Horse News

800+ Montana Horses Face Uncertain Future

Updates provided by Jan Falstad of the Billings Gazette

No Mention of Money Back to Donors

Buyers crowd into the sale barn for a public auction of more than 800 of James Leachman's horses at a ranch south of Billings on Saturday ~ photo by Casey Riffi

The sale of 829 horses on a Crow Reservation ranch that was touch-and-go for weeks ran smoothly on Saturday.

The sale, believed to be the first of horses impounded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs for trespassing on tribal lands, attracted 1,000 people, including 200 to 300 buyers to the ranch 16 miles east of Billings.

BIA Regional Director Ed Parisian said trespassing cases just never get this far, so this sale is special.

“If your livestock is trespassing, you move them. We’ve never been here before,” Parisian said.

The mares with last year’s babies brought $300 to $800 even without registration papers with the American Quarter Horse Association.

The horses formerly belonged to James Leachman of Billings and were seized by the BIA after he failed to move them off the Home Place ranch. Leachman had until 8 a.m. Saturday to pay the bills to round up his horses, feed them and prepare them for the sale. When he didn’t, the sale started as scheduled at 10 a.m.

The rest of the horses will be sold as fast as one a minute Sunday starting at 10 a.m.

Despite the depressed horse market, more than 200 buyers from a dozen states plus Canada showed up for Saturday morning’s sale of 829 quarter horses on a ranch south of Billings.

Bureau of Indian Affairs regional director Ed Parisian said there are too many on lookers in the sales ring.

“There are people who want to buy, but can’t get in to buy,” he said.

Last month the BIA seized the Leachman horses for trespassing on Crow tribal land. Parisian said this is the first trespassing sale in Montana.

The bidding began at 10:10 a.m. after a prayer in the Crow Indian language and mares were going for about $300 to $500.

It was standing-room-only in the area where Rick Young Auctioneers of Absarokee was selling horses at a clip of one every 60 seconds. More than a dozen people were watching the sale on a television in a large tent nearby.

Late Saturday morning, a pair of Canadians led the active bidding.

“You’re never going to see these many foundation-bred Quarter horses in one place again,” said Cory Wilson, of Meadow Lake, Alberta.

He and another buyer drove 900 miles for the horses and hope to fill a tractor-trailer rig with 40 horses to drive back to Canada. They paid a top bid of $800 for a roan mare at 10:30 a.m.

R.T. ~ “I have watched this case since the beginning and when all is said done, it is a heartbreaker on so many levels.  People from across the country rallied to help these horses survive when Leachman criminaly turned his back on them and shut down his moral compass.  For months both local and distant organizations and individuals reached into their pockets to feed these horses and now that the Crow are putting them up for sale there is no mention of the tens of thousands of dollars that were donated to keep these horses alive being returned.  Nice rosey, fat deal for the Crow don’t you think?

And although I am confident that many of these horses will find good homes due their strong blood lines and high prices being paid but the bulk will surely make it across the boarder to the slaughter plants in Canada, it is heartbreaking.

One single human being started this avalanche of equine suffering moving and even though decent folks managed to hold the disaster at bay for a bit, in the end, they get kicked in face…not by the horses but by the Crow.  Totally reprehensible.”

22 replies »

  1. They should have kicked out the pair of Canadians and let the other buyers in to buy!! If others wanted them, I thought they were going to keep the damn killer buyers out of there!! I knew this was going to happen. …so heartbreaking.. 😦


  2. In light of the underhandedness of this whole affair to start the proceedings with a Crow prayer was just tacky. I think their horse ancestors must be turning in their graves at the loss of respect.


  3. There sure is a lot of blame being put on the Crow for what white guys did. I’m not sure I agree that the Crow are really so heartless and cruel in this situation as is being depicted. I’d really like to know more about what really happened in the transition process. The idea of the Crows ‘seizing’ the horses may not have even been the Crow’s idea, originally. I had heard from a source in MT that the Crows were asked to take the horses, and that some of the donors would be reimbursed from the proceeds. Just because it wasn’t mentioned today at the sale doesn’t mean that won’t still happen, does it?

    It seems to me that the Anglo rancher who raised the horses and the Canadian kill buyers who bought big are the inventors of disaster here, not the Crows. There was nothing on the video of the Crows rounding up the horses that suggest that they were mistreated in the hands of the natives.

    Shouldn’t we apply a little ‘wait and see’ here before we attack the Crow Tribe with such a heavy hand? Just asking.


    • Hope that you are right Elaine and I would be more than glad to publicize the good news if that would turn out to be true.

      Let us know if you find out something. To date, our sources on the ground are pretty crestfallen.


      • We could all use some good news, that’s for sure. I have my ear to the ground on this with MT friends there at the sale site, and will let you know what I can glean from ‘backstage’. Fingers crossed.


    • Word has it the the Crow are only getting the money that it cost them for the roundup, sale and care of the horses, the rest will go to Leachman’s creditors in his Bankruptcy suit. I guess there is a long list of people waiting. So my understanding is the Crow will not “make money” on this.

