Death of the Calico Foal

Calico Foal

Foal euthanized at Fallon Facilty

Hope Springs Eternal  (A Eulogy)  By Laura Leigh

written 2/1/2010

HOUSTON, (Horseback) – On January 22, 2010 I was given a tour of the Fallon holding facility after my observation days (Calico gather) had been cancelled by weather twice.

I had witnessed the gather on January 16, and met Gene Seidlitz (Winnemucca district manager) and Heather Emmons, both of the Bureau of Land Management. Both appeared to be very willing to accommodate and provide access in as transparent a manner as possible Gene spoke to me many times about the concept of finding areas for dialogue and co-operation. I had hoped to write an article based on that concept.

On January 22, Seidlitz and Lisa Ross, BLM public relations coordinator for Calico gather met me at the agency’s Fallon facility. John Neill is acting BLM manager at Fallon. I was given free access to photograph and ask questions. I was also allowed to videotape the “hospital” facility at Fallon. I soon saw a row of small pens near the entrance to the facility next to the area being built to process horses. The plywood for windbreaks was stacked but not installed.

The pens held mostly foals and a few mares. Each horse I saw demonstrated some form of lameness. Many had bandages on their legs. Of particular concern was a foal that would not rise when approached.. His eyes were glassy.

Over the next few days I made several attempts to gain information about that foal. I sent e-mails to Gene, Lisa, and John. I was told the foal was up the very next day and doing well. Information I found hard to believe because I did not think he would even make it through the night. I requested a vet report and was told I would have it as soon as one was available. I requested that the foal be released to me and I would facilitate his placement into a facility that could properly care for him. The request was denied, the BLM saying it was not needed.

I named him “Hope Springs Eternal.” I began to make inquiries to find a facility to bring him to. He would have a home.

Several more conversations with John Neill continued to assure me the foal was fine. John said he was busy and if I did not get the vet report to please call him again.

I called today. I was told the vet report is online. It’s not. He was euthanized Saturday because his hooves had begun to slough.

My emotions are many:

So much for a timely exchange of information. So much for the concept that the “guys on the ground” are any different than the guys in DC, something they want you to believe. So much for the idea that co-operation toward problem solving with the best interests of the horses at its heart will ever be a reality. So much for “ Hope Springs Eternal.”

The baby I saw on January 22 was in incredible pain to the point that, as a wild animal, he could hardly lift his head as a strange human, a potential predator, approached. All the others rose and limped away. This baby languished in that facility with no windbreak in agony. A baby that had a chance if the humans involved could have attempted to create an opportunity to work together. Releasing that foal would have cost the BLM nothing… and maybe created the sensation that somewhere in this madness a spirit of humanity could overcome this battle of obstinate adherence to outdated bureaucratic protocol. I had “Hope.”

Little spirit you are now free of this administration’s unwillingness to recognize your worth. “Hope Springs Eternal,” rest in peace. You are loved.


29 thoughts on “Death of the Calico Foal

  1. Laura, Looks fine. Good luck out there. Keep us up with things as you are able.
    Spring is coming… mar

  2. This will always make me cry and I will never forget this figure on the ground, alone and no mother to give her care and protection. The foal that everyone wanted to help and none were Allowed to. What kind of people let foals suffer alone, in agonizing pain until they give up for the damage done them? This was a strong baby and he lasted long in his suffering. That is clearly abuse. mar

  3. Anne says:

    I also sent a pix of this foal lying in the “man made sand trap (pit); to John Neill; this was a few days before the roundup was halted and the other round up canceled and I wrote:

    to the BLM: you didn’t actually leave a “sick weak Foal to perish in a sand pit with no food or water for three days: did you ? I do not see any Hay; not a sprig of Straw for this Horse!

    and I stand by this: imo; the BLM denies Hay to Sick Horses! a.

  4. Suzanne H Moore says:

    …comment? where to begin? what to formulate? the anger and disgust rising up in me is not translated easily into words. How could this “just happen”. How can people sit back and ignore what is going on under our very noses. Have we really reached a time in our nation where we truly do not have a majority of caring compassionate humane voices to speak out, rise up, and MAKE THINGS RIGHT!!! I am so sorry to my children, and my grandchildren, for setting them free in a world that is growing colder. Where HOPE can no longer be promised to Spring Eternal. HOPE can only be promised indifference, ignorance, and pain – because the voices of those who once believed we could be heard are being silence too. Silenced by the very people who feed thier own children off our tax dollars, and who can go home and pet thier Labradoodles while the voices our our Wild Horses are whisked aboard slaughter trucks to make a gruesome horrifying painful journey to an even more horrific death. They close thier doors in the evening, hug thier own children, smile at thier wife, and lay thier head on satin pillows as we all cry into our own and hold our own desperately close because we seem to be the only ones that can hear the not so silent screams of ancient bloodlines from living souls stolen into the night over our borders towards certain death. Sleep well, Mr. Obama, tuck your babies in. Mr Salazar, when we awake refreshed in the morning remember the blood that flows in Mexico, Canada, the US, Iraq, and Afganistan that buys the breakfast you will sit down to eat this morning. I have never been less proud of my country in my lifetime than I am right now.

