Horse News

The Senseless Capture of Cloud’s Herd: One Year Later

(In My Humble Opinion) by R.T. Fitch ~ author of “Straight from the Horse’s Heart

A Turning Point in Wild Horse Advocacy

It was a year ago today, September 7th, that myself, Terry, Ginger Kathrens, Makendra Silverman, Ann Evans, Pam and Tom Nickoles, Carol Walker, Elyse Gardner, Sandy Elmore and many others sat silently on a bluff overlooking the Britton Springs BLM Holding Facility in Wyoming and watched the cruel Cattoor Helicopter drive Cloud and his family into the awaiting holding pens.

Cloud, captured Sept. 7, 2009 ~ Photo by Terry Fitch

I felt the world shift on its axis just a fraction of a degree, at that pivotal moment, and I can see the change in the magnetic field of wild horse advocacy at work one year later.

Last year I turned to our BLM Security escorts and told them that they had just messed up; they had captured the magnificent Cloud of whom every little girl has a model of on her dresser and tonight those little girls would be crying.  And when the little girls cry the mothers are tense and when Mom is stressed Dad is pissed beyond all means and on that night, there were a lot of pissed off Dads across America.  I thought that to be a big deal and would thereby culminate into the main impact of the BLM’s indiscriminate and unnecessary harassment of Cloud’s herd.  But I was wrong; it runs much deeper than that.

Cloud’s abduction brought together a small handful of people that clung to one another and each brought to the roundup a special collection of talents and contacts.  By using those contacts and the power of the internet a cross roads or tipping point was achieved and the issue of Wild Horse Advocacy was brought to a higher level of awareness not just across the United States but around the World in general.

Ginger Kathrens, Ben Sussman, Sandy Elmore, Terry Fitch, Pam Nickoles and Elyse Gardner ~ Photo by Tom Nickoles

One year later and have we made any difference in slowing down Ken Salazar and Bob Abbey’s voracious Wild Horse Harvesting Machine, the BLM?  Not that one can see on the surface, but swimming against the current with great tenacity is a movement that is beginning to make the corrupt managers of insidious federal agencies a tad bit nervous.  It’s only a matter of turning up the volume and keeping the pressure on the accelerator and sooner or later, someone with the authority will pull the plug on the BLM and its special interest driven calamity.

There is a part of me that wants to thank the BLM for their mismanaged mess that they called the Pryor Mountain gather of ’09.  They tortured dozens of horses and tore many families apart but they did not kill any horses, that we know of.  But above and beyond that, they brought us together and by behaving so recklessly and without scientific basis they galvanized an advocacy that is driven by truth, honesty and facts.  If not for the careless stupidity of the BLM’s attack upon Cloud we might not have managed to pull together such a professional team of educated and dedicated advocates.

So I will, begrudgedly, tip the brim of my hat to the BLM for their own unprofessional behavior because due to their ego driven recklessness they managed to amplify something that Ginger Kathrens had been doing for years.  They put a face and a name on the Wild Horse issue and turned “Cloud” into a household word across this nation.  That’s worth millions in free publicity and to this day, the BLM does not have a clue as to how they played right into the hands of those who so vehemently oppose their broken policies.

They just don’t get it.

Click HERE for the thoughts and feelings that occurred one year ago, today.

Click HERE to read about the most recent attack upon Cloud’s life.

29 replies »

  1. Last year, we were told by the BLM that Cloud would never be pulled permanently from the range. Is there any change in that status? As he grows older — I believe he’s close to 16 — what are the chances that he’ll be captured and released? And what does the advocacy community think should be done if Cloud is not slated for release?
    Out of spite, Cloud could be held in captivity against our wishes (and his!!) He could also be injured, accidentally or on purpose — a circumstance that we know with certainty would be covered up. I’m not sure how much we want to discuss this specific issue in an open forum, but I have some real concerns for his safety and well-being as public pressure has be amplified on the subject of round ups.
    Aside from Cloud himself, this round up is ridiculous. What is the sense of rounding up these horses one year later when 52 mares were shot with PZP last year and released? Are there that many new foals to cull from the herd? I don’t think so…


      • I think it’s Fed and state forest services doing this, right? And hasn’t TCF with others filed suit re: same?


      • Gotcha, RT. I had thought that there was another round up scheduled for this herd. Thought I’d seen it on a schedule somewhere. The BLM has so many on the roster that it’s hard to keep up sometimes. So, thanks for the clarification. 🙂
        I knew about the fence … what a waste of time and money — and a huge disadvantage for the horses as winter is around the corner.


  2. Truth will not be stopped…slowed down maybe, but never stopped.

    The likes of Wild Horse Annie and Ms. Kathrines’ have given us the names for the manes roaming our beautiful lands. The recklessness of Man, especially the agencies chartered to protect them have given us our passion and forged our tenacity.

    Advocates like RT and the constantly attributed others have kept us focussed and informed. They compile the facts and witness on behalf of our American Icons, whether wild or domestic. The more we know, the more the killers squirm and lash out with excessive roundups, inhumane treatment and cruel deaths for these noble servants and friends of Man.

