Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Enjoying the summer range at DreamCatcher Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary,  Leo and Orion  
are inseparable friends who've been through a war together, enjoying peace and security now
 threatened by the imminent sale of their new home.  Will they get to stay?

Do you remember these horses?   Read the quick recap below, or my blogs from June 2011 might help  (you can click on the link above or on blog "Archives" over to the right).  

L to R: Onyx and Cortez (socks) in Michigan
foster care gaining strength for the trip home. 
 See their full transformation below.  

Onyx in DreamCatcher hayfield with his new family.  Onyx, and all the other male mustangs featured in this blog, were gelded (castrated) by the Bureau of Land Management, but their desire for the family band continues,  and most have rebuilt family bands.   
Brief Recap

Starving in Michigan, these proud wild horses, icons of the American west, had been rounded up from Twin Peaks in northern California by the Bureau of Land Management and sold to a Michigan woman whose plans to sell them fell through, and they were literally starving in her old hog barn.  Two horses died in Michigan.  The local Michigan District Attorney refused to act on law enforcement's recommendation for 16 counts of animal cruelty.  People across the country were outraged.

When DreamCatcher Wild Horse Sanctuary heard about it, Director Barbara Clarke went into high gear to bring these horses home.  Only 20 miles from their Twin Peaks wild habitat, DreamCatcher's 2,000-acre, natural habitat sanctuary was the perfect refuge for these traumatized horses.

But now DreamCatcher's future is uncertain.  The land providing this cherished natural habitat sanctuary for disenfranchised mustangs, wild burros, domestic horses, and unadoptable dogs, is up for sale.  I'm told the word for "crisis" in Chinese also means "opportunity" (perhaps one of my Chinese-speaking readers could confirm this).  

In any case, DreamCatcher has this opportunity to truly secure this land.  It is an amazing opportunity.  It is also a crisis:  I have just learned that they may only have days.  But here is an opportunity to help create an American legacy that will live on long after our generation.

Director Barbara Clarke explains:

Most people are not aware that there are less than a handful of large horse sanctuaries in the U.S.  DreamCatcher is one of them with 2000 acres of land upon which the horses and wildlife may live in peace.  And all this freedom can now be permanently put in DreamCatcher's name for a fraction of what it originally cost.

 " We are at an important crossroads.  We can find a way to purchase the sanctuary property or be forced out."

Donations are starting to come in as people realize we could lose one of only a handful of large sanctuaries for want of such little money." 
                    Barbara Clarke, Director
(We still need upwards of $63,000. -- Elyse Gardner)

         In 2003, one of DreamCatcher's benefactors purchased the wonderful high desert property the horses currently enjoy. For some of the horses - who had come from a sanctuary in Los Angeles that had gone bankrupt - it was the first time they had lived outside of pens and seen grass in years. 

The 1200 acres (that soon expanded to 2000) with no neighbors for more than five miles, provided the room and the environment for an idyllic life for the horses and unadoptable dogs who call DreamCatcher home. 

Dogs get to run around chasing the hay truck, swim in the ponds and bark to their hearts delight.  Horses enjoy spring and summer grass, cool ponds and acres and acres of freedom to just be horses.

Unfortunately, that idyllic life may shortly come to an end.  The benefactor has fallen on hard times and needs to sell the property to us or the bank may swoop in and take possession by the middle of the month.

While it is unsettling news, we see it as an opportunity to get the property in DreamCatcher's name thereby ensuring the future of the sanctuary for the animals.
Fortunately, our benefactor is letting us purchase the property at less than half what it was bought for and loan percentage rates are at a historic low, which is why we consider this situation an important opportunity.  An opportunity to own the sanctuary property at such a reasonable price may never come our way again.

And we are so close to wrapping up the deal with only $65,000 to go.

We hope you, our supporters, can help us make this happen for the horses and dogs who live here as well as all the wildlife that will be in jeopardy if we move off the property.

Over the years we have protected the coyotes, lions, bears, badgers, antelope and deer that call DreamCatcher home. For atrue sanctuary provides open arms to all who pass through its portal.

During this holiday season we ask that you dig deep and give the gift of life and safety by helping us keep our beloved high desert home.  

 Here Is How You Can Help
1.  Click on this Donate button to donate through PayPal.

