September 3, 2009 – Gather Day 1

After a mostly sleepless night, I headed out to Britton Springs this morning. When I first arrived, I was taken around to see how everything had been set up – They were just working on it when I was there the day before.


This is at the north end of Britton Springs. These wings continue up a ways. The horses are brought to this area, and then it gradually funnels them down to a corridor into the corral system. Also notice the helicopter parked there; that’s about the only good picture I got of it today.

Following the morning briefing, the helicopter went up to gather the first horses. Also at this time, visitors went up to an area that the gather could be observed from.


It actually took a while for the helicopter to get the first horses to Britton Springs due to the horses not really being that afraid of the helicopter. But, after a while, the first horses finally came in – It was Admiral’s harem. The helicopter slowly moved them down the wings. Workers on the ground also assisted in getting the horses down the wings.


As you can see, it was pretty dusty. Pretty soon after, though, the harem arrived; and they were put into a small pen. They are working to keep each harem isolated from each other when they are gathered.


A little while after this, they were able to get Sam’s harem in. However, only Sam and Hightail came in. Ghost Dancer and her foal didn’t come in. It turns out that it came to a point where she and the foal would not budge. A pair of wranglers were sent out to bring them to Britton Springs. While they were doing that, Sitting Bull’s harem was brought in. As I got my first glimpse in my binoculars, I saw that they had a new foal. We were expecting a new foal, and I had let people here know that if she didn’t have a new foal, she would be very close. I figured she wouldn’t have one, but I was wrong. The foal, like the rest of the harem, did not seem overly stressed. In fact, the foal took a nap while people were there photographing it. The BLM was often taking groups of people back into these areas to see the horses.


Soon after this, I saw Ghost Dancer and her foal finally arrive. Remember, it was quite a while ago when they went out to get them; I guess the wranglers just sort of walked with them to Britton Springs. However, when I got my first binocular glimpse, I saw a third horse with them that didn’t belong. About this same time, they called down to us so that I could come explain things. It turned out as I thought I’d seen – It was the bachelor Exhilaration that had joined them. From what I gathered, he just sort of appeared when the wranglers were trying to get Ghost Dancer and her foal; and he came along with them to Britton Springs. This of course presented a challenge as she belonged with Sam and not Exhilaration. It was decided that they would start processing the horses so that they could get her back with them as soon as possible. Exhiliration was thus the first horse processed in the 2009 gather.

What do I mean by process? Well, for all of the horses, it started with them being put through the chutes we were at. They were moved through one at a time. Obviously, there were some horses who didn’t want to do this; and so there was some banging around in them. But there were always a number of people around, like this, who were talking to them and patting them and calming them down until they would take it easy. There was also a veterinarian, who is in the below picture, who was helping with operations and was also on the lookout for any injuries or possible injuries. (The only injuries that we saw today were very minor scrapes. He did apply medicine to these.) So they were put through the chutes and would eventually come to the front.


At the front, there were different things that happened, due to which particular horse it was. In the case of Exhilaration, it meant getting some hair samples pulled for a genetic analysis of the herd. Because he is not scheduled for removal, he also got a swath of blue paint above his tail so that the workers would know not to bring him in anymore.


Ghost Dancer came in next. In her case, she got some hair pulled for analysis and got the blue swath above her tail like Exhilaration. However, she also was to receive fertility control. In the case of mares receiving fertility control, there are two different ways that they are treated. It depends on whether or not they have been treated before – Mares who have been treated receive one particular adjuvant while mares who have not been treated receive another. This first shot is called a primer. Following this, the mares received their second shot with the PZP-22 pellet. Different delivery methods are also observable here.

Jab sticks are these long poles used for treatments.



Plain injections with a syringe are also something that you’d see happen.


The treatments were given very carefully. One person took care of preparing the treatment while the second actually adminstered the PZP. There were just a few females treated for PZP today due to the ones gathered.

Each horse reacted differently when going through the chutes. One that just was really standing out as being unhappy was Halo from Admiral’s harem. She was just bucking a lot in the chute. A few people were right there talking to her and trying to calm her down a little.


Once the horses had been processed, they were released with the opening of the front gates. These were pretty noisy, and some of the horses were seemingly agitated by them. (Also notice that in this chute here that there is padding in there to help minimize any trauma that would occur if the horse was as agitated as, say, Halo was.)


From here, their individual harems were once again put into different pens.

Each pen had been filled with water prior to the horses’ arrival, and hay was taken to them soon after all the horses were processed.You can see the hay in these photos, and you can also see the blue paint on these horses. Something to also notice is how thin Ghost Dancer is here compared to Sam and Hightail. This is something that often can be seen with young mothers – Ghost Dancer is 3 years old.


Fifteen of the Dryhead horses were gathered today. It just got too hot, and so things shut down in the afternoon. Tomorrow there are plans to finish gathering the lowland horses. I’ll continue this tomorrow with more observations.

Also, to everyone who’s sent me messages last night and today; thank you very much! It’s great to hear from so many people who are following this and are interested in what happens here. I am sorry that I have not replied to any messages, and I hope you can understand why I haven’t had time yet. Thank you again, very much! It was all very encouraging.

Published in: on September 3, 2009 at 9:50 pm  Comments (18)  

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18 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Bless you for doing this, as hard as it must be. But I don’t understand how patting wild horses would calm them. But the roundup (sorry, gather doesn’t work for me) doesn’t sound as bad as I expected.


  3. Thank you for taking the time to keep the rest of us posted regarding the gathering of the Pryor Mountain horses. You must be exhausted. I’ve been watching for postings all day and really appreciate the details you share with the rest of us. I would also like to thank you for being there for the horses’ benefit.

