Saturday, March 5, 2011

Indian Lakes Holding Facility: One Year Later

©1/26/10 Elyse Gardner
Has anyone seen any statistics on the foaling rate and spontaneous abortions now taking place in the Antelope complex mares?   Do the Indian Lakes Updates reflect these figures?  Is any facility reporting these things?   Below is a screenshot of the last Indian Lakes update.  
Nothing said about the spontaneous abortions resulting from the grueling roundups.  
        ANSWER:   No.  No.  And no.  Because once again, we're not there to see it, so it's not being reported.  Let's make believe it's not happening, shall we?
         However, three live births and approximately 20 miscarriages have occurred in the Antelope mares now housed at PVC (Palomino Valley Center), according to Manager John Neill.  He confirmed this in conversation with Deniz Bolbol of Return to Freedom.
         (Explanation: "Spontaneous abortion" = miscarriage.  The involuntary, spontaneous loss of a baby forming in the womb.)
         IT IS HIGH TIME FOR ALL BLM facilities to be posting updates on the horses they have.  Our wild horses have disappeared into a black void, the opening to which is fiercely defended by BLM.
         When I asked for this, Dean Bolstad, Deputy Division Chief of the BLM's Wild Horse and Burro Program, admitted that the GAO (Government Accountability Office) told BLM in its recent report that they need to be more transparent, and BLM is now working on the prototype for all of its holding facilities to be keeping updates like the one kept at Broken Arrow.  This is long overdue.   Hopefully they will be retroactive to at least include these Antelope horses.
         My thank you to BLM and Broken Arrow for maintaining this log.  — though it is hard to praise an organization for just doing the job it is supposed to do.   What say you begin including the spontaneous abortions, stillbirths, and live births, please?  
         BROKEN ARROW and PALOMINO VALLEY CENTERS:  Why don't you be the first ones to actually include the newborn foals in your records?  BLM policy at present is they are not even counted or acknowledged until they are tagged/branded, usually four to six months old by then.  It is unacceptable to be so casual about these new lives.  My mare foaled before I picked her up; BLM did not note the date. 
         Now let's take a look at a portion of my blog post from January 26, 2010:
         The death toll of the wild horses at Fallon continues to rise.  No one is including the dead foals in the official counts.  But the roundups stress these horses terribly. 
         One thing we have heard almost nothing about:  15 to 20 mares at Fallon have miscarried/spontaneously aborted.  We saw this mare standing and laying down, standing up, then down, and staying down.
  ©1/26/10 Elyse Gardner                 
                                     Ever seen a horse in pain?  You have now.  
               Follow-up has revealed that she had spontaneously aborted in the morning and was now, at 2:30 pm, passing the afterbirth.  I pressed manager John Neill, asking how much attention she would receive, if any, and he committed to looking after her.  My followup today indicated that John and facility owner Troy Adams got her into the chute and "cleaned her out," and he said she is "fine" today.   I wonder what she would say.  But I am relieved she is alive.  
              If we had not been out there to see this with our own eyes and ask the questions, I believe this [issue of miscarriages] never would have been brought out.  I am more convinced than ever that It is vitally important to have an actual, personal, human presence continually showing up at all the holding facilities and the roundups, cameras in hand.  It is my absolute privilege to be there on behalf of the horses and to share this information with you.  (End of 2010 excerpt)     
         FAST FORWARD TO 2011:    
         Well, it is no longer my privilege to be there since BLM has allowed no one in since June 2010.  We're not there to see it, so it's not being reported.  It's called being in denial: "Let's make believe it's not happening."
         Click on this link to view the updates for Indian Lakes/Broken Arrow (two names for the same place).  Bear in mind that we have to take BLM's word for what's happening there since they are closed to the public.  Some have tried to adopt horses we know are still in the facility, and BLM sometimes has trouble finding them.  Will they let us in to help look?  Not on your life.   
         Are they manufacturing uranium there?  What is so top secret that we can't get in to see our wild horses?
          I realize it sounds like I have trust issues.  I do, indeed.  
           1)  I have caught an agency of my precious, beautiful America doing its best to make wrong look right, as in helicopters pushing and skiing on top of running, terrified wild animals;
           2) to make neglect, potentially criminal neglect, look like acceptable practices (I've worked on a great, modern ranch run by a compassionate country woman who actually cares about the cows, the sheep, the horses, and knows how to do it right, so don't tell me the lack of oversight that lets foals starve and get bitten up, the lack of pain medication when needed, and leaving contagious animals in the general population while there are empty sickpens is good animal husbandry);                
           3) In my presence sought to marginalize the wild horses' real pain and suffering as in:
               a)  "a little stiffness";
               b)   their white-eyed fear and escape attempts as "a little nervous";
               c)  or ongoing contagious deadly pneumonia as "low level respiratory infection"or "minimal levels of upper respiratory disease" suddenly resulting in eight animals in one week reported dead from pneumonia (January 29 - Feb.4 Indian Lakes Updates).  Finally they are talking about "active" respiratory infection.  
           4) Don't tell me it's okay to process horses in and on equipment designed for cows, who are much shorter and do not rear up and break their necks.  There is simply no excuse for this.  Wild horses are regularly reported as crashing into crossbars, breaking their necks and dying.  If they don't die, what of the injuries suffered?  They can't speak; how many sustain ongoing painful injuries from these needlessly low bars created for cattle?  

