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 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

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!!!


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35 replies »

  1. The BLM are evidently bereft of normal, human emotion.

    This is so sick that I am at a loss for words on this crime.

    They should all be held accountable for this atrocity. I am astonished that these horses are still being kept prisoners.

    How many phone calls do we need to make to our senators, congressmen, Vice President and President for them to hear us?

    I thought that this Administration would be open, it is evidently not open at all.

    Something is very wrong.


  2. How can we HELP rescue Conquistador and his band? We can’t let this horse be slaughtered. Can we contribute to a fund to buy him at auction?


      • Just called the President’s comment line; didn’t take but about two minutes of holding to get through. Operator was nice until I asked for the President to support the ROAM Act and to begin an investigation of the BLM. Then you could feel the icy chill all the way to Alabama – hope it was because they’re getting swamped with calls like this!! Anyhoo, I wished her a nice day and will get back to my calling and emailing. Thanks for giving the number out.


    • In reality, I think that Conquistador is safe from slaughter as he is too high profile for the BLM to allow him to go that route, but if we were not watching, they would sell him to a Killer Buyer in a heartbeat, they are their best customers.

      But the BLM and Jim Sparks made a VERY serious mistake when they attacked Cloud’s herd; they brought thier sick plan to rid our public lands of native wild horses to the forefront. Every little girl has a Breyer’s model of Cloud on her dresser and maybe that little girl cannot effect change put her pissed off mother can and when the heat rains down on dad a whole new level of anger comes to light. Keep calling, please, we CAN and WILL make a difference.



      • RT, I pray that you are correct, but after what these creepy people at the BLM just did, I’m not so sure any of OUR horses are safe.

        What they did was akin to a thief in the night, stabbing children while they slept.

        These people should all be fired and sent to jail, IMHO.


      • I agree with RT about Conquistador being safe from slaughter at least. I believe Ginger and the rest had a plan for him from the moment he was brought in and those idiots refused to return him to the range.

        Whether he’ll ever return to the range is another question, but I don’t see anyone giving up on it any time soon, if ever, until he’s back where he belongs.

        Just looking at his picture gives me goosebumps, and I start to cry. I have to believe he WILL run free again.

        Also agree, RT, about the serious mistake those thugs from the BLM made when they not only attacked – and attacked is the right word for it! – Cloud’s herd, but were so unreasonable about small things that they could have easily agreed to. Like freeing Conquistador for instance. It appeared to me that they were deliberately “throwing their weight around.” BIG mistake. You don’t abuse horses in front of Real Horse Lovers.


      • R.T., I have read on YouTubes of very high profile race horses going to slaughter. But they did not have us – we will keep on!


  3. Sorry RT I don’t think you are right about him being safe. Once a horse heads into long-term holding we cannot keep a watchful eye over him and his herd. Once there some of these animals simply disappear in the night to never be seen again. To often we have seen this happen.

    Not to mention that the BLM’s policy is that if horses are in poor condition they can be shot where they stand in long-term holding facilities. One facility owner was quoted in his local newspaper to have an open pit at all times to “dispose” of horses. After a few weeks he will simply fade into the background and once that happens or for a second we look the wrong way he will be gone forever.

    I pray I am wrong, but greatly fear that I am right.


    • Shelly, with all due respect, I hope that you are wrong. But if past history is a teacher, you could be correct.

      I side with Ginger that if worse comes to worse, we adopt him and then, not putting this on Ginger, we set him free…and let the bullies of the BLM pull another Mustangate and capture him again.

      Someone, some where has to be listening to us.


  4. Keep up the fight. We are trying to free Conquistador and Grumpy and the other Forest Service older horses as well as the several whose color and blood lines are so rare on the mountain. Never give up.


  5. The BLM program is irreparably broken and must be disbanded. Congress is our only hope to intervene. The BLM must obey the law, so let’s get it change. Not just the ROAM act, but disbanding the BLM wild horse and burro program. These horses should be manage wild and free on public lands.

    First, cut the BLM wild horse and burros budget. They should not get another penny.

    Horses in holding should be returned the 19 million acrea from which they were removed.

    Congress should holding hearing on the GAO report completed last year, that recommended congress hold BLM accountable for the 19 million acres unaccounted for. That a beginning.

    Let your senators, representative and the President know that BLM wild horse and burro program is profoundly broken and congress must take step to cut funding and disband the program, just like the disgraced Dept of Interior Land and Mining office caught trading sex and drug for favors with oil and mining corporations.

    And never stop calling for the release of Conquistador and other older horses more then 10 and cloud band members.


  6. Conquistador… the horse I see in my mind’s eye when I think of a Spainish blood horse running free. This amazing being held captive because of greed. Even placed in some sanctuary far from his home… is still a sadness… but far better than the possibilty of slaughter. But that possibility in this world does exist.
    He should never have been removed. Anyone that claims his “genetic” mission has been fulfilled and therefore is of no “vital” importance does not comprehend this tragedy.
    Wild horses are horses in the wild… not manipulated genetic stock, produced by man. These survivors once symbolized what it means to be “American.” I shudder to think what these images imply “we” have become, as Americans.
    I will keep calling, praying, everything I can think of.


