Horse Health

BLM Director should go to prisons to see why so many stallions die during gelding process

Let’s hope Neil Kornze, Director of the Bureau of Land Management, goes to the Canon City prison facility while they’re gelding wild stallions, to determine why so many stallions (including cryptorchids) have died from the gelding process.  Hopefully he will review the mortality reports from this prison and other prisons.  –  Debbie Coffey


National BLM director visits Cañon City’s Wild Horse Inmate Program

By Carie Canterbury


Bureau of Land Management National Director Neil Kornze, center, and Steve Ellis, deputy director, right, talk to Fran Ackley, wild horse and burro leader
Bureau of Land Management National Director Neil Kornze, center, and Steve Ellis, deputy director, right, talk to Fran Ackley, wild horse and burro leader for Colorado BLM, about caring for the horses during a visit Wednesday to the Wild Horse Inmate Program at the East Cañon Correctional Complex. In the background, offenders are trimming the hooves of a horse and administering vaccinations. (Courtesy BLM / Special to the Daily Record)

Bureau of Land Management National Director Neil Kornze visited the Wild Horse Inmate Program on Wednesday at the East Cañon Correctional Complex during a visit to Colorado.

Kornze got a first-hand look at the WHIP, along with BLM Deputy Director Steve Ellis, Colorado Department of Corrections Executive Director Rick Raemisch, Agribusiness Manager Jim Heaston and other DOC officials.

Wednesday was Kornze’s first visit to the facility since he was confirmed as the BLM’s national director in April.

“This is our flagship operation in terms of our partnership between the state and the Bureau of Land Management,” Kornze said. “There is a huge value added here.”

He said the program adds value to the Colorado Correctional Industries, the offenders who work with the program and the BLM.

Cañon City houses the BLM’s largest wild horse and burro holding facility and is one of five facilities in the nation with a WHIP. The WHIP is a cooperative agreement between the BLM and the Colorado DOC, in which select wild horses and burros receive personal and extensive training as part of an inmate rehabilitative program. Kornze said there are 2,600 horses being cared for at the East Cañon Correctional Complex.

“They have a very impressive training program,” Kornze said. “Some of the horses get saddle trained, some just halter trained. There are about 90 of those a year. That really increases the attractiveness of those horses for adoption.”

Raemisch said a good number of the horses, once trained, go back to the federal government to be used by the border patrol.

Kornze said the BLM has more than 40,000 wild horses on the range and about 50,000 that are on ranches and in WHIP facilities.

“If we have to hold onto that horse for its entire life, that costs us about $45,000 throughout the life of that management,” Kornze said. “If we can out that horse in the hands of a good home, it helps the tax payer and it also gives that horse a very good experience.”


Bureau of Land Management National Director Neil Kornze, left, Colorado Wild Horse and Burro Program Lead Fran Ackley, center, and BLM Deputy Director
Bureau of Land Management National Director Neil Kornze, left, Colorado Wild Horse and Burro Program Lead Fran Ackley, center, and BLM Deputy Director Steve Ellis talk with an offender Wednesday about trimming horse hooves, the Wild Horse Inmate Program and his plans once he is released from prison. The offender is interested in starting a hoof trimming business in Alabama upon release. (Courtesy BLM / Special to the Daily Record)


Bureau of Land Management National Director Neil Kornze, left, and Deputy Director of Operations Steve Ellis take saddle-trained wild mustangs on a test
Bureau of Land Management National Director Neil Kornze, left, and Deputy Director of Operations Steve Ellis take saddle-trained wild mustangs on a test ride Wednesday at the Cañon City Wild Horse Inmate Program facility. (Courtesy BLM / Special to the Daily Record)

Fran Ackley, wild horse and burro leader for the Colorado BLM, said there is an increase in the number of adoptions through the local program. By the end of May, 100 animals already have been adopted out of the facility.

“Last year, I don’t think we adopted that many animals our of our facility for the whole fiscal year,” he said.

BLM has adoptions at the East Cañon Correctional Complex two Fridays per month. Ackley said there usually are more than 1,000 wild horses and burros. Minimum adoption fee is $125 per untrained animal, about $1,025 for saddle trained mustangs and varying prices for halter-trained animals.

Potential adopters must be a pre-approved in order to make an appointment. To request an application, call the Royal Gorge Field Office at 269-8500 or 269-8539 or download an application at” title=””>

30 replies »

  1. A veterinarian from UC Davis did an independent investigation into gelding practices at Indian Lakes following the first Calico roundup.