2.  Call the DreamCatcher office to donate via credit card.  
     530-260-0148 or call the Director 530-260-0377. 
3.  For information about loaning us the remaining monies call the
     Director 530-260-0377. 
4.  Mail checks to PO Box 9, Ravendale CA 96123 with a note
     saying it is for the sanctuary property.

I hope you enjoy the below photographs of the life-sustaining place that is DreamCatcher Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary

DreamCatcher is a 501(c)(3), and all donations will be tax deductible. You can be a part of securing safe futures for many animals, even those yet to be, by helping this trustworthy sanctuary plant her roots and continue her healing work.  On behalf of the Twin Peaks horses and the rest of the sanctuary residents (photos of some below), thank you.

BELOW LEFT:  Duke (buckskin) and Cortez (black, white socks), 
 former proud Twin Peaks band stallions, in the Michigan hog barn. 

RIGHT:  Duke at DreamCatcher in the hayfield, pursuing a mare from  his new family.  

Keeley and her baby in Michigan

In fall of 2011 the money was raised for these horses to come home (over $10,000 in just days).  The horses you see here are now all safe at DreamCatcher Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary.

Will you please help DreamCatcher do it again so that these horses, and many others can stay safe in this magical, healing place? Have a look:

Onyx, Cortez, and Duke are back with families at DreamCatcher.  Will they get to stay?

BELOW: Cortez at DreamCatcher                                                BELOW:  CORTEZ and family at DreamCatcher

Cortez looking mighty fine! You can see that Keeley and her baby are part of Cortez's little band in the photo on the right.  These horses have been together through hell and back.  Please help ensure that this is their forever home.

BELOW LEFT:  The girls, hungry and
depressed in an old hog barn in Michigan.

RIGHT:  The Shy black mare and her devoted look-alike filly enjoy DreamCatcher's summer range together.

BELOW:  Onyx at DreamCatcher.  


DreamCatcher is committed to protecting the rights of wild horses and burros in the wild to stay in the wild in their legal Herd Management Areas.  They are Plaintiffs in groundbreaking litigation defending these Twin Peaks horses, which is currently before the Ninth Circuit.

I first met DreamCatcher and Barbara Clarke when seeking a home for five wild mares from the deadly 2010 Calico roundup in Nevada, when I witnessed 1,922 horses chased from their mountain home.  When Barbara granted these five girls sanctuary,  I continued to visit, and my respect for the organization, its values, its hands-on practices with the animals, and its leadership grew as my knowledge of the work there deepened.


Freedom crashes through barbed wire fence after jumping
the 6' fence separating him from his mountain home (see
photo below).  Photo-  Craig Downer

Two of Freedom's mares, the iconic black stallion who jumped a 6-foot fence and crashed the barbed wire to escape his capture, were in that group of five...

Freedom escapes capture as his mare,  who I call Dahlia, frantically runs to the fence, unable to follow.

LEFT:  Frightened and very wild here in the BLM pen, the displaced Dahlia was always hiding behind River,  Freedom's lead mare also at DreamCatcher . . . 

BELOW RIGHT:  Meet the confident, relaxed Dahlia after living at DreamCatcher for two years.


All the horses here have dramatic "before" stories, but it's the horse-centered, day-to-day way of life here, made possible by this very place, that is so precious and what people should see...

...where horses get to live the way horses like to live...

DreamCatcher's Summer Range

    Barbara Clarke checking water supply for the Summer Range horses.  The sanctuary hauls water
    several times a day if/when the ponds dry up.

    BELOW:  Moving horses to another part of the Summer Range 


can be seen for miles as you approach.
The barn is a haven for horses with any medical issues, or horses who need some extra hands-on attention for whatever reason. DreamCatcher's beloved older horses are fed their Equine Senior in this comforting enclosure twice a day. 

Help DreamCatcher purchase the Big Green Barn... and the land on which it sits.

The depth of thought that goes into decisions about the horses, the level of detail, and the underlying, ever-present dedication to the physical and mental wellbeing of the animals make DreamCatcher a glistening gem in the northern California high desert, a haven that I pray will stay as a beacon, a stronghold of safety in these challenging times.  

