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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Birds, Horses and a BLM rant.

I put out grain and seeds for the wild birds in the shelter of some trees. We had Starlings, Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, Wood Peckers, Quail and (I think I saw) Purple finches show up for dinner. Everyone was enjoying themselves until a Starling flew into the side of the house and killed himself.

Speaking of birds and this being Thanksgiving, here are some pictures William took this Spring.

He's a wild Turkey looking for a girlfriend. He walked over to check out the chickens, who were still in their run. I noticed our hero rooster was very quiet.

He then jumped up on the stone house for a better look at what we had to offer before walking up the bluff.

We had much more snow today and thankfully the weather warmed up. It finally got down to minus -21.8 degrees F here Tuesday night. When I was going up to bed I noticed the front hall seemed so cold and I saw why; cold air was pour through the keyhole and it was covered in frost. Our house is over a hundred years old and the front door has a big old fashioned keyhole. I got some wide tape and put it over the keyhole.

Echo is refusing to go in his barn still. He went into the other building when he thought no one was looking, but something must have scared him and he stopped going in there. Wildairo goes in that same barn to eat with no problem.

This is how Wildairo approaches me; ears back and angry.

He soon softens up when I give him some baby talk, which he still loves.

He's not at all like Echo, he doesn't want to hang around with me. Soon as he's had his apple he goes back to his comfort cow, Dandylyons.

He went pretty feral again when he was turned out with the cattle and he needs a lot of work and so in Spring I will work with him.

I'm keeping them separated because together they will be impossible to work with. Echo made a lot of progress once he was out of sight of Wildairo.

Here are some pictures I took of Echo that first day I turned with out in his new pasture. I went back to check on him and he walked right up to me. I don't think they had trees on his wild home range because he seemed hesitant to approach the trees in the pasture.

He soon figured out the advantages of trees.

BLM Rant.

I've been doing some thinking about these mustangs. Both of them have trust issues with humans. This is understandable after what they have been through.

They were taught to avoid humans by their mothers and then one day they are 'all out' attacked by the Bureau of Land Management(BLM). They are chased by a helicopter for miles over hard dangerous terrain and in an all out panic. They are ran into a trap where mayhem ensues. They are hauled in a truck to a place where they are processed, put into chutes, given shots, branded, blood drawn. Later they are ran in again to be gelded and periodically to be squashed in a chute, rolled onto their side to have their hooves trimmed with an electric grinder. All the time they are chased from place to place by people waving sticks with plastic bags tied to them. Then they are put up for adoption.

Some horses are not as traumatised by this if at all. I think if a horse with a calm unshakable disposition (like dear Foxsun's) goes through all this and there are no mishaps along the way, he comes out of it okay. But there are accidents due to carelessness by the BLM and their contractors. Every round up there are horses killed or injured. And I know there are horses that are emotionally damaged because I have one.

I have to the conclusion that Echo has PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He's a lovely sweet, gentle and intelligent horse when I'm doing things with him that the BLM's policies never had the chance to screw up, like leading him or just giving him cuddles, he's a relaxed normal boy. Here's an example; On Sunday, just before the snow started falling, we were burning a big pile of weeds right next to his pasture and he cantered over to watch and wasn't at all scared. He was enjoying the new experience. But every now and again he has a flash back and becomes a terrified wild horse again. The other day when I approached him in my winter coat and hat he became so panicked he almost fell as spun away to flee even though I was talking to him. I took off my hat and coat and tried to calm him down. I cornered him in a little pen and he had a look in his eyes of sheer terror. It really concerned me. I snapped him out of it by doing something the BLM never did. I went up to him with my head sticking forward, lips puckered saying, "Echo give me a kiss". He stretched his head towards me, blew in my face, breathed my air in and then gave me a kiss. Then he just melted with relief and stepped forward so I could put my arms around his neck. For now he's okay with me wearing a coat and hat, till his next flash back.

Wildairo has a grumpy disposition till he's softened up, but he hates strangers. The grumpy disposition he was born with, lol. They caught on the same day.

I'm not new to horses. I have owned at least one horse for over 40 years and I started riding them at riding school 47 years ago.

