Wild Horse Education

Broken Arrow (aka Indian Lakes) a visit with the “off limits” #wildhorses

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Broken Arrow (aka Indian Lakes) October 2018

On October 26th the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) hosted a tour of the Broken Arrow (aka Indian Lakes) facility in Fallon NV.

The facility is said to be an “overflow” facility for Palomino Valley Center (PVC) north of Reno. That designation is used as part of BLM reasoning for allowing the privately owned facility to be “off limits” to public viewing.

In truth BLM shuffles horses from PVC to Indian Lakes very quickly including mares that are pregnant and freshly caught resulting in foals being born out of sight, the easiest to create adoption interest for, that are never seen until they are marked as simply “born in a holding facility” and perhaps as old as 6 years old. It is hard to adopt out “just an inventory number and an unhandled horse.”

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A beautiful dun and a cremello baby will be marked as “born in a holding facility” and be just a number for the rest of their lives. However we can guess on who the moms are of these babies based on age and markings…. and their moms did not need to come off the range and we did see those mares at the facility. But BLM wont mark them from where they were conceived, the wild they come from. The wild place they came from? Politics ruled that range in the game of money…. and the mountain lions that kept foal survival rate down  were killed at the same time as the helicopter flew.

BLM also uses the facility as an “intake” facility that receives wild horses directly from the range. BLM is supposed to arrange tours specifically for animals taken off the range and sent to Indian Lakes (Broken Arrow) in a timely fashion to allow assessment of wild horse capture.

This year BLM failed abysmally with the animals taken from Pancake. Not only did they fail to notify the public of a resumption of capture of horses where a tribal reservation was used as a temporary facility in the field, they failed to also create timely observation in Broken Arrow. Those horses are all mixed in with the general population now, and in a facility that holds over 2000 animals, makes it extremely difficult to identify horses. It also makes it extremely difficult to identify which individuals were capture and are missing, died or otherwise disposed.

You can read more about the context of this summers capture of wild horses at Pancake HERE. We did see a number of the really oldsters at the facility. An old horse is not an example of the condition of the range, or the herd itself. A mine is moving in and YOUR voice was removed from process at the same time BLM removed horses,  CLICK HERE.

BLM shut down Broken Arrow to weekly public viewing after outcry over photos that showed horses and conditions week after week. In order to get tours open we had to include it in our litigation to gain daily public access to roundups. After winning landmark rulings on the First Amendment, that have created the foundations for multiple cases including ones in court today against experimental spaying, we were ordered into mediation with BLM by the Ninth Circuit. The case concluded with our founder operating pro se, (as her own attorney) and negotiations included BLM claiming how expensive the tours are without recognizing that just one horse adopted from the facility more than covers the cost of the tours. Daily observation would be facilitated and tours would begin again at Broken Arrow, with additional tours if used for intake, but we left the case with the ability to revive the issue legally in the court, gestures of “good will” with an eye on “trust issues.”

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Youngsters born at Broken Arrow, weaned the day before the tour, will all be marked “born in a holding facility” in a gesture that demonstrates a creation of a truly “BLM  identity”  that reflects both on range and facility management as “just a number.”

“The context of the facility and the capture operations of each wild horse overlap each and every trip. Answering the questions of journalists and researchers as the wagon rolled by pen after pen helps to ‘keep me in the moment.’ But every trip to Broken Arrow brings at least one moment where time does not exist and every visit, roundup, debate, court case exists in my mind almost simultaneously.

My first visit to the facility was before construction had even finished but the facility took in nearly 2000 wild horses direct from the range. During that first visit I saw dozens of injuries, many of them foals limping or battered. One colt was suffering from hoof slough (feet falling off) that I had documented during capture being pushed hard by a helicopter just a few feet off his back. I tried to adopt the colt as BLM did not even have a chute built to properly treat him and was denied. I was lied to about his condition and he died in the facility after 14 days of agony and no more treatment  than bute (horsey ibuprofen) every 5 days. That visit changed me forever. How could anything in that program represent the welfare of wild horses if the capture and handling of that colt was an example of the program? I became ‘advocacy 24/7’ the day that colt, that I named Hope Springs Eternal, died. I promised him I would get a humane handling policy where we could litigate, force if need be, accountability to the most basic concepts of being humane. I kept my promise to him over the next 5 years and relentlessly observed captures and litigated…  and today we have a humane handling policy included in roundup procedural paperwork… but it took 5 years of relentless engagement. No other org in history has taken these issues into a courtroom… it was hard work, but it worked.

The mission of this organization has grown. We can do much better on and off range. Our wild horses deserve nothing less than the best we can do.” personal note: Laura Leigh Wild Horse Education founder.

Wild horses are being funneled fast out of holding facilities to make room for more horses coming off range.  In NV Over 5,000 wild horses can be in short term holding in NV at any given time (PVC and Broken Arrow). These horses above are part of a load that contains long term holding branded horses heading to Canon City next week.


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Slideshow above of some of the mares branded for long term holding that have recently had their foals pulled off, and some whose foals will be pulled off within days. The “long term holding” horses are the ones that Appropriations bills are debated each year allowing the political debates to rage on “do we send them to slaughter or just put a bullet in their heads?” Remember, politics rule the reality of the range and the reality of the range rarely influences politics unless it has been manipulated to suit an agenda item. (see a simple illustration at a hearing in Congress; scroll mid page HERE)

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What a long term holding hip brand looks like

“This little one, the youngest in one of the ‘just weaned pens’ stood alone…. as the wagon rolled by and I hoped that beautiful little face would turn my way. If you can adopt? The tag number is in plain view and he is really pretty body and face.”

If you do want to adopt from Broken Arrow (aka Indian Lakes) contact Palomino Valley Center at: 775-475-2222

“Each visit I see so many faces I knew wild. I know the context of each failure to manage them on the range. I know each excuse, backstory and deception on all sides of the issue. We can do better. We must do better.”

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Free no longer

The fight begins on the range. We need your help to build a frontline long before a chopper flies. 


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Categories: Wild Horse Education