    • Laura Leigh says:

      Suzanne… hang in there.
      We are coming together as never before. The Herd Watch is taking shape. The volunteers coming forward represent people from all over the country… people from groups that have not worked together in the past.
      We are becoming one voice.


    • Anna says:

      thanks for an excellent post Suzanne; I too wonder how the blm could cause an incited stampede where they openly say; some Mustangs will perish during the gather;

      and this does not bother them even tho they say

      they save Mustangs…ha ha ha rolf lol what a joke the Wild Horse and Burro BLM program is; the most corrupt I see..;
      besides the BP Gulf Oil spill and lack of cleanup for 3 mos.

  5. Anne says:

    believe this or not: I, who have been trying to prevent “abuse to critters; my whole life…

    even I had no idea how brutal these roundups are; how many mustangs do not survive;

    the only way to stop this; is to keep sending videos; emails ! (to elected officials; us congress has returned spring break…

  6. Anne says:

    an essay how the BLM caused Nerve damage to a Mustang

    Silver Moon the Mustang
    Silver Moon was adopted from the BLM online adoptions site from Colorado. She was a grey yearling mustang filly listed under the “Special Adoptions” section.

    Silver Moon had severe nerve damage to her face after getting her head stuck in the BLM holding facilities at Canon City. One side of her face drooped and mouth was agape.

    BLM staff had to clean out her mouth daily to remove food. I looked at her picture and knew she would have a hard time getting adopted. I contacted the BLM, filled out the paperwork and arranged transport for her to come to FalconRidge in California. When she arrived, it was apparent the nerve damage to her face was healing and her mouth no longer hung open. She was put out in a pasture and allowed to run and grow and play. Later, she was trained under saddle with no problems. She grew and was blossoming year after year. Silver Moon was adopted out to a loving home in Livermore, CA where she continues to receive training and has competed at shows. She has turned from an ugly duckling to a beautiful swan and we are so proud of her. Here are her before and after pictures:

  7. Anna says:

    to Laura thanks for your reply; yeah she was one lucky gal !

    so my comment is:

    Most of the 87 Musties from fallon could have been saved !

    but that is not the BLM’s goal: they have no structured goals

    they just “breed ’em in the wild (by putting stallions back)

    they round ’em up; pen ’em up; adopt ’em out or sell ’em;

    see the BLM actually BREED mustangs for the next roundup!

  8. Anna says:

    ps why do you think the BLM “puts back Mustangs at a

    “60 to 40 or 50 to 50 % Stallions with equal amt. of Mares;


    to make sure they have enough Musties for the next roundup

    WHAT A SCHEME ! ! ! The wild mustie burro prog. GOING !

  9. Liz Kane says:

    Oh my this article and pictures does show us what is really going on! We horse and burro lovers have known that BLM cares nothing about our national heritage the American Mustang/Burro and only cares about the money it gets for letting ranchers use our precious (NOTE OUR TAX Payers MONEY) for their greedy use for their cattle. So much so its taken its toll on our most revered animals. I am disgusted to read that they are gelding stallions, and sterilizing mares with progesterone shots. Its sickening, our beloved gene pools are lost forever!
    I can vent til the cows come home.. and write and write. But I am sure you get the drift. Thank you for this blog!!!!! I am heartbroken as well as sickened to read and see these pictures. GOD BLESS and KEEP OUR MUSTANGS SAFE PLEASE ….

  10. Anna says:

    hello best thing to do is write to the Senators and Representatives of you own home state

    and then copy them with pix and links to pix and videos of

    “Blm’s blatant disregard for the health and safety of Mustangs

    Representative Jim of Himes of Conn. is a co sponsor R.O.A.M

    thanks for posting; Anne

  11. Anna says:

    Blind by Katie Bucklein

    From the Mustang’s View

    Are you just blind?
    Can’t you see what you’re doing to me?
    To me and my family?

    I remember just yesterday
    Just yesterday I was playing with my foals
    Nipping their hooves and racing through the wind with them
    Just yesterday, I was happy and carefree.

    Then, overnight, I smelled men
    I rushed my family to our hiding place
    Hoping no one would find us, “Stay silent†I say
    We stayed there, shaking and scared.

    We awoke to the sound of buzzing
    A giant, silver bird flew through the sky
    My family screamed and ran
    The little foals falling behind, I tried to stay with them.

