Allegiance

This beautiful horse broke out (jumped the panel after capture at the trap) and stood by the jute… moving forward and back… forward and back… as his family loaded.
After the trailer (with his mares) went past him he shot up the hill behind us… then eyed the trap from the other side of the hill calling to the babies… he moved off as vehicles came in but stopped as a trailer came back up the road… and called to see if his family had come back.

Off in the distance you could see a chopper… he briefly headed toward the band being chased and then so very slowly… with head down… went down the road… and over the horizon.

I have seen thousands and thousand of horses loose everything they have. I don’t normally name them.

But this horse is “Allegiance.”
It is what he demonstrated and what we owe him.

I will edit video and get images together as soon as I can… but I am exhausted… have hours of tape and pics to log of over-driving, atrocious flying, BLM admits hotshot use and more.

As well as a few tears to shed tonight.

A local auto shop fixed my truck today even though I couldn’t pay… he said to bring the money when I get it… but to get out to the range and keep an eye on “our” horses….

Tears for many reasons tonight… these people that live here love these horses… but they are not a mine or ranching interest… they are just people that read the local paper and live their lives in this hard, but beautiful place… and cherish the ideals of Freedom and survival that “our” horses represent.

Allegiance.

Driven into the trap

Allegiance... I pledge to you...

8-6 preliminary vent

There are days and then there days.

August 6th was one of those days.

As I sit and try to edit video to tell you all that was seen I am hit with an inability to edit. Every basic concept of humane treatment was broken. Every basic concept of common sense went out the window. Every basic demonstration of the simplest concept of equine behavior was non-existant.

The drives were long, no matter what is placed on the BLM site. Drives were well over ten miles. One group ran for over an hour and had a foal. They were run. The horses were confused and panicked.

A horse was left pinned between the trailer and the trailer door (after getting it’s head caught in an inappropriately set panel) while a group of horses are driven into the trap.

Exhausted foals are chased.

In holding evidence of injury.

The same issues with the bare minimum of feed that is NOT distributed in a manner to the best interest of the horses, but to convenience of the contractor.

The same water games with the foal and adult horses.

On this one let’s do the math one more time… 15 gallons a day is what BLM states a horse drinks. A 50 gallon tub filled 2 times each day is 100 gallons. 45 studs, in July and August, need more than two tubs. A nursing mare needs more than 15 gallons (according to BLM).

BLM according to the law YOU are responsible for making decisions on the ground. That includes determining that in the heat the horses need water. That includes determining if horses, and tiny babies, are being over-driven. That includes making the call that handling is too rough and counter intuitive.

BLM you can make the calls that include leaving a horse lost while horses are driven in. BLM you can make the call that a horse remains “wedged” for over ten minutes as other horses are driven in. BLM you can also actually make calls that are for the welfare of the horse… not just the “expediency” of the operation.

I am trying to edit video down to appropriate lengths. Youtube takes ten minute clips. I am sending the rough edit (over 25 minutes) to someone that may be able to get it cut into sections. I am trying to get everything logged… but need sleep.

Blew a tire and spun out after over an hour driving fast on gravel and dirt to try to catch a trailer…

If you can help get the truck fixed and keep gas in the tank it is appreciated.

http://WildHorseEducation.org

some pictures from 8/6, video soon

Third horse to try to break through panels sloppily set against the trailer. This one got her head stuck.

Rope around her neck they use a horse and rider to pull on her neck.

Left wedged while another group is driven in

Any horse owner knows feet and legs speak volumes (holding)

Why?

Getting it together

Launching a new project today: http://wildhorseeducation.org

Take a peek and feedback is welcome. Content is being edited and added… and a free booklet is in the works.

For those of you that followed my artwork and have sat silently but learned an awful lot watching my “wild horse” travels you will be glad to know I have been painting… hope to have my hands in clay some day soon. New works will be available and showcased shortly.

Thank you all for your patience… it has been a long, dusty,  lonely road and the love and respect I have for our wild herds has grown so much…

I have been asked for my report on Antelope to include with public comments and to fax. Here is the report in the version I wrote: http://wildhorseeducation.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/final_antelope_leigh2011.pdf  use it … fax it…

Downloading…

Just downloading some of the pics and video I’ve taken over the last two weeks.

