USFS Horses of Theodore National Park – Homes Needed

Since the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park are managed by the National Parks System, they are not protected by the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. 90 wild horses and burros from this park will be rounded up on Oct. 23, 2009 and bought directly to a Stockmans Livestock Auction in Dickerson, ND, where they will be auctioned off to the highest bidder WITHOUT RESTRICTION. These horses usually go cheap (not much more than $100 each, sometimes even less) so there is great concern that many will go to slaughter. I realize that this herd is just one of many being rounded up this fall, but it appears that the National Parks wild horses and burros have even less protection than those managed by the BLM. Is there anything TCF can do to coordinate temporary holding for them until at least some can be adopted?Contact Marylou Webber @ (701) 527-3243 and visit her blog with photos and descriptions of the various bands. Read more and see gorgeous photos of the horses here.TRSP horse

Roundups are starting in the McCullough Peaks of Wyoming and in Garfield Flats, Nevada. Roundup schedule here- observers are going to be at both roundups and more are needed for future roundups. Roundup schedule 2010_2009


46 Responses to “USFS Horses of Theodore National Park – Homes Needed”

  1. Barbara Steele Says:

    Oh my, the colt pictured here “Little Jules” could be the twin brother of my Chincoteague “Kayak”. It is very upsetting to think he could go to slaughter and be sold for $100.00. Is there any group trying to buy these horses for sanctuary?

    • Marilyn Wargo Says:

      Barbara, Marylou says that there is no plan to get a large number of the horses because they do not have a big place to take them. They have been getting the word out for 2 years about this roundup and consequent sale and hope that people will be there. There is a man from Minnesota who is coming for older horses. He has experience and really likes them and she took him out to show them to him. It is the hope of all- that there will be a new management strategy that will have adoptions of young and no big roundups again. The last round up in 2007 the helicopter crashed and no horses were taken. there are 165 now and 90 will be removed to the sale. S they will have about 75 left to be managed. She stressed that the park personnel are wanting to improve management. I think that Marylou and her husband have been very effective ambassadors over the years. mar

  2. Marilyn Wargo Says:

    Thank you, we are hoping to get people to roundups. There is only a little support from the cloud blog, thanks to those few. There is also little talk about a moratorium on roundups. mar

  3. Marilyn Wargo Says:

    Marylou, The horses are wonderful. I hope that people come to their rescue. My heart goes out to you. If I could just help, I would. This hurts us all. mar

  4. emily guiza Says:

    I would love to know more about this organization. I have been riding all of my life and still work with horses in Wellington FL. PLEASE send me some information I would love to help out if I can?

    Thank you


  5. Nora Morbeck Says:

    If I lived in the area, I’d be there for round ups, but I’m in Georgia.

    I have, however, written a couple of times to my senators and congressman requesting a moratorium on all round ups. I sent them the link to “Stampede to Oblivion,” which I feel is a wonderful, thorough look at BLM practices. I’ll continue to write letters, which is how I’m able to help at this point.

    Unfortunately, the NPS has different policies and different jurisdiction than the BLM. Interesting that herd rculling is NOT part of every national park policy. Some parks deal with their wild horses differently. I wonder why there’s no blanket policy for “management” of horses on NPS land… Is it a state by state thing?

    Best of luck finding homes for these beautiful horses. Given space and better finances, I’d be happy to have a few of them with me.

    • Marilyn Wargo Says:

      Nora, Somehow, a moratorium should cover all roundups, period. Then given time, those outside BLM can attempt better management. It may be that there will be healthier herds left outside of BLM jurisdiction at this point. So, paying attention to them is needed.

      The horses at this sale need people who want a horse and have a place and the time and ability to work with it.

      The Jicarilla horses are under National Forest Service. We may be seeing some this weekend. Mar

  6. Marilyn Wargo Says:

    Marylou, Best of luck and hopes that many people will come and take home all the horses. Mar

  7. Barbara Steele Says:

    This is very confusing to me. If the horses are USFS horses but on NPS lands why do they not fall under USFS regulations and under the Wild Horse ACT of 1971 and have protection. And if under N.P.S. and no protection why does the N.P.S. not have a consistent policy and treat these horses the same as the ones on Assateague? What a mess–Sending these question to the USFS and the N.P.S. and my Senators.

    • Janet Ferguson Says:

      Report back what they say.

    • Christine Says:

      Unless I’m mistaken or something has changed, the horses on Assateague are or were owned by the Chincoteague Fire Department, not the NPS. Pony Penning is their big fundraiser. That’s what I remember from reading the Misty books and back when I was near enough to have gone (and didn’t).

