Sunday, November 7, 2010

Advocate, the new dirty word


Do you know people think it's a conspiracy? That the BLM is breeding horses in secret? That they're hauling them to Mexico for slaughter? That they're secretly running them to death with a helicopter and not telling us?

So here I sit on a hill full of sage among friends who have also come to witness the gather. We want to have the total experience, to know first had just how 'brutal' it is.

Except we don't see a single horse. The helicopter has returned several times to refuel, but horses are so far out that he never gets them to the trap sight.

Now on this trip we have an 'Advocate'. Someone who claims to be the voice of reason for the wild horses (this is what 'Advocates' claim.) She is now insinuating that the BLM ran the horses so hard that they were afraid to bring them all the way in. And you KNOW if the BLM had actually brought them in after 8 hours, she'd have complained that they'd run them 8 hours.

Darling has been told that Advocate is a dirty word. She is no longer allowed to use it.

Why people can't grasp the need for gathers is beyond me. Really, truly beyond me. I'm frustrated with photographers who only show the fat, healthy horses, but forget to show you the ones who are thin and struggling.


We were up at Warm Springs before dawn. It was chilly before the sun came out. The helicopter was about an hour behind schedule getting there. And for the most part, everyone was in a good mood on the hill. It was tedious...the waiting, that is. The helicopter came back to refuel a couple of times, and now and then we could hear his engine over the top of the hills. But we never saw horses.

There were only two viewing days, and each group of people could attend only one. It was nearly 4 when we were told they were calling it off on Friday since the pilot didn't want to push the horses any further. While we were disappointed, we were at least happy that the horses weren't over taxed. Well...most of us.

Maggie and Farrel were there on Saturday, and she's got photos as well as video that I'll get for you here in the next day or two. And while they were seeing horses gathered, Darling and I were up on the South Steens visiting with a few old friends.


We're heading home today after picking up Deb's new horses. Pictures...yes...I'll have some of those coming for you tomorrow. Wish us a safe journey home!


Kristi said...

Can't wait to see more pics!

It's really too bad that there are people out there that are so determined to put a bad spin on what is being done they are hindering more than they are even remotely helping.

I want land! I want another mustang but can't afford to board a second one :(

Crystal said...

Some people give everyone a bad name! I wish they would really be trying to do the best for the horses!
Glad you were there, even if you didnt get to see any horses brought in. There are many there who need a new home cause they arent doing well out there.
Cant wait to see the pictures.

Terri Farley said...

>>I'm frustrated with photographers who only show the fat, healthy horses, but forget to show you the ones who are thin and struggling<<
I'm not a photographer, so I can only talk about what I've seen. I've seen six round-ups in the last year-- at Calico & Twin Peaks. I've seen about the same number of horses in bad shape on capture. Most were aged mares and I've seen a good share of pampered domestic horses -- one gelding upon which I lavished special food, special shoes, special care of all sorts, everything short of bringing him into my bedroom -- which just lost flesh and declined from age.
Horses held in the Fallon facility were a different story. I saw terrible injuries, furious confusion and dazed bewilderment among old horses which probably didn't know they were fragile in their family groups. In captivity, they took fast slides into illness.
Those were the Calico horses. I haven't seen the Silver King horses or any others, because the Fallon facility is on the private Broken Arrow Ranch and it is on lockdown.
I've watched the Calico Mountain herds for years and I will be happy to tell you more. This is not spin.
Proud to be an advocate for wild horses everywhere,
Terri Farley

CATZBRAT said...

Excellent post Terri Farley! I was itching to get my two cents on this! I was elated to see your post when I got to the comments box!

I have only witnessed one roundup onsite @ Twin Peaks. All the horses looked fantastic! I did look at ALL documenting photos and video of Calico Mountain Mustangs @ roundups, onsite traps images, even BLM's documentation. These horses were stunning, muscular and so gorgeously healthy! Truthfully, I saw ONE, yes one skinny mare! I keep my eyes wide open all the time, no matter which direction I am looking to. Obviously not every single animal will be in top condition! Life is not that way, not even for humans!! But the ratio of healthy animals shows they can take care of themselves quite well, and they have been for hundreds of years!

