Horse News

The Vision for New Mexico’s Wild Horse Sanctuary

by Ginger Casey, an Emmy winning TV news veteran

One Small Step Forward in the Battle to Save the Wild Horses

Since March, we have been working with the State of New Mexico and the Federal government on developing a horse park and preserve for the Santa Fe area.

With more than 35-thousand horses in captivity and many in feedlot conditions, we wanted to work on a model that could bring some of these horses to permanent homes as well as showcase them on open lands that would be habitat for them to live out their lives in freedom.  We have learned that no one can do this by themselves.  The States are all broke, the Feds are struggling under the weight of their own care for the animals, and the non-profit world – blessed as they are with good-hearted people – simply does not have the funds to take on a large number of horses and burros.

Our model blends together a unique partnership between State and Federal agencies as well as the non-profit world.  Under the plan, the State will buy the property, the Federal government will bring the infrastructure and horses and a 501(c)(3) will be responsible for raising the operating funds through corporate partnerships and private donations.  It is a win-win for everyone – especially the horses.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, an avid horseman himself, saw the beauty of the plan and has been supporting its development.  The negotiations have been long and tedious, but are bearing fruit.  We have been working very closely with the Nature Conservancy, New Mexico’s State Parks director, Dave Simon, and Jim Noel, the NM Cabinet Secretary for Energy and Minerals.  They deserve a lot of credit for making this happen.  So does Phil Walker with the BLM in Washington.   He has been out to New Mexico several times and together we arranged for Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Sylvia Baca and Don Glenn of the BLM to come out to see for themselves the 12-thousand acre ranch we identified.  They loved it.  Governor Richardson then gave the go-ahead to acquire the property, which sits halfway between Santa Fe and Albuquerque on the historic scenic byway, the Turquoise Trail.  The town of Madrid is close by; a former mining town now known as an eclectic arts community.  The movie, “Wild Hogs“, was filmed there and several other western movie sets, dating back to the forties, line the road as it winds through the area.  The Ortiz Mountain ranch is a stunning parcel of land that rises up to the tallest peak in the mountain chain.  It is a striking visual point that can be seen for more than 50 miles.

What the plan envisions is a State park that is equine centered – the miles of roads and trails that are already in place on the property will welcome both hikers and those who trailer their horses to the park.  The old hacienda style house will be converted into a state of the art visitor center that will welcome school children and visitors with exhibits on the Mustangs and their historical contributions to our nation’s development.  A nearby stable will enable people to meet the horses themselves and see first-hand, the gentle methods used to successfully train the Mustangs from the wild to domestication.  These horses will then be available for adoption. Right now, if someone wants to adopt a horse, they have to drive a truck and trailer several hours to one of the existing Federal facilities, pick a dusty horse out of the crowd, somehow get it into the trailer and hope it works out when they get it home.  This only sets the horse and owner up for disaster.  Many people, not knowing how to handle wild animals, try to strong-arm them into submission.  As we know, that approach is probably the worst to take with the Mustangs.  At the New Mexico park, prospective owners will have several chances to meet and get to know their horse and learn the best ways to handle them. This will result in better adoptions for both the rider and the horses.

Most important, a separate 5-thousand acre parcel of the ranch will be set aside for a number of horses to simply run free, away from the public.  By setting up web cams near the water areas, much like they do in other Federal and State parks,  video of the wild horses will then be sent back to the visitor center, where people can watch the Mustangs and burros in their environment.

Santa Fe’s high desert climate means the number of horses the park can sustain will not be very high – the grasses are thin.  We may not be able to get more than  60 horses to run free there.   But if this model works, and we hope it will, then we can take it to other States where the grasses are more abundant, where we can then begin to talk about moving hundreds of animals out of the feed lots and onto free range.  Rather than doing the typical thing of pushing the horses farther and farther away to remote locations, we are going to bring them closer, so communities will meet and embrace them as beloved local treasures.   The benefits of Santa Fe – the crossroads of the Old West, a strong tourism economy based on its history, and a large horse-loving population, in our eyes, outweighs the negatives.  According to the Albuquerque and Santa Fe Convention and Visitors Bureau, millions of people visit the region each year. New Mexico, where horses first entered the ‘New World’ is a perfect place to begin.

We are setting up a non-profit that will not only manage the horses at this preserve, but at several others we hope to establish under this unique State/Federal/Private model.  This non-profit, the ‘American Association of Mustang Preserves’,  will also serve as an ‘alliance umbrella’ for other preserves that seek greater political voice and buying power.  By aligning ourselves with our fellow preserves, (where everyone retains their own name and brand) we will be able to better track the needs of the horses once they leave the Federal holding facilities.  Together, we can better advocate for the animals, share best practices and hopefully effect some real change in how the Mustangs and burros are handled.

Habitat, education, adoption are the three pillars of our model, along with a vigorous campaign that will incorporate some of Hollywood’s heavy hitters and major media.  Chantal and I both come from television news.  We have a lot of contacts within the worlds of newspapers, magazines, radio, television and Hollywood.  There is a lot of support already waiting in the wings, waiting for the word that New Mexico will approve the purchase of the property.  The first part of the project is underway, but we fear the election year politics in New Mexico may destroy the work we have all been doing.  There have been misinformation campaigns regarding the actual numbers, smear tactics against the Governor, and general nastiness about the horses, the BLM and the State.

New solutions need to be found for the care of the Mustangs.  The BLM admits this.  Most of your colleagues in the horse world are painfully aware of the problems the agency has had in rounding them up and caring for them in captivity.  Your activism and the work of others to forge a political solution is an important component of making real change happen. But change from within is also important.

Chantal and I have chosen to work with the BLM and the State of New Mexico to do what we can to make a real difference to the horses already being held.  So far, they have treated us fairly.  So, we are pushing on, hoping that this first park will be the example that other States will want to follow.

We have no stake in any of this, other than trying to help the horses.  We know this is not a full solution to the problem, but it is a start.  We are doing it for free and without any promise or expectation of compensation.  The BLM will not be paying us, nor will New Mexico.   I have flown to Washington to meet with officials at the Department of the Interior at my own expense and expect nothing in return.  Well actually, I do.  I expect to be there with Chantal when the first trailer of horses arrives in New Mexico and the gates open to let them out!  When we watch them run free, I will then consider myself paid in full.

So, if you can tell your friends about the plan and the work we have been doing, hopefully we can gather up more support for the project.  The NM Board of Finance will vote on the purchase on November 16.  They need to know that people support it.  If you can get the word out to a wide audience, I would  be very grateful.

These are the names of the people on the NM Board of Finance who will be voting on the property:

John Loehr
Rhonda Dibachi
Robert Apodaca
Maria Griego-Raby
State Treasurer James Lewis
Lt. Gov. Diane Denish
Governor Bill Richardson

Emails for the board can be sent to the board administrator:  Suzanne.Romero@State.nm.usor letters here:  New Mexico State Board of Finance, 181 Bataan Memorial Building, Santa Fe, NM 87501

Editor’s Note: (James Kleinert, Director and Producer of the film “Disappointment Valley – A Modern Day Western”, and Ginger Kathrens, Emmy award winner of the “Cloud” Nature series, have teamed up to support the Governor by hand delivering, on wild horse back, 1,000 letters of appreciation to the Governor in NovemberSo please copy in your emails to Ms. Romero to ensure delivery to the Governor)

92 replies »

  1. This will be a win-win, if implemented…no doubt! Thank you for your compassion, time and work for seeing this through. I hope the decision makers will realize the importance of this project and bring it to completion.


  2. Sounds like a wonderful plan, thank you to all for your dedication & long hours
    to move this forward. This will be magic, Can you feel it.


  3. Honestly, when I first read this, I had very mixed emotions. So I went out to feed the horses and think on it awhile. But I still have mixed emotions. 5000 acres can only sustain 60 horses? It smacks of BLM math to me, but as I do not know the area they are talking about, I will have to rely on the opinions of those of you here who do.

