Tag Archives: Mustangs

Wild Horses Transformed in Extreme Mustang Makeover at Jacksonville Equestrian Center

Marsha Hartford-Sapp and her Mustang partner Freedom (Photo courtesy of SDPhotography) 

Jacksonville, FL (May 13, 2016) – This past weekend, the Jacksonville Equestrian Center was host to genuine American Mustangs and their trainers as they showcased their newfound partnerships to a packed house. The Extreme Mustang Makeover, which is designed to test both human and horse for their ability to learn quickly and make the most out of a small period of time, was presented by the Mustang Heritage Foundation. Each participating trainer had just 100 days to transform a wild mustang into a star performer that would impress the judges and the crowd. Spectators then had the opportunity to bid on a piece of America’s equine heritage at the end of the competition.

Youth competitors adopted their Mustang partners before the event, and showed off how far they had come together in 100 days. Adult competitors auctioned off their Mustangs at the end of the Extreme Mustang Makeover weekend. The competition included classes such as Handling and Conditioning, Trail, and Freestyle. Adult competitors all vied to be selected to compete in the Top Ten Freestyle Finals that took place directly before the Mustang auction. A first place prize of $25,000 and a custom-made Gist belt buckle was at stake for the winner. Alongside nine other spectacular performances, Marsha Hartford-Sapp and her Mustang partner Freedom brought the crowd to their feet with a bridleless riding exhibition and other impressive acts. Hartford-Sapp and Freedom were named winner of the Extreme Mustang Makeover.

The Extreme Mustang Makeover is a unique event produced by the Mustang Heritage Foundation, a non-profit organization. Kyla Hogan, the director of marketing for the Mustang Heritage Foundation, explained, “The Mustang Heritage Foundation’s mission is, with the help of the Bureau of Land Management, to increase the rate of adoption of excess mustangs that are in holding facilities. We had 24 adults and 16 kids competing at the Extreme Mustang Makeover in Jacksonville.” This means 40 more wild Mustangs were transferred from holding facilities to good homes.

Dan Russell, who was onsite representing the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), explained, “The Extreme Mustang Makeover events show people that Mustangs are good horses. Mustangs are the horses that the original cowboys rode in the 1800s. There are roughly 50,000 horses on the range right now and an almost equal amount being cared for in holding facilities. They’re taken off the range into holding facilities for different reasons – forest fires, droughts, over-grazed land – and we’re just looking for somebody to give them good homes.”

Taylor McIntosh and Sonora (Photo courtesy of JRPR)
Taylor McIntosh and Sonora (Photo courtesy of JRPR)

Taylor McIntosh, the 2014 Extreme Mustang Makeover champion from just outside of Auburn, Alabama, made it into the Top Ten Freestyle Finals with his assigned Mustang, Sonora, at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center’s competition. McIntosh shares in the Mustang Heritage Foundation’s admiration of the strength of Mustangs’ spirits. “At first I did this to gain exposure, but now that I’m doing this for my third year I can really say it’s all for the love of the Mustang,” McIntosh shared. “Sonora is a smart horse – and that can be both a good and a bad thing – but she’d tried so hard at everything I asked her to learn. I love that about her.” McIntosh and Sonora’s Freestyle performance included McIntosh standing in the saddle, and Sonora lying down.

The youth trainers at the Extreme Mustang Makeover were as excited about the Mustangs as the adults, and also delivered impressive performances. After Ruthann Strickland competed with her adopted Mustang, two-year-old Battle Beau, she explained, “I did this because I wanted a challenge. I’ve never trained a horse before. I really like him, but he can be a handful! I love his personality. He’s a goof and can be very sassy – we’re working on that,” she laughed.

