Wild Horse Education

Pregnant Mares & Little Foals (Buffalo Hills Roundup Update)


Buffalo Hills newborn in holding. Look at those soft little baby feet. This baby was probably born a day or two after mom was captured at the ongoing roundup that began July 1.

Roundups in July and August are particularly hard to watch from the standpoint of welfare of wild horses. Anyone that truly cares about wild horses finds roundups hard to watch any time of year. At the end of February and in July our disgust at the lack of basic facts used to create BLM policy intensifies, it is foaling season. BLM simply uses a broad “July 1 through the last day of February” as a non-scientific and non site-specific assertion of “not foaling season” for all HMAs throughout the West. The key management document, Herd Management Area Plan (HMAP), is skipped in the vast majority of HMAs and not updated in the few areas that have them. Foaling season (or when it is safe to use a helicopter) is one of the things that is supposed to be defined in an HMAP.

Essentially, BLM states that it is not foaling season because they say it is not foaling season. Just like everything else in this program, BLM makes assertions not backed up by reality.

Heavily pregnant mares should not be run. According to the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) states: “you should avoid stressing the mare as much as possible, transport your mare only if absolutely necessary, use caution when exposing your mare to other horses, (you should avoid any undue risk of injury or disease transmission by isolating broodmares from transient horse populations).” The also say: “Exercise during the last four months of the mare’s pregnancy should be light to moderate. In fact, a pastured mare will get as much exercise as she needs just grazing. Vigorous exercise is not recommended.”

A mare that gives birth days after capture is the most obvious definition of “heavily pregnant” there could be. You do not need a medical degree and a ten year study to make that determination.

Below: Babies so young they appear to have been born at the facility after mom was captured in a helicopter drive this week.

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Baby feet

The foot of a horse is so important there is a saying, “No hoof, no horse.” Baby feet are in a critical development stage for a few weeks after birth. It is foaling season on the range.

When horses are born, and forming in utero, the sharp little hooves are covered with a deciduous hoof capsule to protect the mothers uterus and birth canal.

Often referenced as “feathers,” this amazing structure protects both mom before and during birth from sharp edges on the hoof. The soft little feet begin to harden as they become capable of carrying the newborn over the ground. The “squishy fingers” dry out and fall off as the foal begins to move around revealing brand new baby hooves.

A horse hoof at birth is shaped a bit like a cone. The pointy end (toe) is where a newborn carries their weight. Over about 4-5 weeks the weight bearing shifts as the hoof begins to grow downward.

The integrity of that foot lays the foundation for the horses entire lifetime. What happens to those feet, and baby limbs, will effect any horse throughout their life. 

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BLM should, in truth, not be running herds by helicopter stampede. If they do, it should not be allowed until September 1 to allow the majority of foals to strengthen their lower legs and feet.

The foot and limbs of baby horses have a wide variety of what is considered “normal,” as much of what you see is based on position in the womb and the pass through the birth canal (much like head shape of a newborn human; some look pretty normal and some look like cone heads). Some babies have lax tendons at birth that make travel through the birth canal easier, they tighten in the first two months of age, but can show an appearance of dropped fetlocks (some as low as ground level) or being “toed out”). Often, these foals will be euthanized at the trap.

Wild Horse Education was literally born the day the feet of an 8 month old colt died of hoof slough after a roundup. We made a promise to that baby that died in agony without real veterinary care and began relentless litigation to gain a policy to stop abuse. We won every case. Now we have to fight to enforce and improve that policy.

BLM has multiple operations set to hit the schedule this summer. Those roundups will be funded as Congress continues to throw money at the BLM 2020 Plan that was supported by the Path Forward corporate agreement. Congress has added a few meaningless gestures but offers no avenue toward actual reform to the crumbling and cruel system. Congress is set to continue to fund what industry will allow. The status quo in a new box is still a box of…. 

We are awaiting an answer from BLM on “what are they doing about CAWP?” But we won’t wait much longer (we actually have to give it some “wait” time to meet a hurdle of litigation, just so you understand “why” we are doing that. In colloquial terms the legal hurdle is translated as: “give them the rope for a noose”). We will have more details for you soon.

We need your help!

Please take this action today as the budget bill heads for a vote in the House before heading to the Senate. Population growth suppression (removal, fertility control) is not management. Removal and fertility control plans are not management plans.

Please Take Action HERE. 

You can see our ongoing team reports from the ongoing Buffalo Hills roundup HERE. 

To date: 318 have been captured and 8 wild horses have died. There have been many issues with speed, distance and barbed wire. Handling issues include a foal being slammed to the ground and tied to an ATV.

Help keep us in the fight.

Categories: Wild Horse Education