    My next thought was “here’s the first Salazoo”. Ginger Casey says, “But if this model works, and we hope it will, then we can take it to other States where the grasses are more abundant.” It just sounds so much like Salazar’s proposal of earlier this year. I hope I am wrong.

    It appears they have been talking to the BLM for a good while. So much for keeping them out of it. I just do not trust BLM anymore, especially Don Glenn. He is the one who promised advocates transparency and access, all the while conducting a secret roundup at the very same moment he was giving lip service to false promises. So many promises from BLM this year of positive change that never happened. So many lies and cover ups that did. So many needless deaths of our wild horses and burros.

    I just can’t get excited about this while I’m feeling aprehensive, waiting for the other shoe to drop. It always does with the BLM.

    But I will try to focus on how happy at least 60 wild horses will be to get their freedom back. That I can be extremely happy about.


    • You are exactly right. .I am sorry, but what we have been fighting against, the “Salazoos” what this sounds like. Educating people is one thing, but doing at the expense of the horses freedom is another. Unfortunately, Chantal and Ginger do not know this concept. What we need to fight for is the horses’ freedom. I personally cannot fight for this project, as it is proposed. Can you trust Don Glenn?????…the man who said the BLM wants to be TRANSPARENT?……If you sincerely want to help wild horses, again, I suggest you talk to someone who has been doing it, for 12 yrs, Carlos LoPopolo of THE NEW MEXICO HORSE PROJECT…..keep them wild and free. He is successfully accomplishing this. Buy land, let them run free….this is where the $$ should go; NO BLM CONTROL….. If you saw the round up schedule for the next year, you will see that the BLM will zero them out.


      • Golde, There are those of us who want to do this and many have been realizing that none of the wild herds are safe under BLM nor, it is obvious, are their lands. The PZP-22 and the vasectomies, spaying mares, killing foals on roundups, killing horses no one can confirm were blind or had ‘pre-existing injuries’… this is done with no witnesses and impunity. The White House condones this. Salazar says the horses do not belong. They need to be negotiated for and turned over to a public foundation that would operate for the horses. If some can stay where they are for now- then land can be found, that would be fair. If the BLM doesn’t want them they should not be allowed to destroy them when we want them and will and can manage them given time, funding and people to make it happen. That is why this must end and we turn this around 180 degrees and get going in a new direction. We are unable to stop BLM from taking them off their designated lands… as much as we want them to remain. There are so few left in the wild and so many have been sold to slaughter. The poor tribes will be wooed to begin slaughter altho’ this is a shameful concession for any native people to allow. We need to negotiate and remove the herds from BLM control under a program we can all agree to. If they will not negotiate we need to proceed and put this in place so we can buy and adopt all those coming off the ranges before they are processed and cut and pzpd.
        This will make them all our horses, the nation’s wild horses. We are losing them so fast now that the numbers are very low. We have no choice but to prepare for the worst case scenario because it is the only way to save lives. Any one who thinks we must remain with BLM is not seeing what is really happening. BLM is destroying the WH&B program and will not stop until we have all non reproducing herds and non viable bands. We are so close to this now we can see it coming in the extreme actions being taken on the horses now. Some of us are working to do what we can and we hope this project will grow because the aim is to save lives and give them a future as free as possible. Certainly a life better than what BLM is planning for them. mar


      • It is very fortunate for these particular horses that their art sales and people visits collect enough to support them and buy more and more land. How much does it cost to visit them do you know? What is the reproduction rate do you know? Do they sell any horses?

        What happens to the other 93 wild horses that they round up? Might those 93 be better off in this new New Mexico preserve than back east or mid wet in secret holding facilities?

        From the site link provided:

        “The percentage of mustangs carrying strong Spanish DNA is around 7%. The problem is that no one can accurately distinguish the difference between a Spanish mustang and a standard mustang. The best individual’s guess is only correct 50% of the time. That is why we of the New Mexican Wild Horse Project DNA test all of the horses that we round up, knowing that only 7 out of 100 will prove up for us. That is why it is important for us to make sure those found are protected and not exploited.”

        I think to say Ginger and Chantel do not understand is not understanding Ginger and Chantel or understanding the project. I know for a fact that Chantel has worked hard for a long time to stop roundups in the first place and supports them living free on the Public Lands – but since that is not happening there must be some place to “store” them until either they are returned to the wild, adopted/sold, or die.

        New Mexico sounds like a great place for that to happen to me – and get some tourism dollars while doing it –

        though that will compete with Wild Horse of the West – where is this successful place from Sante Fe?

        And just a thought – does this preserve not ‘prove’ the tourism attraction that could be provided on Public Lands to keep horses wild and free?


  4. Ginger, There is no mention of the Cerillos herd that is already on the land near Madrid.
    Will they stay and continue there? Local people have been watchful of them and they are loved. The Jicarilla horses continue to be removed from a combination of state, BLM, native and Forest Service land SE of Dulce, NM. Will any of these ‘in state’ mustangs be considered for the park? The Forest Service gentles them and younger ones are adoptable but many have been sale authority and some have been sold to slaughter. I do hope that if the state of New Mexico becomes involved with more wild horses they will look to the fate of their own, mar


  5. Thanks, Ginger and Chantal. This is a really good proposal. Well thought out and comprehensive. The educational component is so important, as well as keeping a free-roaming, REPRODUCING herd separate from the public, but still accessible to viewing at the visitor’s center and, hopefully, on the Internet.

    I sure hope this purchase is approved before Susana Martinez is sworn in January 1st. If it’s withdrawn from the November 16th Finance Commission Agenda things may get sticky. Martinez has already voiced her opposition to buying the Cerrillos land using Stimulus Money. Government officials and other supporters have proposed using funds from alternate sources. Doable, but will it get done?

    I have reservations about partnering with the BLM, but, since these ladies have positive things to say and have received cooperation so far, I’ll keep them to myself and see what develops. Considering the recent move toward cooperation at both Walker Lake and Moundhouse, maybe attitudes are beginning to change.

    Right now all of these proposals are in the “planning” stage. The proof will be in the “deeds”.


  6. How in the world could anyone be against this project?
    Had to include a quote from the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary in SD.

    Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary

    “Imagine a place where, as far as the eye can see, miles and miles to the horizon, you can view America as it was 300 years ago. Imagine a place, long revered by the American Indians, where the Cheyenne River flows in all four directions, and eagle’ s shadows sweep rocky canyon walls, a place where wild horses run free across endless prairies, hooves striking thunder, manes and tails flying in the wind.”


  7. I agree with you, Robin. I was excited to read “12,000 acre ranch”, and then my heart dropped when I read further… “60 horses on 5,000 acres”. Bad math, in my estimation. I’m from NM, and grew up there where it’s “miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles”. Nowhere there does it take 5000 acres to sustain 60 horses. I had 60 horses on 750 acres there, and- granted, I had better grass than the area they’re using, but it really does sound like BLM’s calculator is the one used on this plan.

    I am worried that BLM is going to have their hands way too far through the barn door. It seems to me that if these horses are available for adoption, then let the state of NM adopt them, and then put them on the land however they see fit, without further intrusion of BLM.

    Possible solution for grazing issues– cross fence most of the 12K acre property and rotate the herd from one half to the other as needed, for the land to recover. That process is a no-brainer for anyone with livestock. Why not here, too?


    • Are the horses better off on some secret private holding facility in the mid west or on this New Mexico place?

      You did read the part about the free roaming section – that will have web cams so that the public can see them there – I imagine those may be rotated with the other ones that are more up close and personal?

      I have to agree with Nell – this is a no brainer for me – every critism is a wash with existing conditions.

      Though I would rather there not be any more horses rounded up at all – and I truly belive that will happen – but not today.

      This New Mexico thing is doable right now, as is Pickens, both will raise public awareness that we keep saying “if only the publc new” – well, these will tell them.

      Something else doable right now – is passing ROAM. Please sign onto The Cloud Foundation recommendations and send those letters to support ROAM, a moretorium and more.


