Wednesday, February 10, 2010



  • CAPTIVE CALICO HORSES face branding, gelding behind closed doors

                                ©Photography by Elyse Gardner

Manager John Neill conducts a tour in front of a stallion pen as Tomahawk and fellow stallions prepare to say goodbye to their genetic legacies, facing gelding in the next couple of weeks.  

Our Nevada Calico complex horses may be out of their range but they are not out of our focus.  

                                ©Photography by Elyse Gardner

First let me thank all who read this blog, which I will endeavor to keep updated, and all who share your thoughts with me and with each other via your comments. 

Quick update.  Fallon's last "public" tour will be this Saturday, February 13.  This is deeply troubling to many.  Horses continue to lose their foals, horses continue to suffer from their abrupt change in diet.  We want to continue to be able to visit, stay abreast of developments, and report back to you.

We are especially concerned about the horses left overnight without water after their grueling roundup on January 31.  How are they faring?  We want to continue to monitor them.  

They have installed the squeeze chute and will probably start branding and gelding the horses next week, and I would very much like to be there to document this process.  The horses will be moved through narrow alleyways ultimately into the "squeeze" chute, which is padded around the sides.  This is where freeze-branding and shots are administered and generally where medical attention is given. 

©Photograph by Craig Downer
Frightened horses facing the squeeze chute at temporary holding near trap site.  

This is a time of increased risk of injury for the horses since they tend to resist this process.  At least two humane observers have offered to be present, and in the spirit of transparency, I am hopeful that BLM will agree to allow us in.  

I have made a formal request, and Craig Downer has offered to be present, as well.  There is some footage of this process from the Pryor Mountain roundup which may be seen if you go to, click on Blogs, and go to the Humane Observer blog.  

The system at Fallon is more sophisticated than the one shown on that blog at Britton Springs in Montana, but it is the identical, noisy hydraulic chute.  What makes it more "sophisticated' is the high-sided, curving alleyway leading into the chute area, which I am hopeful will help the horses stay reasonably calm as they approach the chute.  I would like to see how effective this arrangement  is.  We all want the horses to have a safe, quiet experience.   

That is what a humane observer does:  observe and document with an eye toward the horse's perspective.  

At this point, I have been denied access.  As of now, no members of the public are allowed in the holding facilities when they are processing horses.  

Also, we do not want the doors to close out the public at Fallon.  I believe it might be helpful to let BLM know we want continued access to monitor the horses.  These are America's horses.  Sequestering them away creates a loss for Americans and is contrary to Congress's finding that they enrich the lives of the American people.  
  • We want to be able to see the "processing" of the horses. 
  • We also want continued tours throughout, with no break.
The "local" BLM person is John Neill, manager of Palomino holding facility and overseeing manager of Fallon.  His office is at the Palomino holding facility:  775/475-2222.  Email:

Don Glenn, Director of Wild Horse & Burro Program in Washington :  202.912-7260, email:

Ed Roberson, Asso. Director of Dept of Renewable Resources (Don Glenn's boss): 202/208-4896, email:

These are all the right people to call with your polite requests.  More photos and info later.  

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


  1. It would be a great idea for them to install webcams. It would allow anyone with an internet connection to watch over the process, and could actually generate some revenue. Live footage of animals is extremely popular right now (just look at the shiba inu puppy craze).

  2. How do you bear it? I read for a few minutes or watch a heart-breaking video and have to walk away and cry.

    Thank you for having the courage to watch and remember and write about it all.

  3. I would like to know what type of credentials that Elys Garden has? Following her blog has me convinced that she has no knowledge of horses much less wild horses. She has caused a frenzy like the Jehad of the Muslim religion. As part of the public that loves horses I would not like her to be my humane observer, I want someone that has knowledge and be able to give me information that is useful not harmful to the horses we are protecting. Having seen photos of horses mostly mares that are in very poor shape and knowing that if they were to stay on the range they would have miscarries and possible die themselves a very horrible death and have her make it something she knows nothing about makes me sick. The fat horses are the stud for the most part and they do not really care about their mares health as long as they can breed with them. They are the first to water and if they feel threatened they will chase their mares and foals off before they can get water. Does that sound like a caring father figure to you? No they have a different philosophy than people, or so we think. So I would like a competent person informing me of how the horses are doing not some radical person that does not really care about the horses only her cause as a mouth for the Cloud Foundation. Which I also do not think has the horses welfare at heart.

  4. Thanks again Elyse for doing what you are doing. When my daughter and I went out to view the round ups on Jan. 30, it was amazing to see most of the horses in great physical condition (I think that out of about 16 horses, there may have been 1 that seemed underweight-not sure if it was an older horse). Unfortunately, when the wild horses are in the BLM holding facilities, a certain percent can deteriorate rapidly. This seems to have happened to many of the mares that have had miscarriages at Fallon. And at least one of the BLM personnel at the round up that day was honest and agreed that yes, the mares that have aborted at the holding facility could have done so because of all the combined stress from: 1) the "gather" itself, 2) being placed in a strange environment (holding facility) and 3) new food (commercial hay versus natural grasses and shrubs.). Thanks again and keep up the good work!