      • Barbara Steele Says:

        The horses on the Virginia side of Assateague Island are owned by the Chincoteague Fire Department who hold a grazing lease from Fish and Wildlife for 150 adult horses. Fish and Wildlife operate the Refuge and have a great Visitor Center. These are the ponies of Misty fame that are rounded-up and swim across the channel from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island. The foals are auctioned off and some foals are buy-backs that go back into the herd. The firemen select the foals they want. They have introduced some Mustang and Arabian blood into their herd. Think they were looking to have larger animals that would have more sale value.
        The Assateague ponies(horses) are on the Maryland part of Assateague Island and are National Park Service responsibility. These horses are darted with PZP and each mare has at least one foal. None have been removed.
        It is confusing to people who come to visit the ponies. There is no road on Assateague Island that connects Maryland and Virginia. You have to go over to the mainland to go from Virginia to Maryland. You can hike it if you are the hardy type. The N.P.S. controls all the beach front on the island. There is camping on the Maryland side where ponies sometimes look in your tent! On the Virginia side no camping but beach and wildlife areas. Certain times of the year you can ride your own horse on the beach. Hope you can get to visit Assateague sometime.

      • Christine Says:

        Ohhhhh, I get it now. Thanks!

      • Janet Ferguson Says:

        C: Glad you mentioned the “. . . . near enough to go (and didn’t)” syndrome. Sometimes I ask myself, why not just leave the wild horses in the west up to the people that live around there, and this is a good example of why NOT to allow that to happen! We happen to live in a large metro area (by some standards) where there is at least one national monument. You have people who visit here just to see the monument or attractions. Local residents here may never have seen them and may have no interest. That is why, in addition to the fact that it is EVERYONE’S tax monies that pay for all this (and where are the populations more centered — in the East = more tax $$ per square mile going from paychecks to BLM.)

        Simplified, but basically that is why NOT to let the people “out west” call all the “shots” on these horses.

        Also, I was interested to read last week that these organizations (veterinary et al) that are “for” slaughter, for instance, DO NOT POLL THEIR MEMBERS according to my source. What’s happening is that the western state gov’ts and reps to Congress nearest the wild horse BLM land are bending the rules because they feel they can, and feel it is “their” backyard. If they can see it, it is “theirs.” They have pushed the horses “out” and their own toys “in”. Not willing to give it back, and screaming like victims. In family psychology, I have read, the child that can present him- or herself most convincingly as the victim is the one the parents don’t punish. I think wild horse advocates have to come across convincingly as victims in all this to get this across. I remember one comment on some blog I read right after the roundup that this person thought the wild horse advocates were “disappointed” that no horses were injured. Talk about a twisted remark, and how ignorant. Trying to look like the “victim” or “oppressed” rather than being glad the horses weren’t mortally injured, as could easily have happened, and will continue to if these “gathers” persist in this way.

        Supposedly the bait trapping is what is used when the range is poor. I repeat my question of earlier: if, as the BLM said, the range was so poor in the Pryors, why did they not use bait trapping? It seems to prove the range wasn’t as poor as they maintained.

    • Janet Ferguson Says:

      Did you go to the roundup of the ocean horses? (my facts have fled)

      Isn’t the weather there turning horrible, hope it was OK for the roundup.

  8. Marilyn Wargo Says:

    Seems they all have their own circumstances. I do not see why any would not have protection under an Act of Congress. The future should leave none out . mar

  9. Barbara Steele Says:

    Just looked at all the horse photos. What a beautiful group of horses and it is obvious that Marylou and others care very much for them as evidenced by the documentation of this herd. It is my hope and prayer that everyone of these wonderful animals is adopted. If I lived closer I would be there to offer at least one a home.

  10. Louie Cocroft Says:

    How about a sanctuary with some of that $96 million that Secretary of the Interior is talking about?

  11. jan eaker Says:

    how about releasing them onto the 19 million acres stolen from the horses in the 1st place???????

  12. Janet Ferguson Says:

    Sent this to our “local” Humane Society Rescue Ranch; a local Foxhunting Group; a local riding/boarding stable and a stable where we used to ride up in northern Illinois (Galena Territory), each with all links to article and a detailed email explaining it.

  13. Christine Says:

    It occured to me today to suggest that anyone going to observe gathers, etc, might bring along a Henneke Body Condition Scoring chart and score the ‘starving’ horses, along with taking photos.