      • Roxy- the truth is that family stories like cloud or conquistador are what makes the public folow engage and become educated, those are families that people can follow and become invoved with and really what created and fired this whole movement..people identify and follow “familys” and bands..I donot believe these educational centers are going to accomplish this..very little participation will occur..these kinds of sterile tourist attractions are not new and have fallen on their face due to lack of public interest..will i go to prefer to see mustangs in the wild..will you go??maybe just to check it out..if there were would be excited to go every year and see the new foals and who was in whos new band..its why people follow the pryors-if your population becomes too large you adopt a few youngsters, you have a built in fan base standing in line for “son of cloud or conquistador”..That is a business model and a way to ensure the future of the can’t argue with sucess.


      • Sandra, my sincerest best wishes to you for all succes in creating your own Black Hills/Freedom Fund like Sanctuary.

        My sincerest best wishes for the success of New Mexico and Pickens, and for winning all the lawsuites, for passing ROAM. getting a moretorium, etc.


  8. I am always skeptical, especially in reading who is aligned with all of this. I agree with Robin. The word “precedent” comes to mind, and I do wonder how this is different than the proposed Salazoos that the Congress specifically stated they did NOT want to happen when first passing the WHB Act. I continue to ask, “why not do some of these things on existing HMAs?” Why not have remote cameras on some already well known HMAs for viewing at say, the Kiger viewing area? They could serve dual purposes by monitoring illegal activity — hunting, cattle out of allotment areas, etc — and would bring more people to more HMAs throughout the US. This proposal sounds great in terms of domestic horse use, trails and access for the trained horse, and even the training of the mustangs and offer for adoption. However, BLM already has contracts with trainers and offers trained horses on the internet adoptions, and those often do not go for much, and certainly do not pay for the effort. Steve Mantle, at Mantle Ranch in Wyoming does this often. If it were a 12,000 acre preserve just for the mustangs, free and wild, maybe 20 acres for the training facility, it would be a different matter. But of course if the horses are allowed their natural family bands, soon enough you will have the hue and cry for round ups and placement of the “excess” horses. If there was an agreement to permit cougar and other large predators to run unhunted and free, too, so that a more natural population control could occur, that might be something to consider. Just my initial thoughts.


    • One big difference – this one is in the West where horses were in 1971. Horses were not in the mid west in 1971.

      These horses are viewable by the public – not in secret locations.

      The fact that they will be non reporoducing is a wash with existing holding faciliies – no better no worse.

      Nothing says they won’t introduce reproducing animals when the economy and adoptions pick up.

      This has the ability to adopt out more horses – how is one supposed to adopt horses from the current long term holding situation when you can’t even view them?

      This breaks up the singular BLM power – a great experiment in my opinion.

      This has the ability to educate the the public about the abusive BLM management of our horses on our Public Lands.

      This has the ability to showcase eco-tourism as an alternate to cattle grazing.

      I could go on – why can’t we give this a chance?

      I ask why oppose it? Opposing it just sends these same horses back east or to the mid west. Opposing it does not stop already scheduled roundups two years out.


  9. I know this ranch and the area. Those numbers for grazing are very much on target. There is not much to graze on, which is fine for wild Mustangs, but it simply won’t support many horses. Even if you do rotational grazing. It’s a very dry area as well. Here is a link to a real estate website that shows the ranch and the land – .

    One of the major problems with all of these Mustang sanctuaries is that the horses are not allowed to reproduce. Think about it. If the BLM is removing herds and either gelding the stallions or PZPing what few mares they put back, and the holding facilities don’t allow breeding, and the sanctuaries don’t allow breeding, and some of the HMAs no longer have enough wild Mustangs to sustain a genetically-viable herd, well, the Mustang is headed for extinction. Mustangs are Nature’s Horse – humans have no hand, right now, in what qualities are bred for. Once they are removed from nature, or people “manage” them, even if they allow breeding, in sanctuaries, then the breed we now know as the Mustang is gone.


    • This is the ‘soon to be outcome’ and there are few ways around it. It is within our power to save some of our herds. We can have them in the future but it would take great commitment and hard work. Most bloodlines are already gone and these are the last days of our wild horses. The lies BLM has fed the President and all of the USA and the world have been taken as truth and they have, under the guise of saving them, literally removed nearly all of them. When they continue with the ‘40,000 still roam wild’ BS- while they are conducting vasectomies and ovarectomies on Sheldon/Calico horses, in the field no less, we should continue to protest publicly and contact our reps and tell the White House just what we think of this outrage. mar


    • Jo I agree and the scary part is that BLM is now using the “alternative” methods to halt reproduction in the wild of trying to permenently sterilize mares, using the PZP-@@ which according to USGS may cause certainly has been proven to go out 4 years and possibly beyond..they donot have studies that far out..given the fact they are stripping all the young mares and stallions from the land..those left or returned will become of non reproducing age before the 22 would wear off..0 population growth based on both elements..and that is not by accident but by design..Sheldon refuge has stated they will spay mares and give stallions “vasectomies” giving the appearance there are still reproducing herds, when the opposite is true..This whole “frankenstein” approach is beyond disgusting..People should be focused on “rescuing these horses BEFORE this happens..not afterwards..we should be adopting these horses at the point of stop this and the euthanization that is occuring of healthy horses by BLM personel and helicopter pilots..refocus your brains on stopping this at the frount your rescues for backyard horses and Really save the future of the mustangs.


      • Somehow people have been thinking the New Mexico sanctuary will be helping LTH horses?? That is Madeleine’s project. NM will not be making a dent in LTH. But they may develop their operations to be self sustaining and that is a worthy goal.

        To think the BLM will continue to breed wild mustangs on the HMAs and keep sending them to LTH is impossible and about at an end and is physically impossible after next year. The horses are disappearing fast. The lie is upheld in the public by the non investigative press and the misplaced ‘trust’ in the government spin.

        As we continue to lose more herds and they are handled and processed by contractors more speedily than ever and the horses are rapidly shipped from the range across borders with no Coggins tests they become destined to sale authority and LTH. Few are adopted and the adoption program, as it has been declining, will likely die within a few years.

        The only window we have to save the wild ones recently captured is to actually be present and ask for them as they are in the pens on the range at capture. This is the time to ask for adoption or to buy individuals, whole family bands or for the herd and to demand they be left intact. Then you must track them and know where they all go, as they will still be hauled to BLM facilities for freeze branding and innoculations. A landing place; a Transitional Location- needs to be arranged so they will have a safe place to be taken to as soon as they have been formally adopted or bought if they are over the adoption age limit. Most are. BLM will want them removed quickly. Then as they are held in this transitional, temporary place, lands will be found for lease where these horses can go to resume a life as similar to the one they were forced to leave as possible.

        A Public Foundation for horses adopted/bought by the people (from anywhere in the nation and donated to the foundation) will be created to be the guardian of these horses forever. Permanent lands will be acquired eventually. Management will be what the lands require of it for functional family bands. This is the idea…

        For now we will do what we can… this is an off blog work in progress. Wish us luck. mar ps Was that how you meant, Louie?


      • Anytime, anywhere we can keep our wild horses on their lands will be preferable as long as they are not all sterilized and as good as dead. This is the direction BLM is taking. It will wipe out the future of our wild herds on their designated lands and complete the land grab BLM has been orchestrating for decades. It has been made as difficult as possible for us to keep wild horses on their designated ranges and BLM management continues to be a threat to the lives and futures of the wild ones. mar


      • Mar, it will make a dent in the lives of the horses that are in the Sanctuary that would otherwise go east or mid west.

        Repeating my previous post here:

        “This one is in the West where horses were in 1971. Horses were not in the mid west in 1971.

        These horses are viewable by the public – not in secret locations.

        The fact that they will be non reporoducing is a wash with existing holding faciliies – no better no worse.

        Nothing says they won’t introduce reproducing animals when the economy and adoptions pick up.

        This has the ability to adopt out more horses – how is one supposed to adopt horses from the current long term holding situation when you can’t even view them?

        This breaks up the singular BLM power – a great experiment in my opinion.

        This has the ability to educate the the public about the abusive BLM management of our horses on our Public Lands.