    He observed that a quick, efficient process was used that seemed to minimize recovery time. However, he was very concerned about the use of succinylcholine, a paralytic, NOT an anesthetic, during the course of the surgery. He noted increased heart rate and respiration during the initial phase of surgery, indicating these animals were awake and aware of what was happening to them before anesthesia.


    • The BLM should be imprisoned for the sheer lack of animal welfare management. How can all those stallions die during gelding if the procedure is carried out in a proper manner with trained vets? Someone needs to take them to court. Also shipping these horses causes so much stress that it’s not surprising that so many mares die. Just intolerable.


      • Pamela…gotta sue them and win to get them to prison……which I doubt any court will do. The OIG for DOI has banged the DOI repeatedly and nothing yet.

        You do the math. And when you do, it will lead to Congress and the President.

        Oh yeah! That’s gonna happen…unless it is about oral sex….seriously. They are all crooks and like I have said before, DOI Sec manages more assets and resources than the SECDEF.


  2. From AMERICAN HERDS (excerpts)
    Where Have All The Geldings Gone?

    According to Ms. Patton’s letter, over 2,000 geldings have been sent through one particular slaughter port from New Mexico to Mexico this year alone. According to the report, this year’s number of geldings is twice as high as it was for the same time last year.

    The geldings are the exclusive class of animal being shipped through this port under a “non-slaughter” listing, begging the questions-

    -Why only geldings?
    -Where are all the geldings coming from?
    -What is Mexico doing with only geldings and no other class of horse?

    They can’t possibly be for breeding purposes and once they cross the border, there is no legal limitations that prevent them being greeted by a slaughterhouse fate. Geldings are also worth more by “the pound”.

    So what is going on?


  3. You do realize that the BLM is touting so many horses on the range they can keep getting our tax money to care for these supposed horses. It’s kind of like a shell game. If they admit that there aren’t that many horses, they won’t get as much Pocket money, their buddies won’t get rich off their helicopter roundups And the heads won’t be able to take their cuts. I have no use for the BLM.


      • As have I Terri!!!! The BLM is what I will forever call BUTCHERS of LANDS AND MUSTANGS!!!! They are only doing this now for the money made for killing OUR HORSES and CHARGING THROUGH THE NOSE for the CONTINUING rounding up of UNNECESSARY HORSES!!!!!! There are HOW MANY MILLION ACRES NOW EMPTY of horses, not cows of course, but DEVOID of mustangs as they have wanted to ZERO OUT ALL OF THEM from ALL OF OUR LANDS, and the taxpayer are t ignorant to see this or act upon it!!!!


  4. Again, it’s all about people and not about the animas at all. I hate the cold, dollars-and-cents approach this man has to these wild horses. God only knows the background of some of these ‘offenders’ either – another make the public feel good approach by the Interior Department. These people at the Interior really make my skin crawl. I thought Ken Salazar was bad, but these people almost make him look good as far as hypocrisy goes. Blech.


  5. Yes, just how are killed while being gelded? Would a FOIA tell us?
    And where is the horse that is being trimmed? It must be in a chute that tilts them on their sides and I’m sure terrorizes them.


    • I thought the same thing. No one is watching the guys (who are not even bending over like normal farriers) trimming the horses’ feet. And the guy wants to get into the “hoof trimming” business? Wow, what an education they are giving him, huh? Wouldn’t it be something if we could comment on these stories befoer they get published. I feel so badly for the horse who is not even honored with a photo except the last.

      Hey but the new guy is sort of cute. I know some “advocates” who have hisortically used their wiles for some short term advantage. They need to toss aside others, but this guy seems worth it.

      It’s early in the morning and I’m not in a good mood. I despise the hypocritical government speak.


    • I receive the mortality reports by FOIA. Gelding deaths are noted as something like
      “Intestines came out” or “complications from gelding.” Why does the BLM waste taxpayer money on
      Gelding the stallions going to SAME SEX long term holding? (Probably because they know they’ll be sending them to slaughter.)


      • Dr. David Thain and Dr. Irwin Liu, both veterinarians, spoke with me after some of the mortality reports were presented to The National Academy of Science. They seemed to think this shouldn’t be happening during gelding.


      • Intestines? They’re probably removing the organs of the females, not the males – and of course the general public isn’t being told that. I think this came up before where they said a ‘gelded’ mare had died from surgical complications.

