Tag Archives: Cloud Foundation

Wild Horses of Sea and Sand

Photo – Ann Evans.

In October, Ann Evans and I visited the northernmost point of the Outer Banks Islands off the coast of North Carolina. I have wanted to see the wild horses there for a long time.

The island might seem inhospitable for wild horses but, for nearly 500 years, it has been home to a wild herd. Named for the Island on which they live, the Corolla Wild Horses are survivors of shipwrecks on a turbulent coastline called the Graveyard of the Atlantic.  Now, however, the horses are severely endangered. Recent, rampant development of their tiny island threatens to destroy the herd. Fewer than 100 animals remain.

DNA work on the herd by Dr. E. Gus Cothran of Texas A&M University confirms their unique Spanish heritage and also their vulnerability to inbreeding. The herd has only one matrilineal line remaining. Plans for captive breeding are underway but uncontrolled development could leave the herd with no room to roam.

If you want to help these tough, little survivors, we urge you to contact the Corolla Wild Horse Fund – www.corollawildhorsefund.org. Ask the Fund what you can do to help.

Our thanks go out to Karen McCalpin, Executive Director of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, and Meg Puckett, Herd Manager, for guiding and educating us. It was an unforgettable trip as you can see from this video!

Happy Trails,

The Cloud Foundation

No Land. No Horses.

Can Wild Horses and Burros Survive the 2016 Election?

There has been a move afoot for several years to privatize our public lands, turning over millions of acres owned by the American public to states or corporations or even individuals. Take the Bundy family for instance. They have refused to pay their grazing fees for decades, claiming that public lands belong to them because they live next door. Never mind they didn’t buy the land. They believe they are entitled.

This isn’t the first time a movement such as this reared its rapacious head. In the 1980s a Secretary of the Interior named James Watt supported a similar movement. It was called the Sagebrush Rebellion. Thankfully, he and the movement faded away, but guess what? They’re baaaaaack.

If you think wild horses and burros have had it tough in the past 20 years (and they have!) consider how much worse it would get if the state of Utah or Nevada for instance had the ability to make decisions on whether to allow wild horses and burros to roam free.

Without the protections afforded in the Wild Horse and Burro Act, the wild horses and burros would be history. Consider this when you vote next week. Where do your candidates stand on this issue?

The Cloud Foundation

BLM Director Announces No Killing of Wild Horses in Holding

Points to TCF/AWHPC Lawsuit as Reason for Halting Wild Mare Sterilization

The BLM announced that it was not accepting the recommendation from their National Advisory board to destroy the horses in holding and offering the horses that had not been adopted after three adoption events for sale without limitation.  This recommendation met a firestorm of outrage across the country and caused our phones to ring off the hook.  I voted “no” on this recommendation.

Most of you know that in March of this year I was chosen by the Secretary of the Interior to serve as the Humane Advocate on this nine-member board. Just last week I flew to Elko Nevada for my second BLM National Advisory Board meeting.  It was eventful to say the least.

Before the meeting began, I learned that BLM decided to drop all three sterilization research projects that were to be conducted on wild mares (and fillies as young as 8 months).  In announcing that the horses in holding would not be killed, BLM Director Neil Kornze referenced our lawsuit (TCF and AWHPC), requesting to be present to view and record the sterilization procedures, as the reason the experiments in Oregon were cancelled. Others lawsuits and the thousands of letters, emails and phone calls from concerned Americans certainly played a part as well. Great job, advocates!

But, this celebration was short lived. On the second day of the meeting, my colleagues on the Resources Working Group (we have five working groups) recommended to the entire Board that the horses in holding be destroyed and those offered for adoption three-times unsuccessfully, should be sold without limitation (i.e. buy as many as you want).  The Board then voted on this recommendation. I was the only dissenting vote. In fact, I said, “Absolutely not, no.” It was an easy decision.

