Category Archives: Horse Care/Protection

Lawsuit Filed to Stop “Barbaric” BLM Wild Horse Sterilization Experiments

Citing violations of the U.S. Constitution and three federal laws, an alliance of wild horse protection and animal welfare advocates filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Portland. The groups seek to enjoin the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from proceeding with controversial and dangerous surgical experiments to remove the ovaries of wild mares at BLM’s Wild Horse Corrals in Hines, Oregon.

The complaint was filed on behalf of The Cloud Foundation (TCF) and its executive director Ginger Kathrens, who is also the Humane Advocate on the BLM’s National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board; the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC); the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI); and wildlife photographer Carol Walker, who is also a Director of Field Documentation for the Wild Horse Freedom Federation, by Nick Lawton of the public interest law firm Meyer, Glitzenstein and Eubanks LLP.

A key demand of the legal action is the right to meaningful public observation and video recording of the experiments to improve public awareness of how the BLM is treating these federally protected wild horses and help the public inform BLM that this inhumane form of sterilization is not socially acceptable.

“To date, the BLM has refused to allow a meaningful opportunity for media or the public to observe and record these procedures,” said Nick Lawton of Meyer, Glitzenstein and Eubanks. “The BLM’s refusal to allow meaningful access to observe and record these experiments thwarts the important newsgathering objectives that Plaintiffs aim to achieve by observing and documenting the BLM’s treatment of wild horses, and thus violates Plaintiffs’ rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”

The legal action also alleges that the experiments, which involve performing an outdated surgical procedure called ovariectomy via colpotomy (a blind surgery in which a veterinarian inserts his arm into a mares’ abdominal cavity through an incision in the vaginal wall, manually locates the ovaries, then twists, severs and removes them using a rod like tool with a chain on the end) are unscientific, inhumane, and dangerous, and will result in pain, suffering, and potentially life-threatening complications for wild mares.

Video of the procedure, which has been called “barbaric” by equine veterinarians, can be seen here.

This is the BLM’s second attempt to conduct research on the surgical removal of the ovaries of wild mares. In 2016, AWHC and TCF sued to uphold their First Amendment right to observe the experiments, a major objective of which was to determine the social acceptability of the procedure. The BLM cancelled the experiments, which it intended to conduct in partnership with Oregon State University — instead of providing public observation.

In its renewed attempt to conduct the research this year, the BLM dropped the objective of determining social acceptability in order to avoid providing meaningful observation. Instead, the BLM is offering limited observation through the doorway of a room adjacent to the surgical suite on a first-come, first-served basis with no independent veterinary observation provided.

When the agency re-released the sterilization research proposal, the BLM announced that it would be conducting the experiments in conjunction with Colorado State University (CSU). The University was to provide expertise in monitoring and assessing the welfare impacts of the surgeries on the wild mares. However, in August, CSU withdrew from the project. Instead of finding another academic institution with expertise in animal welfare monitoring and assessment, the BLM dropped CSU’s scientific observation of animal welfare from its study design.

Then, on September 13, 2018, the BLM announced that it was moving forward with the spay feasibility study despite opposition from the public and veterinarians, a warning from the National Academy of Sciences that the procedure was “inadvisable” due to health risks, and after two major research institutions – CSU and OSU – ended their affiliations with the project.

As soon as next month, the BLM plans to start rounding up 100 percent of the wild horses in the Warm Springs Herd Management Area in southeastern Oregon. An estimated 685 horses will be permanently removed and another 100 mares will be surgically sterilized. The experiments carry a high risk of mortality from bleeding, infection and evisceration (fatal protrusion of bowel through the surgical incision) and will subject pregnant mares to risk of miscarriage and associated complications. (More details on the BLM’s plan can be found here.)

“It is unconscionable to conduct invasive and dangerous surgeries on wild mares, ripping their ovaries out with a chain, destroying their fetus, then returning them out into a dirt corral with little to zero pain management before releasing them into the wild,” states Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of the Cloud Foundation and the Humane Advisor on the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board. “This is a rare, last ditch operation in the world of domestic mares. I would hope we, as a society, are beyond this kind of cruelty, particularly when humane, safe, and scientific alternatives to control wild horse reproduction have existed for decades.”

Contact: Lisa Friday, Director of Communications
lisa@thecloudfoundation.org| 804-389-8218

The Cloud Foundation
107 South 7th St
Colorado Springs, CO 80905
www.thecloudfoundation.org

BLM Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Council to Meet Oct. 9-11 in Salt Lake City

Photo: Ginger Kathrens – Humane Advocate on National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board.