The Jacksonville Equestrian Center was thrilled to host the Extreme Mustang Makeover to help bring awareness to the public about the wild Mustangs and Mustang adoption. The Jacksonville Equestrian Center is known as a family-favorite destination for equestrian and recreational events all year long. The 80-acre facility is easily accessible from major highways in Jacksonville, and features an enormous indoor arena, outdoor arenas, and over 400 stalls. There are also miles of riding, hiking, and biking trails accessible from the Jacksonville Equestrian Center.

For more information and to find out about other upcoming events, visit www.jaxequestriancenter.com or call Penny Gorton at (904) 255-4227.

For more information, contact:
Jacksonville Equestrian Center
Penny Gorton 904-255-4227
13611 Normandy Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32221

Tickets Available Now for the Extreme Mustang Makeover at Jacksonville Equestrian Center

Jimbo Albritton and Penney (Photo courtesy of SDPhotography)

Jacksonville, FL (April 25, 2016) — With less than two weeks to go until the start of the Extreme Mustang Makeover at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center on May 6-7, Mustang trainers like Jimbo Albritton of Penney Farms, Florida are preparing for action.

Each trainer participating in the Extreme Mustang Makeover has been tasked with transforming a wild Mustang into a very rideable, outstanding performer in just 100 days. The Extreme Mustang Makeover is designed to test both human and horse for their ability to learn quickly and make the most out of a small period of time.

The competition at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center will begin with an opportunity for spectators to meet the trainers and the horses on Friday morning, before competitors gather in the main arena for show prep. Next, each trainer and Mustang duo will compete in several classes. Friday’s classes will include Handling and Conditioning, Youth Classes, and an Adult Trail Class. On Saturday, coffee and donuts will be provided in the morning before further Mustang exhibitions and award ceremonies.

Spectators can enjoy free admittance to the event on Friday and until 4:45 pm on Saturday. After 4:45, the competition will really get serious. The top 10 Mustang and trainer pairs will be announced, and they will head into the Top 10 Freestyle Finals – where they can strut their stuff and show off what they learned in their own personal style. The Extreme Mustang Makeover Freestyle Finals are known for jaw-dropping performances; past Freestyles have featured riders standing in their saddles, roping, obstacles, and more.

As competitors work to put a few more days of training on their assigned Mustangs, participant Jimbo Albritton feels lucky that he and his Mustang mare, Penney, hit the ground running. Albritton says, “It was the luck of the draw that I was assigned Penney.” Even from the beginning, the sweet-tempered mare seemed to act more like a puppy dog than a fiery Mustang.

But despite Penney’s sweet disposition, she’s had a lot to learn these past couple of months. “Everything is going right and it’s been a dramatic change since the first day,” Albritton commented about Penney’s progress. “She’s a lot more quiet and we’re going places. Her skill level has drastically increased.”

As Albritton prepares for show time, he’s now focused on perfecting those skills. “I really want to refine a couple of things,” he said. “I want to make lead changes more solid. I’d like her to be a touch quieter and a little more solid in her overall performance.”

On the line – for Albritton and everyone competing in the Extreme Mustang Makeover challenge – is a $25,000 award and custom-made Gist belt buckle for the winner.

But even as Albritton vies for the flashy reward, he plans on keeping things simple and sticking to the basics. When asked about his plans if he qualifies for the Top 10 Freestyle Finals, he said, “My main plan is to do simple things great, instead of doing a lot of complicated things not so great. We’re going to stick to a reining pattern – some spins and stops – and see if she’ll lay down for us.”

At the end of the day, whether Penney nails her spins or her stops, Albritton is grateful for the time he’s spent with his lucky little mare and, most importantly, he hopes that his work with Penney leads to her finding her forever home, as all Mustangs will be available for adoption after the event.

To see the excitement of the event yourself or to adopt one of the competing Mustangs, head to the Jacksonville Equestrian Center for the May 6-7 events. Preliminary classes are free to watch. Tickets for the Freestyle event ($15.00) are available here.

