September 5, 2009 – Gather Day 3

First, I think there’s a little bit of confusion on some things. I’m not giving any PZP – That is being done only by BLM specialists. I only tell them which mares have and have not had PZP. On that note, I’m not with the BLM. I am with the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center, who is providing the BLM with volunteer assistance.

With that, let’s move on to what I saw today. Heading up the Crooked Creek Road, the helicopter passed by as we drove parallel to Commissary Ridge. Commissary Ridge was the area that they were looking to gather horses from.


On the north end of Commissary Ridge, they had set of a trap area.


While we waited there, we could hear the helicopter moving up and down gathering horses. Soon the first horses arrived.


Bo’s harem was caught first followed by Trigger’s and then Shane’s. When Trigger was brought in, the young blue roan bachelor Floyd also came with them as he was apparently trying to challenge Trigger while the helicopter was pursuing them. After each group was gathered, they were loaded into trailers to be driven down to Britton Springs.



There were some difficulties while loading these horses. They were really having to work slowly and carefully while loading these horses. Sometimes they’d get in and then suddenly start jumping and backing out, and so they would have to start over again in loading them. Floyd was problematic with Trigger’s harem. They had him isolated and then ended up loading him in a different compartment in Trigger’s trailer with two of the young colts from Trigger’s harem. They also had to be careful with Bo’s harem due to their foal. The foal was also put into a different compartment in the trailer with it’s mother right on the other side.

Once everyone had arrived back at Britton Springs, these horses were processed. Each horse was brought through the chutes. Because these horses are supposed to be removed, they had a few different things happen to them than the others had earlier on.


At the chutes today, there was the equipment to freeze brand the horses, veterinarians to provide treatments, us working on properly documenting everything, and everyone else that was involved in helping to keep things running safely and smoothly. When the horses were brought in, the veterinarian would provide them with certain treatments and also performed tests on them. This was basically all done to prepare the horses for leaving the wild and moving to new areas.


Each horse was documented and assigned an ID number that would be freeze branded onto them. The freeze brand is composed of symbols that represent each horse’s specific ID number. The freeze brand would be cooled down with liquid nitrogen and then applied to a freshly shaved area on the horse’s left side of their neck right below the mane.



Once everything was done with the horse, they were put into pens. Males were put into one pen and females the other. The mare and foal were put into a pen together away from the others. The horses that had been previously gathered from the Dryhead were put back into their own pen together. Before they were put out they got an ID tag put around their neck. The four numbers on those tags correspond to part of the freeze brand ID.


As you can probably imagine, some of the horses were very unhappy with all of this happening to them. There were two times when horses actually climbed out of that chute into our work area. When they started to, the workers there would try to get them back in. However, if the horses were fighting too much, they just let them get out. Once they were out in our area, they would quickly leave through an open gate that was right there. They were then brought back through a while later after they had calmed a little.



With all of this type of thing going on, there were definitely some small cuts and scrapes on some of the horses after they had gone through the chutes. Today, there were twenty-four horses gathered from Commissary Ridge; and these twenty-four have been prepared for removal with their freeze brands and treatments. The five horses previously gathered from the Dryhead were processed the same way. It was a pretty intense day with all of this going on. The BLM and contractors started early this morning; I didn’t get to Commissary Ridge when they did. It was about 7:00 PM when we were all done with this stuff tonight.

The plan tomorrow seems to be to work on Commissary Ridge a little bit more and then to perhaps move on to another area to gather in. I will write more tomorrow evening to relay what I saw happen.

Published in: on September 5, 2009 at 9:55 pm  Comments (13)  

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13 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. We were all waiting to see if Cloud was captured.. this was the rumor???
    MaryA in ohio

  2. Thanks again for doing this. It must be hard knowing the ones taken today will lose their freedom, since they’re not just a number to you.


    The Pryor Mountain do not need to be removed because of the land conditions. Why don’t the criminals in our government just come out and tell the truth?

