Saturday, June 5, 2010


 ©Photo by Elyse Gardner      
 (This is not the band in question.)     
© Photo by Elyse Gardner

  On Friday, June 4, a Nevada wild stallion was given a reprieve as the trap set for him was removed.  Several of us arrived as the second contingent of people rapidly descending upon the  BLM Carson City field office to stand up for a stallion reported to have charged a horse and his rider. This young stallion was protecting his band, in which I'm told live a couple of young foals.  A formal complaint was filed.
Click here on this link to see the Nevada newspaper article.
     Commenting on the terminology in the article which states the stallion "literally almost attacked someone riding their domestic horse," wild horses are not looking to attack people.  The stallion would have perceived the horse as the threat.  The rider was thrown in for good measure. Horses are not like predatory, ambushing dogs which sometimes do attack if you're on their turf.  Dogs, like humans, are predators.  Horses, however, are prey animals, and their first response is to flee -- flight or fight, with fight being a last resort.  They are by nature timid animals, claustrophobic, and Pat Parelli actually uses the word "cowards."  Yet they trust us enough to carry us into wars with guns blaring and swords clashing, even though they will spook at a leaf or, as I've had happen, the glint from my sunglasses.  
     I wasn't there when this stallion did the behavior that elicited the complaint.  What I am wanting to address is the statement that the horse charged a person on horseback.  I suspect the horse charged the horse with the person on his back, the horse or the combined presence, which the stallion perceived as a threat.  Either way, the rider had to exercise some reserve riding skills for a few moments there. 
     BLM was going to "remove the problem," i.e., the young stallion, but public outcry was rapid and strong, and Al Bitner of Carson City's BLM office was responsive and willing to talk after immediately removing the trap.  We learned that the issue is complicated by the fact that the horses appear to leave BLM land and forage on Carson City land, where the "charge" is said to have occurred.  So BLM must first obtain cooperation from the Carson City Recreation Department to put up signs to help humans stay back and cohabit this magical area considerately with the wild horses.  Most Churchill residents love the wild horses who sometimes visit their yards and decks. 
  So for now, BLM will just wait and see, a troubling phrase since nothing is in place to avert a recurrence.  The wild horse and burro specialist position for this area is vacant, and another specialist has stepped in but wasn't in the office today, so connections were slower being made with the city.  Mr. Bitner confirmed he is looking into coordinating with Carson City Rec to place signs, and we hope this is done quickly.
   Things can become interesting,  however, since River Walk and Prison Hill are soon to pass into the jurisdiction of Carson City up to Deer Run Road,  a transition dictated by an Omnibus bill passed by Congress.  So I urge all wild-horse-loving Carson City residents and local Nevadans to cultivate good relationships with the Carson City Rec Department and stay abreast of these issues.
     For now, thanks to a strong united public response and sensitive leadership at Carson's BLM office, this band of wild horses gets to keep their faithful protector and companion, this courageous young stallion.
I'm working on next post which will be up sometime today as I get ready to return to California and then off to Denver next week.
I remain,
for the wild horses, captive and free, and their humble burro friends,


  1. Seems to me this is the down side to decimating the wild horse families--with the elder members of a band in place they would teach what are true threats and not have younger more immature members reacting stronger than need be. They see this same behavior in elephant families where the elders had been killed or removed--the solution to the problem was to bring in the older elephants, at that point the younger elephants quit becoming sexually mature and aggressive at a too young age. Certainly there is a parallel to wild families of any species being torn apart.

  2. Many of the horses in areas where Elyse is referring to are rather desensitized to humans.
    No one was there to witness what occurred but this time of year it is probably obvious.
    Mares with young foals are being protected by vigilant stallions. In an area such as this a HORSE came into the stallions area... Who knows if the humans tried to approach or gave a wide berth? They may have assumed they could get close.

    Glad the "neighborhood" did not get disrupted.

  3. this is just a reminder to people..wild animals are just that..wild..would you approach a wild dog because you own a dog as a pet..not with any common sense..a cow elk can kill you in a heart beat and a mare defending her foal can be more dangerous than a stallion-even domesticated family pets..ask anyone in moose country if you want to be anywhere a "newborn moose calf" moose/ buffalo will attack and destroy a vehicle when they have a new the young become old enough-a few weeks the mother does not feel the need to protect and defend as strongly.