The Jacksonville Equestrian Center is a favorite destination for equestrian and recreational events. The 80-acre facility is easily accessible from major highways in Jacksonville, Florida, and features an enormous indoor arena, outdoor arenas, and over 400 stalls. There are also miles of riding, hiking, and biking trails accessible from the Jacksonville Equestrian Center. For more information and to find out about other upcoming events, visit www.jaxequestriancenter.com or call Penny Gorton at (904) 255-4227.

For more information, contact:
Jacksonville Equestrian Center
Penny Gorton 904-255-4227
13611 Normandy Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32221

The BLM: Failure at Its Finest

Simple Math

$50,000 per Horse
X 100,000 Horses
$5,000,000,000 Taxpayer Dollars

The BLM manages to waste $5 billion in taxpayer money managing the Wild Horse and Burro Program while doing absolutely nothing new to manage the program. How much longer can Members of Congress and the American public sit idly by while the BLM turns its back on those who bring real solutions to the table to help solve the outlandish problems presented by the current management of our Wild Horse and Burro Program?

As you may recall from our recent announcement, unfortunately we will not be able to open our eco-resort, Mustang Monument, this year due to the interference of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and other government entities that effectively preclude us from obtaining the necessary permits. On the heels of our announcement, the BLM sent out its own press release containing two very revealing numbers; first it indicated that the current Wild Horse and Burro Program was spending $50,000 per horse for horses kept in holding for their natural lifetime, and second, they currently had 100,000 horses that fell under the umbrella of this financial responsibility. Simple math informs all of us that the BLM will spend $5 billion dollars of taxpayer money supporting a program that by their own admission is a failure.

In recent testimony before a House Committee just last week, the BLM Director, Neil Kornze, advised members of Congress that 60% of the BLM’s budget for wild horse management was being consumed by care for horses in captivity, up from 46% in 2000. This number staggers the mind when you consider that the BLM has been advised for years from experts on all sides of the issue to find more innovative ways to manage wild horses on the range, rather than to continue to gather and stockpile horses in holding pens. In the same hearing, Congressman Calvert, the Subcommittee Chairman, advised Kornze to “keep the agency driving for a solution that allows the BLM to spay and neuter wild horses on a permanent and broader scale,” in the interest of keeping more horses where they are.

As you know, I started our eco-resort with the specific intention of giving these mustangs a place to live free and wild. I went to Washington, D.C. and explained my plan to Senator Harry Reid and Senator Diane Feinstein. Both of them encouraged me to go buy the land and stated if I did, they would support the project. I put my own money up to purchase the land and to improve it so that it could support the mustangs and other wildlife, rather than being dedicated to continuous cattle grazing. Again, I did so only after to speaking to countless elected officials, who assured me that they recognized the benefits, on both the financial and moral side of the equation. I can’t help but ask where they are now.

The ranch I purchased has the ability to keep thousands of mustangs on it, manage them in a way that allows them to remain there instead of being placed in holding pens at $50,000 per horse, and save the BLM and taxpayers millions and millions of dollars. What I have presented is the classic opportunity to leverage private dollars against federal dollars to accomplish a goal everyone states they are seeking in the wild horse and burro management arena, yet I find myself stymied at every turn by the BLM finding ways to delay or outright stop the project. This is because the BLM is NOT truly committed to finding new management solutions to managing wild horses; the only thing they understand is gathering and holding horses in pens. The BLM argues that there are 60,000 wild horses on the range today. That number is not supported by any accurate census modeling and, in fact, totally ignores the fact that there is a natural attrition rate of 20-25% per year. Of course, this attrition rate is reduced significantly when the horses are placed in domestic holding pens, another argument for keeping more horses on the range through creative management solutions.

As a taxpayer and an American, it is time for you to speak. It is time for you to call to account those who waste your money and who seek to destroy the great example that these mustangs represent.

Take action now.

Contact your elected officials and let them know that this waste should not be permitted. Let them know that you support the right of the mustangs to live free as great symbols of America. Take action today by writing to any or all of the names listed below. Ask Senators Reid and Feinstein why they have abandoned support for the Mustang Monument project.

