Report Compiled by:
Jesica Johnston, Environmental Scientist
Lisa LeBlanc, Environmental Researcher
Kathy Gregg, Environmental Researcher
Photographs by Jesica Johnston


Wild Burros


Wild horses and burros are different from their domestic cousins. Wild equines have to continually learn and adapt to the constantly changing environment directed by nature. During their lifetimes they will see life and death and must learn from their elders and trust their instincts and knowledge of their wild world in order to survive.

Three experienced wildlife observers searched for three days for wild horses and burros and other wildlife in Northern California-Nevada Twin Peaks, Coppersmith and Buckhorn Wild Horse and Burro Herd Management Areas. These areas are managed for all American citizens by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and for the protection of our wild horses and burros. We traveled approximately 160 miles over 3 days and 13 hours in the herd management areas. We drove slowly with many stops; some off-road hiking and almost constant searching with binoculars for signs of wild horses and wild burros. After 3 days, a total of only 18 wild horses and 26 wild burros were observed on the three herd management areas. Of those, we saw 1 burro yearling and no horse foals or yearlings. All observed horses and burros appeared to be in excellent health. What was most obvious in our three day journey was the notable absence of wild horses and burros on their legally authorized herd areas on public land. A few of our wild horses and burros were found…but very few and far between.

During our survey there were times that only a short distance could be seen due to canyon walls but for the majority of the assessment a distance of more than a mile in all directions could be seen and often a distance of many miles were observable with binoculars. Even though time and mileage was documented and a map available, herd management area boundaries are vaguely marked, so some mileage and hours in the herd management areas are rounded or estimated in our report.

Click (HERE) to Download and Read the Report in it’s Entirety

Woman Transforms Horse into Scarey Skeleton, AGAIN

By Sara Malm for MailOnline

As far as Halloween costume accessories go, a full-size, real-life skeleton horse is definitely something to make the un-dead walk again.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Horse tack maker Sandy Cramer has turned her filly Raven into a walking skeleton to celebrate the holiday of tacky terror.

Ms Cramer first painted her beloved horse three years ago, and since then, Raven’s ‘Skeleton Horse’ getup has made her an internet sensation.

Ms Cramer, from Rockbridge, Ohio, first painted Raven to enter a Halloween photo contest on Facebook in 2011.

The ‘Skeleton Horse’ became so popular that Ms Cramer is bringing it back for a fourth time this year.

Using non-toxic, acrylic craft paint, Ms Cramer has been turning Raven into a scary skeleton since the beginning of the month to promote her pet shop and horse tack business.

It takes Ms Cramer about three hours to complete the transformation, which is completely harmless, and the paint can be washed off with just water and a brush.

Ms Cramer has been incorporating Raven into four different costumes which the pair have been modelling to attract business to her shop.

‘People love Raven as a Skeleton Horse,’ Ms Cramer says.

‘I have people tell me that the only reason they stopped at my shop is because they saw Raven and I walking around and had to come see us up close.

‘This Halloween, we will be in costume together down at our shop and if weather is decent, we may go take part in the local trick-or-treat around town.

‘Each weekend up to Halloween and including Halloween day Raven and I get in costume together.’

‘The paint does in fact wash off with water and a cury brush, so it’s no worse than washing off mud. 

‘To her, it’s no different than standing there getting a good grooming.

‘I have been painting my horses for about five years now as I would paint them for our local Indian Pow-wow as Indian War Horses.

‘But for Raven and I it has become a bit of a tradition now, people just can’t get enough of her as a skeleton.’

Rejected by his mama, a miniature horse foal is destined to be therapist for people

By Hunterdon County Democrat

“It’s always a pleasure when ‘Feel Good Sunday’ rolls around and this installation will surely warm your hearts as well as your souls.  Keep the Faith my friends.” ~ R.T.

“The responsibilities of Koal’s care is a huge team effort between family, friends, and new found friendships,”

Koal, a miniature horse foal that was rejected by his mother is happy to have human companions. ~ Dawn Fry

Koal, a miniature horse foal that was rejected by his mother is happy to have human companions. ~ Photo by Dawn Fry

KINGSTON, N.J. — After coming home from work one day, Dawn Marie Fry of Flemington, N.J. was surprised to find a small black newborn miniature horse foal — no bigger than a greyhound.

