OPINION: Elements relief and a hot debate on horses in holding

At the BLM’s Palomino Valley Wild Horse and Burro Center outside Reno, a sprinkler attached to the panel of a large wild horse pen sprays water while horses eat in the distance.
At the BLM’s Palomino Valley Wild Horse and Burro Center outside Reno, a sprinkler attached to the panel of a large wild horse pen sprays water while horses eat in the distance.

By Monika Courtney

Surely, the hot weather is getting to some of us. Dangers of hot temperatures affecting seniors and warnings of heat accompany our daily routines. While I am happy that my basil grows better than any other summers, I do think about the sweltering heat in which the formerly wild horses at government holding facilities must endure the long summer days. With growing public concern for the corralled horses who no longer can seek shelter, the Bureau of Land Management has offered a workshop to receive input from the public in striving for a solution for relief.

Now more than ever could be a turn point in reform in holding, if the public comes to aid in a strong unified voice to lend support so we can see this to fruition. A door is open and we must keep it this way. Horses do benefit from shade and it is hoped that BLM experts will figure out an immediate, feasible way to improve facilities as weather changes and increased heat pose a challenge to the animals in their care. Responsible and humane animal husbandry includes the provision of shelter for formerly wild horses now corralled, with input from dependable sources and engineers BLM can find a solution for rapid remedy as more heat is coming. Erecting structures to move PVC into a new standard from when it was built years ago; is a goal to prioritize for BLM. The public wants to see reform for the horses in holding and on the range, more humane treatment for all wild horses and this is a start.

As I have done some research to see which holding facility may have provision of shelter/relief from elements, I found the Ridgecrest, CA. facility to be an example of adequate humane standard by providing shade with a canopy, to which the equines are drawn according to photos and common sense. As a horse owner, I believe that wild horses do seek shelter/shade when having a choice on the open range, as stud piles were found in pinion-junipers.

Any horse seeks relief from elements within the environment he is living. In open areas that accounts to rock formations casting shade/wind or snow protection, or trees offering a cooler environment with shade tops, thus also providing partial shield from insects. Wild horses seek cover and shade in thickets of riparian habitats and dense brush, wooded areas or canyon lands. Since horses’ health can be compromised in high temperatures, even wild horses’ internal body temp’s rise, and if so at 104F. or higher, his metabolic system may not function properly. At 105F his organs are affected and circulatory collapse or death may result. While wild horses are adapted to ample challenges in a harsh environment, they nonetheless seek out relief to protect their vitality. The foal that died two weeks ago at PVC is “undiagnosed”, yet I believe the extreme heat caused her to stop perspiring due to high heat stressing her system and having no escape thereof. If corralled horses have no cooling in form of shade or temperature reducing misters, they are subjected to serious health risks, dehydration and sunburn; prevention thereof would move the program forth with implementation of shelter, such as Ridgecrest canopy or similar sturdy roof structures and proposals for misters, as have been submitted to the Bureau in recent weeks.

Misters help greatly to reduce temperatures as I found one system in Los Angeles that is portable, and giving 250 ft. of relief. (That guy would gladly fly to PVC and show the staff the potential and how it works, on his own dime and is very willing to adapt price). Also, adding electrolytes to some water troughs in the pens would help prevent dehydration. Horses under high heat with no availability of shade can suffer heat exhaustion and that is serious. The sprinkler installation at PVC is allowing horses to facilitate cooling evaporation, offers a bit of enrichment to alleviate boredom, but shade certainly would increase the quality of life all together.

Surely the planning and approval of budget in this task requires effort, but as we all experience the increased heat patterns, so do horses and they may adjust to great extents, yet comfort and humane responsible care must come from the humans that put them there in the first place. A joint effort of partnerships by those who are in charge and those calling for reform in holding, can lead to visible results for not only horses in pens, but to move forth in progress of a broken program and restoring faith for the American public, while making the lives in those pens more bearable for horses who have lost their homes, their families and their spirits. Until the snow flies… there is much to discuss, and it is my hope that the Bureau of Land Management will act sooner than later to make the lives of the corralled horses a better reality.

Submitted by:
Monika Courtney
Evergreen, Colo.

