Bald Mountain Video

First leg of the Callaghan Complex. Trap, treat (PZP-22) and release. About 400 will be removed, about 1000 rounded up. For the entire Complex (Bald Mountain, Callaghan, New Pass/ Ravenswood) will be aprox. 875 left on the range. Battle Mountain District may have more mining than any other district and a  lot of grazing interests.

 Counties Eureka, Lander, Nye….

(video is labeled “2011” because it is on trhe fiscal 2011 schedule. I think geography in terms of HMA’s and time by thr roundup schedule….)

on the road…

Been at Tonopah…

Amazing horses with such a will to be free in an openly hostile environment for wild horses… not the landscape but the human element that is actually vocally hostile. Beyond sad.

Access games Tonopah

The same old access games were played with a real twist that kept obsertvers from viewing any activity as horses are brought in. Enough time transpired to “load ‘em on the truck and take ‘em to town” before we ever got a glimpse.

I’ll edit video and post pics soon. Writing a long piece for Horseback and working in several directions… you will hear all about it very soon.


Back on the road….


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

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…

More about the foal “Sorro”

Going to add a quick post to give y’all some more info on the foal that died at the Broken Arrow last weekend.

Examiner Article Here

I’m out collecting range data… I will report on those findings soon.

“Sorro,” as Elyse named the baby, was overlooked at the Broken Arrow. We were told by Dean Bolstad that the vet is out daily.

A “triage” of sorts was done and three foals given to a wild horse group. The foals given to that group all came from the pen that the weekend observers raised a stink about the weeks prior.

Sorro was not in that pen.

Sorro was in the pen at the rear of the facility. The last pens you see as you go on the tour.

No determination of intervention had been made on that mare/foal pair, none. (After supposedly witnessing that foal for days). The vet came to treat that foal AFTER advocates left that day. By that time it was too late to do anything.

When asked if the vet noted any anomalies (after death) that could have led to the issue, ie. parrot mouth or  other dental or structural issue Dean replied… “I don’t think so, nothing in the memo.” But he was unsure if anything was even looked for.

I’m sure he will answer questions on Sunday.

Discussing the issues at the Broken Arrow is not distraction from the main issue. The main issue is competent management of our wild herds… top to bottom. Any agency or piece of the protocol that fails in that mandate should fall under scrutiny. Just because a horse leaves the range does not decrease the scrutiny needed by the advocate community toward the welfare of that life.

I see faulty practices top to bottom.

A massive gather was done in the harshest portion of the winter. Almost 2000 horses were then trucked to a facility that was still under construction. Hospital pens in January and February did not have wind breaks.

A reported 300 births now brings that total to over 2000 horses. Wooden barriers have been placed to keep the hay near the pens. A piece of wood that forms a 45 degree angle is inserted to keep the hay close to the pen after we were told the abscesses were due to pushing against the fence in order to get hay.

However the 45 degree angle piece that keep that hay close to the animals is missing from the pens that contain the animals with the greatest nutritional needs. No slanted pieces are in place for the mares nursing foals…. but the stallion pen that holds the horses the advocates have named…. has one.

So what exactly is motivating change over there? It is not a “thinking” toward the horses. It is a reactionary response to the “aggravation” of actually allowing the public an opportunity to react to what they see.

If they want to dismiss it by calling it “daily snivel” it shows the continued use of dismissive, derogatory dialogue.

Think back to grammar school… a bully locks a nerd in the locker. When the kid is found by the janitor crying the bully makes fun of him. But the bully is wrong.

Issues that deal with health of the range, viability of herds, numbers of lease holders, adherence to law…. and the life of an overlooked foal… ALL OF IT MATTERS.

Not only the continued smoke screen of “multiple use.” The BLM manages over 262 million acres of land. Horses currently occupy about 10% of that land…. by definition that IS multiple use.

I’m sure when we flood the faxes in DC they have a cute derogatory term for it, too.

And if that means we turn the “daily snivel” into a tidal wave…. good. Maybe then the concept of how much American’s care about EACH LIFE  that is born of a wild horse will finally sink in.

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.

IDA Alert

Please Act Before May 21 – Oppose Removal Of 1,000 Wild Horses From Nevada’s Great Basin Region

Please use the form below to submit comments (and share with friends and family) before Friday, May 21, to oppose the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Tuscarora Field Office (Nevada) proposal to round up 1,438 wild horses and permanently remove approximately 1,000 horses from more than 480,000 acres in Wild Horses, credit: Mark Terrellnortheast Nevada. The BLM has decided that only 337-561 wild horses are allowed to live in this 750-square-mile area. Meanwhile, the BLM allows private ranchers to graze thousands of livestock in the same area. The BLM issued a preliminary Environmental Assessment and refused to give serious consideration to alternatives to the roundup. The Obama Administration is intent on continuing business as usual when it comes to the BLM’s wild horse and burro program.

Read more and take ACTION

at the IDA web site!

