The Death of The Calico Colt

"reposted with permission, copyright Ginger Kathrens/The Cloud Foundation/Carol Walker"

The Death of the Calico Colt
An Essay by Ginger Kathrens
January 2010

He was wild and free, roaming the vast expanses of the rugged Calico Mountains with his mother and father and the other members of his family. This would be his first winter, a time when life slowed down for all the wild ones—the elegant pronghorn he watched on the distant horizon, the tiny pygmy rabbits that foraged in the sage brush undergrowth and darted into their dens when he tried to touch them, the fat sage grouse that were some of his favorites. When he was just days old, he heard their strange, booming sounds and saw the males strutting and displaying for a mate. When he wandered toward them, it was his father who gently guided him home. His mother softly nickered to him. She smelled of sweet sage and invited him to nurse.

Then, one day while his mother and father and the others in his family were quietly foraging, conserving their energy in the growing cold, he saw his father jerk his head up. Ears forward, the stallion watched and listened and the colt did too, mimicking his father. The colt could hear a rumbling drone. In the distance, he could see something flying toward them. It was even bigger than the majestic golden eagles that soared over his home. It came closer and closer, dropping low over the sage. The drone grew into an earshattering roar. His family began to run and he followed, galloping beside his mother where he would be safe. Mile after mile the menacing, giant bird chased them. His legs ached and he wanted to rest, but he could not leave his mother. He kept running, struggling to keep up. Fear gripped the Calico colt.

Then he saw a horse in front of his father and it too began to run. Safety must be ahead. His family followed the stranger and suddenly they were trapped inside walls of steel. His father tried to jump over the wall but it was too high. There were two legged animals running at them with long sticks and something white that fluttered madly. Suddenly, he was separated from his mother when a two-legged moved between them, striking out at him with the frightening stick and the fluttering bag. He was driven into another corral. When he whinnied for his mother, she answered. He raced around the corral calling for her, but found his feet were too sore to run anymore and he stopped. He could hear his father calling and he knew the proud stallion had been separated too. The colt answered him. He could see his mother through the bars of his cage and this gave him strength and hope.

Days passed. It was cold and there was no place to get out of the wind. In his home, his mother would have led the band below a rocky outcrop that blocked the wind. The colt began to fear he would never again smell the sweet sage of her breath or taste the warm milk she offered to him. His feet, so sore, became worse. Shooting pains darted through his whole body when he tried to walk so he moved as little as possible, hobbling a few steps to eat the plants the two-leggeds had thrown on the ground for them. One frigid morning, the two leggeds came and drove him into a truck with others that were his age. The pain was constant now and when the truck moved out, he stayed on his feet but the pain riveted him with every jolt and bump. He called for his mother, but there was no answer. Would he ever see his parents again?

Hours passed and the truck moved onto smoother ground and it turned into a place where he could hear the calls of his kind. He whinnied as loud as he could, but the answering voices were unfamiliar. The two-leggeds drove the colt from the truck into a bigger cage and he struggled to keep up with the other foals. Some of them were limping too. His eyes scanned the horizon, looking for something familiar but the flat horizon looked nothing like the land of his birth. Days went by and he spent hours laying in the dirt, the pain growing. He could feel something happening to his feet. His once strong, dark hooves were beginning to separate from the bone designed to hold them fast. He laid flat and closed his eyes, imagining the home and family he feared he would never see again. The two leggeds walked toward him. He wanted to jump up and dash away but he could not. Over the next few days he grew too tired to move at all. The wind howled and as it began to snow, he closed his eyes for the last time and dreamed of his family. Then two leggeds came again and killed the Calico Colt.

In death, the lively spirit of the Calico Colt was released to roam free once more. He has returned home to his family and the land of his dreams. He is not just a statistic. Neither he nor what he symbolizes will ever be forgotten. (Ginger Kathrens is a filmmaker, author, and founder of The Cloud Foundation, dedicated to preserving our mustangs on public lands. The Foundation is calling for a
stop to the roundups that are robbing public lands of our legendary, native wild equids—the very embodiment of freedom for many Americans. The Calico colt is only one of many who have died as a result of the ongoing roundups this year alone. Find out what you can do at www.thecloudfoundation.org

Photo: Living Images by Carol Walker

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


Shootin' (Down) the Bull

Showcasing Catoor/Highlightin' the Bull & Annotatin' the Lies 

Bull in bold & Lies in ( )

From article in "Cowboy Showcase" In the distance, you can hear the helicopters coming to the corral with another band of wild horses. Near the mouth of the capture corral Dave Cattoor stood, looking out into the vast expanse of wild horse country in Central Nevada’s, Antelope Valley. Dave was holding his “pilot horse” Shorty by his halter. When the wild horses approached the mouth of the trap, herded along from behind with the helicopters, Dave turned Shorty loose and he ran to the front of the wild horse band, leading them safely into the capture corral. Dave said in his quiet way, “I can put wild horses in your barn with Shorty’s help.”

Cattoor Livestock Roundups, Inc has repeated this scene many times in locations throughout Nevada, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, since 1975. This premier wild horse-gathering outfit has been in the business for over 32 years working with the BLM, USFS, NPS and private individuals and has captured over 200,000 wild horses, wild burros, and wild cattle. During this period, they have purchased and built new livestock holding equipment, improved air-to-ground radio communications, purchased three helicopters, fuel trucks, water hauling trailers, horse hauling equipment and improved gathering techniques. They have learned the best methods available to assure safety for their employees and the animals they capture.

Dave Cattoor grew up in mustang country on the Western Slope of the Colorado Rockies near Maybell, Colorado. He learned the ways of wild horses from the old-time wild horsemen in northwestern Colorado and southern Wyoming. (Of course, he is an old "Mustanger," from an old Mustangin' famolee) He caught his first wild horse when he was 12 years old and from then on, he has followed wild horse trails throughout the west.

