The Troubled History of Horse Meat in America

Thanks to our friends at Equine Advocates, who remain at the forefront of fighting against horse slaughter, for bringing this article to our attention.

SOURCE:  The Atlantic

(photo: Christian Hartmann / Reuters)

by Susanna Forrest

Excerpt:

“In 1997, the Los Angeles Times broke the news that 90 percent of the mustangs removed from the range by the Bureau of Land Management had been sold on for meat by their supposed adopters.  An Oregon horse abattoir called Cavel West was named in the report.”

Read this entire article HERE.

Scott Sonner on BLM Nevada Director urging the roundup of 4,000 mustangs

SOURCE:  Las Vegas Sun

“Suggesting that wild horses are a problem for sage grouse, while ignoring the comparatively massive impacts of cattle and sheep, is a bit like suggesting that the captain of the Titanic should be worried about the ice cubes in his passengers’ cocktails rather than the icebergs floating in the North Atlantic.”  – Erik Molvar, WildEarth Guardians wildlife biologist

BLM’s Nevada director urges roundup of 4,000 mustangs

In this June 5, 2013 photo, some of the hundreds of mustangs the U.S. Bureau of Land Management removed from federal rangeland peer at visitors at the BLM's Palomino Valley holding facility about 20 miles north of Reno in Palomino Valley, Nev. The Cloud Foundation and Friends of Animas are petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to declare wild horses threatened or endangered in North America under the Endangered Species Act. (AP Photo/Scott Sonner)

In this June 5, 2013 photo, some of the hundreds of mustangs the U.S. Bureau of Land Management removed from federal rangeland peer at visitors at the BLM’s Palomino Valley holding facility about 20 miles north of Reno in Palomino Valley, Nev. The Cloud Foundation and Friends of Animas are petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to declare wild horses threatened or endangered in North America under the Endangered Species Act. (AP Photo/Scott Sonner)

RENO — Concerned about continued deterioration of drought-stricken rangeland in Nevada, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s state director wants to round up 4,000 wild horses in Elko County — more mustangs than were gathered across 10 Western states combined last year.

BLM Nevada Director John Ruhs says it’s unlikely he’ll be able to consider lifting livestock grazing restrictions in the northeast corner of the state without removing the mustangs from four-herd management areas over 600 square miles stretching to near the Utah line.

Ruhs, Gov. Brian Sandoval, livestock interests and state wildlife officials argue the roundups also would benefit the greater sage grouse.

Nevada Agriculture Director Jim Barbee anticipates that without the roundups, anywhere from a 25 percent to a total reduction in grazing will be necessary in some areas, resulting in as much as $1.8 million in damages to Elko County’s economy.

Conservationists say the call for more roundups is a misguided attempt to placate ranchers at the expense of horses and grouse. Cattle do far more damage than mustangs to the range and the imperiled bird, they say.

“The BLM is scapegoating wild horses instead of addressing the true causes of range degradation and threats to sage grouse,” said Suzanne Roy, director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign.

Nevada is home to nearly 28,000 wild horses — more than half of the 47,000 estimated in 10 western states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming.

BLM officials argue the range can sustain less than half that many — about 12,000 in Nevada and 26,000 nationally.

Ruhs estimated in an April 13 letter to the agency’s headquarters that it would cost about $4 million to remove about 4,000 animals in Elko County. He said the population of those herds is at five times the appropriate carrying capacity. “Some of the allotments/pastures within the impacted area will need to be closed to livestock grazing in 2016 and into the future to limit further damage to these ecosystems or until appropriate management of the wild horses has taken place,'” he wrote.

Sandoval warned last week if the Interior Department refuses to adequately fund the program, “the state will pursue all legal options to protect our local producers and communities.”

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nevada, said in a letter to Secretary Sally Jewell that he’s disappointed the BLM has not responded to a request he and others made in November for an update on herds across the West.

“Over the past few years, many ranchers have already taken reductions in their grazing allotments, yet horse populations have only increased, not decreased, over that time,” Heller wrote Friday.

The BLM gathered 7,242 horses nationally in 2012; 4,064 in 2013; 1,689 in 2014; and 3,093 last fiscal year. It removed about 1,000 in Oregon in November, about 125 in southern Nevada in February, 54 in Utah in March, and this summer plans to remove about 535 in Wyoming and 300 in Utah.

But the agency currently plans no large-scale roundups in Nevada — or anywhere else — through the end of September because of budget shortfalls driven largely by the cost of housing more than 45,000 mustangs now in government corrals and pastures at a lifetime cost of $48,000 per animal.