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22 Comments

  1. A little hard being in PA….I was hoping they might make it available by web cast or other media.  After the Blue Wing round up on Sunday it is more important than ever that BLM be stopped immediately.  The round up was a brutal, horrifc and savage attack on those horses and the use of cattle prods to force them into trailers is criminal.  3 mares were killed  and I haven’t heard the final count.  If anyone is interested you can view it at the link below, but be warned, it is a tragic thing to see. Below is what BLM posted on its website.  They are nothing but criminals.
    on BLM website: Animal deaths: 3
    Acute: 2
    Cause: 7-year-old sorrel mare, captured Aug. 2 was euthanized this morning due to a fractured hind leg sustained while in the trap when another horse kicked her. 9-year-old sorrel mare, captured Aug. 3 ran into the panels of the holding corral and died of a fractured neck.
    Chronic/pre-existing: 1
    Cause: 15-year-old sorrel mare, captured Aug. 2 was euthanized due to blindness in one eye and was hazardous to work.
    http://wildhorseeducation.org/

  2. Please attend the BLM workshop today – The workshop will be held at the Reno City Council Chamber at 1 East
    First Street, Reno, Nev. 89501 on August 6, 2013 from 5:30 – 9:00
    p.m. Participants should plan on attending the full workshop, which will
    involve presentations, discussion and brainstorming on several items.

  3. To continue my thought below I spoke with a ranger at Theordore Roosevelt Natl Park who is rounding up their herds and having a public sale in Sept.  When I voiced my concern about the auction he said they try to make sure that no kill buyers take any of the horses, but of course the reality is that some will end up in the hands of kill buyers.  What precautions, if any, are taken by BLM as the only option for protection of these horses?

  4. Monica, please keep us informed as to whether or not they offier a solution to the public that cannot attend.  This is incredibly important for the horses and I know many people will speak out and voice their outrage at BLM if they are offered a way.  They could just go and buy some tarps and rig a temporaty shelter until something more permanent can be put up.  It’s not rocket science.  And what do they plan on doing with all the horses they’ve put on the shelf?  What is the long term plan, public auction?  They can’t keep them forever – it’s inhuman.

  5. ./6  The fact that these once
    free mustangs and burros must languish in corralls, while BLM continues to
    remove even more as I type – is quite frankly, incomprehensible. 
    To imagine the loss of
    freedom, dull existence, boredom, health threats and hopelessness that these
    horses must endure daily – warehoused like commodities by a country that
    acts like it is the world’s best and up-to-date… one can ask just where
    the arrogance towards these defendless creatures is going to stop.

    I ask that a roof or canopy such as
    Ridgecrest is installed immediately to provide relief from the elements; and
    that James Beck, PVC facility manager, tasked to run the place with little
    budget leeway, is given sufficient help by the directorate in
    Washington in facilitating this urgent need for heat remediation in
    an expedited manner. Please consider shelter for all holding facilities.
    I hope to hear from you soon, on the date of workshop, solicitation of bid
    (closing Aug. 7th) and how BLM offers involvement for the public
    who cannot personally attend.

  6. ./5  ***it is clear that BLM
    segments of budget allocations are not dispensed appropriately in
    aiming for fair, humane and preservation-oriented management. The recent crisis
    and deaths in holding due to extreme heat reflects poor planning in
    the creation of a “state of the art” facility. Budget emphasis on
    removing horses must be re allotted to current needs and your promise of
    reform, to which the hasty continuous and brutal round ups are not part
    of the picture. The American public is calling for
    a halt on round ups since years. On the range management deserves deeper
    consideration. The constraints can be
    overcome by shifting goals to innovation and focus on the well being as Joan
    Guilfoyle describes below. Reform is NOT to continue the wipe out of
    horses, the zeroing out of whole herds, the procrastinating of on the range
    management options, the ignoring of water maintenance for horses in the
    wild or the consent with cattle/mining monopoly.  Much input was sent your
    way from “my circle” as you call it. In our circle too, common sense
    is that any creature, especially equines, seek relief from extreme heat or
    harsh winter storms, to keep vital and not waste away in
    survival mode, which is the sad reality in holding.

