A Visit to Stinkingwater: An Oregon Herd

Location, location

By Makendra Silverman, Associate Director- The Cloud Foundation- in a Herd-Watch capacity 

Today, Wednesday August 18, the helicopter roundup of the Stinkingwater wild horses of central Oregon will begin. I had the pleasure of spending some time in this herd management area last week but with the awareness that the peace I observed would soon be shattered. (Press Release online here: http://bit.ly/stinkingwater).

Evening on the range

With directions from a woman who has spent a lot of time in Stinkingwater I drove into Burns, Oregon, passing the then closed wild horse corrals where a large metal, rearing wild horse silhouette marked the entrance.

Metal wild horse

Bill Andersen, District Rangeland Management Specialist, of the Burns BLM District, and I had a good meeting. Finding the Stinkingwater horses is difficult as there are now only an estimated 214 in the 85,490-acre range (that number is planned to be whittled down to only 40 mustangs this week- more on this later). Bill penciled in on my map where the different groups of horses were and we discussed the history of this range, which is managed principally for livestock and not wild horses. Bill told me that this would never change  due to the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 and the allocation of livestock allotments in the 1960s. There was just a little room left for wild horses (along with elk, pronghorn and deer). I would contend that this will change- but indeed it has proved to be a slow process, stalled by Secretaries of Interior Gale Norton and Ken Salazar who replaced the forward thinking Secretary Bruce Babbit and BLM Director Jim Baca. In the US, not that very long ago, it was believed that slavery would never end and women would never vote. But we don’t have all that many wild horses left.

I enjoyed meeting with Bill – he’s been working in this district for 30 years and knows the area and the range.

After buying a can of soup at the local store, I set out to find the Stinkingwater horses.

Welcome to your Stinkingwater Wild Horse Herd- turn here please

Good luck finding the main access road into Stinkingwater if you didn’t have lots of tips before hand. You take Hwy 20 east out of Burns and when you reach the summit and pass a bunch of snow fences you go right across a cattle guard and down an unmarked gravel road. Bill wrote a requirement for signage into the land use plan for all the herd management areas in the District but so far there are no signs, and that was twenty years ago. The reason: money. I suggested to Bill that if the district wasn’t spending millions on roundups, then a few signs to let the public know they were driving past (and could drive into) wild horse ranges could be posted. Without an HMA map I would have driven past Palomino Buttes HMA and Stinkingwater and not known about the Steens Mountain herds including the famous Kiger horses that are also nearby.

Fiddle in Herd-Watch training- showing rocky terrain

So my little dog, Fiddle, and I drove into the range marked by a few welcoming cows and a lot of cow pies along with scattered salt blocks in an area of high impact cow-prints and more cow poop. So far, no sign of wild horses.

Salt block and cattle damage- welcome to the range

I passed several ephemeral waterholes that were dried up this late in the season but were completely stamped with cow prints- not a horse hoof print to be found.

Water (and cows) were here

Fiddle and I rounded the corner and saw the main waterhole and, for a moment, my heart lifted. Then a cow lifted its head and the flash of sorrel brown I thought might be a wild horse proved to be quite the opposite. The cows standing around the waterhole, no offense to them, were clearly not the first to use the area. The entire perimeter of the waterhole was a mess of cow prints and the smelly cow poop. The water was not particularly clean smelling and the Stinkingwater title of the range seemed apt. When Fiddle started to wade in to get a drink I called him back. It didn’t seem wise for him to drink there. The cows watched as Fiddle and I looked for horse prints—nothing recent, although I did see some horse manure closer to the road.

Stinkingwater... water hole + cows

Damage to waterhole

No drinking allowed

I drove around the top in a lightning storm with rain – unwise to go down further into the HMA with the roads already slick. I found and photographed many areas with sharp volcanic rock, more salt blocks, more cow damage, bundles of barbed wire, downed fences, more cows themselves and no horses.

Downed barbed-wire fence -- hard to see

rough, volcanic terrain- but beautiful

Range transitions from public to private and back - many cattle guards and fence after fence

Cows on the wild horse range

Next I drove down a secondary road (go another 5 miles or so east on hwy 20 and take the first right before you cross Stinkingwater Creek. This is a private road with public access. Go all the way to the closed ranch gate, go back and take the small dirt road south and keep going –looking for wild horses).

