Sunday, June 6, 2010


            ©6/3/10 Photo by Elyse Gardner
Dean Bolstad interviewed by the Channel 4 team
             ©6/3/10 Photo by Cat Kindsfather
Channel 4 team and advocates viewing wild horses in the sick pens.
     Channel 4 was at Broken Arrow for the first half of our tour, which which BLM has decided would be the penultimate tour of this Fallon Facility.  Click on this link to see the Channel 4 video report.
 The last tour is scheduled for Thursday, June 10, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
      We had a long preliminary conversation during which I objected on the record to the closing of the Broken Arrow facility to the public.  BLM seems to feel we've seen all there is to see; the horses were caught, processed, castrated; the mares appear to have finished their spontaneous aborting and their births, which are trickling in now that they've had over 330 foals which grace the pens at Fallon.  It is amazing to be surrounded by that many unique infant horses.   The enjoyment of them for me is only overshadowed by the awareness of how unnatural their lives are now at Broken Arrow and of what they have been deprived. Nevertheless, these babies have a much better chance of a life than the older horses, especially those age 10 and over, but I will save that conversation for another time.
   ©6/3/10 Photo by Elyse Gardner

 ©6/3/10 Photo by Elyse Gardner

 ©6/3/10 Photo by Elyse Gardner

 ©6/3/10 Photo by Elyse Gardner

 ©6/3/10 Photo by Elyse Gardner

 ©6/3/10 Photo by Elyse Gardner

 ©6/3/10 Photo by Elyse Gardner
    I believe continued access to our wild horses, be they on "private" facilities or not, in short-term OR long-term holding, is a vitally important principle and right we cannot tuck tail and allow to be taken away.  This is an issue we will raise in Denver next week.
    On this tour we encountered some sick horses, and observed some threatening situations to others. A sick horse does not mean BLM has necessarily done something wrong.  When sick foals, however, presenting with obvious respiratory distress and/or crusting nasal mucus are not removed to hospital pens but are permitted to remain in the general population, I just wonder if or what the BLM and the vet are thinking.

     Here is my report of what we saw on Thursday, June 3, 2010.
    The tour starts with the hospital pens, where a few injured horses are recovering, and just a few of what I've heard termed as "unthrifty" horses.  Here they have the peace of living in a quiet pen with just a couple of horses unlike the crowds in the general population pens.  As has often been the case, there were empty hospital pens.
Background on Sorro's "mother."  This "kiger" mare, also referred to as a buckskin in the video, has those distinctive striped legs of the kiger.  She was Sorro's mother. Below is a photo of her with a newborn foal she was claiming yesterday, having driven off the baby's mother.
                     ©6/3/10 Photo by Elyse Gardner
Sorro's mother guarding stolen newborn
                          ©6/3/10 Photo by Cat Kindsfather
On left is Junebug's (stolen foal) mother; Kiger mare I'll call Wishful 
(with her friend) is on right 
But was she Sorro's mother?  Is she a grieving mare trying to replace her foal, which does happen?  Or is she a want-to-mother, baby stealer? -- there are such mares. Here is this mare during our visit.

(TO VIEW VIDEOS LARGER, double click inside the video/play box to view larger (takes you to Youtube))

     The question arises: Did she steal Sorro from his biological mother?   It would certainly explain her lack of milk and why Sorro would have starved trying to nurse her.   She is very large; perhaps she will have a late-term foal.
      We all assumed her to be Sorro's mother; do the wranglers actually know?   She seemed so dry and her teats were so normal/dry when we first saw her with the emaciated Sorro.  Since no thorough examinations were done and no records of births and deaths are kept, we do not have and may never have the answers to these questions.  
      As can be seen in the stills and video, she tried on Thursday,  June 3, to appropriate a tiny newborn foal for herself, a sad situation.  The foal had been born the night before and was only hours old. Sustenance at this time, as Dean Bolstad had said in his earlier preliminary talk before the tour (when talking about Sorro) is vitally important and critical to the survival and initial health of the foal.  We were all very concerned about this baby as the minutes ticked by since it is questionable as to whether she had as yet had any colostrum or nutrition.  
      I feel for this big mare.  While her actions seemed aggressive, she ceased her aggressions once she had the foal to herself. It was never about injuring the foal.
      After his interview was concluded Dean called the owner of the facility.  At first Dean had insisted that the Kiger (also referred to as "buckskin" in this incident) mare was the foal's mother.   After the facility owner came and he and Dean went into the pen to intervene, he recognized the situation.
       He has provided me with timely responses and updates from BLM to the things we encountered on this tour of Broken Arrow.  Here are his unedited comments to me.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide answers and information regarding yesterday's [Thursday, Jume 3] concerns.

