CO Sculptures Inspired by Wild Horses Installed at New Highway Construction

By Amy Hamilton of The Daily Sentenial

Soon: Only Wild Horses and Burros Left will be Remembered in Art

“As the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) continues to stampede wild equine off from the rightful ranges, pump them full of chemicals, sell them off in the quiet of the night to slaughter and now rip the wombs from mares the only way that our next generation is going to be able to see a wild horse or burro is either in a photograph, video, painting or sculpture as they will be gone, all gone, disappeared.

The actions of the BLM has the stench of extinction smeared all over it.

They must be stopped!” ~ R.T.

071316_2a_horses1_600x400Local wild horse lovers may enjoy the connection between their beloved animals and the new sculptures in the pair of new roundabouts on Horizon Drive.

Vermont-based sculptor Joseph Fichter was so inspired by a 2014 visit to the Little Bookcliffs Wild Horse Range above Cameo to see wild horses that he named three of the horse sculptures he has created after horses there — Inca, Kiowa and Renegade.  “It was so exhilarating to see the horses,” Fichter said about the experience.

Fichter created six larger-than-life-sized, steel horse sculptures that have been placed in the newly constructed roundabouts. Horizon Drive officials dedicated the sculptures to the city in a ceremony on Tuesday.

Though he was only commissioned to create five horses, Fichter created a colt that he named Viva, to go along with the small herd. Fichter’s inspiration for creating the colt came from his experience viewing a mare and colt drinking from a watering hole on the mountain range.

“It’s great to see them in place,” Fichter said about the finished work. “It worked out according to plan.”…(CONTINUED)

Stupid Alert: Just When You Think It Couldn’t Get Any More Cruel and Insane for Wild Horses and Burros

“A saying from my work culture simply goes something like this, ‘If you see it, you own it’ and with that being said, I cannot in good conscious pass idly by and ignore a letter to an editor published on a Big AG website, recently.

Mobile Slaughter Units answer to wild horse problem’ (posted below)

Two simple issues are immediately brought to light when reading that headline (of course there are many but to keep it short and sweet)

  1. What sort of demented and twisted soul would write about a concept that is both illegal and cruel?
  2. What sort of editorial staff would consider publishing such trash?

Well, to shed some light on the first question the writer of this article hails from Hermiston, OR which bears the blackeye of being home to Dave Duquette, remember him, lap dog to the now dead Sue Wallis known better as “Slaughterhouse” Sue?  Ole Dave has been trying to legally kill and eat horses for years and the folks in Hermiston have blocked his drivel about attempting to open up such a sick operation in their rural town.  Perhaps this author is the singular friend that Duquette has in town…she talks just like him.

The second question is more difficult to answer, was it for it’s shock value as the rest of the articles are boring and mundane?  Don’t know, but it is not surprising that a horse hating letter would pop up in such publication that in part caters to the welfare rancher and their sympathizers.

None the less, take a second and read the article, if you have the stomach for it,then pass by the page where it is posted and comment directly to the letter at their website.  (Posting comments to the author here will not go to the site)  Mobile slaughter units answer to wild horse problem

I am certain that the poor demented darling who penned this note is all excited about having something published, first time for everything, and that she has told her family and friends how wonderful she is…but for the sake of the wild horses and burros, let’s prove otherwise.” ~ R.T.

Mobile slaughter units answer to wild horse problem

This is the latest tourist attraction for our Public Lands? A horse organ dump ~ actual photo of dump outside of Canadian Horse Slaughter Plant

This is the latest tourist attraction for our Public Lands? A horse organ dump ~ actual photo of dump outside of Canadian Horse Slaughter Plant

The Capital Press and the East Oregonian during the past year have had articles on mobile slaughter trailers. As I read these articles I thought this might be the answer to the surplus wild (feral) horse problem faced by the BLM. They are presently holding 47,000 horses in corrals and feeding them at a cost to taxpayers of $50 million per year. I have advocated that these surplus animals be slaughtered and fed to the poor.

After visiting Iceland and rediscovering how savory horse meat can be and learning how nutritional it is, I propose it be marketed as a health food. These horses exist because of the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971. The BLM is charged with maintaining an Appropriate Management Level which presently is 26,715 animals.

Currently it is estimated there are over 67,000 roaming the land, and they are increasing at 15 to 20 percent per year. These numbers are damaging the range, waterways, grouse habitat and are fouling remote wildlife water holes.

Those animals found to be exceeding the AML should be removed, but holding them in corrals would seemingly be violating the spirit of the Wild Free-Roaming Act. Slaughter is the only logical solution and these mobile units might be the answer.

In as much as the BLM is spending over $1,000 per horse per year it would seem they would see the value of spending the $70,000 per unit mentioned in the East Oregonian article. I could see the BLM leasing these units to enterprising individuals. I can see Oregon Food Bank utilizing one or more of these units since they are always short of meat. Doing the math, it is obvious that it will take a number of these units.

Since these animals do not receive medications they would be an excellent source of an organic health food. In a recent survey 64 percent of respondents say would not eat horse meat but this would indicate that 36 percent might. Winners would be the local fabricators who would build the units and the butcher-operators who would gain steady employment. People who would like to obtain a tasty source of a nutritionally superior meat free of additives could do so.

Those who might oppose a slaughter house in their back yard might favor horse slaughter if it was removed from their neighborhood. These units might also give the wimps in the BLM and Congress the courage to do the right thing.

Carlisle Harrison

Hermiston, Ore.