I had 12 consecutive visits to see the Calico horses in captivity at Broken Arrow, with over 9,000 photographic images taken! I think I might have a clue about them. They were in my opinion 98% in perfect body condition off the range. Ailments and injuries came post gather and in the BLM's leased facility. Sure, they got food and water in there, but in no way do I feel they had enough attentions! Broken necks, backs and legs, Hematomas or strangles, respiratory infections, etc., occurred in the holding facility called Broken Arrow in Fallon. A bossy mare stealing a foal, undetected except by advocates! It is quite possible some foals died due to this, such as is possible of Feather/Sorro!
There are not enough eyes on them to know.

I still say that one vet, traveling hours between 2 facilities in a day for over 3 or 4 thousand horses, is certainly not enough. Exactly what kind of spin are you speaking of Kristi?
I also saw many Tuscarora mustangs on the first day in, @ Palomino Valley! Stunning horses in stellar health!!! And I might add, they got little or no rest post roundup, as they were processing many of them in the chutes that first day in, as mares and foals franticly ran around in a pen, terrified by the sounds of equine screams and banging of wild bodies on metal bars. What kind of spin are you implying Kristi?

Wild horses viewed on the range, definitely do enrich the American spirit as deemed by congress!
I certainly can attest to that as a wild horse photographer!! But, they do not put money in the pockets of greedy corporations nor the cattle ranchers that want public lands for their private use & profits. Hence the wild horse is suffering, along with the American people who love and appreciate them in their natural environment. Lands designated by Congress in 1971, explicitly for the wild horses & burros, have been disappearing in sales and leases. What spin are you speaking of???
No one is pulling the wool over our eyes.

I too am proud to be a wild horse advocate!!!
Cat Kindsfather

wetarez said...

I am a proud advocate. That "thin" horse in the picture is no thinner than an endurance horse in prime shape. Y'all must be used to looking at obese Quarter Horses. Leave the mustangs alone. Free is better than corralled and fat. Furthermore, remove the EIGHT MILLION welfare rancher cattle and the horses will have plenty to eat.

MyShilohRanch said...

Oh man, you guys ... I hate to see the gap of division growing between friends of the Wild Horses.

Unfortunately, I agree that "advocate" is starting to take on a negative connotation of "radical activist" ... versus genuine "helper of wild horses." This is a shame.

But, please, let's don't group people as us or them!

I have been observing from both sides of the fence, so to speak. There are people I DEEPLY respect on BOTH sides.

From the overwhelming amount of eyewitness accounts and (yes, sorry) photos ... it seems we have 2 distinctly different experiences.

The BLM in OR is obviously doing a MUCH better job with the horses in their care. They also have been great about working with the public AND the public cooperates with them. Their management thus far seems very realistic, reasonable, and beneficial to the horses.

Then on the other hand, the horrendous things going on in NV and WY are completely different. The results, even BLM reports, speak for themselves. There is no debate about the mistreatment of horses up there, it is too well documented by objective,sane people. We should pray they would operate ALL the BLMs like they do in OR. No pilot up in WY nor NV, so far, would have left the horses for the next day, after 8 hours of running them.

I don't believe that the issue is black and white. The M.O.s have differed very much ... some work and others obviously don't. Some have the wild horses' best interests in mind, others have people working for them with $ being their driving force.

I truly do not believe it is all the "advocates," and definitely NOT the photographers, causing the problems up there! If you have time to really look, there are horses that need help documented too. A reasonable person KNOWS they are not ALL fat and sassy.

Granted, some "advocates" are obviously out for their own gain ... and those I do NOT excuse. Nor do I excuse the "hysteria monsters," who are out playing on people's emotions. Yes they ARE out there too.

But, when it comes down to it, we that truly love the wild horses and want them safe and want to preserve their heritage, need to work together!