The Roundup

In the early days, wild horses were caught either from horseback or by water trapping. These capture methods were slow, dangerous, (for whom?) and sometimes not very efficient (Seems efficiency would depend upon the quality and quantity of the ranglers involved.) In the early 70s, Federal laws were changed to allow the use of helicopters to gather wild horses. This improved the gathering process a great deal and it became much easier on the wild horses and their colts. 

Dave says this about helicopters and pilots, “A good helicopter pilot does not run wild horses during a round up. These pilots must be experienced and understand livestock habits. The horses are gathered with the helicopter and herded along much as you would move cattle. The animals going to the capture trap travel at their own speed and unless they need to be turned, the helicopter backs off and just follows the animals. If the horses in the lead start to run off, they can be turned back in order to slow the herd down. Even most of the mares with small colts can keep up using this method. Helicopter roundups are the most efficient and safe way to gather wild horses, burros, and wild cattle.(Safe and effiecient for whom, I ask again; most certainly NOT the animals) During the past couple of years, we have started using two helicopters to gather in the same area. This has worked out very well and has cut our gather time in half and is much easier on the wild horses and their colts.” (How so? To have TWO terrifying loud-ass flying machines in the air chasing them, instead of one. Better yet to have NONE) Dave explained how they select a capture site in a roundup area. “Preliminary scouting both by air and on the ground is done to find the natural routes wild horses travel .The capture site needs to be close to the animals you want to catch and somewhere that they would naturally go, so that you do not attempt to force horses but they will travel there more or less on their own.ROTFLMAO An example would be a natural spring or livestock water where horses have been going for water. (Such as used to be used but now abandoned, as a more humane ("water-trapping") method of capture?) Easier to chase them down with helicopters, eh? Once the capture site has been chosen, proper capture pens and wings must be installed. These pens are constructed of materials that do not harm the horses (Like the barbed wire fence that Freedom ran through?) and will make gathering, sorting, and loading easier for the animals and wranglers alike.”

When asked about what happens when colts or horses are left behind on a gather, Dave said, (I thought as stated above, that the mares w/ their babies have NO PROBLEM keeping up - make up our minds, will ya guys? You know we are easily confused (NOT) lol) “We have wranglers and saddled horses ready at the capture pens. When the helicopter pilot radios that a colt or horse has fallen back, we send the wrangler and his horse to bring the animals in.” (You mean to run the exhaused animals even harder and longer, dont you,...i.e.; the colt that you ran his feet off)

Once the animals are safely in the capture corrals, (there IS NO safety in the capture pens, it is pure and utter confusion, fear and pandamonium for them ) they are sorted or sometimes loaded in semi-trucks and horse trailers and hauled to a separate set of sorting corrals at a holding facility.(By BLMs own laws, they are not supposed to be immediately loaded for transport but are supposed to be given PLENTY OF TIME (as in a day or so) to settle down before transport.) At these corrals, Dave’s wife Sue Cattoor, and their son and business partner Troy along with several wranglers and a BLM Horse Specialist ( Bebop Cowboy Aassholes, all.) proceed with the sorting operation. When needed, a State Brand Inspector and a veterinarian assist them. (When needed? The vet should be there ALL OF THE TIME, you know, as sort of a casual or humane observer) The horses are sorted, studs in one pen, dry mares in a pen, and mares with colts in another. Extreme care is taken to keep the mares and their colts together. (At least til they get to the holding facilities where they are immediately taken away from their mothers and processed as "young adoptables.") All of the horses are run through a chute and are “mouthed” to determine their ages.

Sue Cattoor said, when asked about what will be done with these captured horses, “According to the most recent estimates, the wild horse and burro population grows at a about a rate of 18 % a year. Since the enactment of the Wild and Free Roaming Horse and Burro act of 1971, horse and burro populations have increased dramatically. (BIG FAT LIE: there used to be nearly 1 million wild equines on our public lands, they HAVE NOT increased in numbers due to ranchers killing them off and the BLMs managment for extinction which has continously through the years DECIMATED their numbers - BLM and their rancher friends WOULD NEVER allow the herds to grow - remember, they STILL have (secret) bounties on them,..so much an ear) Recent estimates of wild horse and burro numbers exceed 31,000 (whos estimates? lol) living on Federal lands. (How many privately owned cows do you run on public land, Sue? If there were 100,000 wild horses out there, it still would not be enough to do all the damage that MILLIONS of privately owned cattle do - AND at a cost of $500 MILLION DOLLARS a year to the taxpayers to run all of them privately owned cows, which, by the way, are the ones POUNDING our public lands TO DUST) Nevada has over one half of these wild horses and burros. These animals have virtually no natural predators, (That is because the BLM kills off all the preditors at the ranchers request,.....taxpayers pay $29 MILLION a year for BLMs Preditor Control program) except for an occasional mountain lion, (Dont worry, the Big Game hunters taking over our lands will take care of them) and their herd size can double about every four years. This leaves the BLM and other federal land managers in the very difficult position of managing the AMLs (appropriate management levels) for wildlife, livestock, and wild horses and burros to the best of their ability in these multiple-use areas.” (There is NO mandaory multiple use requirements for wild horse (and burro) countrys.....BLM is IGNORING the FLPMA exceptions to the "multiple use" and "sustained yield" requirments. Remember the 1971 Act? Its designates WFH&B historic lands as PRINCIPALLY FOR THEIR USE. What part of BLACK & WHITE / CUT & DRY dont you or the BLM understand?)


