September 4, 2009 – Gather Day 2

I started out the day by going to Bighorn Canyon as that is where operations were to start. Once I got out to Mustang Flats, the helicopter was already working on moving horses – It was Seattle’s harem.


Once he had them going in the direction he wanted, he backed off of them.


At this point, I understood that he had only found them and also the young bachelor Fiero, who was further down. However, a few minutes after moving Seattle’s harem down, Merlin and his mare popped out as did Durango’s harem. Blizzard’s harem was also nearby. At this point, the helicopter pilot had to keep each harem moving in the right direction. There were a few times when the horses would split off, and he’d then go back and move them back. Blizzard’s harem seemed to be giving him some troubles toward the end of my observations in the canyon area. He would just alternate between pursuing them and letting them do their thing, and they finally went the right way.



About this time, it seemed as though Merlin and his mare broke away and escaped up one of the canyons in the area. Otherwise, my last views of Durango, Seattle, and Blizzard’s harems showed me that none of the members of their harems had broken away. Fiero was also apparently in the area, and so he got him moving too. I headed back to Britton Springs, and a short while later the horses arrived. They all arrived in one big group, and I helped make sure that the harems were properly seperated. Once they were put into different pens, they were brought through the chutes, getting the same procedures done as yesterday – Hair samples were taken for DNA analysis, PZP was given to females, horses to be removed were put with the other removals, and horses that were to be released had the blue paint painted above their tails. These horses were definitely more sensitive than the ones were yesterday. There were a few cases of horses rearing up in the chutes and trying really hard to get out of them. The people there did their best to keep them safe, and there weren’t really any injuries sustained. Blizzard was really upset in the chute. He reared up, was kicking the walls, and even tried to bite someone outside the chute.



Seattle’s harem had been the one left in the big pen that all of the horses were originally put into, and so I hadn’t really taken a good luck at them. When they did move them to the chutes, I saw that his mare Beauty was missing. I had everyone stop the processing at the chutes, and I gave Jared, the wild horse specialist, a photograph of her so he could go see if she had accidentally been put with some of the other groups in the back. He couldn’t see her, and so we just guessed she must have broken off from the rest as had Merlin and his mare. I was pretty worried about Beauty, but I believe she has been in six roundups prior to this one. It wouldn’t surprise me if she realized what was going on and just did everything she could to escape.

Once Seattle, Blizzard, and Durango’s harems had been processed, they prepared three trailers to haul these harems back to Bighorn Canyon. The horses were a little apprehensive about getting into the trailers, but they all went in without any troubles. There were four people right there ready to help out if anything bad happened while they were loading.





Of the 20 horses brought into Britton Springs today, 16 were let go. I believe nine mares have been given PZP up to this point.

With the removal of the three horses today, there are now five young horses removed.



Fiero went in with Exhilaration. The two got upset with each other a couple times early on, but I think they are doing just fine now.


Admiral, Sitting Bull, and Sam’s harems are also still there. I think Admiral and Sitting Bull’s harems will be released very soon. From what I understand, Sam’s will be kept for a while longer so that Ghost Dancer can put on some weight to support her and her foal.


Halo, with Admiral, is a horse that I’ve heard a little bit of discussion on. She was one of the horses that received minor scraping yesterday. You can see where she got scraped on her head here. She’s just fine, but this gives an idea of what these scrapes can look like.


After I was done at Britton Springs, I headed out to Bighorn Canyon to see if I could see any sign of Beauty. I had found out that the horses hadn’t been taken all the way up to Mustang Flats, they’d been let out right at the south boundary area around Crooked Creek Bay. Seattle’s harem was still there. Beauty wasn’t there, but this isn’t any surprise as they were a few miles away from where I’d last seen them all together.


I headed all the way through the wild horse range in Bighorn Canyon and never saw Durango, Blizzard, or Merlin’s harems. I’m sure they were trying to keep pretty well hidden. I’m going to continue to observe Seattle’s harem closely and also hike around to determine what happened with Beauty.

