The Force of the Horse

This One Stallion

Original Story by SFTHH Investigative Reporter Lisa LeBlanc

A tall, charcoal maned gray stallion living in Twin Peaks has, through no intentional actions on his part, accrued a small fan base.

Twin Peak's "BraveHeart" ~ Photo by Lezlie Sterling

He is stunning, though years of defending his family and his territory have left his black skin visibly scarred, a common testament to a fiercely protective nature. First observed during a ‘mixer’, a Wild Equine version of speed dating, he pawed the ground, trotting, snorting, kicking up dust in a frank display of masculinity. Middle age and hard living has begun to moderately effect his body, leaving him angular, in contrast to the inherent roundness of a younger, untested stallion. Still, he exudes a powerful appeal in his direct gaze and commanding stance, an assurance that he is more than capable of taking care of what is his. And in his small realm, he is undisputed Lord over all he surveys. In Wild Horse society, little credence is given to perceived perfection; he wooed and won many mares. His mares chose him for his competence as protector and provider, for his experience on the range and likely, for the hardiness & vigor sure to be handed down to his offspring.

They lived in an area near Skedaddle/Shinn Ranch. Through changes made by unseen hands, they came to occupy a fenced allotment. In that mysterious manner of horses, he had, over time, become a familiar sight, respected, anticipated, even loved by those humans who had come to recognize him. Dubbed BraveHeart by an admirer (not to be confused with Silver King’s Braveheart), he and his family, their environment and resources, were observed and studied, season to season, by a researcher writing a thesis toward her Masters degree. Her hope is her studies will result in a more equitable division of resources for Wild Horses and management that will involve the application of scientific principals to Horse Management Areas rather than outdated policies and management practices. She became a familiar face at field offices and the holding facility, a logical progression in authoring a well-written thesis.

But more subtly, the researcher was developing a heart-felt attachment to BraveHeart.

The announcement of the Final Environmental Assessment for Twin Peaks came as a disappointment but not a surprise, particularly in a year where roundups could be characterized best as a firestorm. As BraveHeart’s admirers came to terms with the inability to halt the roundup through Public comments submitted against the Environmental Assessment or through legal means, the researcher decided to observe a portion of the roundup, perhaps as a final chapter to her research. During observation of the roundup, she carried with her a folder containing her thesis notes – and a picture of BraveHeart, which she freely shared with anyone interested. As if Fate had worked some serendipitous tragedy, the researcher watched as BraveHeat and his family were among the ‘removed’ during the first days of the roundup. He was seen near the mouth of the trap, calling his mares and children to him; in the ensuing panic, half his family disappeared into the trap. Rather than leave them unguarded to the Unknown, BraveHeart followed after. Later, the researcher watched him in a holding pen with his Alpha mare, trying to stem the fear and aggression by diversion.

Because he had become an integral part of her research, she couldn’t allow BraveHeart to fade off into uncertainty. She decided later, when the roundups had concluded, to proceed with his acquisition, to keep him in Northern California where he had been born and provide him with some semblance of a life close to all he had ever known. A plan was laid, a home acquired and so began the initial process.

The first major disappointment occurred when it was announced the Twin Peaks stallions had been gelded, though that did not negate the fact – he was still valued, still wanted. Early November began a series of e-mails and phone calls, expressing interest and for information on application for acquisition under Sale Authority. Photographs were sent, phone messages left unreturned, assurances blithely made by BLM staff. An outbreak of strangles was running through the facility; It would probably best to wait until it was under control. Perhaps in January? Snow, the holidays, more assurances, now fallen flat.

Dissatisfied with the inaction and lack of verifiable information, a desperate five hour drive in early January to the holding facility to ascertain BraveHeart’s whereabouts, costly in terms of time and fuel. The researcher looked over as many as a thousand horses in the general population and in special pens for those slated for ‘sanctuary’, to no avail. Finally, an accidental conversation with a friendly employee revealed – BraveHeart, shipped out with countless others, to the anonymity of the Midwest’s Long Term Pastures – at the beginning of December. Given the vastness of Long Term Pastures, the likelihood he’ll be found or returned is remote. Whether by accident, oversight, contempt or simply an unwillingness to go beyond the status quo, This One Stallion, so important to a few, may be lost in the system forever.