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.

Adoption Tidbit

Just a few tidbits for thought today.

I have written a few times about the adoption events held by the BLM. Recently I posted concern over some of the horses that get very little publicity and move from first adoption event into the realm of “three-strikes” without much fanfare.

Photo taken from BLM INet site

This pretty girl is at PVC. She is in her second adoption event. The second event uses the same awful pictures as the first.  No real publicity campaign associated with either event. Just days ago she had no bids. Today she does! Thirteen of the horses listed actually have bids this time.

Often we hear claims that the public does not “step up.” Those claims are always so outrageous. The public steps up to advocate, adopt and rescue so many that get into trouble. The public at large adores it’s wild horses. People that have never seen a wild horse in person, nor ever will, adore our horses.

But we need our government to really recognize what these animals mean to the moral of it’s people at a time when pride in being American is waning. We really do stand at a cross-roads where WE as a nation can rebuild our economy and social structure not on the backs of it’s people by supporting a select few and selling our land to foreign interests. We can create a real pride by protecting our country and reminding ourselves that being American does not mean being a “sell-out,” but it means being a resourceful survivor… like the mustang.

An effort by those in power could go a real long way right now. They need to show US that the willingness to restore US actually includes the things that matter to US.

I want to take just a minute to point out another horse at PVC that has no bids. This mare is gorgeous… but she’s a bay. Being a bay is a “bad thing” in the wild horse world. I was out looking at horses on private land (checkered land that illustrate that horses only have protection not by where they were born but only by the land they stand on in a moment), where someone may very well have “culled” the bays from the herd he gathers horses from for sale so they don’t breed the color out of the “stock.” Not much I can do about it except recognize the truth of the lack of protection many horses have in our world and the sad truth of what it means to be “just a bay.”

Taken from BLM INet site

She’s here.

Sex: Mare Age: 3 Years   Height (in hands): 14.3

Necktag #: 3616   Date Captured: 12/17/08

Color: Brown   Captured: Callaghan (NV)

#3616 – 3 yr old brown mare, captured Dec 08, from the Callaghan HMA, Nevada.

This horse is currently located in Palomino Valley, NV. For more information, call 775-475-2222 or email or

And please….

Visit IDA’s action page often for new Alerts even if you are on the mailing list. Sometimes actions are required very quickly and the few hours you can save by forwarding an ALERT before it hits your inbox could prove valuable.

IDA Action page here.

And keep calling the President and asking for a direct answer to the Moratorium call delivered to him last fall.

Whitehouse hotline number: 202-456-1111

In Memory of Mary Dann

Born January 1, 1923

Died April 22, 2005

I was given a copy of American Outrage at Christmas time by Lacy J. Dalton. I was told “You understand but  you need to watch this as part of your understanding.”

I don’t watch much television and it’s hard for me to sit still long enough to watch a film… so the DVD went into the boxes I carry in my pick up.

I’m getting ready to hit the road again and decided I would sit still for a minute and watch the film.

This film is an amazing testimonial to the strength and spirit of the Dann sisters. Embroiled in a battle with the US government over their right to use their own land for so many years and in such an outrageous fashion, yet it never removed their humanity.

Many of us know the story. But Lacy was right… now I know the story.

If you haven’t seen the video you can order a copy at the WIN website. WIN is a non profit devoted to the “freedom, safety and well being of the WIN Western Shoshone Indian Horse Herd. You can pick up copies of Lacy’s CD in the shop at the site, too. All sales go to care for the horses.

Jean Marie of WIN is the source of my camera that covered the Calico round up. Without it I would not have captured the images I did of Little Hope, the foal whose feet sloughed off.

Considering today’s date I thought sharing this with you was important.


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….

Action Needed

In Defense of Animals ACTION page here.

Accused to Stand Trial for Wild Horse Shootings in Nevada

Wild Horse Advocates will bear witness at court.

Reno, NV (April 21, 2010)—The Cloud Foundation and other wild horse advocates are coming to Reno on April 27, 2010 at 3 p.m. to witness Todd Davis and Joshua Keathly make their first court appearance for allegedly harassing and killing five federally protected American wild mustangs—shot on or about November 28, 2009 in Washoe county, Nevada. U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert A. McQuaid, Jr. will preside in Federal District Court, 400 S. Virginia Street, Reno.
Wild horse advocates find it unsettling to learn that Davis & Keathley are only charged with one count of causing the death of five wild horses for each man. Advocates are calling for charges of five counts, one for each horse as is standard with murder cases. If convicted of one count, each man will face a maximum of one year in prison and a maximum $100,000 fine.
“If convicted, the maximum penalties need to be applied to send a clear message—you kill America’s federally protected mustangs and you will pay the price,” states Emmy-Award winning filmmaker and Director of The Cloud Foundation, Ginger Kathrens.
The public is encouraged to attend the trial on behalf of the murdered horses. The Cloud Foundation joins the public in calling for increased charges in the violent deaths of five American mustangs on public land who are protected by the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971.
# # #
Links of interest:

US Department of Justice Press Release
Free Roaming Wild Horses and Burros Act of 1971
Wild Horses: Management or Stampede to Extinction? Reno Gazette Sunday Special by Frank X. Mullen.
News Story on Calico, rising death toll & skewed numbers from George Knapp (KLAS- Las Vegas):
BLM Daily Reports from Calico Roundup/Fallon Holding:
Mestengo. Mustang. Misfit.  America’s Disappearing Wild Horses – A History
Frequently Asked Questions on Wild Horses

Stampede to Oblivion: An Investigate Report from Las Vegas Now (

Photos, video and interviews available from:
The Cloud Foundation

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.

BLM Adoption Program?

As the adoption event of the Calico Complex horses draws closer I want to take a moment to begin discussing the concepts of bringing a wild horse into your life and what BLM adoptions/sale policy represents.

Last week Rob Pliskin sent me an article he wrote in honor of a horse named “Tobey.” Tobey was one of our wild ones that had a sad story that turned into a “happy ending” because humans stepped up to the plate at their own expense. Tobey was abused. He ended his life with hands that cared around him. He was one of the lucky ones.

Tobey (photo courtesy Denstar)

Kiva is the name of a BLM mustang that did not end his life with such fortune. Kiva was BLM branded. It was reported he worked as a camp horse with kids. I know he ended his life at the slaughter house. I tried to help Kiva. He had a home that I could have taken him to. A woman that would have tried her best to give him dignity and recognition of the service he gave after he left his life of freedom was hoping to give Kiva retirement. The packing plant owner needed to “make weight” on his shipment. Another so-called “unwanted horse” shipped to slaughter in a business that has more to do with supply and demand than any assertion that it is a “humane solution” toward solving a “problem.”

All that having been said what is “BLM adoption?”

Here is a link to the BLM page about adoptions.

If you can get past the reasons (spin) that these horses need to be adopted (removed from the range in such large numbers)  there is some good information there.

You must provide a minimum of 400 square feet (20 feet x 20 feet) for each animal adopted. Until fence broken, adult horses need to be maintained in an enclosure at least six feet high; burros in an enclosure at least 4.5 feet high; and horses less than 18 months old in an enclosure at least five feet high.

Other facility requirements are listed on the site.

It also lists the coding system for BLM freezebrands.

The BLM uses freezemarking to identify captured wild horses and burros, which is a permanent, unalterable, painless way to identify each horse or burro. The freezemark is applied on the left side of the animal’s neck and uses the International Alpha Angle System, which is a series of angles and alpha symbols. The mark contains the registering organization (U.S. Government), year of birth, and registration number.

There are many ways to obtain a mustang, not only from the BLM. There are several organizations that have given sanctuary to mustangs and adopt out horses that have already been “titled” and gentled to halter and handling. For some of you this may be a better option. A quick search on the Internet can pull up options, many you may find in your immediate area so you can visit and meet the horses available. By adopting from one of these places you free up a spot for another horse and help to keep these facilities in operation. And help keep a “safety net” in place for horses like Tobey and Kiva. BLM has no program that protects these horses after they are titled. That net is left to the private sector to maintain.

The BLM also has training programs at several Correctional facilities. More information can be found here. Many really wonderful horses have come out of these programs. ABC News clip from a program segment of the Outsiders here.

If you decide you want to bring in a horse and do all the training yourself this is a link to the adoption schedule for 2010.

You will not find the Calico adoption listed on the schedule. At this time the horses from the Calico round-up will be offered via Internet adoption in July. Further information will be forthcoming.

The horses currently at the Palomino Valley Facility in Nevada are being “moved” to make room for the horses coming in for the adoption event that will, at this time, include approximately 100 horses from the Calico gather.

Recently the horses at PVC were offered for adoption via the internet. I urge you to take a peek at the page before it gets pulled.

What I would like you to notice are the number of horses that had no bids. Many of these horses now have “one strike” in a “three strike” system that moves them closer to long term holding. It doesn’t matter that the event was held with virtually no publicity, photographs that have many of these horses looking afraid and dirty. The effort involved in placement has nothing to do with the individual life moving towards a life sentence.

Photo taken from BLM INet site

Sex: Filly Age: 1 Years   Height (in hands): 12.2

Necktag #: 6017   Date Captured: 04/01/09

Color: Brown   Captured: Born in a Holding Facility

#6017 – 1 yr old brown filly, born in a holding facility, NV, in Apr 09

She is available at PVC. Please note she was born in captivity. NO bids.

Photo taken from BLM INet site

Sex: Gelding Age: 1 Years   Height (in hands): 12.2

Necktag #: 6106   Date Captured: 01/01/09

Color: Bay   Captured: Born in a Holding Facility

#6106 – 1 yr old bay gelding, born in a holding facility, NV, in Jan 09.

