Horse News

Diary of a First Time Wild Horse Stampede Observer, Part Two

Series by Lisa LeBlanc ~ SFTHH Chief Investigative Reporter ~ Part One


Photo by Leslie Peeples

We have spent so much time addressing the inequities, injustices and cruelties surrounding the roundups, we sometimes forget to notice there is a beauty within all this ugliness, the reasons why we fight the fight.

I’ve been a Horsewoman for 17 years; I have never met a Horse that didn’t have something appealing, something to recommend itself to the world. You deserve to know them, the Twin Peaks bands, to know who you fight for.

Come with me and meet the Wild Horses of Twin Peaks.

By their nature, Wild Horses, when left to a natural progression, develop characteristics unique to their environments. The Twin Peaks bands are the Horses I observed and I owe it to them to try and bring them to life for you.

The dominant colors run the gamut from the Blue Blacks, beautifully tainted with brush strokes of pure white, to truly white Grays and Cremellos. There are variations and dilutions of Blue Roan and Blue Appaloosa and Black & White Paints. There are the occasional forays into rose and gold – Red Roans, Sorrels and Palominos, to break it up a bit. All the ‘standard’ Horse colors are represented to some degree, but a personal favorite and rare oddity is the nose-to-tail and hoof-to-hoof pure Pewter Grays, with no other color to be found on them, not even in their manes or tails.

The true treasure of the Twin Peaks Horses, however, must be viewed close up: Each of them, without exception, possesses a distinctive metallic sheen.

Over and over I saw ‘common’ colors, glowing brilliant in the sunlight, bringing out in Bays, Buckskins, Grullos and Duns an uncommon beauty, all clad in a coat of living metal.

BLM Contractor's Helicopter Harassing Twin Peaks Wild Horses ~ Photo by Hector Amezcua

I’m no geneticist or anthropologist; I can only offer a humble opinion – that, over the generations, living in the high dry desert, in air virtually free of pollution’s haze, they have developed this reflective property as protection against the heat of an unforgiving Sun.

Through self-selective breeding, they have produced well-muscled bodies of excellent conformation. Many, particularly the Stallions, have deep, muscular chests and butts, physical developments that should run counter to this harsh environment but are, instead, a testament to Nature doing more with less.

These adaptations are not limited to their physical development. While observing at the short term sorting pens, they showed remarkable intelligence and a characteristic unique to higher minded beings – compassion.

Most stood calmly, as if assessing their predicament. One Stallion and his Mare – the leaders of the small band the Thesis Author had studied over her year-long research in this area – worked in tandem to keep others in the pen from fighting or panicking by running interference rather than through discipline. An unrelated yearling Palomino took cues from the pair and remained focused and observant. And all remained uninjured.

In another pen, three Mules, offspring, no doubt of illicit moonlit romances, stood shoulder to shoulder in a crowded pen with a collection of Horses, all alert and aware but undefeated.

There were occasional but rare bouts of panic, but all tried to be polite and respectful of one another.

When a truckload of infants arrived, the foals were already frightened and squealing for their mothers. The Mares responded but rather than a chaotic cacophony, each Mare called out, one at a time, in measured cadence, and the foals were quieted.

I’m sure the contractors and the wranglers would take credit for this if they could but the fact is you can’t achieve a good outcome without starting with a superior product. And these Horses are superior – in appearance, in intellect – products of a harsh, sun-beaten landscape of hills, gullies, canyons and draws where survival is contingent on control, to keep your herd safe; communication, to keep your herd close; and the willingness to save others in order to save yourself.

BLM's lack of understanding wild horse behavior is evident when they put Band Stallions together with deadly potential ~ Photo by Hector Amezcua

I had heard of the terrible fights among Stallions captured the day before, a natural response to the unnatural acts forced upon them. I had heard a story related of a Stallion who refused to follow his family into the trap but stood, calling them over and over. When he could not save them, he tried to call others to him, to head them away from the trap.

But this is a roundup and none will be spared. It will be left to humans to decide who will be saved and who will not. I saw these Horses twice – once from a distance and once in a cage – and even in these circumstances, their singular beauty and extraordinary intelligence were evident.

I hope, in some small way, I’ve been able to help you see them as well.

Twin Peaks Stampede to Extinction ~ Photo by Craig Downer

We ended the day at the Litchfield facility, where we were allowed to watch the release of the First Day Stallions into a huge holding pen. A mass raced toward us, the colors of a living thunder cloud – the Fathers and Sons of Twin Peaks, and the loss pummeled me once more. And I was left to wonder: Those who make these decisions – what do they see?

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23 replies »

  1. Lisa, thank you for being there and reporting back to us. Your report is already being sent out into cyberspace.


  2. When we call the White House, or any of our legislators, we need to tell them that these round-ups are a disgrace to our country. The rest of the world IS watching.


  3. I even got a computer tech from India to sign one of the petitions. He called to help us with a computer problem and I got started on THIS. He jumped right in.


  4. Comment by Anna: to Louie; good news about the guy from India signing the petition; I also reach out to people from other lands for compassion to the Critters; thanks ! my comment is: The above Twin Peaks Video was created by a “Jessica Johnson; pretty sad!

