Horse News

Former wild horses trained by prisoners for Border Patrol

While Randy Helm, who is with the Arizona Dept. of Corrections, thinks that having hardened criminals in prison train formerly wild horses is “…one of those win-wins, the horses are getting good homes, and you are giving the inmates something to do,” this is not a win-win for the wild horses.  These wild horses were taken from their family bands and taken off of their (supposedly) federally protected Herd Management Areas.  About the only “win” is that wild horses weren’t sent to slaughter, but how many have been?  This is lipstick on a pig.  The BLM needs to be held with its feet to the fire for its false population estimates.  –  Debbie


Program has inmates training horses destined for the Border Patrol

by Troy Hayden

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FLORENCE, Ariz. –  They are a symbol of the American West; wild horses, mustangs that roam over public lands in states like California, Nevada, and here in Arizona.

Those mustangs are rounded up several times a year because of swelling populations; now some of them are being put to work to patrol our country’s borders.

The horses are broken by cowboys, but not the cowboys you might expect. They are inmates at the Department of Corrections prison in Florence.

The cowboys are hardened criminals, who while rehabilitating themselves are training these wild horses to work for the Border Patrol.

“The less you can put pressure on his head, the better he’s gonna be when you put a bridle on him,” said inmate Brian Tearse.

Breaking a horse these days is a far cry from the old cowboy movies.

“This is what really brings the horse’s energy down, gentles him, lets you next to him,” said Tearse.

Brian Tearse is serving a seven-year sentence for aggravated assault. When FOX 10 met with him, he was working with Drift, who used to be an American mustang living on public lands, un owned and definitely untamed. It’s something that Tearse can relate to.

“Oh they are wild, just like I was when I showed up in prison; wild. I’ve been gentled down, and that is what we’re doing with these horses,” he said.

Tearse is the lead trainer in the program that turns the horses that work to protect our borders.

The horses get intense training here, like one exercise where they push barrels around; the horses are getting used to pushing people.

After two months of training, the horses are sold to the U.S. Border Patrol and go to work.

Randy Helm is with the Arizona Department of Corrections; he is in charge of the program.

“It’s one of those win-wins, the horses are getting good homes, and you are giving the inmates something to do. So it really is one of those win-wins,” said Randy Helm.

Starbuck, one of the horses, has only been ridden for a year. The total cost to the Border Patrol is $500. Normally they would pay about $5,000 for a horse like this.

“It’s a huge cost-savings to us at a time when everybody out of the federal agencies is experiencing budget cuts… they’ve been great horses,” said Bobbi Schad with the U.S. Border Patrol.

The program behind the razor wire and the imposing gray buildings is just really getting into gear. The Border Patrol is looking to buy about four horses a month.

The inmate-cowboys here think they can keep up with the demand, and they know they are getting a lot out of the process.

“I’m like the horses in the round pen, the Lord is working in my life and he’s gentling me in this round pen, just like I’m gentling the horse,” said Tearse.

The Border Patrol used to go all the way to Colorado to purchase trained mustangs. They say because of the success of the Florence program, they will now buy all their horses in Arizona.

33 replies »

    • OMG, that’s horrible!! That is so cruel, is one of those men a vet at least? Pain meds? How terrifying for them!


  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

    Click to access Davis%20Report%20July%201%20Visit%20to%20Indian%20Lakes%20.pdf


    • I have shared this before but here is some data from a FOIA request regarding 28 male horses from the Triple B that 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? Does anyone else think that trailer loads of sale-authority age stallions (over ten) were trucked/sold right from the range after capture?

      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

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for this, Grandmagregg. I remember it but this is only 1 case. How many more have died at other places and how many total of older stallions have been sold? Am sure we will never know.


      • Those that I listed as “dead at Gunnison” were branded.
        The bigger issue is that out of at least 1269 wild horses acknowledged (branded) only 26 or 27 stallions were over the age of ten.
        On the contrary, there were 181 females over the age of ten captured (acknowledged/branded) per the FOIA data.
        This data points to the strong speculation that about a half dozen trailer loads of sale authority age stallions never made it from the range to the BLM facilities.