Given the heightened pace of removals and the large numbers, it’s probable this loss is not an isolated incident. BraveHeart, in the scientific context, should not have been considered ‘excess’; as a captive, he has not been offered for adoption once, let alone the requisite three times, nor is he of an age or appearance that would label him ‘unadoptable’. It may well be, for the majority of those captured from Twin Peaks, there will be no ‘adoption event’; it was simply more expedient to send them off, to disappear them into the black hole of the Midwest Pastures than to allow the interested Public an opportunity to acquire horses touted as ” highly sought after for their size, conformation, dispositions & unique colors “.

Who will be held accountable for BraveHeart? While This One Stallion alone may have meant nothing to those who held the reins, for those who knew him – prepared him sanctuary near the home he had always known, to share his history and secure his future, to atone in small measure for the vicarious actions of others by providing This One Stallion a second life of purpose and peace – he is and will remain important to them.

Perhaps, when future issues of the Wild Horse and Burro Program arise – when facts and figures are gathered, drafted into important documents and given voice, again blaming Wild Equines for their indiscretion and the Public for non-involvement, it might be prudent to remember – who failed This One Stallion and those who fought for him and lost.

45 replies »

  1. This is a sad and unnecessary semi-conclusion for one that was an exceptional leader in his world. I say semi because it makes me think of how it is for a family that learns a loved one is missing in action in combat – the not knowing for sure what happened or where he is now – is he even still alive? Endless questions with no answers. Even sadder, it is a microcosm of what the BLM (I have other less benign names for that agency) has been doing to decimate the herds of wild horses that roamed free when the agency was originally charged by Congress in 1971 with the responsibility for maintaining and preserving with minimal human interference. Their collective destruction of herd and band structure, whether through ignorance of the nature of wild horses, sheer stupidity, or uncaring, brain dead bureaucratic slugs that have no concept of the meaning of “maintain and preserve” or “minimal human interference” is unconscionable, inexcusable, illegal in that they are in violation of the law and intent of Congress, inhumane and cruel – and hiring contractors that are clearly incompetent and unknowing of how to handle horses – did I leave anything out? The BLM gives wild horse advocates placating lip service but goes right ahead with their egregious operations and at the rate they are proceeding will soon have accomplished what appears to me to be their ultimate goal of getting rid of all free roaming horses. Obviously our voices of passive protest are not being listened too. If they are not stopped somehow, and soon, the damage they will have done will be irreversible. Abbey or Salazar could stop these inhumane and cruelly conducted stampedes and removals dead in their tracks with the stroke of a pen if they would stop lying to us and agree to a thorough review of what they are doing before driving what is left of the horses further down into an abyss they will not be able to climb out of where they will eventually fade into the sunset of once upon a time. The next big show starts this Monday on the Antelope Complex and for them to ignore our many thousands of protests and Madeleine’s incredibly generous offer of sanctuary is totally devoid of any reason and logic when it would save millions of OUR tax dollars and result in much more reasonable treatment for the horses.

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  2. The way I see it sadly….the only BRAVE left in this country is “four legged”…..called MUSTANG, WILD HORSE & BURRO! I would strongly advise to continue to hold BLM accountable and trace this Twin Peaks Stallion, there are photos for ID. The whole WH program is about “transparency” so one should be able to find any captured Mustang anywhere …..right???

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    • The Tragedy is the BLM knows where he is………………………… Demand they find him………………………………..

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    • Anne-Marie,
      You said, “The whole WH program is about “transparency” so one should be able to find any captured Mustang anywhere …..right???”
      We will see…

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  3. Tragedy all over the BLM………………………. It is truly the Bureau of Lost Minds…….. also I call it the Bureau of Lying Morons……………………

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  4. I spoke for greybeard the morning after his capture in Adobe Town, WYO he was on the transport being shipped to Canon City..I was not going to take any chances usually they move so fast thru the system and are gelded..left a message saying a gray stallion..LOL most of the adobes are grey..was arriving and I could identify him had photos carol walker had taken of his family rounded up and I did not want him gelded..he and dozen other studs are today standing in a pen, the last surviving stallions that were hand picked and saved from the scapel..this weekend they and 2 semis of mares were supposed to be shipped to S Colo to be released on 40,000 acres and there they sit caught up inbetween BS and a hard place…anyway my suggestion is that everyone get your adoption papers and SA papers sent in and approved so if that momment is upon you…do not hesitate but move swiftly..you are not committed to anything by filling out the papers, they are good for a year..I urge you to do it..I had no intention of buying 1 wild horse let alone a semi..LOL you never know where the road will take you once you put your foot on it…better to be prepared..it may give you the opportunity to save or change a horses life..my advice..its worth it.