We learned that BLM voted “no” as well. This does not mean the horses in holding and on the range are out of trouble. I remember the documents that came to my office in late 2008 revealing secret BLM meetings in which the agency discussed how many horses could be killed each year and how many psychologists would be needed to counsel BLM employees asked to kill healthy wild horses.

In June, I was asked to speak before the House Sub-Committee on Federal Lands. It was clear that the Western congressional representatives had no interest in hearing what I had to say. They wanted the horses gone, and Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming purred that euthanasia of thousands of captive wild horses would be such “a lovely way to die.” See our press release.

So where do we go from here? It is imperative that we continue to speak up, encouraging BLM to use humane tools to limit births in our wild horse herds. TCF board member, Sandra Sell-Lee, in collaboration with BLM, has developed an On the Range Management Guide, in which volunteers get out on the range and apply infertility vaccines to wild mares as recommended by the National Academies of Science in their 2013 report to BLM. The ultimate goal is limiting reproduction to natural mortality. And to reduce the number of wild horses held in short term corrals, we should return these non-reproducing geldings and mares to available BLM lands designated for wild horse use, but where no wild horses currently live.

I hope you will join us and support this effort. It will be hard. It will take time. It will take a lot of energy and tremendous persistence. But it is ultimately a way to keep our wild horses where they belong… in their homes, with their families, living in precious freedom!

Lawsuits like the one to stop the sterilization of wild mares are not cheap. I hope you will consider making a contribution to our organization to cover the costs of fighting legally for the rights of our wild horses — those in the wild and those held captive. Thanks for your help.

Happy Trails!

The Cloud Foundation

Help Save the White Mountain and Little Colorado Wild Horse Herds!

Photo: Ginger Kathrens and Lisa Friday.

Comment on BLM’s Plan to Sterilize Mares! Deadline: Thursday, January 14th

Dear Friends of our Wyoming Wild Horses,
BLM is planning to sterilize the mares in the White Mountain Herd Management Area… unless we can stop them. White Mountain is the most visible, most photographed, most approachable wild horse herd in Southern Wyoming with a driving loop and signage to facilitate the viewing experience. The White Mountain Herd is the biggest tourist attraction in the immediate Rock Springs area, and the herd is also within the BLM’s “Appropriate Management Level of 205-300 horses.

Despite all these facts, the BLM proposes to use the White Mountain mustangs in a mare spaying research experiment to be conducted with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The adjacent Little Colorado Herd would serve as the control group.

BLM proposes to conduct helicopter roundups, removing all wild horses over the “Appropriate Management Level” on over 1 million acres of mostly public lands. Currently, BLM estimates 268 wild horses in White Mountain. Little Colorado numbers are estimated to be 330 with an AML of only 69-100 on over 600,000 acres of federally owned land. This amounts to one wild horse allowed for every 6,000 acres!

Once rounded up, approximately 300 horses would be permanently removed. In White Mountain 30-50 mares would be fitted with radio collars and stallions would have tracker tags placed in their tails. One year later the horses would again be rounded up with helicopters and mares would be spayed using surgical techniques as yet unspecified and then tracked to determine changes in behavior/band fidelity/mortality in comparison to the control group in Little Colorado.

The bands would be destroyed in both herds as the stallions will be separated from the mares after capture so the band fidelity and behavior data will be useless. We don’t want to think about the mortality rate as we know horses will be killed during and after the helicopter stampedes and may die as a result of the collaring and subsequent operations.