Barbara Clarke enveloped by some of her biggest supporters.  That's wolfdog and alpha girl, Chloe, on her lap. 
L to R: Sparky, the energetic amazing rat terrier, Barbara and Chloe, the elegant wolfdog Nukka, and Trixie, old Collie mix and former outdoor ranch dog.  These dogs are all unadoptable, and DreamCatcher is their forever home.  They think that is just the greatest...  (These dogs are featured in back issues of DreamCatcher's E-magazine, which you can find on the DreamCatcher Wild Horse Sanctuary Facebook page or Barbara Clarke's Facebook page. 

You can drop send me an email at, and I will subscribe you so you will get all future editions.

You can click here to help DreamCatcher.  No donation is too small or too large.  The Sanctuary needs $65,000 to purchase the land.   I will update this blog to share where things stand...

I was honored to began work for the sanctuary in June 2012 as Director of Public Education and Media,  because DreamCatcher, too, remains, 

For all the wild horses, captive and free, and their humble burro friends,
all who came before, and all those yet to be,

Elyse Gardner
Humane Observer

 Cortez with Keeley and her filly.  


Our wolfdog girls, permanent residents.

A watchful neighboring hawk.
Burros from Sheldon Wildlife Refuge.
30 burros call the sanctuary home. 
Thank you for helping!

Saturday, September 29, 2012


    produced with DreamCatcher Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary

For two decades many have known that somethings smells funny about the Bureau of Land Management ‘s “long-term holding” aspect of the wild horse program, and the foul odor isn’t coming from the horses.

The spiriting away of up to 11,000 captured wild horses yearly, who have been rounded up and sent east into leased long-term holding pastures on private ranches behind locked gates where no private citizen is permitted to visit or verify unless a "public tour" has been arranged, has long aroused deep concern about the longterm holding program. Questions became suspicions about whether all the wild horses who arrived there were safely grazing away, living happily-ever-after, idyllic lives on rolling hills of green among their same-sex wild horse friends as BLM officials staunchly claim.

BLM’s Lili Thomas admitted that BLM did indeed sell wild horses straight out of longterm holding at a national public meeting in June 2010, stating they would not sort out and sell or adopt out an individual horse; rather, horses were sold by the truckload/trailer load to appropriate buyers.  Who would buy mature wild horses by the truckload, we asked?  BLM assured us buyers were appropriately screened. No answer was satisfactory or really made sense – until now.  Seriously, of what value of possible use are 10 to 30 wild, untouched horses unless someone is a known sanctuary?  We can reasonably assume such quantities of horses would be sold to slaughterhouses across the Mexican and Canadian borders. 

When I called BLM concerned about a shipment of wild horses intercepted on their way to (Mexican) slaughter in 2011, BLM'S Sally Spencer, Supervising Marketing Specialist in charge of BLM's adoption program, acknowledged she had approved that sale and told me we needed to have Congress change the law if we wanted to change how BLM does business.  Well, I'm writing to Congress to change the way Ms. Spencer does business for BLM.

Reading the article, the signs point to destination-slaughter:   Mr. President, Congress: Where are YOU with this?

This article reveals that the way Ms. Spencer has been conducting business for BLM is contrary to the public position BLM has consistently taken, i.e., that they do not sell horses to slaughter although they legally can do just that, which is why we need to press our Congressional representatives to change the law. 

I am personally sickened by the reality that Ms. Spencer, whose hand I have shaken, appears to be keeping her eyes wide shut to the virtually certain gruesome fate of at least 1,700 horses that we know about.

Even more eye-widening, most of these horses didn't even make it to longterm holding behind closed gates: these big, older horses were authorized by Ms. Spenser to be sold in trailer loads straight out of "short-term" pens, i.e., fresh off the range.  

IT IS TIME FOR A CONGRESSIONAL INVESTIGATION.   60 Minutes, Diane Sawyer, you want a story of intrigue and corruption evidently spanning decades?  Working with Wild Horse Education, journalist Dave Philipps has connected the dots, and we find that decades-old BLM duplicity and -- ?  We need a real investigation.

U P D A T E:  

Criticism  has been voiced by some about the timing of this story (since a parallel investigation into these issues was apparently ongoing), and it has confused some people.  I'm asked: "What should we do?"

