Mare leads horses to safety through floodwaters


A black mare leads the horses to safety from floodwaters in the River Slaney. Photo: Wexford SPCA/Facebook

A brave black mare in Ireland has led a dozen horses to safety across a swollen river’s flood plain.

The horses were trapped in floodwaters from the River Slaney at Enniscorthy, which burst its banks in County Wexford, after heavy rain across the region.

The Facebook pages  of charities in the region reported several groups of trapped horses, with rescue personnel monitoring the stranded animals and carrying out rescues when conditions were deemed safe.

However, in this case, the horses found their own way to safety.

South East Animal Rescue reported on Facebook how the mare led the horses to safety.

“One brave horse led the rest to safety, it was incredible,” the charity reported.

“That black mare saved all those horses.

“They had been stranded on a bit of high ground for hours, nobody able to get to them.

“She very carefully led them one way and another through the water till she found the best route. What a clever, clever lady.

“All the horses also waited for the one at the back who was obviously limping.”

Friends of the Wexford SPCA and South East Animal Rescue on Facebook voiced their concern about the grazing of horses in and around floodprone areas beside the river at this time of year.

The Wexford group commented on the rescue: “Safe at last … until the next time.”


A new map shows rangeland health nationwide


Searchable BLM reports and satellite images for 20,000 grazing allotments.

by Tay Wiles

When the Bureau of Land Management ordered the removal of cattle from public rangeland this summer near Battle Mountain, Nevada, the state was in its third year of severe drought. Conditions were too dry to sustain the number of cattle that were grazing there, the BLM contended. Locals responded in part by announcing a “Cowboy Express” ride from Bodega Bay, California to Washington, DC to protest federal overreach and to demand that local District Manager Doug Furtado be ousted.

Disagreements like the one in Battle Mountain are hardly novel in Western politics. But this week, a new tool to understand livestock impact on public lands was thrown into the mix. Washington, DC-based non-profit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) released an interactive map that collates over 45,000 BLM records that diagnose 20,000 allotments across the nation. The map is seven years in the making, the result of Freedom of Information Act requests PEER and Western Watersheds Project put to the BLM.

Damage to the land from livestock can be seen in satellite images.

According to the map, 29 percent of allotted land, or 16 percent of the number of allotments, has failed to meet BLM standards of rangeland health due to impacts of livestock. Those assessments are based on a specific set of criteria, including things like watershed conditions, water quality, soil health and habitat for at-risk species.



Shaded areas indicate where rangeland has failed to meet BLM health standards between 1997 and 2013.

In addition to looking at the macro-scale numbers of how much land has passed the BLM health test, the new map shows satellite images of each individual allotment—a way to “sky truth,” as PEER puts it, what the agency is reporting. So, if the BLM says a piece of land is doing just fine, or if the BLM claims the landscape is taking a beating, anyone can zoom in to look for themselves and get details like the number of cattle on how many acres. Soil and vegetation disturbances from mining, agriculture, livestock or off-road vehicles are visible in the satellite images. A group of allotments in eastern Montana, for instance, are categorized as healthy, but are also clearly being used to grow crops. And they’re sitting in prime habitat for Greater sage grouse—a species that U.S. Fish & Wildlife is currently considering listing as endangered. (There’s an optional map layer that allows you to overlay grouse habitat.) PEER Advocacy Director Kirsten Stade says examples like this raise the question of how an area dedicated to crops or livestock could be considered “meeting all standards,” when the majority of native vegetation has been supplanted.



In some cases, the map shows a whole bunch of unhealthy, red-tinted, allotments butting against green-tinted, healthy ones. That kind of scenario may be an indication that adjacent district offices are interpreting rangeland health differently and calling “healthy” what the manager next door may deem “unhealthy” or vice versa, even though they’re in the same ecosystem with similar needs. In the case of Argenta, where the cowboy express came from, the fact that the allotment in question (which itself appears to have an incomplete assessment and tinted grey) is surrounded by either red or un-assessed land “suggests that maybe Doug Furtado wasn’t so far off in his call that grazing needed to be reduced on this allotment,” Stade said.

The Argenta allotment is highlighted in blue. Red areas failed to meet BLM rangeland health standards because of livestock impacts. Yellow allotments failed for non-livestock reasons, and orange allotments failed for unknown reasons. Grey areas have either no or incomplete assessments, according to PEER’s data.

