Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Our wild horses are learning about city living.  Pigeon Fever has come to roost.
©3/28/10 Photo by Craig C. Downer

"JUST a handful" of horses at Fallon have Pigeon fever, according to John Neill, Manager at Fallon.  On top of it all,  Easter Sunday visitation with the horses was cancelled for Easter week, and to the frustration of many, BLM is not offering any alternative date although I practically got down on one knee asking for an alternative day.  I even offered to bring cookies.  We should not have to beg or protest to see our wild horses, especially when they're sick.
No one spotted Tomahawk or Lightning on Sunday, and they've been processed since last I saw them.
I have heard from advocates who went and saw the horses last Sunday that there are more than "a handful" stricken with Pigeon Fever.  There were three counted on Sunday, March 21st; yesterday, on March 28, there were at least 12.
©3/28/10 Photo by Craig C. Downer
Pigeon Fever is a bacterial infection, highly contagious, generally not fatal, just awful, nasty uncomfortable/painful, smelly.The condition can be very painful, and affected horses may be very lame or reluctant to move.  The infection also causes fever, lethargy and weight loss. In some cases, it can be fatal. 
General practice is any barn or ranch where even one horse has Pigeon Fever, a "Do Not Touch" sign is put on the horse's fence/stall, a note of "Pigeon Fever," the horse is quarantined.  If the individual is touched -- and of course they usually are! -- one just makes sure to wash one's hands thoroughly.
Clinical signs: Pus sacs form on chest (hence resembling a pigeon), can form on jaw, sheath, and mammary areas, and more. They can form internally, and those can be very difficult to treat properly. They can need lancing if they don't break themselves.  Accepted veterinary procedure when Pigeon Fever is present is to disinfect with bleach before allowing other horses into an area previously occupied by a horse with Pigeon fever; to disinfect boots; to wash hands before touching another horse.  Bleach on dirt is not effective, so keeping pens or stalls mucked and clean is super important.  There is no vaccination or inoculation, and antibiotics are not necessarily recommended at first.
©Photography by Craig Downer

"Because this disease is so highly contagious, it is very important that veterinarians accurately diagnose these cases to tailor treatment and control," said an expert named Torres.  "Horse owners should be aware of the clinical signs and understand that veterinary care must be timely. Infected horses should be isolated, the abscesses properly treated and the drainage properly disposed of. The area where the infected horse is kept must be properly cleaned and completely disinfected because this is a very hardy bacterium. Pest control is extremely important. 

Apparently on this last Sunday (I wasn't able to get to Nevada in time after D.C.) no one saw Tomahawk or Lightning since they've been processed.  I want to see their demeanor, see how they are doing, see what pens they're in now, see if they have Pigeon Fever.   And little Mouse... all these horses I have not named -- they all have their own names anyway -- but who are dear and familiar. 

Here we take these pure, beautiful, healthy horses from their homes and coop them up and expose them to a disease that, like human herpes, they will carry the rest of their lives, having possible outbreaks.  How tragic to do this to these otherwise content individuals that so beautify and enliven the stark Nevada mountains. 
1)   WHY IS IT BUSINESS AS USUAL?  Why are not these infected horses placed in the ample hospital pens at Fallon?  There were plenty of extra pens three weeks ago.  Why are they are leaving Pigeon Fever-infected horses, horses with active abscesses, out with the general population, given how contagious this is?  
2)   BLM HAS CANCELED next Sunday's visitation due to the celebration of Easter but said they will not offer an alternative day although we have asked for one.    People have been steadily filling up the visiting appointment slots.  People are ready and waiting to go this week.  Why cancel?  BLM's decision is disregarding the clearly expressed desire and will of the American public.  In view of the horses' illness and BLM's laissez-faire approach, is BLM grabbing the opportunity to exclude the public? What do YOU think?

