Tag Archives: Equine Protection

BLM Targets One of the Last Two Herds in New Mexico

Photo credit ©GingerKathrens.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) New Mexico has wiped out nearly 75% of the original wild horse habitat in the state. Now the agency plans to decimate one of the last two remaining herds – Bordo Atravesado – by removing 190 of the 230 wild horses living in the area.

PLEASE add your name to the list of people who stand against this systematic destruction of our wild herds.

BLM also plans to use Gonacon as fertility control on mares returned to the range. Studies show that Gonacon is likely permanent after just two applications. It effectively destroys the ovaries and therefore natural hormone production that drives natural, wild behaviors.

We need as many Americans ON RECORD opposing this extermination plan for the Bordo Atravesado horses as possible. Will you join us now? Please take a stand today — it takes less than a minute to add your name to the list of those who stand in resistance to BLM’s plan for our wild herds.

The Cloud Foundation
www.thecloudfoundation.org

BLM Plans Research on Wild Mares

Gaelic Princess, pictured in her Pryor Mountain home with Cloud’s blue roan son, Mato Ska.

When Ginger first visited wild horses, she fell in love with these magnificent animals and their natural, wild behaviors. Observing the sophisticated herd social structure and intimate interactions in wild horse families fascinates millions of people around the world.

We know and love lead mares, like Gaelic Princess. She was Mato Ska’s first lead mare and helped him understand the job of a good band stallion. Lead mares like Gaelic Princess help organize and direct the family band. They often decide when to head to water, when to rest, when it’s playtime (and when it’s not!).

One of the biggest threats to our beloved wild horses and burros is the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) pursuit of fertility control that is permanent and/or destroys the natural, wild behaviors that make wild horses who they are.

Today we’re asking you to PLEASE add your name to the list of people who stand against sterilizing our wild mares and destroying their natural wild behaviors.

Help us send the BLM a message — that We the People demand that all fertility control used in management of our wild horses be reversible and NOT destroy or interfere with their normal hormone production.

Please take a stand for them now, before we lose them forever.

Deadline for Public Comments: August 22, 2022

The Cloud Foundation
www.thecloudfoundation.org

Trigger’s Final Surprise, by Ginger Kathrens

A few short months ago, I got a surprise nighttime text and photos from our Freedom Family caretakers Jaime and Jeremy Wade. Mae West had a newborn foal. Knock me over with a feather.

Our aging stallion Trigger passed away last fall, and I imagined that with his death, there would be no more foals. Before he passed, we had darted Mae West (our only mare to foal in the past few years) with the safe and reversible fertility control PZP. But every once in a while, a mare will not respond to the vaccine. Mae sure fits into that category, but who can be sorry when the result is so beautiful?

Last week, great friends of The Cloud Foundation, Cynthia Smoot, her husband Bill Weller, and their friend Karen traveled east with me to visit our “Freedom Family” mares and our still unnamed filly. She is bold as brass and gave Bill a chance to nearly touch the wild!

Would you help us name her? We want to have a naming contest. When you make a donation of any size to help us support the Freedom Family, you can submit one name to be considered for Trigger’s ‘last surprise.’

With a father named Trigger, mom Mae West, and sisters Josie and Calamity Jane, we hope you have fun coming up with a name for this little filly. As a thank you, we’ll send an autographed 8×10 photograph of her if your name is selected.

It truly takes a village to both keep wild horses in the wild and to keep our Freedom Family horses safe and protected in their Colorado home. Please consider helping us name this new member of the Freedom Family and making a donation to support our important work.

Submit your suggestions by next Sunday, August 21st to be considered.

Happy trails,
Ginger

The Cloud Foundation
www.thecloudfoundation.org

Soring, the Scar Rule, and Self-Regulation: GT’s Equine Industry Group Examines the HPA

Tennessee Walking Horse.

