Horse News

Cloud Update: Footsore and Lame in the Mountains – New Video

by R.T. Fitch

Cloud, although released from captivity, now footsore and lame

Cloud, although released from captivity, now footsore and lame

Cloud, the world’s most famous wild horse, was released from the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) holding pens on September 09, 2009.  Cloud’s family was ripped to pieces by the BLM leaving him with only half of his band’s population and all of the mares chemically sterilized, for the next two years, with PZP.  There is little hope that Cloud’s bloodline will be able to survive this brutal and unwarranted attack perpetrated by the very federal agency that is charged, by law, with protecting our wild horses and burros, the BLM.

Now that Cloud has been released, independent observers have verified that he and what is left of his band have returned to their lush pastures in the upper altitudes of the Pryor Mountains, but there’s a rub; Cloud and almost all of the adult horses are footsore and lame from the brutal helicopter drive down the mountainside followed by the return climb back up.  The babies

Lame baby in BLM holding pen

Lame baby in BLM holding pen

of the other bands are in worse condition with several of them barely able to walk, leaving them open to possible predation and death.

It appears that the BLM’s ill-conceived and grossly mismanaged round up was not enough of a travesty, in its own right, but the very techniques used cause extreme risk to the safety and welfare of our much maligned wild horses.  Chasing horses, with a helicopter, down a mountainside in 95+ heat for over 10 miles is by no means humane treatment and reeks of lack of common sense.

Just a little background; at the beginning of the round-up a press day was held, the temperatures reached into the upper 90’s and the BLM pulled the plug on the day’s operations as it was “too hot” to push the horses.  Next day the press cameras disappeared, the temps shot up into the upper 90’s and the BLM pushed bands of wild horses both further and harder.  On September 8th they pushed a band so far and so hard that one of the horses became “tied-up” and in an effort to hide the fact the BLM ushered the remaining independent observers off from the observation bluff so that they could not witness the exhausted horses being driven into the pen.  That same day they, also, pressed a distant band for so long and so hard that a foal and her mother could not keep up and were left behind and abandoned.  That night several foals were lame and footsore in the BLM holding facility.  Of those two bands driven to exhaustion only one horse was slated for removal, so what was the point?  Why torture these animals for no reason other than to pump the mares full of PZP to ensure that there will be NO babies for the next 2-3 years and beyond?  These are questions that need to be answered.

Jim Sparks, Billings BLM Field Agent and Commander of Operations

Jim Sparks, Billings BLM Field Agent and Commander of Operations

On September 11th the BLM banned Humane Observer Elyse Gardener from checking on the status of the remaining 57 horses being held in captivity at their Britton Springs holding facility.  Within that sad group of 57 are older horses that should have never been removed from the herd as they bear the knowledge and herd’s store of information on water and winter food locations and are virtually unadoptable at their advanced ages.  Those captives also include Conquistador and his band ripped out of the Custer National Forest, never to return to their native home (this was to be a selective removal not a “total” remove operation).  Without agreed access being granted to our observer there is no way that we can verify the health, safety and welfare of these creatures or even if they are still present and accounted for.  What would be the BLM’s “Mustangate” motives for this last breach of trust and honesty?  What could they be hiding and why do they think that they can continue to operate with total immunity from the laws and the wishes of the American people?

These are valid questions that should be asked of your federal representatives, the director of the BLM, the Secretary of the Interior Department and the President of the United States.  Please, continue to ask them “Why?”

(Photographs courtesy of Terry Fitch)

Update – New video just put together by the Cloud Foundation!

Video by Sandra Elmore

Slide show by R.T. Fitch

Additional “Mustangate” coverage at Horseback Magazine

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38 replies »

  1. Exactly…….WHY?
    How sad.
    Lets not sit back and let this happen ANYMORE, lets band together and make some noise for these horses. This is not only happening to Cloud’s herd, but several wild horse bands in the USA.
    For the horses,


  2. This is such a travesty! Please, Mr. Fitch, you must know the names and ages of the 57 horses that are now in the BLM’s nasty hands. I have asked several people who these horses are. We need to know so that we can better help them.