      1.  New born foal.
        The buckskin mare is Sorro's mother.  She and other mares with their foals had been removed from the pen they were in several weeks ago to reduce the number of mares and foals in the pen and give them more room..  As soon as I finished the TV interview yesterday, I called both the veterinarian and the facility owner.  I learned that the foal of concern was one of the foals that had been born Wednesday night before the tour on Thursday and that had been moved to a nursery pen Thursday morning.  Immediately after my TV interview the facility owner came to the pen, entered it and observed the mares and foals for some time.  You probably saw the facility owner come down the alley on his 4-wheeler past us when we were in the feed alley.  The buckskin mare had ceased her behavior and the foal of concern was being tended by his mother who was a sorrel mare who I believe was the mare with the exposed afterbirth that had not been expelled.  As a precautionary measure the foal and his mother were placed in a hospital pen by themselves to mitigate any disruption to the bonding between the foal and his mother caused by the buckskin mare.  You said the foal was very thin.  His appearance is very typical of a wild horse foal that is only a few hours old.  This morning the foal is vigorous and seems to be doing well.
      2.  Two foals, two to three months old.
        Yesterday there were two foals that caught our attention.  One foal had a cough and nasal discharge and was not feeling well.  The veterinarian had administered antibiotics to this foal early Thursday morning before the tour started at 10 AM.  Today, at 5 AM this foal was found in his pen deceased.
        Another colt appeared to have an elevated respiration rate.  This foal seemed to be normal late yesterday afternoon.  It was moving around this morning and eating hay, but had a slight runny nose.  Antibiotics were administered to the foal this morning.
        I want to repeat what I said yesterday.  The veterinarian makes his early morning rounds through every pen, every day.  Medial treatment is administered to any horse that needs it.   Periodically throughout the day, other personnel including two full time BLM personnel assigned to the facility, the facility owner and several of his employees are out and about
monitoring the horses.


  I am wondering if a necropsy done or any specimens taken to determine what killed the sick foal who had received the penicillin.  I will be requesting a copy of Dr. Sanford's vet report on this foal I'll call Rusty.
      Rusty, the colt with the cough and nasal discharge actually had crusted mucus on his nose and running eyes and was in advanced stages of illness. I'm wondering why he wasn't moved to a hospital pen.  (I'm having trouble loading Cat's photos but they made it into the video above.  They will be added when possible. -EG)
      We are repeatedly told that personnel are out monitoring the horses.   We, too, monitor the horses, and we find situations as yet undetected by the professionals. We don't have other duties to attend.  Why on earth don't they thank us instead of shutting the door on us?  

     Pride, professional or personal, has no place in the care of animals.  If and when I miss some symptom in one of my animals, I am grateful when someone else points it out.  Of course I feel that momentary twinge in my gut, "Oh, why didn't I see that myself?"  And it's a mixture of concern for the animal and embarrassment.  For the sake of my animals, I am happy to be embarrassed.  For the sake of my animals, I ask "stupid questions" about things maybe I'm supposed to know, but maybe there's a gap or five in my knowledge base.  If I love my animals, or anyone, I am willing to look bad in order to do and learn what's right for them.

Dean Bolstad, who is the Deputy Division Chief of the Wild Horse and Burro Program, just under Don Glenn, the Director of the federal Wild Horse and Burro Program, has been leading the tours for the last eight-or-so weeks and has born the brunt of our questions and criticisms of the BLM and Broken Arrow.  He tries to bridge that gap BLM has created with its present policies, starting with the artificially low "Appropriate Management Levels" BLM uses to justify removing wild horses. Until BLM policy changes for the benefit of these disenfranchised, magnificent animals, until the wild horses have a high priority in BLM's oft-touted "multiple use" plan for the lands they manage -- particularly in the wild horses'  herd areas and herd management areas, his job will remain very challenging.  Although Dean and I agree to disagree on many issues, I want to acknowledge his continued courtesy and cooperation and accessibility.  Emotions can flare in this work for the horses, and I exhort everyone to conduct themselves at all times in a way that would make our mothers and spiritual leaders proud.  