Politely express your outrage! We suggest the following talking points:

  1. Conduct field research to determine the habits and natural behaviors of the White Mountain-Little Colorado using non-invasive techniques (i.e. ground observations/photographs/GPS recorded locations, etc.)
  2. Conduct behavioral research while field darting with the reversible vaccine PZP. Over 50 mares in these HMAs received PZP-22 in 2011 and will only require a booster shot to render them infertile for 1 to 2 years.
  3. Conduct any removals in the late winter/spring months using bait or water trapping. Do not chase them with helicopters! Keep traps in place for several weeks to recapture for boostering young mares that did not receive PZP-22 and are not dartable (most, if not all, mares in White Mountain can be field darted). Mares in a trap can be darted without touching them.
  4. Do not put collars on mares or tail tracker tags on stallions. This is not necessary in the White Mountain HMA. It will require capture and will result in the shattering of the bands just to put on the collars and tail tags.
  5. Do not operate on the mares. Sterilized wild horses are no longer wild horses!
  6. Raise the AML of 79-100 in Little Colorado to a genetically viable number of 150-200 adult animals. Reduce livestock grazing. There are 6,000 cows with potentially 6,000 calves or 30,000 head of sheep in the two legally designated wild horse herd management areas!
  7. Collaborate with interested organizations and individuals to conduct the above field darting and record-keeping. (Data sheets are already compiled for over 200 of the White Mountain wild horses!)
  8. Save millions of taxpayer dollars and manage the herds on the range, living in freedom with their families.

Send your comments to:
Wild Horse and Burro Specialist
BLM Rock Springs Field Office
280 Highway 191 North
Rock Springs, Wyoming 82901
Fax: (307) 352-0329

Electronic comments must be sent to the following email address to be considered:
BLM _WY_ whitemtn _littleco _ hma@blm.gov
(Include “White Mountain & Little Colorado EA Comments” in the subject line.)

Here are the links to the BLM Scoping Letter and Documents.



Please do what you can! This is nothing more than a wild horse extermination plan dressed up as a research project. Time is short – send your comments by day’s end Thursday, January 14. Thanks!

Happy Trails!

The Cloud Foundation

Cloud’s 19th Birthday

Wish Cloud a happy birthday!

Cloud was born wild on a beautiful Memorial Day morning in 1995. He came tottering out of the trees in front of my camera with mother Phoenix, his family and Raven, the band stallion and father pulling up the rear.

Join the celebration; light a candle.

The Cloud Foundation
107 South 7th St
Colorado Springs, CO 80905

On the Road for Wild Horses in Wyoming and Utah

North Lander mustangs behind bars.

Dear Friends of our Wild Horses and Burros:
At the end of January, I accompanied TCF Board Member and Advocate Extraordinaire, Lisa Friday, on a trip to both Rock Springs, Wyoming and the Onaqui Herd Management Area southwest of Salt Lake City, Utah. After we landed in Salt Lake, we hit the road northeast to Rock Springs.

The next morning we visited the Rocks Springs Short Term Holding Corrals near the Bureau of Land Management Office on the north side of town. Over 600 wild horses are currently confined in dirt corrals with virtually no protection from the weather, which frequently includes biting winds out of the west and winter temperatures below zero. From the public viewing platform we stood on the lee side of a sign to get out of the brisk wind and to watch the once-wild horses below us.

Some from the North Lander Wyoming herd have been here since late 2012; however, most are the Salt Wells Wild Horses captured two months ago. Hundreds of mares, some with foals, were crowded in corrals with little opportunity to run or to get out of the wind.

An hour later, we were sitting in a meeting with BLM District Manager, Mark Storzer, and Resource Advisor, Kimberlee Foster.  Lisa and I were there to get acquainted and to encourage the BLM to accept our help in constructing wind breaks for the horses. It was a good meeting with a respectful conversation and we felt that the BLM might be open to our offer to help protect horses that could be incarcerated in this feedlot style facility for years.

“Short Term Holding” areas used to be just that. Horses would be corralled, freeze branded, given their shots and males would be gelded. Then younger animals would be made available for adoption in Rock Springs and elsewhere. Older animals used to be released back on the range but in recent years have been removed and sent to long-term pastures. But the long-term pasture areas are full now and adoptions are down as well. Unfortunately, this has not deterred the aggressive BLM helicopter roundups in lieu of bait trapping and use of the safe, dartable, reversible, and effective PZP vaccine.

