BLM has identified “new” knowledge based on movement among the various jurisdictions involved in the planning for the new complex.

2. A gather was conducted where insufficient numbers to complete the contract were found.

3. A new protocol has been outlined, but not implemented, for data collection within that complex.

Based on these three issues alone, any disposition of inventory is premature and borders on irresponsibility to the mandate to protect these horses as well as to the mission statement of the new complex.

Exclusion of interested participants in the actual “count” protocol creates the need for a project to be designed by the interested party that uses the same protocol, yet is executed independently. This will create the very situation you claimed you wanted to avoid at our meeting. We will then have the “us and them” battle with data obtained in an identical manner, instead of a “we” approach to “moving forward” in the “new direction” claimed in DC.

I realize the microcosm management issues at the district level yet feel strongly that the need exists to follow the intention of cooperation as promised during such “productions” as the meeting I just attended.

I hope to hear a response from you that is directed at the core request in each letter you received.

Thank you,

Laura Leigh
Project Manager
Herd Watch


Act on this information at your own discretion (courtsey of dictionary.com):


–noun 1.
the power or right to decide or act according to one’s own judgment; freedom of judgment or choice: It is entirely within my discretion whether I will go or stay.


the quality of being discreet, esp. with reference to one’s own actions or speech; prudence or decorum: Throwing all discretion to the winds, he blurted out the truth.

—Idiom 3.

at discretion, at one’s option or pleasure: They were allowed to work overtime at discretion.

It’s about the horses…

This morning I leave for Denver.

Here is the info:


Where we will in essence address this:


If you can be there please notify whatever advocate organization you belong to. Many will have representatives there.

Because we all care about wild horses and burros.

Wild Utah baby taken just weeks ago

The current administration speaks of a “new direction” and dialogue toward that end.

Yet as it comes to the table not a single concrete action has been taken to demonstrate that is the intention.

The 2010 gather schedule runs full steam ahead. July 1 Owyhee and Rock Creek in Nevada will begin to hear the thrumming of helicopter blades over the horizon. They will drive over a thousand horses through the desert in summer including just weeks, days old, babies miles into their traps to forever loose their freedom. Actions that will be taken based on a broken system.

Mid-July the baby in the photograph above will have his family torn apart at Winter Ridge. This gather will zero out any horses in the area that is exclusively utilized for extraction.

The horses from the Calico Complex are being dispersed.

Calico Filly (photo Elyse Gardner)

Calico Filly (photo Elyse Gardner)

The are heading to adoption events, internet competitive bid, long term holding without any real post gather census. The Calico Complex gather was suspended because the projected number of horses were not found.

Right now range surveys are beginning as the Calico is part of the new “MegaPlex” being planned in that area. In weeks data might be available that concludes horses could have (allowed under current protocol) been returned… but the horses will be gone. An independent proposal from RTF/Kudrna sits awaiting a simple “ok” that would keep those horses in that area toward return as protocol within the complex actually begins to do range “repair.” Private dialogue has occurred attempting to hold the “powers that be” to statements made concerning the supposed intent of that complex.

Do you see any indications that a “new direction” is anything more than words? Conversations, meetings, proposals put forward all fall on deaf hearts.

Policy moves as it always has.

More, more, more…. clear the facility because it will need to house another 1,600 before the end of July.

“Move ‘em in … move ‘em out… rawhide.”

But we will go to this meeting and keep talking with the hope that someone will find the integrity to actually back up their words.

My daddy told me once “In this life you truly own nothing but your word. It’s all that really matters.”

Wonder what their daddies said to them?

“Move ‘em in… move ‘em out… rawhide?”

If you can’t come… prayers may be in order.


I have been told by someone that my last post is “over my head.” So here is a basic example… back to the Broken Arrow… those analogies have been relatively easy to speak to a greater protocol issue.

Definition (dictionary.com):


[ob-zur-vey-shuhn]  Show IPA

1. an act or instance of noticing or perceiving.

2. an act or instance of regarding attentively or watching.

3. the faculty or habit of observing or noticing.

4. notice: to escape a person’s observation.

5.an act or instance of viewing or noting a fact or occurrencefor some scientific    or other special purpose: the observation of blood pressure under stress.

Pick one BLM. Which one applies to daily observations by the BLM vet and onsite staff?