Turn here... private road/public access

I drove past fields of tall grass and saw cows on the horizon. It was beginning to get dark, but I was able to photograph cow poop in the sweet little Clear Creek. Upstream both Fiddle and I approved of the water and he waded in and drank. Many deep cow prints and cropped grass ran along the creek edge.

Cow pie in Clear Creek

More cows- beautiful range though

More barb wire-- let's have a public clean-up day!!

There were wild horse stud piles near the road and I was hopeful, but still found no horses. Honestly I could have also missed horses as they could disappear in the juniper or far off sage flats—or I could be looking the wrong way in the right place. Fiddle is very smart but he didn’t find any either.


I made camp under a tall, old juniper near a stud pile and a few broken branches where the wild horses had rubbed their necks and backs. Scattered around the tree was sharp volcanic rock the, when cracked open, reveals a glass-like obsidian core.

Last of the evening light

I felt so fortunate to be in Stinkingwater

Darkness in closed quickly with the storm still raging in the far northwest and the sunset lingering over the far off mountains. I love Oregon for its varied landscapes- plus it is my homeland. When the soup was hot and Fiddle fed I listened to coyotes talking in the dark and cows mooing goodnight. The quiet wild horses were out there too—I  hoped.

Early the next morning, we emerged from the tent and I was half-hoping to find a curious band of horses nearby, but found only the same seven cows on the same hill where they grazing the previous night. We walked down to Clear Creek—still no horses. I started to drive back out to the main road, but then, after a mile, turned the car around, opting to drive farther down the small dirt road near camp. I was glad I did. Parking near some more downed fence and a loose bundle of barbed wire I stopped to photograph again, I found horses!

Wild Horses!

I saw the back of a roan mare first, drinking in Clear Creek. A dark bay stallion and their roan colt appeared next. I stood still and took photos, happy to be with the wild horses again, in my home state to boot. The stallion seemed to know something wasn’t right (i.e. me) but didn’t see me. The stallion drove another roan mare out of the trees and I took a few steps to see them more clearly. The foal, born in March or early April, I would guess, looked up at me, curious rather than scared. He looked to me, and then back to his mother, and then to me, and then to his father. When they didn’t seem to understand his glances, he looked back at me and then resumed grazing.

The foal saw me

I wish I hadn’t taken two more steps. The stallion saw me. He led the band away at a walk and then they all trotted out into the sage flats, looked back and then trotted farther away out of sight.

The exit- prey response

Looking back at the danger (me)

I returned to the car and continued up past Clear Creek until I reached another closed barbed wire fence—with stud piles on the opposite side of what I knew to be their range. This range is a maze of livestock fences and in-holdings of private land – you wouldn’t want to manage wild horses here either even though the range itself is beautiful (save for cattle damaged areas) with abundant forage and water.

Downed fence - hazard for all wildlife

Fiddle and I walked over rocks to the edge of a lookout and were surprised to see two stallions rearing in the not-so-far off distance.

More wild horses - band stallion pushing bachelor away

in action

I told Fiddle to lay down and watched as the band (and the bachelor stallion) moved towards me. With them was a foal who I would place at less than one week old. His sorrel coat faded into light socks as he followed his mother on long legs. My first thought was wow. My second thought was damn—do not round up this band. Running this foal over these rocks and rough terrain even a mile would be inhumane and very dangerous, not to mention his mother’s worst nightmare. There is no reason to remove horses from this area. The range damage is due to the 700 or so cattle that are allowed to graze.

The band moved closer to me- what a treat

I named the colt Pluto, thinking that he is likely the last to be born this year in Stinkingwater.