    • the BLM is not insane they just want to destroy all those mustangs. They can rent the property to cattlemen and get money from it – the horses are COSTING money.


  3. I am so sad about what happened to the Cloud Herd.
    I think the BLM is insane for what they did to the herd.
    I thought that the BLM was here to protect the horses.
    Boy was I wrong.
    Something should be done to BLM they are not doing their job.


  4. What we have witnessed during these past several days is a very dark moment in American History. The unspeakable abuse of Cloud’s Herd by the BLM has clearly shown to the remainder of the world, the insensitivity of our government toward this most treasured American Icon. To quote the words of Mahatma Gandhi, ‘The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.’ How foolish our nation must appear….


  5. We were promised transparency and accountablity by our new President. Where is it in this case? How can a rogue agency make it’s own rules, as the BLM has done at this time?Why have they been allowed to make their rules as they went along? Changes were made, but not for the horses’sake. What has been done to these families cannot be undone.This is not the will of the public, on whose lands these mustangs made their home, nor is it legal by the law, that charges protection for them. We will pursue in our effort to request accountablility for their actions.Our voices have been unheard so far. Let Mr Salazar speak to this issue, which he could have stopped before it began. The horses live wild in nature and man destroys,as ever.


    • “Rogue” agency is a good description of the BLM, Sandra.

      Every employee of the BLM who has ever had anything to do with wild horses gathers should be imprisoned for contempt of court — the people’s court.

      In addition, their back wages, which they obtained while stealing horses from their/our land, should be garnished and the money given to a sanctuary for the remaining wild horses in the feds’ possession.

      We the citizens of America should never allow our corrupt government to touch a single hair on a single wild horse’s head ever again.


  6. Do we have a description of each of the 57 horses? I am wondering if we could find a lawyer to sue BLM on thier behalf? I know, that sounds crazy, but it would be a great media feat…isn’t there some way to do that? Perhaps some animal rights organization would know? HSUS wouldn’t do it because it is politcally incorrrect, but there may be some other source of information out there. Just a thought, desperately grasping at straws here, I do not hold much faith in contacting senators and government entities. I have a battle on another front that leads me to believe that it is all about money..dirty money in high places, and this reeks of that.


  7. I agree – we cannot just let this pass. Hopefully, none of the horses are so badly bruised that they develop abscesses, but it’s not impossible. It just sickens me.

    I can hardly even sleep for trying to figure out some way of bringing these criminals in the BLM to justice.

    There HAS to be SOME WAY!


    • I didn’t realize that they “sterilized for 2-3 years ALL of the mares. I hope cloud will find others and continue his line.
      The bureucrats are despicable. I realize the President has other things on his mind, but gosh the agencies should pay attention to our emails and calls.


  8. Before Salazar became the Interior Secretary, he was Colorado’s senator. I sent several letters asking him to sponsor the anti slaughter bills to no avail. He is a land owner in southern Colorado and supports ranchers across the country. One of his responses to my letters stated he had horses and would send them to slaughter without any remorse or concern because it is not inhumane. I would not be surprised if he approves of sending the wild horses to slaughter. The man has no concern what so ever about horses. Considers them livestock to be managed. If there is something that would be beneficial to cattle ranchers, then he would be behind it.


  9. Thank you R.T. Fitch for exposing the ugly and sad fact of this travesty. This is UNacceptable and it is UNAmerican!!! The BLM cannot continue to “make its own rules” and they should be held accountable! This roundup makes no sense to me, those horses were all fat, shiny and healthy… NONE of them were thin in the slightest, so the BLM obviously “made up a story” so they could destroy a historic herd of wild horses, something they had NO RIGHT to do!!! I am sickened and saddened by what has taken place here, and the horses and foals suffering from painful bruising of their hooves and bodies better recover or the BLM needs to be charged with acts of “animal cruelty” for each case. They should be charged now!!!