Come Out and Show Your Support for Our Wild Horses and Burros

BLM has announced that the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board will be meeting October 9-11 at the Courtyard Marriott in Salt Lake City Downtown. As a member of the board, TCF’s Executive Director Ginger Kathrens will be in attendance. Please consider attending this meeting if you can to show your support for our wild horses and burros as well as for Ginger as she does her best to stand up for them in her capacity as the Humane Advocate on the board.

Even if you can’t attend, BLM will be accepting written public comment until October 2nd. Written comments and statements must be mailed to the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, National Wild Horse and Burro Program, Attention: Dorothea Boothe WO-260, 20 M Street SE, Room 2134LM, Washington, DC 20003, or emailed to: whbadvisoryboard@blm.gov by October 2, 2018, in order for the Board to consider them at the October meeting. Please include “Advisory Board Comment” in the subject line of the email.

A public comment period will be held on Thursday, October 11, 2018 from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. (MDT). There will also be a field tour from 7am to noon on Tuesday, October 9th of the Onaqui Horse Herd Management Area. (The field tour is open to limited public attendance with advanced sign-up on a first-come, first-served basis. Attendees must provide for their own transportation (high-clearance vehicle recommended) and personal needs. Field tour attendees will depart from the Courtyard Marriott at 7:00 a.m. To sign up, contact Dorothea Boothe by email at dboothe@blm.gov by September 28, 2018.)

For more details on the meeting, please refer to the full BLM notice linked here.

The Cloud Foundation
107 South 7th St
Colorado Springs, CO 80905
www.thecloudfoundation.org

What Happens to NC’s Wild Horses When a Major Hurricane Like Florence Hits?

A filly was born to North Carolina’s wild horse herd in Corolla on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018. She’s pictured here with her mother. Cathy Forgnone.

BY ABBIE BENNETT 

North Carolina coastal residents are evacuating or battening down ahead of Hurricane Florence — at least the human ones.

The wild horses that make their homes on the coast of the Tar Heel state are staying put, and they might be better prepared to outlast a storm than anyone.

Hurricane Florence is a category 4 storm as of Monday evening — 400 miles wide and still gaining strength and speed as it bears down on the Carolinas coast.

North Carolina’s wild horse herd has seen its share of storms, though. They’ve been around for 500 years, after all, the Corolla Wild Horse Fund (CWHF) said on Facebook Monday.

Currituck County, where the herd lives, ordered a mandatory evacuation of the Outer Banks communities, Corolla and Carova, beginning at 7 a.m. Tuesday.

Neighboring Dare County — where much of the staff that looks after the herd lives — and other coastal counties along the coast issued evacuation orders for all residents and tourists.

“The horses have lived on this barrier island for 500 years, and they are well equipped to deal with rough weather,” the CWHF said on Facebook Monday. “They know where to go to stay high and dry and are probably in better shape right now than most of us humans who are scrambling with final preparations.“

And CWHF staff believe the horses won’t need any human help.

“Anything we might do in the hopes of ‘protecting’ them would probably end up being more dangerous and stressful for them than the storm,” the CWHF said.

Florence could bring storm surge flooding to the Outer Banks reaching 8 to 15 feet or higher, according to the National Hurricane Center.

There are 18 rescued horses at a farm the CWHF cares for, and staff is “making sure they are ready to ride the storm out safely. They have shelter, but also the option to stay outside.”

Read the rest of this article HERE.

BLM Backs Down on Removing Horses from Pryor Mountain

Thank you from Rio (left) (Garay & Jacinta), Quahneah (right) (Baja & Washakie).

There will be no removal of young wild horses from the West’s most famous wild horse herd this year!  Like Cloud, we did not back down. He would have been proud of all of you who contributed to this victory. So, thank you from some of the horses whose freedom you protected.

Your donations made it possible for us to hire an outstanding law firm and to make a compelling case. (Read Ginger’s declaration.) And it didn’t hurt to have the expertise of those of you who read the documents and pointed out deficiencies in BLM’s Environmental Assessment and Record of Decision. Thanks to you all!

We hope that this victory for the Pryor Wild Horse Herd (read judge’s ruling) might help to protect other small herds in the West, many of whom are managed at disastrously low levels — below the genetic minimums of 150-200 animals.
Happy Trails!
Ginger

The Cloud Foundation is represented in the lawsuit by Katherine A. Meyer and Elizabeth Lewis of the Washington DC public interest firm Meyer, Glitzenstein, and Eubanks.

The Cloud Foundation
107 South 7th St
Colorado Springs, CO 80905
www.thecloudfoundation.org

A P Valentine, Son of A. P. Indy, Euthanized at 20

A P Valentine © Laura Battles.