West Palm Beach, FL (August 9, 2022) – The Horse Protection Act (HPA), 15 U.S.C. § 1821 et seq., passed in 1970 and amended in 1976, outlaws the practice of horse “soring,” an inhumane practice of causing pain to horse’s foot or leg to produce a more desirable gait. “Soring” is defined as the application of any chemical (e.g., mustard oil or diesel fuel), mechanical agent (e.g., overweight chains), or practice (e.g., trimming a hoof to expose the sensitive tissue) inflicted upon any limb of a horse that can cause or be expected to cause the horse to suffer physical pain or distress when moving.

The practice of soring is aimed at producing an exaggerated show gait for competition, and is primarily used in the training of Tennessee Walking Horses, racking horses, and related breeds. Although a similar gait can be obtained using selective breeding and humane training methods, soring achieves this accentuated gait with less effort, and over a shorter time frame. An individual showing a “sored” horse has an unfair competitive advantage over individuals showing horses that are not sore. Under 15 U.S.C. § 1828, Congress empowered the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to promulgate regulations to implement the provisions of the HPA. The Secretary exercised this authority soon after HPA’s 1976 amendments and, through the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), issued regulations governing inspections to detect the use of devices, equipment, and chemical substances designed to cause soring (9 C.F.R. § 11.1, et seq.). Section 11.1 permits horse industry organizations (HIOs), defined as “organized group[s] of people, having a formal structure, who are engaged in the promotion of horses through the showing, exhibiting, sale, auction, registry, or any activity which contributes to the advancement of the horse,” to hire and license private individuals known as designated qualified persons (DQPs) to perform soring inspections, enforce penalties, and administer appeals of those penalties. The regulations provide certain minimum licensing requirements, and DQPs must be either veterinarians with equine experience or “[f]arriers, horse trainers, and other knowledgeable horsemen” with relevant experience that are trained and licensed by an HIO. See § 11.7.

In two cases decided in 2016 and 2020, the HPA’s regulatory system for detecting and preventing horse soring came under scrutiny and criticism. The first case is McSwain v. Vilsack, 2016 WL 4150036 (N.D. Ga, May 25, 2016), which involved a regulation promulgated by the Secretary of the USDA in 1979 known as the “Scar Rule.” A horse is “sore” under the Scar Rule if it shows signs of previous soring. The Scar Rule sets forth criteria for an examiner to determine whether any scar tissue on the horse is a result of impermissible soring rather than normal wear and tear. In McSwain, Plaintiffs Keith and Dan McSwain sued the Secretary and the USDA, alleging that the Defendants had disqualified their prize Tennessee Walking Horse, “Honors,” on multiple occasions under an unwritten “once-scarred-always-scarred” rule, in which a prior disqualification under the Scar Rule is used as a basis to disqualify the horse in subsequent competitions. Plaintiffs claimed that application of a “once-scarred-always-scarred” rule effectively ends a horse’s career without any due process, since disqualification under the Scar Rule is not subject to challenge or review. This result, claimed Plaintiffs, can be much harsher than the penalties provided under 15 U.S.C. § 1825, which require notice and an opportunity for a hearing. In granting Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction, the court held that the Plaintiffs had a constitutionally protected interest in showing Honors without unreasonable government interference, and enjoined Defendants from disqualifying Honors under the Scar Rule without providing Plaintiffs an adequate pre-deprivation process, including notice and the opportunity to be heard.

The second case scrutinizing the HPA’s regulatory system is Humane Society of the United States v. United States Department of Agriculture, 2020 WL 4286826 (D.C., July 27, 2020). In Humane Society, Plaintiffs brought an action for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging various violations of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) in connection with a proposed, but never published, HPA regulation known as the “2017 Rule.” The 2017 Rule grew out of a 2010 report issued by the USDA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG), concluding that APHIS’ program for inspecting horses for soring was not adequate to ensure that the animals were not being abused. The report recommended that APHIS abolish the DQP program and instead provide independent, accredited veterinarians to perform inspections at sanctioned shows. In 2016, APHIS published a proposed rule that would replace the HIO-administered scheme with USDA-licensed inspectors, and prohibit certain devices, equipment, and foreign substances with no legitimate purpose other than to cause horse soring. Under the proposed rule, APHIS would train and license DQPs to inspect horses at horse shows, exhibitions, sales, and auctions for compliance with the HPA. On Jan. 11, 2017, the proposed rule was sent to the Office of Federal Register (OFR) for publication as a final rule.