Nevada Senator Harry Reid
Washington DC Office
522 Hart Senate Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-3542
Fax: 202-224-7327

California Senator Dianne Feinstein
Washington DC Office
331 Hart Senate Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-3841
Fax: 202-228-3954

Secretary Jewell, Department of Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20240
Phone: 202-208-3100
Email: feedback@ios.doi.gov

Madeleine Pickens

Saving America’s Mustangs, 2683 Via De La Valle, G 313, Del Mar, CA 92014

Follow Jimbo Albritton on His Extreme Mustang Makeover Journey to the Jacksonville Equestrian Center

Photo courtesy of Jimbo Albritton.

Jacksonville, FL (February 18, 2016) – When second-generation horseman Jimbo Albritton of Jacksonville, Florida decided he would take on the challenge of competing in the next Extreme Mustang Makeover, he was a little nervous. He would be taking on a horse untouched by human hands and have 100 days to transform her into a winning steed – a bit different from the training he’s used to. As Albritton explains, “It was the luck of the draw.”

As fate would have it, luck was on his side. He was assigned to his own lucky Penney, a five-year-old mare he describes as sweet-tempered and eager to please, “kind of like a puppy dog.”

Now, Albritton and Penney are working feverishly to prepare for the upcoming Extreme Mustang Makeover, which will be hosted at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center in Jacksonville, Florida, on May 6-7.

During the competition, Albritton and horsemen like him will be vying for the $25,000 award and custom-made Gist belt buckle, each working with a mare that had freely roamed on land protected by the Bureau of Land Management before partaking in this challenge.

As the action unfolds, trainers will show off their Mustangs’ beauty, versatility, and performance in several rounds of competition. The horse-and-rider pairs will first compete in handling and conditioning, then a pattern class, and then a combined leading and riding class. Ultimately, the selected finalists will compete in an exciting four-minute freestyle event where this year’s champion will emerge.

For Albritton, the odds are looking good – thanks to his training experience and his remarkable partnership with Penney.

“My favorite thing about her is that she is like a sponge,” Albritton explained. “She’s taking everything in, she’s not panicking, and she’s willing. She’s improving each day, and it’s rare you get a horse who is that willing. She’s really changed my outlook on what Mustangs are made of.”

But that doesn’t mean Penney doesn’t have a few quirks. For one, Albritton says she could use a little help with steering. “The biggest challenge when I’m riding her is her handling her direction,” he said. “Lefts and rights and stops – the whole nine yards.”

Luckily, Albritton has a few tricks up his sleeve after practically growing up in the saddle alongside his dad and starting his own training business, Flying A Performance Horses, a few years back.

But for Albritton, whether or not Penney turns on a dime – or even wins the competition – isn’t his top concern. His highest hopes lie with her finding the perfect home for her to start her next adventure with. “I want to see her riding around really good and gentle, so anyone can get along with her.”

Like all the other Mustangs in the program, Penney will be available for adoption after the event at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center as part of an effort by the Mustang Heritage Foundation to find happy homes for the deserving horses. And as Penney and her other equine counterparts wow the crowd with their ability to quickly evolve from roaming free to mastering the ring, there’s little doubt they’ll find someone to take them home.

To see how this year’s event unfolds or to adopt one of the competing Mustangs, head to the Jacksonville Equestrian Center for the May 6 and 7 events. Preliminary classes are free to watch. Tickets for the freestyle event are available here.

The Jacksonville Equestrian Center is a favorite destination for equestrian and recreational events. The 80-acre facility is easily accessible from major highways in Jacksonville, and features an enormous indoor arena, outdoor arenas, and over 400 stalls. There are also miles of riding, hiking, and biking trails accessible from the Jacksonville Equestrian Center. The facility is a part of a recreational park that includes picnic pavilions, a gymnasium, and an Olympic-size indoor pool. For more information and to find out about other upcoming events, visit www.jaxequestriancenter.com or call Penny Gorton at (904) 255-4227.