    I find it so curious that the BLM can use out dated information (as reported in the court papers) and not follow the recommendations of those who are knowledgeable about these horses, such as the PMWMC. The whole situation just tears at my heart.

    I hope that all goes as well as can be expected.

    Take care,

    Lucinda Suttle

  4. Thank you for volunteering to help the horses during this round up. I know how hard this is for those of us who love them, and my prayers go out to you, the horses, and the others who are there for the horses benefit, not the BLM’s. Wonderful reporting on the happenings up there! Keep up the good work.

  5. It definitely does not sound as bad as I imagined but what I can not get my mind around is how there have been horses from other herds in these crowded pens for 3 years now. Why would this herd be any different?

    And as good as things may have went yesterday, why did things go so bad with other round ups? I have seen the terrible pictures. These are the horses that made it to the pens, we will not see the ones that are injured and left to die unless I am mistaken? Is this one different because cameras are on and media was present?

    I can not thank you enough for the documentation that you are providing us and the help that you are giving to the horses. Bless you and please help them as much as you can!

  6. This roundup was just given some air time on the Today show on NBC. Reporters are Kerry Sanders and Petra Cahill,
    The BLM says there are too many horses. The horse groups say gathering could ruin a genetically pure herd.
    Since these horses, along with Cloud, have been studied… What should we know about these horses and their environment?
    Thank you for this blog.

  7. Matt; Thank you so much for your report! I only hope things are done as humanely and professionally as they seem to be now, all thru the gather. There undoubtedly will be more mishaps when it comes to the mountain horses who aren’t quite as used to people and vehicles and with rougher country and more hazards. The horses are, after all, animals and they don’t understand what’s going on. I’m so very glad you’re going to be there to be the eyes and ears of those who care and can’t be there.

    I’m surprised to see that Ghost Dancer is now with Sam instead of Admiral! And I’m impressed at how large and healthy her foal (born on the 4th of July)looks! Wow! No wonder Ghost Dancer is thin. I hope she can get fattened up some before winter.


    Linda D.

  8. REading this I have gotten the answer to one of the questions I asked you. Sam and Hight tail and Ghost Dancer and her foal were the little band I watched by the water hole when I first entered the Pryor /bighorn preserve. I won’t help the horses any, but at least I know who I saw. God bless you and your work witht hese horses. Betty

  9. Thank you for the updates. I only pray that it keeps going as well as the first day.

  10. Matt:
    Thank you so much for keeping up on this and letting everyone know what is going on. Keep up the good work and take care of those horses… I am sure they can feel someone pulling and protecting them!
    Allison Cook
    Kalamazoo, Michigan

  11. are you aware of the research presented at last summers Wild Horse SUmmit in Las Vegas that showed that administering birth control to wild horses completely upsets and destroys the social stability of the herd?

    coutour, the BLM and this whole gang of morons are the ones that need to be rounded up and put in pens. these 170 horses aren’t hurting anyone and would do much better without two-legged intervention. by their looks they are healthy and doing quite well on their own.

    jeff roth

    • Jeff…you rock! I don’t think any of these people have read the research from the Wild Horse Summit. Why else would they even DREAM of removing the older, wiser ones?

  12. Wow.. I just finished reading your several posts on this round up. I wonder why government sponsored wildlife “protection” agencies always have to resort to reducing herds, packs, population? why not let nature reduce the herds to a sustainable number?

    Or.. why couldn’t they wait until the genetic study is done?

    Sigh. Either way, good job for being there under a tough situation. My thoughts are with you, and the horses.

  13. Great job yesterday Matt. Mark and I were there all the way from California supporting you and the efforts of the Center. People need to understand that you and the Center are doing what is in the best interests of the horses and should be commended for doing such a great job under extraordinary pressure from many competing interests. I am proud of you and the Center because at the end of the day it is only about the horses. It is really important that everyone who supports the Pryor Mustangs and the Center make donations to continue this vital work to preserve our Mustangs!

  14. Thank you for the photos and updates. They are great!
    It is a sad day for America’s wild horses. Thanks to the Pryor Mountain Wild Mstang Center for all their good work! A class act!

  15. Matt,

    Cyndi & I came up from So. Calif specifically to see the wild mustangs and found out about the roundup at the last minute. Even though we didn’t get to stay in Penns’ Cabin on top of the Pryors like last year, and see Cloud and his band, amongst others, walk past us, we immediately came to the roundup area to support you and the Mustang Center.

    Matt, you are doing a great job as the sane voice looking out for the best interests of the mustangs. You are under a lot of pressure as you were placed in a no-win situation as a result of the decision to roundup and deplete 70 mustangs. It is clear that you love the mustangs and we are supporting you. Don’t let anyone pressure you into thinking that you are not doing the right thing here.

    Cyndi & I are very proud of you and the Mustang Center, which is where our support remains. We’re here for another week and will be back to observe the roundup, make a donation to the Mustang Center and hope to be able to catch up with you. Keep up the great work!

  16. Matt,
    Do they know how PZP affects mares who are already pregnant and the foal they are carrying? Hopefully, it doesn’t, and just works on preventing another pregnancy. I don’t think women are supposed to take a chance on getting pregnant until they’ve been off birth control pills or shots for a while.

    Hang in there Matt. You’re playing a very important role in protecting the horses by “being there” thru this. Hope you’re getting some rest.

    Linda D

  17. The Bureau of Lies and Manipulation have ignored everyone, including a congressman that asked for a moratorium until the issues can be resolved. Are you curious why they did this when Congress was not in session? Why they are ignoring the thousands upon thousands of calls they received? Why a federally indicted individual has a contract with the BLM? Why starving horses are fat and thriving?

    The horses are being removed for one reason and one reason only, Skyline Uranium Corp.

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