For its part, the BLM responded to an initial PEER report from 2012 with qualms about the non-profit’s methodology. In any given unhealthy allotment, there may be a number of acres that are actually healthy, despite the fact the parcel on the whole is deemed a failure. But the non-profit was grouping all acres as unhealthy, which the BLM said skewed the data to be worse than it actually was. The BLM website says that the agency is creating its own mapping system that will show rangeland health acre-by-acre, instead of by allotment.

The agency also says it has “taken action to correct grazing management on 86 percent of the 1,925 allotments where livestock grazing was determined to be the cause for not meeting land health standards.”

The PEER map includes blue-tinted areas that represent Greater sage grouse habitat, underneath the tens of thousands of tinted grazing allotments.

One reason PEER is publicizing the new data set is to push the BLM to be more consistent in its rangeland health evaluations. The agency is supposed to complete assessments of each allotment every decade, but many of the allotments PEER inquired about had reports that were 15 years old or more. The project is also meant to bring information together that, until now, has been scattered throughout district field offices across the country, PEER says. Tools like this one could help the land agency take a more landscape-scale approach to management,

Blue highlights indicate where BLM rangeland health assessments mentioned oil development. The PEER map can be searched for a range of impacts to ecosystem health.


looking at full watersheds rather than just one piece at a time. And best-case scenario, these types of tools will add another layer of real information to the often emotion-driven debates around public land use in the West.

For more High Country News coverage of public lands debates, see our recent investigation, Defuse the West, which looks at threats to public-land employees and confrontations with local land users.

Tay Wiles is the online editor at High Country News.  Homepage photo of the Argenta allotment in Nevada courtesy Western Watersheds Project.

$10 Million in Grants being Awarded by the BLM to Study Sterilization of Wild Horses


by Carol Walker, Director of Field Documentation, Wild Horse Freedom Federation

When I was at the August Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board Meeting in Riverton, Wyoming, I listened to the BLM present its plan for awarding ten million dollars in grants to study sterilization of wild horses.  They plan to announce in January which proposals will be accepted, and award 1 million dollars to each proposal. The Advisory Board Members and BLM staff lamented that birth control doesn’t work so they need to keep studying – while also laughing about “well, we KNOW sterilization works!”

This is actually completely untrue, about birth control not working.  There have been 30 years of studies proving that Native PZP, the one year drug used on mares does in fact work.  Currently, Native PZP is being used very effectively to control populations of horses in the Pryor Mountains of Montana and in the McCullough Peaks Herd.  The goal for the local BLM office and the groups working with them in both these areas is no more roundups.  Manage the wild horses on the range where they belong.  Do not add to the ridiculous number of 50,000+ wild horses in holding facilities and feed lots, but control the numbers in a way that will sustain numbers needed for maintaining genetic viability, be reversible, and is humane.  It is also important not to use PZP on small herds that are way below the numbers necessary for maintaining genetic viability, like herds that have an AML of 40, 50 or 60 horses.

There is a terrific video by Dr. Alan Rutberg, PhD of Tufts University at the 2014 American Equine Summit in his aptly named talk called “Embracing Failure: Why the BLM will not use Fertility Control”

The bottom line is that it is hard.  BLM does not want to use birth control because it takes time, money and resources.  They would far rather pursue a permanent solution, sterilization, even if it is dangerous and cruel.

The studies that are being considered include gelding, chemical sterilization, chemical vasectomies, and spaying of mares.  These inhumane, dangerous procedures would be done in the field.

All of these studies on the sterilization of stallions make no sense – unless you sterilize ALL the stallions in the herd, you are not doing an effective job at controlling the population because 1 stallion can breed and impregnate many mares.  Instead, using birth control on the mares is what needs to be done.

Consider the Sand Wash Basin Herd in Colorado.  Wendy Reynolds, the Field Manager of the Little Snake Field Office in Colorado has applied for a study of chemical vasectomies of stallions:

This is despite the fact that currently the BLM is currently using PZP-22 on the wild horses of Sand Wash Basin.

This ten million dollars should be spent in funding birth control programs using Native PZP on the range, studies of wild horses on the range, and range improvements.

If the BLM begins sterilizing horses on the range, this will be the beginning of their final solution for our wild horses – a solution that will bring about the zeroing out of our wild herds.