Lisa and I are trying to make the best of a bad situation, offering ideas to make the multi-year confinement of these once wild, freedom-loving animals more humane.  Although we felt good about our visit with Mark and Kimberlee, the National Office will have to approve our offer of help. As yet, I have been unable to get a call back from Wild Horse and Burro Chief, Joan Guilfoyle.  As I have often contended, the field people on the local level want to do what is best for the animals, but do not always have the authority to act or the support of their bosses. I hope this is not the case with the Rock Springs Corral situation. Also, I have not been able to meet with Interior Secretary Sally Jewel to make the case for less costly and more humane management of our remaining wild horse and burro herds.

The uplifting part of our Wyoming journey included an afternoon drive up on the snowy White Mountain Wild Horse loop just north of Rock Springs.  After a dozen misidentifications (“Sage” and “rock” horses are abundant in White Mountain!) we found our first real wild horse band a half mile or so off a drifted side road. I tried to walk closer to the small band, but found myself knee deep in the slabby drifts that held me up one second and gave way to my weight the next. I had to settle for distant images.

We spotted a couple of bachelors wandering nearby and one handsome fellow did us a favor by walking across the road 100 yards in front of the car. He stopped to eat some snow, casually glancing our way before he ambled on.

mustangs2The next sighting was near the end of the loop. A band of 10 wild horses were foraging close to the road. Trailing the band was a Curly bachelor stallion. The big sorrel had a wavy mane, tail and coat, characteristics of this rare and hardy breed.

Jay D’Ewart, the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Specialist for the herd, confirmed that there were still some Curlies in the area and he had released a Curly stallion in the last roundup. We watched the horses interact with each other and nibble for scant bits of grass. I know both Lisa and I felt privileged to spend time with these rugged survivors.

We drove back to Salt Lake and the next morning we met Utah Wild Horse and Burro Lead Gus Warr, Public Information Officer Lisa Reid, Field Manager Bekee Hotze, and Wrangler Tami Howell. They were kind enough to take the time to show us a wild horse herd management area called Onaqui, adjacent to the Army’s Dugway Proving Ground. From November through February the 250 wild horses share their home range with over 800 head of cattle.

Typical of cattle use, the black cows were in the low valleys but the mustangs were mostly on the high hills and the BLM led us to over 40 wild horses in multiple bands. The view and the colorful mustangs were breathtaking!

There were pintos of various shades, bays, blacks, grays, palominos, grullos and sorrels. They raced across the hillside below us with the open valleys and distant mountain ranges beyond. I expected them to keep running but they slowed and started to graze. With Lisa Reid’s encouragement we walked slowly toward them and set up our camera. They stared at us curiously and then continued foraging. What perfect candidates for field darting using the reversible, one-year vaccine, PZP.

Several months ago I chatted with Lisa Reid about beginning “on the range management” of wild horses in Utah, with the ultimate goal of balancing reproduction with mortality, thereby allowing all foals born to live their lives in freedom. To our surprise, Gus and Lisa, along with Bekee and Tami, had already begun formulating plans to dart the mares to limit reproduction to mortality.

mustangs3We were thrilled to hear this and offered our help in making this minimally invasive technique a reality.  It is our hope that Onaqui will prove to be the first of many such agency-wide efforts to end the stock-piling of wild horses in costly, tax payer funded corrals and pastures and to allow them to live in freedom.

If the National BLM Office supports the Utah initiative, there will be an Environmental Assessment (EA) developed, which the public can read and comment on. We will let you all know if and when this EA is available for comment and we hope that many of you will support this effort by BLM to manage the wild horses without helicopter roundups and life-long confinement.

Thanks Lisa Friday for sharing this journey with me and for being such a dedicated advocate on behalf of mustang freedom. And thanks to all of you for your support of our efforts to keep wild horses safe with their families on their home ranges in the West!

Happy Trails!

The Cloud Foundation
107 South 7th St
Colorado Springs, CO 80905

Action Alert! Urge Rejection of the Grazing Improvement Act of 2013

Please call your Senators on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and ask them to REJECT the Grazing Improvement Act of 2013 (S. 258).  This bill if passed would:

1. Limit public review of grazing decisions by excluding permit renewals from NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) analysis.