What happened to Echo? He has a big dent in his neck about the place his BLM number tag would have been. Did the nylon rope collar they wear around their necks get caught in something? Did he have an accident or was it just the constant fear of what was coming next because that is what causes PTSD. When I had him over at the cattle corrals, the wind was blowing making the head gate bang, he was shaking in fear. I have never seen a horse shake in fear like that. He must have thought he was going to be worked through the chutes.

There are some people who own mustangs that defend the BLM no matter what. In their eyes the BLM can do no wrong. I made the mistake of visiting one of their web sites and was made physically ill. Once again a BLM round up was being defended. It appears that someone was claiming a foal was injured or abused and the BLM apologist was 'setting the record straight' for some concerned animal lovers. What caught my eye was the pictures of the helicopter hovering right above a pen of trapped and frightened mustangs. I thought, 'what the hell are they doing, they will kill those horses'! I read on and sure enough, a mare had panicked (for some god-damned reason) and broke her neck.

I'm sure the people who work at the Burns Wild Horse Corrals are not the ones who decide when or how to round up these horses. I imagine those orders come from someone above least I hope they do because the BLM people I have met and spoken to from the Burns Corrals seem like horse lovers and nice people. I know they use contractors to round up the horses. At least they do for the helicopters, trucks. corral fencing for the traps etc.

Anyway, I have a plan, a cunning plan for working these horses with less stress and keeping more of them on the range. Like most of my schemes it has some rough bits to be work out. I've managed to handle cattle without stressing them and I will show the BLM how to do it with the mustangs. Our cattle weren't always the pussy cats they are today.

I will be writing about my 'Happy Mustang' plan soon. Stay tuned.


Lea and her Mustangs said...

Don't want to pick a fight but if you have a better plan to gather the horses, spit it out. #l the baby horse was NOT roped and drug. That was a bad rumor. And @2 the helicopter was not hovering over the pens of horses. It was an optical illusion. #3 the mare that killed herself did it on her own. Those people love the horses and would not do anything to get them hurt. If the horses are not gathered on a regular basis - like evwery 3 or 4 years they will start starving to death. Not something anyone want to happen. The horses at the corrals are only moved when its necessary and when they come into the chutes for attention, they are petted and talked quietly to. Been there and watched. They all have had a halter put on and off so they don't wig out when one is put on. Horses have vastly different personalities just like people. We have been blessed with gentle ones who have adapted pretty quickly all but Rusty and she is still a case and a half. And we treated her the same. We are going down for a gather to observe in the spring when they start in again. Maggie and Tracey went to Warm Springs and can both tell you that what I have said is truth.
Hope you are doing well with our snow and winter weather. All is well here - just lots of snow and more coming.

arlene said...

I have no idea about the foal. Never heard any rumor. I made the mistake of looking at a blog and saw a helicopter hovering too close to trapped and frightened horses. It made me physically ill.

I'm not in the habit of believing something because someone said so. I saw with my own eyes a very stupid act involving the helicopter, only to discover as I read on, that a mare was in fact killed as she panicked to flee.

These horses had just been chased for miles and the whole idea was to get them to run from the helicopter. Yet these idiots kept the helicopter hovering near to the trapped animals. Common sense would tell you that after the horses are contained the helicopter gets far from the area.

Also you and I both know these horses have a very strong survival skills. The mare didn't break her neck without help. I don't care what Tracy says and would rather not discuss anything with her.

Remember who your talking to. I know horses and I care enough to put a solution out there instead of being a mindless kiss ass.

Cheryl Ann said...

Arlene, my two mustangs were from Salt Wells in Wyoming and they are VERY different! Cali came to us just adoring people. Both of them were halter broke at a prison facility. Scout was VVVVEEEERRRRRYYYYY distrustful of people! Heck, the first time our trainer worked with her and tried to halter her, it took her an hour! I will say, however, that Scout is very...intuitive around people and if I have a friend or colleague who needs some "horse time", they always gravitate toward Scout and she to them! Go figure. Yes, I've seen the BLM videos and they make me SICK! I think of what my babies went through and I just cringe! And, no, I don't believe it is the right way to do it either!