        Liked by 1 person

      • As an observation to confirm, MOST (I’d say 90% of horses iin holding that I have seen and talked to people getting horses for the TIP program are seeing mares. I asked why so few geldings – I mean – the explanation was that the geldings were all adopted. That sounded hollow…and frightening as improbable.
        Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T


      • In March [2011], a corral manager emailed Spencer to say he had 92 “nice horses” just rounded up in High Rock, Calif., and to ask if Davis could take some of the geldings.

        A day later Spencer replied, “Davis told me that if the geldings are in good shape he will be able to place them into good homes.”

        “How many would Mr. Davis want to buy?” the corral manager asked Spencer. “And are there any specifics that he is looking for?”

        “He said he’d be interested in all of them, no specifics,” Spencer replied.

        Above from:

        And … Janwindsong, I personally have the High Rock FOIA data, and on 3/23/2011, 66 geldings were sold to “Colorado” from Litchfield (NE CA) blm holding facility.


      • And nothing was ever done to Tom Davis. How many more of these transactions have taken place that we know nothing of? Truck loads of geldings went to slaughter in Mexico. Heartbreaking.


      • This information has been known. We have to face the fact there are no redeeming qualities in our enemies – both sides. Have you heard that whenever a BLM horse crosses the border a report goes to BLM?

        Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T


      • IMO
        They couldn’t do “anything” to Davis without the whole BLM falling down and many going to jail who facilitated these sales.
        Kinda like dominoes … if one falls they all fall from the beginning to the end and from the top to the bottom.
        Just from the few FOIA data sheets that I do have I can tell you that at least 13 Calico mares were sold to “Colorado” from Indian Lakes BLM holding facility.
        And at least 77 Twin Peaks mares and geldings and burros were sold to “Colorado” from BLM’s Litchfield and Ridgecrest holding facilities in addition to Fox Hog/High Rock geldings sold from Litchfield. And per the propublico article BLM’s Burns Oregon was doing the same and I have actually seen on usa.spending/fedspending where you and I paid for the delivery to “Colorado” from the Oregon BLM.
        Is there anyone out there that STILL thinks that BLM does not sell our wild ones to slaughter via “middlemen” and/or directly?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t doubt that Cattoor hauled horses to “Colorado” but a contract was signed on 2/19/2012 and completed on 3/7/2012 and thanks to BLM, you and I paid Ourada Truck Line Inc. of 560 W Clark Ave. Elm Creek Nebraska $4,520 to “SHIP 1 LOAD OF HORSES TO: TOM DAVIS PO BOX 238 18163 HWY 285 S LA JARA, CO 81140”
        Take a look for yourself:


      • Thanks for finding this but I looked and don’t know how you found it. So many places and so much money.


        Contracts (top left)
        Search by name (Ourada) [go]
        Search Criteria (upper right)
        Year (2012) [go]
        Level of detail (complete) [go]
        Look down the page to “Award #5”
        See where it says “Contract information”?
        Go down a few lines and you will see “SHIP 1 LOAD OF HORSES TO: TOM DAVIS PO BOX 238 18163 HWY 285 S LA JARA, CO 81140” and a few lines further down “BURNS – SHIP HORSES TO CO”

        • Note: You can experiment with this website and see many things
        • Note: This website is no longer updated so data is not current
        • Note: has been a great website to find data and up to date – including how much we pay contractors to capture our wild horses and burros and long term holding payments etc. It appears just a few weeks ago that website has been re-vamped – and not for the best – but it WAS the most accurate website I know of to find this kind of data.


      • Well, it is true some people can do certain things that others can’t. I’ve been trying to locate the information I’ve seen but it isn’t coming up.

        How would you know the contractors name? Sorry to pick you brain.

        I’d rather see the actual contracts.

        Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T


      • Not doubting what you said.
        Seeing the actual contracts would probably require a FOIA – but it might be available on fedbizopps or Fedconnect ? If not then FOIA it.

        The main haulers for BLM that I am aware of are:
        JC OURADA
        3370 SOUTH HWY 183, ELM CREEK, Nebraska
        1505 N PENLAND ST, BAGGS, Wyoming
        and Cattoor.

        Very rarely does the description say where the horses and burros are being shipped to and usually says “wild horse transport” or something similar but I happened to see that one about Ourada hauling to Davis.