For more information, contact:
Jacksonville Equestrian Center
Penny Gorton 904-255-4227
13611 Normandy Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32221

PZP Pushers Are Misleading the Public as There Is No Evidence of Overpopulation

Dec 15, 2015 — “While touted as a ‘vaccine,’ porcine zona pellucida — PZP — is actually a perversion of a vaccine — an anti-vaccine — whose mode-of-action is to cause auto-immune disease. PZP tricks the immune system into producing antibodies that attack the ovaries, inducing ovarian dystrophy, oophoritis (inflammation of the ovaries), and ovarian cysts. Worse yet, per radioimmunoassay, the PZP antibodies are transferred from mother to young via the placenta and milk. The antibodies cross-react with and bind to the zonae pellucidae of female offspring. Although hyped as a ‘non-hormonal’ method of birth control, PZP causes estrogen levels to plummet as the ovaries degenerate. Despite the manufacturer’s claim that PZP is ‘reversible,’ its effects wear off unpredictably. In herds under PZP ‘management,’ the birthing season extends to nearly year-round, putting the life of the foals and mares at risk. Because PZP messes with the immune system, it ‘works’ best on the healthiest fillies and mares — those with strong immunity — ironically, rendering them sterile even with just a few treatments. Fillies injected with PZP before they have reached puberty are particularly vulnerable to immediate sterilization. Conversely, PZP has little to no effect on fillies and mares with a weak immune system — they continue to become pregnant. Thus, a herd being treated with PZP is undergoing selective breeding for low immunity, which puts the population at risk for disease — and ultimately, extinction.” ~Marybeth Devlin, member of The Facebook Forum on PZP for Wild Horses and Burros. (https://www.facebook.com/groups/ForumPZPWildHorsesBurros/)


Madison Shambaugh and Terk Shine Bright at the Virginia Horse Festival

Madison Shambaugh and Terk, Winning Freestyle. Photo/Kelly Patterson.

“Mustang Maddy” and Terk win Reserve Champion at Extreme Mustang Makeover Challenge

(Doswell, VA) April 1, 2015 – Madison Shambaugh and her mustang “Terk” stopped the show on Saturday evening with their freestyle performance at the Virginia Horse Festival’s Extreme Mustang Makeover Challenge. Shambaugh, dressed in a flowing, white gown and masquerade mask, danced into the ring with Terk to Rihanna’s “Diamonds”, a song that expressed Shambaugh’s feeling that a wild mustang is like a diamond in the rough.

“I think mustangs in general are misunderstood. I hope when people see Terk they realize what is possible when we have the right tools to communicate with mustangs.” Their visually beautiful and technically challenging freestyle, performed with no bridle, earned the evening’s top score, 60 out of 60 points, from both judges. Prominent AQHA judge Mike Jennings told her, “We didn’t have enough points in our score system to give you what you deserve for your freestyle tonight.”

Shambaugh and Terk won the overall Reserve Champion title and Fan Favorite as well as earning the Rookie and Young Guns Award (18-21 years old) in her first time competing at this challenging event.

Bringing Out the Best

Shambaugh arrived at the Extreme Mustang Makeover Challenge in Doswell, Virginia feeling prepared and confident in her and Terk’s relationship and ability to compete, but she knew she’d be up against some really good trainers who had a lot more experience than she did.

Throughout the competition weekend Terk was calm, cool and collected. Shambaugh admits her half of the team needed more work than his. At 21, Shambaugh hadn’t competed in a judged discipline in ten years, and found being scored on movements and patterns much different than her experience in the timed discipline of running barrels. Their team efforts propelled them into the finals where Shambaugh could really showcase Terk’s progress and talents. “It’s about bringing out the best in your horse,” said Shambaugh.