    Thank you RT for your thoughts….one of the best I’ve read to date.

    And yes, a left-handed thanks to the killers….you have unwittingly steeled our will and committment to these magnificent creatures.


  3. So late in the year that fence will go up. what happens when there is snow and the horses need that winter graze that is behind a fence?

    The round-up they did with Clouds group was done at a much slower pace and bands were seperated much more than the BLMs helicopter jockies normally do.

    with clouds round-up it was none of the cramming stallions together and none of that running wild horses and stuffing them right into trailers.

    Still can’t get over that stuffing wild animals right into trailers and they use sometimes those open bar top trailers!! For just captured wild horses!! The type of trailers that in their adoption rules they won’t even load a horse into that has had months to get used to trailers.

    oh well, hopefully they won’t touch Cloud or his herd for many years, its just that fence now that is a problem. Hopefully a rail or two breaks (I pray for termites and cheap rotting wood) and/ or the ends of the 2 miles will still have a way to wintering cover/pasture.


  4. I was pondering what constituted a criteria for breeding in the eyes of those doing the contraception of the herds. Since these are cattlemen, presumable they are looking for a breeding type close to what they use for reining. Then I thought, those are well muscled animals suitable for carrying a cowboy and a horse dumb enough to do cattle work but not clever enough to survive on their own. Then I thought. Yes, they are looking to breed a horse that looks like a cow. In fact an animal that is bred for meat.
    If they are rounding them up to be slaughtered, they are a prime source of horse meat, sold by the pound. They aren’t like domestic horses who have been treated with medications. What’s the betting.


    • What a hoot it would be if they sent a blood sample to a lab and found that PZP causes cancer of all kinds! Just like bute but worse–far worse.

      Hence any horse that has been treated with PZP is also on the permanently banned from slaughter list.

      Anyone know if you eat tainted horse meat containing PZP what the ramifications are????? May private parts fall off…


      • PZP is definitely ALREADY a banned substance! It is an experimental drug that can’t even be given to domestic horses. That’s what I’ve been saying–those PZPd mares cannot (legally) go to slaughter. Also those that have been given bute – which I’ve read in the BLM’s own records does get administered. Also ivermectin, which they use to worm them. And no telling what ELSE.

        Considering the quality-or lack thereof-in the BLM’s record keeping, do they even KNOW which ones have been dosed with what drugs? How about the ones in LTH? Bute is forever.


  5. When you write, call, email….tell the WH and Congress to freeze expenditures, ALL expenditures regarding roundups except one: population and ecosystem reports pending on the wild equine issue.

    No more money. No more appropriations or stimulus…not one more dime and cancel the contracts pending for convenience (T4C). They can do it. Ask the “pleading Congesspersons” why they don’t.


  6. A month ago I received a card from the Cloud Foundation with Diego, Conquistador’s son’s, picture. He was born in the wild with his parents because a group of caring individuals made it so. Diego has become my guiding light during Twin Peaks, a reminder of the prize. He also stirs righteous indignation, that 40 foals as beautiful and innocent as this died due to the miscarriages caused by the Calico roundup. There were also foals crippled or killed at Tuscarora and Twin Peaks too. Yet none of these outrageous acts of animal cruelty “count” in BLM’s eyes.

    I am hopeful more good will come yet due to the roundup of Cloud’s herd. It mobilized a growing group of people with a single goal who have been joined by the large humane societies and additional members of Congress.

    In the past year we have seen BLM go from confident and cocky to bobbing and weaving to avoid taking a “hit.” Thank you BLM for being your own worst enemy with the exception of your contractor mouthpieces, the Cattoors, and their insipid employees who “high five” in public view.


  7. That roundup was exactly why I went to the Pryors this summer. I wanted to meet Cloud and see his family.

    It really was truly memorable. When Cloud saw the car he started walking over to us. I got the distinct impression that he felt he was meeting new friends. At least I know I felt that way.

    I saw Cloud greet a yearling colt. It wasn’t one of his. As he was escorting the youngster back to his home band he gently chewed on the colt’s withers. Not a drawing blood bite but a mutual grooming chew.

    I didn’t see Cloud send the message to his mares but they suddenly singlefiledly crossed the road and off they went to graze elsewhere.

    Two Boots quietly skirted me. I had been on the horse trail and stepped aside when I realized that he and Sequioa (his mare) were behind me. They saw me hopping from foot to foot because I couldn’t hold my balance. Instead of snaking out to take a chomp they chose to move a few steps to the opposite side of the trail.

    I saw horses on both sides of the fence that FS wants to rebuild. I don’t know who makes those decisions about which agency has which lands but this one is beyond comprehension. This isn’t a small meadow. It’s the top of the mountain with land and no trees. The horses feed here because this is where they put on the weight to get them through the winter.

    Why would anyone cut that meadow in half in the first place? The law in 1971 said where horses are currently located. That’s fine. But this is beyond silly. You take a perfect mountain top home and divide it for no apparent reason.

    I encourage each of you to not just write letters but go to Cloud’s home. See it for yourself. You will be near enough Yellowstone that you can even combine both for a wonderful vacation. Be aware that you ABSOLUTELY will need 4 wheel drive for the Pryors. Burnt Timber Rd is not for the faint of heart.

