Equine Rescue

Update: ISPMB Wild Horse Auction

Source: Dewey County Sheriffs Department

“Approximately 550-650 horses of varying ages, some mares with foals…”

img008-3The ISPMB sale will be held Dec 20th at the Faith Livestock Yard in Faith SD. Faith is located about 35 miles west of the ranch in Lantry on highway 212.

Approximately 550-650 horses of varying ages, some mares with foals. No geldings.

Horses are comprised of the following blood lines from these locations:

Catnip Herd: Horses originate from the Sheldon Wildlife Range (SWR) in northern Nevada.

Gila Herd: Horses originate from the Gila Bend, Arizona area and genetic testing indicates that they contain rare blood lines from the Old Spanish Mustangs in the Southwest.

White Sands Herd: Horses originate from the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) in New Mexico.

Virginia Range Herd: Horses originate from Wild Horse Annie’s Ranch.

I have been told that horses will be run through in small groups and separated if desired. I believe bidding will be by assigned number. I am trying to confirm this and get start time etc. I will post this information when I receive it.

This is a very bidder friendly livestock commission co. working with all buyers equally.

Faith Livestock will put out an add on their web page in the near future and you can get more information there.

Start time and some bidding info

Will start the sale at 10:00 am. Bidding can be done over the phone. Will ask that methods of payment are discussed prior to bidding. Also, information about the bidders prior to the sale.


51 replies »

  1. This auction is going to be the best chance for these horses. We currently know of a number of private buyers who will be there bidding on small numbers of horses as well as some rescues and sanctuaries. The rescues and sanctuaries will be able to take on more horses to rehab and find permanent homes for with additional funding if people are looking for a Christmas Charity. Understand that there will also be kill buyers there prepared to pick up cheap horses for the Mexican slaughter market.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good grief. I feel a rant coming on.

    This whole debacle was preventable. Then once it was discovered, there were people who came to help such as Elane’s and Palomino’s crews, who had the skill sets to facilitate a safe and efficient exodus of a lot of these horses that were left behind… if Sussman wouldn’t keep throwing obstacles in their way.

    By comparison, with about 48 hours notice the allied Nevada and California groups pulled together to rescue 23 Virginia Range horses in Nevada that were headed for the sale. It was a much smaller number than ISPMB, however this “crisis” was averted in about 72 hours, mainly due to everyone being focused, even though there were significant fees to be paid to the state to raise funds for, the logistics and costs of getting horses bled and vaccinated, visiting potential adopters for compliance and finding a suitable location to hold horses awaiting pickup. Plus we pulled it off while some of our key people were stuck in South Dakota.

    I am NOT criticizing any of the volunteers who have struggled with this ISPMB mess. I’m criticizing an organization, and specifically Karen Sussman, for not only being grossly negligent with the horses entrusted in their care, but making an already difficult task incredibly more difficult by being ignorantly pig-headed. There, I said it.

    As I mentioned earlier, ripples from Sussman’s malfeasance are being felt all across the country. Efforts, funds and ultimately holding capacity by groups and individuals across the country are having to be redirected to try to stave off this massacre making it more difficult for us to deal with the issues in our own back yards.

    There are all kinds of individuals and entities that have the resources and the interest to help if the organization that’s found itself in deep doo-doo has sufficient character to own up to the problem and not be so self-absorbed as to stand in the way of solutions.

    Here’s an example of what can be done.

    I now return control of your Internet surfing device to you. Peace out.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks. I just wanted to show what could be done by bringing people together when egos don’t get in the way. “My way or the highway” doesn’t contribute to successful rescue / placement efforts. There are all kinds of people with helpful resources out there but when when the person in control of the horses behaves like a controlling, angry porcupine, a lot of potential helpers will switch their focus to more “solvable”

        Props to RT for keeping this issue on the radar. Perhaps it will motivate one or more big players to deal with all the bullshit going on in SD and carve out some miracle.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Will there be any online previewing of horses? Since people have limited funds it will go hard on those that are sold last if bidders are already tapped out. I’ve seen this before, with some fine animals going to KB simply because they were among the last few to enter the sales ring, and the bidders had thinned down to only KB.