       A)  A very sick foal we spotted in the pens, seen in the above video and discussed above in Dean's comments, had been treated with penicillin by the vet before the tour.   This foal was found dead the following morning, I assume in the general population pen.
      ©Photos by Cat Kindsfather
Rusty, found dead the following morning
      B)   Another foal, tag no. 0025, was exhibiting symptoms of illness and lethargy and coughing profusely on our tour May 16, 2010, as he lay rubbing his face against his mother's hoof.  This foal was still in the general population pen during this last tour on June 3, still coughing.
                            ©Photos by Cat Kindsfather  taken 5/16/10

                      ©Photo by Cat Kindsfather  taken June 3, 2010
           Still in general population pen, coughing and ill
     I keep wondering why these obviously sick foals remain in the general population pen instead of in the (empty) hospital pens with their mothers.  These are very sick animals.  They are living in a crowded pen with many other foals.  If they were in the hospital pens:
    1)  Not only would they be easier to observe and treat, but,
    2)   It would give these sick, stressed babies and mothers a reprieve from the energy and stress of being enclosed with 50-plus horses in a pen, which is now understood aids in recovery.
    3)   It would offer some protection to the rest of the horses since any contagious disease will spread so quickly given the feedlot living conditions.
    4)   When an animal is sick and left in the general population, every time that animal requires medication or attention, the entire pen is disturbed in order to access that animal.  We've had a minimum of three reported broken necks and backs from collisions with gates during sorting or activity in the pens.
      ADDITIONALLY, horses continue to develop large hematomas, and they are not just foals.  What is being done to diagnose and stop this, since it is continuing?  Every week we continue to see new ones.
     I do not think it would be considered acceptable to be planning to bring more horses to this facility until such issues as this are addressed.
               ©Photos by Cat Kindsfather  taken June 3, 2010

New hematoma in young stallion
Are the feeders really causing this?  
     It is my hope that BLM will welcome the many eyes and ears and years of solid horsemanship represented by many advocates willing to give up our time and money to come visit these captive wild horses confined so unnaturally in such large numbers.  We see horses struggling with the problems inherent in this type of holding facility/feedlot (bites, kicks, abscesses, illnesses), and we are ready to contribute to helping our four-legged friends by identifying specific problems and mitigating them before they escalate.  BLM feels attacked by our presence, and we all need to work to remember it's about the horses; it's not about making anybody wrong.  I am compelled to distrust and get after BLM when the BLM position marginalizes suffering, e.g., telling me Legacy wasn't in pain.  
     However, I could begin to trust and respect a BLM that would tell me, "We know he's in pain, but putting him into the chute to medicate him would be too stressful, so the management choice is to let him be," --  now that I can comprehend.  I may not always agree, but I can begin to trust such an agency,  maybe help find a creative way to administer medication without chuting him again.
     A PUBLIC TOUR of Twin Peaks HMA (Herd Management Area),  soon to be assaulted with helicopters to the tune of removing 2300 wild horses, will take place on Monday,    June 14, 2010.  I will be in Denver at the Wild Horse and Burro workshop and Advisory Board meeting on 6/14 and 6/15, along with many other wild horse proponents.
      Many of the people who would otherwise be at the Twin Peaks tour have committed to the workshop and Board meetings in Denver.  When you don't want people at your party but form dictates that you invite them, it's clever to throw the party on a week your least favored people are out of town; what a shame...
     I find BLM's invitation to this tour during a week when known wild horse advocates will be in Denver particularly irritating and wonder if it was intentional.
The horses are pretty accustomed to our visits and go on about eating and laying around -- not much else to do.  The younger ones play sometimes.  For some balance and to help us all breathe again, let's enjoy some of them now.

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


  1. Too bad Rusty did not get treatment until it was too late. If the vet is making his rounds every morning, he obviously is not able to spot and treat all ailing horses and foals. When will they admit one vet is not adequate? We pay the vet $50,000 a year. We pay Cook and Cattoor mob families $2.7 million a year. Can we please hire another vet or 2? We can deduct from Sue and Dave Cattoor's paycheck. Why the obstinance on this easily solved issue? They also need to have staffers be extremely vigilant for issues such as the Kiger mare trying to steal another foal. Why do the visitors always have to point out what is going on? All the more reason to keep the doors open and open them wider. And are they done processing horses? I thought they had to still geld all the stallions.

    Also, I do believe closing the facility to the public just because it is on private land is most likely illegal. But the BLM has been using the "private" land angle for decades now.

    Thank you for this update.

  2. Thanks for all your work, Elyse. I do hope that more consideration will be made and foals that are ill will be taken apart with their mothers and given more medical attention. The heat will make infections spread.

