Sunday, October 10, 2010


©9/14/10 Elyse Gardner                      
  Twin Peaks horses about to be freezebranded 
     Here are some horses and burros from the Twin Peaks roundup.  I have missed communicating with you, but I've been working on a big project that has kept me heavily committed timewise.  I have a lot more to give you.
      For now, here are scenes from the roundup.  In future posts I will follow up on horses in short-term holding whom we can see as well as more roundup footage.  
      Despite the many objections by citizens and lawmakers and calls for a moratorium, and despite the many tragedies, injuries, and deaths of wild horses and burros, the roundup of wild horses and burros initiated by the Bureau of Land Management continues unabated.  What is even more disturbing to me is they continue in the business-as-usual way.
       We continue to document what I can only call a chilling disregard for the welfare of these sensitive, family-oriented herd animals upon whose backs our nation was built.  For now, here is one of the unfortunate examples of what I mean by chilling disregard.  This horse hits his head very hard, but it is important to see what lead up to this.  (If you're like me you'll want to know that he is still standing at the close of this clip.)
     (AS ALWAYS, CLICK TWICE TO VIEW THE VIDEO IN YOUTUBE to see it play larger and correctly; then please come back and finish the blog. -EG)
         Although this black stallion in my video remained standing at the time, BLM updates report that a stallion died that very day from rearing up and hitting the crossbar, exactly what happens here in the video.  They claim that stallion died "instantly" at Litchfield Holding.  This video was filmed at Bull Flat temporary holding near Litchfield holding facility.  But please note that BLM also claimed all the horses from the Silver King roundup went to Broken Arrow holding on October 1, but Laura Leigh and Deb Coffey personally observed/followed/visited 26 horses who were loaded in a trailer from Silver King and hauled to the Gunnison Prison in Utah.   
         This discrepancy may just be logistical in nature and not intended to deceive.   Reasons aside, the fact remains that the details BLM gives are not always accurate.  Was this the horse who died?
          In fact, this is a good place to point out that many of the Calico horses offered for internet adoption had the wrong capture dates posted.  I know; I was there when General, Commander and True were captured on January 16.  I filmed Tomahawk and Redman in the temporary holding on that same day, yet BLM states they were captured on January 20.  
      My point:  the credibility of the Bureau of Land Management, and its contractors, is stretched beyond credulity.
UPDATE:  The stallion who died at Litchfield was not the same horse depicted in my video, above. The Litchfield facility kept separate updates reports from the "Gather Updates" which I just located.  Below is posted a section from the Litchfield Corrals' Facility and Veterinary Reports.  
      Way to go, California BLM.  I appreciate the efforts to which this Eagle Lake BLM (Twin Peaks) office went to provide daily viewing.  The poor observation points selected by the roundup contractors were often frustrating for them, as well, and often my BLM escorts tried to negotiate better viewing for us.   Thank you.  
August 18
Litchfield CorralsSummary:   Several observers today, including staff fromCongressman McClintock's office .Animals received:   109
Animal deaths at facility:   1
Cause:    A 1 year old chestnut stallion broke his neck while in the alleyway at Litchfield.   He was in the alleyway moving towards the working chute to receive his initial inoculations.   He reared up and hit the top of his head on a cross member then flipped over.   Death was instantaneous .   
                  The most important aspect of all this:  These low crossbars used by BLM and the roundup contractors must be replaced.  These deaths and injuries are entirely avoidable and unnecessary.
       At the Silver King roundup, Suzanne Roy and Deniz Bolbol witnessed and filmed a family tragedy.  Please stop and honor this little family and the passing of this noble stallion.  
       Read Suzanne's apt description and witness the video.   The wrangler nonchalantly ties his horse up as the wild horses are agitating.  He appears immune and displays no regard for the emotional state of this freshly rounded-up little family as he ties his saddlehorse to the pen right in front of Braveheart.
       We have now seen what happens when the horses crash into the pens and die from a broken neck.  And this happens frequently.  
        ENCOURAGEMENT TO WATCH THIS:  This film is tragic but it isn't gruesome. And you don't actually see him pass on.  You can handle it.  The camera is far enough away that it isn't in your face.  We need to know these things.  You can click on the link above or here:
        I am deeply, burningly angry about this.   You know why?  Because it was entirely avoidable.  
        I believe this wrangler's utter disregard for the angst of these wild horses, which resulted in Braveheart's death, demonstrates a chilling disregard for the welfare of these animals.
        Thank you for honoring this horse's life and death by sharing in the knowledge of him.  It is what we, as observers, do just by being present in these hard times, and you participate by doing likewise.  
                                        .  .  .  