He is available at PVC. Please note he was born in captivity. NO bids.

Photo taken from BLM INet site

Sex: Filly Age: 1 Years   Height (in hands): 12

Necktag #: 6149   Date Captured: 09/18/09

Color: Sorrel   Captured: Beatys Butte (OR)

#6149 – 1 yr old sorrel filly, captured Sep 09, from Beatys Butte HMA, Oregon.

She is at PVC. NO bids.

Photo taken from BLM INet site

Sex: Mare Age: 3 Years   Height (in hands): 13.3

Necktag #: 6953   Date Captured: 10/31/09

Color: Palomino   Captured: Tobin Range (NV)

#6953 – 3 yr old palomino mare, captured Oct 09, from Tobin Range HMA, Nevada.

She is available at PVC. NO bids.

Notes on the availability of the above horses from BLM site:

This horse is currently located in Palomino Valley, NV. For more information, call 775-475-2222 or email or

Pick up options (by appt): Palomino Valley, NV; Litchfield, CA; Burns, OR; Elm Creek, NE; Pauls Valley, OK; Ewing, IL.

Other pick up options: Marshall, TX (4/15-noon-2pm); Asheville, NC (4/16); Springfield, OH (4/16); Midland, MI (5/7); Marshfield, WI (5/21); Kenansville, NC (5/21).

Now I have a few questions for y’all:

While national attention focuses on the round-up that the BLM spent considerable taxpayer resources on, while the court case from IDA moves forward that the BLM is spending considerable taxpayer resources on, did any of you see a public campaign that reflects considerable resources mounted toward an adoption program? I’m not talking about a few hundred thousand spent on an “Extreme Mustang Makeover” event or a few thousand spent on a small adoption event… but anything that reflects a balanced program?

It almost seems as if the BLM relies on the public to not only attempt to create a safety net for these horses vulnerable to abuse and slaughter, but to do the majority of publicity toward adoption, like with the Pryor horses and Calico.

“We need to get AML down to a level that supports the adoption program.” Gene Seidlitz, Winnemucca district manager BLM.

Maybe getting your act together on resource management on the range, bringing the adoption program up to support current populations, creating a management strategy that stops destabilizing populations that increase reproduction, utilizing birth control in existing populations, etc. etc. etc. might possibly represent the concept “management” in a more productive fashion? Instead of keeping the “full steam ahead” approach on a management strategy that clearly DOES NOT WORK?

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.  : )

The Hands and Heart of an Adopter

I have a couple of stories to bring to you about adoptions of Wild Horses.

I’ll start with an article Rob Pliskin sent to me.

In Memory of Tobey, A Wild Horse:

and in Honor of Robert Denlinger and Cher Eastep

by Rob Pliskin

Rob Pliskin with Duster and Mel (Tracy Gantz)

I have been a volunteer in the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program for 12 years.  During that time I worked two stints at Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue, a gracious way station and sometimes end of the line for horses and burros in the High Desert of southern California.

I have seen horses and burros come and go, from weanlings just off the range who wanted to walk up under your elbow, to adults bouncing off the panels to escape.   What I’ve seen in these 12 years runs the gamut, from blessed unions between animals and adopters, to hard rescues of the abused and neglected in dire, deadly straits.

The first strong truth which stands out for me in every case is this:  These horses and burros, against their will, have been delivered into the hands and ultimately the hearts of the people who will come in contact with them for the rest of their lives.

Nearly all of these animals (that is, a number far more than any “vast majority” you could name) were living good lives meant for them in the wild before their capture.  They lived in family bands and herds in a way which guaranteed them the biggest shot at thriving nature could provide.  At the exact moment of their capture, this freedom was replaced by a complete and lifelong dependence on the hands and hearts of humans.

Even in the best of cases, I question whether that is a fair trade.  And in the worst, we all know it is not.  Who among us would not bounce off steel corral panels in their place?   We, who can never fully imagine the freedom of their wild, or the deadly fear of their captivity, would still know it for what it is.  And we too would undoubtedly resist.

Regarding this captivity then, the second equally strong truth which stands out for me is knowing the importance of the hands and the heart of the wild horse and burro adopter.

And when I try to describe these hands and hearts, too many words just flat get in the way.  So let me choose a few, and then introduce you to two people, Robert and Cher,  and a wild horse named Tobey:  two sets of human hands and indeed, three linked hearts.  The story of the Hands and Heart of an Adopter is really told in the text of the email below, sent by Robert Denlinger of Denstar Farms, one of Tobey’s first rescuers, to Tobey’s second rescuer, Cheryl Eastep  of Freedom Ranch, who provided a lifelong home for Tobey until his passing this week.

I met Cher in 1998 and Robert in 1999, when the Adoption Program began co-sponsoring weeklong gentling clinics across the country, providing hands-on education for anyone who wanted to learn to do their best with the captive wild horses and burros in the Program.