    We were funneled through strange-looking grass
    Grass that stood straight up
    Grass that didn’t blow in the breeze
    My family grew tired, giving in to the silver bird.

    We were forced, screaming into a silver tunnel
    A silver tunnel with no way out
    We were locked in, fearing for our lives
    We huddled close, trying to remain comforted with our family.

    Near the end of the journey in the silver tunnel
    I began to smell horses
    Horses that I didn’t recognize
    I puffed up my chest, ready to fight for my family.

    We were funneled out of the tunnel
    I raced around my family, trying to keep them together
    I heard my foals whinnying for their mothers,
    Their mothers were gone; I was left with my young foals

    I am pushed into a crevice that leads to other horses
    I see a few that look like my mares
    I rush to them, eager to rejoin them
    But I soon find out that these are other stallions, just like me.

    I look around for my foals
    They’re gone from sight
    I look for my mares
    I can’t see them anywhere, they are gone too.

    I turn back to the stallions, looking for a friendly face
    I see none
    One lone black stallion in the back catches my eye
    I move toward him.

    “What is this place?†I ask the black stallion
    He raises his head and looks at me
    “The end. No way out.†He says.
    I look around, scared that I will die here.

    A short while later, I am pushed once again into a strange ring
    I recognize my mares and rush to them
    They whinny in greeting and we nuzzle each other
    We can’t find our foals anywhere.

    Suddenly, a hot stick is pressed against me
    I jump away and scream
    I see a man, holding the stick and pressing it to a mare
    I charge him but another man slaps me with a long stick.

    My mares are collapsing
    I feel my legs shaking but remain standing
    I must remain strong for my mares
    We are once again separated and pushed back into the strange rings.

    I remain next to the black stallion,
    Breathing deeply and glancing around at other stallions
    I hear neighs that sound familiar
    I raise my muzzle and neigh back, longing for my freedom.

    I never once again see my foals
    I catch glimpses of my mares
    They are slowly diminishing
    Until only a few are left.

    I ask the black stallion again,
    “What is happening to my family?â€
    The black stallion sighs and looks sadly around
    “They are dying, just like mine.â€

    These words scare me
    I want my family back
    I want my freedom back,
    I wish to be running through fields again, playing with my foals.

    Won’t someone help me?
    I don’t want to live like this
    I have been here for many months,
    Never again seeing my family.

    I catch word of one of my mares still alive
    I wish I could see her,
    To see which mare is left
    But I never do.

    My foals are all gone
    No longer living on this earth
    What strange creature is doing this to us?
    What have we done to them?

    Someone save us
    I want to run again,
    To be out of this strange ring
    With the strange food and strange customs.

    I am alone
    Alone with hundreds of stallions that I do not know
    None are my sons, all grown up
    What has happened to them?

    I raise my muzzle once again,
    Neighing loudly into the wind
    Wishing to be out on the mountains again,
    And then I collapse onto the ground, breathing deeply.

    As I close my eyes one last time,
    I feel the black stallion sniffing my neck
    “Save my family if you see them.â€
    I whisper to him, one last time.

    I take my last breath,
    Exhausted and scared
    Never understanding what is going on
    Or why.

    Are you just blind?
    Can’t you see what you’re doing to me?
    To me and my family?

  12. Anna says:

    I get the shivers every time I read that poem…

    One blind stud with broken teeth and two foals with deformed and crippled front legs with incurable lameness were euthanize…

    oh I see; the BLM is getting smart; they “shoot the foals before any pix can be taken of…


    and then the BLM says: “crippled front legs; incuruable lameness…oh is see,,,THE FOALS RAN FOR 5 MILES WITH
    deformed and crippled back legs ? oh sure Pal; get a life !

  13. Anna says:

    ps should be “deformed and crippled front legs; ha ha how could teo foals with deformed and crippled front legs run ?

    truth is: The Roundup “crippled the foals; the roundups “cripple some Colts and Fillies; the roundups “cripple some Mares; and cripple some Stallions;

    and then after the BLM “cripples these Mustangs due to:
    stress of roundup
    new strange hay
    different water
    no shade in pens; sand lots; no forage in pens whatsoever!

    after the BLM “cripples these Mustangs so that some fall down and are unable to rise…then the “BLM destroys them

    INSTEAD OF RE-FEEDING THEM; “The BLM starves ‘Stangs
    (and if you don’t believe me; look at the pix of “Feathers!