However, on Jan. 20, 2017, President Trump’s chief of staff issued a memorandum directing all agencies to immediately withdraw any rule that had not yet been published in the Federal Register. Because the proposed rule had not yet been published, the USDA sent a letter to the OFR requesting that it be withdrawn from the public docket. The court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss all the Plaintiffs’ claims, holding that Plaintiffs lacked standing since they failed to allege any injury stemming from withdrawal of the 2017 Rule; neither the APA nor the caselaw prevented agencies from withdrawing rules prior to publication in the Federal Register.

The U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF), the sole national governing body for equestrian sport, self regulates the welfare of horses within the 11 breeds that it recognizes, as well as horses within three unrecognized breeds that participate in USEF-licensed competition. USEF’s General Rule 839 (4)(o) addresses soring in connection with Tennessee Walking Horses, Rack Horses, and Spotted Saddle Horses (breeds not recognized by USEF), and states that “[s]oring and/or the use of an action device on any limb of a Tennessee Walking Horse, Racking Horse, or Spotted Saddle Horse. . . in any class at a Federation Licensed Competition is prohibited.” The term “action device” is defined broadly and is consistent with the definition provided in the HPA. Rule General Rule 839 (4)(p) prohibits “[s]oring of any horse” and defines soring as “including but not limited to the application of caustic chemicals to a horse’s legs or hooves, in order to cause pain and/or affect a horse’s performance, and/or used as a training technique.”

Similar to the HPA’s notice and hearing provisions, USEF has a grievance procedure for athletes wishing to challenge a denial or threatened denial to participate in competition due to rule violations. While USEF’s rules do not appear to have a complementary provision to the Scar Rule, the soring prohibitions under the HPA and USEF’s regulatory scheme are intended to be complementary. USEF states on its website that it supports both the HPA and the USDA regulations designed to implement the Act’s provisions. However, one of the findings in the USDA’s 2010 OIG report discussed in Humane Society was that DQPs were reluctant to issue violations, since excluding horses from shows inconvenienced their employers, and made it less likely that they would be hired for other shows. Given the withdrawal of the 2017 Rule, detractors might criticize the HPA and USEF’s rules as allowing the horse industry to regulate itself, and as failing to prohibit certain devices, equipment, and foreign substances that have no purpose other than to cause horse soring. It remains to be seen whether the USDA will seek to resurrect some form of the 2017 Rule, and how the caselaw under the HPA will develop.

Media contact:
Equinium Sports Marketing, LLC
Holly Johnson
holly@equinium.com
www.equinium.com

Help Stop BLM Plan to Remove 75% of Utah’s Cedar Mountain Wild Horses

The situation facing America’s wild horses and burros is dire.

Congress is beholden to the livestock industry and is set to continue increased funding for roundups in 2023. On top of that, they’ve allocated $11 million more for fertility control. This would be a win IF the BLM weren’t using Gonacon, an injection which, based on BLM research, may permanently sterilize mares after just 2 injections.

What can we do to stop this?

There is no easy answer. One thing we cannot do is give up. Most Americans want our wild horses managed humanely on the range. Will you be one who speaks up for them now?

Silence is complicity… and Utah’s Cedar Mountain wild horses need us now. As Americans, we have a right and a duty to voice opposition when the government is wrong. Every Cloud Foundation alert, like this one, gives us an opportunity to say: we will NOT shut up; we will continue to fight for these animals that we love and their right to live wild and free.

Please take 30 seconds to add your name and stand up for them now.  Deadline for public comments: July 28, 2022.

