N.C. Stallion is Young, Wild and Ready for Action

Story By Jeff Hampton as published on HamptonRoads.com

Gus was named after genetics expert Gus Cothran of Texas A&M University, who determined that the Corolla herd needed a blood line from another group of wild horses to stay healthy.

COROLLA, N.C. – Meet Gus, the newest, most eligible bachelor in town. He’s quite a stud – a wild stallion, if you will.

Gus, the Shackleford Banks stallion, was transferred to the Corolla wild horse herd with expectations of adding a different line of wild horse DNA. His genetics are anticipated to help alleviate birth defects found often in the Corolla foals. Photos courtesy of Debra Rothrock, a member of (Debra Rothrock | Corolla Wild Horse Fund)

Gus, the Shackleford Banks stallion, was transferred to the Corolla wild horse herd with expectations of adding a different line of wild horse DNA. His genetics are anticipated to help alleviate birth defects found often in the Corolla foals. Photos courtesy of Debra Rothrock, a member of (Debra Rothrock | Corolla Wild Horse Fund)

His mission? Gather a harem of mares, mate as often as possible and get them pregnant to save the wild Corolla horses. Sounds like a dream job, right?

Well, maybe not so much.

To woo their affections, he must challenge other stallions – many much larger than him.

Did we mention about 50 mares in the herd have been injected with a contraceptive and can’t get pregnant for a year?

Poor Gus. And he’s only 4.

But he’s up to the challenge, insists Karen McCalpin, director of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.

“It’s all about attitude,” she quipped.

Gus was selected from the wild herd in Shackleford Banks, which is about 150 miles south of Corolla near Cape Lookout, near Beaufort.

Gus arrived in the Currituck Outer Banks in November. His genetics could diversify the Corolla horses enough to stop the increased number of birth defects, McCalpin said.

“This is history-making,” she said. “This is the first time in centuries that new DNA from another wild herd has been introduced.”

Two of eight foals born two years ago had birth defects, McCalpin said. Last year, one of two foals was flawed.

Gus was named after genetics expert Gus Cothran of Texas A&M University, who determined that the Corolla herd needed a blood line from another group of wild horses to stay healthy. Small populations tend to interbreed, causing birth defects. The herd of about 100 horses is down to one maternal line, McCalpin said.

“That’s not a good place to be genetically,” she said.

DNA tests indicate the horses descended from Spanish mustangs left here more than 400 years ago. The herd divides into smaller groups typically led by a stallion. They roam the dunes, maritime forests and neighborhoods in the northern Outer Banks four-wheel drive area above Corolla. Tourists pay hefty sums to take tours in hopes of spotting a few.

A bill submitted in Congress for the third time would permit the herd to grow to between 120 and 130 horses, a better size for genetic diversity, according to Cothran. The bill has died in the Senate in each of the earlier attempts.

A new management plan that does not limit the herd size was signed recently, McCalpin said. The former plan kept it to 60 horses. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge, desires a smaller number to check habitat damage.

Meanwhile, year-round residents are reporting sightings of Gus. Some are accurate, some are not.

“All these spottings,” McCalpin said. “He’s like Elvis.”

NY Aqueduct Horse Deaths Cited in Call for Federal Regulations

Story by Mike Clifford of Public News Service

“These animals do end up at slaughter, they are pumped full of drugs, it is unhealthy for people and it should be banned.”

Advocates for animals say the record number of horse deaths during the Winter Meet at Aqueduct is a sure sign that federal regulations are needed. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Advocates for animals say the record number of horse deaths during the Winter Meet at Aqueduct is a sure sign that federal regulations are needed. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

NEW YORK – It has been a deadly season for racehorses at Aqueduct and animal advocates say the time has come for federal regulations.

A dozen horses have died at Aqueduct since the current Winter Meet started in December. Brian Shapiro, the New York state director of the Humane Society of the United States, says the New York State Racing Authority has failed when it comes to protecting the health and safety of racehorses.

