Horse News

Wyoming: It’s Wild Horses and the BLM

Story by Lauryn Wachs of The Cloud Foundation

Protesting to Save Wyoming’s Wild Horses

Rock Springs, Wyoming, is not exactly what I would call ‘close’ to Colorado Springs. Nevertheless, our new intern, Erin Clifford from Michigan; and I hopped in the car and started up I-25 northbound, picking up our fellow wild horse advocate friend, Rachel Reeves, along the way.

When we finally pulled up the drive to the BLM office the first thing I noticed was my tax dollars at work: a shiny new building complete with landscaping and the works.

BLM Office in Rock Springs

Our little group of advocates joined together outside the building, which included our carload, a few other superb advocates from Northern Colorado, and two delightful women who came all the way from California! We totaled ten people, but our signs and presence were enough to frustrate the folks inside.

From left: Advocate extraordinaire Linda Hanick, Erin, and Lauryn

Part of the protest crew. Photo by Frances Miller

During the meeting itself we were surrounded by a lot of ranchers, most of who belonged to the Rock Springs Grazing Association – the largest grazing association in the country. Each of them gave a sentence or two on the plusses of helicopter roundups and how necessary they were, same ole, same ole. We had some great points brought up by each of the wild horse advocates who spoke. Trying to explain the issues we have with helicopter use during roundups in only three minutes is no small feat!

With everyone a little tense after the meeting, Rachel, who is quite familiar with the herds in the area, suggested journeying up the road to the White Mountain, one of the herds that is slated for a roundup and now is going to have only gelded stallions remaining post-roundup if the BLM has their way.

A White Mountain mare

The sun was slowly setting, but as it was the summer solstice and we were out on the range well after 9 watching the horses and enjoying  “magic hour” with them. It was Erin’s first wild horse experience, and you should have seen her face!

One band was urged on by their stallion

An older bachelor is forced onward by a bay roan stallion

Lauryn and Rachel

In the morning we woke up early to stop by the Rock Springs Corrals, the short-term holding facility in town. The only way to find it is to follow the sign that says “Wild Horse Viewing” which inspired a large eye roll from yours truly. We parked at the overlook to the corrals and were glad to see that at least the corrals were clean. It seemed they were in the middle of doing a lot of cleanup, probably in preparation for the White Mountain herd that we had seen just last night. It was a bitter reminder of the impending terrible summer that faces those horses and the ones in the Little Colorado herd just next door.

The Rock Springs Corrals

Instead of taking the normal interstate highway drive back to Colorado Springs, we diverted to visit Colorado’s largest herd in Sand Wash Basin just north of Maybell. To get there we drove through the Salt Wells herd area in Wyoming, but we saw no horses. This herd was devastated last year. Almost all the horses are now incarcerated at taxpayer expense.

We drove into the Sand Wash area as far as we could, given the short amount of time we had to spend there. We encountered some absolutely stunning bachelors and a large band that had a couple of foals. They are truly a striking herd based on what we saw.

This pinto bachelor was really beat up, but still going strong

An absolutely stunning trio of bachelors

It doesn’t matter how many wild horses you’ve seen or where you’ve seen them, they still leave you awestruck every time. It’s truly an addicting experience, and we were hard-pressed to leave Sand Wash. And it is a strong reminder of how important it is for us, the American public who these horses belong to, to stand up and give a voice to all our wild horses and burros. I know I’ll do my best to make sure the wild ones stay wild.

All the best,

21 replies »

  1. Wow The Photos are awesome, Wow how Lucky she is to see her first Wild Mustang, I am sure she will never forget the splendor of seeing them, I remember my first time also , just like it was yesterday!!!!!!!!! The Memory is embedded in my soul……………… I believe it is why I wake in the morning, with the thought they are there………….. I am from Ohio and theres zero chance to see one here……… I must be satisfied with only the thought…………….I have been to Nevada thousands of times, My first order of business was to go find them out on the desert……While everyone else was looking to Gamble in the Casinos,my son Pat would always join me in my quest………………… I must say i was always lucky to see them…………until 8 yrs ago when they were no where to be found, I did alot of inquiring and finally found out they were removed…………. Hence why I am here…………………………….Their sites and sounds were a symphony to my ears and eyes, everyone of them seemed like they were on a journey of Freedom and beauty,and there would be nothing that could ever stop them, and will always remain in my mind and I am hoping again to see them where they rightfully belong…………………..This is a priceless treasure……………. A.Heritage I will never surrender……………. The Wild Mustang wrote the book on Beauty, pride. trust courage, power, dignity ,grace, poise and most of all , The Love of Freedom…………


    • Equines, specifically wild horses and burros MADE this country with their intelligence and willingness to work with humans.

      And the photos were inspiring and painful at the same time because we here know what is soon to become of these noble steeds.


    • Thanks Arlene. You made me realize that Cloud was not the first wild horse I’ve seen–cause I saw the Chincoteague Ponies in 1991. I got to Assateague and the vehicle broke down. Got out and there was a pony. The lady I was with told me not to touch–so of course I didn’t. But the pony wanted to smell my camera all over! I guess he thought it was some kind of new treat! He didn’t bite the camera or nip it. He was really friendly as long as I didn’t try to touch him.

      There was another band stallion who just didn’t give a hoot when I asked him if I could take pictures of his family. He just didn’t care. But WATCH OUT FOR THE LEAD MARES! They run the family! Ears back and boy she meant business. I promised her that I wouldn’t take any photos of her family. And I didn’t. She was furious with me.

