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.

Cat Kindsfather inspired

Cat sent me a wonderful photo of old General yesterday.

Why am I here? (drawing)

General (drawing by Laura)

It was the inspiration for a short article that attempts to begin to explain the current adoption process and introduce the sale authority concept.

I have a bunch to say on both those subjects but I’m out of time for today with much to accomplish.

I will write more later!

Here is the article:

New Article (Gelding)

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

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

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.  : )

Gelding at Calico

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

Young Stud (holding area)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Something else to think about…

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

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

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

New Video of Processing Calico

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

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

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.

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)

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

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.”


I don’t normally post “reprints” this often but this “trail” is important to follow. This is the third story in a row from Steven Long of Horseback Magazine on veterinary credentials.

The responses Steven gets to what should have been very simple requests speaks loud and clear. These types of responses are what we receive most often. The “straight answer” never comes. It creates an atmosphere of absolute distrust.

If these are the responses to simple questions, imagine how convoluted the responses are when we ask more complex questions?

The BLM representatives will stand in front of a television camera and give a reporter a quick sound bite response while wearing a uniform. An advocate will then need to express to the reporter how those responses are incorrect or misleading and then try to represent the “truth” as we know it… and the real truth will remain an unknown until an investigation occurs.But the reporter walks off with the sound bite… and the majority of the public never “gets it.”

This example of a simple request, the type of response and the potential consequence is so clearly illustrated by Steven in these three articles.

If you want to be “educated” on standard BLM operating protocol… these three articles are really all you need.

Death Toll for Calico Now 115 While BLM Has No Credentials for Vets on File

Photo by Elyse Gardner

By Steven Long

HOUSTON, (Horseback) – The record death toll for a federal Bureau of Land Management roundup has again risen with the demise of two more horses raising the count to 115. Specifically, 69 have died at the agency’s Fallon holding facility, 7 died at the site of the Calico roundup itself, and there have been 39 miscarried foals.

The animals are under the care of BLM veterinarian Dr. Richard Sanford. Horseback Magazine asked for his vitae under the U.S, Freedom of Information Act. In a certified letter to the magazine dated March 9, 2010, the agency responded.

“We have conducted a thorough search of our files and were unable to locate any records responsive to your request.”

Sanford is the second BLM veterinarian who appears to have no credentials on file with the bureau. Dr. Albert Kane, who has worked on the Calico “gather” is not licensed as a veterinarian in Nevada according to state records. Sanford holds a Nevada vet license.

According to a physician, veterinarian, and emergency medical technician contacted by Horseback Magazine, virtually all medical professionals have credentials on file where they are employed and carry them as well.

These same professionals have raised questions regarding moving wild horses from a sparse diet of desert grass to one of rich hay as soon as they were captured. They have raised questions that the Calico tragedies are the result of gastrointestinal problems such as colic.

Dr. Kane, BLM DVM?

Reprint from Horseback Online

The Big Story

Unlicensed Vet Working Nevada Gather Where 113 Horses Have Died or Have Been Miscarried

By Steven Long

Photo by Laura Leigh

HOUSTON, (Horseback) – A government veterinarian working for the Bureau of Land Management in its Nevada office has treated horses there without a state license.

At least 113 captured horses have either died or been miscarried after a grueling chase by helicopter over rocky mountain land in the dead of winter.

Horseback Magazine confirmed late Monday in a check with the Nevada Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners that there is no record of a veterinary license for Dr. Albert Kane. Last month the magazine sought the vitae of the veterinarian but the BLM refused to supply it.

Kane is a Veterinary Medical Officer with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Animal Health Policy and Programs staff. In this position he serves as a staff veterinarian and advisor for the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program, according to spokeswoman JoLynn Worley.

“Dr. Kane doesn’t have a current bio or CV available at this time and has declined to prepare one specifically at your request,” Worley said at the time.

