Equine Rescue

Exclusive: SD Newspaper Publishes Former Wild Horse Sanctuary & Government Agreement

Published by Isabel Dakotan Community Newspaper

Exclusive: This 10-page document represents the most recent draft of a management plan that was primarily dictated by the SD Animal Industry Board and Dewey and Ziebach Counties following the rejection of a first draft from the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros and president Karen Sussman.

Sussman and ISPMB were declared earlier this week to be in default of court-ordered stipulations for failing to meet financial requirements, therefore this document is largely void. However, it does show the financial and operational regulations that would have been imposed at the ISPMB sanctuary had they raised adequate funds to keep any horses.

There will be an auction soon, county officials say. States Attorney Steve Aberle said that any horses purchased at the public sale by ISPMB or any intermediary buyer will be immediately subject to impound if they are back at the ISPMB ranch.

Click on images below to enlarge:



13 replies »

  1. This is a Complete Failure. First on Sussmans part for Not seeking help which we All know she did not. Secondly the failures of Law Enforcement included allowing Anyone connected to horse slaughter to influence the outcome. Secondly to be so caustic in the financial matter they did not see one solution was to direction all adopters monies directly to Sherrifs Dept. None should have been paid to sanctuarty. Third it shows with the laxk of knowledge that horses would be wanted but weather could interefere and holiday issues preventing pick up. When Sussman attempted to load horses she should have been arrested. I understand she prolonged delivery and attempted to sort load and make decisions all of qhich should nevwr occur when speed is a priority. I was responded to the other day on one post that implied I did not understand the percetile available. I understand when proslaughter became inclvolved they figured what percentage per pound at auction to cover what she couldnt pay. I clearly understood. I also clearly understand that You need to Blitz the United States in the news and everywhere to get more bidders and be at the auction to purchase horses to avoid horse slaughter. It appears that when I air quoted online these horses would go to slaughter and was chastised by an advocate for being wrong I am certainly right. The Risk now is High Level. The one thing done right is never allowing the horses back there. Thats mostly bevause proslaughters talking tp them and wants the sanctuary shut down to make it appear in United Horsemen Facebook their brand of justice was served. In actulity its a Warning. Advocates wat h out for proslaughter and have anyone suspicious investigated or jailed if your having fence horse health or other issues you cant idenitfy. This is an old trick proslaughter used in Illinois to destroy animal saviours. Frustrate discourage and close down rescuers. As for Karen she failed and it allowed proslaughter in. If you are failing dont. Do ask for help from everywhere. Report issues pull together fight for the animals. The hell with what will happen to yourself….ask for help. If Karen had done this correctly it would not have happened period. Take this as a cautionary tale to not repeat.


    • I’m not certain if I am understanding your comment correctly so I won’t make further comments on that. I can tell you there are people who are across the board with their thoughts on slaughter vs no slaughter that are working together very hard to make certain that these horses do not go on the trucks. I think the work of people who have thoughts on both side of the issue should be honored. People have been pulling out the stops to attempt to save these horses from that fate. For many horses it would not have even been an issue had Karen stepped out of the way and allowed adopters to load their horses. Instead people who had trailered up there, at great expense, went home empty. Karen failed the horses for years and has continued to fail them. An update from the Sheriff’s office said she failed to meet these terms. Epic and ugly failure.


  2. Thanks for posting this, despite it no longer being valid.

    I admit being completely shocked to think anyone could believe a budget of under $100 for 18 months of veterinary care and farrier services for over 800 horses is even remotely realistic. Just the call fee to visit a remote ranch a single time would probably exceed that! This means of course no regular hoof trimming, deworming, or wound care is budgeted for unless done by very limited and overworked staff. Since so many horses were living in their own manure (see the photos) even the dewormer cost for a single round for 810 animals would be thousands of dollars.

    Also it seems there is little or no infrastructure to make even minimal treatments low stress and safe. I suppose they just planned to rope and throw any animals needing basic care?


    • My apologies, I just re-read the void agreement and noticed the very first line indicates the budget is PER HEAD, so my surprise at the vet costs was in error. I still think it is unrealistically low even at that, though, and might explain some of the untreated injuries revealed in the videos provided by Colleen Burns.


  3. I have a question about these horses hooves . I understand there are 810 horses on 665 acres . Why don’t the horses hooves wear down naturally here ? could someone explain this . I know normally in the wild their wear down from traversing the terrain .