Foal pic dated 6/3/2010  Cat Kindsfather

Foal pic dated 6/3/2010 (Cat Kindsfather)

Email Dean Bolstad referencing this foal:

Examiner article here

“One foal had a cough and nasal discharge and was not feeling well. The veterinarian had administered antibiotics to this foal early Thursday morning before the tour started at 10 AM. Today,  (Friday) at 5 AM this foal was found in his pen deceased.”

Foal pic dated 6/10/2010

Foal pic dated 6/10/2010 (Elyse Gardner)

BTW this baby now has a name “Resurrection.”

Please remember Little Hope.

OBSERVATION by the BLM vet occurs daily… of what? Obviously the communication of specifics gets lost in this food chain.

OBSERVATION occurs on the range to create AML… oh yeah?

When your own internal reports say you can’t keep up and many districts can’t even get to the landscape! If the base of the “tower” is broken you need to fix the foundation first.

TOP to BOTTOM… broken, broken broken. Because the start point for policy sets the shape.

MORATORIUM before ANY dialogue of “New Direction.”

Letter Requesting Observation continue

NOTE: It has been my policy on this blog to not censor any comments. Anyone can come here and post. Members of the public, BLM, family and friends come to this blog.

I ask that comments be courteous, free of vulgarity, ON topic.

If profanity is used in the comments beyond the occasional “damn,” or become personal attacks on each other, I will censor.

Today was the last scheduled tour of the BLM Broken Arrow facility.

At the start of the tour Elyse Gardner presented John Neil, acting BLM manager of The Broken Arrow, a formal request from the advocate community to allow visitation at the facility to continue.

Elyse Gardner reading letter to John Neil (Val Dutter)

Elyse Gardner reading letter to John Neil (Val Dutter)

Text of the letter and original signers.

June 10, 2010
Bureau of Land Management
The Broken Arrow facility
John Neill, Contract Officer Representative/Manager
15780 SR445
Reno, NV 89510

Dear Mr. John Neill,

At this time we make a formal request that public observation be allowed to continue of any and all horses and burros at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) facility named “The Broken Arrow” located in Fallon, Nevada.

As these horses are managed for the American people by the BLM, we believe it is within our rights to continue to have access to them and therefore respectfully make this request.

Submitted by:

Elyse Gardner
Humane Advocate Observer representing the undersigned:

The Cloud Foundation, John Holland (President, Equine Welfare Alliance ), Vicki Tobin (Equine Welfare Alliance), Deiniz Bolbol (In Defense of Animals), Laura Leigh (Project Manager, Herd Watch), RT Fitch, Terry Fitch, Front Range Equine Rescue, Theresa Batchelor/Robert Batchelor  (Beauty’s Haven Farm & Equine Rescue, Inc.), Debbie Coffey , Colorado Wild Horse and Burro Coalition, Craig Downer (Wildlife ecologist), Val Dutton, Cathy Kindsfather, Janet Eaker, Kathleen Eskridge, Deborah Goad, Morgan Griffith, Sandy Hamilton, Jerry James, Joan Leachman, Joyce Lindsey, Robert Lindsey, Robert Lipsky, Dr. Ann M. Marini, Pam Nickoles,Valerie James-Patton, Rob Pliskin,  The Rescue Friends, Lynne Simari, April Tate, William Tate, Vernon Tate, James Walls, Dr. Mark Walls, Marilyn Wargo, Barbara Warner, Pate Warner, Winnie Wong

added: Susan Rolfe, Anne White, Carol Garden-Poole, Carryl Edwards, Maureen Harmonay, Jennifer Alford,Carol Walker, Sandra Longley, Laura Weiner, Sabrina Pelletier, Roxanne Hale, Rebecca McCue, Jennifer J Gage, Terry Watt, Jane Bravery Schwartz, Donna Buscemi, Sunny Bass, Suzanne Moore, Sherry Oster, Diana Kunce, Darcy Grizzle, Syd Marcus, G.G., Diane Marcus, Lori Schmidt, Becky Mitchell, Constance Sweitzer, Ernest Sweitzer, Marilyn Kamna

This letter was written yesterday. I will add the signatures received that missed the early morning cut off, not much time to “get the word out.”

If you would like to sign on to this letter please send an email, including name, city/state and telephone number for verification to:


BTW some of the spam being sent is rather entertaining…

A copy will be given to the district manager of the facility during the Denver workshop. (The letter, not the spam).