    Honestly once you see this mountain top home you’ll understand that it doesn’t matter if its BLM land or FS. This mountain is home to Cloud and his family.

    How little I knew that day I first saw Cloud’s picture at another site. Who would have known that I who hates politics–would write letters asking for moritoriums and even going to rallies.

    What I do know for certain is this: Cloud grabbed my heart a year ago when I first saw his picture. He grabbed it and won’t let go. He keeps asking me why? All I can tell him is I don’t know. What I also do know is I won’t quit writing letters and complaining. I have to becasue this is what Cloud is asking us to do.

    I hope for the day that ALL the horses are safe. Then Cloud can let go of my heart and eventhough that’ll be sad–in the long run that’s what’s best for Cloud. I hope for this day soon because Cloud keeps telling me that its getting old being rounded up and having his family split apart.


  8. I am so happy that even though Cloud & his families were rounded up, they are safe, as The Freedom Fund herd. Cloud is truly one of the lucky ones, & because of his celebrity status, he has played an important role as an international wild horse ambassador. Even though some of his offspring will never know what it’s like to run free, they too, have opened the eyes of the world, & all are watching. The BLM really screwed up when they went after the most famous American wild mustang, Cloud!! I pray for Cloud, & all the wild horses, that this horror will soon stop, & the BLM & the Catoors will be shut down & put out of “their misery”, & that once again, the wild mustang will run free & thunder across the plains!


  9. The BLM are a group of humans who consistently err on the side of arrogance. They refuse to learn. They refuse to heed warnings to change their behavior.

    What does history teach humans who refuse to change? They fail to adapt and they do not survive.

    Cloud and all the other wild horses know so much more about survival than human government employees from Salazar on down. Eventually BLM employees will go extinct. And they will have earned that end.

    But these humans still have families, vehicles, and bank accounts to feed. Why would they not pressure their top brass to encourage ecotourism to the wild horses? Then they could still enjoy jobs in their communities forever and their friends will earn money too from tourism. It is a longterm and self-sustaining economy with few of the negative boom and bust and dangerous work side effects of mining, oil and other extractive industries.

    The horse families take care of themselves in winter, and the rest of the year the humans can make a decent income sharing the horses’ lives with people from around the world.

    Give it a try guys, it would be a hell of a lot better for your karma!


  10. The more the BLM gets away with, the more arrogant they become. Cloud is by no means safe. When the judge suggested the BLM put the Calico roundup on hold while the lawsuit was pending, they went ahead with it anyway thinking that once it started the judge wouldn’t stop it. They were right. The Forest Service is pulling the same thing with the Pryor fence by starting construction in spite of a lawsuit. They are learning from the BLM’s past victories that no one in authority has the guts to stand up to them and say no (except for that one judge in Colorado). By now these agencies are thinking they’re pretty invincible. It’s only a matter of time before they dare to go after Cloud himself — they’ve already targeted his descendants and PZP’d his mares.

    FS says work on the fence would stop if the court ruled against them saying, “There would be an expense associated if we begin and then the judge said to cease, but the way we look at it, we get (sued) on many things. If we waited until we got through the court system to begin implementation, we would wait a long time.”

    It sounds like they are daring a judge to stop them. The question is, is there a judge out there up for the challenge?


  11. R.T. ~ You are SO in target with this post. I know because I was one of those who was drawn to this movement by the Pryor roundup last September. I remember it SO well. This was the first time I’d seen the BLM in action and what they do to the horses.

    I discovered your blog, the Cloud Foundation and much more. The idea that the BLM would actually sell Conquistador at auction froze my blood. I bought mugs and t’s; I contributed to the Freedom Fund; and knew I was in this up to me ears for as long as it takes.

    That roundup make me cry for days, although I was thrilled when I learned Conquistador and the others were safe. I remember what that BLM guy said to you when you asked why were they doing this. I remember you expressing the opinion that the BLM was stepping into Deep Dodo by messing with Cloud. You were SO right!


  12. I watched the Cloud dvd again tonight. It was so hard to do knowing all that has happened and is still happening. Ginger Kathrens’ films are a legacy that may be all that remains in the end. I hope strongly that I am so very wrong.


  13. It is my understanding that they are discussing the possibility of PZPing more of the mares on the pryor mountain this year by dartting..This is the way they are attempting to annilliate the horses..They will make them extinct..non reproducing herds are the goals


  14. The fence MUST BE STOPPED ! I smell a rat all the way from California! The FS is using BLM tactics that worked in the Tuscarora roundup when a “scheduled roundup” all of a sudden turned into an “Emergency operation” when the Mustangs were DELIBERATLY fenced off of water. So If they were to fence off the Pryor horses of their feeding grounds, they might use the excuse of “Saving him”, from starvation? by rounding him up?! It will never happen though because we’ll feed the herd if we have to!! We MUST THINK POSITIVE. The BLM and FS are not the most brilliant, however they must know, that they will cause a REVOLUTION if they only bend one hair on the Pryor Mtn. Mustangs!!!


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