Bring it back to the issue:  Look at the terrified, freshly captured horses in the photo above.
In the trap pen, lathered and steaming in below-freezing cold
From a practical reality position, the issue for us, the public, is clear:  the facts that we do have are now public, this story is now public, and we must not hesitate to voice our outrage and concern to our representatives.  We are responsible for the information we do have, which is not disputed, and debating about the story's timing is something we can and should do privately.  The facts are that while BLM is running out of places to put wild horses they keep removing, a pro-slaughter person (Calli Hendrickson) was appointed to the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board, and the public needs to be speaking up because the pro-slaughter forces are moving in.

We are calling for a Congressional investigation of BLM's Wild Horse and Burro Program and Ms. Spencer's administrative leave immediately effective while she is investigated.  Even more troubling is BLM will likely say she was just doing her job as she approved the sales of  animals under the circumstances you are about to read in Dave Philipps' groundbreaking work, All the Missing Horses: What Happened to Wild Horses Tom Davis Bought from the BLM?

When you have finished reading and are ready to take action, click here to easily find your Senators' phone number and email address, and if you don't know who your representatives are, then click here to easily find your Congressional representatives and their phone and email information.

Read on...
All the Missing Horses: What Happened to the Wild Horses Tom Davis Bought From the Gov’t? 

A lone mustang who escaped the helicopters watches a Bureau of Land Management roundup in the Stone Cabin Valley in Nevada during the winter of 2012. (Dave Philipps)
The Bureau of Land Management faced a crisis this spring. 
The agency protects and manages herds of wild horses that still roam the American West, rounding up thousands of them each year to keep populations stable.
But by March, government pens and pastures were nearly full. Efforts to find new storage space had fallen flat. So had most attempts to persuade members of the public to adopt horses. Without a way to relieve the pressure, the agency faced a gridlock that would invite lawsuits and potentially cause long-term damage to the range. 
So the BLM did something it has done increasingly over the last few years. It turned to a little-known Colorado livestock hauler named Tom Davis who was willing to buy hundreds of horses at a time, sight unseen, for $10 a head. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


         Below are the fragile, soft feet of a one-day-old mustang foal born in captivity.  Look how thin the hoof wall is, barely twice the thickness of my thumbnail. 
                  BELOW:  And the sole of this foot (the inner, flat part of the hoof), which is almost rock-hard in adult horses to withstand covering all kinds of terrain, in this youngster's foot is rubbery and pliable, similar to a large pencil eraser, and it gets worn down in the rough terrain in a like manner.  
        BELOW:  The same one-day-old foal's soft hind feet, with their paper-like hoof walls and rubbery soft sole.  His Maker equipped him well, but not to withstand running from a helicopter over miles of rocky ground in the first six weeks of his life.  
         HOW DID IT COME TO THIS, where BLM is violating its own protocols to remove many horses before their scheduled roundup several weeks away, risking the lives of the very young?   — who, by the way, are not being seen in the trap, I'm told.  So where are they?  
         BLM FOR THE LAST FOUR YEARS has not reduced livestock grazing in this Jackson Mountain HMA as good range stewardship called for.  Thus, they have denuded the range; and let's please not forget that horses are outnumbered by cows and sheep in this area, which  is one of the few remaining legal areas designated for the wild horses and burros.  
         Additionally, there are serious drought conditions BLM has been monitoring in this area, and BLM began hauling water weeks ago.
         But once again, it's the wild horses and burros, who are by law supposed to be considered an integral ("essential, central, core") part of the natural system of the public lands, are instead being driven off their homes in this illegal way because of BLM's own mismanagement.  And BLM boasts that the livestock permittees have voluntarily reduced their grazing.  That's great for the permittees, but it is BLM's responsibility to manage the grazing, not rely on the permittees' goodwill, which we, by the way, very much appreciate.   
           I say "illegal" for two reasons:  1)  BLM's own rules prohibit roundups during foaling season; 2)  Per the 1971 Act, the HMA should be managed principally, not necessarilyl exclusively, for its resident wild horses and burros.  
          What galls the worst is many of us agree that for the horses' safety and survival, many do need to be moved, and we have tried to work with BLM to obtain protections for the horses in the process.  A number of wild horse advocates have been in discussions with BLM head personnel in Winnemucca to discuss how to do it safely, myself included. 
           We urged that water trapping be used, or bait trapping.  That was refused.
           So we entered discussions to try to obtain some safety for the horses now facing a helicopter roundup in the peak of foaling season.  
           BLM initially made the right noises about engaging more "humane" protocols — for exampl"monitoring" for "extreme temperatures," etc.   However, once again they have steadfastly refused to commit to actual conditions, e.g., stop flying when the temperature hits 85 F.  It is obscene, people, and I don't use that word casually.    
           On and on it goes.  Advocate Laura Leigh, who has been observing the roundup, lost hope in BLM as she saw foals being badly compromised and the helicopter continuing to fly despite soaring temperatures, and has filed suit to try and stop this. When Laura says to me, "Today I saw the worst run at the trap I've ever seen," I know things have got to be really serious. 
            I am now working with DreamCatcher Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary.  I see these infants' feet, their fragility.  Sigh.