Pluto with an older brother

Pluto's mom, still very protective, chases young stud away

From my perch I could see Pluto’s band spook when they began to enter the ravine below me. They weren’t looking up at me so I moved quietly and spotted the reason. It was not their natural predator, the mountain lion, but a cow- perhaps their unnatural predator if you consider the range resources cattle are allotted over the wild horses. This cow was standing in the green grass of a mostly dry creekbed. The horses then moved up a fairly steep, rocky,  gravel slope quickly. Pluto slipped and scrambled uphill, but handled it well- at a walk. What if BLM makes the mistake of not clearly instructing the Cattoor roundup crew not to drive in this band? Then I am not at all certain he would survive.

Pluto, mother and brother up the hill- away from the cow

The whole band left the area- not because of me this time

I followed the horses, driving slowly on a dirt road through the sage. The bachelor stallion looked back at me, a lone horse on the horizon.

Pluto's band

My last glimpse of Pluto's band that day

It struck me that this is Secretary of the Interior Salazar’s vision for the wild horses… but it is not mine. America’s last wild horses are revered, yet they have almost disappeared – that rhyme went through my head out on the range.

"The Last Wild Horse" - Secretary Salazar's vision for our public lands?

The Stinkingwater range may be well-managed, but it is managed as a cattle ranch with a string of horses and room for game species (deer, pronghorn and elk). Until Secretary Salazar and the BLM are required to manage wild horses as the principle users of their very limited ranges, we are not going to see an end to BLM’s massive roundups.  Wild horse and burros populations have been carved down to a pittance where there should be thriving, self-sustaining herds.

More fencing

The range

It is hard to swallow all this when you are out on the range, with the wild horses- probably the only human in the vicinity- and the scent of the sage, heating up in the mid-morning sun fills the air and there are deer and antelope. I drove along singing “home, home on the range, where the deer and the antelope play, where seldom is seen a human being and the wild horses can roam free all day.”

Pronghorn- hunting season started on 8/14 for them...

Coming back to reality a more appropriate verse may conclude “where seldom is seen a wild horse herd and the cattle just eat all day.” Final count: 11 wild horses, 3 deer, 3 pronghorn and at least 75 cows… hard to keep track of them.

Cow, again.

I returned to Burns to tell Bill about Pluto and request that that band not be brought in. Bill told me that he did not have the authority to instruct the Cattoors not to roundup Pluto’s band (although this has been done in the Pryors and other areas). Bill said that likely what would happen if Pluto was rounded up is that the helicopter pilot would allow Pluto and his mother to fall back when they couldn’t keep up. I don’t know what kind of shape, physical not to mention mental, that Pluto and his mother would be in by the time that happened. If horses were rounded up at a walk and trot, as the national office likes to claim, then they wouldn’t fall back- but that is not the case in reality. I hope that Bill and the Wild Horse and Burro Specialist, Gary McFadden, will instruct the Cattoors not to roundup Pluto and his band- that is the best decision and the safest for Pluto.

Back down the road towards Burns...

Another Symbol of American Freedom seen today

Close-up. There were two but one flew...

No promises have been made but observers on the only observation day this Thursday will be looking out for Pluto and all the other horses. Pluto is at incredible risk because he is so young and his feet so tender- but all the other horses are also at in jeopardy. If they can successfully navigate the sharp volcanic rocks, the numerous barbed wire fences and the downed barbed wire- along all the other threats of a summer helicopter roundup- then they face a life in captivity where very few will be adopted into good homes.

Just outside of Hiines/Burns Oregon

I ended my adventure with a drive through of the BLM Burns wild horses facility where a few hundred captured wild horses and foals are kept in dirt corrals. There were many many foals but most of the corrals were not very full as they had been recently cleared to make way for the Stinkingwater horses and other captured mustangs. Overall the horses looked to be in great health and if you did not know what they had left then the situation would not appear so cruel. There are many in need of adoption along with the rest of the 38,000 in holding pens and pastures. I think that the BLM does a good job with this facility and I heard many positive remarks about the district in general- I hope that proves true in the Stinkingwater roundup but I fear for all the horses, especially Pluto. 40 horses is less than a third of what is needed for a viable herd and I think that the future of these beautiful bands- marked primarily by roans like Pluto’s mother – is in question.

Click here to view a slideshow of the captured wild horses in the Burns BLM Corral- please contact BLM for adoption information (website): 541-573-4400.

