Wild Horse Education

Pancake (photo album, action items)

Strawberry medicine hat, Red Head, from the Pancake HMA. You can see the gate closed behind him, that should be open, cutting off wild horses from the HMA and the search for water.

We have been sharing photos of some wild horses from the Pancake HMA where we have an active legal action to stop the recently approved plan for the HMA from moving forward. People have simply fallen in love with the “strawberry head” Medicine Hat we feature on this page. This young stallion is not the only Medicine Hat in Pancake.

On 1.1 million acres the BLM has been rapidly approving mining and allowing massive impacts from livestock (sheep and cattle). Just over the border from the HMA is a favorite spot for many hunters; the agency has made sure there is flowing water outside the HMA for wildlife, but not inside for wild horses.

One of our volunteers made an album of Pancake. You can click to be directed to the digital magazine.

One of the public favorites is a young medicine hat bachelor with a “red, strawberry, medicine hat.”

Pancake has medicine hats, overo paints, amazing roans, bays, sorrels and the blacks. The mythology of the Medicine Hat Paint horse is steeped in First Nations tradition and legend. A Medicine Hat horse is believed to have a magical ability to protect its rider from injury and death. Their mainly white coats were often decorated with other magical symbols, believed to increase the horse’s power.

The agency has done nothing to protect this spectacular herd.

The scenario at Pancake is one that is all too similar to many HMAs. In the coming months the drought will cause intense hardship on our herds after waters have been given away and further impacted by climate change. “For their own good” removals the agency will label “emergency” will spur a flurry of media furthering the “overpopulation” myths. The agency is crowding out wild horses and not protecting the rangeland from industrial interests.

In the video below we feature some footage from Pancake. The trespass cows (2:16), sheep, and the line of wild horses at the water hole (2:42) are from Pancake. That water source has been dry for over a year now and a mining exploration rig placed near it. Every gate you see in the video should be open and only closed when livestock is out, but they are closed unless someone opens them. BLM refuses to put signs on gates saying when they need to be open.  (The roundup footage is from Triple B, another massive complex of HMAs, that lies to the north of Pancake and is suffering a similar fate. The other HMA in the video is Fish Creek. Last year we saw over a dozen wild horses die because BLM has allowed waters to dry up, go into disrepair and be shut off because of political pressure from the county. )

WHE was even able to get one of the mines to agree to drop a well to help mitigate the impact they would have to both the loss of a water source and the obstruction the mine would create to wild horses as they move seasonally in search of water. The BLM obstructed the process and was not interested in a proposal. The mine, that operates on public lands, would need BLM approval to drop a well. All of our efforts to do one independently were obstructed as well.

BLM NV has demonstrated no interest in any public participation beyond shooting a few darts.

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The pictures above taken in April show the range produces enough food to support the wild ones that live there. BLM clams over 3000 wild horses occupied the HMA at that time. What they do not have is a clear path to travel the HMA that is criss-crossed with barbed wire, roads now closed even to the public due to massive mining (and more exploration), water is drying up. The water that exists is fenced off and hoarded for livestock (or contaminated from old mine sites). BLM approves guzzlers (water sources) outside the HMA for wildlife, yet will do nothing to help mitigate damages from industry to help horses.


As our litigation is in active briefing (we have another brief due in shortly) the abuse on the range continues and is leading to another “for their own good” removal.

It is both simple and complex. Simply, the resources our herds need are not being protected. But the agency has created a maze of planning documents that protect industry and ignore any planning for the protection of wild horses. Our litigation is addressing this tragic fact.

The Pancake HMA is managed by the Ely district and, a small portion, by the Tonopah field office of the Battle Mountain district. Both should be hauling water, restricting livestock in drought and protecting the wild horses from suffering. Instead, the suffering is compounded as planning moves forward to take even more from our wild ones. For those of you that like to call BLM, we add the link to the lead district HERE. 

In summer the golden overcast turns much whiter.

As part of our drought initiative our volunteers are addressing drought issues in multiple HMAs, including Pancake. We are contacting state and district offices to find out if they have closed livestock grazing and turned on water or are hauling water. You can too. Or you can simply add your name to our growing list (over 10,000 names so far) that we are using in outreach to national and district offices HERE.

As you take action calling Congress over the spending bill, please remember the greatest threat is not population growth. The greatest threat is shrinking habitat. Please remember to add “water” and “management planning” to your list of talking points (HERE). 

This HMA is stands as a tragic illustration of what the BLM is doing to our last large herds. Just around the corner lies a time when we have tokens, remnants, memories, of once large herds in the West.

The fight for the wild begins in the wild.

We are fighting back.

Learn More:

Let’s Talk (BLM Report and the NAS)

Centennial Burro Roundup

Take Action

Help keep us in the fight.   

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Categories: Wild Horse Education