  14. Marilyn Wargo Says:

    Christine, I saw horses from Jicarilla today, rounded up a couple days ago using bait traps. Can you send me an example of the Henneke Body Condition Chart or tell me where to find it?? I will be returning there soon. There were lumps on bellies that aligned with veins. There were also a couple hernias, located further back below the intestines. The horses were in pretty good shape. No other injuries, scrapes or cuts. Mar

    • Christine Says:

      Just Google it.

      • Janet Ferguson Says:

        Here’s a link provided by Habitat for Horses:

        Can you use the Henneke Body Conditioning test if you can’t actually “feel” the musculature of the horse????

      • jan eaker Says:

        it says you can use a combo of visual and touch, will the BLM allow an observer to get close enough to use both methods??
        all the pictures I’ve seen of the Pryor horses and the photos of the McCullogh horses on Pam N.’s blog show horses that are in good flesh and good conditioning, if a horse is starving, it’s not hard to see, hip, back and tail bones are prominent, as are ribs, I didn’t see any of that on any of the horses, so that criteria for having to gather them is pretty lame. PLus the foals are fat and sassy, so moms have enough milk!

      • Marilyn Wargo Says:

        The horses I saw yesterday were all good. The mares with foals had full udders and the foals were maturing well (no late births). These horses, according to Patricia, had never been rounded up before. They are using bait traps to bring in small numbers at a time. 15 just came in. The land they live on is sage, pinon, juniper and pine, sandy and rocky ground, hills and arroyos. They are smaller by average than Pryor horses. They will continue with the roundups in Jicarilla until they have 150 horses removed. The population had been estimated at 150 a couple months ago, Now it is estimated at 200 and a 150 capture and removal. No returning horses at all. I think they inflated the number to make it look like they are leaving horses when they are not intending to. mar

      • Christine Says:

        I didn’t mean for anyone to actually try to TOUCH the horses, that would be incredibly dangerous! It is possible to judge horses in summer coat visually, tho.

  15. jan eaker Says:

    Just spoke w/ MaryLou about these horses, she is actually in the park right now, she is not worried about the youngsters finding new homes, 90% of the horses removed will be younger ones, she says she has had a tremendous response in calls and emails about these horses, when the sale is, etc; so she is optimistic that there will be people there to provide them w/good homes, her worry is the older horses, there are 6-8 horses there that are going to be removed that she’s concerned about, in fact she was looking at them as we spoke,
    she also said the people in charge of the park are working w/her to make sure this is safe for all the horses, and are also working on better ways to manage the horses in the park. She wants everyone to know that they have been great in working w/her, and are open to ideas and suggestions for the future,
    she’s also grateful for the exposure these horses and sale have received from TCF>
    Thank God for people like her and Ginger and all the other advocates who are out in the field, working for these horses diligently, w/out them, the results would be tragic;

    • Marilyn Wargo Says:

      One of the things I have dealt with over the years with many Westerners is the attitude that I do not belong out here because I am from the East and they do not like people who are not here telling them what to do. It is an old thing and very prejudiced. There is just plain intolerance by a very conservative group. But public lands involve us all. And you are right, JF, we pay a more concentrated tax East of the Mississippi. There are always local people who are involved. The Nevadans in George Knapp’s report that were vocal supporters of wild horses were a sight for sore eyes. I wish it were like that in more places. Yet, there will always be those who care and many of them still have no outlet to give support.
      Today I talked to another friend back in Connecticut and she vowed to start telling people about the horses and she is very upset by it. So there are many in the East who want to be heard and are trying to have an effect on some hopeful outcome. What can you do but get the message out and hope, as publicity catches up, that there is a steady rumble of voices aimed at Washington to get something done? Obama is somehow not doing any of his
      ‘for the people’ actions because DOI has his attention. The lies will not just go away. But I wish we had a campaign that could open eyes. How do we do that? mar

      • Marilyn Wargo Says:

        Have people gone up to Cody, Wyoming for the McCullough Peaks roundup from the Cloud foundation?? Christine, do you know? It was to start a by now… mar

  16. Christine Says:

    I don’t know, unless you mean the other Christine from the Cloud Foundation.

  17. Marilyn Wargo Says:

    Ah, yes, but i always hope she is reading… mar

  18. Marilyn Wargo Says:

    JF and Christine, i should qualify TCF. but there has been a silence and I am hoping that we will hear something soon. If the action has begun. Someone we know may be at Garfield Flats. Another may be at Cody. mar

  19. Next Howling Ridge Radio Show « Says:

    […] Next Howling Ridge Radio Show By thecloudfoundation Next Howling Ridge Radio show features Theodore Roosevelt National Park horses – many  are being removed this weekend and need homes.  The show starts at 9:30pm Eastern and runs for two hours. If you would like to call in the call in number is: 718-664-6596. You need not call in to listen to the program as you may listen at the show page. If you do want to call in press 1 and that will let us know that you would like to speak. We hope you will join us as it will be a very informative program. More information on horses here.  […]

    • Morgan Williams Says:


      Thank you for this excellent program on Wednesday night. I love listening to your show, but this one with Frank Kuntz was over the top good. I could listen to him and his brother share facts, speak from their hearts and tell stories all day.


