Horse News

James Kleinert and Wild Horses

as published on The Telluride Daily Planet

One man’s life’s work to expose the truth behind roundups

A helicopter chases a wild horse during Sand Wash Basin roundup Sept. 4. Documentary filmmaker James Anaquad Kleinert chronicled the historic roundup as part of his current 12-part series “Mustangs & Renegades,” which is available on YouTube and Vimeo. (Courtesy photo) JAMES KLEINERT

For award-winning documentary filmmaker James Anaquad Kleinert, highlighting the government’s continued, albeit questionable, efforts to round up wild horses has become his life’s work.

Most recently, Kleinert has been documenting the Sand Wash Basin roundup in Moffat County.

Beginning Sept. 1, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which conducts roundups of wild horses and burros, captured 684 horses before the San Wash Basin roundup ended earlier this week, though 50 were later released after a genetic analysis.

The BLM used helicopters to drive the horses into “trap zones.” Pressure from Governor Jared Polis — mainly his letter to U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, and BLM Deputy Director of Policy and Programs Nada Wolff Culver — helped stop the largest roundup in state history.

The BLM has previously stated that all captured horses will be put up for adoption through the Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Incentive Program, which offers people up to $1,000.

“The goal of the program is to reduce BLM’s recurring costs to care for unadopted and untrained wild horses and burros while helping to enable the BLM to confront a growing over-population of wild horses and burros on fragile public rangelands,” according to the BLM website.

Kleinert recently covered the Sand Wash Basin roundup in showing how the herd is exhibiting strong signs of health, plenty of forage and water on the range, and “yet BLM is claiming there needs to be an ‘emergency’ roundup,” he explained.

Kleinert’s most recent documentary — “Mustangs & Renegades” — is a 12-part series looking at the wild horse roundups, including the past roundup efforts in Disappointment Valley.

“We did a small release of my book, ‘No Country For Truth Tellers’ in the fall 2019, and since that time we have used the book as our outline to produce ‘Mustangs & Renegades,’” Kleinert explained. “Back in 2011-12 Telluride locals may remember we released ‘Wild Horses & Renegades,’ which showed at the Palm Theater exposing the cover-up of the BLM roundup which was about to occur out in Disappointment Valley in the Spring Creek Herd Management Area. In Episode 3 of ‘Mustangs & Renegades,’ we show the events surrounding the brutal Spring Creek roundup, featuring local Telluride supporters.”

Viggo Mortensen, Sheryl Crow, Willie Nelson, Saginaw Grant and N. Scott Momaday are also featured in the series.

Most recently, Kleinert has been working with well-know wild horse biologist Craig Downer, who worked alongside Wild Horse Annie, the founder of the 1971 Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act.

In 2020, Downer and Kleinert sued the BLM for the Wyoming Red Desert roundup, exposing false data and statements by the BLM, Kleinert explained. Downer also recently did an assessment of the Spring Creek wild horses in Disappointment Valley and concluded that at the current use of the drug PZP, a controversial method used to sterilize captured horses, on the Spring Creek Wild Horses, the herd will die out in the next 10 years. All of that is covered in Episode 7 of “Mustangs & Renegades,” which is available on Vimeo and YouTube. Kleinert said the best way to keep up with the series is to sign up for both channels, as episodes will be released regularly moving forward and subscribers will be notified.

“I’m relieved to be finishing this important work, which I’ve been deeply engaged in for almost 20 years now,” he added.

In 2008, the BLM deemed wild horse and burro numbers exceeded “appropriate use” levels. The agency then began to roundup wild horses and burros (a protected species since 1971) across the West in order to place them in holding facilities.

Learn more about the BLM Holding Facilities by clicking (HERE)

6 replies »

  1. Both James Kleinert and Craig Downer (and many others) have done a lot of work and a great job to document and fight in court for the freedom of our wild ones. Thank you all.


