Monday, May 27, 2013


                           ©2010 Photography by Elyse Gardner
Commemorative Statue at Sacramento, CA for the Pony Express

Look over our struggle for freedom,
Trace our present-day strength to its source,

You'll find that man's pathway to glory,
is strewn with the bones of a horse.         
                                                                                                 -- Anonymous
     Greetings during this very American holiday as we memorialize the fallen of our county. This holiday commemorates those who gave their lives so America could become what we are known for today as America, a society based on the freedom of individuals to pursue life, liberty, and happiness, and to express our views about those pursuits virtually unhindered by government, assured of the precious freedoms of speech and religion, freedoms we assume and take for granted every blessed day of our busy American lives. 
        If this blog looks familiar to some, it is: I have updated a previous year's blog because its message is timeless.  I hope you will take a few moments to be reminded and give thanks for the thousands of people, horses, and burros who gave their lives.  
       I call to our attention the profound yet commonly overlooked contribution of the horses and burros, and noteably the wild horses, who were conscripted into service in our wars here and abroad.  Along these lines, I am profoundly grateful for Steven Spielberg's huge contribution of the movie War Horse.  
      It wasn't uncommon for a mounted soldier to go through as many as nine horses in his career. 
      HORSES AND BURROS ARE USED IN WAR EVEN NOW.  We traditionally think of the Revolutionary and Civil wars when we think of the wartime service of horses and mules, but burros, mules, and horses continue to serve as only they can.  

Recoilless Rifle mounted on a mule, Fort Leavenworth, KS
                History bears witness of the thousands of burros tied to supply wagons who were helplessly gunned down or shot with arrows as they stood powerless to flee for their lives.  Please take a moment to acknowledge these underappreciated, amazing little animals who are fast being wiped off our vast western lands in favor of cows, sheep, and big-money mining and mineral interests which will use many times more water than even 10,000 burros could drink, yet BLM wants only 3,000 allowed to remain wild and free.              
War Horses in Gas Masks 1918
Below:  American Horse Soldiers in Afghanistan:  (Watch the great video (nothing awful) at the link to see hor horses and burros continue to serve and protect freedom here and abroad.)
U.S. Special Forces ride horseback working with members of the Northern Alliance, Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan, 12 Nov 2001. Photo by Master Sgt. Chris Spence
      Hopefully, we will not repeat the horror we committed against horses and burros in World War I when a great many were conscripted wild horses as well as domestic.  Horribly, we brought our beautifully trained, trusting horses to fight our wars in World War I in Europe and left them there to be slaughtered.  
     I hope you will join me in taking a few moments to go to the links above and below to honor the horses and burros by learning of their immense service to us in this profound, all-out way.  On behalf of our species, we owe them so very much.  Please learn with me of their tremendous contribution.  
       Though losing one's life in service of our country is noble and profound, the greatest wound to such a hero  is for no one on earth to notice.  
     Therefore, please join me in reading this informative article, and I hope you will share it with your family and friends.  Your children and grandchildren will be the next protectors of our wild horses and burros; I hope you will share this history with them.  What a convenient way to explore history with your family

Look over our struggle for freedom,
Trace our present-day strength to its source;
You'll find that man's pathway to glory,
is strewn with the bones of a horse.         -- Anonymous

Calico horses (from "Calico" roundup of January/February 2010:  These photos are three years old.  I pray they are all well and didn't end up as anyone's French dinner. 
                      copyright Photo by Elyse Gardner, all rights reserved.
Yearling and two-year-old fillies at Broken Arrow holding in Fallon, Nevada, from Calico roundup
               Right now I will focus on the delightfulness of these horses.  For now I am anticipating with great satisfaction sharing with you the absolute delight of these highly interactive, curious and gentle girls.  The boys are sweet and eager, too, but for now, meet the captured mustang girls in Fallon, Nevada (as of May 2010.  We do not know how many remain there or where they went since the facility closed to the public in June 2010 except for a brief tour twice a year).  
Enjoy the video at the end of this post... can't wait to share that with you.
                       copyright 2010 Photo by Elyse Gardner, all rights reserved
                           copyright 2010 Photo by Elyse Gardner, all rights reserved
The fillies below were at Palomino Valley holding facility and were not from the Calico roundup.  There are thousands of wonderful wild horses in holding facilities who were driven off their homes all over the west.  I actually adopted one of these girls.
                      ©Photo by Marilyn Wargo
Fillies at Palomino Valley Center holding facility outside Reno, Nevada
                   ©Photo by Laura Leigh
Brave curious filly exchanging breath with me
                     ©Photo by Mar Wargo

Having exchanged breath, she's demonstrating the flehmen response, taking, reading, and storing my scent
                      ©Photo by Elyse Gardner
                     ©Photo by Elyse Gardner
And now for some real fun.  Enjoy,and happy, safe, Memorial Day commemoration.  
(Please DOUBLE CLICK INSIDE THE VIDEO if it doesn't play properly. Thank you.)