GEORGETOWN, KY – SEPTEMBER 3, 2018 – A P Valentine, a Gr. 1 winner, was euthanized due to complications from colic on September 1 at Park Equine Hospital in Woodford County. The 20-year-old son of A. P. Indy had been pensioned at Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement farm in Georgetown, KY.

Campaigned by Rick Pitino’s Ol’ Memorial Stable (formerly Celtic Pride Stables) and trainer Nick Zito, A P Valentine (out of the Alydar mare Twenty Eight Carat) was a leading 2-year-old of 2000 having captured that year’s Gr. 1 Champagne Stakes.

The following year the colt broke the 1/16 miles track record at an optional claiming race for 3-year-olds and upwards at Hialeah Park before embarking on the Triple Crown trail, where he placed second to Point Given in the 2001 Preakness Stakes.

A P Valentine was retired from racing in 2001 to Ashford/Coolmore Stud but was soon pensioned due to unresolvable fertility problems.

In 2004, A P Valentine was pensioned with veterinarian Dr. William C. Day, a stallion reproductive specialist based in in Brenham, TX.  While preparing to sell his farm, Dr. Day retired the horse to Old Friends earlier this year.

“I loved that horse. He was very kind, very gentle,” said Dr. Day. “I have about 30 stallions on the farm, and he was by far the most affectionate. He didn’t have an evil bone in his body.”

“I first noticed A P Valentine before his Preakness Stakes because his silks were white with a green shamrock and he raced for Rick Pitino’s Celtic Pride Stable,” said Old Friends founder and President Michael Blowen. “As a longtime Celtics fan, I rooted for him as if he was Larry Bird. When he came here to Old Friends, it was love at first sight for virtually all of our volunteers and employees.”

For more information, please call (502) 863-1775 or visit the website at www.oldfriendsequine.org.

MEDIA CONTACT: Cynthia Grisolia, (347) 423-7322, cindy@oldfriendsequine.org; Michael Blowen (502) 863-1775, michael@oldfriendsequine.org

Old Friends August Newsletter

Green Mask (Photo: Laura Battles)

News from Michael Blowen:

Our visit to Saratoga Springs in New York was really great. The support for Old Friends, in general, and Old Friends at Cabin Creek, specifically, has never been better.

Joanne’s party at the Saratoga National Golf Club and Joe Bokan’s soiree at Anne’s Washington Inn were both enthusiastically attended and raised a lot of awareness and funds. Many owners and trainers who retired Thoroughbreds with us inquired about their horses, and others asked about eventually sending their horses to Old Friends.

The reception from fans was over the top, and it was great spending time with Lorita and Anthony and Jack Knowlton, in particular. It’s helped us re-double efforts to expand our facilities to meet the demand for all these amazing athletes.

The demand for Dagmar’s beautiful book, The Art of Old Friends, has been justifiably frenetic. The office has been working hard to get them packaged and sent to all that have placed orders, so if you have not received yours already, know that they are on their way soon. And if you have not ordered a copy yet, call the office today. They will also be on sale in our gift shop.

Green Mask is doing great. The efforts spearheaded by Dr. Bryan Waldridge and Park Equine Hospital in Woodford County has led to a marvelous recovery by this flashy turf sprinter. Special thanks to all who helped, especially Kirsten Johnson at KESMARC, Sallee Vans, the New Bolton Center Veterinary Hospital at Penn, and Dr. Dean Richardson, who performed Green Mask’s surgery.

We expect a huge crowd for our post-Breeders’ Cup Party on Sunday November 4th at the farm. Look for information about tickets on our Facebook page, Twitter feed, and on our website. Tickets are on sale now ($30; $15 for 2018 membership holders).

The Breeders’ Cup / Maker’s Mark Champions for Charity is excited to have once again been named the charity beneficiary for the new bottle honoring trainer D. Wayne Lukas. They are available now via the Breeders’ Cup Champions for Charity website. CLICK HERE

Once again, thanks to all of you for making Old Friends home to so many deserving athletes.

For more information: (502) 863-1775; www.oldfriendsequine.org; michael@oldfriendsequine.org

Pryor Herd Legal Action Update, from Ginger Kathrens

Hopi, her daughter Quintasket, and Demure. Quintasket is targeted for removal. Pic: Kristen Collett, 2017.

I am discouraged and shocked by the statements made by the BLM person in charge of managing the Pryor wild horse herd. A bait trap removal is to begin on September 2nd. Our attorneys requested that the operation be delayed so that legal arguments on both sides could be presented before a judge. BLM says they cannot delay because BLM “key personnel would not be available later in September as some have approved leave for vacations that they have already paid for.”

