The Cloud Foundation’s “Freedom Fund Benefit Auction” is now underway with many beautiful pieces of artwork as well as an exclusive wine tasting/tour at Durell Vineyards and more! Thank you to all who donated items to this auction and thank you for looking. The bidding ends Friday at 6pm MST. Please call the Cloud Foundation office at 719-633-3842 with any questions. Click here to visit the online auction and learn more about America’s wild horses and what you can do to protect them.
Introducing the Cloud Collection of Pendants
Photographer Deb Little created a wonderful set of eight glass pendants featuring Cloud and other horses of the Arrowhead Mountains. These exclusive pendants make wonderful presents for horse lovers of all ages and are available on handmade horsehair necklaces (no horses were harmed of course).
Dear Friends of our Wild Horses;
A year ago in September the BLM removed the family bands that roamed the Commissary Ridge area in the Custer National Forest, saying they were illegally grazing in this Pryor Mountains area. Their decision to remove ALL the horses in the Forest Service came at the 11th hour when there was no time to mount a protest. Their actions resulted in the removal of four bands led by the stallions Conquistador, Trigger, Bo, and Shane. The bands contained animals like Grumpy Grulla who was 21 years old and Conquistador, the magnificent 19-year-old stallion you may remember from the first Cloud film.
Because of an outpouring of donations from all across the country from generous wild horse lovers like you, the Cloud Foundation was able to adopt and buy the older members of the bands, keeping the families together and providing them with the freedom to roam on a beautiful ranch just north of their home in the Pryor Mountains. This spring three foals were born in Conquistador, Bo and Trigger’s bands. Diablo (Chalupa x Bo) and Diego (Cavelita x Conquistador) were born in April. Lovely Annie Oakley was born in early May to Mae West and Trigger. Our surprise gift arrived in August when Trigger’s mare, Evita, gave birth to little Pistol.
One year ago this week the BLM roundup of Cloud’s herd began and 57 wild horses in Cloud’s herd lost what they value most: their freedom and their families. It was only with your help and immediate action that people working with the Cloud Foundation were able to adopt and purchase four family bands after the disastrous roundup. Because of your generosity, Pistol lives with both his mother and his father – growing up as close to wild as possible.
I first filmed Pistol’s father, Trigger, when he was just a few days old for the National Geographic special “Horses”, so it was very special to meet Pistol at this age – he looks very much like his father did! Trigger is the only offspring of the stallion, Challenger, who was struck and killed by lightning in 1999, as portrayed in Cloud: Wild Stallion of the Rockies. With such a small herd now remaining in the wild, the removal of Trigger and his band is especially detrimental to the unique Spanish genetics of the Pryor Mountain herd.
It is my hope that Pistol and his sister will be allowed to return to the wild someday and continue Challenger and Trigger’s legacy.
Comments on BLM’s Plan to Extend Infertility Drug Use through 2015 Due by September 16th
Dear Cloud Supporters;
Mark your calendars. Comments regarding a five-year plan to continue the use of Porcine Zona Pellucida (PZP) infertility drugs on Pryor wild horse mares are due on September 16. The initial scoping letter from the Billings BLM was mailed on August 18.
As a result of aggressive infertility applications delivered via shots last fall and dart guns this spring, 52 mares on the mountain are cycling monthly (coming into estrous or heat), being bred, and defended by their band stallions.
Makendra and I were in the Pryors last week for 5 days and I witnessed more societal disruption than I have seen in over 16 years of documenting these horses. Currently, it is a herd in chaos. 60% of the 18 bands we observed have had some kind of disruption. Three band stallions have lost their families all together. Some band stallions have benefitted from the intense competition — like Cloud, who won a new mare. This high degree of disruption has taken place just since our last visit in July.
The Custer National Forest awarded a contract on August 6, 2010. It calls for the building of new, bigger, stronger, longer fence to prevent the Pryor Wild Horse Herd from grazing on their mid-summer through fall pastures atop their mountain home. The first question I am always asked is “Why?” To answer honestly, I am not sure what is pushing this kind of expensive and unwanted project. But, to even try to answer the question requires a bit of a history lesson.
The wild horses of the Pryor Mountains, known as the Arrowhead Mountains to the Crow Indians, have been documented as living in this area since the early 1800s. But, they probably have lived here for far longer. The Arrowheads were the sacred heart of Crow Indian country, and the Crow tribe possessed the largest horse herd in the West. The wild horses are likely descended of their treasured war ponies.
It is also likely that they are the descendants of the horses of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The famous explorers had traded for Shoshone and Nez Perce stock and on their return trip from the West Coast in 1806 they put Sgt. Nathaniel Pryor in charge of bringing the horses back to the Missouri River. While camped in the Arrowheads, the Crow Indians stole all the horses. The mountains were subsequently named for the hapless Sergeant.