Fry had no idea Koal’s mother was pregnant as she had only recently acquired the mare. It was luck that both the mother and the foal were perfectly healthy after birth as miniature horses have a harder time having a successful birth than normal horses, according to Fry.

“Koal,” as he has been affectionately named, was rejected by his mother only a week after birth. “We learned through video surveillance the first time mother would pick Koal up by the neck and toss him, kick him, and would trample him causing him to roll in the dirt and get stepped on,” Fry said.

Fortunately Koal suffered no serious injuries although his caretakers were faced with many obstacles. Without his mother’s care, Koal needed around-the-clock feedings. Fry worked full time, but fortuitously at a horse farm in Kingston called Hasty Acres. Every morning Fry would drive Koal to work in her car where he calmly fell asleep on the seat next to her.

Koal learned to drink formula from a syringe. At night time, Koal was kept inside Fry’s kitchen, often accompanied by her children who fell asleep on the floor together with the foal. Koal wore a diaper in the house and slept on warm blankets on the kitchen floor.

Koal is old enough now that he is no longer on milk pellets and lives outside with his goat friend, Iggy, eating “big boy” feed. “Koal has been practicing leading and he will proudly walk all over my property with me. He loves to get the mail with me too,” Fry said.

At Hasty Acres, Koal has touched many lives. “He is awe-inspiring with his small size and attracts visitors far and wide who would come to see the miracle foal,” Fry said. She encourages everyone who stops by the enter Koal’s stall and to pet him.

Initially after losing his mother, depression set in but with the help of friends and strangers who would come soothe and feed Koal, he soon thrived. “The responsibilities of Koal’s care is a huge team effort between family, friends, and new found friendships,” Fry said.

Koal enjoys playing with children. “The joy on the children’s faces is priceless as they frolic through the fields together,” Fry said. Koal follows his new “parents,” Fry and any other person he deems fit for the title, all over the farm like a shadow. Koal is fearless from being hand raised and handled by humans mostly of the time, he rarely shows any nervousness.

Fry encourages everyone to interact with Koal to get him accustomed to human touch so she may use him for therapy when he is full grown. She runs a therapeutic riding program called Heads Up Special Riders, Inc. which currently teaches therapeutic horseback riding, and equine assisted psychotherapy for battered/abused women. She hopes to extend the programs Heads Up offers and help more people — using Koal to launch a new program.

Koal will one day become a certified therapy animal and visit nursing homes and hospitals.

Not long ago, Koal made a trip to Petsmart in Raritan Township for training to get him used to automatic doors, meeting new people, animals, lights and just being in a new place in general. “I bought him little sneakers for his hooves (dog sneakers – very stylish) so he would not slip on tile floors for our visits. Not one single person could walk by us without saying hello and getting their picture taken with Koal. The store associates said they have never had a horse in their store before!” Fry said.

Koal also made a guest appearance at Eno Terra’s in Princeton Farm to Table Event. Proceeds benefited charity and Koal was one of the star attractions.

To learn more about Heads Up Special Riders see headsupspecialriders.com.

Click (HERE) to comment directly at NJ.com

Help Save the 189 American Wild Burros from being sent to Guatemala

News Flash from the Equine Welfare Alliance

Wild Burros in BLM holding ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Wild Burros in BLM holding ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

As many of you are aware, the BLM was going to send 189 burros to Guatemala after removing them from their homes. There is an effort underway to keep the Guatemala 189 burros in the US. At last count, only 25 remain without homes. We bring this to your attention because our president, John Holland, will be the proud owner of one of the burros. John has been heartbroken since he lost Selina (pictured above) so we are trying to help with the efforts in Selina’s memory.

For more information on adopting a burro and the BLM adoption paperwork, visit the facebook page here or contact Elaine Nash, holdyourhorses@aol.com.   

Please share and help turn this into the Guatemala 0.

Bail Revoked over ‘Bizarre’ Slaughter of Miniature Horses

Source: abc.net.au

Australian builder who used a butcher’s knife to kill six miniature horses in South Australia as revenge on clients who owed him money has had his bail revoked.

Michael O'Connell (L) has been taken into custody over the killings of six miniature horses.

Michael O’Connell (L) has been taken into custody over the killings of six miniature horses.

Michael Martin John O’Connell, 50, who owns Middleton Developments south of Adelaide, was taken into custody ahead of sentencing next month.

