Saturday, January 23, 2010

UPDATED: NEW VIDEOS & PHOTOS Saturday 23 January 2010 -Calico Range

Saturday, 1/23/10

Today we were at the Calico Range.  The trap site was right alongside a public road.  Two helicopters were again used simultaneously at times, rounding up large numbers of horses, beautiful, healthy horses.

 Once again, I was not able to get close enough upon the horses' arrival to document breathing and respirations, as so many of you have asked me to do.  Other people are walking around and talking withing 20 feet of the horses as they come in.  I have called Washington and requested formal permission to have this access.  I will let you know the results.

This day stands out as particularly poignant in that all the horses, each group, was particularly loathe to load into the very large trailer they were using to transport 33 to 36 horses at once to the temporary holding facility, which was located over two miles from the trap site.

         ©Photograph by Craig Downer                 

Craig Downer went to that temporary site while I remained at the actual capture site.  His photographs capture for us a sense of the horses' experience.  Less than an hour ago these horses were running for their lives.  For miles they were trying to outpace a helicopter.  Even if it went slowly, it was relentless, and they would run to simply try to get away.  Now they are enclosed, penned, often for the first time.

They have just been forced apart, separated from their families.  The mares have lost their stallions; the stallions have lost, in five minutes, the mares they spent their lives fighting so hard to get and keep.  They have all, to a one, lost their freedom.  For the moment, they are just trying to survive.  The shock and loss will hit them later, when they start calling to each other across the pens.

A horse's first instinct and choice is to run.  But here, they are trapped, often for the first time.   Now they are facing humans with scary noisy stickwhips, metal bars, narrow alleys, and a scary enclosure where they are convinced they will die if they enter.  No assurances or gentle coaxings await them from anyone.  It's pressure pressure pressure all the way.

More on this later, but we have learned that 15 to 20 mares have spontaneously aborted their foals in the Fallon facility since December 28.  The roundup run and subsequent stress is killing horses.

©Photograph by Craig Downer

©Photograph by Craig Downer

©Photograph by Craig Downer

Sue Cattoor has gone back to Utah for the week and will be returning next week.  In the meantime, here is a sample of the loading issues these animals faced.  I note a big escalation today in the pressure used on these horses to make them load quickly:  it has escalated to actually striking the horses with the plastic bag-whips, smacking them on the rump, pushing their faces.  Any horses to be adopted will now have some very vivid impressions they must overcome of humans.

Future adopters, please be patient and recognize what most of your mustangs have learned so far about humans.

At the end of the day, a young black colt spent over half an hour alone in a pen.  He paced, periodically calling out, his naked little whinny left unanswered.  His mother was gone, along with his father and all the other horses.  He could see all the other horses forced into the huge trailers and driven off.

He continued to call out intermittently in hopes of an answer.  The reality is he will never feel his mother again.   If he is extremely fortunate, he may hear her or see her through a fence if they are in adjoining pens.  Maybe.  But the life he knew in the security of his band is gone.

Please call your senators and tell them you want the wild horse roundups stopped.  Tell them you want the wild horses' rightful legal herd areas restored to them, the 23 million acres that wild horses have been zeroed out from, taken away.  Gone.  Tell them you want the ROAM Act to get out of committee and get passed.  Tell them.

The BLM took his mother away; she cannot answer his call.  Will YOU answer this little guy's call?

For the wild horses and their humble burro friends,
Elyse Gardner


  1. Thank you so much for doing everything you can possibly do.

  2. Exactly my sentiment too: I am so imensly grateful that you are there, Elise being a witness to this destruction, to tell the world! I believe that the Wild Horses feel your presence and the others who are there who love and respect them and want to see them save, yet are powerless to stop it. They feel you there and it is a comfort to them.
    Thank you!

  3. Elyse it was so nice to meet you last week in Sacramento. And despite brutal weather you and Craig went back over Donner to observe for us again.

    I don't care how "softly" they hit those horses witht plastic bags--those horses are scared. Now they are being punished too. How utterly confused they will be if they are lucky enough to be adopted!

    When will this horrible atrocity end?

    Thank you to Craig Downer for talking to us and helping us to understand just how necessary horses are to the environment and the role they play in fertilization.

  4. Thank you so much Elyse and Craig. You are the angels of truth, recording the truth as close as they will allow you to get to it.

    As sad as it is to see all of this, I am grateful to witness it through your eyes. I hope we can reverse it all, play the video backwards and return them to their wonderful safe Northern Nevada home. Their hills, mountains and desert sages are a thirsting memory in their sad fearful hearts. Praying we can, united, bring them their peace & freedom and Federal protections once more in their rightful home.

    Thank you both so so much!!

  5. I do wish that the people of the wonderful USA could understand that the Elyse Gardner and Carig Downers know nothing about wild horses. Craig has been in Nevada for years and should know that without all the components that are needed to have populations be self sustaining that they will destroy all of their habitat and any other living animal that depends on that habitat. I guess that they would just like to see that that area of the west turn into a wast land, just like people have done in the past. We take what we want and then say for the horses we will leave them in peace to die of starvation and lack of water, that is the way. Bull we are here to protect these animals from our spread and what do Elyse who knows nothing of wild horses much less horses want to do see wants to see them die a very horrible death. Way to go Elyse.

    1. Welfare ranching is what is destroying the west. The privately owned cattle and sheep being grazed on our public lands far outnumber the wild horses. The "overpopulation" of wild horses is a myth. Example: Say you have an area that will feed 10 large animals. You promise homeowner they can put 7 cows on it. Anything over 3 horses will seem "overpopulated." This is what is happening in almost all the areas wild horses legally live; they are vastly outnumbered by cattle and sheep.