Cat using Val as a desk to add her name (Elyse Gardner)

Cat using Val as a desk to add her name (Elyse Gardner)

Val using Elyse as a desk (Cat Kindsfather)

Val using Elyse as a desk (Cat Kindsfather)

Good-bye for now… to the horses of the Calico Complex.

The following photos (in this post) courtesy of a very tired Cat Kindsfather….

End of Visitation

photos by me unless otherwise noted on this site

Today is the day the doors close at the BLM facility, “The Broken Arrow,” in Fallon, NV.

Because the BLM privately contracted the facility the public will no longer be able to bear witness to the lives within those walls.

Row of mares that have babies at the Broken Arrow

Personally I find this distressing.

The intellectual in me finds it outrageous.

A contract by a government agency that manages American horses in trust for the people did not make arrangements (as it awarded a lucrative no-bid contract to, I am told, a personal friend) to allow visitation by the public. That contract (in my opinion) by it’s very nature should have included the stipulation that public visitation be standard in operation as it made it’s monetary “reward.” “Services rendered” at that facility should include the public the agency is tasked to serve.

Mare and foal Broken Arrow

The human being in me is literally in pain.

I have seen these horses run free.

Peaceful Freedom

General and his band captured (True is with him)

Actions of Salazar's BLM

Actions of Salazar's BLM

Soldier Meadows temporary holding

I watched them loose their freedom in a gather that looked like a gushing wound as band after band poured down those mountains. I looked into confused eyes as they stood in those pens after gather. I walked the hospital pens and agonized over little Hope… I looked in his pain filled eyes, too… helpless to help him as he died of hoof slough most likely due to roundup trauma (noted in the BLM, incomplete, vet report).

Calico Foal

Hope Springs Eternal

I saw them standing in the bitter cold in January at the Broken Arrow. A facility that was still under construction as almost 2000 horses entered it’s gates. Almost 3000 was the projected number for that facility. I shudder to think of 1000 more horses in that incomplete facility as this administration runs full steam ahead furthering an agenda instead of putting the breaks on as it claims a “new direction.”

Scar face Mare Broken Arrow January 2010

Youngsters January 2010

I got to know so many of those horses as individuals that have left a lasting imprint on my soul. The sense of responsibility to these amazing beings has grown… it is incomprehensible to me the lack of recognition these animals have as individual beings. They are not just “inventory.”

Calico Filly (photo Elyse Gardner)

Calico Filly (photo Elyse Gardner

My last visit to the facility brought instant recognition of many of these horses. Not only did I remember them… but I know some remember me. So many of the younger ones have grown into young adults, smart and curious. The older horses attempting to adjust to a life that will never resemble anything they were born to be. Many of them will now be shipped out of sight to die in long term holding, also off limits to public view.

Huge old stallion at Broken Arrow

Mare and foals Broken Arrow 2010

Medicine Hat

Young Sabino

Mare and foal Broken Arrow

My heart aches… just aches.

Instead of recognizing the value of the free, volunteer eyes at it’s disposal the BLM claims the observers place a “burden” on staff as the public is offered a tour comprising a few hours each Sunday. Each Sunday it seems the observers point out apparently overlooked issues within the facility. Orphaned foals, the Pigeon Fever/not pigeon fever abscesses still appearing in the population, injuries and the critical condition of the foal we now know as “Sorro,” are all issues brought to the attention of “staff” by the “burden” of public eyes.

Perhaps in this “dialogue of new direction,” and all the supposed areas for cooperative effort, perhaps the public actually needs to be involved? What a concept…

Sorro euthanized at the Broken Arrow

This “new direction” is a public relations campaign. The 2010 gather schedule stands. The “dispute resolution firm” is a hired gun to create a support document for placation of the public. Salazar’s plan to decimate our wild herds runs pedal to the floor. The “new direction” is just a short cut to “Salazoo.”

5/31 Wild Horses

Free Wild Horses

Free band stallion

My heart aches… just aches.

A Request in Good Faith

Several Advocates have made requests toward the release of the Calico Complex horses.

Gene Seidlitz of the Winnemucca district is the man with final authority.


RT’s blog has Craig Downers letter. Here is mine.

Write him… cc anyone you think might care.