         One example of this disregard:   The contractors were conducting roundups in the Confusion Herd Management Area and other areas while Twin Peaks was ongoing. 
         While we were assured by BLM that the contractor padded the pens and some pertinent areas of the outside of the chute area as we asked (and as Tim Harvey asked, the recently-appointed Humane Advocate on the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board),  no such padding was applied to their other pens being used elsewhere.  And we were not permitted to see or photograph the pens, even when empty, where the padding was said to be installed.  
       The Horses and burros continue to smash into these things and incur fatal injuries as well as bloody gashes, lacerations, and abrasions.
                             ©8/19/10 Elyse Gardner
                               ©8/18/10 Craig Downer
 The sorrel horse has swelling around her eye orbit. I've seen this occur 
happen after smashing into unpadded bars. 
                     ©8/14/10 Elyse Gardner
 This horse has eye orbital swelling/injuries
                    ©8/14/10 Elyse Gardner
This young stallion has eye orbital injuries.  
(He is not the same sorrel as the mare above.)
          Roundups have been ongoing for decades.  Why are these things not, at the very least, padded?  Why are there seven- or eight-foot crossbars for horses to rear up into and die, or suffer injury and pain?  This is not rocket science or open heart surgery; this is pads and a few feet of metal pipe, people.
          FACT:  Contractors are paid per horse or burro, between $350 and $675 for each animal, depending on the size of the roundup.  It appears to me that some financial incentive for uninjured horses should be made a part of the roundup contract.  This could be in the form of fines to any participating contractor for dead or injured horses at the trap site and holding facilities; or roundup contractors footing the bill, at the very least, for any vet care required for roundup-related injuries. If the contractors were not paid for lame horses or were fined substantially, I believe they would be more careful about distances, terrain, and speed, to ensure sound horses. A substantial fine should be levied for a limping horse coming into the trap or turning up lame within a given amount of time since it often takes 24 hours for an injury to show up because of adrenalin.
     A live, real-time video camera mounted on the helicopter with time stamps, to run as long as the helicopter is airbound, accompanied by GPS coordinates of the trap site and the place the pilot begins to drive the horses is what we are requesting, along with the time.  (This will also help rectify their record-keeping snafus.)  There is no legitimate reason I can come up with to preclude the public from this information, and I believe BLM has been derelict in its duty to protect and manage these animals since it abdicates all responsibility for them in favor of the contractor during these roundups  Horses continue to come in lame.
     I have been processing hours and hours of video and have had some computer challenges to boot. I've missed keeping you updated.  Please know I'm working on some worthwhile projects, and you will be seeing the fruit of my labor soon, at least in bite-size pieces.
    I will be bringing you on a burro roundup soon, as well.  They are amazing little creatures who have captivated me.
                GENTLY wonders what's next...
 ©9/1610 Elyse Gardner       Twin Peaks roundup:  Buffalo Meadows Trapsite    
This long yearling (older than one but not quite two years old) I call
Gently was separated from his band, which had just been driven
 into the trap pen.  He was standing alone, looking forlorn.  

                  ©9/16/10 Elyse Gardner  
For undoubtedly the first time in his life, he had
 no family, not even one other horse, with him.
                ©9/16/10 Elyse Gardner
He just watched and froze when the helicopter came, didn't know what to do.  The wranglers
 were only about 300 yards away.  You can see Shorty, the Judas horse, waiting with the hiding contractor. 