Clients Melvyn and Julie Jackson owed O’Connell a $37,000 final payment for about $200,000 worth of renovations carried out by his company.

Prosecutor Peter Cannell said after getting drunk at a Christmas party last year for his employees and subcontractors, O’Connell drove about an hour to the Jacksons’ horse stud at Clayton Bay and slit the throats of six miniature horses.

“The accused has entered through a locked gate … and then proceeded to one by one cut the throats of those six miniature horses,” Mr Cannell said.

“The horses were discovered deceased the following day by an employee.

“His intention was to make the victim Julie Jackson pay … get the victim somewhere where it would hurt.”

O’Connell later disposed of the butcher’s knife and blood-stained seat covers from his car at sea.

The court heard O’Connell made frank admissions about his actions when police spoke to him about the crime a week later.

A civil damages settlement had since been reached between O’Connell and the Jackson family worth about $60,000.

Ms Jackson read a victim impact statement in court, in which she said the “blood-fuelled massacre” had sent her family’s life into turmoil.

“I have lost more than six miniature horses, I have lost myself,” Ms Jackson said.

“I wish everyday for a different outcome for my babies.

“How could anyone expect a house renovation to result in the death of six horses.

“How could a builder plot and plan such a callous attack and carry it out?

“This has not just tortured me, it has tortured my family.

“My life is forever impacted and my heart forever broken.”

Mr Jackson told the court when he arrived at the stables he was confronted by blood-splattered walls.

“It was a scene that filled me with horror and heartbreak,” Mr Jackson said.

“They were part of our family in the same way that our children are.

“They can never be replaced. We have not used those stables since that night.”

Court heard O’Connell snapped

Surviving PonyO’Connell’s lawyer Nick Healy said his client had since lost about $2 million worth of contracts and was horrified by his actions.

“He simply snapped and he and the victim have been paying for this ever since,” Mr Healy said.

“At no time did my client try to excuse his conduct.”

Mr Healy described the married father of four as a respected member of the local community whose actions were bizarre.

He said at the time of the crime he had building contracts worth about $4 million.

He said about half of his staff had also left and a custodial sentence would see his business collapse.

But Judge Paul Cuthbertson questioned whether it was already too late for O’Connell’s business.

“I would have thought his business is gone already, who would want to deal with him?” Judge Cuthbertson said.

O’Connell pleaded guilty to aggravated serious criminal trespass, which carried a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail.

He also admitted to property damage for killing the horses, which attracts a term of up to 10 years.

O’Connell’s lawyer urged the judge to suspend any prison sentence.

But the prosecution called for a custodial sentence because of the seriousness of the offending.


“Their lawsuit is an attempt to elevate ranchers’ private interests in grazing livestock on public lands above the public’s interest in preserving wild horses and the government’s mandatory duty to protect them.”

Last month's destruction of Wyoming's Adobe Town herd by the BLM ~ photo by Carol Walker of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Last month’s destruction of Wyoming’s Adobe Town herd by the BLM ~ photo by Carol Walker of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

SALT LAKE CITY, UT (October 22, 2014)…. Today, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), The Cloud Foundation, Return to Freedom, Utah photographer John Steele and wild horse advocate and adopter Lisa Friday filed a motion requesting the federal court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Western Rangeland Conservation Association and Utah ranchers against the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the U.S. District Court in Utah. In August, the court granted the advocates’ motion to intervene in the lawsuit, which seeks to compel the government to remove wild horses from public and private lands.

“This lawsuit was filed by livestock owners that view wild horses as competition for below-market, taxpayer-subsidized grazing on public lands,” said Caitlin Zittkowski, attorney for Meyer, Glitzenstein and Crystal, the firm representing the advocates. “Their lawsuit is an attempt to elevate ranchers’ private interests in grazing livestock on public lands above the public’s interest in preserving wild horses and the government’s mandatory duty to protect them.”

“The ranchers’ lawsuit lacks legal merit, and we are asking the court to reject its claims without delay,” Zittkowski concluded.

The case was filed by ranchers who graze livestock on public lands in southwestern Utah. It seeks removal of hundreds of wild horses from the Frisco, Four Mile, Bible Springs, Sulphur, Muddy Creek, and North Hills Herd Management Areas (HMAs) and the Blawn Wash Herd Are (HA). In response, the government has informed the court that wild horses are not damaging rangelands in this area and that it has made no determination that “excess” wild horses exist in the HMAs and HA in question.