  20. Barbara Steele Says:

    This looks like a problem for the selling of these horses, is it?

  21. Morgan Williams Says:

    Excellent show with Frank Kutz as the guest. Frank is a walking history book. He,his brother and his wife are unbelieveably devoted people to conservation of Nakota Mustangs and public land.

  22. Barbara Steele Says:

    Trouble for Theodore Park Horse Sale October 21 2009
    Minnesota group’s attempts to market Badlands wild horses halted by judge
    A judge’s decision Tuesday to temporarily block certification of national park feral horses slated for auction this week could affect sales, a local auctioneer said.
    By: Lisa Call, Dickinson Tribune


    A judge’s decision Tuesday to temporarily block certification of national park feral horses slated for auction this week could affect sales, a local auctioneer said.

    In an effort to control populations, Theodore Roosevelt National Park officials are rounding up and auctioning off about 90 feral horses Friday afternoon in Dickinson.

    Amid this week’s horse roundup in TRNP near Fryburg, U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland has issued a temporary restraining order blocking the Nokota Horse Association, Inc. from registering or promoting park horses as “Nokota.”

    A hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 29 at 1:30 p.m. in Bismarck.

    The NHA, based in Minnesota, recognizes the horses as a unique breed and works to support and preserve the breed through registry and observation.

    The restraining order stems from a long-standing conflict on the Nokota name and registration requirements.

    Founded in 1999, the Nokota Horse Conservancy, Inc. also tries to preserve the breed.

    The Conservancy was using the Nokota moniker before one of its original board of directors, David Bernhardt, trademarked the Nokota identification in August 2004, according to court documents.

    The trademark was then transferred to the NHA in April 2009 for breed registry sales, according to the document.

    “The fact he (the judge) ruled in our favor though, is a very favorable thing for the Nokota Horse Conservancy and the horses,” said Frank Kuntz, NHC’s executive vice president.

    Dave Robson, NHA member, said he feels the restraining order will not affect horse sales.

    “That’s our sole purpose, to promote and protect the horses from the park and the Kuntz’s do not want us to do that, and in turn, they filed an injunction,” Robson said. “I think we are probably going to continue ahead.”

    Other horse market members feel differently.

    “If they are not able to (label the horses) it will definitely affect the market,” said Larry Schnell, manager of Stockmen’s Livestock Exchange in Dickinson, the horse sale venue. “For those that it means something to, they won’t pay what they will if they register them.”

    The livestock yard is receiving a lot of calls concerning the horse sale, but none specifically concerning Nokotas, said Schnell.

    Sean Neary, spokesman for Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said the senator is aware of the concerns surrounding the park horses and their historical significance and future outlook and is looking into it.

    “If there is something that can be done, we’ll definitely try and do it,” Neary said.

    Tags: north dakota, daily updates, region, minnesota

    • Morgan Williams Says:


      Thanks a million for the post.

      I am going to trust Frank Kuntz before the other organization. PLUS, if you listen to Park Service’s rangers OWN words (in a video shot a few weeks prior to the roundup explaining why the gather was necessary), the ranger (a woman) says “We don’t even consider these horses Nakota. That’s a label somebody else gave these feral horses.”

  23. Barbara Steele Says:
    Terrible news of the Theodore Roosevelt horse auction. When will it stop?

  24. Barbara Steele Says:

    text size: Print E-mail SharePublished October 24 2009
    Issues arise with T.R. National Park wild horses at auction
    A wild-horse auction turned chaotic when a stud tried to jump a fence, another horse escaped during loading into a trailer and another reportedly died Friday afternoon in Dickinson, N.D. One man was injured and taken to the Dickinson hospital.
    By: Lisa Call, Dickinson (N.D.) Press


    Bashful, a 2-year-old stud, jumps the fence during a wild-horse auction at Stockmen’s Livestock Exchange in Dickinson on Friday afternoon. Bashful was later purchased by Michael Sparling of Bismarck for $35. Sparling intends plans to rehabilitate and train the horse using a natural training method. (Dickinson Press photo by Lisa Call)SendPrint

    Horse auction incident
    Add a comment (2)

    A wild-horse auction turned chaotic when a stud tried to jump a fence, another horse escaped during loading into a trailer and another reportedly died Friday afternoon in Dickinson.

