West Douglas, CO Wild Horses – July, 2010

August 12, 2010

This was our first visit to the West Douglas HMA. I heard there were around 90 horses left there and the plan was to zero them out entirely in October. I wanted to see them before they were gone. Seems our wild horse trips were becoming more and more about missions to document and then say goodbye to the beautiful animals we observed due to impending roundups.

I’d contacted the BLM Range Specialist in Meeker about how to find this group of horses. Had she not given me directions and a general location (we still got turned around and ended up on a narrow and somewhat cliffy road somehow-UGH), I am certain we would never have found them. Even after having finally discovered an area with some horse sign, we only managed to find two groups of horses – just nine in total (one I didn’t manage to get a picture of).

As we approached the top of Texas Mountain without a single sighting, finally, there on the corner of a turn was a group of three horses. Our first West Douglas horses. Two mares and a stallion and I think they were pretty surprised to see us. I can’t imagine that they see many people – not where we found them.

Click on the image for a larger/sharper view.

West Douglas mare and stallion

At first I thought the stallion was missing his left eye, but once I was able to blow up his images, I saw that it was there, just kind of set back. It looked like he may have been kicked or something on that side of his face. Obviously, a tough fella.

And the little mare was so cute – so small (probably young) and curious.

Such a inquisitive, sweet face

The other mare was definitely not as curious. She was a nervous horse. Not interested at all in hanging around while I took pictures. She was agitated and went back and forth before taking off for good, taking the other two horses with her.

We continued up the road and came upon more horse sign. Stud piles mean there are wild horses in the vicinity!

We drove some more and I got out and hiked. Nothing. We didn’t see or hear any horses.

Almost at the top of Texas Mountain

There were good sized horse trails, just no horses.

Stud pile and horse trail

I followed the horse trail out to this burn area

I could see a lot of area and it was pretty up there, but still no horses

We hit the end of any road we could follow (there was a tiny trail, but we decided against it), so we turned around and started to backtrack. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash. A horse, but you could barely see her. Had she not had the bright white blaze, we might have driven right by. And there was a little one beside her too.

I got out to see if I could get any closer, but none of these horses were particulary interested in us either. I watched them follow a path that ran right along the edge of the mountain. I grabbed these really quick shots as they passed by.

The band stallion

Look closely at this boy’s chest. That was quite a wound he had there and yet, he appears to be fine and healthy and strong enough to maintain a family band. The Mustangs are miraculous healers.

Pretty mare

Hi little one

I didn't figure out the gender on this one, but to me, he looks kinda studly. Maybe he's a younger stud still hanging with the band until the big guy decides to kick him out

After these guys disappeared over the side, we never saw another horse even though we continued to drive around the mountain and look for quite a while. It wasn’t what I’d hoped for, but at least I knew that these few would always be remembered in my photos. They’re not just numbers or “excess horses.” They’re individuals with families and histories. I just wish I could follow one through its lifetime without losing it to a roundup.

There is a lot more pressure of late for the BLM to end the roundups until a more humane and scientifically based management plan can be studied and implemented. I hope everyone’s efforts will bring about a moratorium in time to save these horses and all the others slated for removal this year. Thanks to all of you that continue to fight for our wild ones.

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24 Responses to “West Douglas, CO Wild Horses – July, 2010”


  1. The BLM are nothing more than Animal Nazis and I am right now trying to find out how to have everyone of them that are involved in this disposal of our Wild Mustangs and Wild Burros arrested and prosecuted right down to that miserable excuse SALAZAR. It’s to bad those horses don’t stampeed and give this rotten buntch of scum their just deserts. I have also put out a call for a 1 million strong march on Washington. I don’t know how long that will take but I’m in this for the long hall and I am fed up with people that can do something but don’t , keep allowing this buntch of dirty outlaws cart blantch on everything they do. Even though everyone perty well knows that the BLM and Salazar have broken every single law on the books that pertain to these Wild Mustangs and Wild Burros. Why? If it was any one of us we would have been arrested along time ago. Well I’m fed up and I’m going to make WAVES

  2. Kathy Says:

    Great story about finding them and the tough guy charmed me. I look forward to seeing the horses you find and do so hope that some way many of them can be saved as they are and not sent to be penned and broken. Thanks for all your work for this and the memories of them.

  3. Susan Emory Says:

    Thank you for these beautiful pictures, Pam. I feel the same about the loss of our precious horses. It may be our horses now … but eventually, what will they do about excess humans??? Thank you again for all that you do. ❤

  4. Nancy Roberts Says:

    What sweet photos. I think it is just one rancher complaining about them. I hope they hide in those trees and evade capture!


  5. In May I observed bay and chestnut horses in two bands in West Douglas HMA. They were nervous also. A handsome band stallion, bay with a blaze, had a small band that included a foal and bays and chestnuts were coming to water. A bachelor band was also nearby, of similar colors. All were very beautiful and in excellent health. In Denver a man had spoke up at the BLM workshop saying the West Douglas horses were a ‘sorry looking lot’ and needed to be removed as that land was able to support them! I had been so angry this man had come to lie about them and effect their futures so dismally. They are wonderful wild horses as are all of them across the West.
    Thanks, Pam… they need to be kept home on their range. mar

  6. Barbara Warner Says:

    They are gorgeous horses. Many thanks for the photos, Pam. I pray that the roundups can be stopped before it’s too late.

  7. Karen Says:

    In such an isolated area, with food and water supply, and so few horses, why do they want to zero them out? You are right Pam, they have families, and histories, with obvious stories to tell. Thank you for the photography!