“I’d been visualizing this for so long that I didn’t know if it would live up to my expectations, but it surpassed them,” Shambaugh said. “When we got into our rhythm, everything disappeared around us and it was just me and Terk. I was so incredibly proud of him. The feeling you get from taking a horse that has zero trust in you, to doing whatever you ask of them and giving you their whole heart and soul is the best feeling in the world.”

Mustang Maddy and Terk

Shambaugh’s journey to the Extreme Mustang Makeover began when she was a junior in high school, but she didn’t have the opportunity to compete until spring 2014. She signed up for the challenge in New Jersey, but a freak horse accident left her with a broken leg and put her competition hopes on hold. Her second go for the summer challenge in Pennsylvania ended when her mustang developed neurological issues during training and had to be returned. Third time lucky, she partnered with Terk, a 6-year-old bay gelding out of Nevada, who helped her as much as she helped him.

A week before she picked up Terk, Shambaugh’s grandpa passed away. Despite her grief, she immersed herself in the gentling process with Terk and their growing relationship helped her heal. She remembers one of the last things to make her grandpa smile was the nickname her uncle gave her – “Mustang Maddy” – which she had tooled on the chaps she wore throughout the weekend.

Training Terk was not without hiccups and frustration. “I say it’s like relationships with people: slow is fast and fast is slow,” Shambaugh said. It took about 10 to 15 hours of gentling for Terk to get to the point where he trusted her enough for her to halter and lead him. After that, the training process began to move a little more quickly. Their first ride was by the end of the first week, but there were still nights she’d come home wondering how on earth she was going to get him to do a flying lead change. Eventually, the lead changes came – on a straight line with no bridle – along with a bond that would truly touch Shambaugh to the very core.

The Greatest Prize

At the conclusion of each Extreme Mustang Makeover, the horses go up for adoption by auction. From the very beginning, Shambaugh knew she wasn’t going to be able to give up Terk. So when it came time for the auction, the majority of the crowd respectfully held off bidding. One bidder lasted a bit longer than the others, but eventually subsided.

Later that evening, Shambaugh and Terk finally had a moment alone following the freestyle and adoption, where she could shed some silent tears of happiness with her now forever teammate. A woman appeared by the stall, also crying. She said she had been the final bidder and that she had stopped because she didn’t have it in her heart to take him away from her. Shambaugh was deeply touched. From the beginning of the competition it was never about the prize money. She was willing to spend every penny she won to buy him back.

“There’s no greater prize for me than knowing I can go and look at him out the window and know he’s not going anywhere; he’s going to be with me,” she said.

New Beginnings

Shambaugh plans to continue with Terk’s training and eventually tour with him doing clinics and raising awareness of what amazing athletes and companions mustangs are. She said she was attracted to the challenge because of everything mustangs represent: something that’s so free and wild and inspiring.

“I think that the Mustang Heritage Foundation does amazing work because they not only raise awareness for mustangs but they inspire and challenge trainers to really push themselves to show the best of their abilities with these animals,” Shambaugh said. “When we learn how to communicate with these animals in a way they understand, the possibilities are limitless.”

Cavalor® is honored to have been a part of Madison and Terk’s journey. She chose to feed him Cavalor® FiberForce because when a mustang comes out of the wild their diet is mostly forage and she believes it is the closest feed to a mustang’s natural diet. The sky is the limit for these two, and Cavalor® is grateful to share the ride.

About Cavalor® Premium Feed & Supplements:

Cavalor® offers a complete line of horse feed, supplements and care products and has built an international reputation as the world leader in equine nutrition for high-performance horses. Cavalor® has helped thousands of horse owners and competitors understand this very simple but crucially important equation: Proper Nutrition and Care = Top-level Performance and Well-being. Our company’s values are: Innovation – Quality – Results. We dedicate ourselves to inventing, manufacturing and distributing the best quality and most effective equine nutrition products in the world for the health, performance and happiness of all horses, from a foal’s first steps to retirement, and for the treasured backyard horse to the top, elite performer. For more information, visit www.cavalor.com.