2. Double the term on grazing permits from 10 to 20 years.

3. Give the BLM, the Forest Service, and others the complete and exclusive authority on review of grazing permits.

Over 265 million acres of lands already degraded by millions of head of welfare cattle and sheep may suffer even more with the passage of this inappropriately named Act. The only thing this Act might “improve” is the ability of welfare ranchers to have increased influence over the management of OUR public lands.

The bill could be voted on in committee on Thursday, November 21st, so make your voice heard today. If passed, wild horses and burros, already marginalized on these lands, could suffer even more, as would all other wildlife that share our public lands.

Sheep_1Pressure from private “welfare” ranchers on public lands drives brutal helicopter roundups and removals of federally protected wild horses and burros.  Even on designated wild horse lands, 82% of forage is allocated to livestock leaving only 18% for wild horses and burros. Don’t give them more power!

Contact Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, who chairs the Committee. Politely urge Senator Wyden to kill this bill. He has the authority to deny a vote in the committee he chairs.

Other states represented on Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources: OR, SD, LA, WA, VT, MI, CO, MN, WV, HI, NM, WI, AK, WY, ID, UT, NV, AZ, SC, TN, OH, ND.

Go to Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Of those members of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Mary Landrieu (LA), Bernard Sanders (VT), Brian Schatz (HI), Martin Heinrich (NM), and Tammy Baldwin (WI) are co-sponsors of S. 541 – the SAFE ACT to prevent the resurgence of horse slaughter in the United States. These Senators might be more likely to vote against the bill if encouraged by the public to do so.

Please take action now. Our wild horses and burros need your voice!

For more information on the Federal Grazing Program visit our website at:

The Cloud Foundation
107 South 7th St
Colorado Springs, CO 80905

Press Conference to Address Horse Welfare Issues Will Be Held on Opening Day of International Equine Conference

September 18, 2013 – Lexington, Kentucky (EWA) – The Third Annual International Equine Conference, hosted by the Equine Welfare Alliance, will be held September 27-29 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky.

On the opening day of the conference, Friday September 27, horse welfare organizations will come together to hold a special press conference to provide expert information on equine welfare to the media and advocates that cannot attend the full conference.

Michael Blowen, owner and founder of Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Facility, will open the press conference. Participating in the press conference will be key individuals from The Equine Welfare Alliance, Respect4Horses, the Cloud Foundation, Wild Horse Freedom Federation, Wild Horses of the Abacos, and the Humane Society of the United States.

The press conference will cover the potential re-opening of horse slaughter plants in America, BLM’s mismanagement of America’s wild horses and burros, horse tripping, the over breeding of horses and other current issues pertaining to equine welfare.

Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm
1841 Paynes Depot Road
Georgetown, KY

Friday, September 27, 2013 from 11:00a to 12:00p

All press, media and public are welcome to attend the Press conference. Refreshments will be served.  Please be seated at 11:00a.

After the Press Conference, the three day International Equine conference will continue with a tour of Three Chimneys farm in Midway, Kentucky, Old Friends Farm and a meet and greet reception at 7:00p at The Kentucky Horse Park. On Saturday, presentations will commence and will end on Sunday. The soon to be released documentary “America’s Wild Horses” will also be previewed at the International Equine Conference.

For the agenda, list of presenters, additional information or to register, please visit www.equinewelfarealliance.org.

