Two stallions chasing each other, McCullough Peaks Wild Horse Range, near Cody Wyoming

The Struggles of America's Wild Horses

“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”     – Sir Winston Churchill

 

Pryor Mountain, Montana | © WesternGalleries.com

Wild Horses on Pryor Mountain, Montana | © WesternGalleries.com


 

OUR MISSION:

We want to help raise awareness for wild horses.  We want a good balance between BLM, Ranchers, Commercial Industries, Public Land Use, Natural Resources Conservation, and the numbers of wild horses vs cattle /sheep/livestock grazing on our public lands.

There needs to be a happy middle ground with safe numbers of wild horses left on each Wild Horse Management Area in their natural state, on the lands that have belonged to them for hundreds of years.  Leave them unbranded, IN THE WILD, for our future generations to continue viewing and enjoying. 

Some herds, such as the Pryor Mountain Herd in Montana, have been genetically tested and are believed to be descendants of the Lewis & Clark Expedition who were stolen or traded among the Crow Native American Nation.  These historically important living symbols have old Spaniard breeding and markings, along with strong bone strength, strong hooves and legs.    
Lets preserve these living historic icons.




DID YOU KNOW?
We've been supporting wild horses since 2004 when we saw our first wild horse herd.  Partial proceeds of our wild horse and equine print sales are donated to non-profits who are dedicated to keeping safe numbers of wild horses left - in the wild.  SHOP HORSE INSPIRED ART

 

 

TIMELINE:

• Dawn horses originate in North America during the wooly mammoth and saber tooth tiger era.  They migrate to Asia, Europe, Spain, and Portugal while developing into the Equine/Equus horse that we know today.  

 

DID HORSES COMPLETELY DISAPPEAR FROM NORTH AMERICA?
- The Dakota people claim that they had horses before the Spaniards.  They had an extensive horse vocabulary more so than if recently introduced to horses.  
- The Nez Perce people near Canada had their own unique American breed of Appaloosas well before the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804.  
- The diary of Louis-Joseph LaVerendrie, a French explorer who visited "The People of the Horse" in Wyoming in 1642. Which is nearly 40 years before the Great Pueblo Revolt of 1680 which many historians consider the beginning of Native Americans obtaining horses in the southwest.
- Researchers have archeological evidence of horses in North America & Canada.  TBD.



1500's  - The explorations of Spanish Conquistadors re-introduced horses to Mexico spanning north to Santa Fe in 1598.  Over time horses escaped, creating new wild horse herds across America's vast wilderness. 

1680 - Pueblo Revolt.  Large numbers of horses are now under Native American Indian control.

Late 1700's - Most Native American tribes have horses.

Early 1800's - entire sections of west Texas land are labeled "wild horse desert", some say close to 1 million.  

1800's -1900s  European settlers & ranchers capture and break wild horses as a means to work their cattle ranches, sell herds for profit to the military, or simply shoot and kill horses.  Approximately two million wild horses are roaming wild and free from Texas and the mid-west plains, to the west coast.   No one knows the exact number.


1946: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was formed as part of the Department of Interior.  

1968:  Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range in Montana was established with the help of horse advocates, and it is Montana's only wild horse herd area.

1970:  In 70 years, the wild horse population plummeted from millions to approx 18,000.   Wild horses were shot for sport, poisoned at watering holes, run down with motorized vehicles and weighted tires to be picked up by trucks.  Anyone could kill, capture, sell, abuse, and round them up for cash at slaughter houses.

December 1971:   Because of the efforts of Velma Brown Johnston, aka Wild Horse Annie, and other wild horse advocates, the federal government passed the Wild Horse and Burro Act with President Nixon signing it into law.    Land that had been populated by horses for generations was to be reserved for their preservation.  Its now illegal for the public to kill, abuse, or round up unbranded and unclaimed horses and burros on public lands.   
The BLM is appointed as caretakers

1978:  By 1978 the BLM has designated well over 200 wild horse management areas (HMAs).