        This has the ability to showcase eco-tourism as an alternate to cattle grazing.”

        Why can’t we give this a chance? Its an experiment that does no harm – it will succeed or fail – but a worse failure would be to not to try to find out and let these particular horses go into the BLM black hole.

        You will say they need to be in reproducing wild herds – and I say yes – and I wish you all the best in creating that ARK and that you will save that particular number of horses there. Dare I point out that the Freedom Fund horses have already repoduced 30% in the first year – as will happen with any small amount of reproducing horses – they are hardwired to survive and that includes overbreeding until they reach saturation. What is saturation? Seemed to be 250 in Pryors for a long time. Perhaps you will be able to control that with PZP given at the right time of year so as not to mess with fouling seasons?

        I ask why oppose New Mexico? Opposing it just sends these same horses back east or to the mid west. Opposing it does not stop already scheduled roundups two years out.

        Support ROAM – its on the table now and does a lot of good – can be improved with further legislative action in the future.


      • Rox, I am not against this sanctuary. I think the fact a state has wanted to be involved with the wild horses within its bounds is excellent. It is important. I look forward to their ability to manage and grow themselves. I hope they will have a sustainable herd one day. New Mexico is one of my favorite places and I am a graduate of New Mexico State U. I moved away the fall Richardson was elected. We live only 30 miles from the border with CO. I have written two letters of support to Gov. Richardson for this sanctuary because they still need to pull it off. Glad to know these ladies are doing this hard work and look forward to visiting someday. mar


      • Roxy, you must have bought into BLM statistics, the idea that 20or 30% reproduction rate is high is laughable from a person who knows quite a bit about breeding..first off given the small number of freedom fund horses..I would imagine Cloud is thrilled..there is a huge difference between foaling rates and survival rates..most years I had a 99% conception rate, about a 95% foaling rate and survival rates drop down on foals..and that is under optimum conditions. i get so tired of listening to BLM BS and it is soaking into peoples pores..why in the world would you accept that as a starting point and then why would you believe that is some kind of runaway reproduction..I will tell you why..because like “all things wild horse” it has been drummed into your head to the point it is part of your subconcious.. I have spent so much time pouring over supposed scientific EAs and RMPs only to discover more scientific fact in comic books. I live in this high desert area-I know what the weather and forage conditions are I know what the land can support.I have been to roundups and seen alot less than 20% live foals from this year..alarmingly small numbers of babies given the number in the band 20% means only 2 in a band of 10..have you ever seen 10 does with only 2 fawns? I have spent my life with horses and in the middle of wildlife, none of this goes unnoticed by me..BLM does not even come close to the truth..I would feel more comfortable if wild horse reproduction was at 30% it would give them a chance to survive bad winters that are sure to come..domestic ranch livestock died by the thousands the winter i spent in NM..ranchers stock died frozen and starving..froze stacks where they piled up to keep warm..antelope herds stood in the middle of the streets head down to blizzard winds..mother nature is the best judge and controls reproduction rates when we donot interfere.


      • WHAT?

        Read again what I wrote, or go to The Cloud Foundation and check it out yourself – those 15 Freedom Fund horses had 4 (or 5) fouls and they are all thriving, no predation – that is 30%.

        Now, had BLM left them alone in the wild in adequate numbers in the first place with adequate predation there would have been fewer to none to concieve form this 15 and any fouls that were born may have been lost to predation, weather, broken legs, etc – the usual wild animal stuff.



      • Thanks, Debbie. I think that the only way to help the Mustangs is to admit what is happening, to look at it full on. And to sometimes make comments that other people will attack and not agree with. I know that some folks are very excited about all of the sanctuaries, but I really do see it as the beginning of the end for the Mustang horses as we know them. And I readily admit that I do not have the solution because quite honestly, the BLM is not going to stop roundups, and they are not going to stop PZPing. We can comment all we want, but they have made that abundantly clear. What is the solution? I think it’s going to take a lot of discussion and creativity to figure it out.


      • We have a choice and there is a crossroad here. I must ask this question; are Karen Sussman’s reproducing herds still wild horses?? In my opinion they are. as they are minimally managed. This is a model to examine and to learn from. If the fight to save wild horses lives continues then we have this as a goal. It may still be a way station and one day we could very well have wild ones running free and properly protected. But it will never be what it so recently was. BLM has seen to that. Their destruction of the wild ones will never be forgotten, tho’ they certainly would like it so.

        This was a Golden Age of wild horses and it has passed by the world so quickly most will never have known or herd a hoofbeat on the range.


    • What makes a mustang is not their color or beauty in terms of conformation or ‘breeding standards” leave all those manmade thoughts behind..and focus on survival instincts, those stallions and mares the BLM considers ‘aggresive” find a bullet or pre-existing condition like the mare with the ‘club foot’ that stood her ground..being a fighter and survivalist is the instinct that has preserved the wild horse, and is needed in the wild..otherwise you turn the mustang into a ‘breed”..the best of the mustangs are too tough to break and know that humans bode no good, those are the horses that should be put back on the lands not sent to LTH..selection of the fittest is the way mother nature does it..the idea that they are removing the fittest and destroying them is unthinkable


  10. This is a great start for a “middle ground” in the “Old West” if there’s going to be one. I hope the New Mexico sanctuary is able to move forward and make this first step a reality. I sent a letter in support last week.

    The naysayers in Elko might have an about-face coming! Heaven forbid that anyone should attempt to bring revenue to their county as it’s probably just another “bunny-hugger” ploy! Truth is, no one will ever be able to outwit them when they’re so busy outwitting themselves.


  11. I am in favor of all of these well thought out sanctuaries. However, we need to make sure they are being set up to rescue the thousands of horses in captivity and not let the BLM see them as their meal ticket to keep filling up the holding pens these sanctuaries are trying to empty. We need a moratorium on round ups. Otherwise we are just helping the BLM fill pens to capacity over and over again.


  12. BLM has not been supporting any facilities that have reproducing herds..I have heard this story several ways..stallions mares and foals are the only preserves I support, the rest are just long term holding facilities that sign a BLM contract, and in that contract Semi loads leave with 25 dollar a head sale authority horses..MP has yet to refute that about her LTH facility proposed in Elko..I donot call that any kind of a sanctuary..that is death row for the horses who end up on those trailers. Madeline has chosen to partner with the BLM and receive money from them and is NO different..and she has the power money and land to create self sustaining herds as return to freedom has and the few others like them are who we should be supporting with funding. Making this a “resue” operation is a huge mistake and plays into the BLMs plans and allows them to continue to harvest wild horses. Stop the roundups and there is no need for wild horse rescue facilities. For those who say “that ship has sailed” I say you sailed with it


    • Sandra, Repatriation was your word? Yes, there is a path to having some of the last herds remain viable and this is what the advocates say they want. It is what we will work towards. They are on islands of land now… it is necessary they always have space and resources. How can you deny them? Now we are coming to realize the full extent of the damage done. It is my hope you will all fight to keep the wild ones alive in the West with all the dignity they deserve. We are not going away. Our fight is still the same. There are plans afoot… mar


    • I’m for moretorim first and stoping roundups forever (bait trap only when necessary), getting their original land back (which coinsidentally would accomodate most of the 40,000 in holding) without cattle on it.

      But Isn’t Pickens plan to foster education and exposure to the public of the benefits of wild horses on Public Lands and what BLM is doing? I think having a few of the horses, even non reproducing, is her program is not the point (is better than short term holding for them for sure) – the point is 2 fold – 1. exposing BLM and teh horses and burros to a broader public 2. Exposing that an eco tourist program would work.

      Maybe I’m totally off base and all alone in this.

      And I am getting confused – Pickens is removing horses form Public Lands (well actually only half – half of her land is Public Land) and that is bad because it makes more room to gather more horses. But, we advocates are supposed to rescue the horses and provide them with private land sanctuaries and that is not making room for more horses to be gathered?