Wild Horse and Burro Division
Bureau of Land Management
Winnemucca, NV

Dear Sir:

At this time I would like to officially request that the disposition of horses currently held at the BLM facility named the Broken Arrow in Fallon, NV be postponed until such time as the range data collected confirms inventory left within the complex. No data has been collected or supplied to the public to confirm populations within the Complex since the gather took place. As the gather was called off early due to insufficient numbers to complete the contract, any other action would be premature.

As the survey is to begin shortly within the Complex the delay would pose minimal inconvenience.

With the Tri-state Mega Complex still in the planning stages, with an announced mission of managing wild populations across the landscape, this seems like an opportunity to create public confidence in such a statement.

If data comes back from the two week survey that would support the return of horses to the range we also have a unique opportunity to further the mission stated. Some of the horses gathered this past winter had been gathered previously in California. These horses now have blood draws and observation time at this holding facility, as well as the information collected in California. Including these horses in the potential release would give an opportunity to further the database on migratory patterns within the Complex.

If the mission statement is actually to reflect practices within the complex this request is made in good faith and with reasonable expectation.

Thank you.
Laura Leigh
Project Manager Herd Watch

Yearlings in Holding

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.

True Update

Saw True today.

He has still not been seen by the vet. I have been told the vet will be there tomorrow.

This is a pictire of the largest wound, taken today.

True's largest wound 5/23

His dad is taking good care of him and keeping the other horses away from him.

If this injury occurred to a horse in your care would you call a vet? Waiting six days for a vet to examine a horse with wounds on three legs? Or to examine Commander still tender on that front?

5/23 5 days after injury

My emotions are actually getting the better of me at this moment so I will update about True boy again tomorrow.

True's leg 5/23

The pen holding the stallions is less than 25% the size of the pen they were held in at the Broken Arrow. Today hay was placed in feeders along one edge of the pen. Empty feeders were on the other side. This created a dynamic where all the stallions needed to line up in close proximity to each other. We witnessed biting and aggressive behavior we did not see at the Broken Arrow among this group. Placing hay into the other feeders would allow for more spacing between these horses and lessen the likelihood that we will see a serious injury occur.

Seems like a “no brainer,” doesn’t it?

Bite inflicted at feeder 5/23

I got news about the IDA suit being dismissed on standing. Standing is a tricky thing and rather interesting when it comes to filing a suit against the government. The points raised by the suit have not been discounted… but the points and plaintiffs didn’t match. I know we will hear more about this soon. The issue of long term warehousing is valid… but not in that format. This was not a defeat… the field was never joined.

Lightning looks great…

Lightning 5/23

If you can make the advisory board meeting in Denver… please come.

Mouse (#1096)

So much is going on right now.

Personally I’ve been in the field gathering data, having meetings, visiting the facilities. Herd Watch is coming together with tremendous support and volunteers.

Somehing happened last week that deserved a bit of time to respond to…

On May 19 BLM listed another death to the daily update.

“A yearling gelding (#1096) was euthanized after he was found down in his pen; diagnosis fractured neck, cause unknown.” This death brought the BLM count to 90. (Does not count deaths of foals).

#1096 was the little guy named “Mouse” by the advocates.

Mouse (Craig Downer)

Mouse was just a little thing.

Mouse gave people a really hard tme during processing…. he showed he was “wild” at heart.

This week horses were moved from the Broken Arrow over to PVC for an adoption event.

On Wed. the BLM update says he was found in his pen with a broken neck. Often wild animals panic when pressed. If Mouse was being separated for loading, or others near him were, a yearling that demonstrated the “spirit” that Mouse had shown might run into a fence. That reaction from this little fella might be expected… particularly with the pressure used to move them.

But the BLM says he was “found” in his pen and lists no known cause for a fractured neck.

“A yearling gelding (#1096) was euthanized after he was found down in his pen; diagnosis fractured neck, cause unknown.”

YouTube by Elyse Gardner

Currently there is a bit of a “rift” about discussions deemed the “daily snivel.”

Advocates need to recognize the value of advocates. There is not one “way to be” that will carry the change needed. We all need to recognize the value that each one of us brings to the table.

This is a simple recognition of a wild horse yearling taken from his home this winter. He did not adjust to captivity…

The current system has no protocol for recognition of individuals that will not do well behind bars toward releasing them.

So this morning we take a minute to recognize his passing…

Another Foal dies

Euthanized at the Broken Arrow

I was able to visit the horses at the Broken Arrow again. Many of these horses I have not seen in months.

