Horse News

International Conference Launches With Field Trip to Birthplace of Prehistoric Horses and Visit to Their Dwindling Offspring

Story by Steven Long ~ Author and Editor/Publisher Horseback Magazine

Wild Horse Bands Vanishing Under BLM Extinction Efforts

Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation during IEC’s America’s Wild Horse Advocate tour ~ photo by R.T. Fitch

HOUSTON, (Horseback) – The leadership of the wild horse preservation movement in America got a VIP tour of  the Bureau of Land Management’s worst nightmare late Friday when they finished a jam packed day with dinner near the proposed Fossil Bed National Monument site. There, the bones of prehistoric rhinos and horses stick out of the Nevada landscape. The site, among others, is the birthplace of the horse as a species.

The site is 20 minutes from a herd management area the federal agency plans to clear of wild horses in its ongoing effort to rid the West of what many BLM land clients consider a nuisance and call the “cockroaches of the west”.

The occasion was a tour of the BLM’s Cold Creek, Wheeler Pass herd management area 40 minutes northwest of the Las Vegas strip. It ended with dinner at a favorite wild horse watering hole.

About 30 movers and shakers, arguably among the most influential wild horse advocates in the nation, broke away from the International Equine Conference for a trip to the field. They included Ginger Kathrens, PBS documentary filmmaker, John Holland, President of the Chicago based Equine Welfare Alliance, author R.T. Fitch and wildlife photographer and Greater Houston Horse Council Board Member Terry Fitch, EWA Vice President Vicky Tobin, and wild horse advocate Garnet Pasquale as well as wild horse preservation and anti horse slaughter financial benefactors.

AWHA Eco-Tour group (foreground, Ginger Kathrens and Terry Fitch) ~ photo by R.T. Fitch

The advocates were lucky to even see a wild horse, said field trip organizer Arlene Gawne, a Las Vegas realtor, and former wildlife photographer who spend decades in the African bush.

“We had great difficulty getting a permit from the BLM,” she said. The federal agency is notoriously secretive and takes great effort to prevent press and public from viewing the horses under its federal mandate.

“We saw nine bands of wild horses,” said nationally acclaimed true crime and animal welfare author Cathy Scott. “There was lots of feed and water at low elevations,” she said.

Scott is the bestselling author of The Millionaire’s Wife, and also writes for Forbes.

The BLM has claimed Nevada horses are suffering from drought conditions. Frequently, when advocates follow up on the agency’s claims the are found to be false.

Gawne commented on BLM’s efforts to remove wild horses from their herd.

“They are going to take eco tourism jobs away from the local Las Vegas people,” she said.

Preliminary sessions of the conference will work through a jam packed agenda Saturday as it continues on the University of Nevada Las Vegas campus.

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11 replies »

  1. I’m so glad you got to see our Cold Creek Wild Horses, sorry I couldn’t be there or at the conference. Miss seeing you guys! Give Terry a hug for me, looks like she is photographing the cremello band.


    • Darcy, you were sorely missed! I think it would have been more meaningful for our guests if they had names to put to the horses they saw. YOU are the go to person for that… only you! I couldn’t even identify which band I was showing them. But… overall, they didn’t seem to mind, the wild ones didn’t disappoint and I got some good shots. They were a great bunch of friendly people you would have loved! The conference was amazing! So much timely information, awesome ideas and knowledgeable people that truly want to help horses. I learned so much. Particularly about “soring horses”, something I thought I knew about, but what I knew was only propaganda. The truth brought me to tears and you know that ain’t an easy thing to do!