I understand that the BLM’s plan for tomorrow is to go onto Commissary Ridge to gather the horses up there. I believe these horses will be brought to Britton Springs in trailers. I’ll be back tomorrow to describe what I’ve seen.

Published in: on September 4, 2009 at 9:00 pm  Comments (15)  

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  1. Matt,
    Wow! I feel like I’ve been there today. Excellent job on reporting and the photos to go with. You are doing a tremendous job–we know it must be hard but you are well-appreciated by 2-legged and 4-legged critters.

  2. Thank you ,Matt, for sharing your observations. It makes it seem more humane than I anticipated, altho also unnessessary, and so sad to disrupt their homes. Pray the rest will be not so bad. We have fought for them for so long, and this blatant disregard for them and us is beyond understanding.

  3. Thanks Matt.

  4. Wow ! this is the first time I’ve visited.How fantastic to feel so close to the horses! HUGE THANKS!
    I got the link from one of Cloud’s friends on his facebook site.
    All this time since it started -and before I’ve been so sick with fear and worry.This connection makes it a tiny bit more bareable. Thank you again, I will recommend everyone visits.

  5. Matt, thank you for your reports. I am so happy you are there to document the process and to provide help to sort and identify horses. From reading your blog, i can clearly see how much you care for them. We are all so lucky you are able to be there. Thank you so much.

    I pray there are no injuries to any horses (dont really care much about the people i guess LOL).

  6. Wow, you are doing an awesome job of making me feel like I’m right there. I can feel your love and concern regarding the horses, great! Keep up the good work,I’ll be back tomorrow to get up to speed.

  7. So, WHO exactly has been taken so far? WHY are they removing virtually ALL of Cloud’s and Raven’s DESCENDANTS? Is it just for Spite? I “thought” they were supposed to “aggressively attempt to save the rarest color alleles & genotypes”????
    Well, Image, Arrow, Electra, Rain, Cascade/Celt, QuelleColor certainly ALL fit into that rare category! & CloudDancer is the 1st & only remaining foal of Sitka + Cloud! Halcyon, as daughter of Red Raven, should also be preserved???? It looks as if ONLY descendants of Cloud left will be Shadow/Hailstorm, Firestorm with Ember, and Bolder?????????
    Virtually NO younger breeding descendants of Raven will be left, except for Cloud, RedRaven, Diamond/Teton, Mariah & very few of their foals (if any).
    Nothing left of the extreme-primitive marked grullas Exclaim/Sacaj (i.e. Cascade) or Mystery (i.e. Floyd)? I also heard that Madonna & foal are targeted– & she is of very few sorrel-flaxens left!
    So Lakota is losing 2 mares, leaving him only 1? Are they taking his colts, as well?
    Cloud will be left with Velvet (fertility-choked x sev yrs) and Aztec? & hopefully they’ll leave Shadow and newest dark foal alone? (I never heard it’s name). What about Windflower? the 1st daughter of Cloud & Fettucine? If taking Fett, are they taking the filly too?
    I can’t fathom that they are removing Gabriel/ Giselle (the Christmas filly) after ALL she went through to [barely] survive a midwinter birth!!!!!!
    I don’t understand HOW they can remove a current BAND-STALLION (Conquistador)– I thought this was “never to be done”??
    I have screamed aloud over the virtual [or probable]Murder of poor old GRUMPY!!! She won’t survive 1 day in captivity. Nor Beauty– so hopefully she hid herself VERY well; IF she hasn’t been run to death.

    I see NO other explanation for removal almost ALL of Cloud’s family, EXCEPT for spite! As I said, they have stated over & over the intent to maintain these rare alleles. Or that was just as much smoke up their ** (chute), as other “promises”? Do YOU have a real explanation? Did they bother to give one to you?
    Please attempt to answer these questions? I know you are very busy, & we appreciate the info you are giving, but I have attempted to reach every phone# available for answers to these questions, with no success AT ALL!
    Have you heard if they will honor the request of Ginger, tribe leaders & others to leave great old Bigfoot alone?? It would serve them NO purpose to run him in, other than to further cripple him– they will just shoot him anyway. And even with swollen knees, HE is STILL HAPPY! (so what would be purpose, other than cruelty?)