  14. Anna says:


    WHEN A MUSTANG FALLS DOWN INSIDE THE CORRALS OF FALLON OR PVC…what I have observed is this from pix/video


    (or water…FOR DAYS ON END…and then the Mustangs either

    “Dies on it’s own…or is “found dead in pen…” my comment

    The Mustang died of “Lack of Sustenance because


    so if a Mustang “goes down; meaning “unable to rise to stand


    I have indisputable proof of this from pix and videos !

    summary: THE BLM DOES NOT HAND CARRY HAY OR WATER TO DOWNED MUSTANGS UNABLE TO RISE; not even a sprig of hay or not even a drop of water…case in point: Hope the Foal lay in a sandpit for 3 days with no food OR water…then when the lil one was alive after 3 days? sanford shot her ! aw
    (imo sandford shot hope with a gun; could have been other)

  15. Anna says:





    and then types these words: “Mustang died on its own…a.w.

  16. Anna says:

    ps have any of you seen the pix of the stalls at Palomino ?

    WHAT A JOKE…they look like the stalls of a delapilated rescue just about to be busted !

    because that’s what they are: they are a phoney illegal rescue

    I have pix of Mustangs standing almost to their knees in mud

    I have a pix of a mustang at Palomino PVC; where the mud is so high; the tail of the mustangs is “bathed in mud:

    I thought it was illegal to keep Horses standing in Mud ?

    ps what planet did you say the Blm was from again ? was it

    “the we abuse Mustang galaxy ? will post pix of pcv sometime

  17. Anna says:

    PS Do not be too concerned about losing “the genetic Mustang Pool because that is not going to happen ! There are already some Mustang Sanctuaries who rescue: “only pure Mustangs; they genetically test the Mustang and if not a True Mustang; they will not accept; other rescues the same;

    the name is: New Mexico: Carlos Lopoloso; Mustang Reserve(he is italian not hispanic; not that it matters of course…)
    I will post the Mustang Ranch info; pure wilderness for them !

    • Anna says:

      hello re: America’s Mustangs…

      the name of the Ranch who has only “pure bred genetic Spanish Mustangs is:

      Wild Horses of the West – The New Mexico Horse Project;

      please see pix of Wild Mustangs living the way they should!

      ps to Pheasant…thanks for caring…the mustangs thank u!

  18. pheasant says:

    Dear Laura

    I was at library today
    watching some of this
    about the horses
    and just crying

    could not watch all of it

    they are so beautiful!

    Tks for your website

    pheasant 🙂

  19. Anna says:

    does herd watch have a website yet ? curious in conn. anna~

  20. Anna says:

    to Sandra; if you are reading this; I would like to apologize for jumping all over you when you said “my misinformation was legendary…and you said I was banned from blogs…

    even though not true I give out misinformation; and even tho’i have not been banned from any mustang burro blogs

    i do apologize; what happened was; I take Vitamin B12 as a therapy; what happened was I ran out of my Vitamin B12 tabs and I began taking Vitamin B-Complex; thinking there would be enuf Vitamin B12 in the Vit. B-Complex…

    however; there was not enuf Vit. B12 in the complex; so my Vitamin B12 levels plummeted suddenly; this put me in a major bad mood; but I couldn’t figure out why…so I am back on the B12 and my mood is better; so I apologize…ps

    “when I said the BLM should bottle feed the foals at Fallon;
    what I meant was: when a Foal has “fallen down and cannot stand up; like Lil one day and Hope the Calico Colt;

    just giving them one bottle of sustenance can get them up!

    and that is god’s honest truth ! then once up; they begin to nurse; once they nurse they are fine…blm didn’t give them a chance…the lil ones; Feathers didn’t get a Goll darn thing

    “not even a sprig of hay and furthermore; The BLM website says: Feathers the Foal was “down and unable to rise…

    my freakin’ ars…Feathers was prancing around the Calico Camps for Mustangs; and anyone can see this who has eyes

    like a school of sharks in a frenzy; such is the; imo

  21. […] Laura Leigh is a dedicated advocate for our wild horses.  She has “been there” and seen how the horses are rounded up.  She has been to the holding facility and witnessed how the captives are cared for.  Laura Leigh has been to court to fight the battle to save our horses.  She’s truly the Mustang’s friend.  She made this video about the babies of the Calico “Gather”.  The baby being chased by the helicopter in this video was gathered 9 days after our Reno. Reno was about 6 months old at the time of his “gather” on January 7, 2010. Please visit Laura’s blog “Art and Horses” […]

  22. Becky Lee says:

    Im heartbroken, i cant write anymore

  23. mbob says:

    I’ve seen the photos.
    Eyes dimmed
    Bodies limp with defeat.
    All of us can be driven to death as the only door left open.
    Are the drivers really so much better off?
    When their gloating fades
    When their bleak victory thins
    Will their time be any less final
    Less lonely
    Less unmourned.
    Eternal shame on the oppressors
    Their victory is dust.
    To which they also are bound.

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