“It really is horrible,” says Shapiro. “These animals are being pumped full of drugs. Casino gambling is fueling this, and it points to, once again, the lack of the state authority to be able to regulate itself.”

The New York State Racing Authority announced emergency measures following the three most recent horse deaths this month. In a written statement it said it was exceeding recommendations made by a 2012 task force on racetrack health and safety.

Shapiro disputes that, saying it has not followed through on all of the suggestions. He says things won’t change until there are uniform federal regulations for horse racing.

Shapiro says the slaughterhouse is where some racehorses end up when they are no longer able to compete. He says unlike other forms of agriculture, there is no way of knowing where the horses are coming from when they go to slaughter and he hopes New York lawmakers will take action.

“It could be a companion animal, it could be a horse from a petting zoo, it could be a racehorse, it’s indiscriminate,” says Shapiro. “These animals do end up at slaughter, they are pumped full of drugs, it is unhealthy for people and it should be banned.”

Shapiro says he expects a measure that failed to garner enough votes last session will be resurrected soon in Albany. He says it would outlaw sending New York horses to Canada for slaughter; and prevent them being slaughtered in New York should a slaughterhouse be opened in this state.

Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet

Submitted by Grandma Gregg ~ words by Edward Abbey

“‘Feel Good Sunday’ and it is time for us to ‘feel good’ about ourselves and what we do; so Grandma Gregg’s submittable for today strikes home in more ways than one.  Take a deep breath, please, and enjoy the beauty that surrounds you.” ~ R.T.


A recently traumatized wild horse reaching out to R.T. Fitch at BLM's Palomino Valley holding facility ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

A recently traumatized wild horse reaching out to R.T. Fitch at BLM’s Palomino Valley holding facility ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

“Devoted though we must be to the conservation cause, I do not believe that any of us should give it all of our time or effort or heart. Give what you can, but do not burn yourselves out — or break your hearts. Let us save at least half of our lives for the enjoyment of this wonderful world which still exists. Leave your dens, abandon your cars and walk out into the great mountains, the deserts, the forests, the seashores. Those treasures still belong to all of us. Enjoy them to the full, stretch your legs, expand your lungs, enliven your hearts — and we will outlive the greedy swine who want to destroy it all in the name of what they call GROWTH.

God bless America — let’s save some of it.

Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet!” 

― Edward Abbey

Horse activists ejected from BLM meeting

by Kurt Hildebrand as published in the Record-Courier

Wild horse rights activists said they were ejected from a public meeting held by the Bureau of Land Management and lost their hotel rooms in the process on Thursday night.

The members of Friends of Animals, who flew across the country to protest at Thursday’s meeting on the Pine Nut Resource Management Plan, had a different definition of public comment than the agency did.

BLM Project Manager Colleen Sievers said that the meeting was to explain how to comment on the document, which is in the draft stage. The bureau didn’t have a court recorder present to take comments at the meeting.

After Sievers was done, Edita Birnkrant, director of New York Friends of Animals, grabbed the microphone and unfurled a yellow banner, and as some members of the audience booed, said the BLM was abusing wild horses.

The microphone was turned off after short time, but Birnkrant continued to yell…(CONTINUED)

Click (HERE) to read the rest of the story and to comment

Police seize 27 horses, charge Galveston woman

By CHACOUR KOOP as published in the Galveston Daily News

“Here at SFTHH we try not to support one rescue or another so as not to have any hard feelings but this one is close to home and up until recently I sat on the Board of Directors for years.  Jerry Finch, founder and president of Habitat for Horses, has been saving horses for decades and is one of the finest folks you would ever be lucky enough to meet.  This story is just one example of the great work that Jerry and HfH volunteers do; Hats off to HfH.” ~ R.T.


