The day before the Fifteenmile roundup began, I was lucky enough to spend time with a family band who did not seem to mind humans, a truly atypical response from these very wild and flighty horses. The sun came out from the clouds just long enough to get some images as they were standing in the sun then ran by us.
We headed to the BLM office at 5:45 in the morning then headed out for over an hour drive. As we drove to where we were placed to observe we saw a mare and foal run up the hill as dawn was filling the sky with light. They had no idea of what was about to come.
Unfortunately our location was not a good one. We walked and then had to climb a steep red rock hill and at th stop there was jute spread across concealing the drop off behind us. We were told we were 1.5 miles from the trap but we could not see the horses run into or at the trap itself. We could see dust erupt and very occasionally heads come up above the sage brush when they reared up through binoculars but that was it. There was no opportunity for meaningful observation, of the kind where we could see if the horses looked winded and sweaty, if they were being run too far too hard, and no way to see any problems like injuries running into panels or attempting to leap out. When we are close enough to see we can often offer suggestion that may help in keeping the horses safe. But not this roundup. Wecould see them running by but that was it. When requesting a different closer location where we might observe the horses going into the trap we were told “the BLM selected this location and the contractor agreed.” Well I keep asking for a better location.
The first group of beautiful wild horses was captured at the Fifteenmile Herd roundup. There were 40-50 in the first group, hard to count when they were such a tight group like a river moving across the landscape. We are at least 1.5 miles from the trap and we cannot see the horses going into the trap behind the rock formations.mare and foal ran up the road in front of us as the sky was filling with light.
On the second run of the helicopter about 83 horses were in a huge group, 36 broke off and ended up in the trap. The others mostly pintos ran off back the direction they came – a very long way off, the horses were very tired especially a grey stallion at the end. Two bachelors ran for the hills and got away at least for now.
In the third run of the helicopter about thirty horses fought hard to avoid getting pushed into the trap. A bay mare ran away and the wrangler rode after the foal through the draws and tall sage and roped it and brought it in. I do not know where the mother went. We had seen them running up the road in front of us before dawn when we arrived.
We just saw a huge line of horses running not from the helicopter but headed toward a waterhole – right behind the trap sight. They saw the trap and headed out up the mountain. Meanwhile there were 40 coming in front of the helicopter behind us. Sorrels, bays, pintos, grays, a buckskin and they were driven into the trap – we can just see ears and dust. The helicopter landed and we are waiting to see if they will go after the big group today or quit. We plan to wait to see the horses in temporary holding which is near the trap. Just heard they are done for the day and we estimate about 200 horses were captured. We are going to temporary holding to see those horses in an hour or so.
After 2 1/2 hour wait we finally are allowed to go see the horses whose temporary pens are next to the trap. The stallions are in the first pen and they are restless and calling for their families, who were calling back. Beautiful horses. We made our way around the pens, seeing younger stallions, mares, mares with foals. The foals are wet like they had been run a long way.
We were told 211 horses were captured, one injury a mare that was being treated for a gash, and no deaths. After visiting them, we drive to our hotel in the fading light.