        Hoof trimming business? Great, I’m sure someone has an opening for this ‘offender’ upon his release in the soring trade. Counting the days until the Interior gang fades into obscurity where they belong, and hopefully (springs eternal as far as this department is concerned) replaced by caring and decent people. You wonder how these people can sleep at night.


      • Intestines coming out is a rare but not unheard of complication of gelding. The intestines can protrude through the inguinal canal (inguinal hernia). If noticed in time they can be pushed back and the opening sewn shut, if not, feet and feet of them come out and of course it is over for the horse. Since these are wild I would suspect they don’t get the routine care that a tame horse would. But it should still be a rare event or someone should have to go back to Gelding 101.


  6. BLM is what it is, a LAND management Agency and Nothing More and have no business wasting OUR Tax Dollars on something they Know Nothing about obviously!!!!! Stick to what ya know BLM , by the way what exactly is that anyway !!!!! Stop terrorizing our Mustangs and put them back WHERE they have always Belonged ON the Range !!!!!!!! and keep your horror hands off them !!!!!!The Mustangs are Americas Icons !!!!!!


  7. Is the head of this huge program, replete with corruption and self interest, the youngster standing there in the shades and blue shirt. And how about that new jargon? Adding value. Adding value to the prison program under something called the WHIP program. WHIP? Really. Captured wild horses and prisoners.


  8. Wow, acronyms say it all don’t they. The youngster heading up the BLM njow needs to realize the Wild Horses and Burros Act protects wild horses in the wild, not adopting them out.


  9. Kornze said, “If we have to hold onto that horse for its entire life…”. First off, they do NOT have to hold onto that or any horse because they never should have been captured in the first place.

    “… a total of 39,114 wild equids should and easily could be reinstated into their rightful legal herd areas on federal lands throughout the West administered by the BLM.”


  10. I.G.H.A. / HorseAid’s Bureau of Land Management News

    The First Public Signs of Internal Dissent…

    DENVER (CSM feed) — More than 40,000 wild mustangs roam on public lands in the West, federally protected as living symbols of American heritage. Since 1971, the Bureau of Land Management (under the “Wild Horse Annie Act”) has been responsible for maintaining mustang herds and administering a popular adopt-a-horse program. But allegations of criminal activities within the BLM – including slaughter-for-profit schemes – are casting a shadow over the agency.

    Former and current employees say shady dealings are customary in the BLM horse program. “The American public is being cheated out of millions of dollars a year,” says Steven Sederwall, a BLM law-enforcement agent who retired last year. “In 23 years as a cop, I’ve never seen anything like the depth of corruption I’ve seen in the BLM.” Last year, Mr. Sederwall and five former colleagues sent a nine-page letter to US Attorney General Janet Reno, detailing “an ever-growing list of felony criminal violations committed by the Bureau of Land Management.” Charges include BLM employees selling wild horses to slaughterhouses and rodeo circuits; falsified financial and horse inventory records; misappropriation of funds; and obstruction of justice during investigations.

    Bureau officials say the accusations are unfounded. “The vast majority of these allegations are up to 15 years old. These are not things that are happening now,” says Bob Johns, Washington spokesman for the BLM, a division of the Department of the Interior. Walter Johnson, chief of law enforcement for the BLM, says he has seen no evidence to support the charges. “I am not aware of either myself or any member of my staff doing anything inappropriately, or involving any criminal action. I will not comment on anything unless it is firsthand knowledge to me.” But in a June 1993 memorandum to the Interior Department inspector general, Mr. Johnson wrote regarding a federal investigation in New Mexico: “Through the initial phase of the investigation, it is apparent that administrative actions by some BLM wranglers and program administrators have not been in compliance with the direction and guidance provided…. In many of the adoptions and group adoptions reviewed, personnel from BLM apparently promoted the adoption of horses for commercial gain.” Federal law prohibits the government from selling wild horses to slaughterhouses and other commercial operations.

    To keep herd size in check, the BLM is charged with rounding up 6,000 to 9,000 wild horses per year and offering them for adoption. Adopters are required to pay a $125 fee and wait one year before taking legal title to a horse. The provisions are intended to reduce the incidence of profit-motivated adoptions. But sources inside the BLM say thousands of horses are taken illegally from rangelands each year. If money changes hands, it’s strictly off the books. As for documented adoptions, sources say backdated paperwork is a common tactic to give adopters quicker title to a horse. After one year, an adopted wild horse may be sold at will. A 1,000-pound horse will typically bring $700 to $900 on the slaughter market. An untrained riding horse, on the other hand, may sell for only $300 to $400.