Sometimes when you see all the pics in one place you see stark contrast… contradiction… beauty…

Don’t get me wrong here… I think a relationship with a wild horse is an amazing thing. Smart, beautiful, spirited companions that teach us so much as they join our personal lives.

But the fight to protect them in their “fair share” as mandated by Congress is a task buried under mountains of diverse methodology and historical prejudice. “Multiple Use” is a standard catch phrase when asked about management in HMA’s. Horses currently occupy aprox. 10% of  BLM land. So in a sense simply by mathematics multiple use has been met. Yet in many wild places herds are being brought down as the “multiple use” line is used within that 10%.

So many of those areas are really beginning to look managed for a dominant use, not horses. Many look managed as cattle have become a priority species in wild places. Yet there is another use that is gaining priority status… energy.

I made this slideshow just to get the “yuck” out of my system.

Until a single data collection methodology is utilized on all public land, and decisions made in a truly public process,the “yuck” will return.

But for now I feel like I can finally crawl into bed.

Popcorn?

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

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.

General’s Saga continued



General’s Saga Part 2

His story

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

Yet he knew she had heard him.

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

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

Foals at the Holding Area

View the rest of General’s Saga Here.

Calico Complex Video Essay

I apologize for the camera shake. I borrowed a camera I had never used before.

It was cold and my nose kept running.

This video is long. If you are already depressed about the actions, or lack thereof, by the current Obama administrations Bureau of Land Management, please don’t watch this.

Just the few hours that we as a group have been allowed to observe this gather we have seen so much. It boggles the mind what may have occurred when this agency was allowed to operate without witness.

Horses continue to die from the gather. The stress of the actual gather, the stress of confinement and diet change. The stress now of processing. This was a massive gather done at a very vulnerable time of year.

Now these symbols of American freedom, those that survive, face adoption, sale authority, and long term warehousing.

Note: at about 4 minutes into this video is the video of the  foal harassed by helicopter in a longer form than previously shown.

My heart aches.

Edited to add:

Yes, this video is available in HDV. The quality is “dumbed down” to cut down on render and upload time. If you need clips to send  to local media e-mail me the time code and I can burn a disc.

KEEP CALLING the White House Hotline and your local Senators! Don’t forget local media. Get the word out!

[

Fallon Update

Mare at the BLM facility in Fallon

Calico Complex Update

On February 18, 2010, while advocates were protesting in Las Vegas, the Bureau of land management began the processing of wild horses gathered from the Calico Complex Herd Management Area. Horses held at the Broken Arrow, a private holding facility, began to be aged, vaccinated, branded, etc. in preperation for adoption, sale and moves to long-term facilities. (BLM Fallon facility update here.)

John Neill, acting BLM manager of the facility, said mares are being processed first.

“We have prepped approx. 300 hd to date.Preparation is concentrated primarily on the mares at themoment, as we need to complete the preparation process with them before they begin to foal. Once preparation is completed with the mares, we will concentrate on the weanlings/yearlings…………which have already been vaccinated. Stallions will be prepped after mares, weanlings/yearlings. I do not have an exact date when this will take place The entire preparation process of the calico animals should take approx. 8 weeks.”

Horse Advocate Marilyn Wargo had some specific questions for the BLM:

“It would help all our perceptions if we had a schedule that reflects the work all involved at the Fallon facility are actually doing on a daily basis, weekly, etc. I would like to think the horses are central to activity and not just on some days. Everyday. How many people work there and what are their jobs? How often are horses fed and are their water tanks cleaned out regular to keep down infectious disease?”

Reply by John Neill:


“There are 3-4 experienced wranglers and a veterinarian present during the
preparation process. On average 60-70 animals are prepped/day. There are days where other activities may take place along with prep. to ensure
animal care. The facility contractor has sufficient personnel to feed and
maintain the facility. Horses are currently being fed free choice
grass/alfalfa hay. Once all animals have adjusted to dietary changes the
feeding regime will be adjusted. Typically 20lbs/day/adult to maintain
good health. Younger animals typically receive 12-15lbs/day. Water troughs
are cleaned frequently. More often in the summer months as sunlight
promotes algae growth. Troughs are scrubbed with bleach for disinfection
when cleaning takes place.”

I asked if dates had been set for the horses going through adoption and through sale authority.