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    • Sandra,
      Did you get your “Greybeard” and the others?

      By the way, sale authority questionaire was completed, sent and received to both DC and the facility where BraveHeart was located a couple of months ago.

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      • I am waiting to hear from Sally on an e-mail I sent on Friday, asking for delivery of these horses..we had set a delivery date of Jan 20-21..the facility at Canon was quarentined because 1 stallion could not be caught to draw blood for his coggins..none of the adopted horses could be removed as well, the quarentine had been lifted by the state vet and adoption horses shipped out..so i am asking for a date for our horses to ship, before mares start dropping foals as some of the young ones are already showing signs of strangles with thick pussy discharges..having to haul mares seperately from very small foals and then turning them out into the wild could result in stressed mares not reuniting with their foals..we need them delivered sooner rather than later

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  5. This stories leave my heart wrenched with sadness. I call and spread the word as best I can, but, the government had so much red tape and insulation that it is almost inpenetrable. Still all of us must persevere to save these brave horses who try to valiantly live their lives freely. I pray that Braveheart is free and free of the danger of death or slaughter. I want to see and hear of good news very soon.

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    • Athena,
      I also want to see and hear good news about BraveHeart and the thousands of others … we must all continue to do what is right even when we want to give up…

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  6. WHB program knows where he is. If he has been processed, he has been branded and from what I have been told, tehre is a description of him along with his brand. You can find him. Start with where he went into the abyss and work from there. Don’t give up. Find out who teh truck drivers were, who the wranglers were the day he was transported and arrived at eh new location. There are advocates all over the US. If you need someone to go in person to meet with the managers, put the word out. You can find him – we can help. If nothing else, this stallion represents all that is treasured in any being – purpose.

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    • Jan,
      Yes you are correct, the BLM knows where he is … and not giving up. “Grassland Pasture Facility … is called Cassoday [Kansas]”, was the information received by the BLM.
      Does anyone know of a horse being “returned” from BLM?
      Has anyone seen a BLM regulation that says a horse can NOT be returned?

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    • Jan,
      Credit where credit is due:
      Lisa LeBlanc wrote the aritcle
      Photo by Lezlie Sterling
      Both are VERY talented and dedicated persons who both just happen to love our wild ones.

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    • You said it Jan. They have the ability to track any horse they have. They just don’t want to. It’s just a cruel spiteful little game they play. Meanness knows no bounds.

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  7. I hate to change the subject but we people can’t possibly relate to those people. Case in point, we were just notified 15 days ago we were being evicted from the property where we keep 30 rescue horses including Bill our Mustang. I appeared in court Tuesday pleading with the judge for just a bit of time because of the arctic cold and snow and the danger that can come to the horses if moved during this cold snap. My pleas were simply brushed off as not his problem, not the problem of the property owner who lives 800 miles away who really had no need to be so abrupt as the place will likely be vacant for a long time. BUT we people banded together and many turned out to help with their time and we began the process of removing the rescues to their new homes in other places lent to us while we can do paddocks and sheds in 4 feet of snow so they can all be together again. What makes people so hard? Just a pinch of compassion would go a long way. Just a pinch and Brave Heart might be safe.

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    • You are right just a little compassion goes ever so far !! Now they full well know that it may hurt the horses to be moved………..Why are people so damn cruel…. If you do someone a favor , it comes back to you even better………. I certainly hope that you find that little bit of compassion, maybe they will rethink and give it to you !!!!!!

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    • Frank,
      It couldn’t have been said better than you just did: “Just a pinch of compassion would go a long way. Just a pinch and BraveHeart might be safe.”
      I wish you and your four-legged family the best of luck… it is obvious that you have more than just a “pinch” of compassion and the world is better for it.

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  8. What makes people so hard? Just a pinch of compassion would go a long way. Just a pinch and Brave Heart might be safe.”

    Someone should write an article for the local paper about the coldness of the judge. Some reporter must want to do a human interest story. Local ASPCA? Local shelter??
    Unless there was an URGENT need for the property, they could easily have allowed you to stay there.
    Hopefully you will find ALL the help you need. Many blessings and warm clothes to you and yours.

