Horse News

One Woman’s Complaint Leads to Roundup of NM Alto Wild Horses

By Dianne L. Stallings as published on The Santa Fe New Mexican

“n 2014, a horse from the herd labeled as a nuisance was sold at auction for $42.59 by a business already charged with several counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty. Documents indicate he probably was sent to slaughter.”

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ALTO — About a dozen free-roaming mares and their foals were hauled away from the Southern New Mexico community of Alto on Friday in response to a complaint lodged by a resident who contended they were a nuisance, posed a danger to traffic and were damaging property.

Caroline McCoy’s efforts to corral the horses upset neighbors and advocates for the herd, who gathered to try to work out a solution and halt the herd’s removal.

Many people in the area also called the state Livestock Board and the Governor’s Office to lodge complaints. They questioned why the feral herd is not protected by federal law, like the mustangs and burros roaming on Bureau of Land Management property. These horses, which state officials say probably wandered off the Mescalero Apache Reservation 20 to 30 years ago, are treated as stray animals rather than a part of Western heritage.

The horses taken from the Alto area will never run wild again, said New Mexico Livestock Board Executive Director Ray Baca, who was on hand Friday.

The stallion of the herd was not among the horses corralled and removed, because McCoy was unable to secure him on her property, a requirement of the removal process. Those watching the effort said the stallion was “going crazy” nearby as his mares and foals were loaded and hauled away.

The horses will be confined for at least five days for examination by a veterinarian, checked for brands, microchips and other signs of ownership, then put up for auction on the livestock board’s web page dealing with lost, found and estray horses.

“I think the biggest thing I am looking at right now is that we examine these horses for tattoos or brands, or microchips or such to make sure they don’t belong to a rightful owner,” Baca said. “And if an owner comes forward, they have a right to them, of course, by providing proof of ownership.

“We’re going to take them to a facility where we can work with them closely and have our veterinarian look at them, as well as our inspectors,” he said.

Baca estimated about a dozen horses were involved.

“We will publicize them for five days and people can come forward and bid on them at that point,” he said. “The public bid is held on our website.”

The exact location where the horses will be confined until they are bought had not been designated when they left, but later in the day, the destination was pinpointed as Santa Fe. A herd advocate said Mendoza said photographs of the horses will be posted on the board’s website Monday.

“The major concern and problem now is that we find a safe place for the horses that has adequate care and facility for them,” Baca said.

McCoy, 77, said she and her husband have been dealing with the horses since they moved to the area from nearby Nogal a year ago. When they arrived, fences had been broken down, and she repaired and improved the arrangement.

“I’m an older person riding my mare, and she becomes so upset with all of these horses,” McCoy said. “When I’m riding and come across them or my mare is in heat and there is a stud out there, it’s dangerous for me.”

The horses also eat her flowers and put hoof prints in damp ground, she said.

“But more than that, these are not wild horses, not the romantic mustang,” McCoy said. “These are abandoned horses just turned loose in the mountains. … Unfortunately, many residents treat [the removed herd] like deer, which is really illegal to feed, and put out grain. They say they will eat out of their hands, which they will. But when we were working with them this morning, these are not horses that are gentle by any means. If someone didn’t know what they were doing, they could get hurt.”

There are also dangers to drivers, she said. “I’ve seen people hit one of the mares once.”

By being rounded up, the horses will have a chance for a good home, McCoy said. “We talked about that immediately, and they will be advertised, and they are legally bound to do that,” she said of the Livestock Board. “I know people ready to bid on them.”

But a positive ending for the horses isn’t guaranteed. In 2014, a horse from the herd labeled as a nuisance was sold at auction for $42.59 by a business already charged with several counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty. Documents indicate he probably was sent to slaughter.

Alto resident Russell Perrin said his family enjoyed having the herd in the area and watching horses that he didn’t have to feed. They didn’t eat the flowers like the elk and deer, he said. They just trimmed the grass.

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31 replies »

  1. Well then..turn her property into a zoned residential neighborhood. Then she can get rid of her own horse that she cannot handle because she’s in heat. Then she can put her flowers where the sub doesn’t shine.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Some hope she is happy now. She has separated a family herd and could cause the slaughter of some if the herd. Didn’t she see the horses running free before she bought the property? Some people just don’t care. She could have gotten together with her neighbors to come up with another solution. I hope this crabby women is happy now!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. It only takes one……. She belongs in a rocking chair and nowhere near a horse!!!
    ….and I’m not a young woman making that comment — just a woman who has horses as well as compassion and a love for nature and all horses.