Shawn Loupe, with Habitat for Horses, walks one of 28 horses seized Wednesday in Jamaica Beach.  ~ JENNIFER REYNOLDS/The Daily News

Shawn Loupe, with Habitat for Horses, walks one of 28 horses seized Wednesday in Jamaica Beach. ~ JENNIFER REYNOLDS/The Daily News

JAMAICA BEACH  – Galveston police on Wednesday seized more than two dozen horses found in poor condition and being held in a large pen used by a riding business.

Terri Glenn, 45, of Galveston, was charged with cruelty to livestock animals, a misdemeanor, and was being held in the Galveston County Jail on $7,500 bond, according to jail records.

Glenn is the owner of S-n-G Horseback Riding, according to the business’ website.

Law-enforcement officers and workers with the rescue group Habitat for Horses arrived at the property in the 17300 block of FM 3005 in a caravan of police cars and four livestock trailers to load 27 horses. The animals, many of which were showing ribs and losing tufts of hair, appeared to be malnourished, officials said.

“None of them are in what we would consider pristine health or excellent health,” said police Sgt. Joel Caldwell, who oversees the city animal services unit. “There’s three that are literally in danger of death or serious bodily injury.”

Because three horses were in serious condition, police seized the entire group, Caldwell said.

The horses will be taken to Habitat for Horses’ facilities to be examined and receive medical care, food and water. Police and veterinarians will conduct further investigations to decide whether any additional charges will be filed, Caldwell said.

Jerry Finch, president of Hitchcock-based Habitat for Horses, said the main goal will be to rehydrate and feed the animals on a diet of high-quality coastal hay.

“When they get thin like this, heart murmurs start because of a lack of food and their heart and muscle was being eaten away,” Finch said. “They’re in a very precarious situation right now.”

Click (HERE) to comment at the Daily News

Public comment sought on Pryor wild horse population control programs

Source: KAJ18.com

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

BILLINGS – The Bureau of Land Management Billings Field Office is beginning a public comment period on an environmental assessment which analyzes the continued use of fertility control on the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range, the agency said in a press release Tuesday.

The agency is accepting public comment and is requesting any information, data or analysis pertinent to the environmental analysis for 30 days beginning Jan. 20, 2015. The environmental assessment is available for review by visiting the field office website at http://www.blm.gov/mt.

Fertility control has been used to control the wild horse population since 2001. The current fertility control program began in 2011 and expires this year. A new proposal, based on the results from existing and previous treatments, is being developed.

“The Billings Field Office is excited to be on the cusp of nearly eliminating the need for wild horse removals due to the use of fertility control administered in the field,” said Billings Field Manager Jim Sparks.

The environmental assessment looks at two alternatives. The proposed action was developed based on results from the 2011-2015 fertility control using a vaccine. It is composed of a specific treatment prescription along with allowing for other management steps depending on changes in the wild horse herd.

The no action alternative is the continuation of existing fertility control treatment.

Comments can be emailed to blm_mt_wildhorse@blm.gov by Feb. 18, 2015. Written comments may be mailed or hand delivered to James M. Sparks, Billings Field Office, 5001 Southgate Drive, Billings, MT 59101.

The BLM will issue a final decision at a later date.

The agency warned that including your address, phone number, email address or other personal identifying information in your comment to be aware that your entire comment, including your personal identifying information, may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask the agency in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, it cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

If you have questions or would like to request a hard copy of the EA, please contact Jared Bybee at the Billings Field Office at (406) 896.5223.

Three Thoughts for Self-Empowerment

OpEd by R.T. Fitch ~president/co-founder Wild Horse Freedom Federation

It’s ‘Feel Good Sunday’ and time to take a deep breath, turn our eyes inward and allow our spirits the time to recharge and regenerate.

These Sunday installments are meant to give you fellow, volunteer advocates pause and allow us to embrace each other in the commonality of our goals and bask in the knowledge that our fight is just, noble and of intense importance.