Their lack of caring for animals we love takes my breath away. With their timeline, the young males targeted, Okomi (Firestorm/Jackson), Quanah (Flint/Halcyon), Oak and Parry (Hidalgo and Fresia), Orlando and Quaid (Greta and Garcia), Quasar (Kitalpha/Hickok), and Rio (Jacinta/Garay), would be captured, hauled to the Britton Springs corrals at the base of the mountain, gelded, and offered for sale on September 18th. What’s the hurry, you might ask?

Here is what BLM says about this:  “Government travel in September becomes more problematic as BLM approaches the end of the fiscal year.”  And If the young Pryor mustangs are still there in late October BLM has indicated they will move them to “other BLM facilities with space for short-term holding.” Again, a horrifying lack of concern.

We are fighting as hard as we can for our friends on the mountain. Please do your part. Call your Congressional Reps and Senators and let them know about the needless and cruel measures BLM is planning. And stress not only the intangibles of kindness over cruelty but the economic benefits to the Montana and Wyoming communities who play host to visitors from around the world, visitors anxious to glimpse the unforgettable sight of wild Spanish colonial mustangs in their spectacular mountain stronghold.

Other points you will want to make to your Congressional Representatives and US Senators:

–The wild horses in the Pryor Mountains are a genetically unique, rare Spanish Colonial Herd, descended from the horses of the Conquistadors. Their range is dedicated to wild horses and other wildlife. The Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range was the first public wild horse range created in the United States and precedes the passage of the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971.

–Currently, the Pryor Herd is at the same population level as after the 2015 removal: 152. That means there has been no population change in the last 3 yrs., so BLM could easily delay another month or two or even a year rather than hurrying up to meet “vacation” schedules. Despite the facts on population, BLM claims that the population is increasing by 8% annually. This is not true.

Find phone numbers here:
https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials

Please call and help our Pryor wild horses today and we also need your help with DONATIONS to our fund on our webpage:
https://www.thecloudfoundation.org/checkout/donate

We can’t let this happen to animals so many of us cherish!

Thanks to each and every one of you for caring so much.

–Ginger Kathrens

The Cloud Foundation
107 South 7th St
Colorado Springs, CO 80905
www.thecloudfoundation.org

Genuine Reward, Son of Genuine Risk, Euthanized at 25

Genuine Reward © Laura Battles.

GEORGETOWN, KY – AUGUST 16, 2018 – Genuine Reward, one of the only living offspring of Kentucky Derby winning-filly Genuine Risk, was euthanized at Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement facility in Georgetown, KY, where he had been pensioned since 2015.   The stallion was 25.

Genuine Reward never raced due to numerous health issues, but began a stud career at Meadowville Farm in The Plains, VA and later at Eagle Point Farm in Ashland, VA before eventually heading west to Sheridan, WY, where he stood as a polo stallion with the American Polo Horse Association run by owner Perk Connell.

The chestnut son of Rahy was retired and discovered for sale by acclaimed author Laura Hillenbrand (Seabiscuit, Unbroken), who promptly sponsored his placement at Old Friends.

Genuine Risk, campaigned by Bert and Diana Firestone, was only the second filly in history to win the Kentucky Derby. She finished second in a controversial edition of the Preakness Stakes behind Codex and was also second in the Belmont Stakes.

Retired in 1982, Genuine Risk had difficulty carrying a foal. After numerous attempts, she finally, in 1993, delivered Genuine Reward to great fanfare. But the colt’s anticipated racing career was never to be. He underwent colic surgery as a foal, had breathing problems as a yearling, and bucked his shins multiple times.

“He was such a sweet horse, and a tremendous fan favorite, as you might imagine,” said Old Friends president Michael Blowen. “We were so honored to add him to our roster. Our thanks go out to Laura Hillenbrand and Perk Connell for letting Genuine Reward spend his last years with us.”

For more information, please call (502) 863-1775 or visit the website at www.oldfriendsequine.org.

MEDIA CONTACT: Cynthia Grisolia, (347) 423-7322, cindy@oldfriendsequine.org; Michael Blowen (502) 863-1775, michael@oldfriendsequine.org

Speak Up to Save Horses and Burros from Slaughter

An Open Letter from Ginger Kathrens Regarding BLM’s New “Sale Authority” Policy

This morning while brushing my teeth, I was listening to NPR as I always do. I heard the reporter state that the US Department of Interior is moving the Bureau of Land Management from DC to a western location, closer to “people who understand the land.” This would appear to be code. The “people” they refer to are not the American public but the very few people who use public lands for private profit. They are the public lands ranchers who run cattle and sheep for nearly nothing on lands owned by all American citizens. The “people” they refer to are oil extractors, gold producers and others who make a profit from lands owned by the American people.