“If the BLM waits too long to make a gather, wild horses can get into such bad physical shape from lack of water and feed that many may die. This is what happened to the Jackson Mountain wild horses, north of Winnemucca, Nevada, in September 2007. They were gathered too late. There had been fires and a terrible drought in this area for many months. The cattle permittee had already removed his cattle from the allotment due to lack of water and feed. (BLM LOCKED THEM OUT of water sources - we have the pics, thank you) We gathered the wild horses and shipped them to the BLM holding facility at Palomino Valley, north of Reno. Over 100 horses died after being transported there. Salmonella was said to be the cause. However, salmonella is present in many healthy horse’s digestive tracts. When horses are in a weaken condition, as these were when we gathered, they are more susceptible to succumbing to it’s effects. Wild horses are not wildlife that will migrate to a better area when food and water run out. (WHAT?!! Now horses are stoopid?) They are livestock (NOT)(LIVE STOCK is something owned,...that is why they call it "STOCK," it is the owners STOCK-IN-TRADE and wild horses ARENT OWNED by any private individual so therefore are NOT livestock in the traditional sense) that must be managed and their numbers must be controlled out on the range so that they have enough to eat and drink.” (So WHY don't you do as you say and control them ON the ranges instead herding them off? Is this what you call a managment plan?)

Dave explained, “We have gathered at this same Nevada location in Antelope Valley five times in years past and this area is overstocked with wild horses once again. The livestock permittee has been cut back to 200 cows for two months out of the year on his federal grazing permit and he owns the private water source where most of these horses are drinking. (BLM HAS A DUTY to provide the equines with water sources, NO MATTER if privately owned) The BLM Horse Specialist will make the determination as to how many of these horses are shipped and how many will be turned back out on the range. The horses that are shipped will be hauled by semi-truck to a BLM holding facility held, and fed there. There presently are more wild horses in holding facilities than there are out on the range. These horses are on welfare. (So are the public land ranchers, the grazing program is nothing but SOCIALISM in its purest form,..costing $500 Million a year to taxpayers) They are the wild horses and burros that no one wants. (Guess you are speaking for the whole Nation here, huh Sue? No, not presumptious of you at all (for an asshole) Over half of the BLM wild horse federal budget is going to feed these gathered unwanted horses& burros” (And who's fault is that?..Of course, you just have to know, the BLM planned it that way, just so they could use it as an excuse for mass euthanasia, which by the way, as you also should know, America will never allow. )

The Future

When we asked Sue Cattoor what the answer is to all this, she replied, “There has to be somewhere to take these excess horses that are gathered. Holding facilities are filling up. It has become very difficult to get people to adopt wild horses anymore. It would seem that the only answer to this huge problem is for various special interest groups to find additional homes for these horses and burros (Yeah, sure, FOIST the duty of care away from the BLm and onto private hands) or allow the un-adoptable ones to be humanely destroyed like we do dogs and cats. (Join the No-Kill Shelter Revolution Today - it is the modern trend; NoKill.Com) With the current purposed changes in the horse slaughter laws in the United States, this country is filling up with unwanted horses. (NO SUCH THING as an unwanted horse) In this November gather alone, there were at least 25 branded horses. (How hard is it to trace the brands and charge the owners with abandonment?) We could one day be gathering more privately-owned horses that have been turned out on federal lands because their owners did not want to feed and care for them than we are gathering wild horses.” (Can you say "Against the Law?") If you want to learn something about wild horse gathering, spend a day in a mustang capture corral in the middle of wild horse country in Central Nevada with Dave and Sue Cattoor and their crew. You will get an education on what wild horse and burro capture is all about from people who spent a lifetime, watching, following, and catching these animals throughout the west!--(and shipping them off to slaughter.)

Contact information:

Cattoor Livestock Roundup, Inc. www.wildhorseroundups.com
Dave and Sue Cattoor
Troy and Sandy Cattoor
PO Box 289
Nephi, Utah 84648

Story by Mike Laughlin - A version of this article was published in Range Magazine, Spring 2008 Issue. Photos by Lee Raine


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


Obama Administration Assault On Wild Horses - Update

Obama Administration Assault On Wild Horses

Calico Complex Roundup, Dec. 28 thru Feb 2010
Secret BLM Roundup Continues
Calico Wild Horse Victims: 1,195+ (as per BLM on 1/21/2010)

Jan 21, 2010 UPDATE:

It's hard to know what is really happening at the Calico roundup because the BLM refuses to allow public observation of all roundup operations. Despite repeated requests for complete observation access, the BLM continues to severely restrict observation to a couple of hours on three days a week. Based on the highly limited information that the BLM is providing ... we now know two more horses were killed yesterday at the Indian Lakes Road Fallon holding facility. 

After being run long and hard, the BLM reports that a colt's hooves were destroyed (hoof sloughing) during the roundup and he was killed on Jan 21. Based on the limited information provided by the government, it is likely this colt was shot to death as the BLM calls using a riffle to shot horses "euthanasia." The BLM claims this colt had been treated for two weeks yet, this colt's condition and treatment was never reported before his death yesterday.  

BLM states that yet another mare died at the Fallon facility after being downed in the trailer probably for hours. Upon arrival she was found down and subsequently died. She was likely trampled as the horses are packed tightly into transport trucks.

No members of the public were allowed to observe the Jan 21 roundup and public observation at the Fallon facility is severely restricted to specific hours on specific days. No one is allowed to go to Fallon Facility until Tuesday, Jan. 26th. Calls were placed to both Assistant Director of Renewable Resources & Planning Ed Roberson and BLM Director Abbey by the Cloud Foundation in regards to the situation at the new Fallon facility. Calls were not returned.

NOTE-BLM Spoon Feeds Select Information:

 On 1/21/2010 BLM posted: "One mare that was down on the transport truck arrived at the facility aliv, but subsequently died. One colt with multiple hoof sloughs from the capture was euthanized at the facility."

