“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.”
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.
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.