Please post comments at:

Feds Plan to Capture Oregon Wild Horses for Inhumane Experiments


Below is unedited information from the Bureau of Land Management‘s (BLM) Oregon Office.  Don’t be duped into believing all that you read as an unpublished motive for conducting this cruel stampede is to collect “fresh” mares in various stages of pregnancies to experiment sterilization techniques upon at the Hines, holding facility.  They are currently bait trapping horses in the South Steens area and will be chasing the Three Fingers horses around with helicopters commencing at the end of this month.

Carol Walker and I visited the Hines facility and the nearby HMAs, Steens was one, just two weeks ago…you can view her report (HERE).” ~ R.T.

2016 Three Fingers Wild Horse Gather

Home of BLM sterilization experiment lab at Hines, OR holding facility - photo by R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Home of BLM sterilization experiment lab at Hines, OR holding facility – photo by R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The Three Fingers Herd Management Area (HMA) is 25 miles south of Vale, OR. The HMA is bordered on the west by the Owyhee Reservoir, on the south by the Leslie Gulch Road, and on the north by the Owyhee Dam. The herd population is currently estimated at 202—the Appropriate Management Level for the area is 75–150 wild horses.

Details of Gather

Our overall goal is to maintain a thriving ecological balance of the Three Fingers HMA, surrounding rangelands, to maintain the integrity of Soda Fire rehabilitation efforts and to preserve the health and well-being of the Three Fingers herd.

Total horses gathered:
Total horses shipped to holding facilities:
Total horses released back into HMA:

Several factors have influenced the decision to gather. The most urgent factor is the impact of wild horse grazing on fire rehabilitation projects. The 2015 Soda Fire that burned nearly 280,000 acres in Idaho and Oregon did not burn into the Three Fingers HMA. However, because the herd exceeds Appropriate Management Level (AML) and due to extended drought conditions, the Three Fingers herd is grazing well outside the HMA into the area affected by the Soda Fire while searching for increasingly scarce forage and water. Protecting these fire rehabilitation areas is necessary to prevent the spread of exotic annual weed species that can potentially convert the area to a weed dominated community. In addition, the heavy horse grazing outside of the HMA is jeopardizing the health of surrounding rangelands, wetlands, wildlife habitat and ultimately, the health and well-being of the horses themselves.

Fertility control treatments will be implemented for this gather because of the need to reduce population growth. Although summer application of Porcine Zona Pellucida (PZP), an equine immunocontraceptive, has lower efficacy rates than winter applications, there is still a benefit of using this fertility control.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposes to gather 100 wild horses from the Three Fingers HMA and return 50 horses (25 studs and 25 mares) to the range for a population of 152 horses with the HMA following the gather.

Gathers of this HMA typically require an average of two to three temporary traps and one holding facility. Traps are typically 800 square feet in size and holding facilities are approximately 2000 square feet. Trap wing configuration will vary, depending on terrain and materials. Trap sites will be selected during the gather operations. Traps are built as close to the horses’ location as possible.

All capture and handling activities, including capture site selections, will be conducted in accordance within the guidelines identified within the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documentation which can be found here:

Public/Media Gather Viewing Opportunities

The public is welcome to attend the Three Fingers wild horse gather and must read the Field Observation Protocol (PDF) information before visiting. Observation will be held daily during the gather, with a maximum number of 15 people attending each day.

If you are interested in observing the gather, you must contact Larry Moore at the BLM’s Vale District Office ( or 541-473-6218) to have your name added to the viewing list. Observation will be offered in order of request. If for some reason you are not able to attend, please notify Mr. Moore as soon as possible so that your slot can be offered to the next person.

The estimated gather start date is proposed for July 26 and is expected to take no longer than four days. Dates are subject to change depending upon weather and gather operations. Some days of the gather may not provide a viewing opportunity at the capture site, due to variable circumstances such as moving the trap location (not gathering), no safe area to view activity or disguise vehicles, etc. Viewings may be canceled on short notice—perhaps the day before or the morning of the gather operation.

Feel Good Sunday: Deaf HPD Horse Inspiration to Others with Disabilities

Source: Houston’s KHOU Channel 11 , commentary by R.T. Fitch

“This story, below, was published during the outbreak of disturbing videos of Americans losing their lives for undetermined causes and only days before the assault upon our sister city’s, Dallas, horrendous loss of life as peace officers were gunned down due to the color of their skin and the uniform that they wore.

The acronym BLM has been, within the Wild Horse and Burro advocacy, identified with the illegal capture, abuse and mysterious disposition of our federally protected wild horses and burros.  Likewise, BLM is also used for a single minded, specific skin color protest force where controversy and racial hatred is stoked to the extent that, as in the most recent case, bloodshed follows.

But on this Sunday, looking at the outreach supplied by this one,singular equine soul, I would like to coin another acronym; one that is not based upon hatred and fear but instead on love, awareness and peace…that acronym is, ALM (All LIFE Matters).

Yes, all life does matter; not just the egotistical assumption that humans are on the top of the heap but EVERYTHING that requires air, oxygen and food is an integral component in the circle of life.  And we as humans sure as hell better get our heads turned around and back to where we recognize this one simple and all important truth; ALM.

Please take this simple thought away, today; All LIFE Matters and if you share this concept with family and friends and they, likewise, spread the word perhaps we can make a difference in this vacuum of leadership that grips our nation, today.  All LIFE Matters and what better way to celebrate it than to share the story of a Police Horse that touches a community so deeply as does Smash, our local hero.

Make a difference today!  Share your heart and exude peace and comfort to all that you encounter this day; regardless of how many legs, fins or roots that they may have.

Let there be peace.” ~ R.T.