The Nevada Association of Counties, Nevada Farm Bureau and others filed a lawsuit last year to force the government to step up roundups, but a U.S. judge in Reno dismissed the case.

“Unfortunately, the removal of cattle from areas where horse populations are significantly over (appropriate management levels) does not alleviate the impacts to native species, including sage grouse,” Nevada Cattlemen’s Association President David Stix Jr. said.

WildEarth Guardians wildlife biologist Erik Molvar disagreed. “Suggesting that wild horses are a problem for sage grouse, while ignoring the comparatively massive impacts of cattle and sheep, is a bit like suggesting that the captain of the Titanic should be worried about the ice cubs in his passengers’ cocktails rather than the icebergs floating in the North Atlantic,” he said.

How To Feed Your Newly Adopted Mustang

Source:  The Horse

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Mustangs live in a social setting eating a varied array of wild plants that are quite different from the quality hays we typically feed domesticated horses, and certainly he will have had no experience consuming grains.

by Clair Thunes, PhD

BLM mustangs are truly special horses. I’ve had a few as clients but was also lucky enough to own one when I was in graduate school. He came out of the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area as a 2-year-old, and I bought him as a barely started 4-year-old and trained him as a kid’s event horse.

When mustangs come off the range, I would argue that they are more in sync with how horses evolved to live and eat than any domesticated horse. Remember that horses evolved roaming large distances over varied terrain eating native grasses and other plants with low nutritional value. As a result 60% of the horse’s digestive tract volume is dedicated to forage fermentation and—because of that almost constant feed consumption whether eating or not—horses constantly secrete stomach acid and bile. While this way of living is far from the domesticated horse’s reality of most domesticated horses, it has been the reality for your BLM mustang until he came in to the holding pens prior to his adoption.

I encourage all my clients to keep this evolutionary history in mind when thinking about feeding horses, but it’s particularly important for your mustang. He has lived in a social setting eating a varied array of wild plants that are quite different from the quality hays we typically feed domesticated horses, and certainly he will have had no experience consuming grains, even traditional grains such as oats.

Alfalfa’s Benefits 

In the holding pens, alfalfa is generally fed as it is typically easily available and cheaper than grass hay in the Western states. Initially, consider continuing feeding your mustang alfalfa and don’t make changes until he is settled in his new environment. To keep your horse safe and contained, when you first adopt, the BLM requires you to keep your new mustang in a small space with high fencing (so he can’t escape). I imagine that at least initially this means your horse will live alone. Your horse might find this management change and solitary life stressful (although he might not show it), which puts him at risk of developing equine gastric ulcers.

Research has shown that feeding alfalfa (even small amounts) will help buffer stomach acid and could help reduce ulcer risk. Down the road transitioning to a grass hay and some alfalfa or all grass hay would be ideal as it will probably mean you can feed more total pounds of hay which is not only good for digestive health but mental health as well. In the meantime try to keep hay in front of him as much as possible and over time consider training him to eat from a slow feeder which helps mimic natural grazing.

Strategies for Easy Keepers

While there’s always an exception to the rule (mustangs are still horses after all), mustangs are generally very easy keepers an—once settled in to your routine—you might find he gains weight on rations when other horses would not. By using slow feeders you can create a scenario of restricted free-feeding, and he will probably self-regulate his hay intake to about 2% of his body weight. If he’s one of the few horses that can’t self-regulate, you can use a slow feeder to make a reduced hay ration (no less than 1.5% of his body weight) last longer, which might benefit his digestive and mental health.

Salt

Make sure your mustang has salt (loose or in block form) available at all times. Be aware that he might not willingly take feed from a bucket (remember: he’s never seen one before!), which might reduce his salt consumption if you have loose salt in a bucket. Using a wide shallow pan might work better.

More on Buckets and Mustangs

A note of experience: I made the mistake when I first got my mustang of putting some alfalfa pellets in a bucket thinking that this might help generate a bond between us. Feed buckets had always been seen as a good thing by every other horse I had owned. Not my mustang! He wouldn’t put his head in a bucket. When I thought about this, it was obvious: First of all he had never seen a bucket, or hay pellets for that matter. Second of all, why would a flight animal that relies on sight put its head in a bucket that reduces its ability to see? He did eventually get over this bucket phobia.

While this is one of those funny sorts of quirks you might run in to with your mustang the bucket issue can be a real issue if your barn only provides water through water buckets, or small automatic waterers. The sound of the automatic water refilling can easily scare an already-on-edge mustang. Coupled with not understanding buckets in general, this might lead to inadequate water consumption. It’s likely you’re your mustang has encountered water troughs in holding pens or on the range, and using a trough is preferable until he can be taught to understand buckets and automatic waterers.

