Ginger filming Cloud and Family, May 2014 ~ photo by R. T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation.
“It’s a first and a long time in coming. Internationally acclaimed cinematographer and wild horse advocate Ginger Kathrens has finally been appointed to sit on the BLM’s Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board. Ginger and other advocates have attempted to be a voice for the wild horses and burros in the past but have been inexplicably passed over, but not this round. The BoD of Wild Horse Freedom Federation would like to express their congratulations to Ginger and sincerely hope that her sage advice will be listened to and acted upon by the other members of the board. Job well done.”
~ R. T. Fitch
Dear Friends of Cloud and our Freedom Fund horses;
As many of you may or may not know, Cloud’s birthday is fast approaching! On May 29th, he will celebrate his “Sweet 16th.” It’s hard to believe that so much time has elapsed since I first saw him totter out of the trees with his mother! He has endured a lot over the years – harsh winters, predation, three helicopter roundups, bait trapping, and the loss of many members of his family. But he has survived and is still one of the top stallions in the Pryor Mountains, just like his father, Raven, was years earlier, and like his son, Bolder, is today. We hope you’ll take the time to wish him a “Happy Birthday” this Sunday!
On a separate, less celebratory note, our sweet Freedom Fund mare, Sierra, was injured and is now at the vet’s office in Billings. A tiny, quarter-sized puncture wound just above her hoof slowly turned infectious, and Sierra began limping. She had an operation two weeks ago to clean out the infected area, but she will need a second operation in order to clean out necrotic cartilage. She’s a smart girl and has been very calm throughout the whole experience. The vet techs are in love with her, and have taught her how to lead and to stay calm while the veterinarian changes her bandages. We’re very proud of how she is handling all this. As you can imagine, the cost for her treatment is quite high.
Dear Friends & Supporters,
It’s a great day for the mustangs! Yesterday afternoon, Congressman Dan Burton (R-IN) went on the floor of Congress with an amendment to a voice vote to cut the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro budget by $2 million dollars.
It was voted on and approved! This is HUGE news and is sure to send a message to agency officials that the American people will not let their actions go unnoticed.
“Indiana Republican Dan Burton says his amendment is intended to send a signal to agency officials that most Americans want the mustangs treated more humanely on public lands across the West,” as told to the Associated Press.
Please be sure to write to Rep. Burton and thank him for going out of his way for our mustangs! Click here!
We also want you to see this powerful video created and produced by Ginger Kathrens of The Cloud Foundation. Please be advised that some of these images are disturbing, but unfortunately, that is the truth to these government roundups. Please watch all the way through.
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.
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.