Horse News

Visiting the Checkerboard Mares and Foals at the Bleak Feedlot at Bruneau, Idaho

Source:  Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Is This the End of the Line for These Formerly Free Wild Mares from Wyoming?

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

Last week I was finally allowed to visit the over 500 mares rounded up during the Checkerboard Roundup last fall.  Although I requested of everyone I could many many times, it was not until 10 days before that I found out about the opportunity for members of the public to take a two hour tour of the private facility.  It was not that the BLM could not allow visitors before that, it was that they chose not to.  R.T. Fitch the President of Wild Horse Freedom Federation was with me.

Dry, dusty and no shade or shelter

There were 1056 wild horses at the facility and roughly 569 were mares from the Checkerboard Roundup.  There had been 250 foals born this spring, and foals were still being born.

The foals know nothing else, they were born here

This is not one of those “off range pastures” that the BLM brags about having the horses knee deep in grass.  No, this is a horse feed lot.  No shade, no shelter, dry as a bone, in the dryest, hottest part of Idaho, and it was only the beginning of June.  There is just sandy dirt and fences as far as the eye could see.  They put the hay outside the pens to minimize waste and the horses stick their heads through the bars to reach it.  The mares with foals were in the interior pens and they put the hay on the ground inside in those pens. The impact of seeing these mares that I had last seen in Wyoming with their families was devastating and sickening to me.


The older mares break my heart Sticking their heads through to eat hay

We were driven around the facility while sitting on hay bales on a flatbed pulled by a truck.  They went slowly up and down the aisles, and even drove twice past the mare foal pens and did stop twice for us.  We were not allowed to get off the flatbed or walk outside the pens or enter the pens. Do you know how hard it is to find specific horses that way?  I contrasted this with the help I received at Canon City finding horses in 2014 after the first Checkerboard Roundup – I was escorted on foot, showed inside pens and helped to find tag numbers.  At Canon City, they wanted to get the horses adopted, they were willing to help us reunite families. Now, this tour was designed to pacify people “we have nothing to hide” and nothing more.  They do not care about the horses, do not care what happens to them ultimately.  They have no motivation to have people adopt these horses and help them find good homes.

Yes I was looking for specific horses – the mares in the Palomino stallion rounded up in Salt Wells Creek on the last day of the Checkerboard Roundup last October.  Champ is now at Skydog Sanctuary in Oregon, and Clare Staples was there looking for his mares and Goliath’s grey mare.  We did not find them.


Friends Rare Appaloosas were taken from Salt Wells Creek

The foals don’t know anything more than this – they were born here, they do not miss their family members, miss the wide open spaces, the cool canyons, the runs across the prairie.  They are not the ones that break my heart.  The older mares do.  The BLM representative carelessly said “as soon as the foals are weaned at 6 months old, they and the mares will be sent out for adoption.”  I said what about the mares over 10 years old?  Surely they will not be sent out to be adopted.  They can be sold without limitation. There was no answer of course.  These mares will be the first on the truck to be shipped to slaughter if that is what Congress decides.

All of these mares have a story.  They all had lives with their families – their stallion, their sisters, their offspring, and they had a wonderful home, on our public lands, wild and free.  What do they have now?  Only food and water, and no shelter, no hope.  I have still not been able to visit the over 1200 wild horses that were sent directly to the private Feed Lot at Axtell Utah – mostly stallions and some mares.  A handful were offered at online adoption.  What will happen to the rest?  I will not forget them.

Video Courtesy of Skydog Ranch Sanctuary,

What you can do to help:

Right now the Senate is considering the BLM’s cruel, devastating and ruinous plan to sterilize wild horse herds, kill wild horses in holding and ship wild horses overseas. You can call the members of the Senate Appropriations Committee and let them know that you want our wild horses managed wild and free on our public lands and you absolutely are opposed to any sterilization of wild horses, killing of wild horses, or shipping them overseas.


Please call the Appropriations Committee Members and your State Senators today.

Senate Appropriations Committee 2018

Richard Shelby, Alabama R – Chair( 202) 224-5744
Patrick Leahy, VT D – Ranking Member (202) 224-4242
Lamar Alexander, Tennessee R (202) 224-4944
Roy Blunt, Missouri R (202) 224-5721
John Boozman, Arkansas R (202) 224-4843
Shelley Capito, West Virginia R 202-224-6472
Susan Collins, Maine R (202)224-2523
Steve Daines, Montana R (202) 224-2651
Lindsey Graham, South Carolina R (202) 224-5972
John Hoeven, North Dakota R 202-224-2551
James Lankford, Oklahoma R (202) 224-5754
Jerry Moran, Kansas R (202) 224-6521
Lisa Murkowski, Alaska R (202)-224-6665
Chris Coons, Delaware D (202) 224-5042
Richard Durbin, Illinois D 202.224.2152
Dianne Feinstein, California, D (202) 224-3841
Jeff Merkley, Oregon D (202) 224-3753
Christopher Murphy, Connecticut D (202) 224-4041
Patty Murray, Washington State D (202) 224-2621
Jack Reed, Rhode Island D (202) 224-4642
Brian Schatz, Hawaii D (202) 224-3934
Chris Van Hollen, Jr., Maryland D (202)224-4654
Tom Udall, New Mexico D (202)224-6621
Mitch McConnell, Kentucky R (202) 224-3041
Marco Rubio, Florida R (202)224-3041
Cindy Hyde-Smith, Mississippi R (202)224-5054
Jon Tester, Montana D (202)224-2644
Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire D (202)224-2841
Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin D (202) 224-5653
John Kennedy, Louisiana R (202) 224-4623
Joe Manchin III, West Virginia D (202) 224-3954