John Neill:

BLM does intend to hold an adoption event of Calico animals once preparation is complete and animals show no health issues. The adoption event will take place at Palomino Valley facility. There has been interest by other individuals on specific animals also. Most likely many of these that several persons have shown interest in will be posted on the I-net for competitive bidding. An adoption event date will be forthcoming once preparation is completed and animals show no signs of health issues.


Fallon Foal (edited timeline)

I have been getting a lot of questions about the foal that I witnessed at the Bureau of Land Management’s Fallon facility. Many of the questions I’m sent center around the chain of events surrounding the requests for information and the vet report. I hope this “fills in the blanks” for you.

Vet Report Request

On January 22 I was given a tour of the Bureau of Land Management’s Fallon holding facility in Nevada. The facility is still under construction but was used to warehouse the wild horse inventory gathered from the Calico Complex Herd Management Area. Awarding the contract to a private entity and having the facility constructed on private property has created a situation where viewing wild horse inventory by the public (that owns that inventory) must be achieved through strict appointment times and dates.

During that visit to the facility I viewed the hospital area. There were many horses (mostly foals) that all demonstrated some form of lameness. I viewed approximately a dozen foals and 4 mares. There was also one of the riding horses in a “hospital” pen. Of particular concern was a foal that would not rise when approached or vocalized to.

Many attempts were made to gain info on that foal and get him released into private care. The foal died.

The first attempt to gain info and care of the foal was made via voice mail to both Gene Seidlitz (Winnemucca district manager), sent 1/22 and John Neill (acting BLM manager at Fallon) sent 1/23. This e-mail basically documents the request, (e-mail excerpt to Seidlitz):

Today as we went through the “hospital” area, (another thank-you here for allowing that visit) there was the one foal I was most concerned about. The others stood and moved away from me, this guy just raised his head. I mentioned to John the concern and do recognize the added stress isolating this youngster would bring. However, if he makes it through the night I know of two prior BLM adopters (with orphan foal experience) in close proximity that would head out with a trailer, pick him up, and take on the expense of his care… with 15 minutes notice.

I know that there is specific protocol, but perhaps in this instance it could be sped up?

Picture attached to e-mail

I received a phone call from John Neill the day after I e-mailed him. This e-mail documents that call (in part):

Thanks for calling me with the update on the foal.

When you get that vet report I’d really appreciate seeing a copy asap as we discussed.

I’d like to know what the vet thinks about his prognosis.

I’m still very concerned and can get that foal additional care if it is required, (allowed).

Two days later (January 26) another telephone call occurred. I was reassured the foal was still doing fine.

Thanks for calling me with the update on the foal.

When you get that vet report I’d really appreciate seeing a copy asap as we discussed.

I’d like to know what the vet thinks about his prognosis.

I’m still very concerned and can get that foal additional care if it is required, (allowed).

I was on the road and had conversations with John Neill in reference to the foal.

I was repeatedly informed of his improved status and continued to ask he be “tracked” for adoption. I repeatedly asked for vet report.

On February 1, I made another call to John Neill to request the vet report.

“It’s online, (It wasn’t). He was euthanized Friday or Saturday for hoof slough.” John Neill.

Several more requests for the report were made. More e-mail and conversation. This is an excerpt from an e-mail from John Neill dated 2/4:

Attached is a vet report for sloughed hoofs foal. This report should be

posted on the web as I was informed this would happen. The diagnosis in

this report covers a foal that was diagnosed, treated and euthanized

earlier for the same reasons. The dates will not jive with the foal you

are referring to. However, the diagnosis, treatment and outcome are the

same. We will not be posting detailed vet reports for every treatment to

specific animals received.

My response, in part:

This is a very different response you gave to my first request for information. Saturday the 23rd the vet was out with the foal and I asked for a report. You said you would send it as soon as it was available.

When I asked to place him in a facility we had a conversation about not wanting to further traumatize by transport. We then had a conversation where you informed me there were no signs of abscess and the foal was doing fine. I then requested that if his condition changed to please let me know and I would place him in a facility at private expense. I was told you would keep me posted. And if he was in bad shape would “try.”

Releasing that foal was not impossible. I beleive the BLM site posted another foal was to be released for care, an orphan.

I then said I would FOIA the report if needed.

On 2/5 I received an e-mail from Dean Bolstad  (who was added to the e-mail chain by John Neill) that the report would be available on Monday.