    Sad to see ANOTHER Downed Mare being left to struggle on her own; trying to rise out of a sandpit the Mare has inadvertantly dug herself into; AND NOT ONE BLM STAFF CAN HELP THE MARE UP? Not one BLM Staff can hand carry a meal of Hay to the Mare

    and this is the most evil thing I have ever seen our Gov. do to them

    is the BLM “leaves sick Mustangs to Perish in sandlot and sandpit
    and I have about 100 pix of downed mustangs “unable to rise AND not being offered sustenance such as a handful of hay; take Feather the Emaciated Foal for example; who searched the entire BLM Lot for a sprig of Hay and found NO hAY; tjhis is because; for some unknown reason; the BLM places Hay on the OUTSIDE of the Pens instead of in the center of the pens: SO THE FOALS DO NOT KNOW WHERE THE HAY IS…and my comment is:

    If the BLM had given Feathers a handful of soft hay; she might have lived…the BLM did not give feathers anyting; then she “died !
    SUMMARY THE BLM DOES NOT EVEN ATTEMPT TO FEED OR WATER DOWNED MUSTANGS OF ANY AGE IN BLM CORRALS…The BLM lets them lie in sand “until they rot; ILLEGAL! ILLEGAL to not provide sustenance to downed animals!


  5. “See the Foal search for Hay Sprigs…see the Foal cantering up and down the railing frantically searching for a Sprig of Hay because the Foal’s Mum is down and the Foal is hungry; to the point the Foal’s Health is being endangered due to lack of Hay/milk

    See the Foal does not know the Hay is right on the other side of the big huge railing and the foals mum is down so the mum cannot teach the foal where the Hay is…You can see the Foal’s Mum is DOWN IN THE SANDPIT OF CALICO; in the first frame of video…

    summary: The did not provide sustenance to this Foal…(of ANY type…not even one lousy sprig of hay; not even a flake…
    and then the foal died…THE END OF THE BLM CRIMINALS IMO
    I call the bLM criminal because is criminal to not feed a living foal
    (you can see the Foals downed Mum lying flat down in first frames


  6. Notice: to R.T. or anyone else:

    If you look @ just the first 7 seconds of this video: esp. the seconds 4; 5; 6 and 7; you will see; a. Feathers in the foreground
    b. A black Mare (with a foal) in the middle of the screen and c. in the background; right behind the Black Mare; you can see just some of a Bay Mare lying down in the Sandpits of Fallon Corrals;

    I surmise this is Feathers Mother; who can not rise up from the mire to feed her foal because Feathers mother is “succumming to not being able to adjust to the new hay and other factors; such as stress; lack of shade; lack of shelter; etc.and cannot feed her foal;

    so Feathers searchs frantically for Hay Sprigs and finds none; if only someone could have showed Feathers how to eat the Hay other side of the railing…since the BLM made feathers mum sick

    (in frames 4-7 you can see a downed bay; with a white star near right her eye; you cannot see the mares entire frame; just her face; look just behind the black mare…This mare is down lying in a self made ditch as she struggles to rise due to BLM Roundups…

    so i think this is Feathers Mum; not the big light colored mare…imo

    ps see my theory makes sense; cause Foals tend to stay nr. Mum; EVEN is Mum is down…Foals alwasy stick close to


  7. I think rescues would step up to care for these injured and orphaned mustangs if the BLM would not only allow, but encourage it. No $125 adoption fees – just sign them over. What’s $125 (x how few?) to a a program that spends MILLIONS of our tax dollars to capture and imprison these magnificent animals?

    As I have said before, I chose to be “unchurched” a long time ago. I study and compare the progression of belief systems throughout human history, including Christianity.

    In Genesis, the Creator gave man “dominion” over the creatures of the Earth, for good or ill. Personally, I don’t think these brutal actions are what He had in mind.

    The Creator also gave humans “free will”, which has degenerated into exploitation and greed. Our actions are contributing to the extinction of species and radical changes in the climate of the only planet we know of where we and all life forms we “control” can survive.

    My point is, do we humans still deserve the gifts we were given? Many certainly don’t appreciate them. And, after we have used up these gifts, who will “inherit” the Earth – we humans who must change Nature to protect ourselves FROM Nature, or the animals that adapt TO Nature? My bet is on the animals.


    • Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) wrote these lines:

      “The high,
      the low
      all of creation,
      God gives to humankind to use. If this privilege is misused,
      God’s Justice permits creation to punish humanity.”

      BLM is a ghastly government agency. May the screams of these poor animals haunt those involved to their graves .. and beyond.


  8. Thank you, Lisa, for painting a picture that allows us to see what you see, and for reminding us why we are here. You ask “Those who make these decisions – what do they see?” We don’t know, of course, but I think once you acknowledge the beauty and majesty that is so obviously there, you need to accept complicity in its destruction.