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  9. This story needs to get out to the American people, so the actions by the BLM can be revealed for what they are. They certainly have shown no interest, whatsoever, in working with or entertaining ideas or suggestions from anyone, period! Unfortunately, it’s all too obvious, which makes it that more concerning. We must not sit back and allow this to continue, nightmare after nightmare of stories being inflicted upon our wild ones. Their freedom and our freedom depend on it!

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    • Jean,
      Spread the word … tell the story. This is a true story with documentation. This is a story of one of thousands of horses that have been … and continue to be abused by the BLM … unnecessarily. This story needs to be told to the children of our governmental representatives… and what will those children tell their parents? They will tell them this is wrong and something must be done to stop this abuse.

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  10. Frank, I don’t know where you live, but I know you mentioned snow and cold. Many blessings are being sent your way for your helping these 30 beautiful animals. I wish I was close and I would help in anyway I could. I wish more people knew about people needing help with their saved horses. The sanctuary where I help out is in need of volunteers, but so far, dependable ones seem to be elusive. She just needs some to help in relocating some of her sanctuary horses back from a neighboring property and help from a contractor to tear down her burned out house. Do you think we have located either good volunteers or contractors. No. One contractor was referred to me, I have called and called. There is never anyone answering the phone and no one returns my call. And, I have even approached the local college to see if we could get vounteers from them. No answer. I’m perplexed. I’m going to ask the owner of the sanctuary if she thinks we should see about an article in the local paper. I even approached a satelite church of a large one near me that is located a few miles from her, and never heard back from them. I hope all the wheels get turning for this young lady and hope she finds her Braveheart. It’s a coincidence, but I just four weeks ago saved an Arabian that is blind in one eye, not broken, that was headed to auction, and I’m sure the trailer ride to oblivion. And, guess what, his name is Brave Heart. I hope this name being the same brings good luck to this young lady. God Bless all.

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    • Lynne, we sometimes get people who need to do community service, and some schools also have children that need to get community involvement. In the end though we work 15 or more hours a day 7 days. BUT for all the pain the horses lift off us it’s worth it. If you get time read the link Nitro’s story at or website.
      http://www.horsesavers.us
      Frank

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      • Dear Frank, I also read the story of Nitro and Snickers, It warmed my heart and soul, I now understand your faith in Horses , I also have faith in Horses , it was given to me by a horse a Tennessse Walker unbroken 6 yr old out in a pasture, restored my Life, it is a long story but i will post it here sometime soon…………..She gave back to me my life after my Husbands untimely death at 44 yrs old, I was broken and devastated, then i met 6 months laterThe Horse I named Spirit…………………………..My allegiance to all Horses came from her…………………………

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  11. When I read this account, I could not help but remember the name Braveheart…..& it seemed to me that this was the horse that had been videotaped shortly after his arrival in the holding pen at the Twin Peaks roundup in August of last year….I recall the incident that was reported at that time, but had to see if I recalled the name correctly. Braveheart was the horse who rammed the metal bars in an effort to escape, & broke his neck in doing so, & subsequently died a short while later. Are we not talking about the same beautiful white/grey stallion? And, if so, these are contradictory reports….I wonder what really did happen to him….

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    • All our horses that have been rounded up off their land and torn from their families have BRAVE HEARTS in my mind. However, the Braveheart horse you speak of died in the BLM trap during the Silver King roundup the first week of October 2010. The BraveHeart in Lisa LeBlanc’s story was captured by BLM during the first few days of the Twin Peaks roundup the second week of August 2010.

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  12. Sandra,
    I certainly wish you all the luck in the world with your horses. Are they Adobe horses? Do you recall hearing about the sale authority purchase of the 255 (?) Adobe horses a few months back? Did you hear if that acquisition actually did happen and if so any other details? Was that purchase from the same facility as yours? I hope you will keep us updated on your horses and again I wish you luck – for the sake of the horses.

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    • I am the person who was given that information by BLM officials..there is a very interesting story about that I can tell you offline. there are people who will be keeping an eye on the facility for semis leaving with horses..this other person wanted all the stallions gelded,..all studs have been gelded at cannon but our guys who are now penned together. we asked for 2 semi loads of mares..around 60. Carol was told that as soon as the studs recovered from gelding they wanted to ship them..did they mean LTH or to this buyer???