On 1/22/2010 BLM re-posted information: "One colt with multiple hoof sloughs from the capture was euthanized at the facility.  The colt was from the Black Rock East HMA and has been at the facility more than two weeks. When the colt arrived at the facility it was put in with the general population. A day or two later, the colt started showing acute lameness and was moved to a sick pen. The facility veterinarian noted the colt's two hind hoof soles were bruised, but there was no visible abscess or  infection. The colt was given antibiotic and anti-inflammatory medicine, was kept segregated and contined to be checked by the veterinarian. The colt's hind feet abscessed and the outer hoof wall did separate. The colt was euthanized by the facility veterinarian."

Jan 16, 2010: Today the BLM allowed public viewing of the roundup operation for a whole 1 hr 40 mins - this out of a 10-hour-day operation which, I'm told, starts at sunrise and ends at dusk weather permitting. We will post video of the roundup in the next day or so. Sue Cattoor indicated by day's end 122 horses had been captured.

For a BLM update of the Calico victims click here.

BLM reports another death has resulted from the Calico roundup. This time a mare (age unknown) was found dead over this past weekend at the Fallon "Indian Lakes" holding facility. The only information provided by the BLM on this latest death follows: "
The veterinarian diagnosis is the mare died as the result of dietary feed change." BLM states that bad weather stopped roundup actions on Thu (1/7), Sat-Mon (1/9-1/11).  Sadly, on Tue BLM took 99 horses from their homes on the range and separated them forever from their families. Latest victims include 43 stallions, 34 mares & 21 "weanlings/foals."

Jan 10, 2010 UPDATE:
Sue Cattoor, owner of the roundup company, has notified us that the mare who was killed by BLM on Jan 28, 2010 was not related to the orphaned foal shown below. This does not negate the tragedy that the BLM has inflicted on these two individuals. There is no way to verify any of this information due to the lack of transparency of the BLM . This confusion is the direct result of the BLM's refusal to allow daily public observation of all aspects of the gov't roundup operation.

Jan 8, 2010 UPDATE:
Yesterday the BLM killed another mare claiming "poor body condition." It is unknown if this mare's condition was documented with video and/or photos.  Despite the controversy surrounding the Calico roundup, the BLM did not photo-document the foal or mare who were killed last week.

For updated number of BLM victims click here.
First the BLM traumatizes this foal by chasing him with helicopters to remove him from his home on the range. Then after the BLM kills his mother by shooting her, they leave this baby by himself overnight at the capture trap site. The next day he is trucked for hours, with other captured horses, to a holding facility where he is put in a pen with two mare/foal pairs. After he bonded with one of the mares - standing near her for comfort and security - the BLM then pulls him away from this mare and puts him by himself in a pen. Once again the BLM claims to be doing this for the "benefit" of the horses. What a sad and tragic story.
Photos and text below from www.aowha.org

1/2/10 on-site observation of the new contract horse holding facility in Fallon, NVOur horse observations started at the mare and foal pen. Two of the youngsters were still nursing and were in with their dams. The orphan foal appeared to have socially bonded with one of the nursing mares and her foal. The first two photos show the orphan foal on the left and the third shows interesting markings on one of the nursing foals.

www.aowha.org; W./S. Lamm, Jan. 2, 2010

Update from Willis Lamm, January 7, 2010:
John Neill
promised to provide an update on the "Calico orphan."   I received the following report this morning.
Willis, just a quick update on the orphan.  He has been gaining strength
each day.  We did relocate him to an adjacent holding pen next to the pairs in order to provide him more nutrition than he would consume through oat hay.  He presently has both oat hay and alfalfa along with BLM formulated pellets for foals. Dr. Sanford and I continue to monitor the health of the animals each day.


For updated number of BLM victims click here.

APHIS necropsy of foal run to death on Jan. 1, 2010 available click here.
On New Year's Day, the BLM rounded up 10 wild horses but only captured 9 because a 6-month old foal died en route. APHIS vet at the scene, Dr. Al Kane, reported that after being chased by the helicopter for "1/2 mile" the little foal was behaving strangely, falling down periodically. It is reported that the pilot radioed Dr. Kane that this foal was having problems; Dr. Kane went out to see the foal who was found dead. Dr. Kane said that he did a necropsy in the field (available below) and indicated he thought the colt has a congenital heart defect.  They left the body in the field and refused to allow the public observers to witness the body. This foal lived his last moments in utter terror, forced to run, falling repeatedly and his family being stampeded away by government-contracted helicopters.

Jan. 5, 2010 UPDATE: The BLM reports that as of yesterday they rounded up 299 wild horses in Calico Complex, Nevada. BLM claims there were two mortalities to date - the 20+ year old mare who was shot to death due to "poor body condition" and the 6-month-old foal who was run to death (see details below). Photos and/or video of the animals killed have been requested; to date the BLM has indicated it is unknown whether any photogenic documentation was taken.

BLM has moved the capture operation from private land in Paiute Meadows Ranch to private land in Soldier Meadows where they will remain for the next two weeks. Daily access for public observation of the roundup activities is being denied and the BLM has selected 3 days each week (for the next 3 weeks) to allow orchestrated public observation. BLM claims staffing constraints as the reason to limiting public observation of this multi-million-dollar government operation.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Cloud's Herd & Rescued Bands Update

This is the newsletter from The Cloud Foundation with an update on the 15 Freedom Fund horses that they were able to purchase back from the BLM after the hateful roundup in September, 2009. It was hard to believe that the BLM - against its own regulations removed older horses like the 19 year old Conquistador and the 21 year old mare, Grumpy Grulla. Then they put them up for sale! I don't even want to contemplate what might have happened to them if the Cloud Foundation hadn't been able to buy them back.