      • I can’t imagine MP will ever be exposing the BLM through her program. Sure there are some definite benefits for the sterile LTH horses that will have a home more like the wilds they were born into once they move to MPs. And certainly, one can look at that in two ways: 1.) huge benefit for those wild ones selected to make their home on that vast ranch; and, 2.) how emptying existing LTH onto MPs ranch will in fact make room for more in those now empty LTH facilities. Those are just the very real facts, along with the inferred action of BLM choosing to refill the LTH spaces. Unfortunately, BLM has so conditioned us, it is quite difficult to believe they would do anything differently than to make that choice to refill empty corrals with yet more taken from the wild. Even if they told us they would not, who would believe them after all the untruths and hidden agendas uncovered this past few years?

        While the educational aspect of MPs ranch will be wonderful and is very needed to help promote eco-tourism and awareness about wild horses as species/cultural icon/historical significance, how can she speak against her partners? She has politely decried the roundups, the brutality of them and also the overcrowded holding facilities (presumably STH, but to my knowledge she never qualified which holding, only that they were “butt to butt” which defines STH but not LTH). It’s inconceivable to me that one partner would turn on and “expose” the other as part of their mission. The partnership will just not survive that kind of thing.


  13. Good idea or bad idea, let’s call them what they really are; Reservations. Land that has little value for anything else, makes a good ‘dumping’ ground, and pushes something out of the way of ‘progress’. (The only difference in these and the others is that wild horses can’t have casinos.)

    I’m not opposed to some of these, but they are Band-Aids and not cures. In the NM reservation case, we have 40,000 kids with skinned knees, and only 60 Band-Aids.


  14. The horses the BLM has in captivity are held on private lands that no American ever sees. Most are held in short term holding which has morphed into long term holding. They are feedlots. They stand around and wait to die. Many probably slip out the backdoor to slaughter. They are already non-reproducing as the BLM makes sure within days of round ups that they are gelded. These horses in BLM black holes are suffering and this suffering serves no purpose. In a sanctuary the public can see them and learn about their plight. Right now, the BLM doesn’t want anyone to see any of them. We must make right what we have allowed the BLM to do wrong for so very long. We just cannot let the BLM fill them up as fast as we try to empty them. There must be a moratorium on round ups. They have reached their stated goal of no more than 27,000 horses roaming free. They need to stop. Let’s allow these captured horses to live their rest of their lives in better conditions and allow them to speak for their remaining few wild relatives. The horses that need to reproduce right now are the one on the HMAs. This issue is not either/or. It is how to care for suffering captive horses AND how to keep the free ones free.


    • NO most are not held in short term holding..those that are considered sale authority are quickly sent of to LTH facilities-those that are considered most adoptable are in STH..of course there are no adopters .


      • I think what was being said was short term holding has turned into long term holding because of lack of adoptions and no more room in long term.


      • LTH seems to be emptying out..there were supposedly 38,000, now i hear the figure 22,000, so how is it they are emptying out..the silver king and tuscarora/owyhee horses have disappeared into thin air, madelines is a LTH facility, why is the BLM not using this if LTH facilities are full..there are alot of unanswered questions still here..A FOIA request should give us documentations of semi loads going in and out..these LTH facilities are being paid by the head..are the taxpayers still being charged for a ‘full facility” when the actuality is that loads are being sold or large amounts of horses are being euthanized..accounting figures for LTH should tell the tale of what is truly happening-the truth is at the bottom of the barrel, and not on BLM web pages


      • When BLM says they do not sell to slaughter it is a lie. The Burns Amendment made it legal for all 3 strikes and sale authority/LTH horses to be sold by the truckload, no questions asked. These kill buyers have had sanctioned access to our wild captives through this means. Selling to the kill buyers is legal and this is where they have gone and the accounting kept secret to allow BLM to continue to remove wild ones by claiming over population. If the public actually understood this it would have caused an uproar. So we have been beset by Public Relations and the hype and spin have been pushed to the limit. It did not keep us from knowing or even from seeing the results of this public deception. All has been a part of the Ruse. If the advocates can see with clear eyes and understand that there are still wild horses who need us desperately then that is where we need to concentrate our efforts directly to them. mar


    • And how to get more public to join in that outcry.

      That is the point of the public accessable sanctuaries. It is to visually point out the difference between non reproducing captive horses to the wild and free, an opportunity to educate people about what is happening on Public Lands and why these horses should have never been removed in the first place, and what their alternative future in slaughter plants could be. It is jsut more OPPORTUNITY the way I see it.

      It also keeps some of our horses out of the “no eyes” private places. So they are non-reproducing – they are non-reproducing anyway in current long term holding – that is a wash.

      Do I dare point of that the Freedom Fund horses, reproducing on private land that need constant monetary donations, have already in the first year increased population by 30%?

      I guess in my mind I already own adequate land, called Public Land, that I already pay to support, called taxes, and that is what I am battling for.


      • we are currently making constant donations to LTH thru our tax dollars which we apparently have no say so over..donot forget with every paycheck you are paying for removals and LTH..why do i want to donate to pay for More LTH..any money i have to donate is going to stop the roundups and removals or to support a policy different from the BLMs policy..I will donate to preserve genetics from the herds that are being managed to extinction in the near future..In my own generation


  15. Stop the roundups, use this money to support lawsuits to stop this..this is being part of the solution not part of the problem..Donot enable the BLM by cleaning up their mess. There is NOTHING in this proposal that maintains”natural reproducing herds” correct me if this is not the are going to get semi loads of geldings and mares out of LTH-to put into LTH-I supported this because I thought gov. richardson was returning wild horse reproducing herds to the land..not a fricking horse demean the mustangs by turning them into a side show.A preserve would be reproducing herds..quit using terms that do not reflect actuality


  16. Regardless of how anyone feels about the sanctuaries–pro or con–we all DO have to stay focused on stopping the “bleeding”.

    There needs to be a MORATORIUM called on all BLM round-ups
    OVERECTOMIES AND VASECTOMIES need to be STOPPED–done in the field? One can only imagine the horror for horses. We’ve all seen enough of BLM veterinary procedures
    CASTRATION needs to be STOPPED
    EXPERIMENTAL anti-fertility drug use on mares needs to be STOPPED


    • Few wars or even battles are won from one point of assault.

      We need lobbyests in DC, we need ROAM right now, we need a moretorium right now, lawsuites have been going on since 1974 all the while congress has ammended our 1971 law to be anti wild horse instead of pro wild horse. The suites are tremendous PR and have to go on – maybe the next one will do the trick. But its hard to win a law suite when the law itself does not support the horses in the first place. Law suites are supposed to be when someone has broken a law – asking a judge to stop roundups though – where is rounding up horses against the law as it is currently written? It is not. As currently written it gives too much power to BLM junk science – that is the source of the problem, as I see it anyway, as well as gutting cattle and sheep, perhaps the Taylor Grazing Act, on wild horse territory.

      ROAM would fix a great deal of this.


      • ROAM is a disaster if not amended from how it now stands..It legally allows the BLM to remove horses in the wild to LTH across the it stands now the law does not allow funding for that purpose..There are many different legal challenges we can pursue..most cite the 71 law which does nothing but give ambigous language to what was a protective law to begin with is now just words that have been circumvented by administrative decisions and land use planning levels and this is where the legal challenges need to be the same level WWP mounts them-and the same courts we cannot win in with the 71 law..we keep trying to wrap ourselves in the 71 law..we have to stop this.


  17. I am a member of a non-profit, no-kill animal rescue that does dogs & cats but also do horses on my own. I have found 1000 acres of land for sale (bank repo) that used to be a working cattle ranch. It is currently being used for growing hay & would make a perfect place to rescue the wild ones. It has a home, several large buildings, cypress beds with 5 wells already dug & operating on the property. It is listed for $4,000,000.00 but I’m sure if funds could be raised it would sell for less then that. I have contacted the bank that owns it to confirm that. It is located in Lake County, Florida & as everyone knows, our weather here is perfect for the wild ones. It is already entirely fenced with 8 foot chain link & barb wire on top so nothing could enter to harm them. Nor could they get out to be harmed. It is a dream that I am hoping to make a reality & NM is a start. With the abundance of grass & natural water you could place 1000 horses & burros here. If not more. I have been scouring all the grant sites but nothing so far. Any suggestions would be appreciated. It all starts with a dream & I’m determined to make this a reality. It is also surrounded by cattle land as well with very few homes in the area so our county commissioner’s would love to see the money come in for a sanctuary in their district.