The Equine Welfare Alliance is a dues free, all volunteer 501(c)(4) umbrella organization representing over 300 member organizations and over 1,000 individual members worldwide in 21 countries. EWA and its members are involved in a grass roots effort dedicated to ending the slaughter of American Horses and the preservation and protection of our Wild Horses & Burros on public lands. www.equinewelfarealliance.org

Respect4Horses is a horse welfare organization whose goals include providing information and documentation to educate the public, the media and legislators in order to promote changes in legislation in regards to current horse welfare issues such as horse slaughter and the roundups of our last remaining wild horses and burros. www.respect4horses.com

Wild Horse Freedom Federation is a registered, Texas non-profit corporation with federal 501(c)(3) status.  WHFF puts people between America’s wild equids and extinction through targeted litigation against governmental agencies whose documented agendas include the eradication of wild horse and burros from public, federal and state lands.  www.wildhorsefreedomfederation.org

The Cloud Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of wild horses and burros on our western public lands with a focus on Cloud’s herd in the Arrowhead Mountains of Montana. www.thecloudfoundation.org

Old Friends is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization providing a dignified retirement to Thoroughbreds whose racing and breeding careers have come to an end. By promoting these one-time celebrated horses through a campaign of education and tourism, we hope to raise awareness of all equines in need.  www.oldfriendsequine.org

The Wild Horses of Abaco organization is dedicated to saving the Wild Horses of Abaco, the world’s most endangered breed with only one mare, Nunki, remaining. Abaco is the northernmost of the larger Bahama Islands located of the southeast Florida coast of the United States.  http://arkwild.org/blog/

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization, rated the most effective by its peers. Since 1954, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. We rescue and care for tens of thousands of animals each year, but our primary mission is to prevent cruelty before it occurs. We’re there for all animals, across America and around the world. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty – on the Web at humanesociety.org.


Simone Netherlands, Respect4Horses

John Holland

Ft. McDermitt Unbranded Wild Horses Saved

Team effort secures a future for slaughter bound mustangs

RENO, Nev. (August 23, 2013) – On Wednesday, US District Court Judge, Miranda Du, lifted a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) which allowed for the sale of 149 unbranded wild horses captured by the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe in northern Nevada. Realizing that these unbranded wild horses were likely bound for slaughter in Canada and Mexico, Ginger Kathrens of The Cloud Foundation (TCF) reached out to Victoria McCullough of the Triumph Project in Wellington, Florida. McCullough in turn asked Florida State Senator Joseph Abruzzo to begin negotiating with the tribe and an offer was accepted today.

Behind the scenes, this effort was a collaboration of not only the Cloud Foundation but other organizations committed to horse protection. These include Suzanne Roy and Deniz Bolbol of American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), Ellie Phipps Price, a northern California businesswoman, Madeleine Pickens of Saving America’s Mustang, Jim Hart of Liberty for Horses, Sally Summers of Horse Power, and Neda DeMayo of Return to Freedom, who agreed to provide homes for the 149 animals, which includes 16 mares with foals.

“What an incredible, collaborative effort by all involved,” said Ginger Kathrens. “Acting as a team, and with Victoria’s tremendous support, we are able ensure a future for mustangs that were a heartbeat away from a long journey to slaughter.”

Through the collaborative efforts of the wild horse advocacy groups, and private parties, the purchase of all 149 wild horses has been negotiated. The horses will be going to their permanent and temporary homes in California and Nevada today and tomorrow.

This purchase would not have been necessary if the US Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) weren’t negligent in their duties to protect wild horses and burros as charged by the 1971 Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act. The Wild Horse & Burro Act imposes criminal liability for “willfully” removing wild horses from public lands converting wild horses to private use, maliciously causing the harassment of a wild horse or selling a wild horse on private land. This entire roundup should have been stopped by the BLM and USFS until they determined that no wild horses would be included. Instead, the very agencies charged with protecting our wild horses turned their backs.

Initially the USFS planned to bankroll the helicopter roundup of horses from USFS, BLM and reservation land and transport of horses to a slaughter auction, but the USFS issued a “stand down” when TCF, AWHPC, Return to Freedom, and Western Watersheds threatened to file suit for noncompliance with environmental regulations and violation of first amendment rights. Unfortunately the tribe proceeded with the roundup and removal with the intention of selling all the horses at the Fallon Auction house, known for selling to kill buyers.

