Note: Please do not use these pictures for anything, or copy them. They were given permission to me by the Cloud Foundation. Here is the link to the website. http://www.thecloudfoundation.org/. I have entered yet another essay in this years contest, about miniature horses (one of my favorite topics) :D. This essay may be sad for a few people, I feel that we need to raise wild horse awareness, so this extinction can be stopped. Sorry that the font is a little messed up.....
Note: I have been in interested in horses all of my life. Three months ago I became part of MEPSA. I am now showing in Novice, and it is so much fun. In my first novice show I was awarded Reserve Grand Champion. I have been collecting since I was seven. It is awesome hobby. I wrote this essay because I want the last wild horses in America to be revived.
Wild Horse Mismanagement
Manes blowing, ears pinned, hooves hardly touching the ground as the wild horses gallop through the western prairie. The mustang is America’s last wild horse. The mustang’s are descended from early Iberian horses brought from Mexico by the Spanish conquistadors. The mustang has become an American legend. They used to
The helicopter brings the scared horses towards camouflaged corrals. Most big herds run top speed for 15 or more miles, which is often deadly for a horse to run that fast for so long. As they get close to the hidden pens, a “Judas” horse, which has been trained to run into the corrals with the horses following, is released. The Judas horse runs into the pens, and the wild horses follow the Judas horse into the enclosed area. The helicopter flies close to the gate, keeping the horses in the corrals until the gates are closed.
Now captured, the horses are separated from their bands, and then sorted in different pens by gender and age. The hired hands use “flags” (a plastic bag at the end of a large stick) to scare the horses and get them to move into single file. Then they, one at a time, go through a squeeze chute, where their age and gender are determined. The stallions and mares that are over the age of 5 or 6 are put up for release sometimes. More often they are sent to holding facilities in Oklahoma or All horses are marked with various colors such as blue, green and red paint are sprayed on their rears: an X for release and a number if it is are sent to a holding facility. Horses of a desirable color, such as palomino, blue roan, red roan and black or rare colors such as champagne, are marked for release in hopes of breeding the color down to other foals.
The horses most likely to be bought are younger mares and stallions or yearlings and colts. Older horses are sometimes released, but many are gelded, (making it impossible to reproduce), and sent to already full holding facilities. The fortunate horses over 10 years old are subject to the Burns Sale Authority and released to live their lives in freedom. But most of the time are still gelded and sent to facilities.
At the holding sanctuaries, the now gelded stallions will be put into a pen, where they could adjust to their new home. After getting adjusted to the area, the horses will be set out to pastures with many other geldings. For now they will stay in the pasture, but they could be sold at any time, usually to the slaughter house. The released horses go and find new mares, but before they can recover their former population the BLM would be back, dropping the horses to an even lower number.
Why would the BLM take the older stallions to holding facilities? These facilities are expensive; they house many more horses than are ever adopted, and then traumatize them further to be gelded, which do kill some stallions. What happened to the Congress act in 1971? The answers lie in the politics of government land management.
The BLM also is responsible for issuing grazing permits to cattle ranchers on pubic lands for very little money; fewer than two dollars per cow-calf per month, while private land leases for fifteen dollars a month. To a cattle rancher, wild horses are competition for grass, and to the BLM public lands horses represent expense. The BLM also gets intense pressure from, oil drillers, and gas drillers, so wild horse AMLs have decreased rapidly. Right now, the BLM public lands support over 200 head of cattle for every single wild horse. But, with over 4 million cattle and over 6 million large game animals estimated on the BLM lands and only 24,000 or less wild horses, the wild horses use up only one percent of grazing land. Therefore, removal of the wild horses would make little to no impact even on the overgrazed lands.
The BLM says that they must keep the horses population low, because they reproduce at a high rate (20-30%) and they would eat themselves to death. But, in 1982 the National Study of Sciences showed that horses reproduce at a much lower rate (10 %.) Originally there were 303 Herd Management Areas, but as of today, there are only 179 areas and the BLM keeps the number of horses in each area low, sometimes only as little as 10 horses per area. That also threatens the genetics within the herd, and could cause interbreeding. One area has 575,000 acres and only fifty horses. The wild horses are slowly being managed to extinction.
Solutions for the future are to permit the increase of allotment numbers of horses within the BLM’s Herd Management Areas. Another solution is to have the BLM pay cattle rancher’s who hold grazing allotments to allow the horses to stay on the ranchers leased land. It would help the rancher and the horse from the trauma of being shipped to areas, leaving their bands, and would relieve the cost of housing and feeding in holding areas. The BLM could also have tours to see the wild horses and to use the money to pay the ranchers.
~CBL (my actual name was on here, but for the sake of this being on a public blog, has been removed).
Note: All pictures are used with permission from the cloud foundation.