After the refusal to respond to the magazine’s request for Kane’s credentials, a request for that information under the Freedom of Information Act was filed. Thus far there has been no BLM compliance on the FOIA.

The 113 dead horses came from BLM’s Calico Wild Horse Management Area in Northern Nevada. The “gather” was a tightly controlled operation in which press and public was held in a viewing area far from the actual roundup and helicopter driven stampede.

Horses captured in the operation are now held in the BLM’s Fallon processing facility.

Horseback Magazine has now asked the BLM if Kane is licensed elsewhere other than in Nevada.

The Fallon facility is under tight control with press and public barred from observing horse processing in other than rare and brief media days and observation opportunities.

Opponents of the gathers have charged that the government agency is rendering America’s wild horse herds genetically bankrupt on its 260 million acres of mostly vacant land.

Last year, in a 68 page document titled “Alternative Management Options” the BLM discussed killing thousands of wild horses. It also addressed the issue of neutering horses in enormous numbers.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, a former rancher, has proposed that thousands of horses be sent to seven holding areas in the Midwest and East as tourist attractions. The proposal has been ridiculed by equine welfare activists as “Salazoos.”

No Investigation of High Death Rate

Government Contractor Paid Almost $700 K – 113 Horses Dead and no Investigation of Calico Capture

(Taken from Horseback Online)

"Freedom's Escape" 2010 Craig Downer

By Steven Long

HOUSTON, (Horseback) – A Nephi, Utah, government contractor was paid $697,359 for a Nevada roundup of wild horses in the Calico Mountains. The roundup was held against the advice of federal judge Paul Friedman of Washington D.C. who wrote that holding wild horses in large privately owned facilities is likely against federal law.

At least 113 horses have died thus far, including two foals that shed their hooves after a helicopter stampede over rocky ground in the dead of winter. A BLM vet has acknowledged that the roundup was the likely cause for the foals to lose their hooves in an excruciatingly painful end of their lives.

Information on fees paid by the federal Bureau of Land Management to Cattoor Livestock Roundup, Inc. was released late Friday to Horseback Magazine by Deputy Division Chief Dean Bolsted of the agency’s Wild Horse and Burro Program.

The large number of deaths in the roundup is unusual.

In 2008, 45 percent of the roundups resulted in at least one fatality, and on one in Nevada, 27 horses died. The total number of deaths through injury or for other reasons totaled 126 animals that year.

Alternatives to the helicopter stampedes approved by the agency include baiting and trapping, however, BLM directs the type of capture when a “gather” is scheduled.

According to Bolsted, government horse capture contractors are paid for the number of horses captured, feeding and watering for animals kept at the gather site overnight, and transport of animals from the capture site to designated short term holding facilities such as Fallon, a Nevada holding pen and processing site..

Private landowners in a capture area do not reimburse the government for removing wild horses from their property. The animals are often considered a nuisance to western ranchers and have been sometimes referred to as “the cockroaches of the west” by some.

The percentage of dead horses on BLM roundups in 2009 was slightly worse than the previous year at 46 percent resulting in at least one horse death. A mid-summer Wyoming gather proved fatal to 11 horses – tiny by comparison to this year’s Calico roundup.

As of late 2009, a total of 205 horses over a two year period died at the agency’s hands during roundups to thin the herds despite the vastness of the lands managed by BLM. The agency controls almost 260 million acres, much of it is vacant, and over a million cattle graze unmolested on the land, some of which was once reserved for wild horses. The number of 205 dead horses does not reflect the number of foals lost due to miscarriages.

Asked by Horseback Magazine if BLM plans to launch an internal investigation, Bolsted said, “No internal investigation of deaths is planned.”

The roundups by BLM have drawn protests from coast to coast. The next is planned for Washington D.C. on March 25, when activists will set up shop across from the North Front of the White House in Lafayette Park.

The BLM response to the burgeoning scandal has been a proposal to set aside seven wild horse refuges, dubbed “Salazoos” by activists after Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, a former Colorado rancher.