1993: BLM claims there are 24,000 wild horses in Nevada alone.  Advocates and author of Dances With Wolves, Michael Blake, disagree and they spent 250 hours in the air finding over 300 skulls and 8,300 free roaming horses.    There is a great distrust of the BLM and their reported numbers. 

1995:  “Records are systematically falsified and no one wants to know about it,”  Reed Smith, a former BLM administrator who retired from the New Mexico office in 1995.

1997: Associated Press reporter Martha Mendoza exposes BLM corruption "Trails End for Horses: Slaughter.   A multimillion-dollar federal program created to save the lives of wild horses is instead channeling them by the thousands to slaughterhouses, where they are chopped into cuts of meat.  Among those who might be profiting from the slaughter are employees of the Bureau of Land Management, the agency that administers the program."

2001: BLM receives $29 million annual budget. A 50% increase.

2010: BLM receives $64 million to round-up and feed horses & burros.

2013:  BLM has 177 HMAs.  This is less than what they first established in the early 1970's.  Millions of acres have been taken away from wild horses.  Entire herd areas have been completely removed and are now void of any horses.

2021: Per BLM's website...  2021 Total expenditures = $112,273,000 
With 64,604 on-range population on 31.6 million HMAs acres.  
Off Range pasture care costs $50 million a year with a total off-range population reported at 56,554 horses.  Per their numbers, that's $885 average cost per year for one off range pastured horse.  

 

NOW in 2022:  

BLM's website reports a budget of 1.6 billion to support its various missions, an increase of over $300 million form last year, with millions designated for horses and burros.

There are many conflicting and controversial costs and numbers of wild horses.

Many people say the population of wild horses currently on the range is approx 20,000 - 25,000 head.  There are well over a thousand mares being treated with hormonal birth control.       
Other 3rd parties are also trying to get accurate head counts on the range.

BLM has more pastured horses than on public lands.   Many people ask... Why can't the non-breeding horses be returned to freely graze on public lands? 

Many say there are over 30,000 former wild horses in expensive holding facilities and pastures.  For example, a well-known Oklahoma family cattle ranch states they have 3,400 mares and non-reproductive geldings.  They wanted to participate in this gov't program "to get a regular check every month."  They claim the horses are easy to care for, the hardest part is the winter feeding time.  They receive pregnant mares, and after weaning the foals, they are separated and sent back to the BLM for processing. 

 

The BLM has plans for more costly and large round-ups in 2022-23.  Where will they house these new horses and at what cost to taxpayers?

 

QUESTION:   If there are 25,000 wild horses grazing on public lands, how many cattle and sheep are grazing on these same public lands?
Millions upon millions!    Horses are greatly outnumbered by livestock, and they shouldn't be accused as being the only cause destroying the environment, or being over-populated.

 

Over-population claims of wild horses on public land is FALSE NEWS.  

 

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THE CONFLICTS:

BLM:
Many BLM employees in the wild horse program are also cattlemen, or have close relations to ranchers.
The BLM has a long history of charging ranchers a bargain price of $1.35 a month per cow/calf pair for grazing public lands with 17,000 permits in 11 states.    That's only $16.20 per year per cow/calf!  
Meanwhile, in the private sector, grazing costs are closer to $20/month per cow/calf pair or $240/yr.


Over the years, there is documented evidence of deaths, injuries, abusive stress, and diseases as a direct result of expensive BLM helicopter roundups, and holding pen management.

ADOPT-A-HORSE
The BLM has adopted out many horses as one of their solutions.  The BLM even offers $1000 (tax payer's money) to encourage adoption.  There has been much controversy and a great backlash in their adoption process, with news agencies reporting over the years how formerly adopted titled horses have been sold to slaughter houses and killed for meat, or disappeared.  The New York Times published an article on adopters 'flipping' horses once they received their $1000 BLM adoption incentive money, selling them to slaughter houses or to other middlemen who will eventually sell them down the road to kill pens.  
Its an easily abused system.