  7. I talked with someone this weekend who was there…I don’t know how much of this is true because I have not had time to research it – but I was told I could to verify what he told me.

    The BLM had to remove all the horses from the Forest Service lands because the National Forest Svc does not want them on there. So….not only do we need to be calling and e-mailing about the BLM and their decisions, we also need to find out why the Forest Svc does not want the horses on their land, so be sure to add their name to the calls and e -mails!

    I was also told that if Conquistador was let loose, he would go back to the range he was picked up from…and that would put him in the hands of the NFS again.

    Like yourselves, I really hope someone finds a solution and a place to let these wonderful horses loose so they will stay on lands that are designated for them.

    I sure hope there are enough of us and the government listens….DO NOT GIVE UP!!!!


    • Aren’t the National Forest, Federal lands too? Perhaps this is about the uranium. If so, I believe they are violating the Wild Horse & Burro Act.

      Also, let’s throw in animal abuse too.

      Send them all to jail, including the National Forest Service.


      • So much of this gets lost in the labels:
        Wild, feral, estray.
        And then the next set:
        BLM, FWS, DOI.

        All of this is Department of Interior:

        From the magnificent Cloud and Conquistador at the top, to the lowly horses called”sh*tters” at Sheldon.. to the burros that are “braying” loudly to not be forgotten.
        All of this horror is DOI.


  8. The biggest challenge to me is not just to expose the BLM regime, but to find a reporter/media outlet that would not express the same indifferent attitude as the majority of people who are oblivious to the plight of our wild horses dooming this country.
    I contacted several reporters, one who even wrote an article on BLM’s questionable practices in the Denver Post:

    He told me while he “appreciates” my “enthusiasm” he will just delete my emails, if I keep sending more… Please contact him from your neck of the woods. He could be a local voice to expose more.

    I am shocked at the passive attitude of our government, the media in general and the lack of committment to stand up for what we believe in. America is becoming a shameful nation full of corrupt minds and the media is not much better. Please contact this guy and other media outlets in your area to help us gain momentum to expose this shameful regime.
    Thanks. Monika


    • Perhaps Mr. Jaffe was /told/ not to print anything more.

      I contacted Martha Steward, Bill O’Reilly and Meg Ryan from Fox news – nothing back. I sent them the whole story with links, etc.

      I just have a feeling that our government is more corrupt than we know.


  9. I wonder how everyone that is responsible for rounding up wildhorses in this country would feel if they were abruptly pulled away from the only home they have ever known and their loved ones to never see some of them again and be locked up in a corral?Something tells me if the “horseshoe” was on the other foot-things might be different!I hope the government chokes on their oil/gas and uranium leases!


  10. Dear Ones…

    I am going to be communicating with Conquistador and the other horses who are being held illegally. Looking at his expression in the photographs…he is confirming what many horse souls have been sending to me.

    He is not broken. He is biding his time. He knows what is happening. He knows what he has to do. He and the others need strength, support – and this is being provided by all of you who read this and are aware of this deplorable attempt to break not only the spirits of the horses…but of the humans as well.

    And he…like Cloud and all the others who are living breathing examples of the insanity surrounding those at DOI/BLM…

    are some of the bravest equine souls I have ever encountered.

    All Love
    Padme A’Tea


  11. The DOI/BLM has BROKEN THE EXISTING LAWS! Now, if I break a law, I am soon in jail. How can we have these inate B*$^%@(s arrested? Why can’t they be arrested? I grew up believing that the “law of the land” was justice. This is not justice. I really rather doubt that “justice” exists in this country any longer!

    Has anyone heard anything from the “hierarchy” of the anti-slaughter and animal welfare proponents on what has happened in the Pryor Mountains? Where is HSUS, ASPCA, PETA, etc. What are they publicly saying or better yet WHAT ARE THEY DOING?

    Conquistador! The Spanish conqueror! He has to be SAVED! Please donate all the money, even your change to free Conquistador!


  12. BLM did NOT break any laws.. they are doing what they have been doing for many years… taking care of the mustangs.. horses eat grass to the roots.. then EAT THE ROOTS when the grass is gone.. and when the snow fly’s the GRASS WILL BE GONE and the horses will then eat the ROOTS of the grass in the low lands… just how much roots can be ate before there is no grass left… cattle dont do that.. sheep dont do that.. ONLY horses will eat the roots of the grass… LEAVE THE BLM ALONE… THEY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING.


    • Wow, Angle, you must have had a lot of koolaid!

      Any person that knows horses, or one that doesn’t even know horses, can see from what the BLM did was blatant animal abuse, along with very shady shenanigans.

      Let’s look at a few facts:

      1. They conducted this roundup on Labor Day weekend. The only reason we can all see for the timing is that we advocates could not reach our government officials to halt this atrocity. They even paid their BLM employees overtime to work over the holiday weekend. In these times, do you think that this was a responsible way to spend OUR money?