Sen. Mary Landrieu and others have called for a Congressional investigation of the Bureau’s Wild Horse and Burro Program which administers the animals under the 1971 Free Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act, or “Wild Horse Annie Law,” named for the late Velma Johnston of Reno.

Horseback Magazine has repeatedly sought an interview with BLM director Bob Abbey, who has thus far turned a deaf ear to repeated requests.

The captured Calico horses are currently held at the BLM’s Fallon facility. Neither press nor public are allowed to observe the agency’s treatment of the animals, conduct a census, or to spend prolonged periods in their presence. The gates are opened to infrequent and tightly controlled viewing by small screened groups for one and one half hours. Only one reporter or photographer will be permitted from each media outlet during the next scheduled viewing.

Press and public were also not allowed unfettered access to observe the Cattoor roundups of horses in the wild. Horseback Magazine offered to have only experienced mounted journalists and wildlife experts in the field with company and BLM wranglers to observe the helicopter roundups.

Armed guards were on site to prevent observation of the “gather,” as was the case in late 2009 at Montana’s Pryor Mountain when the iconic wild horse, “Cloud” was captured. The horse was the star of three PBS specials by Emmy award winning documentary filmmaker Ginger Kathrens.

Kathrens will speak at the Washington D.C. rally.


Calico Complex 2010 Cattoor contractor

I noticed in my “internet” wanderings that Sue Cattoor has mention me by name on her companies website.

Before I address what she actually posted, (if I decide to address what she wrote pertaining to my name) I want to address the forums in which people use the Internet and their implications.

Many of you that follow my blog know that the use of language is a subject I find rather interesting. From the way we communicate with each other daily, to the way language is taken from a theory into practice, is becoming a subject that occupies much of my thoughts.

As we attempt to move the issue of “Wild Horse and Burro” in America into a phase where dialogue toward problem solving becomes a possibility, the use of language will clearly take on more importance. I urge you all to become very aware of terminology and it’s implication.

In “electronic space” you and I now occupy “the blog zone.” I am an artist by trade that has created a blog to share “Information, thoughts, photographs, expression (with horses at the heart).” My site takes comments for open discussion of what I blog.

Courtesy of dictionary online:

Main Entry:              blog

Part of Speech:              n

Definition:              an online diary; a personal chronological log of thoughts published on a Web page; also called Weblog, Web log

Example:              Typically updated daily, blogs often reflect the personality of the author.

Sue Cattoor is writing about the gather activities on the Home Page of what appears to be her business website. Not a blog page, not a page nestled in the site that promotes her livelihood… but the “Home” page. Her writing is not on the BLM website. She does not publish her website with BLM approval of content nor does it represent the BLM. She is a private contractor running a business. That business receives revenue from the BLM as well as from other government contracts and private entities.

I asked Tom Gorey of the BLM about Sue Cattoor’s Informational authority on BLM protocol. This is his response, (it was the expected answer):

Laura ~

Sue Cattoor speaks for herself and her company. The BLM has its own

representatives to speak for the agency.

The Bureau shares information with Ms. Cattoor that is relevant to the

contracting work she does for the agency. Beyond this, she has access to

the same information available to the public that is posted on our


~ Regards,


So within the parameters of human language there are certain implications to the manner in which her writing is presented.

  1. The importance of these “updates” would be priority to her company because it is listed on the “Home” page.
  2. The implied official capacity she writes from as the holder of a government contract adds weight (implied) to her writing.
  3. The inclusion of her Company address adds another “communication” tool that again implies the authority from which she writes.

Cattoors website can be viewed here.

Many of you that follow this issue will read what she writes and see the manner in which she presents “what happened” as distressful. But consider the source, consider the placement, consider the language as you read. Consider the business that she operates.

Yet do keep in mind that her testimony is relevant to the perpetuation of her contract as utilized in BLM assessments on gather operations. Then read again what Gorey wrote in response to my question.

