Horse News

Ranch Owner Relieved Over Failure of Montana Wild Horses Bill; Plan Dies in State Senate Committee

Source: By Francis Davis of The Montana Standard

“They’re all ages, all sizes, all colors (ALL GELDED). We’re excited to have them here.”

The ranch owner who manages the only long-term holding facility for wild horses in Montana breathed a sigh a relief when a Senate bill that would have required the state to develop a management plan for the horses died in committee on Tuesday.

“We’re very relieved,” Karen Rice, the owner, along with her husband, Greg Rice, of the Spanish Q Ranch, told The Montana Standard on Wednesday. “It would have added another bureaucratic process that isn’t necessary. There’s already a management plan in place. There was no reason to reinvent the wheel.”

Along with a management plan, Senate Bill 402 would have required the Montana Department of Livestock to charge a fee of $100 on each imported horse or burro.

There are 700 horses on the Spanish Q, but the original contract between the BLM and the Rices was for a total of 1,150 horses.

A retroactive clause was stripped from the bill, but the additional 450 horses would have cost the Rices an extra $45,000.

A BLM spokesman said it will be at least a year before any more horses are shipped to the 15,456-acre Spanish Q.

“We won’t be sending anymore until at least next fall (of 2014) ,” said Lili Thomas, a BLM wild horse and burro specialist. “We want to take a conservative approach and see how this works out.”

Another reason the BLM has limited the shipment of horses to 700 is that Paulette Mitchell, who leases the Rices about 3,000 acres of land, has filed a lawsuit to keep the horses off of that part of the Spanish Q.

The trial date for the lawsuit has been set for May 14, 2014.

Currently, the horses are being held only on land owned by the Rices, but the rancher said she hopes to get approval from the state to allow the wild horses onto the approximate 1,200 acres of land the Spanish Q leases from the state.

“We’ve leased land from the state for 44 years,” she said. “And we’ve had cattle on it before.”

Rice said she has been disappointed by the reaction of some of her neighbors, four of whom have filed appeals to keep the horses off the Spanish Q, but Rice has also received support from other neighbors who border her ranch.

That support includes Claudette and Creyton Hughes, who own 7L Bar Ranch and have been neighbors with the Rices since 1969, according to a notarized letter sent to the Interior Board of Land Appeals in support of the Rices.

“We have a lot of support that isn’t talked about,” she said. “(The bill) was an attempt to control what we do and it would have taken away from the life of the Montana rancher.”

Rice also said her family intends to take good care of the horses and the land, and that she sees the wild horses as a way for her to keep the ranch in the family. The Rices are receiving $1.36 per day per head. They’ve owned the ranch for over 40 years, she said.

“We take good care of our land and always have,” Rice said. “The horses do graze a little bit different than cattle, but we’ve been told that the horses have a better effect on the riparian life because they will drink and move on, unlike cattle.”

Currently, the horses are in a holding pasture as they acclimate to one another.

“They’re so exciting to watch,” Rice said. “They’re all ages, all sizes, all colors. We’re excited to have them here.”

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40 replies »

  1. Well WE sure are not excited that they are there.

    Ripped from their rightful land, families torn apart, cruelly gelded, warehoused waiting to die out with freedom forever lost. No beauty in that, smells more like a concentration camp for equines than any eco-type compound.

    And to make matters worse, we the people pay for it against our will. Taxation without representation.

    It all stinks!


    • Agreed, R.T. , plus they will get paid.$932 per day. The BLM ought to be paying the rescues the $1.36 a day per wild horse. Instead rescues are begging for money and the advocates in NV are having to pay the NV Ag dept. $100 for each captured Virginia Range horse so it won’t go to auction.
      The roundup[s must stop and the wild horses in holding need to be returned to the 22 million acres taken from them.


    • On the bright side though.. they are in a place where they are indeed loved.. and not on someones plate! So.. there is some blessing in the curse.. kinda.. and they did say that they are trying to get them access to more land..


    • Is it better to have them there than in Oklahoma where the politicians embrace slaughter? At least these puerile are fighting for the horses and apparently see the benefits of having horses over castle. I agree with putting them back where they belong but if they can’t be there, don’t you think it’s better to have them safe? At least until we can get their land back for them?


      • There is NO guarantee they (wild equines) are safe on any PRIVATELY run facility.

        What Montana legislature is quibbling about is use of the permitees and the public lands. Pretty sick, considering if the Feds didn’t round up these wild equines in the numbers they do.


      • No Butcher Red (former governor) let this bill sit on his desk. He could have stopped slaughter in Montana. He left to go to Kentucky to see the Derby! Now Montana has this horse slaughter law, but to stop them from building you have to put up millions of dollars.