So with that said, I would like to share with you a few thoughts that were forwarded to me by our own Grandma Gregg with the recommendation that Sunday might just be the perfect time to share them with our readers, so thank-you Grandma; I shall proceed under your sage direction.

Tom Hanks and Captain Phillips

Tom Hanks and Captain Phillips

Recently, Captain Richard Phillips, made famous in the award winning movie ‘Captain Phillips’ staring Tom Hanks, gave a highly motivational speech at the Association of General Contractors of South Dakota in Aberdeen SD. Of course there was much to glean and absorb from his presentation but Grandma Gregg and I walked away with three key points that directly speak to our equine advocacy and to each and everyone of you who are regular visitors here at SFTHH. These statements impressed us so much that Grandma Gregg recommends that we print them out, tape them to our bathroom mirror and ensure that we read them first thing in the morning and make certain that they are the last things that we see before falling asleep, so allow me to proceed:

 We are all stronger than we know, we can do more and take more on.

 Nothing is over until we choose to give up. Failure is NOT final.

 A dedicated team and focus can overcome any obstacle or problem. Working together, the parts are stronger than the whole.

Ladies and gentlemen, that is us; that is who we are and that is how we need to perform as we move forward in the quest to save the last of our wild horses and burros.

I cannot add to those three salient points but I would like to close in stating that even to this day, Captain Phillips is very outspoken on the issue that he does NOT consider himself to be a hero.

His frank humility is humbling and I tip my hat to his leadership, honesty and dedication.

Yet, you ALL are heroes in my heart, each and every one of you. I am blessed to know you and remind myself of that fact each and every day.

Keep the faith; failure is not an option!

Update: The Adobe Town Wild Horses Arrive at Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary

Story and Photos by Carol Walker ~ Director of Field Documentation ~ Wild Horse Freedom Federation
as published on WildHoofBeats.com

“I am struck by how healthy all the horses look, and also by the wild beauty of the sanctuary.”

To Read Part One of this Tale Please Click (HERE)

We delayed the horses’ journey by one day due to bad weather but the horses set out Thursday, driven by veteran horse hauler Merle from Canon City. I headed up earlier in the day so I could meet them when they arrived.

They were unloaded into a pen that they could get settled into, complete with a huge bale of gorgeous hay. All four were calm and bright eyed despite their 7 hour journey from Colorado. It was about ten degrees with wind chill, and I was happy that they had thick coats adapted to cold weather. I texted Manda Kalimian, who has been eagerly waiting to hear that her horses have arrived. I am so very grateful to Manda and her organization, the Cana Project, formerly The Seraphim 12 Foundation. http://canaprojects.org/ She believed me when I told her how special these horses were, was optimistic and certain that we could save them, and she bought these horses and made sure that they would have a wonderful home to live out their lives together in peace.

I stayed well back from the fence so they were not disturbed, and watched them for about an hour until the light disappeared. They all dived into the hay eagerly, so I felt encouraged that they would do well that night. Snowfall and Diamond Girl are both much thinner than when they were in the wild, but I feel certain that they will put on weight soon with all that beautiful hay…(CONTINUED)

Click (HERE) for the rest of the story and PHOTOS

Wild Horses and Burros: An Update Seen Through the Eyes of One Biologist

by Robert C. Bauer ~ Biologist

In a desperate attempt to curb the devastating roundups many advocates are succumbing to the pressure of the BLM to utilize the PZP contraceptive on our wild horses.”