With an adoption at the beginning of the week and one at the end, many animals had an improved chance of a good adoption, having received some decent experience with human beings.  Many of the public participants during the week also had good experience with the horses and burros, and many took home an animal they could meet in the corrals for a week first at the workshop.

Robert was one of the teachers.  Cher was another, and co-directed the weeklong activities in the clinics for years, in addition to founding Freedom Ranch, a non-profit facility for abused and neglected wild horses and burros.   While many of the teachers like Robert and Cher were handy and adept with the animals, many of the participants had a lot of that to learn.

But here is the key:  Getting handy, good with your hands and your feet, your arms and your legs, your ropes and things, is something you can do – it just takes practice.  Lots of practice.  And the wonderful thing about the horses and burros is, they like it when you practice, and they are forgiving for the most part when you make a mistake.  Because both of those things when put together mean you care about themAnd it is in a horse’s and burro’s nature, in their own unique way, to care back.

THIS to me is the most important part of an adopter’s profile.   Experienced hands and a cold or cruel heart do not make a good adoption.  But inexperienced hands and a kind heart do.   The horses and burros know this, and again and again, all they try to do every day is wait their best for you to get better at both.  Obviously, it is far easier for them to wait for your hands and not your heart.  But they will even wait for that, and sadly for some, even to their starvation, injury, or death.

This, in Tobey’s case, is what makes them horses.  And this, ultimately, is the third and strongest truth of this essay.   They will wait for you, but do not tarry.  It is in the heart of a wild horse and burro.  It is why they followed us for centuries, and still do, helping us build this country.  Reach in and  match the bigness of your heart with the bigness of theirs, in some way, your way.  Then,  reveal it to them, every day, day in, and day out.  That is the Hands and Heart of an Adopter. Find them here, in the email from Robert to Cher.   And take them with you into the corral, wherever and whenever you go.  Because these animals, no matter what they look like or what they do, are bringing theirs to you.

(Note:  Cher at Freedom Ranch is .  Robert’s Denstar Farm website can be found in the link in his email below.)

Oh Cheryl I cry with you I am afraid. Tobey came here beaten and
bedraggled by humans. He had three ropes from lariats embedded in the
poll area and maggots crawling out everywhere. He had snaggle teeth on
one side of the jaw from being beaten with boards. He had burn marks on
his back from cigarettes. He had the definite outline of white hair
across his back from being hit so very hard one time with a 2×4.

That was the Tobey I met .. his head hung a little lower than normal,
when he stepped out of that trailer.

When no one was around a little later, I asked him if he’d let me remove
the ropes; spray it with water and put wound dressings on it. He looked
suspiciously at me. So I promised I wouldn’t go beyond certain zones, in
front of the ears nor farther down the neck-line. He agreed and lowered
his head and I knew I was communicating with him. This was Tobey, always
ready to try and believe in someone. Yet he was also always ready to
defend himself in a serious manner.

After 45 minutes, Tobey had patiently let me cut the ropes out and spray
it all off as well as put dressing on the area.

The first picture on this page was taken by Mary just a while after he
got here. I had the spray-wound-dressing in my left hand:

Tobey (photo courtesy DenstarFarm)

Tobey was so very intelligent and so very regal. When he met Cheryl, we
all could see he knew he’d gone to heaven. At Cheryl’s place in Colorado
Tobey would proudly demonstrate the things he new would get him a
“Click” and a treat.

I loved listening to Tobey ;;; He just really liked to chortle. Chortle
a greeting; chortle that a sheep was in his stall; chortle that he
wanted Cheryl to turn on his favorite country-western radio station.

What a guy he was! That stout chest .. and when he had to demonstrate to
a miscreant horse exactly *WHO* was king, Tobey would sit back on his
butt and punch with two front feet!! It was quite an awesome thing to watch.

Tobey let me ride him, though no one was ever around to take a picture.
He did let Mary watch a few times. I suppose I am the only one who ever
got on his back. I am truly honored to have met him and been allowed to
be his friend.

We are all lucky that Cheryl drove all the way out here to give him a
life long home. I knew I’d lost a buddy but I knew he’d been in the
absolute best care he could ever have. Tobey ate well when Cheryl had
hard times and had to cut back for herself.

Well, I guess I’ll tell Mary about this. I can promise you that there
isn’t a week go by, since he left here, that the splendid guy isn’t
mentioned as a reference to this or that subject.

Long live Tobey’s memory!

Remember Me…

Today I announced the dismissal of the lawsuit I filed last fall against the Department of Interior and Sheldon NWR. The dismissal came after conversations with BLM staff and Paul Steblein of Sheldon NWR.

The dialogue about the Tri-state MegaPlex has been confirmed. It will happen.

I have stated before that historically the concept “complex” in BLM speak is simply another tool utilized to reduce AML.

However the possibility actually exists that new concepts for management can extend into the forum for change. In the spirit of supporting the idea that cooperative efforts among government agencies (and the public) can lead to solutions I have dismissed the suit.