      As for Cloud he is wild. In some ways its easy to forget that. He comes up to you pretty close. His mares stayaway. Just respect that.

      Sequoya who is now with Cloud was with Two Boots when I saw her last summer. I was on this horse trail leading to the water hole. I heard hoof beats behind me–it was Sequoya and Two Boots. They waited a moment while I moved off the trail for them. Granted it wasn’t the 100 ft that Ginger recommends but Sequoya KNEW I wasn’t a problem. Geez, I couldn’t even stand up straight on my own two feet. Her foal was GLUED to her far side. And Two Boots was a bit more reserved. He moved a couple of steps to the right away from me.


      • Awesome story Margaret , Imagine the many wonderful stories about the wild Mustangs that there are some we will never hear , but we know they are out there…………….. Only part of the reason to save them from the BLM………………….and save them for all of America……………………


  2. The hearing was somewhat surreal. I counted the ranchers–20–don’t know about some who didn’t speak–but their clothes didn’t give them away. The BLM folks were nervous and distracted, and most of the advocates spoke–with facts and personal experiences with helicopters and the need for technology and protocol on what is acceptable and what is tolerated by the BLM toward the contractors. Discussion with ranchers afterwards revealed their unvarnished opinions. The drive to the HMA afterwards blurred that experience for a while, when we spent that spectacular sunset with about 100 horses. The bands were staying in close proximity of one another. However, we did see sign of mtn. lions (oh, I forgot, there are no predators) with tracks and scars of horses.


    • Just keep calling them morally dirty, selfish, cruel welfare ranchers sucking up American resources on the taxpayers dime while pursuing export markets.

      Seriously, call them welfare sucking “ranchers”…they HATE that!


    • Linda you saw mtn lion tracks???!!!! BLM swore to me that they didn’t have mtn lions or any predators in this part of WY. Yeah, but then again I had one that told me how the horses pollute the water holes for ALL the wildlife.


      • To me the tracks looked too big to be anything but a mountain lion. But perhaps it was an imaginary mountai lion. They exist you know. They typically spend their days playing with Snufflupagus on the magical island of forgotten toys but occasionally they will venture into the wilds. They scare the horses so much that a stigmata like phenomenon occurs, in which darling older stallions will spontaneously scar up as if they had been attcked while younger stallions drop over dead with these imaginary wounds.


    • Linda, Yes, Predation is real. We know it and the song and dance BLM does on that is so convincing!! But only because the cats are seldom seen by noisy people in pickup trucks. Glad you have sharp eyes!! Good call.


      • At first I was confused that the lion had killed and left it. Then Vic reminded me about the elk kill here in a park in Estes Park, and the female lion came back several days later to feed. I guess it was good that we didn’t stick around long, Rachel!


  3. Yes Denise, they did, without them were would we be??????? And yes very soon they will be terrorized again, My heart breaks with the thought , that will not leave my mind…….Can we bare this for them??/ No, they must suffer all alone, they know we are trying this I
    believe, I cannot help but want to flood the skies with aircraft in that area at least it is something………………when they terrorize them they terrorize me and all of us here………………….All I can hear is their screams of terror it haunts me, their calling to each other, being separated with out just cause, foals that not yet have known the beauty of their land…………………just trying to keep safe with mothers,,,,, Justice is too slow for them…………………


    • I would also suggest that foreign nationals/corps can’t own, but rather lease US lands AND make them give back for the privilege and a transparent price with money of significance going to land, environmental, wildlife, water concerns…..NOT managed by DOI/USDA/State Ag trolls. .


  4. How I envy all of you that saw these beautiful animals and was able to be so close to them in their natural habitat. I would love to be able to do that. All of you said things that make one cry for these animals and hope that we will win. I would love to see all the ranchers GONE. i think we would get by nicely without the BLM and the ranchers. What peace we would have and certainly our beautiful wild horses with their families would have the peace and tranquility they so much deserve. All they ask is to be with their families and to live with them from one day to the next. The next group of idiots I would like to get see non-existentant is the killer buyers. What shameful examples of the human race. To earn a living off the hide of these beautiful wild horses, donkeys, and burros is a disgrace. Maybe we should see that they are all rounded up and dropped in our war zone over in Iraq and adjoining coutries and see how they would fare there. They would deserve this and any outcome would be justice for our wild horses.


    • I think that the BLM could do the job, if they weren’t so beholden to the ranchers and money. Money, influence, and lobbyists talk. Wild horses are an icon and a tradition–that’s too abstract for influence, I guess. If the BLM would just take an opportunity to share decision making with ALL the stakeholders equally–wild horse preservationists, recreational users, hunting and fishing, mineral extraction industries, and agricultural, then there might be an equitable sharing of the land.


  5. Was there anyone at all who was against the helicopters other than the known advocates? Was there any concern whatsoever for the horses from the welfare ranchers? Just asking, for the record.


    • All the ranchers who spoke recommended helicopters. Some related incidents from the “old days” when it was done horseback with all the injuries and deaths of horses and cowboys. Some of us recommended that helicopter roundups could be done humanely, if the contractor had some technology to monitor the activities (such as GPS, cameras on helicopter, etc.) I commented on SunJ’s horrendous roundup here in CO last year that I witnessed. Lauryn witnessed the Antelope debacle and commented on that, as well. That is what can not happen again. The BLM needs to be good managers and set parameters and protocol by which the conractors must adhere.


  6. Thanks for sharing these beautiful pictures, and for constantly standing up for the Mustangs. If they only would listen to the people who care I would be the happiest person on earth…..


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