        Happily no one wants a slaughter in their backyard to date…


  2. So WE pay her $952 per day!!! so she can “keep the ranch in the family”. $338,912.00 per year! And she is still hoping for nearly twice that much. Talk about welfare ranching! No wonder she was relieved.


      • Have you bought hay for horses lately? $11 a bale here here in New Mexico and four horses can eat a bale in two days. My first thought on seeing what they are paid per horse is “how are they breaking even on that – let alone making a profit?”


  3. personaly i dont see enough facts for there to be talk about welfare ranching. I think ill do alittle research befor opening my mouth probley others should do the same


      • TerryW:

        I think Bety must be involved in the “welfare/foster” system….somehow,some way.

        RT said it all in the first post….OH and btw, if you want to run sheep or cattle for permit approval, YEEEHAW! You want to run equines (or NOTHING)…YEENOOOOO!


    • While you are “researching”, understand that in this case the land in question is PUBLIC land controlled by PRIVATE persons through a lease system (state lands in this case, with some Federal land overlap as the Feds can always claim eminent domain).

      That by it’s very nature is WELFARE ranching.

      And we wouldn’t even be discussing this if DOI and USDA would STOP rounding up/killing wild equines in the first freaking place for welfare ranchers, welfare water hogs and welfare resource extracting kleptomaniacs.


    • Welfare ranching comes from what cattle ranchers pay. $1.35 per cow/calf combo. I think what others are referring to is that these sanctuaries are being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to hold the wild ones vs. leaving them on the range. Which would cost nothing.


    • Foovay, and Bety,

      This girl was married into a large well known cattle ranch family….I have my own horses, I buy
      hay, yes I know all this very well,,,Thank you very much……….I sacrifice other things to
      make sure they are well taken care of….trust me this is about Passion for our Wild Horses and

      Your off track here……………..this is about our Wild Horses and being subsized for
      their care from the govt. purely insane when they can be roaming free.

      Do you really think this family who does own quite a bit of land actually buys hay?

      Do you really think they are trimming their hooves every six weeks meant for Domestic horses?

      This is really about our “Wild Horses” removed off their land from the demands of cattle ranchers wanting more share of public lands due to welfare cattle….



  4. What a mess!

    What is it about cattle in the West that makes humans short-sighted, selfish, mean spirited and flat out STUPID?!?!


      • Yes, but I think it is also a lot of control mania AND “this is the way it has always been”….don’t make me change what I’ve always had mentality.

        I don’t know who is making money in cattle these days but megalith factory farm producers (Cargill, Tysons, Swift, Monsanto, et al)…small to medium producers can’t compete and those that get their product to sales end up selling to the HUGE packing operations. Talk about a monopoly! Where is a Teddy Roosevelt when you need one because the Feds are asleep at the switch….just like they did with the thieves on Wall Street.


      • denise, I agree that that’s their mentality, but they forget, it wasn’t like that when they started those ranches way back when. They stole that land from people who had been there for centuries and then set about destroying all that was wild and beautiful on it


    • You got it right Denise, and welfare ranching is like being subsidized welfare and food stamps only with a twist making ranchers pretty damn comfortable……
      Our Wild Mustangs removed from their freedom…………GREED and DISGUST by the
      tax payers….


  5. Well this is good. Sounds like they’re caring people. Let’s hope that their ugly neighbors don’t do anything further to them. I personally hope that they stay strong and that it goes on for generations.


  6. As I read these comments, I am totally in awe. Do any of you have a clue of what it takes to take proper care of just one horse? There is feed, hay, Veterinarian, medication, Ferrier, maintaining the land, lease costs and the list goes on and on. You may want to give that some thought, before you talk about how much money they are making, I promise you, with 700 Horses, they’re not making much.


    • Heidi…we are caretakers for horses and know all about the costs, you are NOT that elite. But once again, with blinders on you miss the ENTIRE point. The horses cost NOTHING on their rightful land…period…zip…full stop.

      Easy Peaze, just that easy.

      GET IT?!?!?

      I am really sick of the disconnect.


      • RT (and all):

        Heidi and Bety must be neighbors.

        p.s. Heidi and Bety leave out that these mutilated and dissected wild equines are being paid for by the American taxpayers, when in fact they can stay own their own Promised Land at little cost.

        Can’t fix stupid.


      • R.T. Fitch
        Oh, I get the point, the problem is, we are taking away the land these horses used to roam on. I would much rather see them roam free in their natural habitat. If we continue to let the BLM do as they please, there soon won’t be any place for them to roam free. There are ways to control the breeding of the wild horses, however, that would be too simple and the BLM reps would be out of a job.