Make sure he cannot knock the trough over, though. Once over his fear he might want to play with the water as if they’re puddles, streams, or ponds!

Supplementation

At some point, just as with any other horse, you’ll need to add a source of vitamins and minerals and possibly quality protein to your mustang’s diet. A commercially available ration balancing feed is a good choice due to their low calorie content. Or, an even lower-calorie supplement fed in some hay pellets would be a good option.

Read the rest of this article HERE.

Where have all the horses gone? And Why?

A more detailed article on Palomino Valley from Terri Farley’s BLOG

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All images taken at National Wild Horse and Burro Center, Palomino Valley, Nevada, December 30, 2015.

by Terri Farley

I  live about 40 minutes from the Palomino Valley corrals. Since it’s open to the public, I often drive out to check on the horses and talk with John Neill, operations manager for the facility.

When I drove up yesterday, many corrals were empty. Palomino Valley corrals can hold 1850 equines and BLM round-ups usually keep it well-stocked with captive wild horses and burros.

The only times I’d seen the corrals so ghost-town quiet was when mustangs had been cleared out to make room for an influx of newly “gathered” horses. I assumed this had happened again, to make room for the survivors of Oregon’s Beaty Butte round-up.

When I checked in at BLM headquarters. Jeremy Wilhelm, wrangler, sat at the front desk. He said John Neill wouldn’t be in the office until the end of January.

When I mentioned that the corrals outside were pretty empty, Wilhelm agreed. He said a bunch of mares had gone to a Bruno, Idaho sanctuary.

How many?
He didn’t know.

Why? He couldn’t say

When? He shrugged.

Wilhelm recalled that more horses had been moved to Carson City, Elm Creek and Paul’s Valley.

How many? Why? When? He said he didn’t know and joked, “I guess I’m the village idiot.”

I insisted there must be a reason for all the missing horses and he told me, again in a joking tone, “Maybe they’re shutting us down.”

I asked if space was being made for incoming survivors of the Beaty Butte round-up?

Nope, they were already in corrals 1,2, 3 with a few in 4.

He said there were 1400 horses onsite. Later, after I’d walked the corrals, he revised that to 1200.

Could I have missed seeing some horses? Yes. I didn’t do a head count and some were banging around in the enclosed processing chute, apparently getting booster vaccines. Laying on my belly, I saw hooves, but not enough to account for hundreds of horses.

Back at my laptop, I emailed Jason Lutterman, BLM Public Affairs Specialist, asking if he could clarify the fuzzy 12-1400 number of horses, and find out why, when and how many wild horses had been shipped to Idaho, Paul’s Valley, Elk Creek and Carson City.
Lutterman responded immediately. The official count said 1,134 horses were at Palomino Valley on December 22, and he’d get answers to the rest of my questions as soon as he could.

Now, as I wait, I want to believe Wilhelm’s joke that the facility is being shut down. I want to think BLM has realized they don’t have a wild horse problem, but a people problem. That’s what I want, but experience tells me to stop dreaming.

I mean, really, what are the odds a blindfold’s been snatched from the Bureau’s eyes to reveal that it’s greed, not mustangs, drawing us ever closer to the death of the West?

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Author Terri Farley on Wild Horse & Burro Radio, Wednesday night (10/28/15)

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Wild_Horse_Burro_Radio_LogoJoin us on Wild Horse Wednesday (*SM) , Oct. 28, 2015

7:00 pm PST … 8:00 pm MST … 9:00 pm CST … 10:00 pm EST

Listen to the archived show (HERE!)

or listen to the show live on your phone by calling (917) 388-4520.

You can call in with questions during the 2nd half hour of the show by dialing (917) 388-4520, then pressing 1.

This is a 1 hour show.  It will be archived so you can listen to it anytime.

_____________________________________________

Our guest tonight is best-selling author Terri Farley, who will be talking about her first non-fiction book, “Wild at Heart: Mustangs and the Young People Fighting to Save Them.”  Mustangs have thrived for thousands of generations.  Now they are under attack, but courageous young people are trying to stop the round-ups and senseless killings by standing up to government and big business to save these American icons.  Learn about cutting edge science and the young people leading the charge to keep horses wild and free.