        In the past, was a very good place to find this kind of information but on April 1, 2015 they “updated” that website and (so far) now it is almost impossible for me to find anything. So much for government spending transparency.


  2. Isn’t it something how these articles always start with – symbol of freedom, American icon then gradually move to – ballooning population, formerly protected, get jobs? Dang, can’t they find anyone with some creativity to sling their hash?

    I am not to happy with this “prison” program. Give the prisoners real jobs like growing their food, or cutting hay. Stop with the aimless programs. It maes me laugh reding the Border Control saves money by buying the cheaper 500 horses from Arizona (where the new horse holdsing facility is) instead of 5000 wild horses from Montana? Good lord, its robbing peter to pay paul. Don’t they think anyone realizing it is all one government agency paying another and the taxpayer is taking the hit either way you look at it.

    For my money – I’d rather leave the horses where they belong, dismantle prisns (who 80% are private for profit) and clear the books of laws that put people in prison for no good reason except to meet threshhold guarantees of prisoner populations. Sort of like keeping the ranches providing long term care for the horses at levels guaranteed to be certain numbers. But that is another protest life.


  3. At a time when horses in general are being kept by fewer and fewer people, I think it is nice that some of the Wild horses are finding a niche working for the Border Patrol.
    The round up and the politic surrounding it must stand separately. For every horse in this program, one less horse is living out it’s life in holding or at risk.


    • Not at risk. That is not a sure thing either. As we recall, a police force in Texas sold their retired horses at auction just a few years ago. Who knows how the feds handle retired horses. We know how they handle dogs in service (until the revelation in public contradicted our assumption the dogs were cared for). You cannot trust that some freak in civil service will not try to impress the budget office and get a return on the back of the horses. Even TBs earning fat paychecks are at risk.
      Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T


  4. Why do they keep pushing the angle ‘there must be a benefit to humans’? It just underscores how they just don’t get it. So it’s cheap and you get what you pay for – but at the price of a lack of knowledge, years of experience and years of training – the horses belong in the wild and left alone. I’m sure there are plenty of domestic horses for border patrol.


  5. A quick look at the February Wild Horse & Burro facility report shows 3,963 of our wild ones are behind bars at prisons and therefore “unaccounted for” in my mind. But, if anyone has ever been to a BLM holding facility such as Litchfield in NE CA or Palomino Valley in NV, they will agree that those wild horses and burros are also in “prison”. Locked in corrals with no place to go and no place to run and no place to find shelter from blizzard or blazing sun and no family … and no fault of their own.

    Click to access Facility%20Report%20FY-2015_Feb_For%20Web.pdf

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The deception just goes on and on, doesn’t it. The horses sure don’t deserve any of this, it is so disheartening to say the least.



    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?

    Anyone remotely familiar with how BLM conducts wild horse removals knows that almost all wild stallions are gelded when they are removed from the range. Considering BLM has removed over 70,000 wild horses and burros between October, 2001 and March, 2007, logic would suggest the geldings being supplied to Mexico may be coming straight from our own wild American Herds.

    At the very least, it should be investigated as to the where this many geldings are coming from and why Mexico needs over 2,000 “non-slaughter” geldings.


  8. Is there a Congressman who we could give all this valuable information to who would expose all of this and take the BLM and all the others down? This corruption must be stopped. Maybe we need to play politics.


  9. Is it possible that People have been finding out too much?

    Obama Admin’s New Spending Website Rolls Back Transparency

    Data previously available at click of a button now a needle in a haystack, a website mandated by law to provide detailed information on every federal contract over $3,000, received a makeover on Tuesday. Users can no longer search federal spending by keywords, sort contracts by date, or easily find detailed information on awards, which are delivered in bulk.

    Information, such as how much the Pentagon spends on Viagra, used to be available at the click of a button. Locating those same contracts on the new website is virtually impossible, akin to finding a needle in a haystack.

    In its previous form, the website provided easy access to how taxpayer dollars are spent, as it happens. A user now must have the federal grant identification number to see details of a contract.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. If only all of this proof of BLM corruption could be used at a hearing in D.C. to expose it . How can this be done?
    What Rep. or senator would help ? Bernie Sanders perhaps.


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