The lawsuit is part of a broader push from anti-wild horse private, commercial ranching interests to compel the BLM to remove an increasing number of wild horses from public lands and sell captured wild horses for slaughter. Ranchers in Nevada and Wyoming have also recently sued the BLM, and the agency has a history of quickly capitulating to their demands, regardless of the legal merits of the cases. In Wyoming, the government just completed a massive roundup of more than 1,200 wild horses as part of a settlement of a lawsuit that the Interior Department itself invited ranchers to file against the agency.

In Utah, under pressure from ranchers, the BLM rounded up 173 wild horses from the Blawn Wash HA in July. Utah ranchers put forward the false claim that wild horses are overpopulating the range, despite the fact that livestock graze on 22 million acres of land in the state, while wild horses are restricted to just 2.1 million acres. There are fewer than 4,000 wild horses on BLM land in Utah, compared to hundreds of thousands of cattle and sheep.

National opinion polls indicate that 72 percent of the public supports protecting wild horses on public lands, while just 29 percent wants public lands used for livestock grazing.

Therapy Horses a Calming Influence on Veterans

By Brian MacQuarrie | Globe Staff

In Norfolk, female veterans find strength through learning to ride and care for horses

Veteran Eadyie Davis of Marlborough shared a quiet moment with therapy horse Creek. ~ Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff

Veteran Eadyie Davis of Marlborough shared a quiet moment with therapy horse Creek. ~ Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff

NORFOLK — Feet in the stirrups, hands on the reins, Karen Souza closes her eyes as a quarter horse named Rio carries her to a tranquil, peaceful place she has rarely visited.

Souza spent decades walled off emotionally after being sexually abused as a teenage soldier. She never formed a loving relationship, and she spoke only sparingly. But from that dark, bleak world, she has emerged to find a place of trust, and accomplishment, and the simple joy of working with a large, strong, patient animal.

Souza is one of several female veterans who exhale and relax once a week at the BINA Farm Center, where they learn basic horsemanship and riding skills in a hands-on form of therapy. All of them are dealing with physical or emotional challenges.

But little by little, through grooming a horse or sitting in a saddle, anxiety and doubt are being replaced by laughter and confidence.

On this morning, 30 miles southwest of Boston, the veterans have been asked to shut their eyes and enjoy the slow, coordinated movement of their horses. It’s a simple request, but one that needs more than a little courage from women who often have felt vulnerable and abandoned.

“Every time I come here, this flood of emotions comes over me,” says Souza, 52, who lives in Worcester in transitional housing for female veterans. “I just feel cleansed, and you take that feeling with you. It doesn’t go away.”

As more veterans cope with long-term disabilities such as post-traumatic stress disorder, public awareness about the problems and therapies to treat them has increased. Veterans programs such as the one at BINA Farm have surfaced in Massachusetts and elsewhere in recent years, following a long-held recognition that working with horses has therapeutic benefits for people with special needs.

“I want them to leave with skills and tools they can take out to the world,” says Eileen Polasky, program director at BINA Farm Center, a Natick-based nonprofit, with facilities in Norfolk and Wellesley. “For a lot of people, the horses are a way in.”

The women gain a sense of responsibility that comes from caring for a horse, even for 90 minutes a week. There is a search for the gumption to try something new, perhaps after many years of extreme withdrawal. And there is a sense of growing self-esteem for women who sometimes feel branded as failures.

“There was a time when I wasn’t talking because I didn’t think that anyone would get it,” says Eadyie Davis of Marlborough, a 47-year-old Air Force veteran who suffered a traumatic brain injury in an accident during her military service. “Horses offer empathy, trust, compassion, and stillness.”

Now, seven sessions into the eight-week program, Davis is talking — a lot. She tests whether visitors know how many bones are in a horse, and how long horses sleep. “Did you know they’re afraid of us?” Davis asks.

Any fear on Davis’s part is not apparent. She pets Creek, helps adjust his bridle and halter, and chirps softly and soothingly to the palomino before nestling into the saddle. As Creek is led around the dirt floor by Pat Sheets, a volunteer from Roslindale, Davis is beaming…(CONTINUED)