About Madison Shambaugh Horsemanship:

Madison Shambaugh is an up and coming young horsewoman from the Midwest who gentles mustangs, starts colts, rehabilitates problem horses, and patterns barrel horses using a natural, no-force method that works off of a horse’s natural motivators and learning patterns. She also offers lessons and clinics in order to share her method, and its success, with others. For more information, visit www.madisonshambaugh.com.

About the Mustang Heritage Foundation:

The mission of the Mustang Heritage Foundation and the goal of the Extreme Mustang Makeover events are to increase the adoption of mustangs across the country. The Mustang Heritage Foundation created the Extreme Mustang Makeover events to showcase the recognized value of mustangs through a national training competition. The nonprofit organization also created the Trainer Incentive Program and youth programs to raise awareness about America’s Mustangs. For more information, visit www.mustangheritagefoundation.org.

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

Mustang Monument Featured in American Airlines In-Flight Magazine

The Saving America’s Mustangs & Mustang Monument Teams are thrilled to share with you an article on Mustang Monument: Wild Horse Eco-Resort that is in the current issue of American Way (The American Airlines in-flight magazine). Journalist Rebecca Miller visited our ranch last summer and her story can be read in every seat back on all American Airlines flights. Be sure to check it out when you’re soaring through the friendly skies this month.

Born to Run
By Rebecca Miller

A cloud of dust billows in the distance. “Look! It’s the horses!” cries Madeleine Pickens, delighted at the sight of 28 of her rescued mustangs galloping across our path, manes blowing in the breeze. Once doomed for slaughter, these rescues enjoy a transformed life of health and freedom in the 900 square miles that is the Mustang Monument Wild Horse Eco-Resort and Preserve.

A scenic three-hour drive west from Salt Lake City, Mustang Monument is off Highway 93 in northeast Nevada. (It took me four hours, because I stopped at the Great Salt Lake and the Bonneville Salt Flats.) The preserve, which opens in summer 2014, is nestled between the East Humboldt Range and Spruce Mountain, the land stretching out to the Pequop Mountains and Goshute Valley. It feels like something out of the past.

“Let’s take a drive in the Tomcar,” Pickens says as she jumps out of our truck and into the small off-road vehicle sitting in the shade of Spruce Mountain. We weren’t really on a road to begin with – we are deep in the preserve on a dusty trail – but we are most definitely “off-road” in the Tomcar. With Pickens behind the wheel, we ramble across rugged hillsides. The smell of spruce fills the air as the Tomcar drives easily over the woody shrubs.

I hope to see the native mustangs of the West, which have been known to share the land with those horses that Pickens has rescued from captivity. In the Wild and Free Roaming Horses and Burro Act of 1971, Congress called the free-roaming horses “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West” and declared that they “shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment or death.” Madeleine Pickens, too, wants to save mustangs from slaughter – both free-roaming ones and those she’s rescued – so she bought and transformed this preserve of lush grassland, scrubby hillsides and mountains. It now serves as a home for 600 mustangs she’s rescued since 2011. The 28 we saw were followed minutes later by 15 more.

“Where are the others?” I ask.

“Who knows?” she laughs. “That’s the idea.”

A businesswoman, philanthropist and animal-welfare activist, Pickens found success in thoroughbred breeding and racing while her passion grew for the preservation and retirement of horses. She fought to close the last slaughterhouse in the U.S., leading to the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act of 2011. In 2008, when the U.S. government considered euthanizing or selling 30,000 wild mustangs to slaughterhouses overseas, Pickens started Saving America’s Mustangs, the organization that raised the funding for Mustang Monument.

For her, it’s a calling.

I grew up in New Orleans, where cowboy boots and hats were costumes for Mardi Gras and Halloween. I remember the white fringe skirt and boots I got for Christmas when I was 8. Wanting to be a cowgirl, I would practice lassoing various objects. (An animal lover and rescuer myself, I never tried to lasso the dog.)