    The use of acronyms such as “AMLs” and “AUMs,” and terms like “head count” and “multiple use mandate” allows people trapped in a system that must objectify animals to function, to distance themselves from reality so that they can make what the system calls “hard decisions.” It is why Tom Pogacnik of the BLM has said “We can’t protect every individual horse, for one thing. It’s not feasible, and it’s not appropriate either.” Well, what is “feasible” may be for the managers to evaluate and recommend, but what is “appropriate” is for us–the taxpaying, American, owners of public land–to decide. We are the decision-makers.

    When I was at the Palomino Valley holding center last November on a tour organized by the Society for Range Management, I heard a group of attendees chuckling about the “people who want to name every horse.” One speaker said “Next thing they’ll want to name the squirrels too.” I felt compassion for this person who had apparently never experienced the joy of seeing an animal as an individual. My heart goes out that person, to Mr. Pogacnik, to those security guards and functionaries who think they need to herd and manage people too, and to those “specialists” who have to explain to their children why they believe they “need to make these hard decisions.” They may never see the beauty that is right in front of them.


    • we need to go back and learn from children, as they DO name animals in their environment, and in naming them, make them a special individual, worthy of attention and compassion. Thus Steve the squirrel lives on the Ft. Campbell KY army base, with others named as well. This spring, it became obvious that Steve was a Stevie, and she and her babies are near and dear to the children who live near her.
      I hate condescending people who look on us as nutcases, because we care about these horses and want a better future for them than what they have now. We also realize that their future is tied to our future, in ways we can only guess at right now.
      After Barbaro had to be PTS, a fellow teacher was wondering why I was so upset, as he was” just a horse.” He doesn’t get it, and many in this world don’t get it either. That we DO get it, is the source of our compassion, and heartfelt pain as we view these horses.

      I have a 2 year old filly here, a mustang from NV. I know she is happy on my 5 acres, she has found her place with my small herd; she loves to be brushed, and looks forward to the grain bucket every day. As much as I love her, I wish she was still running free in the mountains of her home. She was born in a holding facility out there, so, while she knew her mama, she never experienced the wonderful family life of the wild horse. I wish she had; I wish I knew what happened to her parents, her brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles. I will never know, and neither will she.
      She was just a number to BLM, as was her mother, when I named her, she became my beloved horse. ALL these horses deserve a name, the respect and honor that goes with that, as they are ALL beloved by us, treasures beyond measure. I wish there was some way to open the hearts of the people who could change this tragic outcome for our horses.


  9. It is sad that they don’t see the beauty and wonder right in front of their eyes, but they simply CANNOT be allowed to spoil it for those who can. There is a huge paradygm shift and it is going on right now. You can feel it everywhere. They have the choice. They can either become enlightened and move forward with the rest of us, or they will be ushered out. The choice is theirs.


  10. This world does not belong to any of us. It and all of its creatures are a GIFT that we have been given and we have the responsibilty to cherish and care for it. It is our mandate to do such, and we MUST take care of it for our children and our children’s children.


  11. anna chiming in here lol: yeah Bible says man has dominon over animals; yet the Bible also said: we are the stewards of the land and the caretakers of the animals (like Noah was); having dominion over the animals means ‘being the caretakers; speaking of chiildren; watch the video nr. bot. of page about children riding mustangs; you can see a young lad and lassie leading mustangs around a ring like big puppies; kindness and trust Rule the Mustang and Burros; and the other wonder critters made by Life !

    (the top video is good too…) thank you for caring; and recall; speaking in terms of Evolution; the animals have been on this planet and evolving for a far greater time than humans…by far…aw


    • Lisa, thank you so much for the gift of this beautiful tribute to our Aerican Mustangs,
      Anna, I agree wholeheartedly, Dominion does NOT mean domination.


    • Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures.

      His Holiness The Dalai Lama

      A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal, But even the compassion of the wicked is cruel. Proverb 10 20


  12. ps I enjoyed reading the other emails; and to Jan; thanks for the update on the 2 year old NV filly; give her a big hug for me…thnks.


  13. What’s in a name? Everything! My first contact with BLM was due to concern about the fate of Conquistador, who is the same age as my horse. Having begun life in the wild, he deserved to end it there also. The idea that he could be adopted and domesticated at his age was ludicrous. Beyond that, his sad countenance in holding wouldn’t leave me. I could barely eat or sleep thinking of him. He had a happy ending because he had a name and because of the Cloud Foundation! The BLM lied to us that weekend and I’ve been watching and listening to them ever since. I’ve learned a lot about wild horse behavior too, more than the BLM will ever know. I believe Salazar told them not to report any more injuries or more deaths than they have to, to keep down the public furor. I will be be meeting with Senator Durbin soon. Why? Because of Conquistador AND the nameless mustangs – because the intent of the Wild Horse & Burro Act is being twisted. I figure, if all else fails, there’s always Towanda. Figure that one out, BLM!


  14. Check out the Cloud Foundation blog–some beautiful items to bid on and help raise money for HERD WATCH– help keep our humane observers on the road:

    HerdWatch Fundraiser Auction is over Friday at 6:00pm
    August 18, 2010 by thecloudfoundation
    Auction Fundraiser to support HerdWatch


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