Mustang Magic

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

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

Mom is a "port in a storm"

Mom is a "port in a storm"

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

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

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

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

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

Curious beginnings (photo Laura Leigh)

Curious beginnings (photo Laura Leigh)

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

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

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

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

Calico Filly (photo Elyse Gardner)

Calico Filly (photo Elyse Gardner

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

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

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

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

Palomino Valley Update

Stallions have been moved to the “Big Pen.”

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

The "Big Pen"

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

#6171… Sweet and actually pushy for attention.

Ready for a place to call home (Elyse Gardner)

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

The BLM staff vet finally paid him a visit.

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

True 5/25 (PVC staff)

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

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

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.

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.