    BUT those accusing the BLM of wrong-doing suffered a setback last month. The Justice Department has aborted a long-running investigation in Del Rio, Texas, which involved group adoptions of hundreds of horses arranged by two BLM wranglers. A federal grand jury was convened in 1994 to investigate allegations by unnamed neighbors that James Galloway, a BLM-contracted wrangler, had taken 36 mustangs to his father-in-law’s ranch, reportedly to fatten them for slaughter. Mr. Galloway also allegedly kept untitled horses in other locations. But no charges were filed against Galloway.
    ohn Murphy, assistant US attorney in San Antonio, says the case was dropped because it “lacked prosecutive merit.” Sederwall, who led the initial Del Rio investigation for the BLM, claims the agency is hiding something. “We’ve got all the evidence, but they successfully covered it up.” He contends that Galloway was ready to implicate BLM officials. “They couldn’t prosecute Galloway because he was going to turn evidence against the BLM. Galloway only did what they taught him,” Sederwall says. Sederwall says he was taken off the Del Rio case after he uncovered incriminating evidence against BLM management. He and 14 other investigators were ordered not to speak to the grand jury, he says. Eventually, these agents were all reportedly transferred, fired, or pressured into early retirement. Reed Smith, deputy state BLM director for New Mexico until he retired in 1994, maintains “BLM management fought the Del Rio investigation with everything they had.”

    Karen Sussman, president of the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros, says the problem is an inherent BLM conflict of interest. “The BLM manages for land and cattle. Traditionally, they’re committed to ranching. Not wild horses.” Ranchers, who pay the government to graze their cattle on rangelands, consider mustangs a competitor for forage, making wild-horse rustling a longstanding and accepted tradition in the West. Another federal grand jury is reviewing allegations of internal fraud in the Jackson, Miss., BLM office. The US attorney there would not comment on the investigation. But a BLM employee in the Jackson office says, “What this program has done in reality is make a few people very rich…. You can talk to rangers, special agents, BLM people all over the US, who have independently come to the same conclusion,” he says. “If a dozen people are hollering smoke, smoke, smoke, there has got to be fire.”


  11. Somehow , some way we must stop these inhuman Charlatans from continually terrorizing, maiming and causing the untimely deaths of our National Treasurers ………………..


  12. Barbara-
    I don’t have the same data that Deb Coffey has but what I do have (from FOIA) is that 28 male horses from the Triple B died at Gunnison Prison. All except one was adoption age … so where did all the older sale-authority male horses go? Only 26 Sale Authority age geldings made it to LTH out of 1269 horses captured (3 of those reported dead soon after) Does anyone else think that it was unlikely that there were only about 26 or 27 male horses over the age of ten out of a total of 1269?

    Dead at Gunnison:
    9 are listed as euthanized due to gelding complications
    8 died unexpected body condition unable to maintain
    4 died/euthanized fracture/injury head
    2 euthanized fractured leg
    1 died unexpected other
    1 died following illness other
    1 died respiratory pneumonia
    1 died following illness colic
    1 euthanized dangerous


  13. They just started doing group adoptions out of Canon City, Canon City has a transport stipend, they pay the first 150 miles of transport for adopters per horse, if you adopt and live within 150 miles, they will transport the horse to you for free.

    There is a photographer who actually goes into the pens with a BLM staff person to take photos of the ones currently slated for the training program who havent been started yet, she has a website where potential adopters can go look at the horses and decide which ones they want to adopt. Adopters submit an application with the BLM office that handles their area and then after they have been approved their office and the Co office work together with the adopter to get the horse or burro to its new home. The BLM requires all transporters to be approved to enter the facility to pick up the load.

    There was recently a group adoption of 9 horses that went to NC and 7 that went to MA, both trips were this past August. There is 2 more trips planned for Oct for both locations as well as trips being planned for spring. With so few satellite adoption events on the east coast per year, this is the only way interested folks have been able to adopt since the BLM pays for almost the entire cost of transport from facility to “drop center” and all adopters split the remaining cost of the unpaid balance. The “drop center” location is one that has 6′ fences set up to contain the horses once unloaded as well as a chute so adopters are able to load up their new family member easier. Adopters are responsible for getting the horse or burro home either by hiring a shipper or using their own trailer but the entire transport cost is drastically reduced when adopting in a group, making transport more affordable for all adopters, especially if there are adopters from your area or state that they can share shipping costs with..

    The Photographer’s website is


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