      Leachman also asked to have a public defender represent him in his abuse case. Thankful they did not allow him too. Anyone that can cut a cashers check for 30 + thousand dollars for horses that should not go back to him certainly should not be allowed to us a public defender.


  4. I find it utterly disgusting, that everyone regardless of color or ethnic beckground is just wants to profit on horses! There is not another animals species so blatantly exploited as the horse…who of all the species did so much for “Humanity”! It’s time to “boycott” the QH breeders, so to force them to cut down on breeding!


    • I agree Anne-Marie~Except there are so many people that belong to the AQHA and don’t give a rat’s butt about slaughter. They think it is humane. I the time I have been on FB, ONE person since reading one of my post’s has said they were no longer going to be a memeber of AQHA because of how causally they feel about slaughter..They just want that next horse and do not and will not curb their appetite’s….THEY DO NOT REALLY CARE ABOUT HORSES…they care about the show circut and the LOOK AT ME…They are missing a big part of what humane and compassion and love for a horse is, they just don’t care, selfish, selfish, selfish..ME ME ME


  5. I don’t really see where it says that the two Canadian’s were “kill buyers”. Why would kill buyers want “foundation lines?”

    “You’re never going to see these many foundation-bred Quarter horses in one place again,” said Cory Wilson, of Meadow Lake, Alberta.

    He and another buyer drove 900 miles for the horses and hope to fill a tractor-trailer rig with 40 horses to drive back to Canada. They paid a top bid of $800 for a roan mare at 10:30 a.m.”


  6. The Crow Tribal Government is financed by Tribal Priority Allocation Funds for tribal administration granted by the federal government, interest income from a judgment fund, coal severance taxes, and numerous leases, rights-of-way and other encumbrances of tribal lands. The trust assets of the Tribe are jointly managed with the DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS and must be managed in accordance with federal regulations. ALL FUNDS DERIVED FROM TRIBAL TRUST ASSETS ARE MANAGED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR, Office of Trust Funds Management


  7. I did find a Cory Wilson of Alberta, Canada that owns “Dare to Dream Horse Farm” The website features Arabian and I saw at least one quarter horse for sale. I also found a Cory Wilson of Alberta, Canada listed under the Arabian breeders registry. Let’s pray and hope the two Canadian’s have good intentions.


  8. Cory Wilson of Meadow Lake, Alberta, bought 14 horses and was planning on buying another 15 on Sunday to truck to two Canadian ranches. He hired a knowledgeable horseman, Jim Smith of Sheridan, Wyo., to handle most of the bidding.

    “Those mares are going up to the Waldorf Ranch in Saskatchewan to raise colts,” Wilson said.

    The horses, which used to have free range of about 40,000 acres of private and leased Crow Tribal lands, fell victim to a land feud between Leachman and neighboring ranchers Jay Stovall and his son, Turk Stovall
    this from


  9. RT I have a question. Although I was unable to donate funds what about the others? If they have a receipt of their donation I should think they should be able to present it to BIA and get a refund on their donation. At the barest it definitely should be tax deductible and maybe double the amount if BIA won’t or can’t refund donations.

    What about the Leach? Maybe he should be forced to pay back the donations as part of his restitution. Probably won’t happen. I think I read he’s in his 70’s and with his ranch gone he had no money. And the sad part there is that he has shelter, food and three squares as long as he’s behind bars. Somehow it just doesn’t seem quite fair when you consider what he did. It’s no picnic behind bars but then being starved isn’t much fun either.

    He should have called for help when he first got into trouble.


  10. I’m thinking the BIA /BLM are about the same thing and manipulate and use the Indians. The BLM has only murderous intentions towards horses.


  11. The Ameican Tribal Lands have been under the thumb of the Department of the Inferior/Bureau of Indian Affairs for a VERY LONG time.


  12. I watched the video and also read how these beauties were rounded up in a very peaceful and uneventful way for the horses. The Crow Nation did it the right way, not like the BLM with their Birds in the sky.
    People donated $$$$ to feed these horses, donated hay and water troughs and NOW they are being handed to freakin Kill Buyers. What is that about, where it the right in that.
    James Leachman at one pt a few years back had the horses tagged and ready to sell but then he realized he was not going to get what he thought he should so he just left them with their tags and basically left them to fend for themselves. I read where one of his friends said James loved the horses and is probably in tears, NO I AM IN TEARS…..Now these beauties will be barbarically KILLED because of James Leachman and his desire to breed and get the BIG BUCK. I HATE THIS , I CAN’T STAND IT, IT BREAKS MY HEART..


  13. no such place as meadow lake alberta,it shows some people dont know how to use goggle maps,,,its meadow lake saskatchewan,,,and why bash canadians,you sure like our oil,,,maybe we should stop selling it to you,mean mouths,,,,tks,,,


    • I truly beleive they are not per say KNOCKING CANADIANS but the KB’s, gentle there, we are concerned for the horses being slaughtered


  14. Because of the dispute, the horses that had been wintering over the large ranch were pushed into one pasture without enough grass. In January, Shepherd veterinarian Jeff Peila said that without supplemental feed, many of the horses would starve. The BIA confiscated the horses for trespassing on Crow Tribal lands and is selling them to recoup the costs of rounding them up and caring for them


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