Related articles:


Wild Horses – Photographing the Wyoming Checkerboard Horses in Canon City


by Carol Walker, Director of Field Documentation, Wild Horse Freedom Federation


The beautiful boys 1-4 years old in pen 3 were curious about us

As many of you know, it was quite a process obtaining permission to photograph the wild horses rounded up last month in Wyoming’s Checkerboard Areas who are now in Canon City Short Term Holding at the prison facility.  However, on Monday, no one could have been more helpful and accommodating than Fran Ackley and Brian Hardin, who spent 4 1/2 hours with us, taking us to every pen, and making sure we could get good angles, tag numbers, and good views of the horses.  They want these horses to go to good homes.


Fran Ackley was an excellent guide

I did my best to photograph as many horses as possible and have their tag numbers visible for people interested in adopting them.  I did not photograph every horse – some were behind other horses, and the sheer number was overwhelming.

You are welcome to download and use the photos for identification purposes and to send to Lona Kossnar, but please respect my copyright and do not use them for anything else without my permission.  You are also welcomed and encouraged to share these with anyone who is interested in adopting a horse or horses.


Beautiful young mares 1-4 years old in pen 21


I have broken the photos down into age groups.

First are the foals and weanlings in this link:

Images 1-5 in pen 13A, images 6-57 are in the two adjoining weanling pens, 36C and 36D, images 146-149 are in pen 23.

Then the young mares, ages 1-4 in this link:

Images 59-93 are in pen 21, images 94-100 are in pen “No Man’s Land”, images 101-125 are in pen 22 and images 126-145 are in pen 25.

Then the young stallions, (soon to be gelded) ages 1-4 in this link:

Images 150-155 are in pen 8B, images 156-225 are in pens 3 and F, images 226-246 are in pen G.

The older mares, ages 5 and up are here:

Images 339-387 are in pen 26, images 388-441 are in pen 18. You may notice hip brands on some of these mares – this is because they were treated with birth control, PZP either in December of 2013 and/or October of 2010.

The older stallions, 5 and up:

Images 247-313 and 327-338 are in pens 19b and 19C, images 314-327 are in pen 9.

14CarolWalkerCanonCity-332                14CarolWalkerCanonCity-432

2 of the older stallions                                                      Older mares


Two stunning weanlings, a dun 9135 and a grulla 9133 in pen 36C


You can use the neck tag numbers on the horses for identification purposes.

Some notes about the horses – the 9000 numbers are from Great Divide Basin, the 7000 numbers are from Salt Wells Creek and Adobe Town.  They do not list any horses as being from Adobe Town, but there are Adobe Town horses mixed in with the Salt Wells Creek horses.

These are NOT all the horses brought in during the Checkerboard Roundup.  The other 600+ are at Rock Springs Corrals.  They are not ready for adoption there yet.  There are also about 100 weanlings and yearlings and two year olds from Salt Wells Creek that went to Axtell, Utah’s wild burro facility.


There are no burros in Wyoming, Marjorie, but there are burros at Canon City! Ginger makes a few friends.

Several of us have photos posted of these horses out there, so there is no guarantee that a horse pictured will still be available.  I am not in charge of adoption, I am only the photographer.

The next adoption day event is November 21st (but you can call to adopt at anytime with an approved adoption application). Information about the event, how to find out more about individual horses or to download adoption forms can be found at these links:

Through the Canon City BLM office, the first 150 miles of shipping is FREE!  There are group shipping options as well for folks that are interested in the horses, but live a distance away.  Please contact the BLM office directly for specifics.

Lona Kossnar at (719) 269-8539, or email her at

Please be kind to and patient with Lona – she will have LOTS of folks contacting her and I know she will do her very best to help all of you!

Pam Nickoles was also there photographing and you can view her images here:

( entitled “Canon City BLM Checkerboard Horses”

And Amanda Wilder, who has images on her Facebook page with each horse identified by tag number:


The weather changed just as we were leaving – we had good timing!


NV Wild Horse Rescued from Sticky Situation

Source: Reno’s News 4

SPARKS, Nev. ( & KRNV) — One wild horse found herself in a sticky – and smelly – situation on Tuesday.

According to Lyon County officials, wild horse advocates and the Lyon County Technical Large Animal Response Team responded Tuesday afternoon to a Virginia Range wild mare that found her way into the Truckee Meadows Waste Water Treatment Plant on Cleanwater Drive in Sparks.

The mare was found by facility personnel stranded in a waste water settling pond, which contains waste solids. She was apparently in the water for about four hours.