Mustang Monument is how I imagined the West to be: big and wide with mountains and grassland. It’s not like Dallas/Fort Worth, where I currently live. It’s also not like Phoenix; Denver; Santa Fe, N.M.; or any Western town I’ve visited. In fact, if Fort Worth’s motto is “where the West begins,” northeast Nevada’s should be “you’re smack dab in the middle.” Here, I get to wear my turquoise cowboy boots and straw cowboy hat for function; I get to be a cowgirl. Pickens knows the spirit this place elicits in its guests. “I didn’t start this for tourism,” she says, “but why not share it?”

Indeed, Mustang Monument will be open to the public June through September. Beyond vacationing, one-day trips are available too. Your adventure is limited only by your mind’s imagination. And keeping in step with the resort’s surroundings, guests sleep in tepees perched in scenic vistas at the foothills of the Goshute Mountains, much like Native Americans did in the 1800s. Except these are luxury tepees, each painted in a different motif and outfitted with king-size beds, lush linens, hardwood floors with wool rugs, dressers and more beautiful antiques and Western decor from a variety of high-end vendors and retailers. Each tepee has its own adjacent bathroom with a toilet and a shower. In and around your accommodations, you can relax while watching wildlife, play horseshoes or bocce ball, practice archery or even swing in a hammock.

There are also organized activities, like wagon rides and cooking lessons. And though most people – myself included – might imagine beans heated over a fire and coffee you have to chew when thinking of cuisine of the Wild West, Mustang Monument takes cowboy chow to a whole new level. The five-star menu includes delicacies like smoked rainbow trout, black pepper duck confit and seared scallops. Guests eat in the dining-room tepee, which is charmingly decorated with sunflowers, American flags and tabletop lanterns that give the canvas walls a soft glow. Following dinner, guests can relax in the game-room tepee, which has card tables and a bar.

Of course, 19th-century settlers didn’t have it this good, and the resort’s historians will be all too happy to educate you on what life was like for those pioneers. Landscape architects and environmental scientists are also on hand to teach you about your surroundings, while astronomers will help you navigate the night sky. By the end of your stay, you’d be well versed enough to lead a cattle drive across the desert on your own. That is, if your digs weren’t so temptingly comfortable.

Dust devils pirouette harmlessly in the distance, dissipating as rapidly as they form. Pickens tells me about other rescue animals at the preserve, like Tommy, her beloved dachshund, and Nero, a Belgian Malinois that was used in combat for several years. Nero, who has been here a few months, suffers from PTSD and jumps at the slightest noise. He is slowly recovering.

I share pictures of my own rescues: three Shelties, a schnauzer and a cat. Pickens is more than merely courteous as I speak – she’s genuinely interested. After all, she paid for and arranged the rescue of more than 800 dogs and cats from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Later, while I’m resting in my room, there’s a commotion in the kitchen. Pickens’ staff found a Sheltie stumbling into ­traffic on a remote stretch of highway. Matted, tired, hot and nearly run over, he’s now safe – rescued like the mustangs.

On my last morning at Mustang Monument, we indulge in a hearty breakfast and delicious coffee (no chewing required). Our new furry friend greets Pickens with a special Sheltie dance, to which Pickens says, “Hello, Sunshine!” That becomes his name; Sunny for short.

Sunny hangs out with Nero and Tommy while we humans visit a special group of older horses living their last years in luxury. Some are caisson horses whose duty it was to transport service members to their final resting place. Incomprehensibly discarded for slaughter, the horses have been given by Pickens the dignity and respect they deserve. These horses happily saunter up for ear scratches while pronghorn watch from a safe distance.

When the end of my time here comes (far too soon), I say my goodbyes. Pickens has already found a home for Sunny. Sad as I am not to take him home with me, I know Pickens has made sure he has a wonderful life ahead of him. She’s good at that.

To learn more about Madeleine Pickens and her horses, visit

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