    The Sheriffs had mentioned earlier they would post photos of these horses ahead of time. I understand this is a gargantuan task but also in their best interests to get the most information to the most people with the most time possible, since the price per pound most likely won’t even cover their costs! We have the technology to do this, even with live webcams for a week or so, with pen #s visible if not precise horse numbers. If they ship them at the last minute it is practically guaranteed everyone loses (including the horses) except the KB who will pay practically nothing for them.


  4. Ok all let’s get going to save tgetne horses. I see no geldings. What is the number of stallions? If they had more adoption applications than horses, what’s going on there? Can we get an up date? Many of us who may not be able to take on more horses may be able to donate towards saving them if homes can be found. So who ever can be there please please teach out to us. Also, will there be a holding station til adopters can pick up if we are out of the area/state? Folks we have eight days to save the genetics from these horses. Anyone starting a gofundme donation drive? Sickening and I can’t bear the thought. Put this lady in jail if one horse is sent to slaughter!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gail, I’m not on site but have been following this tragedy. Once the horses were impounded, only ONE THIRD were ever allowed to be pooled for adoption–– the number of applications exceeded only that number, not the entire 810 animals.

      These horses have been divided for years into four distinct herds, and two were completely off limits to any adoptions despite carrying perhaps the most valuable genetics. No colts in any herds were gelded, it seems, so it’s a safe bet to expect about half or so of the horses to be auctioned will be ungelded males of all ages.

      As a rule, livestock auctions require animals to be shipped out the same or the next day as they have others coming in, so the prospect of holding any on site is pretty much zero. Also (from first hand experience) be forewarned if you buy a horse by competing against a KB and leave it there overnight, there is a high risk they will load yours up anyway to fill a load and head off down the highway, never to be found. I suggest if you have to leave any overnight you post a guard.

      Also, the KB do not walk around with signs declaring who they are, so they will look like everyone else. Unless you already know them or their acting agents there is no way to know who you are bidding against. They generally buy larger lots to fill a semi, and will buy those nobody else bids on so you can over time start to figure out who they are. At some auctions I’ve attended a KB will sit in the booth next to the announcer, off the air and essentially taking any horses not sold.


      • Icy is spot on. (I just realized that was a pun. I’ll leave it up.)

        At some auctions I’ve been to when a large number of horses have been offered that attract rescuers, the KBs will spread their people across the audience, careful not to bid against each other, but making it look less like the KBs are hard in the hunt. Usually the auctioneer knows these people so he or she knows who to award the horses to at the end of each call. One time in Fallon even the auction yard owner sat in the audience and pushed up the bids… a practice that’s legal in Nevada, believe it or not.

        We also caught an auction owner trying to slip to a friend a couple of horses we knew belonged to someone else. Fortunately a brand inspector happened to be nearby and we put a stop to that business. If the animals aren’t branded, anything can and will happen. Stick-on auction number tags have been known to “fall off.”


  5. Thank you RT. Are you posting this publicly? There have been questions about where it is going to be.. However I’m not trusting this to everyone because some go off half cocked avid cause trouble for everyone especially the horses.


  6. So…for the $24,000 still owed Dewey County is going to auction off those Horses?
    There truly was not much time given to come up the total amount…everyone TRIED

    Seth Tupper Rapid City Journal
    County officials have estimated their impounding costs to be $100,000, mostly in hay purchases. The society has paid at least $52,000 toward that cost, and the counties have received grants and donations totaling at least $24,000, leaving roughly another $24,000 in costs to be either recouped at the auction or absorbed by the counties.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Louie C, let’s say there are 550 horses and they go for an average of $100 each ($55,000). I’m sure the auction takes a commission, but if I remember correctly, anything over the county’s expenses is supposed to go to ISPMB. $55,000 – $24,000 = $31,000. Others can call it what they want. I call it ‘blood money’, and that woman isn’t entitled to it. I don’t care how many ‘good works’ she did in the past. I will never forgive her or anyone who enabled her to continue to abuse these innocent animals.