 

QUESTION:  Do you consider horses that have been captured and processed:  gelded, branded, vaccinated, dewormed, surgically altered, penned, transferred, etc... as 'wild horses'?  
These horses are no longer living in a band or family society with a stallion, mares, and foals.  They have lost everything that was mentally important to them: their family, and their natural state of living.    They are now captive ornaments, just existing in a pen or pasture. 


The BLM's underlying main objective is transferring the use of the land away from horses for more profitable means that better fit their large, intertwined mission.

In fact, just recently, horses were urgently removed to "prevent their starvation".  But vast numbers of sheep herds immediately appeared onto those same lands for grazing.
 
 

HOW MANY HORSES SHOULD BE LIVING ON EACH DESIGNATED HMA?

Many scientists, veterinarians, and horse specialists agree that a HMA needs a minimum of 150 adults to help prevent in-breeding, preserve safe genetics, and to support the horse's natural habitat of strong family ties and bonds.  

But BLM's goals are much lower than 150.  

For instance, in New Mexico, the BLM shows 272 actual horses (some are foals) on 28,613 HMA acres. But they have 83 listed (including foals) as their high goal.  That's far below the 150 adults that horse specialists consider as safe management.  New Mexico has a total of 88,655 BLM acres.

The famous and well-documented Pryor Mountain Montana herd has 195 horses listed.  BLM wants a high goal of 120 horses including foals.   Again, that is far below the 150 adult safe genetic marker.   Pryor HMA is 35,640 acres with a total of 230,073 acres of BLM and US Forest Land.   

 

BANDS |  FAMILY ROLES

A typical band, or family group, can range from 3-15 or more horses, but most bands are within 3-8 horses.  

STALLIONS:
Within each band, there is one dominate stallion with a small haram of mares.  Most band stallions are at least 5-6 years old, and they fight hard to start, grow, and protect their family. 

Sometimes there will be a younger 'Lieutenant' stallion or son who is not allowed to breed, but may be helpful in defending the family against other aggressive stallions, such as bachelor stallions.  But the Lieutenant stallion may also eventually challenge the dominate stallion for control of the herd. 

The dominate stallion is the protector of the family, and he is constantly on the lookout for threats or dangerous animals such as mountain lions who prey on foals.  He keeps an eye on his wandering foals and mares, rounding them up by 'snaking' them back to the family.  He wants to keep his family safe and will quickly put himself between his family and threats.

MARES:
Each band has a lead mare, and she usually decides where they eat and when they go to watering holes.  She leads the small family, with the rest following, and the stallion is often in the rear.  

BACHELOR STALLIONS:
Rowdy Bachelor stallions roam the territory in their own groups.  These guys can be a mixture of young stallions who need to mature more to fight a band stallion, or they are former band stallions who have lost to their family to another stronger stallion.   Bachelors hang out together often biting, kicking, playing, and they run around harassing all of the bands, with each one wanting to steal his own mare.  For human visitors and photographers, its exciting to observe a group of bachelors acting up.

FOALS:
Foals often nurse until they are 1-2 years old.  Young males 2+ years are often kicked out of the family by the dominate stallion, and they usually join a bachelor group.   Young females 2+ years are also often kicked out of the band once they begin their heat cycle and she will be gathered by another dominate stallion.

 

People admire wild horses.  They are beautiful creatures who have helped mankind for a very long time.   Families travel to photograph and visit America's wild horses, which is good economics for the nearby western tourist towns, yet the horses themselves do not bring in money for the BLM, so they are like a 'thorn in their side', an unwanted pain.

 

Horses were the backbone of the settlement of North America.  Our wild horses are iconic living symbols of our Wild West history and legends.   They were here before barbed wire was stretched across the western states, before cattlemen, before sheepherders, and before the BLM was established.  They deserve to be here, wild and free.

But what does the future hold for America's Wild Horses?

 

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If you would like to learn more or get involved, visit some non-profits who are focused on helping wild horses.  Learn.  Be their voice.

The Cloud Foundation

Skydog Sanctuary 

Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary

 

 

 

 

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