    • After reading all the other comments about this NM reserve. I’m really sorry I even posted this. My intention was to provide a safe place, like we do the for the other animals. But have to agree. It would be better to just get the land back that does belong to the WILD ONES & just leave them alone. I was trying to help, not hurt the horses & burros. Please except an apology to those who oppose sancturary for the horses. I still think it can’t hurt to have these as it would help to educate others about them. I am a non-profit, that means we don’t make any money of it, we use the money to put back into the project.


      • We do not know what all it will take, Dawna. If horses can be kept safe and Intact, this would help the movement to Repatriate our wild horses so they will have a future with us. mar


      • Dawna, You are doing a great thing! I sent my e-mails off to the finance link and sent an e-mail to Richardson to congratulate him on being a pioneer.

        This is a great experiment (we need many varied attempts to solve the core problem to see what will work) and saves some horses. I believe it will prove out to be a benchmark for other states and prove there is money in wildhorse eco-tourism. Certianly a tremendous alternative to current long term holding – though I do wish there would be some reproduction – perhaps this will come when the economy improves and adoptions improve.

        Keep the faith!

        Don’t mind the debate – this is all healthy – new ideas spring forth – who knows what will come of it – we are all passionate to stop the inhumaity that too many wild horses endure – thats all.


      • And what you do is a wonderful thing for domestic animals..the wild horses are a species that is doing very well where they are, they are not “unwanted”- they are not starving..they are standing in the way of ranchers and corporate desires..some want their land..some want their grass, we have come to realise that by the time we win this fight-they may technically be genetically extinct, which is why we are trying to gather some of these stallions and create an “ARK” where some breeding and genetics from all the HMAs can be used to re-patriate wild horses back onto public lands. I would be more than happy to support any proposal such as this


  18. Sanctuaries will create a vacuum in the BLM holding pens that will fill again with what is left of our American Mustangs. Then there is the Mustang challenge, the adoptions, the Pickens plan. All in a effort to help the once free American Mustangs. BUT 500 years of freedom, evolution, natural breeding, survival of the fittest must not be eradicated by smoke and mirrors. The DNA of the worlds greatest survivors must be preserved in viable numbers and in diverse places. Every one captive must somehow be traded for another free one. If the BLM wants 50,000 in some kind of sanctuary, holding pen, adoption then they must allow the same number to roam free. Promoting feel good alternatives for the poor souls already incarcerated to hide the reality of the removals is no fix, although welcome. The real fix is to remove the management from a land agency to an American Mustang agency, or at least set the number at 50,000 with sufficient lands to be viable 500 years from now.


    • Right, and we need to pull together anew to stop the degradartion of these wonderful beings and keep the faith, People! There are things we all can do and should do. Keep fighting and raise money for those who are in the courts or for those who are trying to save those already removed but still wild, like Sandra is buying GrayBeard, the 16 year old stallion that Carol Walker photographed as he, his mares and foal, ran for their lives and were finally taken by BLM at Adobe Wells. He and his family need to be recovered and placed where they are safe until they can be given a freer life again. This needs to be done a dozen times over and then a hundred times if needed.

      There is much work to be done… it ain’t over! mar


  19. Bravo for you Chantel and Ginger. But, like Robin, Mar, Linda, Mickey, Elaine, and Joanne (Jo) above, I question some of the details. For one, I don’t trust the BLM. Number 2, these horses need to first be in their natural environment, no sterilizing. All the horses in the holding pens need to be put out on ranges with adoption facilities for training, and adoption set up at that location – easy to get to and help to the new owners so the adoption works. And, above all, no other roundups to fill these horrible corrals again. With coorporation, thoughtful thinking by all, and thinking it completely through, we can work together to achieve a balance to wild horses on ranges, new homes for some of them, and hopefully, a stop to all horse slaughterhouses in the United States, and stopping all trailering of our horses of all kinds, be it, former pets, former race horses, “feral horses”, and wild horses across our borders by any means to be killed elsewhere. We must protect our legacy. These horses are our legacy – for future generations to see their beauty, magnificance, and what animal God created that is the epitome of all that embodies a gorgeous animal.


  20. I want to share this for those who’ve never witnessed anything like it. In 40+ years around horses, I’d never had an opportunity to see horses reunited after such a long time, and was struck by the scene that occurred. When we start talking about adopting these horses out and sending them in all directions, I think it’s really important for us to take into consideration the depth of the bonds they feel. What they really need is to be reunited with their groups ‘somehwere’. I think that matters to them more than anything else in their lives.

    Here’s the recounting of the experience that makes me so sure that we must make every effort to reunite these wild horse families.

    There are examples throughout nature of animals having deep, complex emotions and attachments that we seldom acknowledge. We buy and sell animals, separating them from their families, friends, and social groups without any thought of the feelings of loss they may be suffering. We seem to have convinced ourselves somehow that the bonds that we establish can exist only between humans and isn’t a part of the animal world.

    My best lesson in understanding the emotion-al capacity of animals was when I saw two geldings, Dom and Keebler, being reunited after seven years apart. They had been pasture mates for just one year in South Carolina, but had not seen each other for the next seven years after Dom had come to join my family and horses on our ranch in New Mexico.

    Dom, my gorgeous gray Andalusian National Champion gelding, had seemed to settle in to his new life as a member of our free-roaming herd after he’d arrived in New Mexico. We had no idea that there was a big hole in his life where Keebler, a big beautiful spotted Appaloosa gelding, used to be. Then, those many years later, when we were given the opportunity to also have Keebler, we were thrilled, and plans were made for him to be shipped to Santa Fe.

    As the horse transport truck bringing Keebler drove up our long winding dirt road through the Pinon forested hills, Dom started running around the pen we’d put him in, and was nickering in a shrill call that we’d never heard from him before. We hadn’t seen or even heard the truck yet, as it was still over a half mile away and was hidden by the hills and trees. The closer the truck got, the more excited and loud Dom got. As the truck got near, we could hear that the calls were being returned with screams that reflected the same excitement. I let Don out of his pen and he raced to meet the truck, slinging his neck and kicking up his heels every few steps.

    When the driver pulled to a stop at our barn, Dom raced in circles around the truck, nickering loudly. The handler led Keebler off the truck and the big Appaloosa- always the gentleman before, rushed ahead down the ramp, pushing past the handler, and almost jerking the lead rope out of his hand. Dom met Keebler at the bottom of the ramp as we unsnapped Dom’s lead rope and let him go.

    With joy that would be obvious to even the most callous skeptic, they pranced and sniffed and whiffled and reared and raced around the barnyard side by side, bucking and kicking the air. Then, suddenly each stopped in their tracks and just nuzzled each other for a very long time. Those two horses came as close to embracing each other horses are physical capable of. From that day forward, neither ever left the other’s side again for longer than our occasional rides. If we rode one and not the other, the one left behind waited patiently by the gate, seeming to know that they would be together again shortly. We were often struck with how they even seemed to graze ‘in tandem’ with their steps and movements matching the other almost identically as they enjoyed their freedom on the spacious ranch.

    Years later, after Keebler succumbed to colic during surgery and died, Dom simply lost his spirit. He eventually rejoined the rest of our horses in the pasture, but never was ‘himself’ again. He, too, died after a bout with colic about a year later.

    It was during those very enlightening minutes watching animal friends being reunited that I realized how bonded animals can become in a very deep and personal way.

    Every time an owner sells or otherwise permanently separates two horses who have bonded closely, they are doing the equivalent of breaking up a loving human friendship or couple forever. Imagine suddenly never being able to see or hear from your best friend or partner again, and you don’t know why. One day you’re together and secure, and the next day your partner simply disappears forever.