Smash and the Team Smash Girls: Katherine Richards, Ashley Billard, Meg Norman, Christi Roberts and Hillary Kern (Photo: KHOU) Click Image to View Video

Smash and the Team Smash Girls: Katherine Richards, Ashley Billard, Meg Norman, Christi Roberts and Hillary Kern (Photo: KHOU) Click Image to View Video

He’s a registered American Paint horse with his own Facebook page, his own business cards in a dispenser on the wall outside his Houston Police Department stall, and now his own book.

All of it because of his impact on a group of young women who saw not only a horse, but a kindred spirit.

His name is Smash.

“Well, his registered name is a Box Office Smash, so he’s kind of Hollywoodish, I guess,” said Sgt. Leslie Wills with Houston Police Mounted Patrol.

His story began 11 years ago when he was a celebrated show horse. But he was born deaf. And when his offspring were born deaf, too, he was retired and donated to someone who could benefit from his calm demeanor: the Houston Police Department.

Watch: Closed caption version 

Now he is one of 36 horses and two mules who patrol public events and areas of downtown Houston, never startled by noises that might make other horses react or take flight. His disability made him perfect for the front lines of police mounted patrol.

And he’s a “Smash” in another way, too.

“My buddy. My special buddy,” Katherine Richards said. “But he mainly plays with me, because I’m his best friend.”

Richards, 26, was born with an intellectual disability. On a visit to the Houston Police Mounted Division stables, she saw Smash in his stall and asked why he didn’t have a sponsor sign.

Citizens and corporations are able to sponsor individual horses, at $5,000 a year, personally taking part in and helping fund their care. By now, there were five young women, all with intellectual disabilities, interested in becoming sponsors for Smash simply because of the paths they shared.

“We’re just a special needs team, and we can do it together,” Richards said. “Anything we can do is possible.”

Fast forward a few years, and the five Team Smash Girls — Richards, Ashley Billard, Meg Norman, Christi Roberts and Hillary Kern — raised more than $10,000 to sponsor Smash through bake sales and other fundraising events. Their names are now on a sign outside the horse’s stall at the police stables on Little York near Highway 59, and the young women are often at the stables taking care of their friend.

“He’s sweet. He’s caring. He’s just like what I am,” said Hillary Kern, explaining what a deaf horse has taught her. “That I can do it, too. That I believe I can do it, too. Do anything I want to do.”

The latest development in this love story is that Smash and his best friends now have their own book. “Team Smash, Five Amazing Girls. One Amazing Horse” written by Houston-area author Artemis Greenleaf, tells Smash’s story, how Team Smash was born, and how a horse with a disability has helped a group of young women accept their own.

“They’ve never let their intellectual disabilities define them. Nor do they let anybody else define them, either,” said Kim Richards, Katherine’s mom. “Nothing, nothing holds you back.”

“That you can overcome them and they won’t hold you back. The only thing holding you back is you,” Sgt. Wills said.

Houston Police have an ambassador at work: a confident and calm presence on police front lines and a horse frequently visited by families at the Houston Police Mounted Patrol stables. A horse also with the best of friends.

“He’s my best bud in the whole world,” Katherine Richards said.

A horse leading by example, overcoming his own disability, and showing others they can overcome theirs.

The book “Team Smash: Five Amazing Girls, One Amazing Horse” is available on Amazon and at Charlotte’s Saddlery off the Katy Freeway for $15. Some of the proceeds from the sale of the book also go to help pay for Smash’s care.

BLM Roundup: Blood, Guts and Death


“It’s business as usual; armed with bogus numbers/statistics and backed by welfare cattlemen the BLM has conducted yet another wild horse stampede where precious wild lives have been lost, not to mention that your hard earned tax dollars bankrolled this travesty.  (See below, in their own words)” ~ R.T.

CongerFrisco Stampede

Calgary Stampede: Torturing Cows and Horses is Wrong, Outdated and Illegal

OpEd by CAMILLE LABCHUK as published on The Globe and Mail

“…seeing animals perform tricks isn’t worth forcing them to endure suffering, and even death…”

There’s little doubt that using animals for entertainment is rapidly becoming unacceptable. Shifting public perceptions first forced Ringling Brothers to retire elephants from circuses, and soon after compelled SeaWorld to end its orca shows.

The fleeting entertainment we may experience at seeing animals perform tricks isn’t worth forcing them to endure suffering, and even death. I predict that rodeo events will be the next spectacle of suffering to become socially unacceptable.

ChuckwagonCrashThe Calgary Stampede has become synonymous with the trauma and violence of rodeo events. Starting this weekend, rodeo competitors will face off in nine separate event categories, including calf roping, steer wrestling, bronco riding, and chuckwagon racing.

The details vary, but all rodeo events have a few common threads: Animals are goaded into running and bucking through fear and physical pain, they are often lassoed, wrestled or roped to the ground, and the unwilling animal participants experience significant suffering, injuries, and sometimes death.

Chuckwagon racing is by far the most deadly spectacle for animals, with multiple horses killed in the event nearly every year. In fact, more than half of the 94 animals killed in the Stampede since 1986 were horses forced to compete in chuckwagon races.

(This death figure merely scratches the surface; it doesn’t include injuries, nor does it include animals killed in competitors’ year-round rodeo practice sessions.)

But perhaps even worse than physical trauma is the terror these animals endure. Dictionaries define a “stampede” as a sudden rush of frightened or panicked animals, which is fitting. Cattle, calves, and horses are prey animals, conditioned to be nervous, flighty, and hyper-alert to protect themselves from predators.