I wanted to write to you about the experience of seeing these horses again. I entered the facility and expressed a desire to write about the adoption event… and one of the first horses I saw was wearing a tag on his head. Almost a gesture representing a “hey… get me out of here.”

"Get me outta here!"

I had an amazing reunion with some of the younger horses… that have grown so much since I saw them last. One by one a small group came up to say hello and I even got my head nibbled….

"Hello" (Elyse Gardner)

I had an amazing moment seeing General, Commander and True… I will save that for another day.

But instead I get to share that yet another foal has died.

At the end of the tour we observed an emaciated foal. The little thing appeared dehydrated and weak. The mare was present and attentive. She appeared to have very little milk.

She was also one of the mares that had been treated with PZP and released in CA.

The baby was euthanized after we left.

Mare and foal, foal euthanized (Craig Downer)

I spoke with Dean Bolstad today and he was genuinely concerned that this foal was allowed to get to the state it was in before intervention. We discussed the many “reasons” that this could have happened but he was in agreement that it shouldn’t have happened at all.

However we now have another birth and death that will not appear in any record.

So I leave with more questions…

Is PZP associated with a higher incidence of spontaneous abortion? Is it associated with a higher mortality rate to foals?

We will be told “no.” But the truth is that there is no statistical record kept. Studies on “sanctuary” horses are not studies on wild bands. Wild bands that deal with compound stress issues such as those that occur during round up are NOT the same as a controlled group in sanctuary… so don’t even try to convince me.

We are still waiting for the basic numbers of age, sex, etc. on this gather. Apparently the guy that enters the data needed help…. and then the help needs to be checked…. and then….

We are promised the data this week.

The vet at the Broken Arrow has appeared to need an assistant or two since day one. Why are these missed issues still occurring? Are there too many horses at the facility? Too little staff? Too hot to walk the pens?

I am very tired and have much to accomplish in the next few days. I will post more tomorrow.

Happy Mother’s Day

Almost from the very moment it happens you know… a new life has taken root inside of you.
A life that grows with a unique personality. A being that grows more familiar as it grows inside of you.

It is a secret you carry.
It walks with you, eats and sleeps with you.

One day that being leaves the comfort of it’s secret place and enters your world. It changes everything you are.

Motherhood has strings attached (Cat Kindsfather)

A world that may be filled with hardship, challenges and pain. Yet it is also a world filled with moments of pure love.

You strive to care for that life. To provide for it the best you can. Each moment close together becomes a center to a small universe. A universe you carry with you always.

I thank my mom for all she has taught me. I thank my children for teaching me why.

Happy Mother’s Day.

I wrote a new piece for Mother’s day on the Examiner featuring the beautiful photography of the captive Mothers and their children by Cat Kindsfather. Thank you Cat for this Mother’s day gift. Essay here.

Earlier article about births at Broken Arrow here.

New Article (Gelding)

I have a new article on my Examiner page and a new video to illustrate the gelding process at the Broken Arrow.

Give me a “click” I need the gas $ to keep working. (Examiner works off clicks)



Many of you have written to me asking about General.

I have not written another chapter in “General’s Saga” and I apologize. Many tasks at hand but it is a story I want to share.

I am going to be a bit self-indulgent in responding to inquiries about General and just “talk.”

I love that old horse. From the moment I saw him that day he was captured he spoke to my soul. He has a presence that others have observed since that  day.

Elyse Gardner calls me every time she leaves the Broken Arrow to let me know that she has seen him. Elyse is rather fond of him, too. She gave me this video to share (General is at the beginning and the guy with the star next to him is Commander. True is at the end of the video). She has more footage of General from last Sunday and will send when she can.

I left the voices in. This piece lets you feel what it’s like to walk the facility. So many horses to view and so many questions to ask and never enough time.

General looks good, so does Commander. General slipped his tag off. I know his number and referenced some of the horses by number in correspondence with John Neill at the facility. John responded by using General’s name and said “we know you are watching out for him.” John told me that currently there are no plans to geld any of the older horses.

True is not with dad and seems a bit lost right now. He has a very sweet disposition and really seemed to need his father. Every picture I saw had him right behind dad. I wish I could put him back with the only family he had left…

True has not been gelded yet and I have a call in to see how they are doing.

I will be able to go see them again very soon. I get a lump in my throat when I think about it.

In my heart I just wish I could see General back out on the range…

20 years of survival as a wild stallion… and now?