Some of the many

Read the Cloud Foundation’s comments regarding the Stinkingwater Environmental Assessment online here

Read the press release on Stinkingwater here— please share this with media and friends in Oregon


Burns District Oregon HMA map

Short-link to this blog post: http://bit.ly/VisitSW


42 Responses to “A Visit to Stinkingwater: An Oregon Herd”

  1. R.T. Fitch Says:

    Thanks for sharing with Makendra, I felt like I was there with you.

    I did get tired of seeing cows, though.


  2. Marilyn Wargo Says:

    Hey Girl, You had a great trip into the horse range. You also have a good travel companion. The band with the little foal will be on the minds of many. Thanks for getting in there and seeing all you could which is very interesting in relation to the resident wild horses. mar

  3. Anne Novak Says:

    Your photos are wonderful and the journey so well documented ~ searching for American wild horses . . . Thank you.


  4. Nancy Babcock Says:

    Thanks, Makendra, for this–so wonderful that you could be there while it was possible to still see some wild horses. Great job with the pictures and the story. My heart continues to break….

  5. Texas Mustang Project Says:

    Aw Mack! This is just a wonderful piece!!! Awesome job!!!

  6. cat Kindsfather Says:

    Hello Makendra! Thank you for sharing this wonderful trip out in the Stinking water range. Great story and documenting photos to go with your story! I was overjoyed when you found Pluto’s band. What a beautiful family. Now I too am worried for them, especially tiny Pluto, as we all know the Catoors could care less, and humanity is not a priority for them.

    I can’t help but think the water was very stinky where the cows tromped all over and pooped in the water too! YUK!

    I enjoyed this journey with you, as I did feel as though I was there also. Well done, you should write some stories!! Hey, you just did!

    I hope the local BLM personnel will be able to persuade Catoors to stay clear of this band. They look very healthy and beautiful.

    Thanks again for sharing! : )

  7. Oregon Wild Horse Herd Next on BLM Chopping Block « Straight from the Horse's Heart Says:

    […] A Visit to Stinkingwater: An Oregon Herd (thecloudfoundation.wordpress.com) […]

  8. Linda Says:

    Thanks, Makendra. I hope the BLM will be able to keep the Catoors from taking little Pluto’s herd as well, and that he won’t become another tragic statistic on a Gather Report. My question is, who’s IN CHARGE of these operations – the agency or the contractor? Is the tail wagging the dog?

    And I wonder how many BLM representatives would be willing to pitch tents to observe mustangs? I wish they would go out on the land (as you and others have done) and learn for themselves how hard it is to FIND the remaining mustangs. Then perhaps they might realize how few may be left and appreciate the consequences of their actions.

    BLM – If you intend to leave 40, then leave 40 alone. Don’t gather and process them. And don’t release a mare and young foal without the protection of their band. For heaven’s sake, show SOME mercy!

    • Linda Says:

      Does the gray area on the map show the original boundaries of the HMA?

      And the photo of the Bald Eagle is so telling and sums up the government’s priorities. Our nation’s symbol of freedom relegated to perching on a PIPELINE! Both sad and ironic.

  9. Darcy Says:

    Makendra, thank you for taking us on your journey with you! I really hope Pluto does not end up in the BLM’s ugly, dirty hands. It is such a shame to see these beautiful horses keep being removed by a machine from their families & their home, & their freedom.

  10. arlene Says:

    Linda, your posting of the Bald Eagle on the pipeline! perfect! Yes, that is where our government’s priorities lie. God bless the horses and thank you Makendra for such a wonderful ‘journey’ to see the wild horses.

  11. sandra longley Says:

    I feel like David copperfield holding up his empty bowl asking “Sir, can I please have some more porriage” only in this case, that empty bowl is our public lands devoid of wild horses..One bad winter and this herd can be wiped out, all mares PZP’d no chance to recover, and it has happend before in Oregon-all gone-and the National weather Service is predicting a colder and snowier winter..I hope strong families can regroup before winter hits, with lead mares being left as part of the criteria, that know how to find water holes that remain open and know how to melt the ice to get to water..If the BLM is unable to figure out once gathered which are the lead mares I would be happy to help..I have high hopes for the personel at this facility, and hope they donot dissapoint me..I thought they were a model for what could be done right..This is their opportunity to “SHINE” by interceding on plutos small band behalf..The idea that Catoors is in the drivers seat on these decisions-is just wrong-on every level..its like putting Blackwater in charge of the US Army, and it is the government who will take the wrath of the american people if this foal is killed to prove the point that they are in control.