According to renowned animal behaviourist Dr. Temple Grandin, fear is the most difficult emotion for these sensitive animals, and psychological suffering may be even more unbearable for them than physical pain.

Rodeo events couldn’t exist without inflicting distress: Animals don’t run because they want to; they run because they are afraid.

Inflicting this pain and fear is arguably illegal. Alberta law prohibits causing distress to an animal, and there’s little question that steers wrestled to the ground, baby calves who are brutally roped around the neck, and the horses who predictably die in chuckwagon races experience distress.

Yet the Calgary Humane Society, tasked with enforcing animal protection laws, has so far refused to lay charges even in the most extreme cases of abuse, injuries, and deaths in rodeo events. A competitor disqualified in 2015 for excessive horse whipping faced no legal sanction; nor were charges laid after a bull was repeatedly kicked in the head in 2013 to force him to perform.

You can bet that if cats and dogs were subjected to rodeo practices simply for our amusement, animal cruelty charges would be laid without delay.

The Stampede admitted last year that it’s not proud of its record after four horses died in chuckwagon races, and event officials can no longer hide from the public’s legitimate concerns…(CONTINUED)

Letter: OSU is Complicit in Wild Horse Scandal

Letter written by Janelle Ghiorso as published on Corvallis Gazette-Times

I have been trying to plead for a stop to these atrocious experiments for months and without any replies from OSU or the BLM.

I am an Oregon State University alumni from 1996. I am ashamed and shocked that OSU would partner with the Bureau of Land Management to perform unprecedented and barbaric sterilization experiments on the wild horses that belong to all Americans!

Photo by Carol Walker of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Photo by Carol Walker of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The BLM and ranching interests want these horses eliminated and continue to make absurd overpopulation claims in order to get backing for cutting the population. Any educated person knows what happens when the mares are sterilized! The wild horses will decline and eventually be eliminated. Aside from the pain and suffering the horses will be subjected to in the immediate future, the BLM and ranchers and the big bucks OSU makes from jumping on this corrupt and selfish agenda is worse than shameful!

I will never feel the same about the university. I am among a majority of Americans who prefer the continued freedom of these symbols of freedom in America, not their zeroing out via sterilization! I guess the only thing that matters to OSU is money!

How many residents are aware of the partnership between OSU and the BLM in a horrible attempt to destroy our iconic wild horses in Hines, Oregon? I have been trying to plead for a stop to these atrocious experiments for months and without any replies from OSU or the BLM. There are countless cattle on the range and there lies the real problem. The horses are being scapegoated.

Janelle Ghiorso
Sonora, Calif. (June 28)

Wild Horses and Burros: Twin Peaks and Buckhorn Herd Areas

June 2016 Report by:

Jesica Johnston, Environmental Scientist and
Grandma Gregg, Environmental Researcher
Photographs by Jesica Johnston


Buckhorn Road - Wild Horse and Burro Herd Area

Buckhorn Road – Wild Horse and Burro Herd Area

I wish I was in the high desert with our wild horses and burros this very minute … but, I am sitting here at the computer and trying to think how to explain to people what a magnificent world our public lands and wildlife are and how magical it is to actually be there soaking up the fresh air and sounds of the songbirds and screech of the hawks and smell of the sage and the beauty of the wildflowers and landscape and especially what a thrill it is to actually be in the presence of our native wild horses and burros. In the wild.

As two experienced wildlife observers, we searched for two days for wild horses and burros and other wildlife in Northern California-Nevada Twin Peaks and Buckhorn Wild Horse and Burro Herd Areas. These areas are specifically designated for the protection of our wild horses and burros and is subject to the management of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). We traveled approximately 155 miles over 2 days and spent over 17 hours in the two herd areas. We drove slowly with many stops; some off-road hiking and almost constant searching with binoculars for signs of wild horses and wild burros. After 2 days, a total of only 25 wild horses and 5 wild burros were observed in total in the two herd areas. Of those, we saw no burro foals, two wild horse foals and two yearlings. All observed horses and burros appeared to in excellent physical condition. What was most obvious in our journey was the notable absence of signs of wild horses and burros or even tracks and traces of them like trailing, or stud piles on their legally authorized acres of public land. There was a noticeable absence of our wild equines and those we saw were very few and far between.

During our survey there were times that only a short distance could be seen due to canyon walls, but for the majority of the time we could see for more than a mile in all directions and further with binoculars. This allows us to estimate that approximately 18% of the Twin Peaks HMA and 27% of the Buckhorn HMA were observed as a rough approximation plus additional areas observed twice. Even though time and mileage were documented and a map available, herd area boundaries are vaguely marked, so some mileage and hours in the herd areas are rounded or estimated

Thursday 6/9/2016

Twin Peaks Wild Horse and Burro Herd Area: 54 miles, 7 ½ hours – Rye Patch Road, Big Springs, Painter’s Flat and Horne Ranch Road Areas

 On day one, our first sighting of a wild horse family was a band we have seen before on the herd area near highway 395. There are now two stallions and two mares, a yearling and new foal in this group. They have made this area their home range for at least a few years now. Although wild horses do often roam, they typically have home ranges where they feel safe and where they know where the water and forage resources are available to them. Other wildlife we saw on the herd areas were a golden eagle and its nest, ravens, vultures, hawks, jackrabbits and cotton tail rabbits, water birds and many song birds, ground squirrels and several small herds of pronghorn antelope, mule deer and sadly a dead adolescent mountain lion on the edge of the herd area. BLM continually states that there are no predators in the Twin Peaks herd area but years of observation by many people have proven that to be inaccurate. Both live and dead mountain lions have been seen on the herd area. Two years ago a big healthy stallion was photographed with a massive open-wound neck injury believed to have been caused by a mountain lion as the stallion was protecting its family. In recent years, a full grown mare was found half-eaten and foals have been observed and then disappeared within a few weeks. In this herd area, mountain lions are a contributing factor in self-regulating and stabilizing the population for wild horses and burros. It is nature’s way.