    To control population and administer a research contraceptive, wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park near Medora were rounded up earlier this week and sold at auction Friday at Stockmen’s Livestock Exchange.

    The auction was moving quickly when bidding on Bashful, a 2-year-old stud, began and about four minutes into his bidding, things came to a screeching halt.

    After being tapped on the rear by a ring attendant’s flag, an anxiety-ridden Bashful attempted to jump a 6-foot fence separating him from the crowd.

    Screams erupted and people began to scramble.

    As the horse was struggling to get his rear portion over the fence, his rear right leg became entangled between thick wires.

    The horse began to violently thrash in an attempt to break free, biting anything in its way.

    Bystanders said the horse’s front legs knocked an elderly man to the ground. As the horse began thrashing, its front legs stomped the man.

    “He landed in the crowd, then crawled over it (fence) and then he was in the first walkway and he was just stomping and kicking because the man was underneath him,” said Dan Sparling of Bismarck, a witness to the incident.

    Larry Schnell, manager of Stockmen’s Livestock Exchange, said he was unaware if anyone was hurt, but had heard reports.

    Stark County Sheriff Clarence Tuhy said a man was transported to the hospital in an ambulance.

    No tranquilizers, rope or wire cutters were on hand to assist in freeing the horse.

    “I’ve been doing this for 35 years and I don’t remember anything close to that happening,” Schnell said.

    Status of the injured man is unknown.

    Some people experienced with wild horses feel the event could have been handled differently.

    “Anybody that’s got a little common sense, you don’t start bringing these wild horses in,” said Frank Kuntz, executive vice president of the Nokota Horse Conservancy, a nonprofit group aimed at wild-horse preservation. “Bring them in separate. Plus, who knows how these guys are handling them out back? They should have the fence higher. It’s total stupidity and total inexperience.”

    Horses were dropped off at the livestock yard Thursday afternoon, said Valerie Naylor, TRNP superintendent.

    “They bring them here to the sale barn, turn them loose to these guys and leave,” Kuntz said.

    Rev. James Kilzer of Richardton said one buyer who loaded his newly purchased horse into a trailer found it dead a short time later.

    “The buyer checked for breath … the horse died of shock,” Kilzer said.

    Calls to Dr. John Rowe, a veterinarian on hand during the auction, went unreturned.

    Later, a gray mare escaped a corral while being loaded into a trailer. Several people went after her with trucks and on foot.

    Michael Sparling of Bismarck, who didn’t intend to buy a horse at the auction, purchased Bashful for $35 with plans to rehabilitate and train the horse using a natural training method.

    “A horse like this, you should never trap like that,” Sparling said.

    Patty Griffith, a horse trainer from Toppenish, Wash., plans to train the 11 horses she and her husband purchased.

    Griffith has attended several wild-horse auctions and said horses and protocol at the auction could have been handled better.

    “Those horses wouldn’t even be rattled if they didn’t come along with those fly swatter things and scare them,” Griffith said. “They are in a hurry. They’re doing their job, but these aren’t cows.”

    The horses sold for prices ranging from $35 to more than $1,400, surprising many.

    “The prices were much higher than we expected,” said Marylu Weber, a volunteer for the roundup and a member of Nokota Horse Association, another wild-horse preservation organization.

    “This is phenomenal prices for these horses,” said horse buyer Nola Robson of Hayfield, Minn.

    Naylor said 77 horses were sent to auction and 77 were sent back into the park, including most of the breeding-age mares.

    “Everything went very well,” Naylor said. “It’s unfortunate this had to happen at the sale.”

    The Dickinson Press and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.

    Tags: stark county, wild horses, theodore roosevelt national park, horse injuries, horse auctions, southwest north dakota, national parks, valerie naylor, stockmens livestock exchange, stark county sheriff, james kilzer, richardton nd, dead horses, nokota horse association, dickinson, medora

    Roxann R. Audubon, MN 10/24/2009 9:17 AM

    Too bad one of those guys with the ‘swatters’ wasn’t the one the horse trampled. It would have been justified. I hope someone with a calming eye can be put in charge of these things in the future. I am certain that the buyers there would understand if things had to slow down just a bit so that these horses didn’t have to get so very scared, literally, to death. That’s disgusting!

    Report a Violation
    kb I. Grand Forks, ND 10/24/2009 8:19 AM

    It sounds like some charges are in order. I wonder how many of those “cowboys” are actually senators from western ND.

    Report a Violation

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