Thanks for letting me talk about him….

Broken Arrow (Gelding Update)

Just want to take a minute to give you a quick update on the horses currently at the Broken Arrow facility.

Swelling (Cat Kindsfather)

I spoke with Elyse Gardner this morning. We spoke prior to her leaving yesterday as I had some questions about the gelding procedure. I asked her to photograph the area used for the procedure.

The answers given to the questions were very much the expected responses. Into the chute, inject with a paralytic, open the chute, the horse goes down and procedure completed. Henderson tool and cauterization is completed as procedure is performed.

Elyse reported seeing one young horse that had significant swelling. A few with minor visible swelling.

There currently are no plans to geld any of the older stallions.

Pigeon Fever Update:

It has taken me a bit to post this latest report from Sanford. Something like this was expected. It almost seems to be so much a part of the dance that it had to come.

Pigeon Fever WAS CONFIRMED by the facility manager John Neill. He said there were a handful of cases. The adoption event was postponed until July, adding as many as 60 days to the recovery time before adoption. That in itself slows down the race to the gate enough that any situation could be monitored and responded to.

The assertion in Sanfords report appears to blame an inexperienced public for confusing Pigeon Fever with Staphylococcus aureus.

I called John Neill, manager of the facility. Confirmation came from John. If anyone wants to “google” Staphylococcus aureus you will see it is transmitted in basically the same manner as Pigeon Fever. (Flies are one way the virus is transmitted however contact with the soil, hands, equipment can spread pigeon fever).

Panic that animals would die coast-to-coast was not an issue. However standard practices in equine management would involve isolating the population effected by either of these ailments. Call any boarding barn, breeder that cares about his horses, your own equine vet.

But at least this has been posted here to keep the trail of breadcrumbs in tact.

Observations Related to Pigeon Fever and Chest Hematomas
in the Calico Complex Horses located at the Indian Lakes Road Facility

Pigeon Fever
In January 2010, I observed clinical signs that suggested horses from the Calico Complex were recovering from pigeon fever (infection with Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis). These infections probably occurred late in 2009.
A few (5-10) abscesses were still healing in 2010 during and after the Calico gather. Overall, about 2% of the horses appeared to be affected. No further abscesses have been noted. The diagnosis was based on these clinical impressions and since almost all the abscesses were healed no laboratory confirmation of the causative bacteria has been possible.
No complications are expected although recurrence is possible depending on soil and weather conditions in the area. Pigeon fever has been reported on several occasions among domestic and wild horses in Fallon and throughout Nevada and California.
Chest Hematomas
During the last month, an observation of a condition unrelated to pigeon fever has been made in about 10 yearling colts that have chest hematomas. For visitors to the facility, these swellings could be confused with pigeon fever.
The hematomas likely resulted from bruises caused by contact with the feed bunk. Modifications to the feed bunks are being made in an attempt to prevent this from occurring in the future.
The hematomas have been drained and cultured as a precaution. The only bacterial growth obtained from these cultures to date has been Staphylococcus aureus. This bacteria is part of the normal skin flora and most likely an insignificant contaminant of the culture. This is not the organism that causes pigeon fever and is not a contagious condition.
No complications from the hematomas are expected, and all treated hematomas are healing.
Richard Sanford DVM
NV #565

Phot Craig Downer

Photo Craig Downer

Here is the previous report that was posted on the BLM site about Pigeon Fever. If this is a “dance” then I guess this could be called the “dip” before the “spin.”

Pigeon Fever at Indian Lakes Road Facility in Fallon, NV

Veterinarian report prepared by: Richard Sanford, DVM. NV# 565

Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis: bacteria which is found in the soil, is most likely transmitted by biting flies and has a very long incubation period (weeks – months). The disease has nothing to do with pigeons. The name comes from the large chest abscesses that some horses can get, which look like the large breast of a pigeon. (Also known as “Dryland Distemper” or “Pigeon Breast”)

Of the Calico Complex horses gathered from December 29, 2009 – February 4, 2010, approximately 2 percent of the 1,922 horses received at the facility showed clinical signs of healed chest abscesses from recent Pigeon Fever infection and .25 percent to .50 percent showed more recent or currently were infected with Pigeon Fever.