The Cloud Foundation
www.thecloudfoundation.org

HISA Implementation

The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) has been preparing to implement the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act on July 1, 2022.

There has been an unclear implementation of rules related to the Act. On June 27, seven-term U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the second-most senior member of the United States Senate, sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission and HISA demanding answers to questions about their failure to comply with the enabling federal legislation’s deadline of July 1 for implementation.

Read Sen. Grassley’s letter here.

Sen. Grassley and three other senators, Joni Ernst of Iowa, John Kennedy of Louisiana, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, are asking for clarification and explanation about HISA’s ability to meet the July 1 deadlines. The senators’ letter points out that neither the FTC nor HISA have the authority to extend the deadline.

While at this time, HISA has indicated that only Thoroughbreds will be covered under the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, the Authority’s intent is to include all breeds in the future.

It is important that members of the horse racing industry who have concerns regarding the implementation of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act contact their representatives to voice their opinion and let their representatives know of Sen. Grassley’s inquiry.

To find your representatives, visit www.congress.gov/members/find-your-member and enter your zip code.

American Quarter Horse Association
1600 Quarter Horse Drive
Amarillo, TX 79104

What in the World Is Happening with Wild Horses?

Photo: Cloud’s Pride, Pryor Mountains. Credit: ©ErinPhillips – https://mustangmission.blogspot.com.

In a landmark move, legislators led by the heroic Dina Titus (NV) and Steve Cohen (TN) called for an oversight hearing on the Bureau of Land Management.

Friends, this is something the Cloud Foundation and our advocacy colleagues have been pushing for since 2019 when the hideous Path Forward was first revealed!

Change does not happen quickly (especially when the government is involved). Social Justice movements take time, and they are often a dance — one step forward and two steps back.

But over time movement happens, as long as we NEVER, EVER give up.

In other happy news, the SAFE Act has been given forward momentum out of Committee. It hasn’t passed yet, but this is a big step forward in ending the gruesome equine slaughter trade between US kill buyers and slaughter plants across our borders.

The Cloud Foundation also continues to investigate the situation in the Piceance-East Douglas Herd Management Area of Colorado. In 2015 we sued to stop the last large removal in this HMA and the zeroing out of the entire West Douglas herd. Unfortunately, the court decided against us.

Colorado Governor Polis, First Gentleman Marlon Reis, and Representative Joe Neguse remain staunch supporters of Colorado’s wild horses. They’re not giving up and neither are we. We are in touch with local advocates who know the range inside and out, and who have the Piceance horses’ best interests at heart.

Thank you for all of your support! Our founder Ginger Kathrens started this work in the 1990s when she first stepped onto the Pryor Wild Horse Range and met a striking black stallion named Raven — father to the indomitable Cloud. Three decades later, her work has expanded to impact the world and her organization has become a leading voice in the fight to save all of America’s wild horses and burros.

We will ALWAYS keep fighting!

The Cloud Foundation
www.thecloudfoundation.org

Oppose BLM’s Disaster Plan for Utah’s Bible Spring Complex Wild Horses

Based on the nearly 40-year-old “Framework Plan” created in 1983, the Bureau of Land Management Utah plans to remove more than 750 of the 831 wild horses they claim live in the Bible Springs Complex in southwestern Utah.  Of course, BLM continues to authorize livestock grazing in Blawn Wash HMA.

The BLM’s plan leaves behind just 70 wild horses in an area where the agency permits over 8x more commercial livestock grazing. BLM plans to use Gonacon, IUDs, sex ratio skewing, and sterilization on horses left on the range.

If you are SICK and TIRED of BLM’s mismanagement of wild horses, please take action today. Deadline for public comments: June 17, 2022.

Silence is complicity — it is wholly American to voice opposition when the government is wrong.

Every alert, like this one, gives us an opportunity to say: We will NOT shut up; we will continue to fight for what is right.

Please take a moment to say “No.”  Please use YOUR voice now — speak up against the inhumane management of Utah’s Bible Spring Complex herd.