      2. They drove the horses in 90 degree heat, over rough terrain for 12 miles with a helicopter, driven by a convicted animal abuser. (I wonder how many brain cells they are working with).

      3. They rounded up a herd of horses that were fat and healthy. This is NOT their job. They are supposed to be protecting the horses, not decimating them.

      4. These horses have been on that mountain for centuries, thriving. But, the BLM just destroyed them by sterilizing the mares.

      Angle, perhaps you need to educate yourself on what is really going on, before you make very stupid posts.


    • Hmmm….. Angie, no one mentioned how you ALSO don’t know anything about how horses eat – or cattle or sheep, for that matter.

      Cattle GRAZE – all the way down, and sheep are even worse. That’s why the “old” range wars were fought. Cattlemen didn’t want sheep around because they were harder on the range than even the cattle.

      Horses, on the other hand, are not even grazers. Horses are BROWSERS. They nibble here, move on, nibble there, move on – if they’re allowed enough land to move on that is.

      They eat a wide variety of vegetation, not just grass. They do NOT graze down TO the roots – that’s what cattle do – let alone eat the roots! If they happen to pull something up by the roots, they certainly don’t eat them – spit that out in a heartbeat. Where do you get your information? Certainly not by watching horses actually browsing, that’s for sure.

      And if you think the BLM “knows what it’s doing” – well….


    • Angle, Your BLM that KNOWS what its doing – just watch the news cast – guy saying horses are starving – then these FAT horses are pushed out of their mountain top lush green meadows, which they obviously have NOT decimated, all right before your very own eyes.

      Very sad news in #21 today under Cloud Updtate: Footsore and Lame in the Mountains – from the Cloud Foundation – 2 1/2 WEEKS AFTER RELEASE Cloud is still lame, others are still in bad shape – OH, YEH, BLM KNOWS WHAT ITS DOING!

      And for doing what they’ve been doing for many years – shame on you and shame on them – they have run little babies until their little hoves fell off, mares aborting during runs, running horses over cliffs, leaving stallion to mare ratios out of balance, and then sending the survivors off to slaughter – there is documentation after documentation right at your fingertips.

      You might try using that computer of yours and do some resesarch instead of believing BLM double talk.

      And, by the way, different forage is perrenial, others are annual – does not depend on roots, it depends on re-seeding itself – guess which of the three animals does not digest seed, but instead passes it through its system? And as stated horses do not eat grass roots anyway, therefor, the perrenial grasses will grow back in the spring and summer.

      And I think, Suzanne, while you are correct on all points, except that horses do eat dead brush – the dead annual brush/weeds in the winter, that will still be dead in the spring and summer, and that will add to the BTU level for wild fires to take to the tree tops, instead of staying at ground level. BLM and others have even experimented with goats for this same control, except they did pull up roots and all –



      • Sorry – this is a new Post on this site called “Famous Cloud the Stallion Wild Herd Still Suffering Damage from BLM Capture, posted today.


  13. I will only say in reference to Angie Bentley

    haahaaa haaa haaaa–as in your making me laugh with your ridiculous claim.

    Check the 1971 law that PROHIBITS low flying aircraft (helicopters) from driving and/or forcing wild horses hither and thither.

    You would have us believe that the BLM knows what its doing???? Then why if they care so much and are oh so wonderful would they drive a herd that has a young foal 15+ miles down the mountain to lame it–possibly forever.

    You would have us believe that the BLM CARES what happens to Conquistador a 19 year old BAND stallion. A wild mustang that should never have been rounded up in the first place. And oh by the way what about Grumpy Grulla a 21 year old mare.

    What about the mare that coliced because of all the heat. She was covered in blanets (and I got this from TCF). What about the other horse that tied up because of the long drive in all that heat????

    The BLM said one thing before this recent “gather” and then right in the middle of things they CHANGED the rules of the game. After “gathering” so many horses they suddenly decided that entire bands would be REMOVED PERMANENTLY from the mountain. Bloodlines lost and lives forever changed.

    I rest my case. The BLM by their very actions have shown little to no regard for the animals. They have some 30,000+ wild horses in long term facilities already and now they want to heap more horses into the pipeline. Somewhere in all of this I’m smelling the blood of many horses. It’s called horse slaughter and that meat is sent to Europe for human consumption.


  14. I can’t seem to stop crying as I view these pictures and read this story. God has created these beautiful creatures to be able to roam free on the lands he created. And now the BLM takes the law into their own hands and destroys the beauties of what this country had to offer. I will pray until I can no longer breath that these horses are free and kept clear of harm by the human hand.


  15. Conquistador and his black mare were saved by The Cloud Foundation. Those two and 13 others will be going to live on a 3000 acre sanctuary at the foot of the Pryor Mtns, so they can still be wild and have their families. He’s lucky to have people like Ginger!


  16. I think this is so cruel – to round these wild horses up – they wereborn free and should remain free – They havedone nothing wrong. It hurts me so much to see and hear about them being treated this way – The BLM has no right to do anything with these horses – This is their home and always was. I don’t know how anybody could do this to these horses and live with themselves knowning what they have done!!!!


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