  7. ./4   ***Contemplating that in 2012: –  almost no
    funding was allocated towards actual management/welfare on the range     –  the
    Construct/Maintain of Shrub/Grass Project/Water Developments expenditure was
    set at only 117,651 and 112,933

    –  the subject of
    Fertility Control received only 333,835   with 2013 projection for
    population growth
    suppression  applications only marked  at 585,500 (0.7%) –
    *** the whopping
    allocation to GATHER REMOVE in 2012 was 7,807,517 (11%)  and for
    2013    6,932,330 (8.8%)
    ***mix in
    the skyrocketing amount of HOLDING COSTS  of
    2012          long
    term    17,541,196 
                    short term    25,503,871     increased  2013         short
    term    28,036,179   (35.8% !)

  8. ./3   According to James Beck,
    Facility Manager Palomino Valley (PVC), there are now 7 sprinklers installed,
    with potential to reach half the horses (phone conversation with
    Ginger Casey of July 18th). That is a great emergency measure, yet more
    solid improvements to handle the increased heat challenges and meet
    minimum comfort and animal husbandry standards required to reflect responsible
    care in holding facilities must be applied. The utmost urgency is to find
    immediate, applicable budget allocations by reviewing above stats (taken by
    me at your BLM Advisory Board meetings). 
    The sale of our public
    lands to multiple uses which imbibe the West’s water sources is the epitome of
    current broken program standards. Surely, while agendas on sell out
    of water sources in the West are on BLM’s unrelenting trajectory
    resulting in serious water shortages not only for wild horses, but all
    livestock and ultimately us; the provision of relief / shelter in holding seems
    to be a minute piece of the puzzle. 
    The public is not only
    concerned over the gross lack of shelter in holding, but deeply disturbed over
    the resolute efficiency in which your agency moves forth to
    accommodate multiple uses with irreparable consequences and put even move wild
    horses in already crowded holding.

  9. ./2
        Not only are the
    OVERHEAD / UNCONTROLLABLE segments of the budget pie significant in allowance,
    but along with the holding costs and gather/remove costs completely out of
    balance to the rest of your program, to  which little is invested or
    prioritized.  
        Gather / Remove

    Spending
    Plan  2010        Spending
    Plan 2011      Actual
    Expenditures  2012       Budget
    Projections 2013
     
    8,709,275                        
    10,937,325                    
    7,807,517   (11%)                        
    6,932,330    (8.8%)
    Overhead / Uncontrollable                                    
    Program Support / Overhead     Program Support /
    Overhead 
    Spending Plan 
    2010        Spending Plan 
    2011    Actual Expenditures  
    2012        Budget Projections 2013
     
    9,549,900                         
    10,338,247                    
    5,442,051  (15%)                      
    11,293,000   (14.4%)

  10. From: Tcourt5096 <[email protected]   To: blm_wo_wild_horse
    <[email protected]>; TGorey <[email protected]>; nkornze
    <[email protected]>; joan_guilfoyle <[email protected]>; dbolstad
    <[email protected]>; J1Beck <[email protected]>; rubyredhorse
    <[email protected]>; feedback <[email protected]>; hlemmons
    <[email protected]   Sent: Thu, Jul 25, 2013 3:21 pmSubject:
    Re: Relief Project Workshop / FeedbackThe public believes that
    immediate provision of shelter is feasible, if prioritized. I believe the
    directorate in Washington can give the green light immediately if it is handled
    promptly. BLM’s duty of responsibility to horses in holding and delivery of
    transparency to public is pressing the matter. I am doing bidding on solid
    canopy structures and have contacted several foundations as well. I also hope
    that the solicitation bid for shade structures on fedconnect will bring positive
    results. The budget cuts, with closing of fiscal year (Sept. 30)
    fast approaching, pose concern. Yet, when analyzing budget allocation in the
    Spending Plans of 2010, 2011, the Actual Expenditures of 2012 and the Budget
    Projections for 2013 – the incorporating of shelter in form of a canopy such as
    Ridgecrest or a portable mister as I proposed to BLM on 7/13/2013, seems within
    reach, if the un proportionally high sums allocated to GATHER/REMOVE are
    readjusted.

  11. —–Original Message—–
    From: Wild_Horse, BLM_WO <>
    To: Tcourt5096 <>
    Sent: Wed, Jul 24, 2013 1:18 pm
    Subject: Re: Relief Project Workshop / Feedback
    Dear Monica.  We are hoping to announce the public workshop date very soon. It is on a fast-track to occur very soon.  Folks may also watch for the announcement at http://blm.gov/.  Thank you for sharing this with others in your circle.  Debbie CollinsBureau of Land ManagementNational Wild Horse & Burro ProgramInformation Center Coordinator866-468-7826

  12. When we ’round up’ anything or anyone, we become responsible for their care. Horses in the wild seek shade. We therefore should be providing some type of shade/shelter.