On 2/8:

Laura,

Attached is the requested veterinarian report. I’m sending it to you for

John Neill.

(See attached file: Veterinarian Report_Weanling Colt 2-6-2010.pdf)

The report:

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, the

colt 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

The above is the “complete” vet report on the foal. It has no identifying points. It lists no markings, location, not even a specified intake date. The above report shows no dates of treatment nor does it list the foals’ status on any specified date.

There is no way to determine which foal is even in that report. The foal I saw on the 22nd of January looked like a candidate for humane euthanasia that night. The foal limping with  bandages on his feet (photo below) looks like he may have lasted another week. The lack of specific tracking at the holding facility leaves one with a real sick feeling that we will never really know the truth about how many die and how they die.

These two foals had bandages on their feet.

If you look at the photo (sent to BLM to identify the foal), there are no bandages on the foal’s feet. If you follow the e-mails and conversation that specific foal would have had all of the “treatment,” besides the bute, after 1/27, I was never told he warranted bandaging.

The listing of “poor body condition” and “weakness” is easily refuted by the video. It is also refuted by the fact that the foal ran so hard he caused trauma so severe to his feet that his hooves began to slough off. He ran so hard for miles, chased by a helicopter to stay with his family that he was immediately separated from at the trap site, that his feet eventually fell off. That is not a “weak” foal. The vague vet report has me seriously doubting the authenticity of any accurate accounting of the inventory at Fallon.The continued placation, spin and outright lies perpetuated by BLM personnel has me wondering if a dialogue will ever occur that simply deals with “what is” and “how do we fix it” in any fashion that resembles reason.

The death of this little foal has me sad beyond mere words.

Processing Wild Horses

Here is video of the Bureau of Land Management processing horses from the Tobin herd. (scroll down for Horseback Magazine Article)

“Processing” wild horses is a term used to encompass vaccinating, branding, aging, gelding… any procedure that prepares or separates horses out of inventory toward adoption or long-term holding.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), has a protocol in place to process populations that is designed to minimize risk to both horses and people. Equipment is designed with that in mind. If you look at the video you will see the “snake” chute that is designed with no sharp curves and is narrow enough to attempt to create a single file process to prevent injury. The squeeze that restrains the horses is also designed with this in mind. There is still room for improvement, yet the basic tools required to safely process animals are in place.

This video shows that processing can be witnessed by the public close-up. These images were recorded on my cell phone. The layout and equipment being installed at the Fallon Facility is exactly the same as that at Palomino Valley. Anyone that handles horses on a regular basis and is familiar with basic veterinary procedures (not just a DVM), could participate as an observer, close by, without a major safety issue.

BLM explanation of the limited public access to processing at Fallon.

*personal note:

My brain reads  “Once preparation for adoption is completed, and the animals have fully transitioned to a diet of domestic feed and hay” as, “we have extraordinary diarrhea because we transitioned way too fast to cheap alfalfa and we don’t want you to see it until we do our Sunday muck.”

However the greater question does not involve “processing.” The greatest question is should these horses be gathered and processed at all?

Should horses be gathered when range data, lease numbers, population counts, etc. etc.  to support the round-ups in the first place are inconsistent, contradictory, or outright lies?

Go to Equine Welfare Alliance to learn about the United call for Moratorium.

Horseback online

The Big Story

Emmy Award Winners Blast BLM For “Hiding” Process From Press and Public

EWA Releases Video Inside Wild Horse Processing Center by Laura Leigh

COLORADO SPRINGS (Cloud) — The Cloud Foundation objects to the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) severe limitations placed on viewing of the wild horses captured in the controversial Calico Wild Horse roundup.

Despite the enormous cost to the American taxpayers and the controversial nature of the roundup, the BLM and the Department of Interior (DOI) are denying requests for independent humane observers during the processing of nearly 1900 mustangs over the next few months in preparation for their long term holding or adoption.

During this dangerous time for the mustangs, the public will be denied an opportunity to view BLM running the animals through alleyways and into chutes where they will be freeze-branded, inoculated and neck-tagged.

“I’ve been watching the processing of mustangs on and off for 15 years. What is the big deal this time?” Asks Ginger Kathrens, Volunteer Executive Director of the Cloud Foundation, “There’s something very wrong when it’s easier to crash a party at the White House than go view our wild horses being freeze-branded in Nevada. Makes you wonder if there’s something to hide out in Fallon?”

