Wild Horse Education

Roundups; changing on a dime (Onaqui begins September 10)

At Wild Hose Education we are getting many inquiries about roundups. 


Onaqui roundup begins Sept 10

Over the last decade we have a seen a massive rise in public and media interest into roundups. We are getting calls from media and public wanting to “book plane tickets and make hotel reservations” to see roundups. We try to explain that it does not really work that way. The schedule is dynamic and can change, literally, on a dime.

What we are seeing now is the end of the fiscal year 2019 budget, through beginning of October. After October the funding comes from the 2020 budget. At present, that budget is set to remove 15K wild horses. If roundups are what you want to see? 2020 is going to be a very busy year. We hope that “before the roundup” begins to get as much attention as the sound of a helicopter. Roundups truly begin long before you hear a chopper.


Since the schedule has been published multiple changes have already occurred. One the public is very interested in, Onaqui, has been moved up to begin Sept. 10. However, that could change, again.

There are two fires advocates should be aware of; one in Corta (North Diamond HMA) and one in Saylor Creek (Saylor Creek HMA). The North Diamonds are a mess, even if there was no fire, with bashed and battered landscapes and a tri-district management boundary in the complex. Whenever you see a boundary of an HMA that crosses jurisdiction or has multiple districts, understand the issues on “management” are always complicated because federal land management offices are lousy at cooperation and communication with each other (they are not just lousy at communicating with the public). Saylor Creek is an area that has had history of catastrophic fire. These two areas could bounce the schedule around.


Critical water resource in the North Diamond Complex, Corta area,  managed by the Elko BLM District.  This area has been battered by livestock, has long standing water issues. The fire will cause wild horses to move into the rest of the complex where overgrazing by domestic livestock has left some canyons so bashed they make you weep. This fire could be devastating.

We have already seen Caliente and Red Rock added (335 total wild horses) as “emergency.”

Many from the media see the roundup as a dynamic story, we try to explain it is the end of the story of the wild, the beginning of the story of what happens after management fails. 

Video below has footage from 2010-11 (we made this on a broken laptop and the default program on it). Many times we were driving from one roundup in eastern NV, as an example, to one in Oregon. Only to find out during the drive that operation had been cancelled and one in southeastern NV was beginning the next morning. Back then, you could also travel in the chaos only to find that for the next three days you have absolutely no access to see a single horse. There was a lot of overnight driving, unplanned. (The last 3 years have not been as bad as they were back then, but things are on the verge of going back to “you don’t know where you will be until you get there.”)

That is the reality of roundups. So, if you want to see roundups? plan on more than a two day trip and build in flexibility. 

Other roundup questions filling the inbox:

Will we have good access? You will have access, we fought years so you could go.

We will see big runs and a helicopter? We do not know what you will see. It could turn out to be windy, you get out there and the day shuts down. It could be a day they change trap and there are no operations. It could be a day they trap 150. We can not tell you.

We really hope you understand that the roundup, any roundup, you go to began years before you get there.

bb_112215_trapped_011 - 1

Temporary holding. This is the only thing we know you will see on any given day. Captured wild horses from that day, or the day before.

Last year we presented an editorial, “Backstory,” to try to get the public and media  to begin to see that each area has a similar story that leads to a roundup.

The details in the backstory are the real challenges to creating any “fix” in the wild horse program. The wild horse is not the core issue, and the core issues go unaddressed year after year.

In the backstory you see the loss of public land and resources. Wild horses are a public resource under law, like the grass. They are not a permitted, for profit, use. Since the inception of the program there are those that have literally created an industry (government mustanging) and not even any pretense of resource management. There are those trying to sell further subsidies to the industry to Congress, and the public, as some “solution.” In truth it all takes us even further from actual management. (ie Creating more holding facilities, even integrating them wth other species for a “wild” type captivity, are all nice for a formerly wild horse now in a storage facility, but do absolutely nothing for the wild ones and leave them in graver danger.)

Our wild horses are the only animal in our nation legally defined by the land it stands. Preservation of wild horses begins there, the land it stands. If we do nothing to identify critical habitat and protect it from industry (livestock, hard rock mining, oil and gas), we have done nothing to protect the wild horse. This failure is where a roundup begins. 

If you want to see a roundup do us one simple favor, research the area before you get there. What jurisdiction? What else is in the HMA? What restrictions, if any, does industry face in the HMA? What resources have been protected for wild horses?

So many of our herds are only in the public eye for brief moments, when the chopper flies. Media gets their story and the paid photographers get their shots for social media, then they leave.

You are missing the real story, the story of the wild horse. In between roundups is their story. Please take the time to listen to them.

Only when we truly listen, between the roundups, will we begin to create a better reality for the truly wild. Time is running out. 


Help us continue to fight against abuse and for preservation of our wild herds. 



Backstory; it’s all in there. 

Fish Creek; the space between is vital for Justice

Owyhee: Don’t Blame the Holy Cow (Fire, Sage Grouse, Ravens, Wild Horses)

Triple B; One HMA

Categories: Wild Horse Education