The passion of my heart is, and has been, to emphasize how nature through its own mechanisms will and should be allowed, to maintain natural ecological balance, without human intervention. It does this through physiological differences, found within each species inside any given ecosystem. Each of those differences, contribute as a vital factor in a broad ecological equation. It also accomplishes this through the numbers or density of any given species of animal or plant within that system, in conjunction with competitive species, and the carrying capacity of the land. There is a misconception, even amongst advocates of the wild horses, that the only things that are necessary to check wild equine population growth is the presence of its predators and or natural environmental factors. Although, natural predation is important and environmental impacts, density dependent

Adobe Town Wild Stallion and Pronghorn ~ photo by Carol Walker

inhibition plays an important role also. In this scenario, what that means is that the numbers or density of wild equine, versus competing ruminants, such as the pronghorn, each will fluctuate in response to the other based upon the carrying capacity of the land, yet always in perfect balance. In essence, the pronghorn need the presence of wild horses and burros, just as much as the wild horses need the pronghorn. Each population will have the effect of keeping the numbers of another competing population at levels that are ideal for the carrying capacity of the land.

Also, what must be understood is that nature is dynamic, and not static. This infers that it continuously fluctuates and adjusts, through its own negative and positive feedback loops, from the molecular, all the way up the scale of organisms. Because it is dynamic and not static means that its functions cannot be confined to finite thinking, and fixed statistics but must be allowed, through its own mechanisms to maintain itself, hands off, so to speak. In other words, nature cannot be limited at any given time to a given number, or average of numbers, that mankind deems appropriate. An example of this is the Bureau of Land Management’s, “Appropriate Management Level“, of wild horses in their legally designated lands. Mankind’s sole responsibility has to be focused on keeping the restrictions off of nature, so that nature can be itself, and not an offspring of man’s seemingly brilliance. The moment mankind seeks to alter nature according to a fixed number, or an average of numbers, is the moment that nature and balance itself begins to break down. At first it occurs little by little, yet as artificial alteration persists, the breakdowns become greater and greater. This has occurred in every branch of nature, where mankind has endeavored to manage natural balance, assuming nature to be static and not dynamic.

With these thoughts in mind as an introduction, the tenacious destruction of a vital component of nature’s beauty and balance continues to be removed from the rangelands of the west, even the wild horses and wild burros, by the Bureau of Land Management. It has turned a blind side to the solid science that opposes the idea that these creatures are a detriment to the ecosystems they exist in. Just as much, it is opposed so to the myth that there is over population of our wild equine. The ludicrous concept of the “Appropriate Management Level”, of wild horses in any area out west is a lie concocted by the bureau. This is based upon how much forage that the BLM is going to allow the mustangs, as opposed to how much they would actually consume. This is opposed to cattle and other competing ruminants in these same areas, which are allocated by this same bureau, the major percentage of the forage. From this comes the propaganda that there exists overpopulation of wild Equids, and the subsequent removal of them in mass, from their legally designated lands. This, the bureau does regardless of the fact that our wild horses and burros, by law, are to be considered as the principle species in a multi use situation. This is all accomplished to accommodate the Bureau of Land Management’s leasing of those same lands for cattle and cattle ranchers, for energy interests, and big horn sheep hunters.

In a desperate attempt to curb the devastating roundups many advocates are succumbing to the pressure of the BLM to utilize the PZP contraceptive on our wild horses. This thinking may be based on a heartfelt love for our wild ones, but also with the idea that a compromise in this area will at least preserve them in the wild. There are those that believe that the roundups have already decreased because of this compromise to use the contraceptive. As a biologist I would ask all to consider some truths concerning this issue.

First, the numbers of the wild horses remaining in the wild are not the 20,000 to 30,000 that many assert are out there. The numbers of our wild ones are not even in the teens of thousand s anymore. This has its basis upon the liberal use of PZP, the thousands of wild horses and burros already removed, and the adjustment of sex ratios. Added to this, are mortality rates in the wild that range between 19% to 75% annually, both first year and adult. The reasons that the roundups have decreased is simple because the wild horses remaining in the wild are so few, they can’t be found. This is despite the continued propaganda that there is still overpopulation.