Send a free fax to Senators, up to 4 per email address per day:

To find out more about Wild Horse Freedom Federation and our work to keep wild horses and burros wild and free on our public lands visit:

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16 replies »

  1. Beautiful horses but such a sad post. This is an eye opener to me as we don’t have have anything like this in the UK. I feel for these horses, I know mine would be miserable in those conditions. I think you’re right about the older mares, such a shame.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Instead of celebrating a unique culture of wild horses in which there is really no other in the world, our government is decimating these herds where each area has its own unique history and background. It is gestapo tactics just like what is happening on our southern border.

      Liked by 1 person

      • So true. Our wild horses are part of what makes our country unique, and they are admired the world over. But, it seems some would want to have a terribly dull, same country from one end to the other; what an ugly business. These horses are so beautiful.


  2. These feed lots are nothing but prisons and our beautiful wild horses are innocent of any crimes but those who put them there are guilty and need to be in prison instead. The American public is unaware of what is happening and some way this all needs to be exposed.
    God bless Carol and R. T. for going there.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. My heart breaks for these wild ones who were doing as nature directed – living wild and free – and then at no fault of their own are forced into this life that is without hope. Tears…

    Liked by 3 people

  4. This Bruneau wild horse holding facility was previously used by (and owned by) the Simplot cattle company.
    It is a feedlot.
    Definition of feedlot:
    Feedlot – Wikipedia
    A feedlot or feed yard is a type of animal feeding operation (AFO) which is used in intensive animal farming for finishing livestock, notably beef cattle, but also swine, horses, sheep, turkeys, chickens or ducks, prior to slaughter.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Doubly sad that when the public only sees these photos of masses of horses penned together, it frames the perception of “overpopulation.” Can someone make a map which would show the total population of our remaining wild horses, spread over their entire legal homeland areas (including the over 20 million acres now emptied of them)? I doubt most people can visualize millions of acres or thousands of horses, as most have no acres and no horses, but are stakeholders and part owners of all our public lands and public wild horses.

    Absolutely shameful so little effort is allowed or encouraged for helping place these captive animals into better homes, especially the foals. We can pay for Zinke and Pruitt to fly all over creation to bolster crony capitalism, but cannot even get ID tag numbers and photos online for these innocent creatures?

    Liked by 1 person

    • The sad truth is all organizations that represent different horse breeds are more than willing to support horse slaughter, rather than dealing with over breeding.
      Are there backyard breeders yes.
      Unfortunately the AVMA, AQHA, APHC care more about money and wealthy breeders than they do the welfare of horses.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I cancelled my AQHA membership long ago in response to their position on slaughter, along with many others. The AVMA position is harder to justify, but since veterinarians kill animals on a near-daily basis for pay, perhaps many are numbed to the larger issues in ways that contradict their oath.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. This was incredibly heartbreaking to read, and doubly sad to see the photos of these beautiful creatures who have been stripped of their freedom and wonderful lives through no fault of their own. I wish something could be done to save all of them from the threat of slaughter, some place safe to put them where they had shelter and room to move about and acres and acres green grass to graze. Obviously the BLM sees these animals as vermin, and are only doing the barest minimum to placate the public with this “tour”. To have this corrupt agency overseeing these amazing animals is like putting the fox in charge of the hen house. I”m sickened by this.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is heartbreaking, forever from the abusive “round-ups” to holding BLM treats our wild horses like they are nothing but the cheapest slaughter meat. Writing and calls to congress although a ‘little’ helpful are basicly ignored for many years. We have to use the Federal courts AND HELP the other few wild horse avocets who are spending their LIVES “working the court system”

    PLEASE, instead of expensive trips to view wild horses in holding feedlots do some flyovers with close-up pictures and publish those pictures. fly over pictures are exactly what caught animal abusers like 3 strike ranch remember?

    Got to catch BLM in their lies. There are pictures of round-ups, try to match the “missing thousands” with their round-up pictures.


  8. Restore the Act of ’71! We also need an immediate moretorium. Let’s put corrupt people behind the slaughter in prison! Call capital switchboard: 202) 224-3221


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