            To get a perspective on the physical toll roundups take on horses, now let's take a look at some adult mustang feet on the same day they were rounded up.  

                 These photos were all taken by me in the Temporary Holding pens the contractors set up for the horses after removing them from the trap pen itself.  These are photos of Freedom and his band after they were rounded up in the first Calico Complex roundup I documented in January/February of 2010.   
               Observe how very short each hoof is.  These horses' feet have been worn way down by this exertion, a long run on rocky terrain.  I cannot fathom subjecting baby horses, whose hooves are not even hard, to this. 
          BELOW:  More feet of horses in Freedom's band minutes after they were rounded up:
 See closeup below:
And by the way, we don't get access this close to Temporary Holding pens anymore.  This last year, 2012, it has been my experience that BLM will escort us to a trap site but then won't let us get close enough to identify individual horses well enough to know which horse to follow up on if there is a problem with a horse. If we are even allowed to visit Temporary Holding, we are kept at least 50 feet away from the horses and have a hard time seeing anything identifiable.   So BLM is giving us, the public, "access" without actually allowing us to see much; i.e., fulfilling the letter of the law without fulfilling the spirit and intent of the law.  
               Wild horses' feet, which vets and farriers agree are the healthiest hooves in the horse world, stay clean and trim because the natural rocky terrain keeps them filed.  

             But when you take these animals and chase them long distances no living predator could sustain, their feet and hooves take something of a beating, as you can see above.  This is why the BLM  regulations forbid rounding up horses or burros within six weeks of acknowledged foaling season:  the foals' feet cannot possibly sustain it, and heavily pregnant mares suffer and miscarry.  Some people have seen mares heavy with foal actually delivering their foals as they are running.  We don't ever want to see that again.

                 This blog wouldn't be complete without remembering Hope, the Calico foal who we saw straggling and struggling as he was chased into the trap during the 2010 Calico roundup, who lost his life because his feet were literally run off.  
                  HUMANE OBSERVER VIEWER RATING GUIDE:  S (Sad but nothing graphic or gruesome, no blood.)
               I am disgusted by the failure of BLM to put genuine numbers on the table, to make real commitments on boundaries to ensure the safety of these animals, and drop its continued "gray area" discretionary words like "monitor for extreme temperatures."
              That sounds just like, "I need to eat less." "I have to cut down on my spending."  Those are easy words to say.   But the hoof meets the road, so to speak, with a specific commitment:  "I am letting go of sugar";  "I will only have one Starbucks coffee per day."  Let's get down to it, shall we?
              BLM continues to promise to simply cut down on abuses,  promising what it refuses to actually deliver.  They never come up with a policy to which they can be held regarding the welfare of the wild horses and burros, preferring to leave critical, life-and-death decisions to the contractors and/or BLM people on the ground in each individual roundup.  As much as Gene Seidlitz talked a good game, I see no changes.  Whoever is responsible, the horses are run with no distance limits to be held to, no temperature limits to be held to.
              It is time to define "extreme."  It is time to define these vague terms.  It's time to define specific action that is to be taken when the mercury gets to a certain level.  It's time for the courts and congress to rein in this renegade agency before they really do wipe out our stellar legacy, the wild horses and burros.
               You can follow the lawsuit that's been filed by going to Wild Horse Education.  Please tell your friends and family about our nation's wild horses.  Only by more people speaking up can we save them.  I'll do my best to keep you posted.  I apologize for this blog's long silence.  I've been moving, but I have stayed involved.  I hope you will, too.

