A New Beginning for Older Wild Horses from Adobe Town
In September and October of 2014, 1263 wild horses were removed from Great Divide Basin, Salt Wells Creek and Adobe Town Herd Management Areas by the BLM. This was done due to a lawsuit and pressure and influence exerted by the Rock Springs Grazing Association, a very small but powerful association whose goal is to eradicate wild horses from both private and public lands in Wyoming. Although in the 80s an agreement was reached between the BLM, wild horse advocates and the Rock Springs Grazing Association for how many wild horses would be allowed in the vast checkerboard of private and public lands in the Red Desert of Wyoming, the grazing association contended that the BLM was not keeping the numbers of wild horses in check, so their solution was to pressure the BLM to remove all of them, not only from private lands but also from public lands on 2 million acres, and they forced the BLM to manage the public lands in the Checkerboard Area in one block, as though they were part of private lands, even though this is illegal. The court denied the advocates fighting to represent the wild horses a Temporary Restraining Order and Emergency Injunction to stop the roundup, so currently the wild horses removed are in short term holding facilities: about 600 are at Rock Springs, Wyoming, about 500 in Canon City, Colorado and about 100 youngsters are at Axtell, Utah.
The wild horses are the victims in this outrageous land grab struggle. Even though there were fewer than the Appropriate Management Level in each of these Herd Management Areas at the time of the roundup, with no opportunity for public comment the horses were removed, and now only 89 wild horses remain in Great Divide Basin, 29 in Salt Wells Creek and approximately 515 in Adobe Town.
I attended as many days of the roundup as I could. It was a very different experience than any roundup I had been to before in Wyoming because they were trying to capture every single horse in the Checkerboard Areas. This resulted in many more deaths than usual – a total of 14, and also resulted in the capture of many more older horses than usual. They spent hours driving single bands over and over again to the trap, when the older stallions knew what was happening and valiantly tried to evade capture.
The lawsuit that we advocates brought against the BLM continues, but the horses have been captured and removed already, and wait for their fate. A small percentage of horses that were captured have been adopted, and this is where my story begins.
One day while I was staying in Rock Springs waiting for the BLM to continue the roundup, I drove into Adobe Town. This area is extremely remote, over 30 miles from the highway on dirt roads. You can drive for many miles and not see a single horse on the roads I traveled, mainly because most of them in this area had already been rounded up. But as I approached Pine Butte and Sand Butte near Eversole Ranch, as I headed up a hill I saw several groups of wild horses peacefully grazing. It is common in some herd areas for family bands that know each other to stay close together at times. It is a wonderful opportunity to study the behavior and family interaction of the horses. I was amazed to see many Appaloosas in these families. I had never seen an Appaloosa in the wild before and the different and varied coat patterns were striking. I first observed a stallion whose coat looked like snow had fallen all over it. He proudly lifted his head and stood his ground as I approached. He had a striking black and white pinto mare with dramatic markings and a small foal. Then I observed a large family with a stunning sorrel stallion, and they were very curious about me, running by and then running toward me to get a closer look. Then I turned and saw an older stallion with bronze highlights glinting off his coat, and an Appaloosa “blanket” over his rump. Despite an enlarged knee, he trotted by with a float in his gait, proudly protecting his family and investigating a new person is his territory. I was enchanted by his pride and by his beautiful family, which included a gorgeous Appaloosa mare whose coat also looked like snow had fallen, and a protective sorrel pinto mare, and two sorrel mares. They moved past me and up onto a ridge, and the stallion paused to look back at me.
I walked back to my car and pulled out my map. My heart sank as I traced the pattern of the Checkerboard over the area that I was in. These horses did not stand a chance. Their freedom was going to be measured in days, not weeks, not years as it should have been.
After seeing the last days of the roundup, I made plans to go to Canon City to see the wild horses that had been removed. Although the BLM referred to all of the wild horses that were removed in this area as being from Salt Wells Creek, many were from Adobe Town. I was determined to find some of the horses I had seen that day. I also called Manda Kalimian, of the Cana Project, formerly Seraphim 12, http://www.seraphim12foundation.org/ and I told her about these horses, and asked if there was any way she could take some of the older horses. Manda immediately said she would work on it, and we corresponded by phone and email about where these wild horses could find a new home. I knew that Manda with her great love for horses and concern about the wild horses and their fate would manage to make something work, and I started to feel hope amidst the great despair I had been feeling these last few months.