    Please answer ASAP? Thanks, Connie

  8. Will Cloud’s offspring have a better chance at adoption due to the famous forbear?

    Maybe somebody out there is taking them to start a domestic “Cloud” breeding program?

    Just ideas from somebody “west of the Mississippi.”

  9. I too am devistated to hear that they are going to run these poor horses 12 miles from the mountain range and none of them will be released. They will all have to be adopted. This means Cloud and his family is they even survive? What can we do?

    • I know… I WISH there was something I/we could do! I have written letters, made phone calls, emailed or called senators, congress, BLM & FS ‘officials’– all to no avail.
      And I live WAY too far from MT to go there to adopt anyone (WV), although I would go & get the very oldest ones (+ Electra) if ONLY I could! But I don’t have the room a Wild horse would need to live in, anyway.
      I just don’t see WHY to remove ones like Grumpy & Bigfoot or Hightail or Beauty (who haven’t reproduced in YEARS) or QuelleColor, tho’ she had a foal in 06–[not aware of 1 since then; I know foals of 02, 03, 04 & 05-I think– died]—what little bit of “range forage” they could possibly eat in the next months-2/3 years could NOT Possibly be worth putting them through this heartbreak @ over 20 years old! Even Conquistador @ 19years won’t keep a band for too much longer— & they are to REMOVE 17 that are 11years or older! [they will target Phoenix/palomino mare & Madonna, for sure.]
      –I LOVE the younger ones, too; it’s just that these seem SO heartbreaking! *sigh*

  10. wouldn’t it be nice if some wealthy wild horse lover bought ALL the horses that will be up for adoption, and then just released them back?

  11. This running down the mountain irks me to pieces.

    Also, I have been doing a longitudinal study of my own, from my perspective of being 60 years old. I have noticed that during a full moon, both people and critters are more active and nervous (I noticed this in my own animals, myself, and when I was waitressing in my previous life.) It seems like the worst time to “mess” with an already nervous by nature population of wild animals.

    They (the BLM) seem to be “making this up as they go along!” So many changes have occurred in this past 50 years. Why hasn’t the Mustang Problem advanced — our leaders should “keep up or drop out.”

    • or be kicked out. Period. This is shameful.

      As the great poet, Yevushenko said in his poem, “Lies”, (Yevtushenko Selected poems, Penguin Books, Ltd., 1967):

      “. . . who never knew the price of happiness will not be happy.
      Forgive no error you recognize,
      it will repeat itself, increase,
      and afterwards our pupils
      will not fogive in us what we forgave.”

      This Mustang Problem as been fought for generations in this country.

      Yevtushenko, again, speaking of people (but applicable to any creature with a heart):

      “. . . They perish. They cannot be brought back.
      The secret worlds are not regenerated.

      And every time again and again
      I make my lament against destruction.”

  12. Our spiritual leaders, artists, poets, and other brave souls allow us to be ourselves. They allow us to cry together and care about each other. Life isn’t always that enabling.

    These are the ones that need to be leading us right now — our visionaries and spiritual leaders.

    Emotionalism must have been present somewhere on the East Coast in approx. the year 1776 AD.

  13. Matt, I am not the person that wrote that e-mail. I just agreed that I would be upset if they removed Cloud. I spoke with you last week and you gave me good info and directions and I really appreciate all the information you are giving us. The people that I am upset with are in the BLM. I’m sure I’m not alone their. I don”t envy your job.. has you said last week, this was going to be a very hard week, as you knew all the horses. Hopefuly I can talk to you another time. I can’t remember the girls name buy it might have been Emily.
    Sorry that somehow it looked like it was me.

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