The threat to our public lands in the West is real. The Secretary of the Interior sees little value in preservation. Rather he seeks to maximize revenues from ever-expanding oil and gas and mining operations, while propping up the money pit known as welfare ranching.

So where does this leave America’s wild horses and burros and other wildlife who rely on public lands managed by Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM), long jokingly referred to as the Bureau of Livestock and Mining? (The “joke” has become chillingly real.)

Interior has ordered BLM to empty out wild horse and holding corrals by selling 25 horses at a time with no questions asked to any buyer. These are wild horses who once roamed free at little cost to the public. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to diagnose the outcome for these helpless wild horses who have lost freedom and family and will now make the ultimate sacrifice. They will end up dying a horrific death in Mexican and Canadian slaughterhouses.

Despite a prohibition on such cruelty by the Interior Appropriations Committee, the Interior Secretary has mandated that the horses must be sold. All BLM public holding facilities must comply, whether they like it or not.

Why is the Secretary in such a hurry to empty these facilities? The answer is this: ignoring on the range management options, BLM is scheduled to begin massive roundups of America’s mustangs this fall, refilling holding facilities so they can offer them yet again to kill buyers. Ignoring humane management solutions, they will continue the annihilation of these family-loving, freedom-loving animals.

What is happening to America’s democracy when the Interior Department can make an end run around Congress, intentionally opening the door to the massive slaughter of America’s wild horses?  And what is Congress’s response to this atrocity?

-Ginger Kathrens
Humane Advocate, BLM National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board
Executive Director, The Cloud Foundation

Please help us get this message out.

  1. Call your lawmakers and tell them that you are absolutely not okay with the BLM’s new policy. This policy allows for the sale of so many animals at a time that it is extremely likely they will end up in slaughterhouses.
    To call your lawmakers, dial (202) 224-3121 and follow the prompts to enter your zip code. You will be connected to the offices of the lawmakers in your area.
  2. Share Ginger’s message above, which is available as a link below, with everyone you can. Share it on your social media pages, and send the link to your local newspapers, radio stations, and television channels. When you click below, at the bottom of the webpage there will be several sharing buttons for most social media platforms.

Share Ginger’s Message Now

The Cloud Foundation
107 South 7th St
Colorado Springs, CO 80905
www.thecloudfoundation.org

Multiple Graded-Stakes Winner Eye of the Tiger to Old Friends

GEORGETOWN, KY – JULY 5, 2018 – Grade 2 winner Eye of the Tiger has been pensioned to Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Center in Georgetown, KY.

Michael Blowen, founder and president of Old Friends, made the announcement.

Fifth in the 2003 Kentucky Derby behind winner Funny Cide, and winner of both the Affirmed and Washington Park Handicaps, Eye of the Tiger was retired from racing in 2006 with five wins from 19 starts and earnings of $535,679 for breeder/owner John D. Gunther.

He has stood at Gunther’s Glennwood Farm near Versailles, KY — which also bred newly minted Triple Crown winner Justify — since then, but was pensioned from stud duty in 2016. The now 18-year-old stallion arrived at Old Friends on June 27.

“Eye of the Tiger he has been a long-time member of our horse family,” said Glennwood’s Tanya Gunther. “He deserves the serenity that this home will provide him, which was a challenge to do at our small farm with the constant hustle and bustle of mares, foals, and yearlings.

“To know he will join the company of Classic horses such as War Emblem, Silver Charm, and Touch Gold makes me very pleased,” Gunther added. “Imagine the stories they will share. A big thank you to Old Friends, and we look forward to visiting him very soon.”

“We’re so very thrilled to welcome Eye of the Tiger,” said Old Friends’s Blowen. “We can’t thank the Gunthers enough for trusting us with his care. This is a beautiful stallion with a great story to tell, and I’m sure he will be a big fan favorite.”

Old Friends offers guided walking tours of the farm daily at 10 am, 1 pm and 3 pm. Fans can visit with Eye of the Tiger and other well-known champions of the turf, including Kentucky Derby/Preakness winners Silver Charm and War Emblem.

For information and reservations, please call (502) 863-1775 or visit the website at www.oldfriendsequine.org.

MEDIA CONTACT: Cynthia Grisolia, (347) 423-7322, cindy@oldfriendsequine.org; Michael Blowen (502) 863-1775, michael@oldfriendsequine.org