Secondly, with continued use of the PZP contraceptive, population growth will be driven down even further, in as much as reproduction will continue to decrease dramatically because of PZP, but mortality percentages will remain the same. In essence, mortality will completely overwhelm reproduction and accelerate the population decline. Added to this will be the increased chances of the loss of genetic viability. All of this the BLM is fully aware of, however not unlike our Native American ancestors, the U.S. government promises a compromise but are taking a 100 miles for every mile we give them.

The roundups will continue, even though the wild horses are fewer in number. There doesn’t have to be many roundups, however, to decimate our wild horse herds with what few numbers are out there, especially with an even more rapid decline in population growth and the threat of inbreeding. The proponents of PZP, whether they love our wild horses or not, will be aiding the BLM in driving them to extinction. The only answer is to continue fighting for the truth, and to allow nature to remain untouched. The wild horses and burros will continue as the poetically beautiful, yet vital components of ecological balance if, and only if, we allow nature alone, through its own dynamic methods to dictate the numbers in the wild that are to exist, at any given time.

Acknowledgments: Craig Downer, Wildlife Ecologist

Restoring the Female Spirit

Horse sessions help women heal from life trauma, emotional scars

As the temperature sank to 15 degrees Wednesday at Long Shadows Farm in Washington County, NY Valerie Buck warmed up with Whiskey and Budder inside a massive indoor arena.

Horsewoman Valerie Buck with Whiskey, left, and Budder on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015, at Long Shadows Farm in Cambridge, N.Y. Buck, formerly with Saratoga War Horse, has started a new equine therapy program for women who have experienced trauma called ACTT Naturally. (Cindy Schultz / Times Union)

Horsewoman Valerie Buck with Whiskey, left, and Budder on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015, at Long Shadows Farm in Cambridge, N.Y. Buck, formerly with Saratoga War Horse, has started a new equine therapy program for women who have experienced trauma called ACTT Naturally. (Cindy Schultz / Times Union)

Buck, 49, has loved horses since she received a pony for Christmas when she was 12. She became an exercise rider and worked for some of horse racing’s biggest trainers. She met Whiskey and Budder at racetracks while on the job.

Buck stopped riding in 2009 due to serious injuries from falls. She became convinced of the emotional healing power of horses while volunteering as equine manager at Saratoga WarHorse. The acclaimed program in Wilton is dedicated to helping wounded veterans and military service members through interactions with horses. Buck left the organization in September to concentrate on trying to help traumatized women. The organization she founded, Aftercare Continued Thoroughbred Training, or ACTT Naturally, connects retired thoroughbreds with women who are struggling with loss or pain. Buck recently leased stalls for six horses she cares for at her friends’ 165-acre farm, located just outside the village of Cambridge, and started holding day-long healing sessions.

“People kept asking if there was a program for women,” said Buck, rubbing Whiskey on the neck. “We ended up here.”

The confidential sessions mix sometimes intense discussions with horse whispering. They are limited to a handful of pre-approved women. The first sessions were supervised by Buck and certified equine coach Cindy Aldrich of Springfield, Vt. A woman whose son died of a heroin overdose, domestic abuse victims and others attended. There are two sessions scheduled for January. One has filled up.

While Buck manages the horses, Aldrich leads discussions around the cavernous arena, which has an all-dirt floor. Horses demand honesty and can feel when their human handlers aren’t sincere, Aldrich said.

“Horses are like a giant feedback machine,” she said. “They are non-judgmental. They just want your honesty. It’s an amazing gift for healing.”

Buck cares for 12 retired horses, including six at her home. As a professional, she rode Budder, who was once a belligerent and competitive colt named Three Lions, for trainer Todd Pletcher. Budder is now a friendly 11-year-old.

Buck met Whiskey on the backstretch of Saratoga Race Course several years ago. She’s not certain of the horse’s age. The horsewoman makes money through pet-sitting and other personal projects, but hopes to one day be able to offer weekly women’s workshops.

“My heart has always been with the horses that nobody remembers, that need a voice,” she said…(CONTINUED)

Click (HERE) to learn more and to view Photo Gallery