Thursday, June 10, 2010


        Today's report focus on the last tour BLM claims it will allow at the Broken Arrow (also known as "Indian Lakes") short-term holding facility for wild horses and burros.  This final tour was led by John Neill (manager at Palomino Holding Facility and defacto manager at Broken Arrow) and Lilli Thomas.  Dean Bolstad was not present.
      (Update:  Fast forward one year to June 2011:  It has come to my attention this facility was closed at BLM's request despite the fact that the facility is contracted to allow weekly public tours until December 15, 2015.  The internal BLM documents indicate that the conditions and practices revealed on this blog were causing major public outrage and grave image problems for BLM.  All these FOIA'd (obtained through Freedom of Information Act) documents are available at Wild Horse Education under Reading Room, then click on Documents:Broken Arrow.)
      I do not believe it is right to take our wild horses off the range and then completely out of sight. 
However, BLM makes it clear we are supposed to be grateful they allowed us in at all.  BLM never fails to remind us that Broken Arrow was "never intended" to be a public facility.  But these horses are a public treasure, and I question the legality, let alone the sheer gall, of removing them from the American people's lives.  Saying goodbye was very tough.  I have followed these horses weekly since January when they first were driven in and had watched many of them in their last vain run for freedom as they fled  the helicopter.
     In coming days (after I return from Denver and maybe if I find wi-fi on the road on the way back) I will be posting some more things we've seen at Broken Arrow that I haven't had a chance to put up on this blog yet. In the meantime, saying a hard goodbye to these Calico friends for now...
©6/10/10 Photo by Elyse Gardner

©6/10/10 Photo by Elyse Gardner

     These sweet friendly fillies came all the way down off the top of their (rare) hill to say hello (look at them coming) -- and say goodbye.  They WANTED to interact with us.  We were not permitted today to engage with these horses; we were told to keep moving.  It was the tour's "end," and it was hard to just walk by when they made this grand gesture.   
     Horses are being dispersed.  Many whole pens were moved, and others seemed virtually empty although we were told "only a few" (120) of the horses had been actually removed, some sent to Montana for adoption events, others to prison horse-gentling programs, 82 to Palomino Valley Center to prepare for the internet adoption event.
©6/10/10 Photo by Elyse Gardner
©6/10/10 Photo by Elyse Gardner
Friends are so important, so comforting, especially in this strange place.  I hope adopters will consider a horse's friend and try to find/adopt them.  Contrary to some thinking, wild horses can relax when they have a buddy around and often are more trainable than when isolated. 
©6/10/10 Photo by Elyse Gardner
           BLM claims to be considering options in their management of these horses and inviting us to "come to the table" with new ideas.  I wonder how serious they are.  The proof will be in the doing.  The central-most option currently on the table is at Soldier Meadows.  But rather than waiting to consider this option, BLM continues to make plans to disperse these horses.
                               ©6/10/10 Photo by Elyse Gardner
This is the crowded pen of the older stallions (age 10 and older).  This is a setup for kicks, bites, fights:  food all in one line, not enough room for all the horses.  Horses waiting, contentions flare.  What will it be like when they start gelding these older, mature animals?  We won't know, will we.
                 ©6/10/10 Photo by Elyse Gardner
The sand continues to invade everything.  I have noticed the wild horses' eyes have changed.  They were so amazingly clean when first they came off the range, but they are now constantly running, needing to cleanse.  Fallon is windy and built on sand.  It is very difficult to see sometimes, and I have to look away and cover my face.  
                              ©6/10/10 Photo by Elyse Gardner
                              ©6/10/10 Photo by Elyse Gardner
               Finally, take a look at these tiny, soft feet.  This foal is less than two months old.  Roundups will start in earnest on July 1.  Babies this old and younger will be run off the mountains in Nevada, driven by helicopter off their home ranges in Utah, New Mexico, California, etc. ...  Is this really okay?  Two foals that we know of died from hoof slough (had their hooves run off) in the Calico roundup.  Get ready; it's starting again...

   ©6/10/10 Photo by Elyse Gardner
Meet the owner of the feet you were looking at above.
    Please continue to stand with me and continue to insist on a change in the way our government protects and "manages" these splendid, peaceable spirits. They deserve our respect and true protection. BLM's medieval roundup-to-holding pen management style needs to end.  
     I hope you know that together, we are making a difference for these animals -- and they are making a difference in us, aren't they.  Knowing them has changed me.
     La Belle, Hope, Sunrise (first colt who died during roundup), Mouse -- dear little Mouse -- and 76 others:   They have touched our lives.  They have been cheated, and we know them.  They represent their family and friends.  This work is slow going, but wild horses aren't invisible to the public anymore.  
     I continue to do my best to follow up on these horses.  More to come...
Down to the last of my battery power. 
     Farewell, sweet fillies..

©6/10/10 Photo by Elyse Gardner
I remain,
for the wild horses, captive and free, and their humble burro friends,
Elyse Gardner


  1. I'm so sad to hear that the BLM (Bureau of Lame Minds) made this decision. Can it be appealed? After all, these are PUBLIC LANDS from which the horses have been pulled...And, with another roundup scheduled July 1, well, I shudder to even think about that.

  2. I read this post on the final tour at the Broken Arrow Facility. Then I sat thinking. My eyes started to water and the sadness is great. I walked among these horses for the final two tours. I saw such sweet faces. I watched as the young horses tried to trust the people who would stop and offer their hearts for the colts and fillies to see. I watched the older range smart mares and stallions jockey for position in their new surroundings. I watched as emotions would well up in the people and horses trying to make sense of it all.

    Having grown up on the Nevada ranches and a horse crazy girl and now a horse crazy woman. I could not help but wonder what would finally be the out come for these wonderful horses.

    I wondered where were all the people who say they were touched by the Calico Range horses. The final two tours were small. Only 10 people last week and about 20 this week the final day. The BLM is handling this batch of horses different from other horses because of the interest in the Calico horses. Well where was every one? A few people can not possibly make a difference in the future of these horses or the future of the planned round ups. Is the defensive posturing of the BLM employees that I witnessed due to just a few people asking questions? I hope more people seek answers and propose positive changes. This is the only way the future of these horses can be assured to be safe and part of God's plan.

    I ask these questions with the memory of the sweet fillies and stoic colts on my mind and in my heart. The new babies that play and run in the corrals not knowing their future. The older stallions that have guarded these mares and babies on the range that will be gelded and are considered un-adoptable.

    It makes me happy that there are people like Elyse who are willing to take the time, money and energy to help insure the future of the horses that were designed by God to teach humans love and compassion along with forgiveness.

    As for the horses that it only took me two days to fall in love with, may you be blessed with a safe and loving future.
    Good bye my sweet Calico horses. Becky

  3. Thanks, Elyse. I will never forget the horses I saw. So many beautiful and vital wild horses in this sad and dusty place. mar

  4. Even though I live in Indiana and couldn't come and see the horses in person, thanks to Elyse, Craig, Cathy, Laura and the others with their wonderful photos, I feel as if I know these horses as well as I would if I HAD been there in person.

    Which of course makes it that much harder to say good-bye to them. They are like personal friends, and I will miss them SO much...

    Perhaps there is hope, but so far the BLM's "new direction" looks just like their old direction. Still we MUST NOT give up.

    We keep on fighting, and who knows what might happen? Maybe we WILL see these horses again. I will NOT give up hope.

    Thanks SO much to all of you who helped make these horses friends of those of us who could not see them in person. I will never forget them or you.

    As always, for the horses.