Friday, February 24, 2012


                      The CATCH/TREAT/RELEASE  ROUNDUP at the STONE CABIN HERD MANAGEMENT AREA is over.  It was a different experience.  It is always good to see wild horses returned to freedom on their range, so let's start with that...


                  I have been spending hours, literally, going through and selecting from hundreds of photographs and then watermarking them so I can post them, bringing you out to where the horses are.  I would rather let the story tell itself through the horses and only add my words to clarify and fine-tune.   
           I want to cover many issues.  
           But the primary issue underlying all things wild horse and burro is this:  How do we change the old pattern in terms of land use planning and wild horses?  In other words, BLM policy must be changed to actually plan and prioritize HMAs to the wild horses and burros so they aren't outnumbered 4 to 1 by cows and sheep.  Case in point:  At present in Stone Cabin, for every five blades of grass, horses get one blade, cows and sheep get the remaining four.  
           This is upside-down.  The 1971 law states the wild horse and burro ranges should be managed principally but not necessarily exclusively for them in keeping with the multiple-use mandate, meaning they are to have priority.  As the numbers clearly depict, cows and sheep currently have priority.  So who is "excess"?  
            By law (the 1971 Act) BLM is only allowed to remove "excess" horses.  The catch is BLM gets to define "excess," and the GAO (Government Accountability Office) 2008 Report on BLM's Wild Horse & Burro program found that there was no scientific or uniform basis for the way BLM sets its Appropriate Management Levels (AMLs), meaning the allowable number of wild horses and burros on a given range.  
            So in reality, the AMLs are truly arbitrary, and the fox is deciding how many hens should remain in the henhouse.  
            There is no excess of horses in most of the HMAs.   Excess cows, perhaps?...
           I had a good experience with the personnel at the Stone Cabin roundup.  But these numbers are policy issues, meaning they are issues decided by people generally inaccessible to the public. These are decided whether the people conducting actual roundups are compassionate and care about the horses, or not.  
           On one hand, the same "new low" exists in terms of the BLM's policies and plans of permitting four times the number of grazing livestock than the number of wild horses on their own Herd Management Area.  
           And the plan for the wild horses and burros at Stone Cabin was as egregious as I've seen them.  Due to public pressure and the very real threat of litigation, they abandoned one of the most offensive plans this time around, thankfully.  Specifically:  
           They abandoned the plan to geld a bunch of stallions and put them back out on the range as a nonreproducing herd.
           This plan is utterly contrary to the intent of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act which defines a herd as "a stallion and his mares."  
            Nevertheless, in defiance of that 1971 Act, this approach is now common to every HMA, meaning each large HMA (Herd Management Area) across the western U.S. is planning this nonreproducing "herd," and advocates are having to threaten suit and actually file suit against the Bureau of Land Management in one HMA (Herd Management Area) after another to stop this.  
            But now for the plus side... 
            National policy problems notwithstanding, District Manager Doug Furtado and his staff — Field Manager Tom Seeley, Wild Horse and Burro Specialists Dustin Hollowell (COR), and Wild Horse and Burro Specialist Shawna Richardson, who came in from another District to assist,  demonstrated the most concern and effective leadership I've seen yet in both addressing and forestalling real and potential problems with the helicopter contractor in terms of efforts made to protect the horses during a roundup. 
             These two knowledgeable Wild Horse and Burro Specialists were in the field the entire time during this roundup, the only exceptions being I believe two days, when they were required each to take a day off.  This meant either Shawna Richardson or Dustin Hollowell were present, one at the trap pen and the other at Temporary Holding for any processing/sorting going on.
 These frightened foals, approximately six to seven months old, huddle together for security. The lovely pale medicine hat colt is protecting his lovely Stone Cabin Grey sister.  She kept her head tucked down low under his for much of the time they were in this pen. He is the little stud among them and has all the protective attributes of an excellent band stallion.  You will be pleased to know a big-hearted advocate adopted both of these horses so they wouldn't be separated.   He would have made a fabulous band stallion in the wild.   Sigh...
There's a lot going on in this photo.  The colt is rearing up in the chute, and the soft padding this BLM crew installed on all the upper bars, where his face is, is saving his face and head, and possibly his neck, along with the wrangler's arm that got squeezed into the bars when the foal reared.  By the way, the rearing colt is the little boy who was protecting his sister, above.  The dark filly is pawing at the water trough because she's thirsty but doesn't like the water.  It's not the fresh reservoir water she's used to drinking from in the wild. I watched her; she finally drank. The white filly is watching the commotion in the chute, which settled down fairly quickly.  
           I've not seen better handling in BLM than Shawna did during branding these youngsters in the chute (that's Shawna in the blue and black jacket) and the quality loading of these young horses into waiting trailers.  I thanked her.  So good to see the person in charge is a genuinely caring individual. 
           No offense intended to other conscientious BLM wranglers and horsepeople, but I have just come off the Calico roundup where an injured horse was hotshotted to make him stand up quickly, given no time to collect himself after a front leg was freed from being stuck in a divider panel in the trailer.  