  5. @whbamber: You say you've seen photos of dying horses, but looking at a picture isn't the same as going out there and actually seeing it. You can't dismiss the blogger's photos on those claims because all you have to compare them to are pictures you didn't take. I understand your worry about the horses starving to death... but obviously these round-ups aren't fixing anything, they're just making the deaths and miscarriages happen faster. So if there are horses out there in pisspoor shape, we need to go about this a different way.

    I haven't been following this blog for long, but from what I've read, this woman doesn't seem like a radical. She's emotional, but she makes logical points. I have no doubt that there are some radical people and organizations out there, but in my book, feeling strongly about something doesn't make you a radical - yelling about it at the top of your lungs and throwing paint on people does.

    And it really doesn't matter what kind of father figure a stallion is. What does matter is that horses shouldn't be forced to run for so long that their hooves fall off (, shouldn't be deprived of water and their usual food after such a stressful event, and shouldn't be rounded up in excess as part of a numbers game that falls on its face when it's realized that there's no place to put them.

  6. I am saddened to see the discord here. I would think we would all be on the same page, that of the horses' welfare. I think Elyse does a great job. It can't be easy to be on the scene, it can't be easy to have no emotions about it. I own horses, have had several die over the years, and it always breaks my heart in two.

    I just came on here to say thanks, Elyse, for all you do.

  7. Hi Elyse:
    I've watched a lot of your footage & thank you for all you do. One thing I would like to ask of you, could you please get some footage of what these horses hooves look like when they're first captured?
    Let's try to have something good come out of all this. It saddens me what is happening to our Mustangs. I would want to get something good out of this.

    William Campanelli

  8. Hi Elyse, thank you for your contribution to these events. Although I feel saddened by the death of the stallion who broke his neck due to being frightened by the helicopter, in a way it is a blessing in diguise. For this event clearly shows the severity of the fear instilled in these horses by these machines that spue such horrendous vibrations at them during the course of the round ups. These machines should be outlawed and not be permitted to be used in the round ups due to the detrimental effects on the horses, who are sentient beings. Obviously, this event proves they are being harmed emotionally, mentally and physically, even causing death.

    When I hear comments like this one from whbamber, "Having seen photos of horses mostly mares that are in very poor shape and knowing that if they were to stay on the range they would have miscarries and possible die themselves a very horrible death and have her make it something she knows nothing about makes me sick." I feel, a bit of cold logic is warranted here. If BLM cared about these horses, the few of the them would be rounded up to protect them, and the rest would be left alone to live out their lives as the Creator intended, without interference from man, doing what Wild Horses & Burros were born to do. And that is certainly not being corralled, torn from mate, offspring, family and friends. And what is it about the helicopter causing the death of the stallion that you do not understand whbamber?

    There is also a video that clearly shows the flyer of the helicopter forcing a colt to speed up and join the herd. The helicopter is so close to the colt, it is practically touching the colt. We clearly see the colt is extremely tired and in need of rest. Then we learn 2 colts die from their hooves falling off. Watch this video where there is a colt laying dead and others so foot sore they cannot walk! Then tell me who cares for these animals!!!

    Thank God there are people like Elyse, Ginger and the many others to monitor these situations. From the contiuous displays of lacking compassion shown by BLM, one fact is certain, there would not be any Wild Horses or Burros left. Keep up the great work guys!

  9. Perhaps one issue is the fact that many folks have become complacent regarding the suffering death of these Wild Horses. Any horse owner who has a heart knows that it is impossible to watch any animal suffer without feeling some pain and concern. When you consider the horrific treatment and deaths brought about by the folks in these “round ups” the emotions invoked can and “should be” over whelming. The observer in this case took the time and effort to record the events and the conditions of the horses. I want to ask anyone one how the hell they would expect her to not be “emotional” when observing such horrific results. Being an expert with a horse has to do with many levels. One critical aspect is the acceptance of each horse as a unique person with their own personality, fears, etc. They are not dumb animals, but intelligent, empathetic creatures capable of relationships with humans. A true horseman or woman appreciates this and will start here and move forward as this is the foundation for all training and relationship building efforts. Read the words from the founders of the Natural Horsemanship movement Tom Dorrance, Ray Hunt, etc. Tom’s book “True Unity” describes the “spiritual” side of the relationship. My question is how could Elyse not become overwhelmed after observing these events.

  10. In addition, regarding the comment from whbamber; "Having seen photos of horses mostly mares that are in very poor shape and knowing that if they were to stay on the range they would have miscarries and possible die themselves a very horrible death,” everyone involved in this effort needs to understand that these horses are fine without our intervention. The BLM and some private cattlemen have conspired to deprive the horses of water, range and mobility in many cases, in effect setting them up for removal. Any observer can see from the photos that the vast majority of the horses are healthy. The Cattoors and the BLM folks are lying about their “concern” for the horses and they are very good at it. They are not good people making honest mistakes. They are purposely creating this extermination. I know this first hand as a result of several years of personal interviews, and research. If there are any honest BLM folks witnessing this, they have a fiduciary duty to us (the tax payers) to speak up and expose these criminal and actionable efforts. One way or the other all this will come out in the wash and the guilty will be punished. The blood of all of these innocents will be on their heads and their souls. Only a monster would run a foal to death. The behavior is indefensible.