The Twin Peaks Herd Area contains diverse ecosystems with both year-round streams and forage and juniper trees as well as dry high-desert regions. Most of the forage is recovering since the massive 2012 Rush wildfire although miles of dead Juniper trees and the post-fire highly invasive and non-native cheat grass can be seen everywhere. The few places of BLM’s post-fire plantings of native shrubs show no sign of life and only the plastic wrappers are left to show the shrubs were even planted. This worthless and costly planting was at our tax money expense and more importantly demonstrates mismanagement of our public lands by BLM.

Except for the fact that most native juniper trees had been burned past the point of recovery and the fact that the highly invasive cheat grass was seen covering many acres of what once was good native grasses, the forage in this area was lush and showed almost no sign of grazing. There are only a few small bands of wild horses and burros in this area that have been documented and it appeared that private/corporate domestic cattle had not yet been turned out in this Spanish Springs area. The grasses were at least knee high and the variety of many colored wild flowers flourished.

Spanish Springs Wild Horse Family

Spanish Springs Wild Horse Family

After many miles without seeing any wild horses or burros we spotted a massive bay stallion grazing in the distance. He was stunning and in the prime of his life but he was all alone. We were almost at Big Spring and decided to have lunch in this incredibly beautiful spot with a flowing stream and where we could see the big bay stallion and he could see us too. Although he watched us with curiosity and kept a big distance between us, he didn’t move away. He peacefully grazed and we peacefully snacked on our lunch and listened to the multitude of meadow larks sing.

Something amusing happened as we headed out near Painter’s Flat. Just as we both started to simultaneously remark about the five burros we had seen near some junipers about three years ago, suddenly we spotted the same five burros in the same exact spot. The burros were easily identifiable because one was noticeably very light colored. These burros had obviously found their niche in nature. As they stood motionless and facing us, they almost appeared to be statues. Although seeing the same burros in the same exact spot three years later might have been a coincidence, it certainly gave us insight to burro behavior and family units and reminded us that in the “big picture” of the world, nature judges time almost in another dimension.

We had a goal to try to get to a particular place near Accommodation Springs which is further into the back-country of the Twin Peaks Herd Area. This was a place where many wild horses had recently been photographed from the air during an independent wild horses and burro survey. When we finally arrived it was obvious that the large group had long-since dispersed and the only signs of them now were some old tracks in the dry mud and some old weather beaten manure. It was many miles of very slow and very bumpy “roads” to get to this spot. We observed an abundance of forage and plenty of water in this part of Twin Peaks but no wild horses or burros were to be found and no fresh manure or stud piles, but it was definitely a challenging and remote area of the Twin Peaks area to visit. The road as seen below is definitely one that has not been traveled frequently or recently.

The final leg of our first day’s journey gave us a chance to see the often photographed pair of wild horses known as “Sox” and his very pregnant mare “Sage”. This pair of wild horses has been documented as having survived the massive Rush wildfire in 2012 and as having foals in the recent years but not a single foal survived to the age of yearling. Because this part of the Herd Area has rich vegetation and easily available water and because both the mare and the stallion are in prime condition it is a representation of low foal survival even in a prime location within the herd area.

Twin Peaks and Buckhorn Wild Horse and Burro Herd Areas: 101 miles, 9 ½ hours – Buckhorn Reservoir, Buckhorn Byway, Round Coral, Pilgrim Lake, Burnt Lake, Dodge Reservoir and Rye Patch Road Areas.

We know that nature operates in cycles and it was great to see that Round Corral, Dodge, Buckhorn and Pilgrim Reservoirs/Lakes were once again brimming with water after the past few years of low precipitation; although we found no wild horses or burros near any of those water sources.

What we did find here were 500+ domestic sheep grazing in the middle of Burnt Lake. This is an example of BLM’s setting up wild horses and burros for failure by allowing livestock to strip the nutritious forage earlier in the year leaving the wild horses and burros very little to survive on during the winter months. This is also an example of BLM’s mismanagement of our riparian areas on our public lands and an example of favoritism to the domestic livestock ranchers. As with some other parts of the west, in this Northeast part of California ranchers take precedence on the public lands. In addition, BLM generally attributes this kind of riparian damage and over-use to the wild equine.

Livestock grazing has damaged approximately 80% of stream and riparian ecosystems in the western United States. Although riparian areas compose only 0.5-1.0% of the overall landscape, a disproportionately large percentage of approximately 70-80% of all desert shrub, and grassland plants and animals depend on them. The introduction of livestock into these areas 100-200 years ago has caused significant ecological disturbances. Livestock seek out water, succulent forage, and shade in riparian areas, leading to trampling and overgrazing of stream banks, soil erosion, loss of stream bank stability, declining water quality, and drier, hotter conditions. These changes have reduced critical habitat for riparian plant species and wildlife, thereby causing many native species to decline in number or go locally extinct.

Anyone who has read the BLM assessments regarding wild horses and burros doing damage to riparian areas should be aware that we do not find any wild horses or burros in large numbers in water ways or riparian areas. In contrast, we have observed and documented mass amounts of privately owned livestock being grazed in riparian areas. See below past year photos of livestock damage on the Twin Peaks herd area – cattle inside water trough and sheep in the Pilgrim lake bed.

