The Force of the Horse
Conquistador: Captured, Conquered, Condemned
by R.T. Fitch and Elyse Gardner
Elyse Gardner served as the “Humane Observer” for the horses during Cloud’s round up. Being a true professional, Elyse would ask pointed questions during the daily operations briefing conducted by the BLM and overseen by field agent, Jim Sparks. Daily she would suffer verbal abuse, lack of courtesy and just simple rudeness. (all of this was documented both on video and in sound bytes), but she continued on when others may have quit.
And she has not quit, even today, almost two weeks after the gather has concluded Elyse is still hurting for those who are held captive and working towards seeing them freed. We all feel pain for Conquistador and his band. Conquistador lived free for 19 years and now himself and every member of his band are destined for adoption, sale and more likely, slaughter.
Hear Elyse’s words, below, and view the images that she took exactly two weeks ago, this day, when the BLM decided, on a whim, to zero out the entire sub-population of the Custer National Forest herd and never return any of the family back to freedom, again.
Dear Friends of Horses,
Here is something I’ve put together for Conquistador. Please share it, pray for him, go to Thecloudfoundation.org and watch the video; it will tell you White House numbers, Michelle Obama, and what more we can do to free these horses. IT IS NOT TOO LATE. We have been successful before in negotiating horses’ release. He is a 19-year-old band stallion. Gelding him at this age would be cruel. He is not a potential good trail horse. He does not belong in a pen, in a stall, or in a long-term holding lot. He is Conquistador.
Conquistador - cruely captured and broken
“Oh, Conquistador, I’m so sorry,” I told him. I could count on one hand the times I’ve cried so hard. The enormity of what was happening here was staggering. It was early, still cool out, 9:31 a.m. There were just a few people chit-chatting, their voices distinct in the still mountain air; no media, oddly quiet after the hype of the last few days. Just some horses in a trailer… So casual while this noble King of the Forest stood stripped of his life, his ability to defend his family. I hated pointing my camera at him, but I’m telling the world. We are working hard at finding him a home where he can be himself.
And yet another perspective from Wild Horse Photographer, Pam Nickoles!!!