    • Judy, you have answered your own question!

      That many horses in what I think are four separately fenced pastures (and subtracting out areas for corrals, ranch buildings, roads etc.) means each horse has well below one overgrazed flat acre to live on, which required them to be fed in roughly the same place each time. One acre is about 208 ft. x 208 ft.

      In the wild, in areas sufficiently large enough, the horses naturally forage over dozens of miles each day over all sorts of terrain but they simply can’t and don’t move that much in this sort of confinement. To walk even one mile, a horse living on one square acre would have to walk each leg of that acre more than six times a day if I calculated the numbers correctly. And this ground doesn’t contain much variation in footing — no steep hills, no rock formations, now water crossings etc.

      Hooves keep growing though, and one of the photos posted earlier showed a horse with a lower front leg broken with a very long hoof dangling, so it is probable that excessive length contributed to the break, even in the flat pastures.


  4. Trying to figure out how many horses will be left on the ranch and wonder if I’m reading this correctly because the numbers don’t add up. The budget calls for enough
    hay for 540 horses (or actually 270 fed 2X/day?)
    Senior feed for 800 horses (or actually 400 fed 2X/day)
    Foal feed for 800 foals (or 400 fed 2X/day)
    The Vet care is about $100/yr/horse
    It seems the Sheriff got the prices down, as Karen was forced to go further to buy food due to local costs. Glad the Catnip and Virginia herds will be getting shelter.
    End of life care is necessary – don’t like the AVMA as they are OK with either slaughter/bullet as good enough.
    Still very much concerned about the auction that seems imminent. The Sheriff is determined to have horses go to auction to get funds back to the counties. Karen would never accept that tragic situation.
    The paper implies that Karen wasted funds for feed or used the money improperly – I don’t believe that.
    Lastly, I despise euphemisms used when we know exactly what will be done to the losing horses.


    • Chris, as I understand things the plan was to allow only ⅓ of 810 horses to be allowed to be adopted, leaving 540 either to be redeemed by Karen or sold at auction to recover their costs.

      The budget as shown above indicates vet care at $136.50 FOR ALL 810 HORSES for 18 months, or less than a penny per horse per day. Anyone who keeps horses knows this is pure fantasy, regardless of the source.

      I’m not sure Karen has any choices left now other than to “accept” the tragic situation she is largely responsible for creating.


    • Chris, there don’t seem to be 800 seniors plus 800 foals, there were only a total of 810 horses of all ages reported by the sheriffs. Only 270 (⅓) were apparently allowed to be adopted to ensure enough horses were left to sell at auction to recover costs. Sadly, this makes sense since most of the adoptions were either $1 or free.


  5. $136.50/yr for vet/farrier care is barely enough for 1 horse – this must be an error. This along with the senior/foal reporting doesn’t make sense. Only about 200 horses were adopted.
    In addition, the Counties’ charge of $100K is not right either since the horses were impounded since October 2016 – that’s a little over 2 months and feed expenses are not that much. This is very strange and doesn’t pass the “smell test”.

    Now a preserve is being considered for the horses (500+) ISPMB can’t care for; at least some are working hard not to have them go to slaughter.

    Did you see my other post with a reporting that ISPMB paid $25K out of $100k and another $30k bringing the balance to $45k?
    “Authorities would consider proposals in wild horses case” http://rapidcityjournal.com/news/local/authorities-would-consider-proposals-in-wild-horses-case/article_f9ac9e6b-4da9-5afe-a98e-1a852781c913.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=user-share


  6. My heart is full as I read that they are leaving for auction. If Gods willing all those who forwarded adoption applications will come forward. This is s tragedy that could have been avoided. After the release of more information I feel the Sheriff should seek not only restitution but jail time. These poor horses now hinge on death. Did the babies ask to be born? Did the horses have a say in their future? Starved, fed and now possible slaughter. Just disgusting!! I keep them in my prayers as well as the ones who keep leaving our US borders for slaughter! While many Warriors.attend auctions, fight the Kill Buyers to save as many as possible and beg for donations of any size, this woman sits in her nice warm cozy house. I now feel no sympathy for her and would push for no horses now or in the future. She needs to spend some serious jail time and think about the possible death of many of these horses. You had your chance and did nothing!


    • Gail, if the sale prices are as low as some sources indicate, the sheriffs may not recover their costs that way. What happens then? They will have to go after Karen and her assets to uphold their duties to the citizens of SD.


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