Grazing livestock on public lands disturbs natural ecosystems and throws off the thriving natural ecological balance that the BLM is responsible to obtain on behalf of the public.  See excerpt below from a very informative book that is a must read for those that care about protecting the future of our public lands.

The majority of the American public does not know that livestock grazing in the arid West has caused more damage than the chainsaw and bulldozer combined. Welfare Ranching: The Subsidized Destruction of the American West is a book featuring articles and photographs by expert authors and photographers on the severe negative impacts of livestock grazing on western public lands.

Twice we visited the area of Rye Patch Road looking for the white stallion “Magic” and his family that we have been observing for a few years, but they were not to be found. We hope that Magic and his band are up in the surrounding hills enjoying the lush forage and bubbliing springs as he and all wild horses deserve and are legally entitled to under the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act.

Toward the end of our two long days of searching, we were thrilled to finally see one small wild horse band that we have been following for about four years. We call them the little Spanish family because they are usually found not far from the Spanish Springs area of Twin Peaks. This band has a bay stallion, charcoal grey mare and bay and black offspring and this year a new foal!

What was most obvious is the notable absence of wild horses and burros on these legally authorized herd areas. It may seem trivial to some people, but anyone who has ever looked for wild horses and burros knows that seeing tracks and manure piles is a very important clue to the whereabouts and number of wild equines in an area. Therefore, manure or stud piles are encouraging to see for wild horse and burro researchers, observers, and photographers. When searching for bands of wild horses a few stud piles is generally the first and most obvious sign of horse activity.

These large piles of manure are territorial markings left by
stallions. Recent horse activity is determined by the freshness of these piles. Repeated defecation in a particular area results in accumulation of fecal matter into large mounds, which are known as “stud piles”. These stud piles are particularly useful as a means of communication and declares to other horses not only who the horse is, but also how recently the horse had been there.  For this reason, a stallion tends to defecate over his own feces as this notifies others of his continued presence and avoids unnecessary conflict. For persons looking for wild horses a stud pile is a clear sign of horses in the area and the lack of stud piles is an indication of the absence of wild horses and burros in that area.

Final Thoughts

The few wild horses and burros we observed in the Twin Peaks herd area are in great condition with shiny coats and healthy weight but unfortunately, we recognized that there are very few of them to be found on their congressionally designated land. These ground surveys are extremely important in order to document band locations, animal and resource conditions as well as impacts of livestock grazing, juniper removal and fire restoration.

BLM’s nearby Litchfield wild horse and burro holding facility near Susanville, California appeared to be about one-third full with approximately 300 wild horses and burros still standing in a “feedlot” situation, while literally just over the hill the legally designated wild horse and burro herd area is noticeably absent of wild horses and burros. These wild horse and burro captives have no shade from sun and no shelter from the winter winds and snow and have lost their families forever.

For the past 40 plus years the BLM management appears to be politically driven by financial stakeholders, i.e. livestock permittees, mining and energy corporations, large lobbying trophy hunting “clubs” and many more. But let’s face it … the only persons that have worked for 40 plus years for the extinction of wild horses and burros are those with a financial interest. This has been and continues to be unacceptable.

Mules Ears and Observation Peak

Mules Ears and Observation Peak

BLM’s latest wild horse and burro population estimate for this Twin Peaks area is approximately 1935 wild horses and 518 wild burros but independent aerial and field surveys indicate there are far fewer remaining out there on their Congressionally designated lands. Of course, regardless of the mode of transport when independently surveying this Herd Area, we do not expect to see all of the wild ones but after numerous independent observations over many years, it is more than obvious that BLM’s population estimates are exaggerated. And now they are proposing to capture and remove wild horses and burros from the Twin Peaks Herd Area continually for the next ten years.

The BLM says our wild horses and burros on this Twin Peaks herd area are over their ill-conceived appropriate management level (AML). Thus far, no objective, scientifically supportable and credible surveys of wild horse and burro populations have been done by any government agency. The total Twin Peaks Herd Area land could support more than 4,618 wild horses per BLM’s “240 acres per wild horse” statement. Under the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act, Wild Horse and Burro Herd Areas are to be managed “principally, but not necessarily exclusively to their welfare” (WFRHBA, 1971). In the Twin Peaks Herd Area, livestock are permitted to use 82% of the forage allocations; where wild horses and burros are provided less than 18% of the available forage allocations.

As the district court explained in Dahl v. Clark, the test as to appropriate wild horse population levels is whether such levels will achieve and maintain a thriving, ecological balance on the public lands. Nowhere in the law or regulations is the BLM required to maintain any specific numbers of animals or to maintain populations in the numbers of animals existing at any particular time. The only law that requires the BLM to maintain populations is the 1971 Congressional law. The law must be followed and the law states, “that wild free-roaming wild horses and burros are to be considered in the area where presently found [1971]. As an integral part of the natural ecosystem of the public lands”. Thus, an AML established purely for BLM administrative reasons because it was the level of the wild horse and/or burro use at a particular point in time or imagined to be an advantageous population for BLM cannot be justified under statute.