    • Thanks for the info, Louie! Unfortunately, the NM horses were on the desolate White Sands Missile Range. It’s beautiful, but no place for any large animal that requires more than the barest minimum of water and forage. Ironically, the African Oryx (alien species) that were released for big game hunting are now overpopulating the Range. NM has tens of thousands of wild horses, but fewer than 300 are permitted on the 23 million acres of federally-managed public lands.


    • Louie, it ALMOST happened, but incoming governor, Susana Martinez, torpedoed the purchase. If Richardson’s Lt. Governor, Diane Denish, had become governor, she would have shot it down as well. The ABQ Journal didn’t help. Many of their articles mad it sound like it was all about wild horses when, in truth, the sanctuary would have been a small part of the park, with 25 to 50 horses. Chavez ended up buying the and conserving the land, but I’ve never heard that he set up a formal sanctuary for wild horses. Here’s some basic info:


      • Boy Linda…this says it all doesn’t it

        “If the Board of Finance approves the ranch purchase Dec. 21, the state will have only a few working days to close the deal before Martinez takes office. While your picture of government may be those slow-moving lines at MVD, it can act very quickly when it wants to”.


      • What could be more Historic than Wild Horses in New Mexico?


        Historical records indicated the arrival of Spanish Conquistadors in the 16th century to the Ortiz Mountain area where Rancho de Chavez currently sits. They developed the land into a working ranch to allow for exploration and to utilize natural resources found in the surrounding plains and mountains.

        Rancho de Chavez was previously owned by the Ball Family known for the large production of glass home-canning jars in addition to Ball State University. The existing hacienda footprint was designed and built by the Ball Family in 1970. In 2011, the ranch and surrounding lands were purchase by the Steven B. Chavez Family and appropriately named Rancho de Chavez. The existing hacienda was renovated to modernize and emphasize Spanish architecture, design and culture.


  7. Reposting Chris 1055’s comments

    December 11, 2016 @ 1:09 PM Edit

    Dewey Cty and the other one is charging the horses for hay which they’ll have to pay for with their lives. I’m writing the gov and Steve Aberle to postpone the auction to get more adoptions on board and to give time for horses to be picked up by adopters. This is only fair. The weather is treacherous for everyone including the 4 legged ones.
    Governor Dennis Daugaard http://sd.gov/governor/contact/default.aspx
    States Atty, Steven Aberle,
    Dewey County
    PO Box 236
    Timber Lake, SD 57656
    (605) 865-3528
    (605) 865-3808 (fax)

    December 11, 2016 @ 2:04 PM Edit

    Here is my ltr to Gov Dugaard:
    Dear Governor:
    You are aware that over 500 horses of the ISPMB sanctuary will be auctioned on or near Dec. 20, 2016, as per Steve Aberle, States Attorney, to repay Dewey and Ziebach Counties for the hay eaten by them.

    Please have the date of the auction postponed, since it has only been a little over 2 months that the counties took over feeding them, and more funds could be raised to offset costs given a little more time.

    The weather has been treacherous for all those brave volunteers and the 4 legged ones who are adopted by good-hearted folks. It is very hard for more people to help and to fund raise which they very much want to do to benefit the horses.

    Please ask Attorney Aberle to postpone the auction date, so these horses do not have to pay for their sustenance with their lives.

    Thank you, and hope to hear from you soon regarding this important matter for the good of the horses.