    • Anne-Marie Says:

      Sandra, I share your feelings, the BLM is a heartless CRUEL agency,the movie title comes to mind; WHITE HUNTERS WITH A BLACK HEART! They have no clue who the “lead mares” are!

  12. Laura Leigh Says:

    Awesome “Herd Watching!”
    Now watch how they gather the horses and set the trap sites… so much of this will “not make sense.”

    See you soon!

  13. sandra longley Says:

    I hope this inspires many people to use their vacation time and go out into these areas( armed with a ‘complete” BLM map of the roads..costs 7.50 at the office, a compass and a camera, and be a historian, capture these herds with photos in the wild..It will be the last images of them as wild and free roaming..Believe me when i say, you will get more out of it than you put in to it! Plan your vacation time or a weekend around it if you are close..Once you get off the main roads you will see amazing country with alot of forage and water..SEE with your own eyes and you will be a believer!

    • sandra longley Says:

      Oh yeah, and bring some heavy leather gloves and some ‘nightmares” fencing tool to cut wire- and roll up any down wire you see which is so dangerous to ALL wildlife.

  14. Andi Says:

    Thanks for writing this up and for speaking with me! I talked to Gary and they will keep an eye out for little “Pluto” and will likely leave him and his band alone, as is standard for the Burns BLM where little ones are around.

    I wish you would have said something about needing maps! My book has good maps of ALL the HMA’s in Oregon and include markings for public land and private land, plus roads and such.

    Stinkingwater has been gathered twice in 20 years. The last time it was gathered, 5 years ago, there was a problem at the reservoir with hemlock and horses and cows (and other wildlife) being poisoned. That has been taken care of, they hope and this gather will tell. The minimum AML for Stinkingwater has been 40 horses for over 20 years and the horses haven’t suffered from that number. Winters on Stinkingwater are extremely harsh; late summer and early fall is pretty harsh too. This year is one of the wettest years, and latest spring/summer seasons we have seen in a very long time.

    If you are still in town, feel free to contact me with any concerns you may have!

  15. Tammy Says:

    Thank you for such an awesome write up and excellent pictures. This is the kind of thing so urgently needed by the rest of us who can’t see it for ourselves!
    Tammy Wyke

  16. Boswell Says:

    Great job Makendra! Obviously another already small herd that would not be touched if the law and science were determing factors and welfare cattle were not. Pluto is out of this world but derserves to stay on his land.

  17. Judy Cassario Says:

    Awesome report, Makendra! Camping out there alone with the coyotes howling really shows your commitment to our horses’ welfare. Thanks for all you do. Glad you had Fiddle with you! Prayers for little Pluto. The public needs to see more reports like this.

  18. cat Kindsfather Says:

    Good point about taking tools out for removing downed barbed wire.

    I had a bad experience as a kid in the Colorado mountains. I was running around playing with other kids, far from the vacation cabin. I tripped and fell over barbed wire, landing with both of my palms and knees impaled, and was painfully unable to get up, as the pushing drove the barbs deeper! It made me think of the sufferings of Christ.

    I had to stay just that way, until my friends went for help from the adults, a very painful experience! Then I had to get a tetnus shot! I was not a happy camper.
    Thanks for reminding of the need for being prepared to remove such dangers that are especially brutal for animals encountering this.

  19. Terry Says:

    I enjoyed the subtle sarcasm amidst the report. I can honestly say, though, I don’t have a whole lot of faith that the Cattoors won’t round up that little guy. I’m sure they’ll come up with one of their many ‘excuses’ as to why they had to bring him in. Great work, Makendra!

  20. Karen Says:

    Thanks for the post and the introduction to Pluto and his band. They are stunning.