So I put on my Conquistador t-shirt, make some coffee in my Conquistador mug and just rejoice in these pictures. Enjoy!

Cloud's Herd & Rescued Bands Update
A letter and travel journal from Ginger Kathrens
Dear Friends of Cloud and his family and all our wild horses;

After Christmas, Ann Evans (owner of Cloud’s sisters- Smokey and Mahogany and my dear friend), Connor (my Irish Terrier), and I traveled north to Montana. First we visited our Freedom Fund horses on the ranch just north of the Pryor Mountains.

 Only with your help and immediate action were we able to adopt and purchase these 15 after the disastrous roundup in September 2009.

BLM removed every horse from Commissary Ridge in the Custer National Forest at the request of the Forest Service. In their defense, I do not believe that the Forest Service managers knew that BLM was permanently removing all of them, but were under the impression at least some would be allowed to go free in the designated range. But, BLM surprised all of us and did not let one horse go free—not even the 19-year-old band stallion Conquistador or the 21-year-old mare, Grumpy Grulla.
It is my great pleasure to report to you that all 15 in four bands look fabulous! They have settled in to a pasture in the shadow of the Pryors, an expansive, scenic area bisected by a willow-lined creek below colorful red rock cliffs.


Conquistador has assumed his role as “king of the stallions” and, while we were sitting with him and his mare Cavalitta, Wild Blue, the lone bachelor stallion, came across the creek and ventured a bit too close for Conquistador’s comfort. The proud old stallion marched up to Blue and they did their ritualized pooping and snorting. Then they sparred, rearing and biting. When Conquistador grabbed the back of Blue’s neck, the bachelor fought to get away.


With the snow flying, Conquistador pushed him down hill. He released Blue and they pranced side-by-side, before Blue took off kicking and bucking. I sensed this was great fun for the four-year-old and that he was pleased with himself. After all he got a rise out of the “king.”

Band stallions Bo and Shane

True to her name, 21-year-old, Grumpy Grulla, is happily bossing around every one of her family members in Bo’s band, including the chestnut mare, Sierra, Bo and his bay mare, Chalupa, have the only youngster in the small herd, a coming yearling we named Star. But, Star may soon have young companions as four mares look pregnant including a very round-bellied Mystery (Wild Blue’s mother), one of Shane’s two mares. And Trigger’s mare, Mae West looks as if she could foal at anytime, but we think she’ll wait until spring. This new life will allow for the continuation of rare bloodlines that can one day rejuvenate the main Pryor herd.


Trigger, Mae West and Evita in background

The weather was even warmer when we drove into the horse range and began looking for mustangs. On Tillett Ridge, right near the road, we found Diamond, Cloud’s palomino mother, Trace’s mother, and her daughter. The four looked great. In fact, Diamond and the Palomino look better than they have in years—since Diamond’s injury during the 2006 bait-trapping of horses and the Palomino’s 2007 abscess from an infertility drug dart. 

The young bachelors we saw just above them also looked wonderful and included Cloud’s four-year-old half brother—a flashy light-colored roan with stockings and a blaze.  On Sykes Ridge the four-year-old blue roan bachelor, Fool’s Crow and the older sabino bachelor, Medicine Bow, eyed us warily from the crest of a hill near Cougar Canyon. 

Connor and I took a hike where we had seen Flint and his little family disappear the day before when it was getting dark. From the top of a flat-topped rocky hill, I glassed and glassed and on a distant, snowy ridgeline far above us, I spotted Cloud! He shone in the mid-day sun and I could see others with him but couldn’t make out who they were or how many. I knew that reaching them was impossible which was a disappointment, but that is the reality of winter. 

Flint's band: Feldspar, Jasper and Heather

As I glassed the canyons nearer my lookout, I saw a horse who looked very familiar. It was Flint and he was with his family. Ann and I were able to hike through the snow to them. Flint, Feldspar, their son Jasper and a new mare foraged amongst the juniper breaks. We watched as they scooped up snow and chewed, water dripping from their mouths. I recognized Flint’s new mare, Heather, a pretty little red roan two-year-old  (featured as a foal in our 2010 Cloud Foundation Calendar by Carol Walker—she was the March “pinup”). I was proud of Flint and whispered, “Good for you.” He had lost a young filly who was removed in the round up, so Heather was a great catch for the young band stallion. 

As we watched, I saw Fool’s Crow appear on the hilltop and peer down at Flint’s family. Flint stood very still, watching the young bachelor intently. Then Flint crossed the little draw toward the blue roan who walked downhill to meet him. They greeted, sparred a bit and were joined by another bachelor bright mahogany bay. 

Their sparring was strictly for fun, but it also gave Flint a chance to warn them not to come any closer. Medicine Bow appeared atop the hill and Flint accompanied the two bachelors uphill where he and Medicine Bow sparred ever so briefly. Then the three bachelors dashed off. Every so often I turned to see what Feldspar, Jasper and Heather were doing. The mares looked around and started grazing while Jasper watched his father with the bachelors. There is much for a foal to learn just by watching. Jasper and Flint are two of the closest fathers and sons I have ever seen. The colt clearly loves his father, much like Flint loved Cloud when he was a baby.

On our last day we walked from the Red Buttes across Turkey Flat to the mouth of Big Coulee and found Bolder and his band in the sagebrush flats that lead into the deep canyon. Like all the horses we saw, they looked plump, with Autumn and Cascade looking especially round.

There may be two more Bolder babies in the spring. The dark palomino ate snow with Texas as I had seen them do together through the years when they were both in Shaman’s band.

The grand, old stallion died just days before the round up. If Shaman had to go, I was thankful he did not have to go through that awful ordeal. Bolder’s buckskin filly daughter wandered up a snowy gully toward us.