                 ©9/16/10 Elyse Gardner 

©9/16/10 Elyse Gardner

©9/16/10 Elyse Gardner
               ©9/16/10 by Elyse Gardner
                ©9/16/10 by Elyse Gardner
                                                                  Video soon to come

                 ©9/16/10 by Elyse Gardner
                                                              Reacting to the contact
          The wranglers were right there.  This was not necessary.  In fact, they started out by rounding up burros on this day, so there were six horses tacked up and ready to ride.  This yearling was frozen with fear, and no matter which way he moved, the ceaseless noise and assault continued unabated; there was no release from the pressure.  He didn't know what to do and moved very slowly.  He would have understood wranglers on horseback, but
          I've observed that youngsters do not respond to the helicopter in the same manner as mature horses.  I've now seen numerous times the helicopter has gone back to get foals who cannot keep up with the stampede -- and I would say that scenario (foals who get left behind in the chase) supports a "stampede" designation, wouldn't you?  And in most all of these times, the foals and younger horses have no other horses from whom to take cues, and they freeze.  
©9/17/24/10  by Elyse Gardner           
 The roar and dust is frightening and deafening.   
        The really young ones' ears and tails go straight up into the air.  Or they will clamp their tails hard against their bodies.
        Let me show you an example I was able to photograph in Tuscarora...
These are from Tuscarora roundup, July 24, 2010  
         This baby got separated from her family as they raced and manuevered to try to evade the mouth of the trap.  The pilot went to retrieve her, and she froze, not knowing what the helicopter meant or wanted.  It wasn't until the Judas horse was in place that she followed him into the trap.  Notice her ears and tail.
     When this pilot saw she was frozen, he backed off and waited for the Judas horse. 
©7/24/10  by Elyse Gardner          Tuscarora roundup 

         ©7/24/10  by Elyse Gardner
            ©7/24/10  by Elyse Gardner
              ©7/24/10  by Elyse Gardner

©9/17/10 by Elyse Gardner   Twin Peaks Roundup, Buffalo Meadows trap site
This pregnant mare, heavy with foal, was lagging behind her band
 (shown below), and so was the baby in front of her.  
        They were galloping as fast as they could go.  This pilot did not appear to be "reading" the horses; i.e., he stampeded every single horse into the trap: young, old, pregnant; in a band, or alone.  While I understand the need to apply the final high pressure to motivate the horses down to the trap pen, these are already spent horses who are running hard with everything they've got left, and they are already motivated to stay with their band.  The intense, terrifying pressure of the helicopter within 30 to 50 feet is unnecessary and inappropriate in these instances.   One executive I showed my videos to calls it "government subsidized animal abuse."  
       I would appreciate the opportunity to fly with the pilot and hear his explanation.  
       I am also concerned that my candid depiction of these things will result in further limited access.  The decisions about our viewing areas are left entirely up to the contractors, and I appreciated this one good observation point which had to be negotiated for with the contractor by the California BLM. 
       Your right as the public to see these things it at issue.  It is having to be be litigated in order to protect my right to be there for the horses and your right to see.  
      And this mare had become separated from her band,  obviously unable to keep up.  The pilot brought her in alone.  She ran hard and laboriously. 

                  ©9/17/10 by Elyse Gardner  
Here at 8:39 a.m. is the pregnant mare's family approaching the final run into the trap.                 
©9/17/10 by Elyse Gardner
          The pilot turned around to retrieve this pregnant mare he knew was left behind.  Six minutes later, at 8:45 a.m., he stampeded her in as seen below.
                 ©9/18/10 by Elyse Gardner
                  ©9/18/10 by Elyse Gardner
                  ©9/18/10 by Elyse Gardner
                  ©9/18/10 by Elyse Gardner
                 ©9/18/10 by Elyse Gardner
Glistening with sweat alone in the trap pen with Shorty, the Judas horse, 
this pregnant, spent mare pants and watches her captors warily.  Her family is in the 
adjoining pen.