    • Heidi, sweetheart:

      Do you know how much it costs to raise cattle WITHOUT government support?????????

      Dumb is as dumb does!


      • Denise Dear,
        As a matter of fact I do know, prior to my husbands death, we raised cattle for many, many years.
        We had no assistance, I see the only thing that bothers you, is the fact you want the land to graze your cattle. If it wasn’t for greed, these horses would still have the land to roam free.
        Sad to say, greed and dollars are the driving force in all of this.


    • The BLM has total control over who the contractors buy hay/alfalfa and alfalfa cubes from for winter supplemental feed. There is no farrier care provided and beyond their initial vaccinations, branding and pain meds they are given when they are rounded up, the horses are not cared for like domestic horses in a barn. So the ranchers are not “caring” for the horses per say. They are just letting them hang out until the BLM moves them to another holding area, adds more or sends them to slaughter.

      Most of us that speak out on this issue not only understand the cost of horse care but we own domestic and wild horses ourselves. Would be best to do your own research on how the BLM and private contractors run things.


    • well with the rising cost of corn and grain.. alfalfa and hay.. upkeep for one horse could range anywhere from 3 – 4k a year depending on how it eats.. my friends horse peace is pretty revved as far as her metabolic rate is concerned.. she’s got racers blood in her.. Onahigh and dashforcash sometimes friend finds it hard to keep weight on her unless she gets her the high protein feed.. like strategy. Big red the little quarter horse is an easy feeder.. it’s not hard to keep him nice sleek and fat.. so the bill really is just gonna vary from horse to horse.. though the bigger they are the more they eat thing is a myth, when we had big mama over at our stables.. a big ol draft quarter (she towered over me and i’m 5’8″) cross she ate like a half a scoop in the morning and half at night. that’s it.. vet bill is where it gets expensive if you have a medically high maintenance horse.. These are wilderness horse now.. it honestly shouldn’t be that hard to keep the weight on them since their main diet was infact grass.. their hooves are natural.. best hooves i’ve ever seen.. besides. they are being paid only for upkeep.. tack and trainers would run what they get paid waay over..


  7. What I can never get, is the personal hatred that cattle people have for wild horses. In this case Paulette is suing to keep horses off the 3000 acres she leases to the Rices. This gains Paulette no money win or loose. Welfare ranching is OK for cattle but not for horses? Then there is the state of Montana going after the Rices for an additional $100/horse when the state does not make additional charges for cattle. I’ve been actively monitoring this for ten years and it is clear that Canadian Beef is the real competition for the American Cattle market, not wild horses. Hell we import beef from the Vatican and just about every other remote place on this earth. Prejudice, Mean spirited, hate filled, and more, embarrassing even. People are eating less beef folks and the Cattle folk track that and report out at their yearly meetings, one of which I attended this last December 6th in NM. I originally worked toward Win Win situations with the cattle folk in NM. They have never ever been upfront at the bargaining table. There are other ramifications here regarding horses and cattle, but I will end here by saying: It is a good day to eat less beef. Watch Forks Over Knives (on Netflix). Don’t feed the beast.


  8. !2.5 million cattle on public lands as oppossed to 35,000 wild horses total and still the welfare ranchers whine. The cattle industry might take note that we are tired of the war on wild horses and now the cattlemen are supporting domestic horse slaughter. What cattlemen should think about is the fact, that as long as horses are slaughtered our beef supply is compromised. Who does not think it is already in our supply ? And even a horse that has has no meds or drugs, which is rare, even wild horses get them when they are rounded up, and they produce a tremendous amount of cortisol { steroid hormone} when stressed/ slaughtered, much more so than actual meat animals. So if the ultimate plan by Big Ag is to slaughter them, try again.


  9. The deed is done. The geldings will have some of the longest and toughest wintering to live through up there. When we lived near Ennis at Hebgen Lake it was 17 below in late October. For the horses sake I hope they are well fed. It is an amazing area and there once were HMAs down the road near Virginia City, MT. Too bad they are empty of wild ones now.

    Please try to get to an HMA this summer. We need to visit all of them. So many we have little information on. We need more information!


  10. What is never brought up in all the happy talk by the welfare horse foster care system is the horses will never live a normal life. Because they are segregated by sex, they will never again have the life compellling force of relationships with their mares and fillies. And the mares and fillies in their “quarters” will never experience their purpose again.

    It strikes me as a type of cruelty. Not even the domestics are burdened with such carelessness.


    • Exactly…..they can’t even get that simple concept right so clearly this is not about what is best for the wild horses


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