“Anyone who cares about wild horses should read this book.  So should anyone who cares about how science is being abused to justify flawed management policies masquerading as ‘responsible conservation’.”  –  Dr. Ross MacPhee, Curator of Mammalogy/Vertebrate Zoology, American Museum of Natural History

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Pulitzer Prize winning freelance photographer Melissa Farlow, whose photographs are featured in Wild at Heart, has had work from 25 assignments and projects published in National Geographic, including a story about wild horses.

Terri Farley is the author of the Phantom Stallion series for young readers and Seven Tears into the Sea, a contemporary Celtic fantasy nominated as a YALSA best book.

Tonight’s show is hosted by Debbie Coffey, V.P. and Dir. of Wild Horse Affairs for Wild Horse Freedom Federation.

To contact us: ppj1@hush.com, or call 320-281-0585

Continue reading

Unabashed propaganda film: Unbranded

The film Unbranded, in part sponsored by BLM partner Mustang Heritage Foundation, uses the term “excess” to describe the wild horse population, when we know there are NO EXCESS wild horses or burros.  The film even features Gus Warr, the BLM Utah Wild Horse & Burro Lead, asking “What do we do with the excess wild horses that we have to remove?”

Well, Gus, the BLM doesn’t have to remove the wild horses.  The BLM can, and should, remove livestock, instead.  The truth is, most of the remaining herds of wild horses & burros don’t even have viable numbers.

In Unbranded, 4 young Texas A & M grads, including producer Ben Masters, live out a “frontier” fantasy by riding 16 wild horses adopted from the BLM, across 3,000 miles from Mexico to Canada, through the “wildest terrain in the west.” One trailer stated they went 20 miles between water sources.  The trails were described as nasty and steep, and they were obviously in snow for part of their trip.

The Unbranded website even states that one horse named Violent “could’ve easily died in a preventable halter-related injury that took him out of the trip.”   Another horse named Cricket supposedly “passed away from natural causes during the trip.”

The most accurate review I’ve read of this film was written by Shari Montana, Founder of the River Pines Horse Sanctuary in Missoula, Montana
riverpinesfarm.org, so I’m posting it below.  Thanks for taking the time to write this, Shari.  –  Debbie

UNBRANDED – a review

Unbranded is the latest, shameless cowboy documentary of a self-orchestrated, but failed, coming-of-age story. It was made under the guise of promoting conservation of public lands (except for grazing beef cattle on publicly-held lands, subsidized at pennies /day on the financial backs of the unknowing citizens of the United States of America).

The film appears to be sponsored by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, as their point of view is heavily weighted (they also just happen to manage those cattle-grazing leases). This film turns out to be a not-so-subtle campaign against Wild Mustangs, our oldest known indigenous, North American large mammal species, while lobbying for the beef industry’s subsidized use of public land.  Wild Mustangs are now endangered due to inhumane and inappropriate BLM Wild Mustang “management practices”.

Unbranded was shown and, disappointingly, won Best of Festival, at our local film festival whose intention is stated below in their mission statement cut and pasted from the EIFF website. The EQUUS International Film Festival® returns to Missoula, Montana September 18, 2015.
The first all-equine international film festival and conference features films, television programs, Internet videos, music videos and other media that celebrate the equine arena. Our mission — education and understanding to enhance the equine/human bond and to improve the welfare of equines through excellence in film, television and other media.

A noble intention indeed! Throughout my review of this film, I give examples of the uncaring, ego-based decision-making regarding the 16 mustangs used in the film, while I honor the intention behind EIFF’s mission and deeply respect the festival organizers, Unbranded was anything but representative of their mission!

Instead of a film enhancing the equine human bond and improving the welfare of horses, Unbranded turns out to be a continuation of the cruel, inhumane, inconsiderate horse-breaking techniques long-abandoned by most contemporary horse lovers and horse advocates.
The horsemanship, training practices, decision-making and care of the Mustangs in this documentary are practices left over from the darkest ages of American cowboy “breaking” techniques and the continued abuse of horses as commodities rather than the sentient beings they are. A variety of kinder, gentle horsemanship training techniques have been developed and practiced by those who truly care for the welfare of horses for nearly 50 years – do the terms “natural horsemanship or horse whispering” sound familiar to anyone?

In the planning of this extraordinary 3000-mile trek from Mexico to Canada, the boys state they had a strict budget so they needed cheap horses and decided to go with captured mustangs, rounded up and held in pens for possible, eventual adoption by the BLM.  They then chose 16 horses for their journey and then sent them to “trainers” for their first 90 days of breaking.

On the first day of the trip, the four 22-23 year-old boys become lost and instead of stopping at a pre-determined 25-mile mark for the sake of the horses they’re riding, they continue to ride forty miles until after 2 a.m.  These boys comment on how exhausted they are but show no concern for their horses, those poor, tired mustangs actually doing all the work!  It appeared that no additional rest was set aside to compensate to the horses due for the lack of mapping competencies.