  2. I wish they would put this series on a DVD disc and offer for sale! I like to have hard copies! I remember protesting in DC for about 4 years! And instead of getting better it is the worse in the history of our country! I am planning meetings with some local US House members! As the information increases, so too the packet of information! If they have the information there is NO way they can claim they didn’t know! So now we have the HQs back in DC! So whose out in Colorado? And what’s their job? It had been so totally disturbing to see these horses being so inhumanely treated! As a past Hooved investigator, they would be charged with violations! Just the idea that the pilots turn off their honing devices so they can’t be tracked is appauling! I am demanding why my taxes are being awarded to inhumane people as such! So often they have been over heard laughing about what they have done to the horses! They are nothing more then disciples of the 😈! They are like a cancerous growth that keeps on growing! So how do we stop it? Unless you LOVE horses, you do not get the sadness! And they claim the Grouse is in danger! But again they will offer
    a hunting period for them! So what gives? But WE ALL
    NEED to keep FIGHTING!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A few years ago when Obama was president I sent him 2, 2 inch boxes full of the horrible things that BLM was doing to our Mustangs. I feel that we all should not only complain to the Government of our states, the Feds &….. but we should also flood our Presidents with all the Documents everyone has on what is going on with BLM’s Lies, their abuse to our beloved Mustangs & letters of why they need to be saved.
    I also want to thank all the people that are fighting so hard to help our horses. God bless you all

    Liked by 1 person

  4. 1. I DO NOT SUPPORT Awarding BLM Contracts to men convicted of selling BLM Mustangs to Slaughter and shooting Mustangs and Burros from Helicopters. State of Nevada vrs Cattoor 1991. A man also exposed of same in 2007. A man who has numerous Complaints with FFA and CAWP. 2. I DO NOT SUPPORT Helilcopter Round Ups to Remove Mustangs and Burros from their HMA’s. 3. I DO SUPPORT the development of a New BLM Program Model To Humanely Manage Mustangs and Burros on THEIR HMA’s. 4. I DO SUPPORT the Reduction of Domestic Livestock on HMA’S set aside for the Protection and Welfare of Wild Horses and Wild Burros by the Wild Horse & Burro Act if 1971. 5. I DO SUPPORT releasing Wild Horses and Burros over 15 years of Age at the Trap Sites to remain on Their HMA’s. As, life expectancy is 25 years and most will die of natural causes. Therefore it is a Senseless Waste of Tax Payer Money to warehouse Aged Mustangs-Burros at long term holding facilities. 5a Aged Wild Horses and Burros are described by BLM as unadoptable are Labeled as “Sale Authority” and are sold on a Bill Of Sale to questionable buyers and are the group of greatest risk to go to Slaughter Plants. Further Reason to release Aged Mustangs/Burros at Trap Sites. 6. The BLM Model of Management currently in effect for Wild Horses and Burros is not Sustainable and needs to be DISMANTLED. A New Model of Off Range Management that will give preference to the Welfare and Care of Wild Horses and Wild Burros on THEIR HMA’s needs to be Established. Sincerely, A. Smith Tax Payer USA Citizen


  5. The persistent persecution of our wild horses enrages me. It seems that, like our federal government and its corrupt politicians, the BLM is deepening and stepping up the destruction of what is generally considered a live treasure in America. Nothing seems to work to stop this and I fear they are going forward with boldness, knowing full well that our horses are headed in growing numbers to slaughter. Further, I fear that people that used to care and were repulsed by human consumption of horsemeat, are now so overloaded by overwhelming problems in our country and the lack of progress on the wild horse issues have tuned out. Interest in purchasing or rehoming the captured horses by individuals has dropped as well. Ranchers have all the rights and horses get no break. I’m out of new solutions to this problem and feel totally helpless and all the while, I know our horses pay the price. Basically, I know the only way to break up this problem for good is to put horse meat out of business, end of story. That has not worked in Canada or, worse, in Mexico.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Heidi, while the horse slaughter cottage industry is indeed horrific, of the nearly 200,000 American horses whose lives end within it each year only a small fraction are formerly wild horses. In other words, they are dumped there into a larger system for various reasons, they are not the main supply for the bloody industry. Rehoming horses who were by law intended to remain on the range is a red herring — and was never part of the original law or intent. We aren’t growing wild horses on the public lands as a crop to remove and sell to the public, as livestock producers do.

      I believe there are many good possibilities for managing our wild horses IN THE WILD as the law intends, but complacency and corruption block every effort to change the system for the better. This is something we CAN change, but need a lot more Americans speaking out about it to do so. So our own complacency is also a big part of the problem. We are failing our own inheritance and robbing our descendants. Imagine if we only had 10% of US citizens speaking up to protect our wild ones, that would be 32 million people! Why we don’t have them making their voices heard NOW is where we should be focusing more energy.


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