Seven Tears Into the Sea
Phantom Stallion Series
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Visiting Day at the Feedlot
Two hours each week, the public is allowed to see their captive wild horses at the feedlot style corrals in Fallon, Nevada. So I went today.
What I hated most was a group of young ones trying to do the truly joyous "let's run!" thing and have four of them end in a pileup because there were so many in such a confined area. Lots of fresh freeze brands on the mares. Even the ones in hospital pens.
I will transcribe my notes soon, but I have to say the most surprising thing I heard
was that the gather/facility death toll was LOWER than than it usually is because the Calico horses are less "crashy" (further defined as prone to spooking) than horses from other herd areas.
The official death toll posted by BLM was up to 57 on Friday and one member of our group was told four more died Saturday.
Oh, and the word "processing" (for vaccinations, freeze branding, age determination, etc) has been struck from BLM vocabulary and the official word is "preparing."
I'm sure that makes it feel better.
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Posted by Terri Farley @ 9:50 PM 4 comments
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Range runners in captivity
I just returned from the Fallon facility and learned that a mass gelding of mustangs begins on Monday. I haven't transcribed my notes yet but when I asked why the "tours" will end (they will resume on selected Sundays), Susie Stokke, the BLM staffer leading us around said "we have work to do" and verified that they would be gelding about 900 stallions and colts old enough to be weaned.
It's going to be an awful, bloody business and it's made worse by the cage.
I've seen these used to contain horses for vaccinations and freeze branding, but missed the fact that the metal cage can be turned and rotated so the gelding can be performed through the bars.
Stokke verified that every male horse will be gelded. It's standard procedure, she said, like neutering cats, so that there won't be "indiscriminate breeding" by adopted horses.
I'll write more later, and share photos from Mark Terrell, an amazing wild horse photographer who accompanied me, but this issue has a time element, so I've contacted In Defense of Animals and the Cloud Foundation for help. I've also heard from Holly Hazard of the Humane Society of the United States.
If there's any chance that the Calico horses will be preserved as a heritage herd -- and I saw once more the unique characteristics of these horses which made them the model for the fictional Phantom's herd. One smoky dun with dread-locked mane just stole my heart, but then so did a fuzzy bay baby and a majestic Medicine Hat stallion who carried himself like royalty in exile.
If these male horses are all castrated, there's no do-over. The gene pool for the Calico Mountain horses will have been reduced to the few horses BLM left on the range, and though they may be hardy survivors, nothing will ever be the same.
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Posted by Terri Farley @ 12:55 PM 5 comments