As of March 31, 2010, at the Indian Lakes Road facility, Pigeon Fever is still noted at the .25 percent to .50 percent rate, mostly found in the juvenile horses. The incidence of Pigeon Fever at the Indian Lakes Facility is at the same percentages that exist on the Calico Complex. The chest swellings range from golf ball size to grapefruit size. Fly season occurs at the end of summer. Therefore, it is expected that incidents of Pigeon Fever will decrease over time. Disease may or may not reoccur during the 2010 fly season based on environmental factors, such as temperatures, precipitation levels, soil conditions, fly conditions, etc. It is noted that California had severe Pigeon Fever conditions during the 2009 fly season. It is speculated those conditions apply to Nevada as well.

Horses housed at the Indian Lakes Road facility that have active Pigeon Fever are being monitored. No treatments have been administered to date. Abscesses have all resolved without treatment. No deaths or complications have been associated with infection. Based on 25 years of past experience with wild horses and burros, Pigeon Fever can exist in many of our wild herds depending on current year environmental conditions.

New I-Team Report

I-Team: Nearly 80 Wild Horses Dead After Roundup

LAS VEGAS — The Calico Hills wild horse roundup has been characterized by the Bureau of Land Management as a huge success. But wild horse advocates say it was a disaster, and one that grows worse every day.

The roundup ended months ago, but the horses are still paying the price — many with their lives — according to animal activists.

The case for the Calico wild horse roundup continues to deteriorate months after the government spent nearly $2 million to capture every mustang it could find in the rugged and remote terrain adjacent to Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.

From the beginning, the BLM claimed the gather was for the good of the horses and the good of the range, but it doesn’t appear either of those justifications were on the up and up.

First, there weren’t nearly as many mustangs on the range as BLM predicted. The roundup of about 1,900 mustangs fell short of the target by about 700. Second, the vast majority of the horses gathered were in good shape — not starving or emaciated.

BLM manager Gene Seidlitz said his agency was trying to avert a disaster down the road when food might be more scarce. As it turned out, the roundup itself was a disaster for the herds.

George Knapp’s I-Team Full Report on 8 News Now

Links to Award Winning reports by George Knapp can be found under “Ways to Help” in the menu at the top of this page. It is an honor to have my footage used in these reports.

If anyone finds an embed code on Knapp’s video send it on.  : )

Gelding at Calico

This is just a quick post about the uproar beginning to occur about the gelding taking place at Calico of stallions under 4.  (BLM update page here)

Young Stud (holding area)

My inbox is beginning to receive a flood of mail. So I decided to post a response on the blog.

In order to actually understand this process the language within the lawsuits must be looked at. I have stated several times that terminology and definition will become increasingly important.

It is my understanding that the IDA (In Defense of Animals) suit deals with the issue of long-term holding.

An adoption event would not be in contradiction to any issue that deals with older horses heading to long-term holding.

Calico horses 4 and under are heading to an adoption event in July (rescheduled from May 15&16) regardless of the outcome of the suit.
In an email today from William Spriggs, Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney PC, he confirmed my understanding.

I am not privy to the specifics of the “no geld” conversation.

Something else to think about…

If the suit wins on long-term holding? The next step is not necessarily freedom.

IDA will need to first argue that long term holding violates current law. Then they will have to argue that returning the horses is not a violation of law. Then they will have to prove that it can be done and dispute the arguments from BLM that it was a necessary action to remove them (horses). So even if they win on long term as illegal, they may not win on the second part of the argument.

Language (specific, concise) is going to become very important.

New Video of Processing Calico

Elyse Gardner has just posted a new YouTube that shows the processing of horses gathered from the Calico Complex in Nevada by the Bureau of Land Management. Another long video but it will give you an idea how horses are processed and what that means.

I posted a shorter video prior to the beginning of the Calico horses being procesed at the Broken Arrow of horses being processed at the Palomino Valley Center also in Nevada. The equipment is essentially the same with a few changes made in design.

Calico Adoption Update

Note: Photos included in this piece were taken by Elyse Gardner. Elyse called me as soon as  she left the facility on Sunday to let me know General was doing well. His son True has been moved in with the younger horses and seems a bit “lost.”

True "on his own"

The horses gathered from the Calico Complex by the Bureau of Land Management this winter, held at the Broken Arrow facility in Fallon, will not be going to Palomino Valley for an adoption event in May as previously planned. The horses will be offered in an Internet adoption event in July.