  10. Jim Sparks should be ashamed of himself…. How dare he wear a shirt with pictures of horses. He obviously has no feeling for them. They are just things to be moved around to him. Disgusting. I’m so sick of disgusting, cruel people.


  11. So with all the “talk” what is anybody doing to Free those horses the BLM kept – especially the “older” stallions? And what is anyone doing to prevent them from gelding the older stallions?


    • At this point, save for protesting and applying public pressure in the hopes they feel so much heat that have to back off, little or nothing can be done to free them or to prevent BLM from gelding them. They are at the mercy of BLM and their hired guns.


  12. Yet another peerless performance of BLM on looking for new ways to exterminate and erradicate the beauty of this world for the short-term profit of their capitalists friends! Why spend gas and physical effort on trucking these horses to Bouvry’s when predators can finish them off??? After all, they already got paid millions for their helicopter bagatelles. They got way more than what they can spend on Milwaukee Worst…



  13. we speak of equal rights, its makes me sick,this is our heritage western raised maybe that is the problem, they do not have wild horses in washington or Hawaii, or Kenya our president does not listen to us, only his small select group i am sorry my husband and i have spend 26 years serving our country for what when we do not have voice in any of hour heritage.


    • Annette YOU should send this note to President Obama and his wife and the VP. Maybe THIS note would make them stand up and think!

      “we speak of equal rights, its makes me sick,this is our heritage western raised maybe that is the problem, they do not have wild horses in washington or Hawaii, or Kenya our president does not listen to us, only his small select group i am sorry my husband and i have spend 26 years serving our country for what when we do not have voice in any of hour heritage.”


  14. How can the very foundation of America be treated with such disregard. As a Brit I cannot understand how people can treat these animals in this way, my first stories of America were of the incredible wild horses that formed the basis of the nation. Champion the Wonder Horse!! They represent the power, spirit and freedom of your great nation. There are better ways than mass murder. Please find them. without these majestic animals America would not exist as it does now. Think on.


    • Carolyn, Please write to Obama, and Biden. If they feel pressure from around the world, and possible impacts from low opinion, and thus lower tourism, that would help a lot I think.

      Tell all your friends, the kids too.


  15. Will the lameness of Cloud pass in time?

    Let us not forget the 30,000+ horses in the BLM’s holding pens who I think may begin to be exterminated as of November 2009.

    The reason I believe this is because I found something on BLM site stating that in November 2008 a decision was made to “put off” the extermination for a year. That year is up November 2009. If anyone has more info on anything that might extend the time this proposed carnage is postponed, please let me know.

    Does there need to be emergency legislation brought forward just to protect these horses before it is too late???????? Only the SB 1579 is out there now.


    • What if emergency legislation coudl occur?

      I would propose stopping all of this years roundups, use that money to return as many captive horses as possible.

      Thereby, no breach of contract with the roundup crews – they will just be acting in reverse – but slower, kinder, with public and film crew observance.

      And therby, no more budget crises for now, then resume managment next year, sprung from passage of ROAM Act, based on real investigative science, peer and public scrutinized, and real wild horse experts.

      I did see that the panel has been expanded – good or bad in all your opinoins?


  16. R.T,

    Any update from anyone in the field on the condition of the captive or returned horses? Are the returned horses and fouls recuperating? I thought they all looked so, well, depressed, maybe just sore. Is is fair to say they may be mourning their family members left behind? We know dogs and wolves can mourn for weeks, even months.

    But I’m desparate for an update on their health and the ones remaining captive also.



  17. Famous Cloud the Stallion Wild Herd still Suffering Damage from BLM Capture

    While Americans on holiday, Labor Day weekend round up decimates herd as winter arrives

    LOVELL, WY –September 26, 2009 – On Saturday at noon, 57 wild horses from the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Herd, made famous in part by the PBS Nature documentaries, will be auctioned off to the highest bidders. A large crowd is expected due, in part, to the publicity surrounding the controversial roundup earlier this month.