Saturday, March 27, 2010


 Here is a quick partial pictorial recap on our time in Washington D.C. on behalf of our wild horses.  I'm on my layover heading back to the West coast.  Will refine this post later... The photos below are just a flash view; they do not include all speakers. Suffice it to say, D.C. and all our lawmakers heard from us, loud and clear:  No more wasted money to BLM for roundups; no money to Ken Salazar's ill-conceived plan.
©2010  Photography by Elyse Gardner
Clay Canfield singing his touching song, "Wild Horses"
  ©2010  Photography by Elyse Gardner
Advocates from all across our nation brought creative, strongly expressed signs expressing their commitment to our wild horses.
 ©2010  Photography by Elyse Gardner
Thank you to Friends of Animals for organizing this event.  They introduced Ginger Kathrens to start things off as only she can.
  ©2010  Photography by Elyse Gardner
Ginger introduced the history-making, former news correspondent and author of America's Last Wild Horses, Hope Ryden, who was instrumental in getting the 1971 Act passed protecting the mustangs.  They literally owe their lives to this brave, stalwart woman.
    ©2010  Photography by Elyse Gardner
Suzanne Roy of American Wild Horse Preservation Alliance and Deniz Bolbol of In Defense of Animals 
    ©2010  Photography by Elyse Gardner
Horsewoman and actress Wendie Malik shares her heart and determination that our wild horses be protected and free.
      ©2010  Photography by Elyse Gardner
R.T. Fitch, devoted husband to Terry and author of the deeply moving book, Straight from the Horse's Heart.
         ©2010  Photography by Elyse Gardner
Filmmaker and world class skier James Kleinert. James' new movie, Disappointment Valley, A Modern Day Western, is a tremendous whistleblower movie on behalf of the wild horses, bringing us up to date and giving us the story, the history the horses need us to understand, the history BLM wishes would go away.
                                          ©2010  Photography by Elyse Gardner
Protesters marched from Lafayette Park to the Department of the Interior building to deliver an open letter to Secretary Salazar and express their frustration and demands by unified chanting.  It feels purile but effective. How else will we be heard?  We are doing everything within our legal power to effect change, to provide real safety for our American horses.  Serious, committed, dedicated people, we will be taken seriously because we are serious. 
                                         ©2010  Photography by Elyse Gardner
When I first spotted this four-unit mounted patrol coming down the street, I thought, "Oh, good; we're in time to see the mounted patrol on their rounds."  Then I realized they were there because of us.  Oh, my.  Wonderful, calm horses.  Serious, businesslike riders, as they should be.  But my, we are not terrorists. We are American citizens standing up for one of the most American icons ever.  And Homeland Security vehicles arrived, too.  Whew.  
This week wild horse advocates from all over the country descended upon Washington, D.C. to save our wild horses and burros from Secretary Salazar's exorbitantly expensive, ill-conceived, self-serving plan to remove the West's wild horses into gelded "sanctuaries" (the horses would laugh at this if it wasn't so tragic), to press harder for an immediate moratorium on all roundups, and to call for an investigation of the BLM.  
     On Wednesday evening in the very bohemian, warm ambience of Busboys and Poets restaurant/cafe,  James Kleinert gave us a personal screening of his revealing new documentary film, "Disappointment Valley, a Modern Day Western."  The horses have been talking to James, and he fearlessly recounts their story for us in ways that move us to action.  He gives us names and dates, people and places.  He gives us stories of real horses.  He gives us perspective.  He gives us a call to action.  Thank you, James.  Look for "Disappointment Valley."   (To view properly, click twice to play, or once the video starts to play, click once  within the frame.)
         Further motivated by James' movie on Wednesday night, on Thursday morning we spread out into the Hart, Dirkson, and Longworth Buildings where our representatives office in D.C.  Most of us had made appointments to meet with our Senators or their aides.

         Every Senator has either been visited personally or delivered a small packet of concise information.   Our Senators now know there are thousands of Americans opposed to Secretary Salazar's ill-conceived, self-serving, outrageously expensive and unnecessary "plan."  Our Senators have heard us, and so has the Secretary since we protested right outside his office and chanted clearly, "Leave the horses on the range," and, "The range is in the west," "No Salazoos," loud and clear.  Americans are outraged at the unnecessary financial burden Secretary Salazar's plan would impose while it further tortures the lives and wellbeing of our treasured wild horses.

