Wild Horse Education

Disaster hits wild horses at roundup


Two of the wild horses injured when a trailer broke pulling a load over rough terrain and deep mud.

We were asked about these pictures from exactly two years ago. We have re-shared.

(Elko) The ongoing Owyhee Complex roundup in Nevada has trapped 405 wild horses so far with a total of 1600 expected. A section of the operation concluded yesterday with the release of 101, 52 suds and 49 mares, back to the range. So far 4 deaths have been attributed to the operation (deaths that occur after transport off, or back to the range, are not attributed to the operation).

In good weather roads in these areas are treacherous. There has been precipitation and constant travel over them has created ruts, pits, exposed sharp rock and mud pits.

Our observer onsite asked BLM about the safety of transporting horses in trailers over the roads and was assured that the expertise of the crew was enough to provide safe passage. Our observer informed her assigned individual that she had seen trailers get stuck before and BLM went forward with the days plans.

A gooseneck trailer being transported through the deep and rocky mud literally broke. Wild horses were severely injured. Below this update is a letter sent this morning to the agency along with a slideshow (warning, graphic).

WHE has begun a formal process to address this issue in policy. WHE is the ONLY organization to ever litigate and win (repeatedly) against inappropriate treatment of wild horses, including a huge win at the Owyhee Complex in 2013.

Days begin at 3 am in freezing weather and end at dark at the westside of the Owyhee roundup. Then we process information and images and sleep little. The wear and tear on vehicles is intense in these conditions and we do not drive a new government maintained rig.

Email sent from Leigh to BLM this morning

Yesterday we had loading out of both sides of temporary, going to PVC and release.

I am aware of how tired people get at this point in an operation like this one. A couple of times the alley became crowded and horses bunched. It appeared that was gotten through with no serious injury.

However prior to transport I asked about the wisdom of transporting horses on the stock trailers on these roads, they might get stuck. The response I got was that “the experience of the crew and contractor” and “they don’t get stuck.”

I responded I have seen them get stuck and the consequence is not good. But what do I know, I have only witnessed more days of operations in the last 7 years than any living government “crew” member.

I drive a jacked up death trap. My truck had trouble.

You have probably heard about the goose neck that broke pulling horses in the mud. The consequence was intense.

One of the mares had blood gushing from both eyes and her skull was smashed and face swollen. She was also limping.  There were another 3 horses with severe facial injury.

These horses were not taken back to temporary and observed, the one likely needed to be put down. Why?

PLEASE make sure that on these rough muddy roads moving forward that we NO LONGER TRANSPORT HORSES IN TRAILERS where a repeat could occur. Please make sure all roads used are clear and provide stable transport for both humans and horses.

It is unfortunate that when I report this to the public you will all be mad at me and the environment will become more tense for me. I would not have transported horses yesterday on those roads, you did. However I will pay the price with access restrictions and a tense environment.

I will be sending a formal request for an amendment to CAWP.

Thank you.

Laura Leigh

This letter turned into a piece in Counter Punch: Read HERE

This event was the FIRST event witnessed (on day eleven) at Owyhee. 11 days of access issues and then… it sets a tone. EDIT: After we posted this, based on what we were told onsite by BLM, the contractor sent us a “cranky” email asserting that this was done at processing. As we state in the Counter Punch piece, if this was processing and not from an accidental break in the weld of he goose neck on the rough road, we have an even bigger problem.

warning: graphic images that display 5 different individual horses that were injured (All images are copy written. Do not republish. You can share this link. In the past multiple organizations and individuals have ripped images from our website and presented them out of context and even fund raised off of them. Please be respectful of the time and expense to document, litigate and engage. These are provided to our readers for informational purposes ONLY to illustrate the importance of the work to gain a humane handling policy, refine it and enforce it. Images from the roundup can be obtained for use by your organization by contacting  WildHorseEducation@gmail.com). Yes, we also have video but it takes a lot of time to process and edit. We are creating our file on this operation like we do on every one… to present to CAWP team or court, whichever is required.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We are doing a live update from the range, in a small conference group, that includes media presentation and a chance to talk to observers on the range. If  you are interested in joining the “Stay at home WHE crew” send an email to WHEqna@gmail.com

Edit 11/20: We did a trail run of the webinar for stay at home supporters and it went great! Thank you to all who participated.



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