Horse News

The Last BLM Tour of the Wild Horses in Long Term Holding Facilities


by Carol Walker, Dir. of Field Documentation, Wild Horse Freedom Federation

It is very likely that this will have been the last tour of wild horses in Long Term Holding facilities, or “Off Range Pastures” as the BLM are now calling it. If the provisions in the 2018 Trump Budget which allow the killing of wild horses in holding and on the range, by this time next year there may be no horses at this or the other facilities – they may all be dead.

The last time I saw the Red Roan Stallion, with his son in 2005

I am returning to the Hughes Ranch for the second time. My first visit was in 2005, after the roundup in Adobe Town in August of that year. I went to the Rock Springs Corrals looking for an older red roan stallion who had captured my heart in my visits to Adobe Town. He was going to be released back to Adobe Town, given his age (22) but at the last minute, the BLM decided to take older horses to Long Term Holding. I could not find him at Rock Springs, and was told he had been shipped to the Hughes Ranch. I called John Hughes and asked if I could come and see the horses, and he agreed, so I flew to Tulsa and rented a car to drive to Bartlesville. Although I looked at many horses in many pens and pastures, I was not able to find him. But I have never forgotten him. I hope he did live out his life there.

Horses just arrived at Hughes Ranch in 2005

Today, I am in one of two huge buses filled with people eager to see the horses. Debbie Collins, Wild Horse and Burro Outreach Specialist for the BLM is on my bus, and she starts a promotional video on the bus that we listen to as we drive to see the horses. She tells us that we will make three stops to the see the horses, picking up Robert Hughes at the first stop, then on to a second area with horses, and to see a “Virtual Reality” tour on the new Mustang Heritage Foundation trailer, then on to a third location near the house where she says the horses are so gentle they come right up to you. There are over 1400 horses here at the ranch, almost all geldings.


10 replies »

  1. What a gorgeous stallion, and how heart breaking that they kept this old guy in holding, rather than give him the freedom he deserves.I have hear that horses in Rock Springs holding are being shipped out in the dead of night…and heard this by more than one person. I wish there were a way to hold the BLM accountable and prove this is happening. I’m convinced this is happening at other facilities as well.


  2. Carol- Thank you for this story and beautiful photographs and for enduring the “herding around” that you endured under the thumb of BLM during your visit.
    As you said so very well, “Something to remember as you look at the images of these horses is that every single one of them had a family before they were rounded up. Each of these horses has a story, and a life, and a personality and they are not just numbers on a spreadsheet… They are living, breathing sentient animals, and they deserve to be treated with respect. They should have been allowed to live out their lives with their families in their homes.”
    I agree, agree, agree!


  3. I cant imagine how hard this had to be – as GG said under the BLM’s thumb. Being right there & completely unable to DO anything for the horses, and I’m sure far too many people on the tour had no clue just what these horses had lost – forever.


  4. Questions: Did you see any older (older than about ~25) horses or any sick/injured horses? I assume (as with most PR charades), there was a cleaning up of any horse at the LTH that BLM did NOT want the public to see.
    As for the Mustang Heritage propaganda trailer, we tax-payers have paid $15,645,674.00 to this group in the last ten years. What a bunch of baloney!


  5. Is there a Wild Horse Overpopulation Problem?
    Mining, Oil & Gas Corps. & Cattle on Public Land; Over 600 Rescued Wild Horses Endangered by Uranium Mining (excerpts)
    Posted by miningawareness
    Sep 2016

    Under the 1872 Mining Act, companies, even foreign companies don’t pay royalties for uranium, gold, and silver taken from public land and public mineral rights on private land. A Canadian Mining Co., Energy Fuels, is even trying to mine uranium near the Grand Canyon. Much of the uranium mined by Energy Fuels goes to South Korea. It is the second largest uranium miner after Canada’s Cameco. Even Russia now owns US uranium mines. Wild Horses are probably more disruptive to the many oil and gas sites, too, than placid, bucolic, cattle.