             For one thing, the COR (Contracting officer's Representative, i.e., BLM's lead person in the field during this roundup) Wild Horse and Burro Specialist Dustin Hollowell, actually knows the horses on this range, knows where they were, and made sure the trap sites were moved frequently to try to prevent injury to the horses.  
             This has been a concern to me since Sun-J has in the past been known to remain at trap sites day after day after day, driving horses into the trap from further and further away.  There were still a troubling number of deaths and "euthanizations."   We are talking about these things openly.   These roundups are, very simply, really brutal for the horses and these babies. 


Frightened foals hiding as best they could.  These are babies, and some appear to be only about five months old.  They are tall horses in Stone Cabin compared to other mustangs, and some suspect these horses are younger than the age BLM approximates.  I'm trying to put a positive face on this, but darn it, this stinks.  They each have been doted on and protected by both mother and dad, the band stallion.  Now, all that was familiar is gone.  One demonstrated a curiousity about people. Note the little Stone Cabin Grey filly's head (right) tucked under her brother's.  
 Frightened, distrustful eyes watched me.  They have never before been without an adult horse to look to for leadership.        
             These classic Stone Cabin foals stole my heart.  They have been adopted and found a safe place to land although it galls me that they were taken off the range to begin with.  The 1971 Act states that  (c) "range" means the amount of land necessary to sustain an existing herd or herds of wild free-roaming horses and burros, which does not exceed their known territorial limits, and which is devoted principally but not necessarily exclusively to their welfare in keeping with the multiple-use management concept for the public lands.  (Emphasis added.)
              BLM has it upside-down since only 404 wild horses are allotted on this 500,000-acre Herd Management Area, yet over 4,000 cows and sheep per year are permitted on the Stone Cabin range.  The unfair numbers of cows/sheep as related to horses demonstrates what I perceive as a perversion of the 1971 law as set forth in the above paragraph, and it's what forced the removal of these babies from their families.   
             AGNES and DORIE 
              I have to tell you Agnes's story.  Agnes had a hard time.  She is an old girl, and she had a hard time in the trailer and then getting out of the trailer.  Agnes is old and skinny.  And yours truly, well, I'm getting older, and I'm skinny.  But my teeth are good (LOL!), and so are Agnes'.  And because Agnes' teeth are good, and we are coming up on Spring,  COR and Wild Horse and Burro Specialist Dustin Hollowell released this horse instead of "euthanizing" her.  Any other roundup I've been to, this mare would have been killed.  She isn't suffering.  She's alive.  She is full of life.  With a mouth full of good teeth, there is absolutely no reason to keep this old mare from living out her days in the wild mountains she has known all her life.  I hugged Dustin. 
              And her friend, Dorie, waited for her.  They were the last ones out of the trailer; all the other, younger mares had run off, eager to be away from the trailer and the humans who put them there.  But Dorie hung back and waited for her old friend Agnes who had kind of fallen out of the trailer and sat down on the ground, and took a minute to get her legs under her.  
              Once Agnes was up, her left hind leg looked a little ginger, but she was fine (I've had days like that).  She was putting her full weight on it and trotted up the hill strongly to the waiting Dorie.  
L to R:  Agnes and Dorie
Happy Spring, soon, girls. 
For the wild horses and their humble, stalwart burro friends,
Elyse Gardner