The first major horse injury occurs when one of the pack horses becomes distressed, escapes and runs hysterically through vicious “jumping” cactus, a variety of cactus with barbed spines that attach themselves like porcupine quills. The horse becomes covered in the cactus and it took them 4 days to remove them all.

In Unbranded, one horse dies tragically and others are injured due to the ongoing bad decision-making and poor planning of these boys.  The horses are left to their own devices on and off throughout the film.  The next injury shared with the audience happens to a horse as it panics and tries to jump a barbed wire fence, its hind legs becoming entangled in the wire, it struggles, pulls and eventually breaks free while the boys cringe and watch it struggle, in the end with an “oh well” remark.  No information was shared with the audience regarding the ensuing injuries that occurred from that wrestling match between horse and barbed wire fencing, which usually causes severe lacerations, and often, permanent injuries.

Several weeks into their journey, under the direction of the boys, all the horses struggle to climb a sheer rock cliff face and one of the horses actually tumbles and rolls down over and over itself as it struggles, exhausted, to follow and obey the lead of the cowboys in charge – definitely not an example of caring for the welfare of the horses – but rather consideration again, only for time constraints and yet another example of their poor mapping and planning.  Instead of altering their course, they push on regardless of the difficult terrain or welfare of the horses. We’re told in the film that the horse that tumbled “appeared” to be all right. I know from taking a few tumbles myself over the years that bruises, scrapes, concussions and worse often result from a fall of that nature.  I believe the same would be true for a 1000-pound horse carrying a full pack. Granted, about half of the 16 original horses actually complete the trek, though in the end, they all looked dispirited, spent and bone-weary!

The actual filming of Unbranded was magical as backcountry America is stunningly beautiful! There were only occasional moments of affection shown by some of the boys for the horses. A burro whose mysterious, unexplained appearance part way through the journey provided occasional humor interspersed randomly, and there was a bit of sentimentality offered up through a tenderhearted elderly cowboy. He watches over the boys and horses for much of the trip.  He helps the boys with decision making over injured horses, hauling them out for vet care and rest.  He meets them with food and supplies off and on throughout their journey. He has several emotional displays of affection including tears, when he has to leave them as they set off for another segment of travel through more roadless terrain.  His concern appeared real and was deeply moving.
Without the adorable burro and the sentimental old man, this documentary would have been nothing but a cold, uninspiring, unfulfilling 3000-mile test of endurance for both horses and boys, yet another example of the vicious consequences for horses that exemplifies their historical and abusive interaction with humans.

In addition, the angry exchanges between the boys including abandoned friendships and spent horses make this movie one of the worst examples of the equine-human bond or of the caring and welfare of horses ever!

Only the artistry of the camera operator and the film’s editor provide any redeeming qualities for horse advocates, horse lovers or anyone who commits to sitting through the disastrous and distressing treatment of these magnificent horses. It was heart wrenching and painful!
The cruel, inconsiderate and inhumane use of these beautiful Mustangs for this ego-centered and failed coming-of-age film once again is but another example of how humans have disregarded the welfare of horses to benefit our own selfish agendas, pocketbooks and egos!
The hype and excitement around this film are sky-rocketing it into the public view – please don’t let the general public believe that this film demonstrates acceptable use or treatment of the 16 mustangs “broken” for the film, or for any horse in contemporary times!

The current wide variety of kind and effective negotiation and collaboration techniques to work with and train horses is readily available on television channels devoted to equine management and horsemanship, through dozens of natural horsemanship trainers and horse whisperers selling their techniques, services, dvds, books and other products, to say nothing of the many horse science degrees offered through several fully accredited universities around the world. The current available knowledge base for humane treatment, training and partnering through relationship with horses leaves us without excuse for the continuance of the outdated and cruel “horse breaking” techniques once practiced in ignorance.

Thank you for your consideration.

Shari Montana, Founder
River Pines Horse Sanctuary
Missoula, Montana
riverpinesfarm.org

 

Captured mustangs victims of animal cruelty

SOURCE:  thereddingpilot.com       by Adam Tarchoun

Lind-Larsen will go to trial for animal cruelty charges

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After three pretrials and months of delay, Redding resident Lisa Lind-Larsen, 75, will be going to trial to face two charges of animal cruelty after a judge declined her appeal for rehabilitation.