  21. Susan Emory Says:

    Makendra, you did a fantastic job as a humane observer. You first established common ground and a sort of comaraderie with the officials in charge. I think that is something very necessary in these emotion packed situations.
    You documented everything you saw, reported the facts, photographed the evidences clearly, as an unbiased observer.

    You evaluated your gathered information and offered your conculsions, first to the management, then to the public. Kudos!!!

    I sincerely hope Burns does stand-up job with the gather. It would be refreshing to see. Those heartless Catoors will not care a lick for that baby nor the families … we will see who really wields the power here. If Oregon CAN do humane roundups … why not the others?

    Thank you again, Makendra stellar job! 🙂

  22. Susan Emory Says:

    PS: Amen to Sandra and Judy.

  23. Luanne Says:

    Thanks for your comments. I live a couple of hours from Burns. Heartbreaking to think about the future of this herd. Prayers for all of them.

  24. Bev Pettit Says:

    These are fantastic pictures Pam! And a very interesting read. Thanks so much for sharing a location and story that most of us will never get to experience.

  25. Diary of a First Time Wild Horse Stampede Observer, Part Three « Straight from the Horse's Heart Says:

    […] A Visit to Stinkingwater: An Oregon Herd (thecloudfoundation.wordpress.com) […]

  26. jo burns Says:

    thanks you for this report on Pluto and his family, i pray that blm leaves them alone.
    the photos are great and love the bald eagle. another sign of the americas our bird, our horses our land.
    Salazar should listen to all of our letters and requests and leave the horses be.

  27. Linda H Says:

    Thank you Makendra for sharing with us all! Your descriptions of the landscape, the horses, and even the COWS gave a real sense of what is Stinkingwater. I was happy to see your trusty companion Fiddle there too!

  28. sandra longley Says:

    HI Sisterhood, and brothers! just a brief note before I go out and feed my critters in the dark…Pluto is alive and well and the darling of the photographers…he now has his own following! and may well be adopted by the young son of the very kind and generous ranch owners, who own the “lamb’ ranch//Little pluto was fortunate that he and his band were in close proximatity of the gather site and they were captured by them selves and were already at the holding facility, bagged and tagged as 130 and 134..15 horses were taken the day before, momma was chalked with the mark 18 on her hip at the gather site…which I asked about..why 18 if there were only 15 horses..I was told there were no reported horses put down for any cause and all OLD Stallions are returned to the HMA..NOT gelded…Tara was unaware that geldings had ever been returned to this HMA, and I had updated her on that…No question that came to mind was unasked, and I had many..I have one point to make-to any of you who attend these roundups..find your voice, do not be silent and do not be intimidated! more later before I leave for Twin Peaks..a last note…Pluto was not the youngest or last born..a very tiny pale palamino-the size of a new born fawn came in the last herd..it was terrifying as they fought the helicopter all the way and refused to go near or in, and at this point I raised a fuss…and had a defining momment…of conversation with our BLM guide about what the protocols are of the WH&B handbook on young foals and why that needs to be followed…nothing like a good dust up to make me happy!!!

    • Tammy Wy Says:

      Thank you so much !!! What a great start and great news. I know the local volunteers have worked hard with the BLM people. Maybe it’s been helping?
      I so wish to, and maybe I actually will, follow up on your suggestion to go out there. The weather is perfect and I might have a friend who can take me.

  29. sandra longley Says:

    I have some specific concerns for this herd, and altho i studied the EA and did extensive research I had not realised until watching this gather, the numbers of roan horses, which adds to the danger of wiping out this herd- a roan gene contributed by both parents is lethal in 1 out of 3 births..in the case of this herd, the amount of roans indicates there are becoming homogonous for this gene as roaning in the general population is not a common or frequent color and it is most dominant here…by cutting the population to 40 horses-add to that the number of foals who will be born dead because of the lethal gene..and you have a serious problem in the near future..I saw 90 head gathered approx 1/2 of the total to be gathered..in that 90 were only 11 foals..I think that already indicates a problem..Horses that do not inherit that gene from both sides are completely healthy, and there are some beautiful roan colts in this herd, these horses have wonderful calm disposistions…there was no banging and clanging going on in the gather pens as we have become used to, and this is one of the questions I asked of Tom the manager there, as we all viewed Pluto and his mother venus, and took photos..they had both just been shaved and branded and were in a pen at the end of the indoor arena…and so very calm, her eye was soft as she looked at us and she kept herself between us and the baby-there was no panic in her..I was so impressed..he said these horses have historically been very easy to handle due to the influence of draft blood, which you do not see in the characteristics of the mares and foals but the Stallions brought in do definatey show that past history..I do not think that is in any way a negative thing and for those folks wanting to adopt very clam and quiet mustangs as well as beautiful roans, these horses woud be an excellent choice…and they are FAT..even the BLM commented on the condition of all the horses..no shortage of food here..This division does do an excellent job with the horses, with true care and concern for the individuals…The mares with the small babies are given special care and hauling…I hung out at the facility anxiously awaiting the arrival of that pale cloud like fawn baby(the only palimino baby I saw as most horses are roans with bays blacks and a few sorrels) His coat color had turned darker as he was drenched in sweat,,,when he did not arrive with his nmother I was very concerned..I went to several people involved in bringing the horses in, and they ‘assurred me” he was doing fine and that they had 5 mares there still at the gather pens with very small foals they were keeping overnight-to haul together the next day, as they were moving to a new gather site..and it is not open for viewing..and i guess I will have to be satisfied with that for now or cancel my plans for twin peaks and go back to see for myself, and believe me I am tempted to do just that. If anyone who reads this-is going out there to the facility-I ask you to check on them..I was the only WH advocate there and believe me…I can see the importance of having one of us there…that will counter some of the statements made..most of the folks were there as wildlife photographers, and people had questions..and the “””wild horse humane observer is a WH volunteer for the BLM who works for them…and he was controlling the information given in respose to the questions and its the same old line….aml…too many births…only way to control…ect,,,I spoke up to counter everyone of those claims and made some coverts in the process…to the question won’t these horses all suffer and die if we don’t remove them..i said we are not removing the wildlife or the cattle on the chance we will have a bad winter or a drought ..why are we only removing the horses..who have the fewest numbers on the land/ It is very effective argument..keep it simple so people understand how ludicrous it all is…give them back the land that has been confiscated from their HMAs and they are not over AML>

    • Marilyn Wargo Says:

      It only takes a couple people with skills to show and tell us about what this HMA and these horses are like. This needs to be done before each roundup and during and after to complete the information and see changes brought about by this harsh removal of the wild ones who made this place home. If you remove cattle the AML goes up. The horses lives depend upon that so many times on so many HMAs. It seems a simple thing and yet it has done all this damage to our nations wild ones.

      It is ludicrous, Sandra, yes. For the cows and the pipelines and the mines and energy projects we are losing our wild horses and their heritage is on the brink. They are not overpopulated. They are being taken away from freedom and dignity for the stupid notion they are in the way. Protected species with a questioned past. Protected species who were given freedom and respect to remain always. Where have they all gone? Give them back to their lands and stop the killing and the displacement. Stop the roundups now. mar

    • Tammy Wy Says:

      Excellent info!

  30. Craig Downer Says:

    Excellent report, Makendra. Felt like I was there, and I can relate from similar experiences. Too bad we still have such grossly unfair policies in effect toward these returned native species, the wild horses, who do so much to truly restore and reinvigorate the West. They combine strength and beauty and are harmonious, healing presences, something I would not say about modern civilized man today!

  31. sandra longley Says:

    I would like to say we were all very well treated by the BLM personel at the Burns location… no armed gaurds or violations of civil rights….And there is no doubt…I tested poor Taras patience thru a very long day that started at 4:30 am and ended at around 2:30, and have tremendous respect for her, Normally i am a laughing and joking person, but the roundups themselves are very tense, I am so aware of what can and does go wrong, and that this is the last day of their wild and free roaming life as a wild horse..it is sobering..but i urge you all to fight the sadness with dermination, to do more, to say more, to ALWAYS speak for the horses…My speaking up-is not some militant action, but a duty and responsability, these are OUR horses, they are NOT owned by the BLM as signs everywhere in the facility tell you, they are held “IN TRUST” for the American people as our are public lands..This has been definatively stated in a court of law, and we must assert our ownership by voicing our concerns over “policys” of the BLM and work to change them


    I think what we are see here is the difference in generations. It seems that now people have been trained to take the word of “authority” and not even question. Sandra’s generation was taught to QUESTION everything, especially authority.