She looked spectacular—the black on her legs is above her knees and her pale coat shone in the sun. It was as if her great-grandmother had returned. We call the filly Jewel and she is a gem. My hope is that she will be allowed to live free in her home forever.

With this in mind, the Cloud Foundation’s top priority in the coming year will be to work on expanding the boundaries of the Pryor Wild Horse Range to reflect the large historic use area of the horses. When we are successful with this effort (which will require continuing education and potentially litigation), the removal of entire families like what happened in the Custer National Forest last September will never happen again! And the BLM will have no excuse to manage the herd at the current, non-viable number.
Meanwhile, the struggle goes on to protect wild horse and burro herds all over the West. We are leading a fight to raise public awareness, focusing attention on BLM’s extraordinary mismanagement of our horses and burros at the expense of not only the animals, but the American taxpayers. A staggering 12,000 wild horses and burros are to be rounded up in 2010. With your continued support we will keep fighting for their right to remain where they belong—in their homes, with their families on our wide western landscapes.

Happy Trails!
Ginger Kathrens
Volunteer Executive Director

Cloud tries to snake his band back to get missing family members. September 2009 roundup

Join The Cloud Foundation on Twitter & Facebook & check our blog for updates

update your contact information so that we can reach you about events specific to your area!  You will not receive duplicate emails- just click here, thank you!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]



These pictures are heartbreaking for me, and it took me a while to decide to reblog them from The Cloud Foundation blog. However, this story needs to be told - to everyone possible. So here it is, in all it's pain and glory...

Freedom’s Escape- Expanded Humane Observers’ Report

10 January 2010

By now, many of you know I have been monitoring the Calico Complex roundup as a humane observer and that I was also likewise engaged last summer in the Pryor Mountains of Montana during the roundup of Cloud’s herd where the horses were driven 11 to 15 miles down the mountain.  I do my best to document and share with all of you who would be here if you could what my eyes and my camera see.  Craig Downer and Bob Bauer have been stalwart companions in the first weeks, and we’ve been gratified to see others coming out to stand vigil for our beloved mustangs who are losing their freedom and their home in this deeply wild and sparsely beautiful mountain range in Nevada.  It is our aim to provide updated, regular reports of what we see although logistically we’ve not been able to keep you all as updated as we would like. There is a tremendous amount of driving involved – Nevada is a big place – along rugged roads in very bad Pogonip ground fog and icy cold conditions.  It is sometimes so cold even my camera objects to being outdoors and won’t work properly, and I must turn it off and on again to coax it to photograph.  Nevertheless, she has been a real trooper and continues to serve us all as well as she can.

First let me say these horses are beautiful, healthy wild horses.  They are far more uneasy around people than Cloud’s herd, who are more accustomed to the sight of humans. The wild horses of the isolated Calico Complex and become quite nervous and swell together in unanimous, anxious whooshes of agitated movement when humans approach the pens.

At this point the beautiful stallion, Freedom, and his struggle and ultimate escape is familiar to many.  While Craig and Bob were over on the side of the pens where they saw closely his attempts and ultimate flight to freedom, I was on the other side of the pens filming the “processing” of the individual horses, which is when I took the photos of Freedom standing upright, with his right front elbow stuck over the top of the fence to the jerry-rigged processing/sorting area the Cattoors set up at their portable trap sites.  I’ve previously posted a picture you’ve probably seen of Freedom’s predicament, in which he got himself into in this sorting/processing alleyway by rearing up in an attempt to go up and over the fence and gate.  After horses are driven in by the helicoper, they are individually put through this little processing area to be identified and evaluated for gender and age, and assessed for injuries and overall condition.  Most all of the horses had a very difficult time with this area.  They are afraid, claustrophobic, extremely anxious, backing up into each other and into the rear gate to the area, heads swinging down low side to side, rearing, kicking the back gate.  Some just stand there frozen. Often it’s a first experience for them of being enclosed.  They are afraid and very anxious.

Freedom, however, is in a class by himself.  I believe Freedom to be Nevada’s Cloud.  Cloud is the only horse we have ever seen turn to face the helicopter before being driven into the pen.  His intelligence, courage, strength, and sheer spunk, as well as his tender affection for his family and his legendary good looks (!) constantly set him apart. Cloud has kept his head in numerous difficult situations, both on the range and in the hands of man, which is why he became a band stallion at only 5 years old.  I believe Freedom has demonstrated that same true greatness of spirit embodied by his courage, presence of mind, and unflinching determination in the daunting face of his greatest natural predator:  man.

I took numerous, rapid-fire photos of this incident, and as a tribute to him, to Freedom, I have decided, in response to people’s interest, to post them lest we forget what it means to these magnificent free spirits to be  f r e e.

Here is my whole sequence in chronological order, complete with timestamps: a wild horse’s terribly frightening ordeal at the hands of humans, yet this is par for the course in the day of the BLM and the roundup contractors.  I am not alleging any specific abuse at the hands of man, rather, it is the general abuse inherent in this entire process of interfering with the wild horses’ right to run free in his own legally designated area.  Calico Complex, consisting of five separate but adjoining wild horse herd areas — Black Rock East, Black Rock West, Warm Springs, Calico Mountain, and Granite Range —  consists of 550,000 acres, easily enough room for 3,095 horses, almost 200 acres per horse.  They are healthy and beautiful now in the dead of winter; they do not need BLM’s form of “help”; what a travesty.  While they are drastically reducing the numbers of the wild horses, BLM has increased the number of cattle allowed to graze in the Soldier Meadows allotment.  These facts need to be known.

