Knappster: A little horse sense, please

by George Knapp as it appears in Las Vegas CityLife

“Are we talking about the same deal, here!?!?”
George Knapp: “The Knappster”

After spending millions to create a world-class wild mustang eco-sanctuary in Northern Nevada, philanthropist Madeleine Pickens finds herself at odds with the very people she’s trying to help. In all likelihood, some of the best-known wild horse advocates in the country — many of whom are meeting in Las Vegas this week — will end up filing a lawsuit to stop Pickens’ plan from moving forward.

It’s a complicated legal mess, but in a nutshell, it looks like those crafty dealmakers at BLM are stirring the pot. They’ve been spreading half-truths about some conditions they have supposedly imposed on Pickens if she wants to get the green light for her plan to take 1,000 or more horses out of government pens and put them onto a gigantic ranch property she purchased near Elko. Pickens needs the BLM’s permission to use an adjacent 580,000 acres to supplement her sanctuary. Those tricksters at BLM have been telling other horse advocates that Pickens will have to wipe out three existing herd-management areas in order to move forward with her sanctuary, and the advocates have been screeching like banshees, holding their wrists to their foreheads and threatening to go to court. The advocates believe that if Pickens wants to rescue a few thousand horses from government corrals and create a model for other public-private sanctuaries, she will sacrifice 1,200 or so wild mustangs living near her property.

The fact is, Pickens has agreed to no such deal and will fight tooth and nail against it. There is no love lost between Pickens and some wild-horse advocates, for reasons that can’t be explained in a few sentences. Suffice to say, this devious pot-stirring by BLM, which is certainly no friend to the mustangs, has managed to pit dedicated horse advocates against the one person who’s done more to help the horses than anyone in the country.

BLM strategists must be chortling. If horse advocates go to court to stop Pickens, BLM will have given a gut shot to several of its favorite targets all at once. Hopefully, the mustang advocates meeting in Las Vegas this week can put aside some of the overwrought emotion and join forces against the common adversary — the one entity that has removed horses from more than 10 million acres set aside by law for the mustangs, and which continues to wipe out herd areas in Nevada.

Click (HERE) to visit City Life and to Comment


  1. But I would love to see ALL wild horse advocates go up against the real culprit here, the BLM and stop them from killing off our wild horses. Standing together in force is the only way we are going to save the wild ones. Madeliene knows she is being talked about and I hope she goes to the conference and lets everyone know her REAL plans. That will also take the wind out of the sails of the BLM once again.


  2. I’ve really been trying to reserve comments because there are two sides to every story. As we all know Madeline has put so much (even her daughter’s college monry?) into the project and the BLM czars and corporate cattle ranchers have fought her every step of the way. Now it seems that they are trying to pit the advocates against her and it looks like they’ve succeeded in driving a wedge. But we all have to remember that a house divided will fall. It’s not the time for division but for unity, solidarity. We must give her every opportunity and support her efforts but remember that the BLM is the bad guy.


  3. So then what’s the real story here? We’ve sent our comments to BLM in Elko. It’s hard to believe BLM caused all these stories and Madeleine has said nothing?


  4. How can the Advocates even think that Madeleine would do that, come on people, the BLM have been fighting Madeleine tooth and nail for how long now. When do we step back and realize this mud slinging is all due to the EGO of the BLM…I a so sad to hear that any horse advocate would even ponder going to court against Madeleine. For Pete’s sake, wake up, how many years have some of these advocates been working to help the Plight of our Wild Mustang’s, shaking my head


    • Jeannie;

      I for one feel that Madeleine should be doing SOMETHING…. Not playing chess with BLM so that she can get horses out of holding… for crying out loud they’re are so many wild ones that are being round up daily and sent to slaughter under the guise of ‘estray’, if she REALLY cared she would be out there buying them at the auction and releasing them on the ranch she has!

      But instead she sits and waits for BLM to make up their mind or be paid off which ever occurs first…protecting their own monies under a 501K and by the way she is not the only one in on the deal…She has several of the mucky mucks from the Dallas Cowboys ‘investing’ their money also.
      Instead they wait, to see if the government would foot the bill, paying $500 per head per year to keep them on her ranch!

      If she WAS to do the right thing buying those horses outright, OR allows advocate groups that have purchased them to release them on their ranch… BLM or anyone else can’t say a damned thing about it, because they would be privately OWNED on a privately OWNED ranch!

      Madeleine while thinking big and trying to turn this into a profit, needs to take a few lessons from sanctuaries like Return to Freedom, Whispering Winds and Habitat for Horses….those places are INDEED 501’s and are completely dedicated to doing what is best for and saving the horses!

      I say it’s time she put up or shut up…oh yeah I forgot she has shut up.