“We do not agree with the BLM’s position that our statement reveals a misunderstanding about how BLM develops its appropriate management levels. We understand that wild horse levels are prepared as part of the land use planning process mandate by FLFNA. However, we do not believe that a level can be justified as representing a sound management decision merely because it is recorded in a land use plan. If a level is developed without regard to land conditions or wild horse range impact, its inclusion in the land use plan does not make it more useful or appropriate. In this connection, BLM provides no evidence to refute our finding (along with the finding of Interior’s Board of Land Appeals) that wild horse levels are being established arbitrarily without a sound factual basis.” The Report 1990 the Government Accountability Office (GAO)

Per the 1971 Congressional Act, the land is to be devoted “principally”, but not exclusively, to the wild horses’ and wild burros’ welfare in keeping with the multiple-use management concept of public lands.   Definition of “principally” is first, highest, foremost in importance, rank, worth or degree, chief, mainly, largely, chiefly, especially, particularly, mostly, primarily, above all, predominantly, in the main, for the most part, first and foremost.

There are no “excess” wild horses and burros on their legally designated lands and certainly not on the Twin Peaks and Buckhorn Herd Areas. In 1971 when the wild horse and burro protection law was unanimously signed by the Congress of the United States, wild horses and burros were found roaming across 53.8 million acres; known as Herd Areas. The American people are being misled by our government agencies that are mandated by Congressional Law to protect these animals. The wild horses and burros already have a place to live; and it is not in government corrals.   These animals and this land do not belong to the government or the Bureau of Land Management; the wild horses and burros and the land belong to you and me.

Modern equids are survivors. Equids evolved to be resilient herd animals, migrating between resources with the seasons. They are long-lived, and populations are able to persist through droughts and harsh winters if their numbers are sufficiently large and interconnected. This resiliency allows them to thrive on some of the most marginal grazing habitat so long as they have regular access to water and room to roam. Modern equids are limited, however, in their ability to thrive in a world increasingly dominated by humans.

Although hopeful, our many trips to Twin Peaks always start with the optimism that we will see many of the wild horses and burros that BLM states are currently living on the Twin Peaks Herd Area. Regardless of the number or background or age or experience of observers or the time of year or the many miles and many hours and many days that have been spent over the many years by many independent observers searching and regardless of the mode of transport – be it hiking or driving or flying over the herd areas only a very small population of wild equines can be found. Instead, we find… miles and miles of beautiful open public land with very few wild horses and burros.

References and More Information and Videos

Twin Peaks 2011 Master’s Thesis by Jesica Johnston:

Twin Peaks Independent Aerial Survey Video: Counting Wild Horses: An Aerial Tour of Twin Peaks Wild Horse and Burro Habitat

Twin Peaks Independent Aerial Survey Report:

2012 Rush Fire Report:

Twin Peaks May 2013 Report:

Twin Peaks August 2013 Report:

Wild Horse Population Growth Research Report:

Twin Peaks October 2013 Report:

Twin Peaks June 2014 Report:

Twin Peaks October 2014 Report:

Twin Peaks video:

Twin Peaks video:

Twin Peaks video:

Survey of Livestock Influences on Stream and Riparian Ecosystems in the Western United States

To download report complete with photos click (HERE)
To download BLM Twin Peaks Letter to Interested Parties click (HERE)


Call to Action: Strike Back Against Bogus Wild Horse & Burro Resource Committee

Prologue by R.T. Fitch, co-founder/president of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

idoiots“Remember that idiot, dog and pony show put on by the League of Horse Haters in DC several weeks ago? (click HERE) Well here’s your chance to both fight back and have your voice heard.

We have been told that the Committee is accepting public input until the end of business, tomorrow, July 6th.

A friend of SFTHH has taken the time to pen a rather poignant note as an example for you to use, below. It should be sent, with your personal information inserted, to the email address listed below.   Likewise, please send to your Congressional Representative (to find your Rep. click (HERE) and to your Senator.

With the celebration of our freedom showcased by the 4th of July fresh in our minds, what better way to dedicate one’s self than to lock down the liberty and freedom of our nation’s wild horses and burros.

Please, for the safety, security and future welfare of our wild equines, email or fax your letter today.

Keep the faith.” ~ R.T.

July 5, 2016
Natural Resources Committee
Attn: Tom McClintock
It is clearly visible that last week’s Natural Resources committee meeting led by Tom McClintock, was a clear example of regulatory capture of an agency – the Bureau of Land Management. The information provided to the committee was not scientifically supported and not credible – especially the populations of the public’s wild horses and wild burros both on the range and in the holding facilities. The proposed and recent wild horse captures and removals and sterilization procedures are completely politically and monetarily motivated decisions. This is not in keeping with the law or the wishes of the American people who own the land and who own the wild horses and wild burros – it is completely biased and favored toward special “favored” interest groups. This in itself is illegal and often called “Regulatory Capture”.
Regulatory capture is a form of political corruption that occurs when a regulatory agency, created to act in the public interest, instead advances the commercial or special concerns of interest groups that dominate the industry or sector it is charged with regulating. Regulatory capture is a form of government failure; it creates an opening for firms to behave in ways injurious to the public (e.g., producing negative externalities). The agencies are called “captured agencies”.
For the past 40 plus years the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and associates have been chipping away at these legal wild horse and wild burro lands and obviously the recovery and reinstatement of wild horses and wild burros would be unfavorable to any financial stakeholders, i.e. livestock permittees, mining and energy corporations, large lobbying trophy hunting “clubs” and many more. But let’s face it … the only persons that have worked for 40 plus years for the extinction of wild horses and burros are those with a financial interest. This has been and continues to be unacceptable, illegal and the American citizens including me are disgusted at the “sell-out” of our lands and resources by the agency that is responsible to protect them … the Bureau of Land Management.
I require each of the committee members and speakers admit to the public their political and financial connections to the agencies and private/corporate benefactors of the destruction of the wild horses and wild burros and the selling leasing of our public lands and resources – i.e. admit their connection to regulatory capture and then remove all committee members and speakers who have this conflict of interest which will be a big step in returning our country to the great America it truly is.
(your name)
(your email)
Receipt Requested
Response Requested

Reprint: Equine Fireworks

Story by R.T. Fitch, excerpt from the book Straight from the Horse’s Heart

“Each and every year I have dragged out this excerpt from our first book, with the exception of last year…which I have taken a little bit of heat over.  So we bring it back this year and hope that each and everyone of you, two legged or four, have a blessed day celebrating the birth of this most wonderful nation; The United States of America.  God bless.” ~ R.T.