We have all been witnessing the actions of the BLM at Calico. We all watched as Cloud’s family was driven into the trap by the helicopter.We all have the BLM clearly under scrutiny.

But I want to take a minute to remember the history of Sheldon.

AWHPC photo Sheldon 2006

Remember me? Perhaps just days old and forced to flee from my home in the heat of summer.

AWHPC Sheldon dead foal

Remember Me? I am one of the ones that couldn’t keep up and was left to die.

AWHPC 2006

Remember me?

Read more on the AWHPC site.

Sheldon NWR has no infrastructure to handle processing or adoption as these horses come off the range. I have written several papers about it in the past. Here is one. These horses historically have been vulnerable to the slaughter pipeline.

With dialogue on the table, in the works, however it is phrased… toward changing current protocol within the structures that manage wild horse populations I say “it’s about damn time.”

But I don’t want to hear the same old song.

This MegaPlex will happen.

But perhaps it can “really” happen. Perhaps it can create a change in protocol.

Put the damn breaks on. STOP.

Do the appropriate surveys in cooperation with each other.

Watch and track the horses as they move as you would with any wild population.

Then make a plan based on the data gathered over one year.

Create real cores that are balanced eco-systems. Protect them for the vanishing American treasure they truly are. These wild places represent the very soul of what it once meant to “be” American.

Steblein said to me “It’s time to stop pointing fingers and figure out how to solve this.”

I agree with that statement… but I will not forget.

AWHPC Sheldon 2006

*note: Sheldon is not BLM. They are Department of Interior, but USFWS.

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.

Reserve Design

Often we see accusations that the Wild horse Advocates are a bunch of “tree hugging hippies that want the horses to run free and over-run the range.” I have read these accusations over and over until I want to scream.

AHHHHHH! (pastel sketch by me)

Reserve design IS a management strategy that has been around for a long time. The principles have been utilized by many groups including those in the US. Here is a quick reference link to a USGS “Design for Grasslands” and bird populations. Another link to an NCCP document for Southern Orange County and another link: Grizzly bears and aquatic systems in Montana.

Yet we have never seen these principles used by a branch of government tasked with managing wild horses and burros as “integral” to the American landscape as outlined by Congress.

When we bring up these scientific concepts to a branch of government we hear responses like: “We are not the bureau of wild horses. We are the Bureau of Land management.”Or they will act as if these principles will only apply to some “Complex” system or “Reserve” in the east.

None of the responses are the truth. Each response is created to further the current agenda. The current agenda continues to find ways to zero out our herds.

Even after the West Douglas decision where BLM was found to overstep their authority, they found ways to break the spirit of law without breaking the letter. The Tobin herd was brought down to between 20-45 animals. I asked Alan Shepard of the BLM if that was genetically sustainable. He answered “Probably not.”

So why does this “assault” continue?

There is a long history in the west. Many of us interpret the wild horse as a symbol of freedom and resilience. Yet there are those that see the horse as a pest or simply a resource. In that lies the divide. Yet the divide become meaningless when you look at the law.

When you bring this up to the BLM they will answer that they are mandated by Congress to gather horses. The truth is that they are not.They are mandated to “manage.” They make the choice to use the “gather and process” as the first line strategy. It has lead to the current crisis.

The time to put the breaks on this current protocol is long overdue. Instead in 2010 our Secretary of the Department of Interior plans to hit the gas pedal. Does that sound like a rational decision from the head of the DOI?

With the dialogue about a new “Tri-state Mega Complex” confirmed in Nevada, isn’t it time to begin to look at alternatives? Alternatives that may very well need no new legislation to implement?

Reserve Design in a nutshell.

Much of the documentation on Reserve Design is dry, yet the priciple is very basic.

You begin with a “Core zone” managed for ecological balance based on species diversity and resource. This zone is created for “minimal management.” The theory is that these places create a balanced ecological system that creates many benefits to man.

Then outside the “Core” is a “Buffer zone.” The buffer is managed for multiple use. The buffer allows for grazing and industry that does NOT interfere with the core. The buffer also creates opportunity for community involvement in other areas that benefit the community, not just a few through subsidized industry. Eco-tourism opportunities, social programs etc. that directly benefit the surrounding area.

Each original HA (Herd Area) outlined in 1971 could currently fall into this category including areas that the BLM has zeroed out. Current law states that these areas can be re-evaluated and horses and burros returned. Many of these areas are economically depressed and could use the jobs such a program would generate. As opposed to say a Uranium mine that ultimately benefits imported workers and a select few, this type of program would benefit regular Americans. The potential for infusing not only income, but community pride and unity, exists in the dynamic of Reserve Design.

When BLM is approached with this theory they simply state it wont work or “we don’t have the land.”

I will state again that this CAN work in each original HA. But in order for that to happen perhaps we need a new organization to implement a dialogue?