Two of the volunteers trained in both HazMat and large animal rescue were ready to don HazMat suits and go in the gooey material to secure the animal for extrication, when she gave a mighty try and managed to get her front hooves on solid ground. The volunteers were relieved to see the mare pull herself onto solid ground and avoided taking a murky swim.

The volunteers built a decontamination corral and gave the smelly horse a thorough decontamination wash down under the supervision of a facility manger before she was let loose to rejoin her companions.

Ironically, the horse entered the facility during a project in which the fencing was being upgraded to prevent such things as curious horses.

Shannon Windle of Hidden Valley Wild Horse Protection Fund on Wild Horse & Burro Radio (Wed., Nov 12)



WEDNESDAY, Nov. 12, 2014

6:30 pm PST … 7:30 pm MST … 8:30 pm CST … 9:30 pm EST

Listen Live Here!

Call in # 917-388-4520

This will be a 1 hour show. Please call in with questions any time during the show.

The shows will be archived, so you can listen anytime.


Our guest tonight is Shannon Windle, President of the Hidden Valley Wild Horse Protection Fund in Reno, Nevada.


Hidden Valley Wild Horse Protection Fund is an all-volunteer registered 501( c )3 non-profit organization to protect and preserve the Wild Horses that settle in the foothills surrounding Hidden Valley during the winter months.  For over 20 years, volunteers have monitored herd health, grazing availability, provided attention to sick and injured horses and foals, aided in state run adoption processes, and installed and mended fencing and cattle guards.  Other volunteers are involved in ensuring federal and state departments are working within the statutes that provide protection and care for the Wild Horses.

This group is currently trying to find adopters for Virginia Range Horses before the horses are sent to auction, where they could potentially be purchased by “kill buyers” and sent to slaughter.  Please visit the adoption link for Hidden Valley Wild Horse Protection Fund:

This radio show is hosted by Debbie Coffey, Vice-President & Director of Wild Horse Affairs at Wild Horse Freedom Federation. Continue reading

Veterans Day 2014: An Anniversary Worth Notice

By Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc as published in

More than 8 million horses served in World War I and only a fraction survived

In December 2013, a massive ice storm hit the northeast, rendering millions without power. Our elderly neighbors “rescued” my children and me, and we stayed huddled in front of their fire, which served as our only source of heat and light for several days.

The primitive living conditions reminded my neighbors of growing up in the midst of World War II, diving head first into the trenches lining the perimeter of the school yard when the sirens sounded and standing in the bomb shelters reciting times tables whilst breathing as hard as possible to make their gas masks puff ever so slightly from their faces to produce a flatulence-like sound.

Sgt Reckless the real War Horse

Sgt Reckless the real War Horse

Just like young people continue to find small joys in childhood even in the midst of war, horses and other equids continue go to work helping their human companions in any way they are asked. It is simply their nature. While many human soldiers bravely elect to serve their countries, equids have been called to duty over the centuries, without choice or complaint.

Recall some of the following facts:

  • More than 8 million horses served in World War I and only a fraction survived;
  • The British Army alone recruited 1 million horses—more than 90% died;
  • In addition to direct attacks, causes of death in war horses were due to disease, starvation, thirst, and exposure to the elements;
  • In World War II, Germany reportedly used 2.75 million horses, while the Soviets used 3.5 million; and
  • After surviving a war, horses were rarely returned to their homes. Instead, they were repurposed and sent to other war zones.

Every Nov. 11, people throughout the world remember, thank, and celebrate veterans in different ways. And, for the past several years, has recognized the role of horses in warfare, each year with a different goal—unwanted horses, maintenance of equine war monuments, a moment of silence for horses, for example.

This year, we seek to raise awareness regarding the continued war efforts that horses make through equine therapy. Our human heroes return from war expected to rejoin society despite bearing physical scars and emotional wounds. Yet again, our equine companions give selflessly to help our veterans heal as highlighted in the award-winning documentary Riding My Way Back.

There are a number of organizations offering healing services to veterans, such as the Injured Marie Semper Fi Fund’s Jinx McCain Horsemanship Program  and Saratoga Warhorse that “provides each individual with a unique experience that helps to release stress.”

Many more veterans could and would benefit from equine therapy. This Veterans Day, during the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, consider making a donation to an equine therapy organization to show support not only for the veterans horses help today but also the scores of service animals lost to the trenches over time.

Click (HERE) to comment directly on theHorse