Wild Horse Education

Conger, The Paint Mare

Internet at the Conger/Frisco roundup is bad. The ability to load reports and photos was severely  impaired. We have traveled to a new location to upload as we see a slideshow making rounds on youtube and no context.

Roundup reports on WHE here: https://wildhorseeducation.org/2016/07/01/congerfrisco-begins/

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Little paint filly now orphaned. WHE is calling her Epona.

People are understandably upset about the horses that have died already at this roundup. We are getting multiple inquiries about the paint mare that broke her neck.

Roundups are always emotional for many reasons. On range management practices have represented either “old mythology” or politics. Very rarely have we seen removals reflect any equity in practices or policy. The deficits in data, equity of participation and use, valid equations that put the preservation of the herd into the conversation and effort are immense.

WHE had our new intern at her first roundup. In two days she witnessed two broken necks. The first was a situation where the panel had squared and a young horse panicked and ran into it. The situation was addressed and caution and care, with the knowledge that the set up required watching so the panel remained at an angle, was well known and discussed. The second death was a completely avoidable tragedy. The tragedy of the broken neck was compounded when they ran another band in as she died. The effect on our intern, and Leigh who was trying to teach our intern about process and roundups, was profound.

If we see a few areas where an effort is being made to create any understanding of what the herd actually is (not an intention for a breeding program, but a preservation equation) and an effort to understand the resources required to sustain that herd, it is a preciously rare occurrence that becomes a gem in the mud.

We do not like any removals that are made without that data available first. We do not like any removals where the number of wild horses permitted on the range are based on “the left overs” after other uses get their piece. We do understand limited resources, we are not stupid.

But we need to drag the program out of the “dark ages” as we give lip service to science and preservation and prepare to simply take the premises of science and meld them with myth. That is what we are doing with the concept of spaying mares. It is simply “dumb.” A procedure a vet would only do on a domestic with medical justification and in a sterile environment because of risk. A procedure that would close genetic doors without any comprehension of the consequence, like inbreeding in herds we do not manage in numbers that could sustain the genetic blow.

The death of this mare is profound. We do not often name horses, we have made an exception and are calling her “Rhiannon.”

Wild Horse Education, and our founder, have been urging temporary fertility control and data collection to understand the herd, genetically and how they utilize the resource, for almost a decade. We have written extensively about how little management is based on a real equation of use. Instead we have had to battle all sides of this to create sanity. Those that want the resource for livestock simply blame horses for degradation. Those that want the horses often fail to comprehend that the resource is limited and management must happen.

On top of normal stress of removals, all of the politics of all sides and the media needing everything condensed to try to explain issues to a public that wants simplicity, the impact of this event colored everything.

It stands as an analogy for the entire program. SLOW DOWN. SLOW DOWN. SLOW DOWN.

We all know there are issues. We all can talk about them and say that we will address them. But when we simply move things forward to achieve an agenda not based on the practicalities right in front of our face, tragedy occurs.

STOP. Take the time to understand the issues. AVOID the consequence and build a better plan.

The most extreme example of the tragedy heading our way is field spaying. It is simply “dumb.” Paper pushers that have a bottom line agenda of placating special interests that are running a public land takeover agenda have grabbed that concept full force because it scapegoats horses and they can point to the federal government as a failure. They have found a sound bite they think Congress is dumb enough to latch onto, “spay and neuter” as if these are domestic dogs or cats in a shelter, because Congress can not grasp any nuance that wild horses are not domestics. Wild horses a species that lives wild as an American resource like the grass, minerals and even the sage grouse. That is the LAW.

Spaying surgically is one more brutality we should not impose on an animal that has always carried our burdens, including our self serving greed.

The need for temporary fertility control as a humane management tool has never been more evident. We must slow growth and adapt our thinking toward preservation, (human “thinking” is a rarity and we realize it is also a limited resource). Large scale roundups increase reproduction. Managing herds without understanding the resources that must be preserved, leaves our herds vulnerable as extraction and livestock use our rangelands. Utilizing temporary fertility control, simply by the nature of the vaccine, creates the data. A herd map must be created that documents individuals. How that herd moves and what it needs is documented in order to facilitate its use. Only after those things are understood can any other action be justified. It would really benefit everyone to actually read the National Academy of Sciences Report that cost the tax payer $1.5 million dollars cover to cover, can we add that to the list of wasted dollars?

The paint mare that broke her neck was entirely avoidable. Can we please avoid the next tragedy? SLOW DOWN AND THINK BEFORE YOU ACT.

(We are getting questions about Rhiannon, the paint mare. We describe what we saw here and are including it on an internal page for those that want to click and read and leaving off the main piece for those that do not want to see them. We have a lot more including video but feel that the images presented give the entire story. CLICK HERE).

At WHE we are working very hard on multiple projects to keep wild horses on the range and to address many facts of the current program. We will update you on those efforts soon. “An educated advocacy is more important than ever.”

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