Freedom’s story needs to be told, and told again and again, to children and grandchildren.  To this end, Craig Downer and I feel privileged to share the photos we were so fortunate to take, so we are making available these photos to tell Freedom’s story.  We want to do all we can to ensure that his sacrifice was not in vain.  Personally, I am certain he sustained serious injuries to his chest when he hit the barbed wire fence full bore.  Craig observed a deep bloody gash just above his hoof on his front right leg as he freed himself from the wire, but close study of my photographs indicates he arrived into captivity with this fresh cut.  Nevertheless, I find some consolation in the fact that wild stallions sustain serious injuries every season during fights to win and keep mares.  Their resilience is legendary, and with our prayers, God’s grace, and Freedom’s indomitable spirit, he will recover to start a new family and be a reigning stallion in the Black Rock Range if he can stay out of sight during this and future roundups, and stay out of the crosshairs of those few albeit deadly people who seek to rid the range of his magnificent and gloriously beautiful kind.

To put it in Freedom’s perspective:  This ordeal was so serious for him, he was motivated to risk everything in order to escape the possibility of more of the same in captivity.   It only lasted one minute, but his life is now forever changed.  We must stop these roundups and the terrible stockpiling of these tremendously beautiful, peace-loving animals.

Photo A by Craig Downer 1/02/10 11:11:32 a.m.

Freedom’s band being driven into the trap area from Craig’s vantage point up on the mountain.  Note the foal in the rear, trying to keep up.  More foals than adults die from roundup injuries and subsequent complications. Additionally, many foals end up footsore and limping. We saw numerous foals limping in the Fallon holding facility on Thursday, 1/7/10 (separate reports to follow).  Like human babies’ bones, their hooves are not yet hard, and they simply cannot sustain the pounding inherent in long treks keeping abreast with frightened adult horses, especially here on the hard lava rock, at any speed over a walk.

Freedom is in the front attempting to lead his band away from the helicopter threat, to safety. Sensing danger, he has slowed to a trot despite the looming pressure of the helicopter.  Stallions are all about protection of the family.  They are either in front, leading, or at the rear, placing themselves between the perceived threat and their family, in which case the dominant or “lead” mare assumes the responsibility for leading the band.

PHOTO B:  Freedom stretched out now in a full gallop, a last-ditch effort to escape the demon helicopter on his tail.  Although the helicopter sometimes hangs back over the long drive toward a trap site, at this critical juncture the pilot applies maximum pressure to make sure the horses move past their resistance all the way into the pen.  This means the helicopter is very close and very low.  The noise and wind are terrifying.  This is a great shot by Craig capturing the release of the Judas horse, who is trained to run ahead of the wild horses straight into the pen.  The wild horses, being frightened herd animals, tend to follow a strong leader.

Photo B by Craig Downer  11:11:46 a.m.

PHOTO C:  Thirty seconds later, seen from my (Elyse’s) vantage point on the ground:  Hard pressed, Freedom is hesitating, forced to lead his band into the trap. We can see the red-alert position of his ears, high head and arched neck.  Note the wrangler hiding outside the jute-lined fence.  Once the last horse (the foal) has passed, he and others likewise hiding will duck under the fence and start waving their flagwhips as they walk and run toward the horses to push them all the way up into the pen and slam the gate shut.

Photo C – 11:12:11 a.m. – Elyse Gardner

Trapped, frightened horses.  Freedom is farthest right.   Photo D (above) – 11:20:38 a.m. – Elyse Gardner

Freedom and band huddle together.  Note that the deep gash above his right front hoof.  It is a fresh wound.
Photo E (above) – 11:24:09 a.m. – Elyse Gardner

Intelligent and alert, Freedom (farthest right) watches me photograph him while his band looks elsewhere.  I am so very sorry, ashamed of my species…  I tell him what I told Conquistador when photographing him up on Commissary Ridge while trapped in the trailer in Montana:  I am so sorry;  I will tell your story.  I will tell the world. Photo F (above) – 11:24:09 a.m. – Elyse Gardner

PHASE II of Captivity

Stuck on the Fence, Freedom. Photo G – 1/2/2010 11:28:48 a.m – Elyse Gardner

This processing area was a narrow alleyway approximately 15 feet long within which the Cattoors would individually separate the horses to assess gender and condition.  The horses were spray painted on their backs in here, also, to identify from which herd area they were taken.

As you can see below (photo H), Freedom is stuck (see right front elbow).  Sue Cattoor is holding her flag whip (see the thigh-level white plastic bag, which is affixed to a whipstick approximately 3 feet long).
Freedom’s hind legs, his only traction, are struggling, and he’s slipping on the icy walkway as he thrusts to get enough lift to extricate himself.  His mouth is slightly open in these photos; he is extremely stressed.  Being immobilized is frightening enough to a horse, let alone a wild horse, but being immobilized in such close proximity to the greatest predators on earth would be a terrible ordeal for him. We can be sure he is highly motivated to get down off this fence.

Photo H – 11:28:51 a.m. – Elyse Gardner

Below in Photo I, two seconds later, he continues stressed. The pressure of the wrangler on the opposite side of the fence with flag whip uplifted is clearly felt.  He now has some relief in that both hind legs are back solidly on the ground.

Photo I (above) – 11:28:53 a.m. – Elyse Gardner

In Photo J, below, two seconds later, he’s collecting himself.  His mouth is closed.  I am impressed with his self-containment at this point.   He is nevertheless highly motivated to extricate himself from this terrible predicament.  Note that the wrangler opposite Sue Cattoor is no longer present; he is walking around to this side of the processing alleyway.

Photo J – 11:28:59 a.m. – Elyse Gardner

This very present, collected band stallion of ten other horses driven in with him (eight mares, two six-month-old youngsters — a sizeable, very respectable band) now turns to look at his persecutor, below.  He has his left front leg over the fence bar as well, giving himself some relief from hanging on the one side and definitely wanting to go over this fence and be free.  I’ve seen horses escape confinement; their only interest is to get away.