In July, Ms. Lind-Larsen’s mustang horses, Chinook and Cheyenne, were seized after the Department of Agriculture’s animal control division became aware of the animals’ malnourished state.  The horses were shown to have been locked in unsanitary stalls for long periods with insufficient food and contaminated water.

Ms. Lind-Larsen’s appearance in court was preceded by last month’s pretrial closing on an appeal for accelerated rehabilitation, a program offered by some state criminal systems to give offending parties a “second chance” and avoid criminal charges.  Ms. Lind-Larsen did not plead guilty nor was she convicted of any charges. The accelerated rehabilitation would function as a way to bypass a trial. Some programs can last up to two years. A key qualification is that the individual have no prior criminal history.

Ms. Lind-Larsen failed to meet that qualification. She faced a judge and assistant district attorney without any representation as she tried in vain to appeal for accelerated rehabilitation.  Ms. Lind-Larsen has not had an attorney by her side in defense since she parted ways with Stephen Harding on Sept. 17.  The two parted because she “didn’t feel comfortable with his representation.”

Deborah Mabbett, an assistant district attorney with the Judicial District of Danbury, brought to light Ms. Lind-Larsen’s ineligibility for accelerated rehabilitation by citing an outstanding criminal charge.  “Regarding the appeal for accelerated rehabilitation, we find that the defendant is not eligible due to a charge from 1992,” Ms. Mabbett said.

The charge has since been cleared through a probationary program but because the charge still reflected a criminal record, Judge Susan Reynolds dismissed Ms. Lind-Larsen’s appeal.

The case will now go to trial as there is no longer an option for rehabilitation.  The trial means that the courts will find a resolution to the charges against Ms. Lind-Larsen. Following the dismissal, Ms. Mabbett requested on behalf of Ms. Lind-Larsen “the longest continuance that your honor can give,” in order for the defendant to find an attorney and to wait for the outcome of a separate court case involving her horses.  The continuance is a postponement of action until a later date.  The period of waiting will give Ms. Lind-Larsen the time to prepare for trial.

“I am waiting for a decision to come down from another court regarding my horses,” Ms. Lind-Larsen said in seeking a continuance.  The decision concerning the horses is pending a ruling by the Hartford civil suit.

The case will resume on Dec. 2. Until then, the status of Ms. Lind-Larsen’s horses, her defense, and criminal charges against her all remain unresolved.

The mustangs, Chinook and Cheyenne, were once wild horses before being rounded up in Nevada in 2002 and Utah in 2003.  They are currently in the care of the state Department of Agriculture at a facility in Niantic.

Carol Walker, Director of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation, Publishes New Book

It is with a great deal of pride that Wild Horse Freedom Federation announces that Carol Walker, our Director of Field Documentation, has published a new book. Congratulations, Carol!

SOURCE:  wildhoofbeats.com

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Mustangs: Wild Horses at the Heart of the American Legend is released today in France by Edition Glenat.

This is a 192 page hardcover coffee table book featuring 200 images by Carol Walker. Journalist Cecile Plet wrote the text, which is in French, and the images star the wild horses of Sand Wash Basin in Colorado, Adobe Town and McCullough Peaks in Wyoming and the Pryor Mountains in Montana. This is Carol’s third book, her second about wild horses.

The book is available in Europe, and also with surprisingly reasonable shipping through Amazon France:

http://www.amazon.fr/Mustangs-Chevaux-sauvages-coeur-am%C3%A9ricain/dp/2344004025/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1413997001&sr=1-1

To read the French Press Release, click HERE.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Carol’s passion for photography started at an early age, with animals as her favorite subjects. She studied literature and photography as an undergraduate at Smith College, and continued her education in photography after graduating, studying portraiture and nature photography. She has traveled all over the world photographing wildlife for the past 30 years.

In 2000, Carol started her business Living Images by Carol Walker, specializing in photographing horses. Carol’s images illuminate the relationship between horses and their people, as well showcase the beauty of horses with her stunning images of horses at liberty. She teaches workshops for amateur photographers on equine photography. She markets her fine art prints from her website www.LivingImagesCJW.com as well as in several locations on the Front Range of Colorado and has won numerous awards with her artwork.

Ten years ago, Carol began photographing wild horses. As she followed several herds in Wyoming, Colorado and Montana, she became aware of how precarious their situation on public lands has become. Since then, she has dedicated herself to educating people with her photographs and stories about the wild horses. She is one of the leading advocates working to keep America’s wild horses wild and free on our public lands. Her award-winning book Wild Hoofbeats: America’s Vanishing Wild Horses was released winter of 2008 and is currently in its second printing. Carol’s second book, Horse Photography: The Dynamic Guide for Horse Lovers is in its second printing as well.