Now go back to Cattoor’s website. Click the “Information” tab.

She answers questions such as this one:

Problems Inherent in the Passage of the 2009 ROAM Act

…with excerpts from an article by Sue Wallis. Highlighted in yellow is a provision I have not seen in all the hours I have poured through ROAM looking for issues with language.

(OK, so I should have put the “remove liquid from mouth” warning prior to directing you here)

Or this:

How can you watch a wild horse roundup?

“Some of the lies being circulated on the internet this summer contain statements that say the contractors and BLM do not want and sometimes do not allow people to watch wild horse roundups.  As contractors, we always work with the BLM to accommodate visitors and photographers…”

Do I need to go on?

You might like this one:

Things that we do to assure the welfare of foals.

“…If the pilot sees the foal or even a weak or old animal is getting tired, he radios the wranglers at the trap and they go out with saddle horses and a horse trailer and load and transport the foal or other animal to the trap…”

The photos make you want to grab the kids and head out to a gather for a picnic.

So my dilemma is this:

Does this actually deserve more of my time? Or do I just prepare for DC?

Lightening and a man named Downer

Once upon a time I left my world to head off to follow the wild horses. I went straight to an area many refer to as “where the horse turns.” That phrase is used to compare the area to the drama contained in soap operas. Not only because of the concentration of horses that inhabit the area, but because of the political climate. This climate encompasses not only the government, but the advocates as well.

Let’s just say the term is an understatement.

When I first became involved with this issue, some time ago, it was difficult to find cohesive action among the advocate groups. This issue is so large that communication was often splintered into selective focus out of necessity. Gaining information in a timely manner proved to be a challenge, with a few exceptions. One of those exceptions was a man named Craig Downer.

Where's Craig?

From the moment of our initial contact involving the horses at Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge, Downer sent me volumes to sift through. He said take what you need and “run” with it. He gave no direction, advise, nor gossip.

Before I ever met Downer I heard things about him that ranged from “He’s a man of God,” to “If you expect him to have your back you better have your butterfly net handy. He can fly off into the stratosphere!”

I finally met Downer face-to-face at the Society for Range Management conference in Reno. Soft spoken and shy, he was a perfect caricature of the “absent minded professor.” He said to me, “Laura, we have the truth on our side.  Keep speaking it and we will win.”

He spoke with a conviction so pure it was like that of a child. It made me painfully aware of my own cynicism. He had a way of being that we all held in some distant memory that has been buried by the constraints “life” has imposed on us. That ability to believe that “truth, justice and the American way,” meant the things you thought they did when you were first taught the “pledge of allegiance” in school was alive and well in Mr.Downer.

His words galvanized me with a new purpose. Not only did we need to win this for the horses, but for Downer, and to fan that flame of belief deep inside of all of us.

Craig Downer

Since then Downer and I have shared information, collaborated on a few projects and gone to see the horses still free.

While Craig was in court trying to protect the horses at the Calico Complex from the threat of the BLM round up, I made a slideshow from some of his photos. It was my way of supporting his effort. It was my “prayer.”

One of the horses in the video is a magnificent stallion Craig named Lightening. Lightening is the palomino with the lightening bolt marking.

After the slideshow was posted on You Tube I received several e-mails that commented directly on the beauty of that stallion. The slideshow did not show any starving horses living on a degraded range as the BLM claimed. It shows healthy, thriving horses free on their range to be what they are.

Recently I received a phone call from Elyse Gardner. She was calling to soften a blow. She wanted to let me know that she was writing on her blog that Lightening had been seen again, in his holding cell at Fallon. We shared our grief and mourned his loss of freedom. She has written her account of the day she and Downer found Lightening again on her blog.

I was grateful for the call.

Downer said to me, “Laura, we have the truth on our side.  Keep speaking it and we will win.”

I will try to keep my cynicism in check.

Lightening by Elyse Gardner, 2010

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.