I remain,
for the wild horses, captive and free, and their humble burro friends,
for all who came before, and all those yet to be,
Elyse Gardner


  1. Wonderful tribute & post Elyse. Appreciate this so much. Tearing up over here.

    I remember this day, when you & Laura were doing the video, your private movie. I also remember the sweet calico fillies, and seeing 1099 & Fuzzy Tassel, oh my heart. How I wish we could visit them again. I do thank God they were adopted and hope they are in loving homes. They are great. 1099 was one of a kind. The visit with the fillies was always such a special part of the tours.

    Honoring their service to mankind today. Praying for their future as a species in America & abroad. Again Elyse, much appreciation for this tribute. Blessings ~ Cat

  2. Thank you so much for this Elyse. This is bringing tears to my eyes. What a wonderful gift you give sharing this with us all. Thank you, from all of my burro cousins. We appreciate that you are telling our story, so sweetly. Vive el burro. Miss Abby

  3. Hey Elyse!! I remember all this so well. I loved these beautiful fillies. The Strawberry Girls were wonderful. Now so many have gone on to new places, people or Long Term Holding. Too many have been this route. Adopting our wonderful wild horses is a horse owning option that needs to be promoted and handled better than it is these days. Our wild ones are some of the best horses in the world. Their treatment and their futures are in our hands. Mar Wargo

  4. Dear Elyse
    Thank you for reporting this. I have a special story to share. In really March there was a beautiful mare posted for free on Craiglists. I contacted the owner who knew to double and triple check for killers. I also contacted Palomino who helped network for this deserving filly.

    Someone from Dreamcatcher's went and picked her up on Mar 9 my mom's birthday. In her honor I named the mare mama. She was a mostly ungentled wild one who needed sanctuary. My understanding is she now lives with the herd.

    My very first rescue! One that I played a small part in. It gave me the get test feeling in the world to know that I helped her. I wish I could do more. But I know mama is safe. And that is a biggie in my own life!

  5. As of April, 2017, what is the status of the rounding up of Mustangs?

    1. Wild horses remain at great risk. The actual rounding up of wild horses has slowed down over the last 3 years only because our government agency who oversees the Wild Horse and Burro Program, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), has run out of room to house them. There are over 50,000 captured wild horses the U.S. now must feed with hay. They are housed in government holding facilities (e.g., Palomino Valley Center in Reno, NV; Litchfield Corrals in Wendel, CA (near Susanville)) as well as big ranches in Kansas and the midwest that are paid to house large herds of either mares or geldings (BLM gelds all captured male horses before shipping to long-term holding ranches). The horses never live in family bands again once they are captured. All foals old enough to be weaned are weaned upon capture (permanently taken from their mothers) and put in a pen with others of their age.

      Horse slaughter is currently illegal in the U.S.; however, many congressmen and cattle industry people are pushing to legalize horse slaughter as an "answer" to reduce the expense of feeding these 50,000 captured wild horses. This is instead of implementing the recommendations made by the National Academy of Sciences study of 2013 (

      That study was done by request of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), yet the BLM is not modifying its wild horse and burro program as that study recommends.
      One big change would be to implement humane fertility controls on the range to slow down the wild horse reproductive rate so BLM would not feel the need to round up horses.

      Important Fact: With all of that said about reducing the population growth of wild horses, there not an overpopulation of wild horses in most places. What actually exists (but is touted as a "wild horse overpopulation") is a disproportionate percentage of the federal land is allotted for cattle grazing on the few areas wild horses are legally allowed to remain. In plain English, the biggest portion of land and food is held aside for cattle, e.g., 3/4ths, and only a little left for wild horses.

      Example: if an area of 10 acres can support 3 large animals, and you start out by allowing two cows, anything over 1 horse will be considered an "overpopulation."

      That is usually what lies behind the cries of "overpopulation of wild horses." In many instances — and in my experience I would say "most" — the the cattle/sheep outnumber the wild horses by 5 to 1, and sometimes as much as 50 to 1 (that is, there are 50 cows for every 1 wild horse). That said, areas also truly do exist where there are more horses than there is grass and forage to feed them, even where there are no cows grazing.

      We must be realistic and take each area individually, not simply give a broad-brush approach which cannot possibly apply to all areas in which wild horses and/or burros live.

      The cattle ranchers only pay $1.35 per month (can you believe it?) to graze a cow and her calf on public land. So you can see why they want to be allowed to use our public land to graze/feed their privately owned cattle for months at a time, and they consider the wild horses competition, a pest to be removed. Yet only 4 percent of our nation's beef are grazed on public land, so in many cases our wild horses are being pushed aside to support the interests of a mere handful of people with private profit-driven interests. is a great place to get more information and to find out what you can actually do, and when to do it, to increase our voice and protect wild horses.

      I had more to share but edited it down since I have reached the limit allowable in a comment. Feel free to write me at, and I will send you my complete response.

    2. PS to my "Reply" to Karen, above:

      I support the use of PZP, produced in pigs, which simply creates a hard shell around a female's egg so that sperm virtually cannot penetrate to fertilize the egg. It has its down sides in that the horse has to be either darted or injected with the drug, and it needs to be reapplied every couple of years, but it does not otherwise affect the animal and has been safely used for years in sanctuaries and in deer populations. There are no "easy, painless" solutions, but compassion and reason must dictate the decisions made, not just numbers, as the BLM tends to do.)

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