For the last five years, Carol has produced a wild horse calendar for the Cloud Foundation with 50% of the proceeds as a donation to that organization. Proceeds from the sales of Carol’s artwork and books fund her work to keep America’s wild horses wild and free.

Carol is the Director of Field Documentation on the Board of Directors for Wild Horse Freedom Federation, which is dedicated to stopping the roundups and keeping our wild horses wild and free.

 

80 Mustangs Die After Move To Scott City

(To read the article referenced in the article below, titled “Wild Horses of the Flint Hills,” click HERE.)

SOURCE:  KMUW.org

Fury and her mare buddies at the Flint Hills ranch, Feb. 2014 – This summer they were removed to the Scott City feed lot.  Eighty of them perished.
Credit Aileen LeBlanc

You may remember a story that we did in February called “Wild Horses of the Flint Hills.”  It was a story of thousands of wild mustangs which were roaming almost free in vast ranches in the Flint Hills near Cassoday, Kansas.  They originally came from the open ranges of the West and they were brought here because of over crowding.  They are managed by the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

When we were there in February, the horses were all looking healthy–even a little plump.  And now, 80 of them are dead.

“Fury” in the Flint Hills, photo taken in February 2014
Credit Aileen LeBlanc

“The horses had to be removed from a private ranch where they had been held for a number of years under contract.  And that rancher elected not to renew his contract with the government,” said Paul McGuire.  “So BLM was obligated to remove those animals and find another home for them.”

Paul McGuire is with the BLM based in Oklahoma City. Fourteen-hundred and ninety-three mares were moved–200 a day–on semis beginning in the middle of June.

“The first full-month report we had from the facilitator operator came at the end of July.  And it was at that time that we saw numbers on the order of about 47 horses had either died or had to be put down during that time,” said McGuire.  “Those are the numbers that, when they came to BLM’s attention, our leadership immediately dispatched a team to look into that and figure out what was going on and halt it.”

But it didn’t stop at 47.  The horses continued to die in the corral.  Some were too weak to get up and had to be euthanized.  These are the same horses that had lived in the Flint Hills pasture for 14 years.

The feed lot in Scott City is a lot that is used to taking care of cattle and some bison, but not horses who are unaccustomed to being penned, traveling in semi-trucks in the summer, or eating from a bunk or trough.

Video of the Scott City feed lot courtesy of BLM.

“In a feed lot, the horses have to push their way to the bunk, and in some cases, compete for space,” said McGuire.  “You have situations of dominant horses maybe keeping more timid horses back.  And that behavioral dynamic was found to have been what was really at play, or suspected to be what was the cause some of these horses not adapting well to that new environment.”

The inspection team included a vet from the USDA, and though their findings are preliminary, the changes that they made include a different blend and portion of feed.  But the shock of relocation and adjustments to the new home were determined to be the causes of death.

Mares at a lake in the Flint Hills. This photo was taken for our “Wild Horses of the Flint Hills” story which aired in February 2014.
Credit Aileen LeBlanc
 The mustangs began their lives as free roaming animals and have never been broken or gentled, ridden or been hitched to a cart. They like the humans who feed them in the winter–but that’s about it. On the pasture there are many stands of trees, lakes, hills, and valleys. At the corral there is no shelter, no shade. The BLM found that heat has not been a factor. Stephanie Boyles Griffin, senior director of innovative wildlife management with the Humane Society of the United States disagrees.

“We have been stressing since last summer that the BLM has to provide shade for animals that are at a government holding facility–either a long-term holding facility or a short-term.  Adopters are required to provide those animals with shade,” said Boyles Griffin.  “They’re currently doing a study to see if shade is necessary at the Palomino Valley facility outside of Reno, NV, and we all said this is ridiculous.  And again, it speaks to the need for a comprehensive animal welfare program.  If they can’t even make a decision to provide animals with shade without having doing a study, there’s clearly a disconnect between the BLM and identifying just common basic needs of animals they hold in captive holding facilities.”

Paul McGuire of the Bureau of Land Management says that the situation at the Scott City feed lot has stabilized, and that they are trying to secure pastures for the remaining mares.

The “Wild Horses of the Flint Hills” video was shot by Aileen LeBlanc in February 2014. 

Equine Advocates Keep Horses from Harm in Chatham

It’s Feel Good Sunday, and we’re sending a big thank you to the heartwarming work done by Susan Wagner and Equine Advocates.