    According to Robert C. Bauer, Biologist, and apparently based on the earlier NAS (National Academy of Science) report, first year mortality rates for wild horses is approximately 14 to 50%. Annual adult mortality is 5% to 25%. Thus, he concludes that “in any given year, equine mortality on the range lands would be anywhere between 19% and 75% of the total population of wild horses.” This is due to predators, environmental and weather factors. He further concludes that wild horses and burros are probably close to extinction in the wild. Please read his excellent article, “A Biologist’s Response to the BLM’s Wild Horse Problem”, here: The more recent NAS report appears to contradict itself by on the one hand saying that the population is growing, and on the other hand, saying that the BLM doesn’t count them correctly. Horses aren’t like mice. Horses have a long gestation period (11 months), and usually give birth to only one. Twins are rare.

    The off-range care fee given by the BLM appears grossly overinflated. According to the U. Minn Extension Service, the minimum is $6,400 per year for keeping one healthy (pet) horse: For 46,000 off-range wild horses this would be $294 Million and not the $1 Billion claimed by the BLM. The cost of hay and supplements is around $60 to $100 per month. Pasture boarding is as little as $100 per month or $1200 per year. See for more details. This would be $4.6 million for 46,000 off-range horses. Since the US BLM has 2,765 acres per horse and burro, they could easily leave them on range and supplement food, if necessary, but this apparently conflicts with mining companies, oil and gas drilling, and private ranchers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Louie, good info but have to disagree about wild horses “probably” being more disruptive than range cattle on oil and gas leased lands. Horses may be curious and wander through but cattle will homestead anyplace they can find shade, and are notorious for chewing, licking, rubbing and generally pushing over anything they can reach as they struggle with the inevitable insects which plague them over the summer months. They will lick the paint off a car — or a holding tank — and calves especially will chew on anything they can get into their mouths just out of curiosity. I have photos of cowpies all over unfenced drill pad sites, which makes me think twice about the virtues of the supposedly cleaner “grass fed beef” which is raised on public lands. There’s no way to know what they ate or licked up, or what ends up on your dinner plate.

      If you want to eat beef, support local private producers who don’t have the luxury of subsidized public lands grazing leases.


      • THANK YOU for catching that IcySpots. I hurriedly posted it and should have read it more carefully first. I was focused on the mining issues which are a huge part of our problem and this article gives a wealth of information.


    • More excerpts from the above article.
      Our Wild Horses & Burros truly are the “canary in the coal mine” and this is a David versus Goliath battle

      Compare the $1 Billion of off-range care, cited below, to the almost $2 billion per year that the US DOE uses to dump radioactive waste upon the United States falsely claiming it is about nuclear non-proliferation. This includes from such “terrorist” countries as Switzerland and Sweden. They did, indeed, help arm Hitler in the run-up to WWII, and they helped keep him going. However, they are not widely considered terrorist countries. They also are not unstable. Nonetheless, Switzerland recently sent its SWISS MADE old, useless, Americium-Plutonium mix to the Savannah River Nuclear Site, where it is supposed to go (once diluted) to the New Mexico WIPP facility, still closed due to a nuclear waste explosion.

      The old SWISS MADE plutonium was well-stored in vaults, probably in an underground bunker. It is widely believed (by Swiss) that this plutonium was originally intended for a Swiss nuclear bomb. However, after 50 years the plutonium is a useless, more dangerous, mix of Americium and Plutonium. Other foreign nuclear waste, such as that which the German government is currently still trying to send, will be diluted with other stuff and buried in Utah or West Texas. Is Germany a terrorist country, too?

      Most frighteningly, only German environmentalists and a few German politicians appear very concerned. Americans are mostly silent. These western sites could have been appropriate for Wild Horses, whatever their formal status. There is no room for Wild Horses and Burros in the United States, only nuclear waste, mining companies (often foreign), oil and gas companies.

      According to Robert Bauer’s article, wild horses have a high natural mortality rate in the wild, meaning that the population wouldn’t be expanding, as alleged. The recent National Academy of Sciences study criticizes BLM (Bureau of Land Management) methodology.
      Thus, one may fairly conclude that their estimates of horses on public land are likely wrong at best, and made up at worst.


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