           I never used to use the "stampede" word.  I thought advocates who used that word were being overly dramatic.  I have the unpleasant honor of now having observed, arguably, more hours of roundups than just about any other citizen save one.  And I now conclude that "stampede" is usually the right term.  These animals are not coming willingly.  They are being pried out of their homes.
          Almost every time I've had decent viewing of a roundup and could see the horses coming from afar, they are running a large portion of the time.  Sometimes it's due to pilot pressure; sometimes he's laying back, and they're running anyway because they're scared.  I've seen roundup contractors talk about the horses getting used to the helicopter, and they make it sound so comfy, like it's one big guided walk.
         I have seen the pilots carefully trying to maintain a walk, and sometimes they can, and sometimes they cannot.  When horses go into fear, they need to move their feet and they will run even when the helicopter doesn't push.
           And how far are they being driven?  These are families, babies, and parents and senior citizens being chased by a helicopter for miles and miles.  The holding facilities are full of unreported limping horses, and I will be showing you that.
           I earnestly invite my legislative representatives to come spend some time at a roundup and see if that is so.
           And I'm not talking about dignitary time with the red carpet.  I'm talking about day after day, come and see where the dust meets the nostril. 

              ©9/16/10 Elyse Gardner

      These hardy little animals won't follow a Judas horse into the trap, so when the heliocopter manages to round them up reasonably close, the waiting wranglers all swoop in and try to create an impenetrable wall.  Many burros actually made a beeline and passed the horses, resulting in a big chase with the helicopter and the wranglers.  More to come on these. .  
       ©9/16/10 Elyse Gardner
       ©9/16/10 Elyse Gardner

On September 12, the burros waited six hours, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., to get to short term holding where they could get some water.  A Jenny (female donkey) died on the 45-minute drive to short-sterm holding on this waterless day.  She had previously made a heroic escape attempt and outran the horses until she was finally captured.  That's an awfully long time to be thirsty after running your heart out for over an hour.  
            The burros really try to evade the helicopter.  The pilots have to work very hard to get the burros into the trap.   
            By the way, I am never permitted this close to the animals in the trap pen, but I had to leave to get to the temporary holding area before 5 p.m. when they closed it to the public, and I needed to drive past the trap pen in order to do so.  I keep my camera in the front seat...
           More on the burros to come...
          There came a call from the pilot for help bringing in a mare and foal.  These two wranglers on horseback walked this baby in; there was no sign of the mare.   I was very concerned.  I was never told what happened to her.  I will be trying to find out, but I wonder if records are kept.  
©9/18/10 Elyse Gardner    Twin Peaks roundup:  Buffalo Meadows Trapsite
This young stallion in the making was brought in, roped, between
 these two wranglers, his mother's whereabouts unknown.
©9/18/10 Elyse Gardner   
©9/18/10 Elyse Gardner   
©9/18/10 Elyse Gardner   
              ©9/18/10 Elyse Gardner
                                                                              ©9/18/10 Elyse Gardner
I would add that this mighty little colt will probably never see his mother or father again.  We never saw his mother come in.  What did he see happen to her?   He is alone; he is fighting for his freedom
            ©9/18/10 Elyse Gardner
           ©9/18/10 Elyse Gardner
                      ©9/18/10 Elyse Gardner 
©9/18/10 Elyse Gardner   
©9/18/10 Elyse Gardner   
©9/18/10 Elyse Gardner   
©9/18/10 Elyse Gardner   
                               ©9/18/10 Elyse Gardner   
For the wild horses, captive and free, and their humble, amazing little burro friends,
Elyse Gardner


  1. Great documenting Elyse.
    Always painful seeing them terrified, lost and confused, separated from family members and their home, and then imprisoned, a sentence forced upon them for no wrong doing on their part. I am grateful that you have dedicated yourself to this degree, and kept up your blog well, allowing anyone to observe through you here.

    Braveheart incident clearly shows the lack of compassion and total disregard for their well being, that you speak of. The "wanted dead or alive" scenario must change. There is no incentive to take precautions, if they get paid either way for the horses, especially if they really don't care anyway. Video shows lack of humane feelings or response during his tragic and preventable accident. It was as if he was observing his coffee getting knocked over!

    The camera is working out nicely for you too! You are getting much better quality images! Think your creative eye is developing more too! Your blogs overall, just get better over time. Thanks for all you do, its a lot of dedicated work! Thank you also for your positive comments on my photography at my blogspot,.... ImagesofHeART.
    Best wishes Elyse! Cat

  2. Oh so sad, the "Little Red Warrior" , fighting so hard, a war he can never win alone. I wish he knew his army of advocates fighting along with him. Winning their fight, will be a joyous day for all! Its slow, but coming! Blessings and strength in your days.

