Saturday, June 12, 2010


                ©6-1-10 Photography by Elyse Gardner
     I will be following through on various things about the feedlot management of these horses in coming weeks as well as covering new issues concerning the horses as they arise.
    ON THE LAST TOUR, I saw and photographed this humble pinto mare and her baby for what seems to be the last time.   She is a humble, low-ranking mare who is constantly chased off from the food, anxious about the other horses.  Notice her posture here as she waits for trouble while she approaches the hay.
    Three weeks ago I was glad to see she'd been moved into a new nursery pen from a pen where she'd been getting bitten.  I'd noticed her skin was marked up and peeling bilaterally, but this week here is what we found.

                 ©6-1-10 Photography by Elyse Gardner

©6-1-10 Photography by Elyse Gardner
©6-1-10 Photography by Elyse Gardner
     Manager John Neill said, "Yes, she has photosensitivity.  It's sunburn."
     Over the course of the last few weeks this has been steadily increasing in severity, and I asked if he would consider placing her with her foal into a sick pen where there are plywood windbreaks (still no overhead protection anywhere for these horses).
     He said he was "ahead of me"; I guess that means he is going to move her.  I will ask.
     There is no overhead protection anywhere.  None anywhere 24/7.  Wild horses find protection in the wild using hills, shrubs, trees.  These disenfranchised horses have no alternatives.  Think of it.  Such is the case in virtually every feedlot in the nation.  
     A little bit on equine sunburn:
      Photosensitivity  in horses can be an indication of liver problems.  It may also be triggered by diet (click on link to see the article).  Dr. Bob Wright, Veterinary Scientist, Equine and Alternative, states in a July 2003 Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs article,  among other things:
Photosensitivity of uncertain etiology includes many forage-related photosensitivities. It has been reported in cattle, sheep and horses grazing lush pasture (3). Alfalfa has been incriminated in cases of secondary photosensitization in cattle, where compromised hepatic function is not necessarily the prerequisite for the photosensitization (3).
      Most of the horses are now on alfalfa.  Perhaps this mare needs a dietary change.

      Sunscreen usable by humans can be used and is often recommended by vets.  Well, this is a wild horse, so we know that's unrealistic, so some sort of protection for this mare seems warranted.  I hope these two humble souls are finding some relief in a hospital pen.
That's it for now.  Off to Denver.  More to come.
I remain,
for the wild horses, captive and free, and their humble burro friends,


  1. That is sickening! That poor mare! All they have to do is get her some shade. Is that too much to ask? I guess so. There is no such thing as a little bit of sunburn. I burn easily too!

  2. in our own american govs special forces 'care of pack animals' it is stated that animals must be provided shade as they will sunburn or overheat.

    can our federal employees please learn about proper care of horses!!here is the manual for the BLM to learn from the military, they take much better care of their horses than the supposed cowboy experts at BLM-

  3. The BlM makes me more and more disgusted every single day.

  4. We can fight to get them shade. This horse is depending on us. That Nevada sun is only going to get more and more intense. First, I believe we need to send these photos to the HSUS vet who recommended shelter and file a formal complaint with them.

  5. I believe that this mare just needs a diet change. She is currently on a mostly Alfalfa diet due to having her foal. It is the alfalfa that is helping her photo sensitivity. On the range she would only be eating grasses. If she were to be put in a hospital pen and given a strict grass hay diet, she would be fine.

    I once had a paint that had the photo sensitivity. He would turn yellow/orange and sunburn very easily if he ate any alfalfa. On a grass diet, he was healthy and did not have any problems. Some paint horses are so sensitive that they have to be in a barn during the day and only turned out during the night.
    Be well sweet mare.