Beautiful Girl

John Neill manager at the Broken Arrow facility has stated:

Based on National interest with Calico horses, we have decided not to host an adoption event at Palomino Valley in mid May. Instead we will be posting approx. 100 Calico’s on an internet adoption event to be held in July.

The 100 animals will be transported to Palomino Valley in early June for public viewing if persons so wish. However, adoptions /sales will take place on the I-NET adoption in July. Pictures of the animals selected for this
event will eventually be posted on our web site. This likely will not
happen until late May or early June.

Sweet Eye!

John Neill will keep me informed as the event draws closer so information can be made available to the public.

A personal note: John knows I am following specific horses. I asked about the horses by their tag numbers. John responded with General’s name.

General! Thank you, Elyse!

IDA Calico Press Release

Some Updates on the Calico Lawsuits from IDA.

From the Horse online

Lawsuit Seeks Mustangs’ Return to Range

by: Pat Raia
April 07 2010, Article # 16137

A group of wild horse advocates have asked a federal judge to order the return of 1,800 Bureau of Land Management (BLM) mustangs to the Calico Mountain Complex range in Nevada. The BLM relocated the horses from the range to holding facilities during a controversial gather earlier this year.

In a brief filed in federal district court in Washington, D.C., March 31 by Atty. Bill Spriggs, In Defense of Animals, ecologist Craig Downer, and Terri Farley asked Judge Paul L. Friedman to order the BLM to return to the horses to the range on the grounds that long-term holding violates the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971. The Act places wild horses and burros under BLM jurisdiction.

A hearing on the case is slated for April 30.

BLM spokesman Tom Gorey declined comment.

View Free Version of 20 minute documentary in 2 parts Here.

Latest Press Release From In Defense of Animals on the Calico Horses

SAN RAFAEL, CA (IDA) – In Defense of Animals’s lawsuit to stop the roundup of wild horses in the Calico Mountain Complex in northwest Nevada proceeds. Last week, our generous pro bono legal team at Buchanan, Ingersoll and Rooney in Washington DC filed the final brief in the case. We continue to highlight the illegality of the government’s practice of removing wild horses from the wild only to stockpile them in government holding facilities in the midwest. Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for April 30 in Washington DC, and the court is expected to issue a ruling by the end of May.

The roundup of the Calico horses exemplifies what is wrong and illegal with the government’s management of wild horses.

The tragedy of the Calico horses began with the helicopter stampeding of horses into traps and the separation of family members. It continues today at the holding facility which confines these wild horses in unnatural, zoo-like conditions. Of the reported 1,922 Calico horses rounded up, from December 28, 2009 to Feb 4, 2010, at least 83 have died from roundup-related problems. More than 40 heavily-pregnant mares have spontaneously aborted, and an uncounted number of foals born at the facility have died. (The BLM does not report foals born at the facility who have died.) The government officials claim this is the typical cost of a roundup and they make our point for us – it is too high a cost. It is an unnecessary cost. It is wrong and it must be stopped.

The Calico horses are kept at a newly-built, feedlot-like facility in Fallon, Nevada – approximately 200 to 300 miles from their home range. They are forced to stand and lie in their own waste. The horses are stressed from the confinement, being kept with unfamiliar horses, separated from their family members and the boredom.

Stress tends to weaken immune systems, which can increase susceptibility to health problems that could otherwise (under healthy, stress-free conditions) be warded off. The government recently revealed that a highly-contagious bacterial disease called “pigeon fever” is present at the holding facility. This bacteria, which lives and multiplies in dry soil and manure, is spread by flies and creates large, open intramuscular abscesses on the horse (the abscesses can also be internal). The government states between 50-100 horses are currently infected. This is just the latest misery to befall these innocent victims. We will continue to monitor this situation and let you know how you can help.


I have re-edited the piece “Calico Complex In Retrospect” for viewing on the web.I was approached to provide video for a group pressing DVD’s for DC. They ran a test group and went only with my footage. I felt that the project I had begun was important because it told a more complete story of Calico.

I researched distribution and each option was expensive. This would slow down getting the images to the public in a manner that was timely. These horses need our attention now more than ever. So I created a public viewing option (click on Theatre)  here at a site devoted to the project.

A CD is still available and the edit is a bit different for anyone wishing to have a hard copy of the project. They are available on my website here.

Not sure if you want popcorn… but the piece is up for viewing.

In Retrospect

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.”

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?

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