When I arrived at the corrals at the BLM Canon City facility, the first horses I saw was the bronze Appy stallion, who I named Bronze Warrior. He was peacefully munching hay and quietly observing near the other older stallions in his pen. I was so glad to have found him! In the same pen I also saw the amazing Appaloosa stallion I named Snowfall with the pinto mare, and then was able to find her as well. She was aged at 20 years old, and Bronze warrior at 22 years old, the oldest stallion that had been rounded up.
I found the striking pinto stallion that had been rounded up on the last day of the roundup in Adobe Town at Eversole Ranch when none of the public was there to witness, so that the BLM took close up photos of the horses coming in:
I sent Manda the photos, and this fueled the fire for both of us to find a home for these horses. I also emailed Kathi Fine at Rock Springs to see if I could find some of the mares in Bronze Warrior’s family so that at least two families could be reunited. The stallions have all been gelded at this point, but at least they can be with their mares again.
In the meantime, Manda called me with the wonderful news that she had just gotten off the phone with Susan Watt of the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary in South Dakota http://www.wildmustangs.com/ and that Susan was very excited about taking the older horses. She was also enthused about being able to reunite at the sanctuary not one, but two families who had been ripped apart during the roundup. This was such welcome news. I had first met Susan two years ago when I went to interview her and see and tour the sanctuary, and I knew that she would take amazing care of these horses. The Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary is an amazing place, and will be perfect for older horses to live out their lives in peace, and as free as possible.
We developed a plan. Kathi Fine at Rock Springs told me that she had at least two of the mares we were looking for, but since they were short handed none of the wild horses rounded up in the fall would be available for adoption or sale until February. So we decided to take the four in Canon City to the Black Hills Sanctuary this week and to take a second load from Rock Springs to the Sanctuary in February when the horses were ready to go.
I will be sending updates and photographs of the horses’ arrival this week at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, with the reunion of Snowfall and Diamond Girl who have been separated since the roundup. Next month I will be documenting the reunion of Bronze Warrior and his family.
There are still many wild horses needing good homes at Canon City – to see photos and more information go here:
I was really excited to hear of the reunion of the two families. I really wish the government would stop being so blinded by the greed of the ranchers. Cattle destroy the land and it has been proven. It is not the wild mustang that is tearing up the land. It is a disaster that these beautiful creatures of God have been removed and gelded. There is a different solution if those involved would just use an open mind and see the mustang as part of God’s grace instead of a menace. I really wish someone would let them all go. Such a loss to our heritage. It is such a shame-only 89 wild horses remain in Great Divide Basin, 29 in Salt Wells Creek and approximately 515 in Adobe Town.Why can’t they let them live in peace. What these governor’s don’t realize is it’s not their state and they do not have the right to annihilate the herds because they don’t like horses or because the cattle ranchers run the governors. The state belongs to “the people of the state” not to the governor to ruin to his or her liking. The public has the right to know what the governor is doing to their wildlife without their knowledge and has a right to speak on the wildlife’s behalf. Why do they stand by and let this happen. Don’t they think they have a voice? Let the mustang roam free. It’s their right. They’ve earned it- through their loyalty in the history of our past.
All of you who worked so hard to bring these horses “home” and allow them to be together again – thank you from the bottom of my heart. How sad that the stallions were all gelded but at least by February they can be with their herds again. That doesn’t seem to happen too often anymore. But thank heavens that these few horses can live like wild horses.
It sure is ridiculous – this whole removing these animals who have lived for over 20 years free just to placate this privileged few doesn’t it?
I absolutely agree with Maggie. Of course, it’s no secret who the privileged few are is it? When you read the news about who is pushing to have them removed and who is at the helm (roots in the ranching community) their stand on this does not surprise me at all. It does tear my heart out realizing those people are not looking out for preserving one of the treasures of Wyoming for the youth of tomorrow but only looking toward their own selfish agendas.