  33. Becky Morgan Says:

    I have just happened on your website. I am a horse lover and don’t know much about what is happening, but from what I’ve read I feel the number of wild horses left on the ranges are far too few. The cruelty of using hellicopters! What happened to useing horses and having the old cowboy round-ups. Afraid it will cost too much money?! Look at what you are currently doing and you will find the costs are far greater!
    Save the wild horses, PLEASE!
    How do you apply to adopt these horses? I didn’t see the link. I have 80 acres and would love to give them a home!! They would be well taken care of and loved.

  34. Susan Emory Says:

    May I ask, why my comments are still waiting for moderation, when other later comments are published. Not that I had anything earthshattering or profound to say in them … just wondering. My intent is to support you and your work … not detract. I am pretty new to all of this. Would appreciate a reply. Thank you. Susan

  35. Honor Hannon Says:

    Makes me feel ill to see “how very nice the BLM personal are “at this facility!! Guess that expensive PR contract is paying off. They are such nice concerned guards, but they are not in charge so can’t make any independant decisions about mares and foals, number of wild horse advocates allowed to watch the roundups ,and the important days afterward etc. Of course the Cattors can do anything they want. Makes me almost wish that the Cattors were on our side. No one fools them.

  36. Rick Habein Says:

    Where does one start? I am sorry to experiance such biased dialogue. We too are advocates of humane handling of the animals in our care. There seems to be a feeding frenzy mentality amongst the “horse advocates” just now. The more horrific the tale the more hits or views. Sick, really. Our experiance with this gather was very good. Over 200 horses handled and two minor lacerations and one mare with a slightly weakend condition. Most of the horses were never moved faster than a trot, unless under their own violation, such as running up a small hill or catching up to others. One group of studs were actually grazing as they walked along, the helicopter was hovering on the horizon. The baby foals were always set aside to keep them safe. The bad actors, agressive studs and mares, were sorted imediately to prevent them from picking on others. The Cattoor crew was as good as one could ask for. Bright energetic young men who were committed to efficiently getting the animals sorrted and off to the horse corrals in Burns. All the animals save one mare group were in and out the same day. The Pilot on this gather was a great stockman. Much of the time he was a mile or more off the animals, he was very good in his positioning and was a presence and not much more until right at the last. The trap sights were very well chosen, and the horses were in before they knew it. This was further evidenced by the calm which was observed shortly after the gates were closed. I really did not expect these “wild” horses to settle so quickly. I believe feral better suits as a descriptive word. The phenotype of the Stinking water horse has typically been very “draft’ like . Many were as such. There is a lighter made more quarter/throughbred looking group emerging and I would guess that these will be more appealing to the adopting public. We enjoy having these horses out the gate. We endure the costly repairs to fences and water troughs and springs as we understand that this is our part to hold up. Without this input the wildlife and horses would have a harder go at getting along in the stinking water range. Our cattle ,300 head, are out for four months. The other 8 months belong to every thing else. The name Stinking Water came from the name the indians used when the salmon would spawn and die in the creek. Not cow poop. Whatever. The public should come out and use and enjoy their public lands, perhaps a closer touch would allow reason and understanding. 40 head are scheduled to come back after having their vaccinations and a booster. We will be looking for our favorite marker horses. The ones that stand out like the grey mare and the bay stud with the blaze and 4 white socks whose tail is always too short because the foals are always nibbling it off. There are the roans both blue and red, the buckskins and dark browns. Liver chestnuts with a flaxen mane and tail who go back to a friends granfather who turned out Belgian work horses after the war. I am not sure what I hoped to accomplish with this naritive, perhaps a bit of calming of the churning waters of yet another feeding frenzy. No story here. Speaking of adoption, There are 250,000. humans in the United States that need a home.
    Aloha for now.

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