  8. Thanks for the videos and updates – I am grateful to see that there are some really good people out there!!! Spoke to Dewey County today and they are still taking donations. Will try to put something that sounds intelligent together in an email for Attorney Aberle in favor of postponing the auction………….am not giving up but it is sure hard on my heart. I see its is going to get colder out there.


  9. Some Christmas Good Will in the form of a postponement of the auction would go a long ways right now.
    What a shame it would be to send these Horses to auction when people have and are trying so hard to raise money and get them into good, safe hands…especially at this time of year.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Can’t they just give them BACK THEIR OWN LAND somewhere? THEY help the LAND. BLM was CAUGHT LYING let U keep ALLOWING them to STEAL; SELL WILD HORSES 2B SLAUGHTERED & it’s Not OK with Americans!!! Stop murdering OUR MOST MAJESTIC TREASURES!!! They have families, souls& feel pain too.plus THEY ARE AWESOME !!!🇺🇸❤🐎


    • People have tried to change federal law for decades but it hasn’t happened and it won’t likely happen. Plus these horses are legally privately owned livestock. So everyone really needs to focus on solutions.that are achievable. Not saying there shouldn’t be changes in public lands policies, but the current trend is to privatize it, not make it more eco-sensible, and that’s all in the hands of the lawmakers.


    • Rachel, while it is true the ISPMB horses derived from horses removed from other places (not all BLM managed), most were born at ISPMB and allowed to reproduce freely within fenced areas. They don’t have anything that could be called “their own land” since ISPMB operates on land owned by a third party. At the auction there will be kill buyers but anyone can bid on any horse so at least some have a chance at a better life. Since foals are worth so little I’m hoping they at least will be spared a horrid last few days of life.


    • Louie, the online or phone bidders must pre register, but anyone can show up on sale day, get a number and bid. Once they pay up they are free to take away any horses they bought. Horse auctions bring out the best and worst in the human race, in my experience.


      • Auctions are loud and scary for even seasoned Horses. There can also be some very rough treatment as Horses are put through the chutes and the into the ring.
        They shouldn’t have to be put through any of that.
        There just needs to be move time to raise the rest of the money that’s owed and time allowed for adoptions.. done slowly and carefully as it should be done.


  11. Update:

    Dewey County Sheriff’s Office
    8 hrs ·

    The Faith Livestock Commission Co. has sale broadcast set up along with on line bidding. There is a delay over the internet, but they indicate they can make it work. Also they will have their vet doing Coggins testing on all the horses before the sale so that will be done prior to the sale.
    Please contact Faith Livestock at 605-967-2200 to register and get approved to bid prior to the sale. Scott stated he could do the approval at anytime. AS there may be a lot of people wanting to register, please call early and do not wait until the 19th to register. There are only 5 weekdays left to the sale day.
    If you are not bidding do not get on line and slow the system


  12. Thanks, RT, for the updates and advice.

    Coggins testing prior to the sale and offering on-line bidding are signs that the auction yard (perhaps encouraged by the sheriff) is making some effort to make the animals more accessible to individuals rather than make a quick bulk sale to the KBs. One question, considering the number of horses involved, is whether they are actually going to offer one horse at a time (that would take all day) or in pen lots.

    One of the reasons I personally don’t think raising funds and paying off the remaining county debt is going to resolve this debacle is that Sussman has failed to show that she can maintain the horses going forward, even if they are eventually going to get placed (assuming that she would even follow through in getting them placed.) The viewpoint of the Sheriff and counties may well be that the longer this business drags on, the more feed is required with the accompanying potential for the counties to get stuck with even more bills.

    With the Slick Gardner debacles in both Eureka County, NV and Santa Barbara County, CA (the only incidents close in nature to the ISPMB mess that we were involved with) Lifesavers and LRTC had the space to take in all of the Eureka County horses (144 mares, 82 yearlings and a whole slew of foals) and they also had enough funds to do the heavy lifting. In Santa Barbara, Wild Horses in Need (WIN) actually took over some 270 horses for the county. Back then, as we did with last week’s VR horse “rescue” in Nevada, the field active groups worked together to hold and place many of the horses, in that case with horses being divided among some of the groups.