    Bunch of crooks.

  4. Meant to say the Pryor Mountain HORSES.

    • I’ll never forget once I was on a well-supervised horsepacking trip in the Rockies and a jeep, hurrying along, ran into and bumped the last horse in our line of riders, as we crossed some water! The wrangler in charge turned around and looked at the driver and said, “What’s your hurry, Mister? The mountains won’t move!”

  5. While I detest what is happening to these horses, and the BLM for doing it- I thank you for being there, helping identify the bands and keeping families together (as much as possible), and for writing and photographing this blog. I sense you are being careful with your words, and hope to hear in the future what REALLY transpired, and how you really do feel about certain elements.
    Please keep us informed, and thank you again- this “gathering”- what a euphemistic word-lol! should never happen, but at least there’s a written first hand account by someone who knows these animals.
    May it be safe, and may the best GET AWAY!!

  6. To Mary A. in Ohio—I’m not an expert on the horses, just a lover and observer of them and have been to the range a couple of times and enjoyed a few hours of info gathering with Matt and others who are familiar with the range. It is my understanding that the horses associated with Commissary Ridge would be referred to as the Forest Service (land) horses, and Cloud and his group are among the ones referred to as the mountain horses in Matt’s posts. If they finish working the Forest Service area and horses today, my bet is that the operation to bring the mountain horses down to Britton Springs will begin tomorrow, or soon after. Both groups are “on the mountain”, but in seperate areas most of the time. I’m sure Matt will be filling us in for sure on this as things progress.

    So far so good, but I’d say the mountain horses operation will be the most difficult for the younger and older horses because of the distance and terrain.

    It is very sad to know that the beautiful and spirited horses of the Forest Service group are ALL being taken away. There are some great pictures of some of them in Lynn Pomeranz’ book “Among Wild Horses”.

    Linda D

  7. Why did the BLM decide to remove these 24 horses from Commissary Ridge? Most of these horses are healthier looking than many horses I see stuck in boarding barns with minimal turnout.

  8. Mary A in Ohio. P.S. There is also a lot of information for reference on the different categories of horses under the “Categories” listed on the right side of this website, in case you haven’t noticed that. Matt has loads of great pics in there.


  9. Matt

    I truely appreciate all the time and hard work you are putting in on behalf of these horses.

    I fell in love with them a few years ago while on vacation – I grew up in WY and never knew these horses exhisted! I have grown up with horses all my life and have been waiting for years to be in a position to adopt one of these Extra Special Mustangs. While I wish that they could ALL stay in the wild forever where they belong – I also understand the logistics of adequate forage etc. I do not however agree with removing of the older horses as I don’t believe that they will ever full adjust to life with us.
    In short – my mother, 2 daughters and I will be traveling to Britton Springs on the 25th in hopes of adopting one our your beautiful animals to bring to Platte Co, WY. The information and photos of those animals that will be available are SO helpful in preparing and I wanted to personally thank you.

    Thanks – Matt!


  10. Please look at this blog post, dated 8/31/09. I ran across it on the internet the other day.
    I think this is a trainer’s blog who is training wild mustangs to be prepared for adoption. They have some youtube videos up also where they appear to be careful trainers. However this blog mentions the USFS. It relates to another state and refers to inadequacy of care. I wouldn’t have posted this here, except the above Commenter mentioned the Forest Service. The nightmare is only beginning for these horses. Soon as a herd they will lose their identity and fade into the dusty corrals with 30,000 other horses awaiting the last (3rd) strike for the slaughterhouse buyers.
    The blog is at:

    Please can the Center can adopt these horses? They are doomed otherwise by our Congress which cannot seem to act fast enough for these horses. I hope they are enjoying their cookouts today.

    Please go to website to see how you can help these horses by following and supporting legislation to do away with the horrors of slaughter transport and, ultimately, slaughter.

    They deserve better.

  11. Did you ever locate Beauty?

  12. Why were the Forest Service horses completely removed?

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