    The closing of the public tours is a mistake for all concerned. The ability to communicate has been strengthening and this is just a further set back to stop the public from discovering the problems BLM should be finding first. If BLM wants better public relations it will never get it without more transparency. mar

  3. Elyse, I was a new observer at the Broken Arrow Complex this day. It made me sad to see all the horses in crowded situations. It seemed to me that the hospital pens should be used for the
    sick and injured and not left empty. I am happy to hear the buckskin foal with the respiratory distress was better the next day. Too bad the other colt died. I saw several foals in that pen that had snotty noses. They were not as bad as the one that died. For the number of horses at that facility, I hope the illness does not spread to other pens.

    I come from a ranching back ground and have lived in Nevada all my life. I have seen both sides to the wild horses. I have ridden the range. I have worked fighting wild land fires. I am hunter and friends with people who hunt wildlife and hike the Nevada lands. I have built some of the fences that dot the range land when I worked for the Forest Service. I have been in love with the wild horses since I was five years old and I was told how the roundups were conducted prior to 1971.

    At the public tour on June 3rd, 2010 I had to see for myself what was going on at the Broken Arrow Facility.
    I was actually very satisfied with the overall set up of the facility. I do believe they have too many horses in some of the pens. I do believe a second Veterinarian would be beneficial. As long as the pen's populations remain where they are. This would provide better care for the sick and the injured. I did not see where another set of eyes would hurt. If Broken Arrow is for the short term then two veterinarians should be used until the population gets smaller and the horses are sent out to adoptions or long term care facilities.

    I think the closing of the facilities to the Public is not an option. If a private individual contracts with the government to have these horses on their property, they should also know they will have the owners of the horses coming to visit. The American people are the owners of these horses. There fore if the Private contractor does not want the public on their lands they do not need to be doing business with the BLM to make money on their private lands. Part of the contract with the private land owner and the BLM should have provisions for the public to visit the horses.

    I want to express to you that I was impressed with your ability to address the issues with Dean without losing your emotions in an emotionally charged issue of the wild horses welfare. You were very professional in your questions and points of record. I enjoyed talking to you throughout the tour.

    I hope to see you on June 10th for what I hope is not the last public tour of the Broken Arrow complex in Fallon.
    Thank you. Becky

  4. I as well as other breeders thought from the get go that the buckskin mare was not the mother of sorro..most of us who have groups of mares have had this happen with a mare stealing a foal in a group..she can be a dry mare a mare with a foal already or a mare who has herself lost a is not that uncommon..the buckskin mare did not look like she had recently given birth..and we breeders all agreed on that fact..The thing is-that mare should have been removed from the rest of the foaling mares-immediately upon putting sorro down whether or not they recognised she was not the mother to him..leaving her in that pen..or any other mare who is not ready to give birth is just asking for trouble..she is a very big dominant mare..I have passed the word along asking her to be removed immediately.

  5. Do we have 'anyone organising to go to the twin peaks cover for those going to Denver..can we get some information on line as to where when and organise a group? I can't make it to denver but could make it from oregon to this roundup.

  6. can someone at this last viewing do a head count of foals and a complete pictorial of all mares with determine at some point how many foals become deceased if no observers are allowed back in..I have a very bad feeling about what is to happen to the foals in the upcoming weeks..Can we put pressure on the humane society to bring a vet in who is a "breeding farm" and foal view these babies..normally it is the personell on a breeding farm whos walkthroughs determine and catch problems with foals not the vets..vets are called in when a problem is discovered to treat..they generally have limited hands on experience in catching the problems at the early stages which is the most critical to being able to save the foals.

  7. Elyse,
    I've been "out of the loop" for the past few weeks trying to accomplish too many tasks at once (I know, big surprise LOL).
    Why is this mare being referred to as a "Kiger" mare?

  8. Looking at the pictures of foals with encrusted noses and the highly infectious disease Strangles comes to my mind. Those foals are in peril in my opinion.

  9. Elyse, I have sent letters and signed petitions galore. WHAT can I do to help? There must be a way to get folks organized into a power that must be heard. Please help us help the horses. Is there any way to stop the June 14th round up?

  10. I posted a link to this blog on my blog. I posted the story. I also posted the story on

    Let me know if I can help more.

    -Steven G. Erickson

  11. My sister was one of the observers at twin peaks past week...She lives not far from Reno..She will be investigating horse auction in Reno this week..August 2010 and taking pics...She said that the brother of the helicopter guy really felt it was very normal rounding them up...I guess for the million plus they pay these people..Took it easy rounding them up...Remains me of water spilling through our fingers...