    In another rescue operation, a few hundred Ft. McDermitt horses actually made it to the sale and that situation was crazy. Victoria wrote a personal check for the auction bills and the rescue groups scrambled to get them out of the auction yard in time. Our group ended up facilitating the care of some 54 horses for over a year until they could go to a sanctuary and that was just one of several “manageable portions” of the aggregate from that sale. (Victoria also paid for the 54’s feed and expenses. AWHPC dealt with administrative issues and we did hands-on tasks, making that job doable but it was still expensive.)

    In a previous incident involving hundreds of Indian horses going to the sale, we had the advantage that a horse-friendly feed lot owner turned a majority of the lot over to the participating groups to hold horses for well over a year. Those blessings aren’t so common.

    About the same time the Paiutes of the Pyramid Reservation didn’t want to send horses to the sale that were causing environmental degradation. They called us nd said we could have them if we would take them, but we had less than 24 hours to organize the removal and care of some 55 horses. Fortunately the feed lot was still in operation at the time and Lifesavers said that the Paiute horses could be added to Lifesavers’ group. Also fortunately we weren’t pulled over by NHP because we had a tiny window to work with and our stock trailers were undoubtedly overloaded in order to get all of them out.

    All these operations take considerable sums of money, proper facilities, proper equipment, lots of physical volunteer labor, transportation logistics, feed and feeding logistics, getting a vetting squeeze to vet the animals and geld the stallions, and the list goes on. While I’m not discouraging anyone from pitching in for the ISPMB horses, everyone needs to understand that acquiring the horses is the easiest and often the least expensive part of the deal. So the very worthwhile desire to save as many horses as possible has to be tempered with such issues as the ability to transport, hold, maintain and care for what are basically large wild animals.

    My ultimate point here is that if we’ve learned anything, it’s that the groups who get involved in these rescues, no matter who they are, usually need ongoing support long after the horses get acquired. Those needs tend to get lost as soon as the next crisis becomes widely known. It’s a reason groups oftentimes don’t have the ability to respond for significant periods of time. If they’re not at physical capacity then they are at their financial capacity caring for the animals they rescued previously, and they risk their stability if they take on too many animals.

    It’s also why batshit crazy people shouldn’t be in charge of rescue and sanctuary operations and create these kinds of disasters for the rest of us to struggle to clean up. ISPMB is not the only one of these situations to occur, but it’s the biggest that I can recall in recent history.


  13. WTH??? This was posted in The Rapid City Journal an hour ago!!!

    “Deal to stop wild-horse auction OK’d by all except sanctuary’s leader”

    A deal that would have stopped the auction of hundreds of wild horses in north-central South Dakota has been accepted by all parties except the leader of the troubled sanctuary where the horses reside, according to an attorney who is participating in the talks.

    Dewey County State’s Attorney Steve Aberle said a consortium of concerned organizations has offered to reimburse Dewey and Ziebach counties for the costs of caring for the horses since October, and to assume the care and feeding of the horses while trying to find new homes for them through adoptions.

    Aberle, who said the consortium members wish to remain confidential, said county officials and the state Animal Industry Board have agreed to the deal, but the owner of the horses, the nonprofit International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros, has not.

    Aberle said a meeting was scheduled Thursday with ISPMB President Karen Sussman, but she did not show up and has not responded to the proposal.

    Unless Sussman accepts the deal soon, Aberle said, the estimated 550 to 650 horses that are impounded at the ISPMB ranch on the Dewey-Ziebach county line near Lantry could be put up for sale at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Faith Livestock. Wild-horse advocates fear that buyers for foreign slaughter plants will be among the bidders.

    Aberle told the Journal in a phone interview Monday that “it would be very unfortunate” if the auction took place. “But it would be one person and one person alone who would prevent that from happening, and that is Karen Sussman, president of the ISPMB,” he added.