BLM conducting a bloody 2000+ mustang and burro roundup
California doesn’t have many wild horses and very few wild burros left but that, along with a public outcry, has not stopped the Bureau of Land Management from rounding up thousands more of California’s wild equids. The BLM, responsible for managing most of the remaining wild horses and burros in ten Western States, are now running horses ten miles or more over rough volcanic terrain with helicopters. Horses bleeding from their noses in the thick dust, very young foals separated from their mothers, a mare with a broken leg and a colicking mare have been observed by a dedicated team of advocates observing the Twin Peaks roundup.
California has lost 16 of the original 38 wild horse herds designated for protection in 1971 and over 2/3 of the public land tagged for wild horses and burros has been taken away from these celebrated icons of the West. Now BLM is working fast to remove 1855 mustangs and 210 wild burros from the Twin Peaks area, just north of Susanville, California. The roundup is scheduled to last 45-60 days and BLM aims to leave only 450 mustangs and 72 burros on this 1250-square mile range, larger than the state of Rhode Island. Almost all the mares returned would be given infertility drugs and a mere 72 burros is not a genetically viable population in this beautiful area designated principally for their use. Over 32,000 privately-owned cattle and sheep are permitted to graze annually on the Twin Peaks area. Revenues generated yearly from livestock grazing fees are estimated at $120,000 while the cost of rounding up/processing of 1,980 wild horses and burros would be 35 times the annual grazing revenues – over $4 million. Over 38,000 wild horses are in government holding while less than half that remain on the range and BLM plans to complete the removal of 12,000 wild horses and burros this fiscal year alone.
Dear Friends of Cloud and the wild horses,
Makendra and I just returned from a great five days in the Pryors with the wild horses. We sighted band after band in the broad, flower-covered meadows near Tony Island and the Dryhead Overlook in the Custer National Forest. As is their pattern, the wild horses had migrated to this higher elevation area where show still dotted the slopes above a snow crater surrounded by boulders. The meadows have exploded with purple lupine in football sized flower beds. Due to cool temperatures and moisture the flowers were delayed and the height of the bloom coincided with our visit.
One of the first bands we saw was led by the grullo stallion, Lakota and, to our surprise, we discovered, he was a new father. The little dun colt, still unsteady on his legs, had clearly been born that morning to Mariah, Cloud’s palomino sister. Last month, I thought Mariah was just fat. Even after the birth she still looks alike a beach ball.
Dear Friends of America’s Wild Horses,
These are remarkably trying times, considering the recent deaths of our wild horses in the West. Despite a public outcry against the massive and dangerous roundups of these treasured animals, the Bureau of Land Management is pressing forward, leaving the broken bodies of our mustangs in their wake. When we have unpreventable disaster like earthquakes and hurricanes, it is indeed frustrating to watch a man-made disaster unfolding on our public lands in the West against innocent wild animals who only want to live in peace with their families.
Despite our anger at being ignored by the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management, we must not let our emotions get the best of us. Any thoughts of violent actions or illegal behavior of any kind need to be put out of our heads. Instead, we must focus on legal methods to make a difference. Here is what you can do right now, today, and for the weeks and months that follow.
We just returned from a wonderful week with the wild horses of the Pryor Mountains.
Abundant rain has turned the range emerald green. All the horses are fat, and most are sleek, except for a few yearlings who still have remnants of their scraggly winter coats. There were twenty-some babies atop the mountain, including a charming trio of foals sired by Cloud’s son, Bolder. I can’t help but remember another trio of foals 15 years ago, sired by the magnificent black stallion, Raven. His son, Cloud, was a leggy white foal who loved to pester his two sisters, Smokey and Mahogany, and make wild runs around the clusters of fir trees after sunset.
Makendra and I had just landed in Columbus this morning to begin the Equine Affaire weekend when I got the message that I was “a grandmother!” Not of a two-legged, but of a newborn bay four-legged.
Baerbel Stuetzle, manager of the ranch at the base of Pryors where our Freedom Fund horses live, had left me this message: “The bay mare in Bo’s band (Chalupa) foaled this morning to a very strong baby — very healthy.” Baerbel couldn’t tell if it is a boy or girl yet, but the foal was about three hours old when she snapped these pictures. What’s your best guess? Is it a boy or a girl?
The little one was born in the snow, but born with his or her family thanks to so many of you who donated to save them and keep the bands together. Bet this little one doesn’t know he or she has thousands of grandparents all around the country!
Once we know the sex, we will let you know and we think it would be fun if you kids out there (anyone 16 or younger) submit a name for the baby and we will choose the winning entry. Sound like fun?