  5. I love George Knapp – but am afraid he didn’t tell the whole story.
    I hope this will help to explain:

    The BLM is using Madeleine’s wish to graze horses on her grazing allotment as BLACKMAIL in order to zero out more Free-Roaming Wild Horses on their legally designated land.


    • Exceptional…how could anyone with a heart and soul watch that stallion looking for a way to save his family not be touched? It brought me to tears.

      I’ve said from the beginning Ms Pickens’ heart was in the right place but the BLM had sold her a bill of goods. She wants to have a sanctuary where people can come and see wild horses in their natural settings. She accepted 900 geldings which we all know through years of observation no longer exhibit wild traits. Who is going to pay to see 900 horses grazing? If I made the trip out west to view wild horses I would want to see the interaction of stallions, families with foals etc.

      In the sanctuary none will be able to reproduce thereby accelerating the BLM’s goal of extinction.


  6. It seems as though the entire issue is getting off track. It’s THE PLAN that needs to be clarified and we need to ALWAYS remember that this is about the WH&B AND their Herd Management Areas….what’s left of them.


  7. With the onset of this Plan Medeliene knew about that she would have to geld and spayvac all horses she received from the BLM, heck I read it in the beginning , it was all right there up front !!!! thats why I did not like it from the beginning, its all about eradicating all of them, and dont believe anything else !!!!!!


    • From the very beginning, it was understood – I THOUGHT! – that they horses Pickins would be taking were the ones from LTH that had ALREADY been gelded. That was the original plan. I couldn’t see how this would save the ones on the range, but it was better than nothing to at least get some horses away from the monsters at the BLM.

      Now – we MUST put a lid on wild speculation and get the TRUTH. We know we can’t trust the BLM! I don’t trust T. Boone, but he isn’t his wife. We certainly don’t want to go off half cocked and screw a good plan because of BLM lies. Has anyone actually talked to Madeleine? R.T. did she answer you? But how can you know she SAW your invitation? Or have you already sent her a personal invitation? Probably have.

      I know many of you know FAR more than I do. But it isn’t often that George Knapp is far off base, right? What is Madeleine’s side? Did she speak to Knapp?

      Whether you liked the plan or hated it from the beginning, it just seems only logical to get to the truth before blowing sky high and perhaps regretting it later. I would certainly be nice of there were SOMEONE we could actually TRUST wouldn’t it?


  8. I recall when BLM had suggested that it could begin euthanizing the thousands of wild horses it could not afford to manage, (so they stated), it was then that M. Pickens began her efforts to create a National Wild Horse Foundation, an organization to create sanctuary for the horses in LTH. Pickens bought land for this purpose and the BLM has stalled with consistently changing lies, demands/conditions placed on Pickens.

    BLM is a noxious enemy and wants to create major discord in the serious efforts to SAVE the WH&B. They are throwing in everything they can to confuse and create discord. Don’t play into their hands.


  9. I am really confused.

    Knapp is not a sloppy journalist.

    Pickens has done alot for wild equines.

    DOI/USDA are masters of lies and propaganda.

    What is the truth?

    Who exactly said…Pickens gets the sanctuary and in exchange…we zero out three HMAs?

    Do we know that Ms Pickens agreed to this?


    • Its doubtful that Pickens made agreements that would hurt the viablity of the wild herds. It is an unenviable situation to deal with the BLM at this level and agreements supposedly made are 100% in their favor BLM,

      They are playing both ends at the same time, while this controversy is going on, round-ups are on-going. They are after the Challis, Idaho herd again even though these horses probably have been compromised by the fires. They have totally ignored the thousands of public comments, Another target in early October is the Antelope Valley herd. Another heartbreak in the making.


  10. I LOVE George. I’m here in Vegas ready to start what I hope will be a great weekend.

    BLM loves to throw monkey wrenches, along with all the cattle ranchers. They love to dangle and entice us to believe that the Monument is just a few steps away from opening. Then when we get like–let’s get the show on the road OUT COMES ANOTHER MONKEY WRENCH!

    Personally I wouldn’t sue Madeleine. But I sure am teed off that BLM wants to zero out Antelope so that Madeleine can have the sanctuary. After this weekend I am going to try very hard to find another way to get around WITHOUT financially supporting NV. I just don’t understand the hatred and why at every turn we are utterly ignored by the BLM.

    Hay George hope you come this weekend cause I sure would love to say hello. You are a TRUE horse warrior. I’ve come to enjoy your pieces on the horses and how you make BLM look so stoopid.


  11. Here we go again! I wish I could change the world. If I could I would first not have Mrs.Pickens destroy the mustangs,over haul the BML and put the right people in there! Then stop horses from being shipped to Mexico and Canada to be slaughtered! Then stop forever the possiblity of horse slaughter in the US! It is a dream which will never come true!


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