    While the missing members of their herd wait, tagged and branded in BLM holding pens, the damages of this poorly planned roundup are highly visible on the range. Beyond leaving this unique wild horse herd seriously below genetic viability, the horses on the range are clearly damaged.

    “We were up on the mountaintop yesterday and the cruelty of this massive roundup has not faded away,” explains Ginger Kathrens, Volunteer Executive Director of the Cloud Foundation. “Cloud is lame on his right front and his filly-daughter is still extremely sore. It was painful just watching them walk to water.”

    One of Cloud’s mares, also injured, appears to have a possible stifle injury. His four-year-old daughter, Firestorm, has significant difficulty walking at all. “I think they will recover but it is hard to know and winter is just around the corner,” Kathrens continues. In the past 15 years all roundups in the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range have occurred later in the year when the horses were lower down on the range. This roundup took place in early September when nearly all the mountain horses were the furthest away possible from the trap site. Foals less than one month old were forced to run over 12 miles along with their families to the BLM corrals at the base of the mountain.

    This roundup was scheduled early due to contractor availability, BLM desire to remove all horses from Commissary Ridge outside the designated range (a plan not revealed to the public until day one of the roundup) and National Adoption Day. The BLM is holding adoption events across the country and hopes to adopt out 1000 horses. “This is a significant event and will raise awareness for mustangs, but why they had to pillage this little herd for 57 more horses to adopt out when there are 31,750 wild horses in holding already is beyond me,” says Kathrens.

    While at the turn of the century, there were approximately 2 million wild horses in America, there are only 33,100 mustangs left on the western ranges according to BLM. “I think the BLM knows that these horses will draw a considerable crowd and they put all the horses in danger with this early roundup. In what was planned to be a “model” roundup, even the most famous wild horse in the world was injured,” says Kathrens.

    Citing “a disturbing round up a few weeks ago,” Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) was instrumental in legislation that passed the Senate on Sept. 24, 2009. The legislation directs the BLM “to develop a new comprehensive long-term plan for wild horse populations by September 30, 2010” according to a press release from the legislation’s sponsor, Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA).

    “The public outcry for preservation of our wild horses and burros is being heard” says Kathrens.

    “People are not willing to sit by and watch an unchecked government destroy a Western American treasure: the wild Mustang.”

    For more information contact:

    Valerie Kennedy


    Makendra Silverman



  18. This sure looks like a case of animal cruelty to me. If a private citizen set foals and horses up in a situation like this, terrorizing them with a helicopter to run that distance resulting in lameness for the foals and horses, s/he would be charged in an instant. You don’t have to be a horse specialist to see the possible outcomes for the foals particularly. Good old ‘humane’ common sense as the Native American Indians call it. Please stop this abuse immediately. The horses cannot wait a year!


  19. Linda, If I choose to save wild horses, then, in a free country I will. You have no personal opinion, just your ‘friend’s. Like so many you perpetuate the lies and the BS that has been shoveled at anyone who asks about these horses. No one is pandering here. You bring yourself forward to reveal your prejudice and your ignorance. I am so glad you came by to show us what you are about first hand. For those who never met someone like Linda, it’s time you get experienced.


  20. Linda, Interesting, answer these please, I really do want to know:

    1. Who, where and on what date did a Pryor wild horse advocay person or group complain about too many FREE ROAMING WILD HORSES starving to death? Or for any other herd of FREE ROAMING WILD HORSES?

    2. Please produce your evidence that the Pryor wild horses were starving to death in mass due to overpopulation for this 2009 roundup, or any prior roundup – please provide a link, some dated pictures, etc. please?

    3. So Wild Horse Annie and the whole government at the time that legislation passed to protect the wild horse were all fanatics? Please provide your evidence of that.