We ALL want the horses to be handled humanely and we ALL want to preserve their valuable bloodlines and their presence on public lands. NONE of us want to see them slaughtered. We SHOULD all be on the same page!

We have people in VARIOUS areas and states, who spend time, up close and personal, with these wild herds. These I have to respect; who knows the herds better than they? We cannot afford to hold our own little "HMA wars." Credit and respect should be given to the ones who are there first hand and have been for years!

Just because one situation is different from what someone else has experienced, does NOT mean that either is invalid.

We really do need to weed out the "hystericals," who bend and pervert the truths to fit their agenda. We NEED the down-in-the-dirt people to work TOGETHER and work WITH the BLM agencies ... with the goal of improving relations for the people and the horses. It ideally would be a 2-way street, like in OR, but sadly, every situation is NOT . We COULD be working toward improvement in those areas!

Another little poke for the pot: are you guys aware of a BLM schedule to zero out the herds in Southern OR within the next couple of years? FACT or FICTION?

As our Ms Sonya, aka, Mustang Meg says, "United WE stand, divided THEY fall!"

Let's get through the weeds to the real deal! <3 and Respect to all my wild horse friends <3 Susan

jeannie said...

Call me what you want, however I am a LOVER of Horses, YES, I LOVE HORSES. NO, I have not been to any roundups, yes I have seen them on video both by "ADVOCATES and the BLM". These horses are not starving so I won't even go there. WHY is there no transparency, why are the BLM doing everything they can to keep people away that want to observe, from a safe but SEEABLE DISTANCE...I have yet to hear of any advocates stepping over their boundaries . The Nann Sisters should have, I might add. Where is the transparency, excuse me I did not hear YOU, where is it? Afterall, who are the people providing the $$ for the roundups, that we are against...Where are all the Wild Horses as of right now that are in holding pens, where are they, why are we not provided that information, to account for them? Yes, Oregon does treat the Wilds better and Wy/Nevada do not and why is that ALLOWED BY THE BLM? iT IS APPAULING AND MEAN AND SHAMEFUL AND CORRUPT!!!Then I am told I am putting a BAD SPIN on what is being done to the Wild Horses, really Kristi..anyone HOME? Is this not the most WILD HORSES ever gathered? Hmmm, the Slaughter Houses sure come into play, ya know Susie Wallis and her big heart~hard at work. Shaking my head. A meeting of the minds, possibly for the first time with the Walker Lake Herd, gather suspended after ARM/Respect4Horses met with the BLM, for the first time, just maybe..As far as all the others that have been rounded up relentlessly and inhumanley,KRISTI,it will go down in history and will be a sad story to tell. I did not even touch on the foals with loss of hooves and Mares losing their babes prematurley or broken necks and Bands being ripped apart, without one ounce of care or compassion. So Kristi, and the lady in the RED dress, stick that in your pipe and SMOKE IT..tired of ignorance

jeannie said...

My apology for only one thing I wrote, did not know that was your daughter Tracey, in the RED DRESS and I am sure she would not like seeing the brutality towards the Wild's, if she was allowed to observe the roundups, chasing and penning. So the Lady in the Red Dress comment I retract, only that. Good Day

Terri Farley said...

I'm not knocking anyone who works to benefit horses. I've spoken with Tracey & know she loves working with mustangs.
One of the best parts of the battle this time is the diversity of the horses' supporters. We must work together because we never know who we (and the mustangs) will have to depend upon.
Still, round-ups have turned brutal. They must be frozen until the NSA report is in.

Blob said...

Jeannie, if you'd read the post you would have realized that both Tracey and her daughter were in fact at the round up and are very frequently both out in the HMAs and at the corrals.

I think we can all agree that round-ups are stressful for the horses and should be done as infrequently and as humanely as possible-- that method has probably not been found. BUT constantly making the BLM a bad guy is tiresome. It's not a black and white issue, even though many people make it out to be. That's the problem: information that makes everything seem one sided when it's really not.