Both the USFS and tribal members claimed that all the horses were domestic and owned by the tribe, but after examining each of the 467 horses, 149 were discovered to be unbranded. Under the 1971 Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act, “wild free-roaming horses and burros” means all unbranded and unclaimed horses and burros on public lands of the United States. The horses were rounded up in an area only a few miles from the Little Owyhee Herd Management Area, and many were driven onto the reservation from federal land with BLM and Forest Service approval.

“The entire deal was fraught with subterfuge. Had it not been for the secret leaking out, all of the horses rounded up would have been transported to a slaughter auction at taxpayer expense,” states Kathrens. “This is a blatant misuse of American taxpayer dollars. With 80% of Americans opposed to slaughter, why should taxpayer dollars be used to fulfill this action?”

Over 300 branded horses were sold at auction on Saturday. Approximately 150 were purchased by local residents and rescue groups, the remainder were purchased by kill buyers.

The Cloud Foundation
107 South 7th St
Colorado Springs, CO 80905

Hide and Go Seek: An Intern’s Quest to Find Horses in White Mountain

Gladiator on left and Ender on right.

Dear Wild Horse and Burro Fans,
This past weekend my friend Rachel Reeves and I headed to the White Mountain herd near Rock Springs, Wyoming. We had emailed about it for months, but I had only met Rachel in person once before and my excitement grew as we started the drive.

We arrived Saturday morning and right away we saw Rachel’s favorite horse Gladiator. Rachel’s been documenting these horses since 2011 and is very knowledgeable about their history. The dominant color in White Mountain is sorrel and I was in awe of Rachel as she identified their subtle differences in order to ID each band. It’s not like the Pryors where there’s a good chance that you’ll see the band later in your trip. Often we needed to ID the bands quickly from a distance before they had enough of us and moved away.

We were lucky Saturday morning, for another bachelor named Ender joined Gladiator and soon they were making their way to harass some of the band stallions in the area. Ender especially would not give up on one mare. At one point she had at least six different stallions after her. She was cranky and the constant attention did nothing to improve her mood. Even when her own stallion tried to snake her away she would kick at him. He would then be forced to confront the stallions himself.

Eventually, we tore ourselves away in the hope of finding more horses. Later in the day we did find some horses peering at us behind the sea of tall sage. I think this is a typical behavior for these horses. The horses are tall enough to see above the sage, and the sage is tall enough to make a barrier between them and the perceived threat. They can either then decide to leave or stay put. Rarely do they get closer. As the sun set, we said goodnight to the bands and headed to camp.

One of the more relaxed bands at sunset
One of the more relaxed bands at sunset

The next morning, on the way out we spent a couple of hours with the horses we had seen the previous day.  I was beginning to get a handle on some of the names, but it was easiest to ID horses that are Curly. It’s one of the things that make the herd unique. As much fun as it is to visit a new herd it is underscored with a slight feeling of sadness.  For such a large HMA there did not seem to be as many horses as I would have expected. Yet, the BLM is determined to make this herd non-reproducing.

The math does not add up. The White Mountain Horses bring tourists to Rock Springs, so the BLM should work to enhance the herd, not limit it. Many of the bands had only one foal and some mares had lost their foals since Rachel was last there. Clearly PZP and natural selection have been working well for this herd. I would like to see the herd become more publicized and the BLM needs to commit more to the White Mountain horses. At the very least, the BLM needs to add more signage to promote the herd. Not just for the horses, but for the community of Rock Springs. Until that happens I will take all the time with the White Mountain horses I can get and I will enjoy telling stories about the amazing experiences I do get to have.

Livi Martin

Livi Martin is a natural resource student at the University of Minnesota, Crookston. Before studying at Crookston, she called Burnsville, Minnesota her home. She visited the Pryors for the first time as a teenager and is now interning at TCF. She started her internship in May and will be heading home in August.

The Cloud Foundation
107 South 7th St
Colorado Springs, CO 80905