         Thursday night advocates brought their dinners and had a great get-together and brainstorming.  Clay Canfield came and sang his touching song, "Wild Horses," for us once again, as well as other delightful original songs.  Innovative strategies emerged, and strong, lifetime  friendships and alliances are being formed as we fight for our horses. This movement to save our wild horses is gaining tremendous momentum.  The horses are well represented and will not be forgotten or allowed to slip into oblivion.

        We extend an open invitation to you to add your gifts and abilities, be they small or large, for the sake of the wild horses and burros.

          I would rather be with the horses.  I don't like marching around with signs and chanting; makes me feel very silly, as I've said before --  that is, until:
              I stop and really remember the horses.
              I remember Tomahawk and Redman looking baffled and alarmed in their new captivity.
              I remember the helicopters on top of terrified, exhausted horses.
              I remember the fear and accidental stepping on one another as they struggle in tight quarters to distance themselves from the two-leggeds with their plastic bag whips.
             And I remember La Belle, the first mare shot shortly after running for her life,  finally halting in the trapsite only to be loaded alone and trucked out and "euthanized" because she was deemed not likely to thrive.  What a tragic end for a grand old wild mare.
 -- and until I am there looking around at all these others who have hearts that beat for the horses, stellar people from all walks of life, pouring their hearts, lives, time and resources into saving our wild horses.
©Photos by Sue Cattoor, I think 
La Belle

Here is La Belle, I suspect just moments before she was loaded up and shot.  She is thin.  But she is alert and very smart; she clearly knows that something is up, that she is the focus of unwanted attention.  Her head is up, her ears are turning and searching around.  The other horses around are just standing there, but La Belle is on high alert.  Her tail is clamped tight against her body, and she is in a very defensive stance.  She was a beautiful mare once; I can see her.  She deserves to have died on her mountain.  She deserves to not have to run an insane race unlike anything she's ever known, chased by a monster she could never even conjure up in her worst nightmare, only to be singled out...
Yes, for the horses I am willing to feel silly. 
Plane is about to take off.  I remain,
for our beloved wild horses and their humble burro friends,
         If you are reading this blog :) you won't want to miss my in-depth article now available on www.stablewomangazette.com detailing what is involved in "processing" the horses at Fallon as they are readied for the next phases of their captivity.  But there is still a chance for them to be returned to their home.
         I'm also calling 202/456-1111,  the White House Switchboard, to tell them I'm asking that our President step in and save our horses (he has the power).  No more roundups.  No to Secretary Salazar's plan. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Updates - Washington D.C. "March for Mustangs" coming this week...