Perhaps the BLM/DOI has too many conflicts of interest to effectively manage wild horses and burros?

Or will we actually see new faces invited into the planning process?

Will we ever see anyone within the DOI to have the brass to stop the current protocol?

Why are we continuing to do something we know doesn’t work?

Second Cup Chatter…

Ok, had my second cup and cleared some work from my desk. Now for some more “chatter.”

Carol Abel wrote in a piece in the Examiner about a possible “Mega Complex.”

* Need to add a note that this is a dialogue ONLY about horses in that area, not a “solution discussion” about the wild horses in every area. (again rumor gets rough.)

AWHPC photo Sheldon 2006 *Does that helicopter look familiar? You bet, same contractor at Calico.

She writes: Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) California, Oregon and Nevada District Offices along with U.S. Fish and Wildlife are in the conceptual stages of creating a two million acre management complex for wild horses in Southeast Oregon, Northeast California, Northwest Nevada and the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge also in Northeast Nevada.  The concept involves a management shift from individual Herd Management Areas ( HMA’s) and smaller HMA complexes to an aggregate of HMA’s called the Tri-State Complex.

She adds: BLM’s Winnemucca District Office manager, Gene Seidlitz says, ” We’re just in the initial discussion stages of developing that sort of strategy of treating all of those areas as one big complex based on what we’ve been finding recently which is a significant amount of movement between HMA’s and outside HMA’s into other areas.”

OK if you can get beyond the “duh factor” about “significant movement” and begin to dissect this concept it is either a good sign or a really bad one.

Let’s do “bad” first so I can end on a “good” note.

“Complex” in BLM speak has often meant combining HMA’s (Herd Management Area, that is a reduced # of acreage from the Herd Area designation in 1971) to reduce the AML (Appropriate Management Level, number of horses BLM claims the land can sustain).

Example of typical BLM math. If I have 5 jars and each jar contains 5 marbles and I put them in a container equal in mass to the five jars my new jar can hold 15 marbles! Aren’t you happy we had the foresight to do this for you!

We need to watch this part of the equation closely.

This will also need watching.

They may very well decide that “showcase” populations are all that is needed in the area. Just look at the “Salazoo” plan and the reiteration in articles mentioning eight showcase herds. Could someone please remind him how many HMA’s still have horses left? He hasn’t zeroed them down to eight… yet.

AWHPC photo Sheldon 2006

However on a positive note the horses at Sheldon NWR have historically been the “poster child” for disastrous gathers and horrific stories about horses once they leave the range. Even with all the BLM “issues,” for these horses (Sheldon) to be processed in an agreement with BLM it would be an improvement. Sheldon NWR has no infrastructure to process horses as they come off that range.

AWHPC Sheldon dead foal

I spoke with Gene Seidlitz about this “Mega Complex” yesterday. He was emphatic that this was a “discussion” and that nothing solid has been decided.

Gene and I have talked in the past about creating a dialogue for change. Now would be the time to actually have that discussion… not an Advisory Board meeting or public comment period… but to invite the advocates to the table and take a look at the tools in a different toolbox.

Gene seemed intrigued… we will see.

Morning Coffee Chatter

It appears that there is some rather interesting “chatter” in the wild horse world today. I’ll start with this one and post again in a bit…

Maureen Harmonay wrote in an article for the Examiner about the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association reports posted on the BLM webpage about previously undisclosed deaths of Calico horses.

I wont comment to the specifics she addresses, but urge you to read the article. Instead I want to point out a bit more “food for thought” in the reports.

In the report dated Feb. 13, Dr. Davis (ASVMA), writes: “We did not see any indication of infectious disease.” He then goes on to note a horse in quarantine with an abscess that was suspected to have strangles.

comment: A horse with an abscess was in quarantine on Feb 13. A single horse with “no other signs of infectious disease” in the population. I thought we were being told horses had signs of pigeon fever and abscesses since they came in off the range?

He comments about the foals with sloughed hooves. He notes that only “verbal” information was available. He then notes that the foal was “emaciated,” and the metabolic issues associated with re-feeding may contribute to the condition causing eventual hoof slough.

comment: I will send Dr. Davis pictures of the “emaciated” foal with hoof slough.Then he will have visual confirmation that the colt was not emaciated. Perhaps he will delete the justification spin he hands the BLM in this report?

Calico Foal

Foal euthanized at Fallon Facilty

He also notes the average body score is 5 or above with a few at 3 or less. 12 horses in the hospital pen were of a 2 or less (mares).

comment: I was there at the end of January and saw a handful of 2’s, not in the hospital pens. The hospital pens held horses suffering from some form of lameness or another. I have photographs, no “2’s.”

However I agree the vast majority of horses were a 5 or better. The high percentage of older horses also refutes a claim of an unhealthy range.

I have too many comments about the reasons horses can drop weight quickly and if you read his report you will see the significant number of issues he left out.