    Phone messages left Tuesday morning for Sussman and the ISPMB’s professional fundraiser, Howard Paley — who has spoken recently on the organization’s behalf — were not immediately returned.

    Sussman lives at the ISPMB ranch. After becoming the society president in the 1990s, she moved the organization from Arizona to South Dakota and changed its focus from advocacy and lobbying to the rescue and ownership of threatened wild horses.

    When authorities stepped in to impound the ISPMB’s multiple herds at the ranch and take over the care and feeding of the animals in October, they counted 810 horses on the ranch’s scant and overgrazed 665 acres. The court-ordered impounding, which came with Sussman’s reluctant agreement, followed a finding of neglect by a state-employed veterinarian and allegations from a former ISPMB employee that some horses had died of starvation-related causes.

    Since the beginning of the impounding, Sussman has parted with about 200 horses through adoptions or private sales, Aberle said. Authorities limited private adoptions and sales to 270 head because the counties wanted to retain some horses as collateral against the costs of the impounding.

    The ISPMB was allowed more than a month to reimburse the counties for those costs, but so far the organization has paid only $52,000 toward a growing total of about $100,000, mostly for hay purchases. (Some of the costs have been offset by $24,000 in donations and grants to the counties.)

    The ISPMB was also given the opportunity to get some horses back by producing evidence of enough funding or feed for 18 months of operations. The continuing lack of such evidence led authorities to schedule the auction. The proceeds would go first to the counties to cover their costs, and then to the ISPMB.

    The October impounding order put the horses under the care of county officials but left legal ownership and responsibility for adoption efforts with the ISPMB. Some critics have assailed county and state authorities for not seizing ownership of the horses and taking control of the adoptions, but Aberle has avoided such an action because he is concerned that it could be considered an illegal seizure of property.

    There are provisions in state laws and administrative rules, though, that allow for a transfer of ownership in cases involving impounded animals. The relevant administrative rule of the state Animal Industry Board says the board may seek a court order to transfer ownership of the impounded animals to a suitable caretaker or facility.

    Aberle said options to avert the auction will continue to be considered, but the auction remained scheduled as of Tuesday evening.

    One of the groups that have been publicly active in seeking better homes for the horses is The Humane Society of the United States.

    Earlier this month, the South Dakota office of the HSUS issued a long written statement explaining that the organization previously provided assistance to the ISPMB but ended that assistance “when ISPMB leaders failed to follow our recommendations and take action necessary to manage population growth.”

    Since the impounding, the HSUS statement said, the organization has been trying to help facilitate adoptions of ISPMB horses in cooperation with Fleet of Angels, a nonprofit network of trailer owners who provide transportation and assistance for at-risk horses in the United States and Canada.

    Like Aberle, the HSUS pinned the blame for the impending auction on Sussman.

    “The HSUS is strongly opposed to the slaughter of horses for human consumption,” the organization’s statement said, “and we are deeply saddened that Ms. Sussman’s choices have put the horses at risk of being purchased at auction by kill buyers.”



    • It certainly appears that the Animal Industry Board could possibly provide a way to save these horses – at the very least – being transported to an auction facility – which considering the lack of handling they have had – would create so much stress & fear AND chances of injury or disease. I would say these counties have bent over backwards regarding Ms.Sussman’s “feelings”. It sounds like she would rather they go to auction than give up her “ownership”? That just doesnt make sense at all. I cannot imagine what the people who have been putting themselves literally in danger working to save these horses must feel. But I doubt they have had the time to dwell on it! And possibly, the bottom line would be these counties wont get fully reimbursed for the time & money spent, if the horses go to auction!


      • Sussman doesn’t own these horses, the nonprofit entity ISPMB does and must be held accountable to the laws pertaining to their nonprofit status or forfeit that status and their assets (which include horses).


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