  3. The photos of roping the young colt above, are incriminating! Everyone who is a knowledgeable horse person knows that the vertebreas of young horses are not strong or stable enough to withstand pressure from pulling back, or "sitting back " on a rope. It is NOT recommended to even tie them because of that. It is easy to break their neck, or it is almost guarateed that they end up with permanent neurological damage! So this is a clear case of BRUTALITY and BLATANT ANIMAL ABUSE!!

  4. It is disgusting and sick. The BLM needs to be stopped.

  5. If I truly said what I want to say the way I want to say it then, most people would not read it or it would get deleted. But please don't take this the wrong way from those of you who CARE because it's not meant for you but I hate people! Men & some women who think they know what they are doing & think they are helping...I have to stop now before I get ugly.......

  6. This is a horrible thing to say, but every time I see images or video like this I want that helicopter to crash and take the pilot down for the last time.
    Horrific cruelty. And our tax dollars help pay for it . I think it was Gandhi who said " the morals of a country can be judge upon the treatment of its animals...? "

  7. these killers with bloody hands need to be cruel and abusive, well Karma will get these lowlife horse murders now its the poor donkeys, got to have your blood money . I pray that jail sentances are in store for the abusers, why in the hell do they get a paycheck. cant hide from the law of nature which is KARMA.i HATE THEM LOW LIFE SCUM POOR EXCUSE FOR A HUMAN. HATE THEM SO MUCH

  8. Those helo pilots and big, tough cowboys have only testosterone between their ears and dollar signs in their eyes. They can't possibly have brains. That goes for the big tough politicians who are behind these inhumane roundups and strategies to annihilate America's wild horses. It's so disgusting.

  9. Why are they still living? The Gatherers I mean, of course. Not the horses. Is there no Vigilante Justice in the West No More?

  10. I think anything to do with animal cruelty is disgusting and BLM should be rounded up and shot at close range. There is not an excuse in the world or explanation that can be said be the horrible acts that are committed on this animals. I do not understand why the United States government doesn't do something. Oh I forgot health care and taxes is more important than the lives of the animals in this country. I wish there was a day when all the animals went crazy and started killing all these people that bring them harm. I know that may sound wrong but I can't think of anything more wrong than what is happening to the horses, dogs, cats and all other species that fight for their life everyday because of scum bags that use them for their benefit. This will never be fixed because the people in power don't give a shit.

  11. The behavior of that pilot, Harmon, is very disturbing. He is sadistic and should not work with these defenseless animals. He should lose his license! Our tax dollars are paying him? FIRE HIM! In America we have laws protecting animals from cruelty. WHERE are the congressmen, senators, president, anyone with a modicum of decency - PLEASE stop these horrible practices.

  12. I am distraught and haunted by the images of the skid pushing on the yearling, and the ropes, the one jerking constantly up under the rear of the that little foal. Its very disturbing. It appears both are exhausted and possibly lame. The constant jerking of the rope up under the baby's anus is sick behavior, even beyond inhumanity! Why couldn't they pick up that foal in a truck/trailer? This is disgraceful and its severely depressing the humane peoples of this nation, and beyond our borders. These practices appear to be a form of torture! Have we not evolved from barbaric behavior? Humanity=sanity. Obama, we severely need some of that change!

  13. Can we do the same to Catoor and the other "cowboy"?

  14. What if---- the government took the money they spend on these helicopter roundups and granted it to the people who are so willing to create sanctuaries for the wild horses but don't have the funds to buy the land? I'll bet there are thousands of people willing to do that.

    Let's put our heads together and try to come up with suggestions for alternatives to the roundups, instead of just getting upset and airing our discontent.

  15. OMG, Elyse, I am so sorry about Moonbeam! My heart is breaking for River and you. I know how much they mean to you, Freedom's family.
    Mountain lions are a real threat lately, as DaBubbles was severely attacked at palomino's rescue also! Glad to hear new defensive fencing will be installed. Very sorry Elyse..... hang on to your heart.