He also notes that Dr. Sanford mentioned pregnant mares, gathered in winter, are usually in the poorest condition.

comment: So why did you do such a large gather during winter against the advice of a federal judge?


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

“Gather Activity Updates”

I am having difficulty posting photos on the site. I will add pictures when I get to a new location. I can’t add tags to the blog today either. (I found a way around the WordPress glitch. Amazing what you can accomplish if you look for solutions. What a concept! Maybe you all can sense I’m a bit sarcastic today?) For Action Alerts please go to The Cloud Foundation. I will get them posted here soon, but some require immediate action.

Top photo taken last Sunday by Craig Downer

Bottom photo of the hospital pen at Fallon by me

The BLM has finally “caught up” on data entry. New Gather “update” here.

Included under today’s date is the first mention of Pigeon Fever. It also includes a link to a “report” on Pigeon Fever by Dr. Sanford.


It also lists another death for yesterday: One 12 year-old mare was euthanized for a spinal fracture due to collision with a fence while sorting.

And one on March 27th: One five year old stallion was found dead in general population and died of unknown causes.

Here is Sanford’s piece on Pigeon Fever.

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.

Now here are a few comments:

1. Let’s look at this first

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.

We can now ask “if” this was the case why would it not be part of the information posted on updates? And why was Don Glenn of the BLM completely unaware that Pigeon Fever was even present? Why were the horses from the areas where Pigeon Fever symptoms were present processed and moved into pens with horses from other areas?

2. This blanket statement may be a temporary current statement about the horses at the facility but it is NOT true about Pigeon Fever in general.

No deaths or complications have been associated with infection.

Death is rare, but can occur. Complications, including infection after rupture or from internal abscesses, are possible without proper care. There is also a death listed above that I’m sure “unknown cause” works fine without a necropsy in a diseased population….

3. All I need is this piece of the last statement:

Based on 25 years of past experience with wild horses and burros,

Based on 25 years with horses and burros you consider a feral invasive species. The entire program seems more designed like a “pest control” company than a branch of the US government tasked by Congress to protect “WILD” horses as integral to the American landscape. 25 years of Equine Veterinary experience (or even mucking a boarding barn!) would create a different situation where precautions to protect the horses and the facility itself would have occurred.

If you don’t remember Sanford here’s the “complete” vet report on “Hope.”

February 6, 2010

History and Report on Sloughed Hoof Colt

An eight month old colt arrived at the Indian Lakes Facility on about 1/20/2010

and was in very poor body condition and had sore feet.  It was placed in the sick pen area where treatment could be administered.  Over the next ten days, thecolt was treated with phenylbutazone (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug), penicillin (an antibiotic) and foot bandages (one front foot and both hind feet) on three occasions before it was euthanized on 1/30/2010.

The colt alternately improved and regressed.  The colt would be standing while eating and drinking one day and not on the next day.  The colt never was able to actually gain weight, improve body condition or show increased energy.

Lameness improved with treatment but eventually the colt became too weak to stand.  Hoof wall separation occurred on the front foot and one hind foot.  The colt was euthanized for humane reasons.

The gather most likely caused the hoof trauma in this case.  However, the poor body condition and weakness was most likely present before the gather.

Richard Sanford, DVM

NV # 565

Link to previous post about the Vet report and time line of little “Hope.”

One of the things that frustrates me the most is that they want to talk the language of “management.” Then they claim superior management in statements like “In 25 years of wild horse and burro management…”

The common definition of “insanity” is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.


Pigeon Fever at Broken Arrow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is Pigeon Fever?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Internal abscesses can occur and are very difficult to treat

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

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

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

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

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

Antiseptic soaked gauze may be packed into the open wound

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pest control for insects is also very important.

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

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

Pigeon Fever at Broken Arrow (photo Craig Downer)

Rob Pliskin

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

Rob Pliskin with Duster and Mel (photo Tracy Gantz)

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

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

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

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

These are Rob’s words….

Rob Pliskin (photo by Mom and Tom)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

P.S. Rob just sent me this:

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

Then the “Cavalry” rode in…

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

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

So many wonderful moments.

Hope Ryden and Ginger Kathrens (photo Laura Leigh)

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then it happened….

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

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

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

Our group cheered and gathered around the horses.

(photo Vicki Tobin)

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

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

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

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

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

Louder than words (photo by Mom and Tom)

I have a renewed sense of Hope.

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

March for Mustangs (photo Vicki Tobin)

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

March for Mustangs 2010

DC Rally (post 1)

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

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

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

Jane Velez-Mitchell report on CNN here.

RT’s great story about the DC rally

Cloud Foundation Update

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

EWA photo Elyse Gardner

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

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

Need to add this release from Sen. Landrieu:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Calico Retrospect

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

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

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

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

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

More Spin than Maytag

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

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

The Big Story

BLM Spins as More Horses Die

Photo by Laura Leigh

By Steven Long

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Diagnostic and other information on the horses has been posted to the BLM’s
Website at,” 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.”