Wild Horse Education

Surprise (rain, cold and a wrangler gets in a rough spot)

Temperatures have dropped at the ongoing roundup of wild horses at the Surprise Complex managed by the Applegate office on the California BLM.

First run captured about 38 wild horses.

Each element of any crew is vital to the safety of horses and humans alike. From the pilot, to the ground crew of the contractor, to the agency Incident Commander (IC) who holds the ultimate responsibility for every action, each piece must function for things like the Comprehensive Animal Welfare Policy (CAWP) to observed and enforced.

Not a “life or death” injury, but one that can be avoided.

Video below: How many horse owners have tried to load too many horses into a trailer or a draft horse into a single (regular size) trailer? What comes out the other side? Reminder: CAWP also states gates and doors are not to be used to move horses, no slamming or pushing horses with gates. We know it started raining and more horses were coming in, but nothing at the operation should be motivated by speed or convenience.

When a roundup begins it is the end of “on-range” management and the fight for equity. From an advocacy perspective, the roundup moment itself is all about CAWP. After the roundup everything shifts again to making sure each captive finds a safe landing out of the slaughter pipeline. Advocacy has many layers. CAWP addresses everything from the stocking level of pens at temporary corrals to flight conduct and barbed wire. CAWP needs the review and revision to occur that was promised after the first year. 6 years later, that review has not been done.

Moments after what appears to be a collision between a hidden wrangler and, a now very surprised, wild horse.

During the second run the wrangler releases the Judas horse and then drops behind a sage brush to “hide.” One of the wild ones that had been eyeing the jute looking for an escape route sees the Judas and literally “follows his footsteps” and appears to run into the hidden wrangler. The wrangler tumbles, the horse appears startled and runs to join the group. The wrangler is hard for you to see, and the horse probably could not see him behind the sage either. We did see wrangler rise and appeared to be more rattled than injured. We will inquire today and hope he is not seriously hurt. We drop color and turn that section blue in the “replay” to try to better illustrate the incident as the rain began to fall harder (you can hear it in video).

Advice we give to everyone we take out, and it seems like an appropriate moment for the reminder: If you are observing a roundup or are out on range and wild horses run in your direction, get bigger not smaller. Do not hide in pinyon branches or sage. Be clearly visible.

The second run captured another “30 something” as the rain began to fall harder and the temperature dropped rapidly.

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The estimated total captured at that time was 71.

The pilot landed and capture operations were halted. Wild horses already captured were transported to holding.

Total captured for the day was 132.

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At the temporary corrals there were pens holding some of the wild ones that could be chosen for the next release.

Cumulative total captured now stands at 687.

We will update from the trap as our team comes in for the day. To date, we have been the only org onsite for the entire operation.


Owyhee begins October 11.

Naval Air Weapons Station – China Lake, 250 wild horses in the Centennial Herd Management Area (HMA) begins Oct 9. The second phase of the roundup that began earlier this year will allow no public visitation.

Barren Valley was placed on hold and will resume Oct 15.

Rock Springs began October 7 and a large crowd of observers is expected.


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Categories: Wild Horse Education