Thank God for all of the people who have been able to help preserve our wild horses through their hard work. I am so happy these few will be able to join their herds and live their lives in peace.
Bless you all.
I can only think that this must be a last greedy grab for grazing rights-maybe due to problems with GMO feed etc
Carol, what became of Theodore? Will he go to Black Hills Sanctuary as well?
Theodore is going to Black Hills along with Bronze Warrior, Diamond Girl and Snowfall this week on the first trip.
I (and all of us) will be waiting to hear when these wonderful animals get to go home to a place where they can be free.
THANKS CAROL FOR ALL YOU DO WE REALLY REALLY APPRECIATE IT
I am trying to track down the photographer that has Mica and mustang that was gathered and adopted by the photographer. I am curious what color she is now. My baby is the same color as a yearling but they say she will turn grey. Just curious if you know who the photographer is that purchased her?
I am the photographer who adopted Mica, you can see my blog posts on Mica on this website. Mica was palomino colored when I adopted him, he turned gray by the time he was 2 and he dappled and now he is 8 and he is very light gray, I am sure in a few years he will be all white. His mom was a gray and gray is a dominant color, lots of gray in Adobe Town!
These are some of the most amazing looking horses – you just dont see colors and markings like that. Very sad but at least they will be safe. Thank you to the amazing people and organizations that make that possible. Something, somewhere has got to break and these government organizations will hopefully be ousted out of the fat office chairs they sit on down to where they belong. I would be one of the first in line to do it! Beautiful photos by they way.
It brings happy tears to my eyes to see the work put in to save these older horses. One of my pet peeves is to wonder why they have to be removed in the first place, then the uncertainty of their fates after.
So many times we’ll read in the removal stats about a 30 year old mare, nearly toothless, ‘humanely euthanized’. Strong enough to be removed, but not worth saving or releasing?
Ok; rant done. This is a celebration!
I agree with you, Lisa – this euthanizing older HEALTHY horses, that have been living just fine in the wild! Chase the daylights out of them & then decide they need to be put down. STUPID! I think we all need to rant some more!
Thank you for your dedication and services to save the wild horses.
It breaks my heart, and really makes me angry, that our government has to step in and mess with mother nature, oh yes they saved them persay geld them sterilize them, then put these animals in pens, its bravo Bullshit. These HORSES linages date back all the way to Cortez, they carried the Natives through battles and daily life who has that right to take their Freedom and doom them to a life in a pen or take there Balls. Ok a few of them get adopted but most of them end up in the slaughter houses, the government spends millions of dollars to feed them and house them ,its political rhetoric, just let them be and let nature take its course. They take their Spirit, shame on them.
[…] Report by Carol Walker ~ Director of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation as published on WildHoofBeats.com […]
A heart-warming article and stunning photos of horses living free. Thank you for sharing your work and dedication to these animals. Wild horses and burros living on BLM lands are one of the last bastions representing the United States, they are iconic animals and I believe it to be the duty of BLM to safegaurd their way of life.
I enjoyed your aticle so much I took the liberty of re-blogging it on my site: http://telania.wordpress.com/2015/01/07/wild-horses-a-new-beginning-for-older-wild-horses-from-adobe-town/ I hope you don’t mind.
Greetings, Carina from Sweden
Thank God for people like you, seems animals don’t have any rights or freedom any more, hurts my heart
My neighbors once saw a herd of wild horses running free in southern Colorado. They still talk about one of the most breathtaking experiences of their lives. It imprinted on their hearts and minds as something very rare to behold. A herd of cattle could never match that. Greed drives everything in this country, but some of us see beyond it, that there are things far above it. Even the State of Nevada, who has wild horses on their quarter, continues to cave into greed, rounding up their wild horses on the most god-forsaken lands where they try to survive. The BLM has a chance now to work for the majority of taxpayers who pay their salary, and who want wild horses and their federal habitats preserved. Like Europe, the U.S. will ultimately be over-populated with people, leaving no open space or room for other life. Think about it.