    4. And a penned up wild horse is better than a wild horse running free. Answer this – if being penned up is better than freedom, why do they take belts away from human prisoners? I’ll answer that one for you – because they will attempt suicide. Now you answer this one – why do they attempt suicide? Don’t tell me guilt – they have all already said they are innocent.

    5. Answer this, Yellowstone – wolves were erradicated at one time. Now they are reinstroduced species. So you are saying that Yellowstone wolves are not wild?

    6. So the tests done by BLM (and others) to prove the Spanish blood line are not accurate, are untrue, are flawed? Please provide that evidence – link to the scientific data please.

    Personally, I don’t care if they are wild, feral, reintroduced, all that balony – just smoke screens. They are legislated to be on the PUBLIC LAND – my land, paid for by my taxes, and I want them to remain there in their families to represent our american heritage, living free.

    “FAMILY” “FREEDOM”, anything else, is well, anti-american? Not accusing, just asking?


  21. Your post of Sept 12, 2009? – its the second post – please see my reply to that post.

    And I don’t know your friend and I don’t believe anything anyone tells me – I want to “see” the proof. The days of “I saw” are long gone dear. The horses were photographed coming into the pens – very inbred and unhealthy? Perhaps you are blind, and I mean no offense by that, and you really cannot see those horses in the photos on these pages – in that case you need to consult a few friends to tell you what is going on.

    Yes, the money spent on “wild horse roullette” to those that benefit financially (in the millions of dollars) from these unnecessary roundups could feed a lot of starving kids.

    “There is barely any spanish blood left in them if any at all?”. So you have evidence that the BLM scientific tests are falsified? And all the othere scientific tests are falsified? And so the horse breeders, breeding and selling Pryor horses as a RARE breed are committing false advertising? Please provide links to all lthis evidence.

    And you have evidence that wild horse lovers, that lovers of the public lands and forests and parks do not do anything to help their fellow man? Please provide that evidence.

    I’m serious, I really want to know.


  22. I am sickened and saddened by this whole thing! If I were not needed by my 4 babies I think I might go and kill some people.

    It feels though like we are all talking and complaining and as though the Meeting on the HIll did no good.

    SO what is the next step to save our wild horses and will Cloud recover from his lameness.

    I am on a VAS bulletin board group on yahoogroups, with the intent of stopping Vets from giving cats unneeded shots that cause them to get VAS. BUT the board is dead so no good is being done.

    WE need to get together with Ginger and the Cloud foundation and see what can we do NEXT!


    • What is the news of Conquistador and his herd that I read (extremely brief) is now on a ranch in Montana????
      Anyone know?


      • Yes a very lovely, natural and wild place with thousands of acres to roam (don’t know the exact amount)and the bulk of his family was kept together. It might not be home but they are together, mostly, and safe.



  23. Linda, if you looked at the pictures and videos of the “gather” you would see that the horses are fat AND healthy. No runny eyes, no snotty noses. Seeing is believing.
    There are many agencies that care for the children. WE have to speak for the horses that have no Voice of their own. (And many of us do BOTH)


  24. Linda, these horses are doing something for the children. Go to the PBS website and read. Children are inspired not only by the horses, also by Ginger’s contribution and all connected to it. One boy now knows what he wants to do for a living due to watching the PBS shows. The others are inspired by love to love, by caring to care. By the love they feel for the horses, Ginger and for one another because of what they have in common. Hey, maybe the love stirring inside them will today inspire them to reach out and do something kind for someone. What have you done for another today Linda? It is blindness like this that strips love, goodness, kindness, caring and respect from this world. Somehow people who cannot feel it end up in positions where they strip it away from being, the first opportunity they get. Know them by their fruits! I can guarantee you, people who love animals are the ones keeping the love flowing on this planet. Go out and do something for someone Linda, human or animal, and feel the love flow! Do an act of kindness that inspires the receiver to pass it on to another.


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