Wild Horse Education

Facility Spotlight: Broken Arrow (Indian Lakes)

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The Broken Arrow facility on Indian Lakes Road in Fallon, NV, is giving a “tour” today. The facility is privately contracted and, although the contract originally required weekly tours, BLM only gives a couple of tours a year. Originally the facility was approved to house around 3000 wild horses and burros. Even with consistent issues with hoof care, vaccinations and shoddy record keeping, BLM expanded the contract to over 7000.

This facility was not always closed. When the facility first opened during the Calico roundup of 2009/10, the public was allowed to walk around the facility once a week. Not only did the public identify issues at the facility that needed to be addressed, hundreds of adoptions were facilitated. In spite of the “public good” provided by these tours, BLM cancelled them entirely.

It was only after relentless litigation that tours were started again. The agency claimed the costs of these tours came to over $5,000. each (we did not know a porta-potty cost that much) and they could only facilitate “adoption tours” twice a year (unless the facility was used as intake from the range and then they would create a “timely” tour). The “timely tours” for intake have not happened and these twice a year visits have become the only time we can get in. We looked into the “$5,000.” price-tag and found the additional funds were not just the potable toilet for the public, but were actually costs associated with cleaning the facility. Essentially, when the public can see the facility they are not even seeing what the facility looks like on a regular daily basis.

During these “tours” the public is on a trailer pulled through the facility. No real time is spent at any single pen and doing a search for wild horses that are supposed to be in the facility can often be fruitless in the single opportunity you are given to find them (after capture and before they ship out to another facility). BLM does not hand out and information like an inventory of the facility that notes what horses are in each pen, where the wild horses are from, etc.

Scheduling a tour in May does not allow observation of wild horses newly captured from the range, months have transpired since the last newly capture horse or burro arrived. 

Pictures of Pancake wild horses the first time we were allowed to see them, 90 days after the last date of capture.

What happens at the facility from the time they receive wild horses and the time you are allowed to first see them? 

Wild horses and burros received at the facility are supposed to be branded, vaccinated, wormed and catalogued. If they are there for more than a few months, feet need to be done (they are living on soft sand and not moving 10-30 miles a day on the range).

That answer seems simple enough. But is that as clean and easy as it sounds?

Nothing can substitute first-hand observation. But since we are not allowed to see them for months, we have to find other ways to gain information.

One method for creating a larger picture is through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

FOIA won’t help find out what is going on “now,” but it can help you piece together what happened before you get to see them. 

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“By-the-numbers” breakdown of Pancake wild horses shipped to Broken Arrow (Indian Lakes) facilitated by WHE volunteer FOIA team. 

The Pancake Complex roundup of January 11-February 14 was devastating to the herd and to our team (that has followed those horses for a very long time). The intense winter roundup  of over 2000 wild horses saw 26 reported deaths onsite (and possibly deaths not reported).

The first days of the roundup were in an area where WHE have shared photos with the public for over a decade. We began to get requests to help track horses by people wanting to adopt. The first day of the roundup we made a request to get into the “closed-door” facilities to find those horses for adoption. BLM shipped wild horses to 3 different facilities, 2 of them “off-limits” to public except for arranged tours.

We were not allowed into Broken Arrow until May. This report focuses on the time of arrival until we could first see them in May.

ARRIVALS:  965 horses as reported by Indian Lakes (Broken Arrow). Note: BLM reportedly shipped 2,004 horses to 3 facilities for entire gather operation, while facilities reported arrivals 2,019 (15 more wild horses than were listed in reports as being shipped).

From the arrival date of Pancake horses, until our first chance to see them months later, BLM data shows:

35 died with (no additional info), 32 additional wild horses died (with a small bit of info) and 39 shipped to other facilities. 0 necropsies were performed.

2 horses died on the same day they arrived: Feb. 1 and 6.  Both causes of death listed as undiagnosed/unknown and both found dead in pen.

19 deaths pre-freeze mark brand (required within 30 days of arrival). It should be noted that on the May tour (90 days post capture) there were pens of unbranded wild horses from Pancake.

0 were adopted.

FOIA included some more disturbing notations.


Feb 4:  BLM reportedly shipped 40 horses from the range to Broken Arrow (Indian Lakes).
Broken Arrow (Indian Lakes) reported 13 horses arrived.
(Disturbingly, none got freeze marks and all died, some before and some after the first tour date)

Feb. 9:  BLM reportedly shipped 46 horses from the range to Broken Arrow (Indian Lakes).
Broken Arrow (Indian Lakes) reported 37 horses arrived.

BLM reported on number of horses shipped from range, and Broken Arrow (Indian Lakes) reported on number of horses arrived, but they never matched (except for Feb. 7 no horses shipped, no horses arrived),  even on Feb. 14, the last day of gather operation and last shipment.  BLM shipped 44, Broken Arrow (Indian Lakes) arrived 8.  

Another avenue FOIA can be helpful is comparing information received and BLM Comprehensive Animal Welfare Policy (CAWP) standards. Our team member, Colette Kaluza, created the following charts focused on CAWP.  Note: In March BLM had their CAWP team visit the Fallon facility before scheduling a tour.

Below is an excerpt from a longer report WHE is working on. The boxed diagram shows CAWP standards, then we present what was found through FOIA post arrival in May. 

Indian Lakes received 965 horses:

  • 41 (4%) compliance with freeze mark (branding) application.
  • 924 (96%) late.  353 (37%) late 60-plus days.
  • BLM provided no vaccination records or on other standards in diagram 1 (above).

  • First indication veterinarian was on site was freeze marks were applied to 41 Pancake horses on Feb. 18, and again on March 15.
  • Records of veterinarian visits to be maintained at Indian Lakes and required documentation were not provided.
  • 10 deaths were undiagnosed/unknown without noted discussions of probable cause of death.
  • No post-mortem examination or necropsy was performed (not required).
  • BLM provided no further records on veterinarian standards in diagram 2 (above).

  • Death records provided identified the animal, gather event name, date, acute or unexpected, or euthanized, and scant on the horses’ deaths, maybe “broken neck” or “found dead in pen.”
  • BLM provided rendering receipts/invoices listing 58 horse deaths and 9 foals, 35 more than reported.
  • BLM will not provide data on compliance with other standards on euthanasia, including method utilized.  BLM euthanasia policy has been frighteningly broadened.
  • BLM provided no further records on standards in diagram 4 (above).

Tour in May 2022, 90 days after capture.

It should be noted that of the 58 wild horses we were attempting to track for adoption, only 5 were ever found. 

Compare that number to the hundreds of adoptions that were facilitated when weekly access was permitted when the facility first opened. 

Congress should NOT be approving public funds to pay for facilities that the public cannot access on a regular basis. Facilities where were have to FOIA just to recover a fragment of a paper trail. A paper trail that is impersonal, includes no photo of a horse for ID. A shoddy system that fails to even appropriately account for accuracy in the numbers shipped and received. 

Please take action in the ongoing funding debate for fiscal 2024. One of the things this program is in desperate need of is transparency. Take Action HERE. 

So if you take one of the facility tours ask yourself what happens before BLM waits months to let you see horses and burros and spends thousands of dollars to clean a facility. 

We are working on a long report on facilities, an update on the CAWP program and so much more.

WHE is taking legal action. From gifts to livestock to action against ten-year removal plans based on administrative ease, not data or science.

More coming from WHE teams soon.

Help keep us in the fight!


Categories: Wild Horse Education