The other problem is that, as advocates for horses, we have to be realistic with what we're dealing with. The gathers are not going to stop. Even if we want them to, the reality is that they won't stop. There will always be a need for gathers at some level. You can blame the ranchers and the cattle if you like, but they're also not going anywhere. So, the best thing ANY of us can do is working to find good solutions and options for the horses that are gathered.

If you are an advocate, go adopt a mustang. If you can't adopt, go tell people about adoption or donate money to one of the many organizations (Mustang U included) that works on gentling and homing BLM mustangs.

Attacking people via blog posts doesn't help the horses, doesn't solve any problems at the BLM, and doesn't really make any positive difference.

MyShilohRanch said...

Bravo Terri and Blob! I agree. :D

Tracey said...

How nice to come home and see that I've got comments! :)

Ladies, never did I say there was a spin in my blog post. Did you read that in my post? No, you read it in Terri's response, and responded to that.

Jeanne, your personal attack on Kristi is unwarranted. I do not tolerate such behavior here and while I appreciate your passion (misguided though I believe it is) and welcome any comments, I do not appreciate your tone towards others who leave comments. As to the Lady In Red...well, I can assure you my daughter can fight her own battles. You should not be apologizing to ME for that, you should apologize to HER.

Tracey said...

Okay, I just have to come back to wetarez's comment. I'd really like to suggest you check into what a healthy horse looks like, and the difference between this mare and a 'fit' endurance horse. There is an enormous difference.

As to what I'm accustomed to looking at, you only need to read back a handful of posts here to know that I own nothing but mustangs and spend a great deal of time among them in the wild as well. I know the difference between healthy and far too thin.

wilsonc said...

First let me just say that I am commenting on Tracey's experience in THIS PARTICULAR gather.

Wow! This is a very loaded issue
isn't it. Tracey, your right. The horse in the photo is too thin. I've seen performance horses that have been kept thin to race, but they haven't been that thin. That guy needs some groceries and a vet. As for the advocates. I'm pretty darned sure that advocates start out coming from a genuinely good place. Unfortunately, some people are not equipped to go out and be the front man for an organization. Being judgmental and making insinuations at a gather is a counter productive way to behave. Take pictures, videos, document and ask pertinent questions. If you SEE obvious abuse speak up and you'll most likely have the rest of the crowd with you, but insinuations are not proof. They are insinuations. Don't we get enough of that in political ads?

Oh, and by the way Tracey...I love your photos of Darling juxtaposing the feminine and elegant with the wild. They are signature pieces. Please keep them coming.

Andi said...

I think we can all agree that doing gathers is stressful. But we also need to realize it's necessary. I've heard the old argument about at the turn of the century there were a million horses. So? There were also 3 million buffalo and 4000 people in Nevada. That was THEN, this is NOW and it has NO bearing on the issue at hand. In 1971, there was an estimated 17,000 horses on the range; there is double that now.

Whether horses were "native" or not is a non-issue. They were NOT here when Europeans landed here. That is a fact. Even so, it's still a moot point. What IS relevant is we have a LAW in place that says the horses stay. So, the horses stay.

Oregon is very progressive, very "hands on" in their management of the horses AND the range. I've heard people say we need to take the management of the horses out of BLM hands. Well, that's all fine and good if you plan on running them on private land. If you plan on running them on BLM land, then they would fall under the same laws that the cattle and the wildlife do. Are you sure you want that? Either the BLM says how long the horses stay on the range and how many or they put their control in the hands of Fish and Wildlife. Do you want to see hunting season on horses?

Conspiracy theories do us no good and, in fact, do much harm. Please don't go there, for the sake of the horses. The BLM isn't sneaking horses off to slaughter even though up until last year, it was written in the law that they MUST humanely euthanize any excess horses. They never have except for injured ones but the law required them to do so.

About starving horses or not. To wait until the horses are starving to bring them in is just plain insane! You run the risk of disease, malnutrition and death from the gather alone if you have a horse in substandard health, not to mention who wants to buy a runted, malnourished bag of bones? Bring them in while they AND the range are still healthy and you will have a win-win situation.