Last night, July 4th 2005, I entered Terry’s office to shut down the computer prior to heading for bed.  Everyone else was tucked away and I was just doing the last minute security sweep when my eyes caught the bright glare of a fireworks rocket heading for the stars in the northern sky.  When it reached it’s predestined point of suicide, it erupted into a brilliant display of red and blue stars cascading downward across the acres of millet that separate us from a distant subdivision.  I walked closer to the window when, suddenly, the noise of the explosion reached our farm.  BOOM!  As the sound trailed off, another took its place -the thunder of hooves.  The horses were freaked.

I ran out the back door and looked over our compound’s rear fence.  I could just make out, by the glow of the barn’s back security light, a multi-colored, many legged mass working up and down the back fence.  The boys were NOT happy.

I called them, jumped the fence, and began to whistle the comforting dinner whistle.  Although they slowed, they would not come any closer as I was several feet nearer to the terrifying sight and noise.  Continuing to walk towards the moving mass of fur, feet and earsI knew that there were a few bulging eyes in that mess.  The darkness, however, covered the evidence.

As I neared, Apache, the tough little Brazilero, peeled off from the herd and planted himself in the middle of the pasture staring at the source of the commotion.  I let him be as he was making his statement that he was tough, cool, and the big man on the farm.  Standing at only 14.3 hands, he suffers from chronic short man syndrome.  Again, I whistled, as I planted myself next to the back fence.  I was particularly careful that in the dark I not touch the electrified rope that keeps the boys away from that single strand of my neighbors barbed cow wire.  I only had on sandals and touching that now would result in all five hairs on my head sticking straight up.  That would surely terrify Terry when I finally made it to the bedroom.

Apache stood his ground and, in the dim light, I could both see and feel two Thoroughbreds, one Appaloosa and a little Mustang mix headed right towards me in full gallop.  It was a pretty sight, but rather disconcerting as I failed to bring out any protection – not even a lead.  I hollered “WHOA” and walked towards them.  They split up and in an instant I was surrounded by heavy breathing and horse noses tapping me on the shoulder and the back of the head.  Harley steamed up my glasses as he wanted to verify my identity.

As the horses milled about me, I listened and watched as their individual personalities materialized both to my eyes and to my ears.  Ethan instantly became brave with me standing beside him.  He planted himself firmly on the ground looking in the direction of the fireworks with his ears pointed forward – a virtual pillar of strength.  Should I move, however, he would too and not allow the gap between us to be any greater than just a few feet.  Of course, that was not due to fear, but rather comradeship.

Then there was Harley, slowly circling and finally standing behind myself and Ethan.  Although he wants all to believe that he is the toughest and the greatest, he will gladly give over the title of Pasture King to anyone who will take it in a time of crisis.

Big nervous Bart continued to pace the fence line with the little Mustang baby carefully tucked between him and the fence.  Little Pele kept peeking over Bart’s back to see what I was going to do to make the fiery noisy monsters go away.

I calmly leaned over, reached to the earth and jerked up a handful of grass as if I was grazing.  I kept this process up as I drifted further and further away from the back fence.  The notion that I was calm enough to graze pulled all of the horses to me, with the exception of Apache.  He was firm in his stance.  As the horses calmly came around me, I heard the whispers and the soft gentle sounds of expression that I have learned to love.  They come so rarely, but when they do, it is so special.  I listened and did not cloud their words with my inquiries.

“What are those things?” panted little Pele. “I have never, ever, seen anything like that.  Do they eat horses?”

“We don’t think so.” answered Harley, “But we are safe now that Grey Mane is out here.”

“We were safe long before he ever showed up,” countered Ethan.  “The fact that he is here shows that they are a special thing and he is only here to help us learn from them.”

Bart replied, “Man, you’re smart.  I thought that someone was shooting at us and that we were all doomed.”

Having enough of the chit-chat, Apache slowly turned his head and snorted, “You are ALL a bunch of sissies!”  Then he laughed.

I laughed too and, when I did, they all turned to look at me; then at each other; and then at me again.  It was truly a “Kodak Moment”.  Those horses looked at each other, and then looked at me.  You could clearly hear them say, “Does he hear us?”  The look of shock and surprise was priceless.

Ethan moved away from the others and pressed his nose against my chest.  “Yes he does.  I forget this as it does not happen often, but I was the one that taught him to listen.”

Without giving away my secret, I stroked Ethan’s forehead, looked directly into his left eye and smiled.  He put his left nostril into my right ear and exhaled, “And I hear you, too”, he said.

We then turned towards the north, standing behind Apache, and watched the fireworks: Ethan to my right; Harley to my left; Bart with his head over my right shoulder; and little Pele goosing me in the left kidney,

“Can I come in with you tonight dad?  Please?  Can I come in, huh, can I?”

I turned and petted his head, smiled and turned back to the display.

Five horses and one human watched in awe.  None of us can tell you when it was all over; the night melted away and I do not know how or when I found my bed.