Forty-nine horses have died as the result of the roundup. This does not include the 30 plus mares who have aborted their late-term foals in the feedlot style corrals in Fallon, Nevada. The four percent death rate is over eight times the BLM expected level for a helicopter roundup. Foals are now being born in the pens and the public is not permitted to confirm young, sick and old animals are being humanely treated in a timely fashion.

BLM says that the shut down of the facility is a safety issue due to the horses being continuously in facility alleyways during the preparation process. Given the high level of interest The Cloud Foundation asks BLM to figure out a way to safely allow the public to observe.

“Processing our wild horses in secret does nothing but promote suspicion on the part of the public who simply request to have independent representatives present to verify that our horses are being treated humanely,” said Craig Downer, wildlife ecologist and Nevada wild horse advocate. “Denying American citizens the right to watch over their horses is a very disturbing trend, and simply throws fuel on a spreading fire.”

All 1922 wild horses were captured in the 40-day dead-of-winter helicopter roundup which stopped weeks early and over 600 horses short when BLM discovered fewer wild horses than anticipated in the huge 500,000 acre Calico Mountains of northwestern Nevada. The horses are now being housed at a cost to the taxpayer of approximately $75,000 per week while the death toll continues to rise. One stallion was euthanized on Monday, however, vet reports are now being withheld so the official reason for killing the stallion is unknown.

Despite Wild Horse and Burro Chief Don Glenn’s promise that the public is welcome “anytime” to view the roundups, the BLM conducted the Calico roundup with limited access.

Now BLM has repeatedly denied official requests from the Cloud Foundation and others to allow even two members of the public to be present during processing of horses which began February 15.

Ed Roberson, Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and Planning with the DOI told The Cloud Foundation in an email last week not to worry about the horses as “we have a licensed vet on site during the prep work to ensure humane treatment.” Given BLM’s reticence to release vet reports from Fallon this is no consolation to the concerned public.

By disallowing access to any independent humane observers, BLM’s “bunker” mentality appears to have trumped any requests for transparency. “If American citizens are willing to travel to Fallon, Nevada to check on and observe wild horses that have been removed from public lands against the public will by a federal agency, why is this access being denied?” asks RT Fitch, Texas author of the popular book “Straight from the Horses Heart.”

Meanwhile the captured Calico wild horses, many still with swollen joints and injuries from being run over sharp volcanic rock by helicopters, stand in pens without windbreaks. “Topography credited by the BLM as a natural wind break is a joke. I’ve been to Fallon and I’ve seen the conditions these horses are exposed to—no cover, no windbreaks except for some of the ‘hospital’ pens”, explains Terri Farley. The celebrated children’s author of the Phantom Stallion series, based on the Calico mustangs, visited the holding facility on February 11th with a professional photographer whose photos will soon be posted at http://www.thecloudfoundation.org.

To combat the continuing roundups of America’s wild horses and burros, Nevada is planning two protests in coming days to gain the attention of a visiting President Barack Obama.

On Thursday, February 18th, protestors will unfurl over 50 banners along Las Vegas Boulevard calling for a stop to the roundups which will remove half of Nevada’s wild horses this year. On Saturday, February 20th the public will gather in Carson City, Nevada to further protest the tax-payer funded destruction of America’s Wild Horses and Burros.

According to Wild Horse and Burro Chief, Don Glenn, the facility is charging the government around $5.75 per day/per horse. That amounts to over $10,000 taxpayer dollars per day to house the mustangs. The cost of the Calico roundup alone was at least $1 million and holding of horses will cost taxpayers additional millions.

While nearly 2,000 Calico mustangs languish and die in Fallon, thousands of privately-owned cattle still graze the Calico wild horse herd areas, bringing in revenues to the BLM of around $40,000 per year. The cost to administer the grazing program for the Calico area is six times this amount based on the national average for the program as calculated by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The GAO reported that yearly revenues from the national public lands grazing program are $21 million per year, while the costs to administer the grazing program are $144 million per year, resulting in a yearly loss to the American taxpayer of $123 million. This taxpayer subsidized grazing program is often referred to as “welfare ranching” due to the small fees charged to livestock permittees. The rate is currently the lowest allowed by law—$1.35 per cow/calf pair per month.