The Cloud Foundation
www.thecloudfoundation.org

Honoring Cloud, Wild Stallion of the Rockies

Cloud ©GingerKathrens.

Happy Birthday, Cloud!

The magnificent stallion who taught millions the importance of being wild and free was born 27 years ago.

Today, we celebrate the indomitable spirit of Cloud. His courageous heart and wild spirit made millions fall in love with wild mustangs in Ginger Kathrens’ first documentary: Cloud, Wild Stallion of the Rockies.

This year, perhaps more than EVER, we are very aware of the dangers facing our wild horses and burros. Massive government roundups tear wild families apart; horses are injured and killed, and holding facilities have become breeding grounds for disease.

The Cloud Foundation was created by Ginger to fight for wild families like Cloud’s. It’s a difficult battle against the behemoth that is the federal government, but we won’t EVER give up.

Today, on the magnificent Cloud’s birthday, we’re asking for your help, if you can. For as little as $5/month you can join our herd as a Cloud Foundation sponsor — OR you can choose to give $10, $25, $50, or more.

Legal Action

Lawsuits are often the only way to stop the WORST BLM plans. TCF has won many suits over the years on our own and in collaboration with other groups. In 2017, we sued to stop a roundup in the Pryor Mountains, and more recently, we succeeded in halting the barbaric ovariectomy experiments planned for the Warm Springs mares in Oregon.

Lawsuits are SO expensive. We need to keep our legal fund robust in order to fight future BLM actions.

Educating members of Congress

Most legislators hear only from the BLM and livestock lobby. Congress was sold a terrible plan for mass removals, which is what is now driving the destruction of our wild herds.

We must teach our legislators that wild horses and burros are not overpopulated on public lands, but commercial livestock sure are. We are carrying the message that wild horses and burros deserve their fair share on the range, and we’re NOT giving up.

Cloud and his mother, Phoenix, shortly after he was born. Photo by Ginger Kathrens.

Careful documentation of Cloud’s herd

Ginger Kathrens has worked tirelessly for 3 decades to educate the public about wild horses. TCF takes an active interest in the management of the Pryor mustangs, and fights for them and for all our wild herds.

We fight for fair allocation of forage, humane on-range management, and protecting their wild behaviors, which means no fertility control that would affect natural hormone production.

Rescue Operations and the Freedom Family

TCF provides sanctuary for the “Freedom Family,” a rescued band of Pryor mustangs saved after the horrible 2009 helicopter roundup.

We also partner with our allies in equine rescue to save mustangs and burros in danger when we can. Rescue operations are costly, but every single life is important.

Regular news and action alerts

We work hard to ensure you have the opportunity to speak out against bad BLM plans. As Americans, we have the RIGHT and RESPONSIBILITY to participate in our government. It is one of the most important things we can do to protect our wild horses and burros.

Supporting TCF is easy. If you can’t give monthly, consider a one-time donation. Every contribution quite literally makes a difference.

Thank you so much for all you do.

The Cloud Foundation team
www.thecloudfoundation.org

The Cloud Foundation Calls for Independent Investigation and Moratorium on Roundups

The Cloud Foundation (TCF) is urging Federal legislators and Colorado State officials to convene an independent investigation into how an illness has now killed almost 150 captured wild horses at BLM’s Canyon City holding facility.

We are calling for a moratorium on ALL wild horse and burro roundups until the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) can ensure the animals’ health and safety off the range.

BLM officials claim the horse deaths are attributable to equine influenza virus H3N8. We are demanding answers as to how the virus entered the facility and ravaged one specific herd – the West Douglas horses – with such devastating effect.

“These are the American public’s wild horses; they don’t belong to the BLM,” stated Ginger Kathrens, Founder and Board President of The Cloud Foundation. “Secrecy breeds suspicion and doubt. Due to a long history of not being transparent, how can we trust the BLM to be unbiased while investigating itself?”

Read more here.

The Cloud Foundation
www.thecloudfoundation.org