SOURCE:  www.berkshireeagle.com

By Kate Abbott, Berkshires Week Editor
Posted: 07/11/2013 12:10:19 AM EDT

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Susan Wagner with Nelson, a wild American mustang who had been chased down by a helicopter and captured by the Bureau of Land Management in Wyoming. (Courtesy of Susan Wagner)

CHATHAM, N.Y. — Henry, a dark-brown mule, comes up to the fence when Susan Wagner calls him. On a midsummer afternoon his companions in the pasture are standing in the shade and waiting for the day to cool before they come out to graze.

When Wagner found Henry at auction, he had a halter embedded in his skull. She had to have it surgically removed.

Henry is one of the most severely abused animals Wagner has brought to Equine Advocates.

Wagner and her team of volunteers care for 83 equines — horses, mules and donkeys — on her 140-acre property, and she has worked with organizations across the country to find homes for many more.

The animals at Wagner’s sanctuary are not ridden. Many of them cannot be ridden, she explained. They arrived with serious injuries. She makes sure that they are as free from pain as possible, comfortable and well-fed. Some have worn teeth, and one cannot digest hay or grass.

“We have five sound horses here,” she said. “Most have physical or behavioral problems” because of the way they were treated. “Some came from auction. Some were bought to keep them from auction.”

A thoroughbred rescued from the track, she said, will need two years of quiet turn-out in the pasture just to get the drugs out of her system — the steroids and pain-killers and stimulants. She will need two years to detox to let her sharply trimmed feet grow out and strengthen, two years to recover, before she can be ridden at all.

Wagner will adopt out sounder horses that can be ridden to carefully vetted new homes, and with the understanding that if the new owner cannot keep a horse, the horse will come back to her. More than a third of the horses who are adopted do come back to her, she said, because an owner becomes ill, or loses a job, or at times finds a horse too much to handle.

At the sanctuary, the pasture-sound horses are turned out to grass in small groups. As she came up to each paddock, she would call a horse
over to be introduced.

The sounder and more energetic animals are also turned out periodically in a larger pasture with room to run together, she said.

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Wagner herself comes to horses by way of racing, advocacy and caring for wild animals, rather than through riding stables.

She grew up in the Bronx, a child watching horses in pastures pass by on car trips. She rode her first horse at 5 years old, she said, but she began working with horses as an adult, the day she went to the Belmont Stakes to watch Secretariat win the Triple Crown. She got a job as a hot walker on the back stretch the next day.

She spent 15 years in the racing industry, she said, and left to work as a wild animal keeper in a zoological setting. She rescued her first horse from the zoo where whe worked, a horse that bit a child. She asked a zookeeper what would happen to the horse and was told “he’ll probably go for meat.”

“I felt punched,” she said. “In all those years in the racing industry, I had not heard of horse slaughter.”

She began to research, and to conduct undercover investigations into animal cruelty, scoping out auctions for an investagative and sensational news television series, “Hard Copy,” in the mid ‘90s.

Wagner founded Equine Advocates in 1996 and established the sanctuary in 2004.

Since then, she has rescued mares — kept constantly pregnant and confined — to extract an estrogen replacement drug (Premarin, or PMU) from their urine thoroughbreds injured on the race track, horses, mules and donkeys seized by police on their way to slaughter.

Selling horses for meat, she argued, is dangerous for people as well as for horses. Many medicines that work simply and effectively for horses are toxic to people, and many of these medicines stay in a horse’s system indefinitely.

This is not the only abuse of horses that she finds harmful for people. In a field near Henry the mule, a golden draft horse mare wears a white brand on her haunch.

Wagner now cares for several mares like this one who lived for years in Canadian stables, confined to unclean stalls and kept constantly pregnant. Their foals were slaughtered.

These mares are kept to produce a drug. Premarin, derived from pregnant mares’ urine, is used in the hormone replacement therapy drug Prempro, given to women during menopause.

The number of PMU stables has fallen sharply, Wagner added, since a study published by the Women’s Health Initiative in 2002 revealed that the drug itself carried a high risk for breat cancer, heart disease and blood clots. But Wyeth, the pharmaceutical giant that makes Premarin and Prempro, has now merged with Pfizer, and Pfizer has not given up the practice.

She sees these mares when they have newly come from these barns (by way of a veterinary hospital for quarantine). They are injured and terrified.

“They’re crazed,” she said. “We start out by leaving them alone and letting them feel safe.

“We take the horses that have nobody to speak for them,” she said.

If you go …

What: Equine Advocates Open Day

When: Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: 3212 Route 66, Chatham, N. Y.

Admission: Free

Information: (518) 245-1599, http://www.equineadvocates.org