             To those who've seen this video before: Please forgive the repetition; I have shown this clip before, but until the issue is addressed, I will bring it back. This equipment has to be changed.  
Bob Abbey said BLM is expediting reforms. Start with refitting these crossbars at a height suitable for a rearing wild horse at every BLM facility and requiring that every contractor's equipment meets the same criteria.   Put video cameras on pens and helicopters;  
         BLM: Open the doors of Indian Lakes to the public once again.  
         Require hourly monitoring/oversight at holding facilities so animals don't suffer needlessly.  
          There is another issue on my mind for the horses today:  They have no shelter.  Young horses, and foals, are dying in large numbers when you look at the Indian Lakes updates.
          We've had some very harsh winter weather across the west.  These animals, stressed from recent roundups, now stand in primarily flat feedlots, flat pens, with no shelter whatsover.  Horses make good use of even one tree in the wild.  A lone bachelor stallion was documented standing in the shade of a lone pole in the summer!  Indian Lakes has a couple of pens that have hills.  All the rest of the pens are flat. The pens in Litchfield, California, and Palomino Valley Center in Sparks/Reno, Nevada, are flat. Most BLM holding facilities are flat.  None has any shelter.
         The important thing to understand is when the horses' undercoats get soaked, and the winds rip through, they freeze.  Their amazing ability to thrive in below-freezing temperatures is compromised.   They can and do get very sick.  It is no mystery that so many horses, especially the young and old horses, are succumbing during these winter months.  It's simply about giving them an opportunity to stay reasonably dry — to not get soaked.

           National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, on March 10 and 11.  I would love to meet you there!  Please plan to come if you can.
         If you cannot come to Arizona's meeting, your comments are still vitally important.  You can send your comments through BLM's link for comments for the Arizona Advisory Board Meeting right here.
©1/26/10 Elyse Gardner                        "Where are we?"

Horses arriving at the Indian Lakes holding facility in Fallon, Nevada
          ALSO IMPORTANT:  The Bureau of Land Management has posted a new "strategy document."  Please click on this link above to view BLM's new strategy entitled, "Proposed Strategy." Your comments are wanted.  Please send your comments to, and include "Comments on the Strategy" in your email's subject line.  You might want to look at the "strategy" document first and send your comments to both the Advisory Board (link above) and to this "
          PLEASE TAKE ACTION, even if it's only one sentence.  Your voice really does count. In the last D.C. trip, Congress told our advocates to get people to write   Pick a horse out of a photograph you've seen, and imagine giving that horse your voice.  Do it.
          The primary point right now is the roundups need to STOP.   The numbers of horses are low.  The cost is great in every way imaginable, i.e., to the horses, to the taxpayer, to the government.
          Some other major points:  The horses and burros will benefit even if you just choose one; just let our government hear from you at this critical juncture.
           -  OVERPOPULATION MYTH:  There is no overpopulation of wild horses and burros on the range.  Compare 25,000 − 30,000 wild horses and burros to over 4 million cattle on the same ranges; 34 million deer and 100,000 elk in the U.S.  Some think there are no more than 20,000 horses left.
           -   REPATRIATION:   Return wild horses and burros to their ranges; remove cows and sheep from wild horse herd areas:  Compare 160,000 acres grazing land for cows and sheep, 26.6 million acres remain for wild horses, down from 51 million acres in 1971;
           -   RESPECT BAND STRUCTURE:  Keep family bands together when/if horses are rounded up.  Stop destroying the fabric of wild horse society;
           -   STOP SEX SKEWING OF ON-THE-RANGE HERDS:  BLM rounds up whole herds, destroys family groups as they separate out all mares from all stallions; PZP treats mares (contraceptive drug), releases a group of stallions, and hours or days later releases handpicked PZP-treated mares in a ration of 60 percent stallions/40 percent mares.
              The horses find each other and new battles ensue as stallions seek to rebuild their families.  Between destroying band structure and the sex skewing of the herd, the wild horse society is being tampered with on every level.  A genuine, unbiased study is needed comparing herd dynamics of manipulated herds with untouched herds.
                Karen Sussman, of ISPMB (International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros)  has been overseeing bands untouched by roundups and can be a rich source of information to the BLM.  In the meantime, BLM destroys in one afternoon what these stallions have lived and fought for their whole lives.
           -   TRANSPARENCY: Reinstate public access to Indian Lakes Holding facility, and allow public access to every facility housing America's wild horses and/or burros, including longterm holding pastures.
           -   HSUS is trying to have African lions declared an endangered species since there are between 23,000 to 40,000 remaining, with 2/3rds being neither protected nor viable.  Well, most of our wild horse herds are down below genetically healthy numbers now, but BLM wants to keep removing more.
          These are just a few important points.
          Thanks for your patience during the long delay in getting a new posting up, but the Celebration of Freedom post is being viewed by many and introducing new people to the life of wild horses while I have been preparing for Arizona and supporting the advocates' D.C. trip to inform the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee of the real goings on, demonstrating why defunding the roundups, the needless, abusive, wildly expensive roundups is the responsible thing to do.
         The other links on the front of this blog will keep you well informed if and when this blog is quiet.  Thank you!  United we stand,
for the wild horses and burros, captive and free,
for those who were, and those yet to be,
Elyse Gardner
Another reminder:
Look at these beautiful Calico stallions below in this photo taken at the very beginning of the Calico roundup.  They are bewildered and unhappy, but thin and starving they most definitely are not. 