  2. Billboards should be put up on the main highways and freeways into Nevada that say
    “Nevada Kills Wild Horses–Don’t Spend Your Tourism Dollars Here Unless They Stop!” and include a website address where people can see videos of horses being abused during captures and also a link to a video of a horse being slaughtered….that would have an impact on a lot of people.
    I live in Nevada surrounded by open range and talk to many tourists from other states and other countries, and when many find out about whats going on with our BLM wild horses and also with our State horses, they are appalled and say they will not come back.
    If Nevada gets smacked in the wallet from less tourism dollars because of their assault on the wild horses, they will reconsider what they are doing because money is God here.
    Quite frankly, I’m disappointed the conference is being held here and more dollars are going into Nevada businesses coffers and also going to the State just as our State of Nevada Virginia Range wild horses are being captured and sent to the Fallon kill sale yard…..several rescues were able to rescue them last week even though the sale yard owner bid them up out of spite to over triple “kill” prices and didn’t do that on any of the other horses (and I know this because I rescued/bought a 14 year old Titled Mustang gelding that is saddle trained and a very nice horse for $161….THAT is the current pricing for horse meat and what the VR horses should have also sold for), however, several more are scheduled to go through that same sale this coming Wednesday and if the prices are bid up again, all the horses may not be rescued this time.


      • Another good idea would be for the BLM to stop playing favorites to the cattle barons and mining interests who insist on call the horses “cock roaches” when it’s the cattle and the mining that really make a mess of the landascape. The horses hardly leave a mark on the land and rarely defecate where they eat and drink, unlike the cattle, who could care less.


    • Laura, if all of those avenues would open for us, it would be so great! Unfortunately, I really can’t see it happening no matter who wins. Romney is shouting that he will solve the jobs and economic problems by using our country’s natural resources. Doesn’t that mean oil drilling, mining, etc., anywhere those resources might be? Think Ruby Pipeline, or the Water Authorities plan to drain aquifers in northern Nevada and pipe it south so Las Vegas can “start growing again”!
      I fear for our national parks, our lakes, wilderness areas and the wildlife that live in those places.
      I don’t even want to think what Romney, or Obama can do to those places in the name of the greater good!


  3. Well, movers and shakers, I hope you can move this campaign into high gear and keep it there. All that most people want is some guidance and unfortunately many are not understanding what is at stake yet, let alone that the campaign is struggling from misconceptions and misdirections of the worse kind. I had thought we were all on the same page but I was very wrong. I do hope some intelligent statement will be made by attendees this year as to what they feel they have accomplished at this conference. We do need to get together… and more often and for better reasons like strategy and planning. This is not enough.


  4. This particular year and this particular time present challenges that we did not have last year. it is possible that we will have a new President in little more than six weeks and different cabinet secretaries in three-four months. We could also have a different Senate President which would go a long way toward helping our horses as well as the country in general. It is a challenge to develop strategy when there is a lot of uncertainty.

    If six months from now we had the kind of leadership in Congress that voted to ban the slaughter of US horses as the GAO report concluded was one option Congress could consider, what would our priority be? What if you have a Secretary of Interior who wants to preserve the historic symbols of American freedom rather than destroy them? What if we have a President that declares that America is the greatest country in the history of the world and that the horse and burros built our country on their backs and we are not going to sell our horses in order to feed a foreign country? What if we had a President who had serious reservations about selling adulterated meat to our allies because he thinks the life of a child in China or Belgium is just as valuable to her family as the life of a child is to her US family? What if we could work with members of Congress to encourage subsides for farmers who grow horse quality hay so we do not can keep the price of owning a horse down? What if we had a President who did not believe the answer to climate change was to raise gas prices to $5.00 a gallon to discourage fossil fuel use making it moe expensive for horse owners who need larger vehicles to transport their horses or hay and other supplies? Our strategies might be different if our challenges were different.


  5. I can’t say enugh about the people I was so lucky to meet. I know I am not the sharpest knive in the drawer, but to be among so many inteligent and ever givng, was rewarding. This was an awe in my life.
    I learned so much. I pray that one day SOON we can end the cruelity done by blm, private owners and organizations, roundups, slaughter, and abuse. I Thank Garnet and Arlene for letting me be with their group of advacates. Thank You All for what you are doing to help stop and care for the equines of our country. R.T., John,Terry and Ginger are the hubs to keep us fighting and the faith.


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