  4. I wish we would dispense with this ‘good home’ propaganda. They already have a good home, that is being encroached upon and ruined by selfish, entitled people like her. Maybe the neighbors can overrule her? I sure hope the ‘eager bidders’ she knows are not kill buyers.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Good thing she doesn’t live in my neighborhood. I’ve heard turkeys gobbling since I moved here but have never seen them. Well until Saturday when I didn’t have one but TWENTY turkeys come into my backyard! It was insane! TWENTY turkeys. I even had two lay down. They even waited while I went and got my camera! I’d hate to think she’d shoot them, rip their heads off and stuff them.

    I saw one come in, followed by 3/4 at the far edge. Then a whole bunch more walked in a never ending file. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! They hung out for about 10 minutes.

    Liked by 2 people

    • When I first moved to my rural town, I had never actually heard one. Well, they sound just like you would imagine in lore, as do coyotes! Wild turkeys are wonderful, and the fanning of their feathers by the males is quite a sight! One day I had several roosting in the trees in my front yard, and I am eternally grateful that they chose my house to visit! Deer sometimes eat my plants and flowers, but they grow back. Encroachment and development discourage deer. I’d rather have the deer, and horses if I should be so lucky.

      Liked by 2 people

      • That’s what living in the country is about! A few years ago – we had 25-35 turkeys coming every day = they discovered sunflower seeds (what I fed the birds) it was great – did switch to cracked corn for them. Last few years – for whatever reason – only see maybe one once in a while. But the deer show up & a couple months ago a male pheasant found us. He seems to appear at least once a day (after I feed the birds). I do still hear turkeys every now & then so they must be up back in the woods. Have seen a couple foxes & a raccoon this summer. In NY state.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Wildlife needs to be grandfathered in before ANY land development plans are ever put on the table.
    Have you ever noticed that the problem seems to start with “City Planners” who seem to move from town to town and end up on City Council’s?
    Then…there’s also the County Boards of Supervisors where there often appears to be conflicts of interests when it comes to land use.


    • No the real problem is the city people(in our case CA) moving in and not respecting our mountain(wildlife) ways and then our counties want taxes so bad they literally kiss their a$$ —————if they love it as they tell us, why the hell do they want to change and make it LA.


      • My township wants to attract young workers and regenerate the office park. So they’re proposing 3 – 4-story apartments, lots of shopping, 2 great restaurants, parking, a yoga pavilion, walking trails and a bike trail to the center of a little town a mile away. They want to do this on 25 acres of open space. They’ve thought of everything to jam over 600 people, plus diners/shoppers into this area except for dance halls. Too bad — hope it doesn’t go through. In the meantime, the admin contracted with USDA APHIS to kill any and all deer that may wander in from adjacent townships. Awful!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. She’s only been there a year? She shouldn’t have moved there in the first place if she can’t deal with the horses that were there long before she arrived. Now a family has been destroyed…so unfair. This is a perfect example of a self absorbed human lacing in empathy for other beings.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Doing a quick digging it seems she may be one of those prototypical AQH backyard-breeding, “protect the harvest” old witches.

    I’m sure nearly everybody in Alto hates her for some or other reason.


      • If the stallions have been gelded & the horses have to be confined until a place is found for them – doesn’t it figure that by that time – if they weren’t already, they will be accustomed to being taken care of? It is shameful when someone who only moved to the area a year ago can cause animals that long time residents care about to be rounded up & removed. Cannot imagine her neighbors are very friendly anymore.
        But, any wild animal that’s in close contact with people loses their wildness – what most people enjoy about them! How sad is that?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Still, the horses won’t be returned to their land. Stallions will be (or were already) gelded and families separated. All because a self righteous moldy old witch wanted them gone, only to be replaced with more cows (I’m sure that’s what the livestock board has in mind).

        I’m sure Alto’s school kids will now gather at nights near her property and throw rotten eggs at her home. I dearly hope so.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. How can she live with herself? She may have just cost them their lives! She needs to move into the city and leave our wild horse’s alone!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The fence-out laws are complicated but I did find this regarding New Mexico.
    § 77-16-1. Necessity for fence
    Every gardener, farmer, planter or other person having lands or crops that would be injured by trespassing animals, shall make a sufficient fence about his land in cultivation, or other lands that may be so injured, the same to correspond with the requirements of the laws of this state prescribing and defining a legal fence.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. More on “fence-out” states:

    (1) Nevada is a “fence-out” state
    The state of Nevada has a “fence-out” law that requires private property owners by law to fence out unwanted livestock, including wild burros and wild horses. If a property owner is not following this Nevada state law on their private property, it becomes possible that wild horses or burros could stray onto their private property but this is not the error of the wild horses and burros, it is the error of the private property owners for being in violation of the Nevada state fence-out law.

    (2) California has an “open range” law
    Similar to the Nevada “fence-out” law, California has an “open range” law which includes some if not all counties. Open range laws in California were created in the 1800s. The laws require small property owners and farmers to be responsible for building fences to keep grazing cattle and other livestock off their property.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I thought they put a stop to that, and leave them there, I seen another article, at which they wold be left alone. To be wild and free


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