Thursday, April 15, 2010


                    ©3/9/10 Photograph by Elyse Gardner
 Here are photographs and video I have put together from when BLM allowed me to film their processing of the yearlings and two-year olds on "Media Day."  The consensus among the horses was unanimous, as you can see.  
     These horses below are waiting their turn in the squeeze chute.   And they are communicating with each other.  Watch, and listen, to the video.  They are amazing.  
     As it says at the end of my video, please go to my article at, scroll down and click on the title of the article, Media Day at Broken Arrow/Fallon Holding Facility by Humane Observer, Elyse Gardner, to get a more detailed picture.  My thanks to Marya Zubaty of The StableWoman Gazette for doing a fabulous job posting that article.  It is a work of art and love by all concerned.

©3/9/10 Photographs by Elyse Gardner
      ©3/9/10 Photograph by Elyse Gardner

     ©3/9/10 Photograph by Elyse Gardner
Blood draw by Dr. Sanford for Coggins test

     ©3/9/10 Photographs by Elyse Gardner

                       ©3/9/10 Photographs by Elyse Gardner
When the door opens, sometimes they shoot out of there.  But sometimes they just stand there and tentatively come out, clearly traumatized and almost afraid to move.  They pick up speed as they get the courage up to move.  This mare couldn't exit the squeeze chute fast enough.

     It is clear that the adult stallions and mares would have a harder time with all this.  (I saw adults processed in the identical squeeze chute in the Pryor Mountains last summer.  Some of my videos and photographs are available at if you go to their "blogs" and click on "The Humane Observer" links and scroll way down past the Calico roundups.  You'll recognize some of the people, I'm sure.)
                     ©1/6/10 Photograph by Elyse Gardner
     A final, chilling note on the tagging and processing:
     Remember Mouse, darling silver buckskin boy?  I will feature him sometime. When I didn't see him last Sunday, and since they had posted that a yearling colt had colicked and died since I'd seen him last, I was anxious to lay eyes on him or at least know he was okay.  I called to check on him by tag number.  BLM hasn't entered the tag numbers into computer yet, so they had to dig through papers and call me back.
    Well, the papers had Mouse's tag number, which I had clearly documented since I filmed his processing on Media Day, as a three-year-old sorrel.  Does that horse above -- Mouse -- look like a three-year-old sorrel?  This is not a computer error.  Somebody didn't keep up with the tagging numbers properly.  I wonder how many horses are off.  The tags bear the same numbers as their brands.  
     Doesn't strike confidence into my heart...  
     Thankfully, they did go out and find Mouse, with his tag on, and verified that he was fine.  Many BLM people are very nice.  But the policies and practices of this organization are at this time utterly destructive to our wild horses.
Pigeon Fever News
     Here are photos of the young horses dealing with this ugly, sad disease.  But what disease?  Hmmm.
             ©3/9/10 Photograph by Elyse Gardner
     Verbally, at least, BLM is recanting its diagnosis of Pigeon Fever, which Fallon Manager John Neill first announced to public observers on the March 21st Sunday tour, and which veterinarian Dr. Richard Sanford's 3/31/10 report verifies.  
             ©3/9/10 Photograph by Elyse Gardner
Same horse as above, but so cute with sibling I had to include this, too.
    I was told it was a bacterial infection and asked to wait for the official report, which was to be posted either later Sunday or on Monday, to get the actual bacterial name.  It is now Thursday, and their report is not yet posted.  They think maybe the young horses got bruises from rubbing on bars due to the feeding setup, and then the bruises got infected.
    Horsepeople are skeptical at this news.  I wonder what the delay is in posting the report.  They would not say how or if they are treating the horses medically.  
             ©4/11/10 Photograph by Elyse Gardner
This gorgeous horse's pus pocket drained out and now appears to be healing.
             ©3/9/10 Photograph by Elyse Gardner
I noted how carefully this youngster is avoiding rubbing on the bars.  Ouch...
   [UPDATE: Staphylococcus aureus is the diagnosis. Nevertheless, I need not skip a beat because...)
    My view remains unchanged, which is: 
    FACT:  You have some kind of outbreak occurring which resembles a highly contagious, painful and sometimes (not usually, thankfully) fatal disease.  BLM itself diagnosed it as Pigeon Fever.
    Prudence and compassion and intelligene dictate that you separate the infected horses (or humans, if it were in people) from the general population as a precautionary measure.  Veterinary experts strongly recommend separating infected horses especially since feces and flies play a part in the spread of the suspected disease.  They say keeping the pens meticulously clean from manure is important to prevent spreading the disease.  
               ©4/11/10 Photographs by Elyse Gardner
This poor baby is miserable. Her eyes are pinched.  She is like so many we see there.  It's not just about the pus, either.  They    are    in     prison.
     Putting the, at the time, "handful" of infected horses in the AMPLE sick pens in Fallon would have enabled them to A) keep the pens mucked and very clean;  B) Protect healthy horses from contact C) keep an eye on and more easily treat infected horses.  Presently we counted over 20 horses with these abscesses.  Why not keep them from the general population as a precaution?  
     This is not rocket science.  And continuing to process horses on shared equipment, and then move horses around into different pens as they are re-categorized by age for future adoption events, is simply flirting with epidemic disaster.  
     CONCLUSION:  These people who are in charge of caring for and about our horses demonstrate a chilling lack of compassion in virtually every aspect of "managing" these sensitive, amazing animals. 
     Oh, sure, it could be worse, they'll remind me.  Yes, it could.  But it could be so, so, so very much better.  Like get the cows out of the horses' legally designated herd areas for starters; increase those arbitrary, completely fictitious "AMLs" (appropriate management levels). I want to talk about that issue and will address it directly in another post.  
     I am dreadfully concerned about the sand.  It's like walking at the beach.  The wind was up, and it was in my eyes, in my mouth, in my hair.  Worse yet, when I went to move the horses' hay closer to the pens, it was loaded in the hay.  There is no way to keep it out of the hay when ground-feeding as it's done at Fallon, even though the hay is laid on cement poured to try to keep the hay sand-free.  Nice try, but it doesn't keep the sand out of the hay, unfortunately.  The hay was really loaded with sand.  
     The facility is built on sand, like at the beach.  Some of the horses were coughing.  I'm hoping it was just because it was windy.  I'm covering a lot on this post, but it is all current, and I have to call it like I see it.
 ©4/11/10 Photograph by Elyse Gardner
Fallon is built on sand.  What is it going to be like in the summer?  It was terribly windy, sand stung my eyes.  It was everywhere.
     Right now, whatever the yearling horses are suffering, it is because of this roundup and living in these twisted, completely unnatural conditions.  We as humans couldn't come close to tolerating all the abuse these gentle animals have suffered at the hands of humans.  When will it be enough? 
       Think about horse-ness.  Think about the strange and wonderful healing that happens when abused or at-risk kids are given time with ...  h o r s e s.  Horses that will trust them, horses that will accept them.  I've worked in a theraputic riding program for disabled and at-risk youth, and it is AMAZING how quickly the horses open people up in a way YEARS of therapy could only approach.
      Horses are gifts. They are healing to our world to look at, to touch, to smell (they have a wonderful, earthy smell), to hug.  (I haven't even gotten to the riding part yet! One doesn't at all have to ride a horse to be transformed by his presence.)  Grooming them is so centering, this big "ahhh" sigh comes over us and we relax, get out of our head-spinning and connect to this wonderful gentle soul.  I enter horse-time when I pull into the ranch.  No rushing works around horses.  Leave the rush and the anger and the fight at the gate...  
     Even cleaning up after them is meditative.  We get flooded with endorphins and all kinds of good things looking at them, touching them, LOVING them.  And, oh, being  loved by them is the best.
 ©2009 Photograph by Elyse Gardner
Being loved by them is the best.
     Do we not get it, that they are unique gifts from an incredibly imaginative creator?  And oh my, to be carried by such a one.  I confess every time I get on a horse whom I know is okay with carrying me, I feel so elevated, almost like royalty.  Humbled royalty, because what a privilege to be borne by them -- not to mention the incredible fun it is.
     And what about the service they've given us in this country -- in the world as we know it?  How many horses died for every mounted soldier?  And now that horses are largely out of a job, we treat them with contempt?  What does that say about humanity? 
    I will leave you with another look at a little wild beauty. 
       ©4/11/10 Photograph by Elyse Gardner 
I remain,
For the wild horses, captive and free, and their humble burro friends,
Elyse Gardner