Thank you for all your efforts to help our beautiful horses. As I type, I cry. It’s the wrong way they are doing things & it is such a sickening thing that they’re doing. I always have believed that all of nature was meant to be – the humans are so rotten that destroy it all!
Carol, I agree with everything you say BUT you mentioned “cattle” and their “comparison to horses” … don’t compare cattle with horses (apples-oranges) — what’s more, I also feel sorry for the cattle — it’s the cattle RANCHERS, the HUMAN element with their philosophy of greed, that’s driving our horses out, NOT the cattle (I’m pretty much convinced that you know this, but I want you to know I’m reading what is written and …)
Well said, Carol Todd. These horses are representative of so much, yet they will fade away on their native ranges. THANK YOU, Carol Walker, Mandi, and others who supported these elder horses and their families. It is one small triumph on a bleak landscape. Bless you, Carol, for using your talent and lens to document the horses’ plight. You are their voice. Thank you.
Carol, with US in latter days and the New World Order ready to take over,most of us will be done away with.
Carol Walker’s photos are beautiful!
How old is Theodore? He is gorgeous and seems to be a “character.”. Thank you for saving him and the others. I look forward to reading updates.
Thank you a million fold — WE MUST DEFEND OUR HORSES — WE ARE THEIR VOICE — THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO LIVE — THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO THEIR LAND — DO NOT GIVE IN TO LIVESTOCK RANCHERS FOR GOD KNOWS THEY HAVE ENOUGH LAND AND ARE ALWAYS UNSATISFIED — THEY HAVE TOO MUCH ALREADY — THEIR APPETITE NEEDS TO BE CURBED — IN A VERY BIG WAY!
Because these horses do NOT have their land anymore, I am so thankful to the Horse Sanctuaries who are taking them in … you are all beautiful … I love you all …. you are doing noble work … AND, what’s more, you are doing the right thing — especially by the horses — as you know, horses are no different than us — WE ALL WANT TO LIVE — and you are allowing these beauties to continue with their lives, with their families and friends to boot.
Once again, thank you!
Blessings to you for helping these wonderful horses! Thank you!
Bless you for all the work you do to help these beautiful horses, who deserve to run free. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I am not here to proselytize but the fact remains that consumption of meat is directly connected to the huge herds of cattle that these mostly millionaire ranchers are “raising” (both a euphemism and oxymoron). A change in our eating habits, that is transition to an all-plant based diet would go far in helping to dismantle the destructive and barbaric animal agriculture industry. There have been many excellent books and films produced in recent years. But, if you were to choose one, see Cowspiracy. It’s all (environment, human health, animal welfare, economics, politics) connected.
i think someone should look into the BLM and find out who is being paid off by ranchers and goverment officials to get their way. Maybe some of these people don”t need their jobs and people who have the real interests of the wild horses in mind should be making these decisions.
G-d bless all of you who have come to the aid of these horses. It brings me back 60 years to my childhood when “Smokey the Cowhorse” was my favorite book, and which I kept and in time gave to my daughter. She became a horse lover and has her own mare now. It breaks my heart what those cold self- absorbed people are doing
Just wanted to thank you for taking the time to do what you did to help save and preserve the wild horses. I starting getting involved after I saw photos posted on fb of the wild horses in SWB, CO. I’ve been there twice to see them in person. I live in FL but I knew that I had to see them in person. It was a thrill of a life time to see these beautiful creatures in the wild. I sign petitions, donate money and write letters to try and do something to help them. It’s a very complicated issue and they need all the help they can get. Again thank you all you do for them.
GOD please help our beautiful America come back to the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave! Amen
Carol I met you at the pick up in marshall,nc. I adopted the rose grey gelding from Adobe town. I look at your pictures and just wonder if one of those stallions could be my horses sire. I so wish these horses could all live out their lives as they should, wild and free. It makes my heart hurt. At least these few are together.
Anyways take care and try and stay warm
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Helicopter drives should never be used to trap wild horses. Too many disruptions to family groups, lost and injured foals, arbitrary bulk sales to meat buyers cause corruption and bad decisions.
If too many family groups exist in a given area, bait trap adoptable animals to thin each group a little. Make large cuts to BLM budgets and force transparency on them.