    Sometimes we can’t prevent that from happening with animals, but frankly most people don’t even try to keep closely bonded horses together. Consider, for example, the high-speed mass gathering of America’s wild horses that is currently underway. Herds, families, and bonded companions are separated and trucked to multiple locations, never to see each other again. They must feel horribly lost and alone when torn apart from their families and communities after a lifetime of being so tightly bonded in close-knit herds.

    It would be a great step in the evolution of mankind if we became more aware of the needs of the creatures around us and focused a little less on the ‘man’ and a little more on the ‘kind’.


    • Elaine, that was a wonderful story! Thank you so much for sharing it with us. Probably the thing I try to teach people most about horses, whether through my nonprofit work or my professional horse/human training, is that we are all connected and that it’s all about relationship. I have had the wonderful opportunity to work within Indigenous worldview since joining my nonprofit more than a decade ago. Within that worldview, we are all related. There is no hierarchy – that is a creation of Western culture. Once I stepped back and let the horses teach me, once I let go of my preconceived ideas, once I stopped imposing ideas onto the horses, a whole new world emerged concerning the horse-human relationship. When people ask me, “What trainers do I follow? Who did you learn from?” I acknowledge my advanced-level event rider, and the classical dressage masters I have learned from after researching them. But I tell people that the ones I have really learned the most from are the Mustangs. Balance, center, connection – they have taught me those concepts and how they apply to the horse-human relationship and, indeed, our entire lives.


    • That is heartwarming enough for one of those angel horse or inspirational books. It’s important to remember that as homesick and lonely as we humans get when separated, at least we can call or write to old friends. The horses have no way of doing that.


  21. What a wonderful story. We have had concerns in our rescue about separating deeply bonded horses, especially older ones. We have several pairs that are only available for adoption if adopted together, and some older horses being fostered together because the foster doesn’t think it would be good for either of them to be separated. I agree whole heartedly with what you are saying.

    I think that Elaine has touched on the nerve that keeps me working on this. I have loved horses since I was a child, but the bond I have with my wild mustang is one of the deepest bonds I have ever had. She was considered a dangerous horse, and we were advised to only let a certain member of our group handle her, but she chose me. I was an unlikely choice except for one thing; we were both suffering. She had lost her family, and I had lost three members of my family the previous year, and my father was dying a terrible, slow death. I believe that we connected through some mysterious innter-species recognition based on empathy and compassion.

    I have nurtured a fantasy for years that I would rent a trailer and return her to herd, but after reading everything that that is going on, I believe I can keep her safer with me.

    I adopted a little horse for me to ride and have fun with, and I have bonded with her and she with me, but that bond is different than the one I share with the mustang. Sometimes its as if the mustang and I share the same heart. I believe that it is the extraordinary sensitivity that wild horses have developed that has helped them survive. One day we were walking up a steep hill at a good pace when I became winded. She heard my breathing and as if in total synch with me, she stopped walking when I paused to catch my breath. Then she turned her face toward me as if to ask, “Are you OK?”

    Wild horses have survived within family units and extended family bands, sort of like family clans for hundreds of thousands of years. One of the reasons that they have been able to do this is because of their extraordinary social structure. They take care of each other, and they have an extraordinary complex and mostly silent communication system. Human kind could learn some lessons from studying the familiar, inter-horse, and social structure of the wild horse.


  22. By the way, I have some additional information on the political front. I gathered a lot yesterday. This is such a positive post about what New Mexico is doing, that I hate to add it to today’s post.

    I believe one of the most important benefits of the New Mexico proposal is that it has the potential to educate the public. Another major benefit which has already been mentioned, but that I would like to underscore, is that it will make horses more adoptable. One of the biggest challenges we rescues face is that a lot (certainly not all) of the horses that we get are in need more training. Training is expensive, and I have found that matching a particular trainer’s skills to the needs of a particular horse can be an uncertain and costly science. The people I know who have either trained their own mustangs or had them well-trained (sometimes this is an on and off process that may take a year or two to get right) would not trade their mustangs for love or money. So training is very, very important.

    It seems to me that having only 60 horses on the acreage is a way of not rescuing the BLM and not recreating a zoo like experience. I think that the location is also a plus, for the purpose of educating the public, and helping people who might want to adopt one of the trained horses have easier access to them. I don’t have many answers; I am still trying to figure out which other questions need to be asked.

    Maybe there is no one answer. We may need a number of answers, and the scientist in me says we want to see a variety of models to see what works and why as well as what does not work and why.

    As far as not trusting the BLM goes, I share your apprehension. But the deeper I go into my research regarding the forces that are driving what is happening to our horses and our land, the smaller the role that the BLM actually appears to have. They may be on the front lines with the horses, and they may be the ones who sit in the diners with the ranchers and go to the rodeo with them on Saturday, but they are not calling all the shots.

    Historically, the conflict has been portrayed as a land use battle between ranchers and wild horses. While that may be still be true in some places, there are much bigger forces at play. It is still a land use battle, but the forces at play are far more powerful and pervasive than the local district office of the BLM. We need to understand who these forces are or else we will be Don Quiotes fighting wind mills.

    With much respect for all—so many good people, so many good ideas, so much good work.


  23. If you have never seen this particular was how Dayton o Hyde got started..his model is perfect, stallions and mares and foals and this particular one a roan mare..enjoy


  24. I’m happy that The Story of Dom and Keebler is being enjoyed. It was an amazing site to see, and hard to write about. It’s as though there are no words to really describe what we five humans saw happen that day. After seven years apart! That’s what is so astounding to me. I didn’t think they’d even remember each other- but remember, and cherish each other, they did. I just wish that all the people who are being so brutal and mean-spirited in their processes on the roundups could understand the underlying dynamics that they are disrupting and destroying.


  25. Another video from the black hills sanctuary, a model for preserving the mustangs for the future..not just a story of the past and a dead end for the horses, but being a vehicle to see that they are not exterminated from the present, not a relic-but families we can follow like Cloud


  26. Elaine, I thoroughly enjoyed your story of Dom and Keebler. Thank you for bringing it here so that we all could enjoy it. It so illustrates the bond that horses have with each other. There was a wonderful book written years ago by John Richard Young (perhaps some here have read it) where he stated that “no elephant has a memory longer than a horse”. A wise trainer and dear friend always told her students that a horse has such a good memory that, when training him, it is best to try to make certain that all of his memories are GOOD.


    • Louie, I have two of his books. Right nowI can only find “Train ing the Young horse”
      I always thought his insite was exceptional!


  27. Sanctuaries are not, and never will be, a solution for mustangs. We can never, as humans, replace the beholden to none freedom the horses enjoy on public lands. So, as nice as the New Mexico plan sounds, its the beginning of what the end will look like for the wild ones; some enjoying postage stamp grazing areas with memories of vast rangelands, some in pens awaiting the fickle desires of humans to “tame” anything we can get our hands on, some pulling wagons, taking visitors for rides or being petted and fed treats like a lama in a petting zoo. No matter how you cut it, this is a desperate attempt to do something,,, but not the something we should do.

    We must keep our focus on litigation and legislation, at all costs. That’s where our resources need to go in order to have self-sustaining and naturally reproducing herds in a truly wild environment.

    The rest is nothing more than chasing after the shiny new thing.


  28. While for years there have been attempts to stop the annihilation of mustangs in their rightful habitats, it has been clear that many of our actions have not bore fruit, lawsuits, nationwide protest, news exposure, letters, calls… we have surely caught attention to the plight to many, yet no moratorium or halt to round ups has been issued. Of course the mustangs in the free is the ultimate goal, yet one that seems most difficult to reach, but demands the continuation of litigation as the movement of round ups does not halt. I support the N.M. project as it is a first step to preserve and create a place where they are safe from further destruction. When all else has not brought us results as we so wish, this is a step and start for a bigger picture, it is an alternative before they are all wiped out on their lands as is happening right now. Action is needed, if our call for actions have not been heard by Washington, this is a project that can be implemented by us all, we have more power as one. It is not the idea of a salazoo – it is preservation and appreciation in their home habitat.