  1. Thank you for your story. There must be a better way for all the wild horses and burros in America.

  2. Is there any word on the bay Curly mare you photographed a while ago? I have yet to receive any word back from the Curly Mustang Association on whether they have done anything for any Curlies there.

  3. There is nothing for me to say - you covered it all, and so beautifully. Just this:
    "The love for a horse is just as complicated as the love for another human being... If you never love a horse, you will never understand." ~ Author Unknown

    P.S. I'm SO glad Mouse is okay!

  4. There is a sickness they can get from eating sand, no exercise, and no supplement to prevent it. The sand turns to cement in their systems. Also, if they do have pigeon fever, they are the only horses in the country reported to have it at this time as it is not quite fly season (especially there). What about a respiratory infection from the roundup? I don't even know why they keep processing these horses for adoption, there are 35,000 already processed for adoption with not many adoptees. Most people don't have the skillset to deal with mustangs. THESE HORSES WILL BE SET FREE BY JUDGE FRIEDMAN AND WILL GO BACK TO THEIR HOMES, I REFUSE TO BELIEVE OTHERWISE. THE BLM WILL PAY THIS TIME, JUSTICE IS LONG OVERDUE.

  5. Thank you for showing the people what happens on days that we are watching. What I fear is what happens when we are not watching.

    I cried during this whole video, the clashing of the metal and the screams are just as I heard outside CAVEL for so many years. Those eyes as big as as a golf ball tell it all, in the summers up here at CAVEL, those are the eyes I seen daily on those trucks; the horses could smell death and once they did those eyes looked at me for mercy and kindness.....

    When the BLM said, they are a little camera shy.....NO, I think not; they are HUMAN SCARED ! They have every right to be fearful of humans, we have shown no mercy or given them any respect, as they have earned in the wild.

    Giving the BLM some room for mistakes, due to the OVERAGES of wild horses they have decided to savagely imprison: Mistaking 1-2 or maybe even 10 on the freeze branding/correct horse coinciding with their actual markings and sex, however WE the PEOPLE will NEVER know the exact numbers of mistakes.

    I feel this freeze branding and testing is all for show to say they have kept to the manual and regulations as written. These horses will never be free again, these are my thoughts because I do not trust the BLM or our Government to do the right thing, why should they, they act as GOD over OUR Mustangs and OUR lands.

    WE the PEOPLE OWN the land and the wild mustangs and burro's, why can't we fight this? There have been many lawsuits against the BLM over the 5th amendment on ownership, some lost but many won !!!

    We need a group to start calling on Law Universities to find one to help in the war, it would take one YES and we have a battle, however, we have given the mustangs a voice at that time !

    Keep up the tearful, unforgettable hard work, we ALL appreciate your unselfish gift of reporting to give the captured a voice, they shall be forever alive through your reports.

    Angela Valianos