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    • There is one Piceance stallion, big Ben and the rest are Adobe town, hopefully our Adobe Town mares will be carring foals from some of these stallions who are no more..if you go to my facebook page snadra rogers longley and carol walkers page you can see some of the pictures of adobe winds and adobe eagle and dust in the wind, there are others as well whos pictures are not up yet

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  13. America is evil & corrupt!! I truly think when the Good Lord created mankind, He gave animal lovers & animal killers 2 different brains!! What we can not understand, is second nature for “them”. We look into a face & see it’s soul, it’s personality, it’s worth alive in our world. “They” only see money, greed, “what’s in it for me?”, or as an unliving, unfeeling, inanimate “thing”, to be treated or disposed of without even a second thought, or, any remorse!! When these beautiful wild horses are gone from the wild, it will be FOREVER. We care, “they” don’t, they outnumber us I fear. We know we all will continue this fight, if we win or not, no one knows. Here in Missouri, I heard on the news about coyote hunters coming across a mountain lion!! Well, you guessed it, they shot & killed it because they “thought” it was a threat to them!!The only threat was probably it was hunting the same coyotes or other “game” the hunters were after, or they “thought” it would scare the poor coyotes away! On the way home from being in the “country” this past Sat., my family & I saw a lone, beautiful wild coyote (for the first time ever!), standing in a huge snow-covered field. We were awed, amazed, & elated & excited to see such a sight! The fact that others hunt them down & kill them just sickens me. But, when humans can not even get along with themselves, how can we possibly expect them to get along with, or care about our Creator’s other creatures? Except for us, & others like us, who act & think like us, I have lost all hope or faith in mankind (what a misnomer!). If we humans had even half the brains of our animal friends, we’d all be smarter & happier, & the world would be a much better place. If Obama & his band of idiots get re-elected, God help America, all she stands for, &, perhaps most of all, her helpless, innocent, wild & domestic animals, & the very lands they/we all call home. Just my opinion. Thanks for listening.

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  14. This confirms what I have known for a very long time and it is heartbreaking…these horses are family members…fathers, mothers, sons, cousins, daughters, uncles, nieces and nephews….aunts, grandmothers, grandfathers….to tear them up like this tears me up….

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  15. There would be no sweeter reward than to be able to reverse what has been done to BraveHeart and to the thousands of other wild ones that have been forced to endure what we “humans” think we must do to them – “for their own good” … how stupid can we humans be? We humans are wrong. As usual, it is Mother Nature that is right. These WILD horses are different than domesticated horses. Although I love them all, the domesticated horses have had much of the family mentality torn from them but being a very adaptable animal for survival reasons they are willing to adjust to their domesticated families, but the domestic animal has lost (as many humans have lost also!) the family bond that these wild ones show so well. This family bond is important and without it we are simply shells of what we could be … and the same with horses who are “locked away”. What is being done to these wild animals is wrong and must be mended and this one stallion is a symbol of the courage required in the hearts of the wild ones … and we need more of that courage in the hearts of humans.

    Although thankfully there are many great websites to view incredible photos of wild horses, you will want to go to the website http://wherethewildhorsesare.blogspot.com/ (Where the Wild Horses Are) where you can see and study and enjoy BraveHeart and his family and other wild horses in their own habitat … free on the range before the roundup. The true wild horse family atmosphere is actually shown. The photos show just how important a family band – and lead stallion – are to all of the horses … for protection and for the older to teach the younger and how this is done mostly by the gentle forcefulness of the lead stallion – literally watching out for them and guiding them and instructing them at every moment of every day and night. This is very important. This gives a further depth to the wild horses which is natures way … and the photos show just how important these family bands really are to these special wild horses.

    It has been pointed out that horses are all over the place so how can you explain to people they are in danger? This is a valid point when it comes to the general public – they don’t understand because they have never seen a wild horse as Mother Nature intended them to be. View and read the website and get to “know” these horse families and then share it with others so they will also understand. The WILD ones are special.

    PS The many people who have grown to love and appreciate him have NOT given up on BraveHeart. These people only wish they could tell him … but perhaps he knows………….

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  16. If this was Amy who is working on her degree, I cannot believe she did not speak up for him well in advance. This is something I have been urging people to do… but to save a stallion you must say you want him to remain intact and have a contact person with BLM at the facility the horse is brought to. mar

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