    To all my horse-loving contacts:

    I am excited to share Ginger Casey’s and Chantal Westerman’s inspiring model for the first horse park and preserve of its kind, proposed for the state of New Mexico.
    As most of you know, I met Chantal Westerman, former CNN national correspondent, last year at Pryor Mountain, during the Cloud roundup. Chantal has since then committed others such as Ginger Casey, a good colleague and Emmy award winning television anchor and producer, to join ship in helping our mustangs. They are the ones who have been quietly working on this project, meeting with the Federal government in Washington, to create a State/Federal/Private model, unique in its brand whereas more parks to follow suit will be built, with similar signage, amenities, exhibits and stables with horses for adoption.
    Through planned strategic collaboration, this model’s mission is to secure the legacy of mustangs and burros in their native habitat, to enlighten tourists and travelers with this western heritage, and to offer great educational and hands on experiences for school kids, groups and the elderly.
    While Santa Fe already draws many tourists for its enchanting character…. this horse preserve will clearly enrich the local residents and anyone visiting the area, as many Americans who visit the Southwest have never seen a mustang. Eco-tourism will play a major role in making this preserve a landmark success, and we all play a crucial role in creating this safe haven for mustangs, by taking part of this special opportunity for change, and letting the folks in the New Mexico Board of Finance know, that we will visit and make this place into a role model for other states to follow.
    It is a privilege to be part of this and I believe that horse lovers all over will enjoy supporting this fascinating project where new stories of healing will take shape, a fresh beginning for our mustangs and burros in an extra-ordinary place can occur with the help and guidance of a professional alliance, where we can maintain our identities, and in partnership with the government will have a lasting impact on the preservation of our wild horses and burros.

    I feel a deep obligation towards the mustangs and hope you will join Ginger Casey and Chantal Westerman, by doing the first step, and sending your comments of support and enthusiasm to the New Mexico Board of Finance, who will vote on this on Nov. 16, and whose contact info you find below.

    Sincerely, and with great hopes for our mustangs and burros,
    Monika Courtney


    • Monika, comprehensive and well-said.

      I don’t know what impact the global economic downturn has had on Santa Fe, Taos, or NM in general, but the last time I was in SF I heard a lot more languages than English. BTW, I walked into a “Trading Post” and a German gentleman was about to drop $20,000 for a Navajo rug, so some people must still have money.

      P.S – If Elko doesn’t want tourists (which may be part of the problem), NM sure DOES. Their loss = our gain!


  29. Again, the idea of a horse park for mustangs, as some type of model solution is nothing more than a human construct, layered on top of more human constructs to reduce the mustang’s freedom.

    Are we doing this because we think we have failed on other fronts? We haven’t even started in D.C. or in the courts. To give up now and chase after deeply compromised solutions is not something to be proud of. It’s a sign we have a leadership vacuum.

    I may be a small publicly unknown voice, but I have been around this issue long enough to know this is a well intentioned but deeply flawed view of what the wild ones require for a enriched life.

    Maybe it’s because we are horse lovers that we have a desire to have the horses closer to us instead of allowing them to be totally separate. Horse parks are not about preserving wildness, they are about contact. They say more about our needs than the needs of the mustangs.


    • This is my take –

      ALL holding facilites are a deeply flawed view of what the wild ones require for an enriched lifestyle.

      To further this injustice the “secret” long term holding facilities currently load by the truckloads old and 3 strickes horses into trailers, by “sale authority’ for God only knows where – there is no way to know they don’t end up in slaughter or rodeo – how is that for an enriched lifestye?

      The horses in question are already in “secret’ holding in nonreproductive herds or slated for roundups and headed there (10 year olds could be headed for ‘sale authority’ immedialtly) – in the east and midwest – which a judge has already ruled is illegal. Only a few will be sent to training and/or adopted out. Some will be rescued such as The Cloud Foundation Freedom Fund 15 – mostly old sale authority horses.

      This is not a model solution (who the heck ever said that? It might be a model solution to keep the horses in the west perhaps as a temporary solution to current secret BLM holding) to stopping the theft of our public lands wild horse portion for the benefit of cattle, sheep, mining, etc.

      The undertaking of Pickens and New Mexico is an undertaking to get the already removed or slated to be removed horses from short term holding, to keep them in the west, free roaming, open to public viewing – and more importantly to the point to get more public awareness in a way that pays for itself – such as tourism – so as to have bigger impact in DC – we all want that.

      Some huge misconception to think we want any more free roaming horses on Public Lands closer to US – we want the ones in short term (and long term) closer to their native land and closer to the pubilc eye to gain more public support, which resuts in the ultimate goal of eventually returning them to the wild.

      My personal model solution, not necessarily in any order – all at once would be great – tomorrow would be ideal:

      ROAM or something like it gets inacted into law that takes us back to the original intent in 1971,

      a moretorim and ultimatly total elemination of hellicopter roundups,

      bait trap only when necessary with public access,

      use real science,

      establish several habitats as suggested by Craig Downer to determine “best” science,

      return all the horses that can make the trip from eastern and mid-west holding back to where they came from whether BLM or FS land,

      and don’t move anymore to the east or mid-west holding,

      all holding must be done in the west and with public access,

      all gathred horses must be up for adoption immediatly from gathers and bands shall be kept together or identified in a way to promote adoption or rescue of intact bands first,

      only trained horses, which have been kept at least in buddy bands, shipped around the country to adoption events, or sent direclty only to training facilities outside the west before shipping around – unadopted horses sent back west,

      remove all livestock grazing,

      then stop BLM/FS from killing off the predators.

      I would even drop the removal of ALL livestock if the livestock grazers would just get off the wild horses portion – which is minscul compared to how much land they already have – and start paying their own way – enough with the welfare $.

      PS Everyone here is publicly unknown – just pasionate people searching for any/many solutions – sharing knowledge and ideas.


    • Are we doing this because we think we have failed on other fronts? We haven’t even started in D.C. or in the courts. To give up now and chase after deeply compromised solutions is not something to be proud of. It’s a sign we have a leadership vacuum.”

      You are not up to speed on this. Didn’t we just have a c ourt hearing in the D.C area. And much litigation has gone forward. (With SOME success) Not as much as we would like, however, but a bit.
      I think that the reproducing sanctuaries will help protect the real DNA of the living Mustangs. So terrible that so many have been sterilized. I am hoping that the PZP will not bring ‘forever’ sterilization. As for castration, that is AWFUL.
      There are many ways to our ends. It is not an either/ or.


  30. To B.A. Clarke

    You say we haven’t even started in DC or the courts. I am not sure what your plan is for DC or the courts but if it hasn’t started there is no way it will finish in time for our wild ones. We are down to the wire here. BLM is zeroing out herds. If we just leave them all on the range and wait for a legal solution the ranges will be empty of mustangs and burros by the time we win. We need to do something to keep herds and families together or we won’t have any to turn back out if we ever win.


  31. Done! I’m wondering what their plans are for the remaining 7,000 acres. Obviously, some of that will be stables, pastures and corrals for training. Wonder how many horses they plan to bring to start training? I guess less than 60 if that is all they can sustain on 5,000 acres. Sigh, it’s better than nothing and maybe this idea will catch on.


  32. The New Mexico Finance Board FINALLY published its Agenda for today’s meeting and the Cerrillos Park purchase isn’t on it. 4 items were withdrawn , and I have no idea whether Cerrillos was one of them. Their next meeting is December 21st. Last chance while Richardson is still in office. As I’ve said before, our new governor doesn’t support either the buying the land or the wild horse park.


  33. Mustang News
    Withdrawn action item 12 for November 16 revised agenda
    new Governor elect is opposed to approval of purchase. Governor Richardson only has December now to approve purchase before Governor elect is President of The Board of Finance staring in January 2011.


    Presenter: Jim Noel, Cabinet Secretary
    Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, State ParksDivision
    Action Item 12 A and B
    Request for approval to purchase of a total of 12,035.79 acres of land with Certain Special Conditions


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