Photo K – 11:29:01 a.m. – Elyse Gardner

In the photo below, Freedom struggles again to dismount off the fence.  Bear in mind it’s only been about 6 seconds since the wrangler walked away from the opposite side of the fence.  What I’ve termed a “rest” was really just a split second of cessation of struggle.  He was struggling ongoingly to come off this fence.

Photo L 11:29:04 a.m. – Elyse Gardner

In photo M below, spray can in ungloved right hand and holding in his left hand his right-hand white glove, along with something else you’ll see in the next photos, BLM’s Nevada wild horse and burro specialist arrives on this side of the fence striding purposefully into the area.  Freedom has removed his left front leg from the fence but remains trapped by his elbow.  Sue Cattoor’s flag whip is visible below Freedom’s left front leg.

Photo M – 11:29:07 a.m. – Elyse Gardner

In Photo N below, BLM’s WH&B specialist places on the ground a yellow and gray object resembling a DuraProd electric hotshot (an electric cattle prod).  If that is in fact what it is, I see no evidence of its having been used in this instance.

Photo N – 11:29:12 a.m. – Elyse Gardner

Photo O- Enlarged

Below in Photo 11, Freedom is highly agitated and struggles desperately to free himself as he is goaded and flagged by Sue Cattoor, her wrangler, and the pressure of the presence of the BLM employee.  His open mouth conveys the angst and depth of his struggle.  He was not struck with the flagwhips; no one yelled at him or made any noise. People moved slowly and deliberately.  From the wild horse’s perspective, it is clearly nevertheless a terrible ordeal.

Photo P – 11:29:15 a.m. – Elyse Gardner

In Photo Q, below, 3 seconds later, Freedom is falling backwards as he finally unhooks his elbow from the fence.  I’ve seen domestic horses sustain terrible injuries from fences like this, and I fervently pray he is okay. This turns out to be the least of his worries, as we have all learned.

Photo Q – 11:29:18 a.m. – Elyse Gardner

Below in Photo R, Freedom is catching himself, and he righted himself quickly.  What tremendous power and determination in this very special black stallion.  I also notice the bottom of his hoof.  What beautiful, healthy feet these horses have.  This will change as they become prior-wild horses living in holding pens with no grazing nor any opportunity for roaming over rocks in their natural habitat to naturally wear down the hoof.  If they go to long-term holding facilities in Kansas, Kentucky, and the like, they end up in flat pastures, and their hooves will grow unchecked like our domestic horses’ do, and they will then need routine hoof care.  How does a wild horse get hoof care?  They are generally brought in and driven with flags, much as we see here, into a squeeze chute that turns them on their side, and then their hooves are filed down with an electric sander-type device.  Long-term holding is not without its horrors for these horses.  They are amazingly resilient, peaceable animals who deserve to be left to run free.  I notice the presence of the yellow and gray device on the ground to the left of the BLM wild horse and burro specialist.

Photo R - 11:29:20 a.m. – Elyse Gardner

In photograph S, below, we see Freedom unhooked from his fence nightmare trotting briskly through the now-open gate into the adjoining pen where he would, in the next few minutes, gather all his strength and make several failed attempts at jumping the 6-foot fence before succeeding.

The fence predicament took just under one minute, from 11:28:48 a.m. to 11:29:25 a.m., but it was a life-changing minute for this horse.  Some of our life-defining moments are very short-lived, aren’t they.  This experience left an indelible impression on this horse:  ”I will get out of here, whatever it takes.”

Photo S- 11:29:25 a.m. – Elyse Gardner

Less than a minute after extricating himself and escaping the looming pressure of human presence so close by, Freedom is now in the adjoining pen, immediately beginning his first approach to fly the fence into the relief of his mountains.

Photo T – 11:30:18 a.m. – Craig Downer

Failing his first effort by having hit the fence and fallen backwards, Freedom now struggles to see over the fence and focuses his full acumen on assessing the power and stride necessary to clear this fence, this barrier to freedom.  I feel such pathos in this hysterically desperate, burningly focused, do-or-die mission to flee to his mountains.  He wants it, needs it, so badly he can taste it…

Photo U – 11:30:34 a.m. – Craig Downer

After unsuccessfully hitting the fence twice, Freedom recalculated, and in a final herculean effort he mustered the wherewithal to sail over the fence only to encounter this terrible barbed wire perimeter fence which he hit full bore, becoming ensnared in its strands.

Photo V – 11:31:33 a.m. – Craig Downer

Finally, a bittersweet freedom, making a run into the relieving embrace of his mountains, leaving his cherished family behind.  His mares were desperate.  There was one mare in particular, whom I’ve got on video, who made several runs at the fence but knew she couldn’t clear it and repeatedly slid to a halt at the fence, stopping short of an actual jump.  It was heart-wrenching.

Photo W – 11:31:36 a.m. – Craig Downer

Freedom looking back a last time to the family he has to leave behind.

Photo X – 11:31:48 a.m. – Craig Downer
Turning back toward the mountains.

Photo Y – 11:32:14 a.m. – Craig Downer

Freedom slipping into the welcome embrace of his mountain home.  We are with you, Noble One.  May you heal and stay always free.

Photo Z – 11:33:25 a.m. – Craig Downer
To Freedom, in tribute, for your sake and all your wild family.
And to the wild horse supporters, all of you who take a moment to write congresspeople or call the President to help the wild horses and burros stay wild and free, THANK YOU for giving at least one wild horse a voice every time you take action.
For the wild horses and their humble friends, the wild burros,
Elyse Gardner with thanks to Craig Downer
Caring is great; action is better. — Elyse Gardner, Humane Observer


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
"From my earliest memories, I have loved horses with a longing beyond words." ~ Robert Vavra