Changes need to be made but going about it in a fanatical, self serving manner isn't the way to do it.

Action For Wild Horses said...

I am so tired of people pointing out the few horses that are "thin" acting like that is the reason the
BLM roundups and removes horses.

In case anyone had any misgivings - horses die in the wild. They get old, sick and die. That's life folks. So naturally during the winter some horses are not going to make it - that's nature, that's living in the wild.

The BLM does not roundup horses because they care about the horses or the land.

1) If the BLM cared about the land we wouldn't have the vast majority of BLM-managed land overgrazed by livestock (you can check out the Sierra Club website about how overgrazed our public lands are).

2) If the BLM cared about the horses they would not have policy that scapegoats the horses and sets artificially low Allowable Management Levels (AMLs) (aka "appropriate management levels"). Also, if the BLM cared at all about the horses they would ensure that the contractors conduct roundups in a humane manner and allow public observation at all aspects of the roundup and holding (rather than hide most of it - only allowing minimal observation days, locations, etc).

The fact is the BLM was established to serve ranchers - then and now the vast majority of folks who work at the BLM grew up on ranches -- so they continue to do the ranchers' bidding. These folks see the horses as ranchers see the horses - as vermin (some BLM are referring to wild horses as "feral" in an effort to get people to see the horses in a negative light). Ask how many BLM employees own mustangs -- from my inquiries I understand very few, if any, do.

Anyone who thinks what the BLM is doing to the horses is good for the horses - either doesn't care about the horses or doesn't understand how this agency operates.

Tracey said...

Action, I have several photos of horses gathered last week, anywhere from babies to aged (though in all honesty we haven't a clue how old this or the other mares are) that are thin and have ribs, hips and backbones showing.

I'm not a newbie to how a horse should look, and I realize these horses are not settling in well and may not have had anything to drink yet, which is why they're tucked up. However, that does not explain hip bones or thin necks. This is a lack of feed, plain and simple, and as I said, it's more than one horse.

Also, you obviously didn't ask very many BLM personnel, or maybe not the ones who had room for a horse, if they had ever adopted. In Oregon, nearly every person working in the WHB program has one or more.

Lloyd, former coral manager, adopted his personal riding horse when he retired. Gary, retired wrangler, adopted both of his mustangs that he'd used. Wendy has two mustangs that she started at the corrals, as well as taking in a 16 year old unbroke mustang who'd been headed to slaughter. Tim has a pasture full of Kigers. Ramona...well, she's a saint. She has her riding horses (all mustangs) as well as adopting the aged Tia Sophia at 25 when she came into the corrals last year. Tia lives with the 'mare herd', all mustangs.

Now, to the issue of cattle. Cattle do not destroy the land like horses. My grandparents were dairy farmers so I know how a cow grazes. I raised sheep (which some people claim also destroy the land), and one horse will do far more damage not only with their grazing style but also with their hooves. They rip the grass out by it's roots and churn up the ground with their hooves. That you refuse to believe that is not changing the truth. It just says you're not willing to accept the truth, because you're too bent on being right.

Also, cattle are only allowed for a limited amount of time. In fact, in all my trips to the HMAs in Oregon, I've only seen cattle once. ONCE. Ranchers face heavy fines if their animals are found out there during the off season, and did you know that ranchers consider the BLM the enemy?

Public observation is allowed. Stupidity is not. Such as both of the 'advocates' bringing their dogs to the gather. And then complaining that they couldn't leave the gather site to go walk said dogs. Our view point was excellent during the gather. We were allowed to see the horses at the temporary holding site. That the 'advocates' couldn't go climbing on things to take a closer look does not mean we couldn't see horses. We were about 150 feet from them, nothing more.

The public is also allowed to see the horses at the corrals. If you're so bent on seeing if the horses were hurt, head to the corrals and see what you can see. I saw this skinny mare...along with a dozen others.

So no whining allowed about lack of transparency. Not true. Not true at all.