                                            ©Photography by Elyse Gardner

I endeavor to take you with me.     :)
FIRST:  Be on the lookout for my full feature article on the StableWomanGazette.com describing processing (branding, etc.) the horses at the Fallon holding facility.  Hot off the press probably late tonight 3/23/10.  Please tell your friends and family... Thank you, Elyse
          AS WE ALL go through our political machinations, the horses continue to live in their honest way under their circumstances, whatever they be.  I never cease to learn from their example.  Horses live life on life's terms the best they can.  Specifically...
Fallon contains many new additions, horses that have never heard a helicopter nor known a free walk in the mountains:  babies are being born daily now.
                                 ©2010  Photograph by Elyse Gardner
                              ©2010  Photograph by Elyse Gardner
Horses are being processed now. I wish to share with you the story of "processing."  Stay tuned, please.  
Meantime, here is one thing in the mix for our March for Mustangs.  We want to educate and inform our senatorial representatives and provide the information so people understand that the  short-term "fix" (roundups) end in long-term disaster for the range, the horses, and our country.  Decision-makers need to understand, and the American public needs to understand, that Secretary Salazar's plan eliminates free, wild horses.  
In trying to frame it in context, I come up with this:  His "sanctuaries" are akin to calling San Quentin a sanctuary for camping humans.  Would you be grateful for "sanctuary" at San Quentin, where you could no longer be yourself?  No?  But you would be fed.  You would have a bed in which to sleep.  Your food would be provided -- well, maybe not what you would obtain for yourself.  And there's a good chance it will make you sick, but you would have plenty of it.  Oh, and you can't leave.  And you can't have your family with you like you used to.  Such is the nature of Secretary Ken Salazar's "sanctuary."  I do not like to be too confrontational, but from the wild horses' perspective I am angered at the use of the word.  It is a mockery to call his plan a sanctuary.  Listen to Lacy J. Dalton's song, "Sanctuary," on her Wild Horse Crossing CD, and you will know what "sanctuary" is.
Meet Tomahawk's son, Painted Arrow, and Buck, his close companion to his right.  Well, meet Buck's lovely rump.  
   ©Photography by Elyse Gardner    Painted Arrow, Tomahawk's son
And here, of course, is Dad (Tomahawk), by way of comparison.  The lighting is different (photos taken on different days, in different places).  They are the same colors.
.    ©Photography by Elyse Gardner     Tomahawk (and Redman)
They are in separate pens.  The sorrow of it is their genetics are now lost from the Calico complex.  I hope some horses are left in the Calico range from Tomahawk's family.  Paint mustangs are not common, and he is especially striking.  He is beautiful and very even tempered, from what I've observed -- which isn't enough, honestly.  
Below left:  Baltic and his father, Lightning.  Below right:  Baltic and his mare in wild.                      
     ©Photography by Craig Downer                              
                                                                ©Photography by Craig Downer  
Baltic and his beautiful blue roan mare.  All of these horses are in captivity now, stuck in holding pens.

Tomahawk and Redman, his buddy; and Painted Arrow, Tomahawk's son, and his friend Buck; and Lightning and his son Baltic; and General and True, his son, and their blue/grey friend:  the stallions are all still at Fallon but now wearing tags and brands.  They are still intact since castration is on hold pending the resolution of the In Defense of Animals, et al., v. Salazar, et al., case.   But soon they will be sent...where?  To whom?  What about the older horses (horses over 10) who are at risk of sale authority purchases which often lead to kill buyers?  General is aged at 20.  Tomahawk is 12.
Oh, that they were just left on their ranges...
MEDIA DAY: I attended Media Day at Fallon, doing a feature for Stable Woman Gazette.  I went in and photographed (and videotaped) for 2.5 hours on Media Day.  BLM graciously allowed me to stay a little longer than their 1.5 hour time slot so I could film a particular horse, Mouse, who is featured in my article, which will be on Stablewomangazette.com on 3/23/10 in the afternoon.
I saw some of the yearlings and two-year-olds being processed.  They did not like their processing at all.  This youngster speaks for everyone I saw that day.  Please see their whole story at Stable Woman Gazette.  I do my best to bring you right in there with me via photos and explanations.
                              ©Photography by Elyse Gardner
                               ©Photography by Elyse Gardner

Mouse struggles to evade the de-worming medication.
I don't go much for long silences; I've missed posting. It is amazing how the time slips by.  But I've been observing the horses and collaborating and providing material for people literally around the world who want to save our American horses in the wild.
I want to thank Laura Leigh for her undaunted, press on/press in to get this trailer and video put together on very short notice.  Here is one of the things we have been working on for our precious horses:
This is the trailer for a 20-minute documentary of some of the 1,922 Calico complex horses that we put together in the last week.  That will be available in the next few days.
Thank you for translating your love for these animals into action.  Go to Thecloudfoundation.org to see how you can take one or two simple actions to help these horses.  Please stay with me; I'll help you help them.
For the wild horses, captive and free, and their humble burro friends,
 Elyse Gardner
After clicking to "play," click anywhere on the video rectangle to have a better view...  Thank you.