©2010 Elyse Gardner
Only a very tiny percentage of our nation's wild horses are ever"starving" or thirsty.  Emergency roundups are extremely rare.  That is truly a myth generated by those who want the range and her resources for other uses like cattle and sheep grazing, mineral rights, mining interests.  Wild horses belong on the range, needing less than 5 percent of our public lands; let's keep them free. 


  1. This is sickening and disgusting what they are doing to these beautiful horses..There is no point in rounding them up and toturing them, they need to be let would they like to run miles , sweat, and then be left out in the freezing cold to die, that is what they are doing letting them die...The mare that you saw abort her foal, I bet died of an infection, due to not dropping the placenta in a timely manner and how do they know that it was all there? I am sure that they did not treat her with an antibotic to be sure she would not get an infection....This needs to stop. I HATE BLM AND THEIR EMPLOYEES FOR WHAT THEY HAVE DONE...

  2. There's nothing to say that you haven't said. This entire farce has gone on too long. If we don't get results in Phoenix, we have to take a deep breath and more on to the next step. Horses dying of pneumonia. Have they deluded themselves into believing that we don't see?

  3. I just don't get it! If I kept my horses in a pen with no shelter I WOULD BE FINED FOR ANIMAL ABUSE AND LOSE MY HORSES!! Why are they above the LAWS??

  4. Why is this still happening? BLM should be held accountable for the mishandling and ruthless disregard for the lives of these wild horses. This is indefensible.

  5. Such inhumanity and cruelty is unacceptable. It is easy to see these poor animals are suffering-yet get no help from the non-humans who did this to them. Why? I have seen so much suffering at the hands of the BLM, I am shocked that nobody has stopped this horrible treatment.

  6. I can't even begin to express the sorrow I feel for the way these horses are suffering. Everything about the BLM is just PLAIN WRONG. There needs to be a drastic change in the way things are handled immediately. It is so awful.

  7. This is truly beyond sad and frustrating to no end. On the transparency issue, there is no excuse for closure of these facilities. We need to remind our congress and senate that these are our tax dollars and as such ALL ACTIVITY IS TO BE TRANSPARENT. Otherwise, take it out of the budget. This is not a military operation and therefore absolutely no activity outside of public observation should take place or be allowed.

  8. Honest to God, I'm beginning to feel we need female rulers. I'm almost ready to go 'Amazon' or is that....Towanda*?. This is beyond stupidity. I'll have to look for the case, but there was a research project done ~20 years ago involving driving pregnant sows over 10 miles of rough terrain to see what it would take for them to abort their pregnancies. It was ruled cruel and unusual. The same should be done for EACH of those mares 'gathered'. Thanks Elyse for pointing out the non shelter issue. That has been a BIG sticking point in my throat since I first saw any of the holding facilities.

    *Evelyn: I never get mad, Mrs Threadgoode. Never. The way I was raised, it was bad manners. Well, I got mad and it felt terrific. I felt like I could beat the shit out of all those punks. Excuse my language. Just beat 'em to a pulp. beat 'em till they begged for mercy. Towanda the avenger.

  9. Thank you all for your comments. I hope you will all take a few minutes in this week (March 7 − 11) and articulate to BLM how you feel. And I hope you'll go by some great, timeless counsel: "Be angry, but do not sin." We can be angry, but if you go the rude crude route, you won't be taken seriously. So if you're mad, be mad, but keep it clean for the horses, please.

  10. Such a sad state of affairs that we as human beings treat such beautiful animals with such disregard. Some people are so desensitized. It becomes more and more apparent that animals do have feelings. I forgive, because God says so. He also tells us we are "stewards" of all creatures he placed on this earth. Some stewardship.