  13. The question is whether BLM has managed these horses under the mandate they were given and the answer is a resounding NO. BLM has created this very sad situation by their horribly inept, inhumane and unschooled management and literally created emergencies where none should exist had they been managing the grazing and water of these herds. Fencing off water and allowing water holes to run dry is not management – it is abuse. The fact that they have the nerve to put these horses in holding pens with no shelter during inhuman temperatures says volumes about their lack of concern for their charges.  They say they want public input but don’t act on the suggestions or only on the ones where they have been called to task.  The sad plight of these horses rests squarely on the back of BLM.  I find great sorrow in the fact that the noble horse is relegated to the low rung on the ladder because they simply enrich our lives. Bottom line? The BLM is not doing its job and needs to be replaced as soon as possible.

    • Agreed. The course of monopolized eradication of wild horses has been defined by lucrative side incomes and greed by special interests. The horses are only a minute part in the bigger picture thereof. And the low humane standards to which they are subjected are horrifying. No agency, not entity, no group should ever be getting away with this. And the public has been grossly deceived by a farce Board that puts on a big theatrical act to pacify the public, yet keeps their course without any hesitation, towards the same old, remove, removest, removest. No one whines about cattle starving, cattle dehydrating, cattle “eating each other’s manes”…(words by Boyd Spratling, BLM Board, Vet…) it is beyond pathetic how this agency has fooled the masses and pretends to care when in fact their main focus is remove.

  14. Something absolutely must be done for these poor horses!  To stick them out in the desert in the heat with no shade, relief, lost their homes and families, broken spirits, is completely inhumane and cruel!  There is no excuse for this cruelty!  Our government turns a deaf ear to our cries for humane treatment!

  15. As a landscaper  my body is mores  protected  and remains cooler  in long sleeved and pants  being outdoors all day….some tarps  and  canvas pieces would be a  good start to provide some shade… and not a major expense like those choppers were paying for as taxpayers to provide death camps for these horses…..BLM needs to stop with the lip service and insulting the public’s intelligence with their excuses. Criminals always  operate above the law….

  16. The government requires individual adopters to have provide better care than they do themselves yet for a few favored they can take loads and loads of horses to who knows where (we know, really) and that’s OK.  Talk about the foxes in the henhouse.   Not to mention not providing shade for horses in that head it simply cruel.

  17. It is more crucial than ever that all public, all organizations join this call. The foundation laid out to create national awareness must get everyone’s support in seeing this come to fruition. BLM knows and is doing a workshop offering, but the immediate provision of adequate shelter in holding is critical now. I am calling on all and everyone to support this, whether you differ in opinion on range management, PZP whatever… for those horses in holding suffering now it is imperative that all join the efforts and come across with dependable, professional input that will take this to a better reality for those trapped horses in holding now. All those asking for shade, please join this call and help. Thank you.

  18. This is a no brainer. Horses, humans, whatever. The extreme heat of late effects all warm-blooded beings! A horse’s body temperature is even warmer than a humans being between 98-101 degrees. Therefore, if it is hot to a human it is even more so for a horse. Shade is essential during hot weather as well as being certain to drink plenty of water and replenishing minerals lost in the sweat like sodium, chloride, and potassium. This is basic 101 healthcare here. The BLM knows this; they just refuse to do anything about it! There have even been offers to donate materials and help build shade structures for these horses but, the BLM has refused to allow this! Why!?! Many of us are already aware of the plans and mismanagement strategies of the BLM where our wild horses are concerned. These horses belong to us and this country of whom considers them American icons and expects them to be preserved and protected as such by the government agency assigned to care for them. The BLM has done a deplorable job of this in the past and continues along these same lines today. Enough is enough! Sally Jewell, do your job or please step down!!!

    • SusanSet   If they were bighorns in holding you can bet the BLM would’ve installed shade and whatever else they needed, or they would’ve allowed Bighorns Unlimited to do it.  Because, yeah, even bighorns seek shade during the heat of day from large rocks and small trees.  As do horses and burros and every other living creature.  The BLM disdains wild horses and burros so much they seem to enjoy causing them as much suffering as they can and certainly could care less when they die.

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