  8. Great job of documentation Pam. Unbelievable that BLM is trying to zero out the herd after Judge Collyer’s ruling that BLM cannot consider all the horses excess!! i.e. They cannot zero the herd.

  9. patricia field Says:

    I am extremely grateful to you for following and capturing shots of these magnificent horses. I am tied to caring for my animals in NC, therefore the photos are precious to me. I write, I call, I repost and hope that my voice is heard. Thank you for your time and your caring.


  10. We are establishing standing with these our horses. They are part of our lives, our recreation after a hard work week, our tax dollar at work to help us reconnect with nature, our children and our instincts. We want access to these animals and we want them in the WILD not in HOLDING…captured and humiliated. We have the Bookcliffs, the Sandwash, the Adobe and the Douglas Herd. We will not allow GROUND ZERO and we will not ALLOW aggressive machinery harrassing our heritage.
    Gabriele
    What is happening to HERD WATCH?

  11. betty Says:

    I wrote BLM asking why they were doing this after the judge ruled they hadn’t followed procedure and didn’t have cause to zero out this herd. I haven’t gotten any answers.


  12. Gabriele, Because of funding we do what we can. HW wants to help, I have written some people in Northern Colorado about working something out and have not heard a thing. I had hoped people were getting prepared. Won’t Cloud have to refile the West Douglas case?? I wish I knew more. mar

  13. Maggie Frazier Says:

    Thanks Pam again for the wonderful pictures.
    I write, email & donate to a couple wild horse sanctuarys as do so many of us.
    Its so frustrating to watch whats being done and seeing the people who truly care being shut out & unable to oversee these roundups.
    Does seem that if there are now some politicians becoming aware of this that it would push the government to jerk the BLM back.
    Horses have been special to me from the time I was a little kid – and these horses need to be protected from the BLM and anyone else that wants to eradicate them.
    Thanks again for the pictures – they are very important to all of us.
    Maggie Frazier

  14. Deby Zimmerman Says:

    It is truly wonderful that all of those who are out and photographing these magnificent animals are doing this so that there will be SOME record of the beauty that roamed the lands that ( If BLM and Ken get their way) will soon be COMPLETELY DESTROYED by the cattle that Ken Salazar and his cronies are getting ready to turn lose on PUBLIC LANDS!! He brags about, first and foremost being a cattleman and he has NO time or desire for horses. I am furious that those who oppose this in Congress are not doing more to get it TOTALLY stopped!! I know EXACTLY how I will be voting this Nov. and I will be doing my very best to help CLEAN HOUSE of ALL THE TRASH that is there, sucking off of US, our land, resourses, and our Mustangs lives!!!! God Bless ALL of you who are doing this…..You are appreciated more than words can ever say.

  15. Linda H Says:

    Because of you and your beautiful work, these horses will not go unnoticed. And we all thank you for this. With more and more people on the ground and observant of these wild herds, we hope it will be harder and harder for them to just “disappear” without anyone noticing.
    What beautiful,healthy horses live in the West Douglas herd! We must be diligent in keeping them there.

  16. pnickoles Says:

    Brenda – with the events at Twin Peaks, I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re the only one making some huge waves. Just heartbreaking.

    Thank you Kathy – yup, that stallion is a tough guy for sure. He’s earned the right to be free.

    Thanks Susan – too many of our wild horses have been taken. It just has to end.

    Nancy – now that you mention that, I do remember a guy speaking out about them at the Advisory Meeting in Denver, just like Mar mentioned. Hmmm…

    Mar – e-mail me privately and let me know exactly where you found your horses in May would you? Thanks for all you’re doing for our wild ones.

    Barbara – I hope for the same thing.

  17. pnickoles Says:

    Karen – I wish I knew why the BLM feels the need to remove these horses. If the numbers are correct, there’s not enough of them to be using much of the resources.

    Thanks Ginger – I certainly hope these horses are protected somehow from the current plan to zero them out. I’ll be watching your sites for current information.

    Patricia – thanks for your comment and your efforts on behalf of our wild ones!

    Hi Gabriele – I think Mar answered your question about Herd Watch. Hope you’re doing well – it was good to see you the other night.

    Betty – let us know if you ever get a response to your query. Thanks.

    Thank you Maggie and for all you’re doing towards the efforts to protect and save our wild ones too.

    Thanks Debbie – I know how disheartening this fight can be. It’s my greatest hope that our wild horses will be around for many generations to enjoy. I can’t accept any other outcome. It’s definitely time for some major political housecleaning.

    Thanks Linda – I know you’re kept very busy with your own efforts and I appreciate them very much. 🙂


  18. Well folks isn’t it high time that we all made some WAVES? This buntch is hell bent on zeroing these beautiful creatures ouit and I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for an answer to any question. You won’
    t be getting one. They are stalling for time so they can zero out these helpless animals once and for all and after that happens all the raising hell and complaining isn’t going to bring them back and those swamp rats will have done exactly what they set out to do Folks you have got to not only get mad but you have got to call everyone you can think of and don’t asked but demand that this be stopped RIGHT NOW. and get everyone you know to do the same and keep the dominoes falling untill this outlandish brutality is brought to a screaching holt and that buntch of loosers ar brought up on charges and prosecuted. Thanks for all the appreciation and i send that same appreciation back to each and everyone of you, now lets stand up and be counted. Gather your count on the 1 million strong march on DC. I can’t apply for a permit untill I have an idea of hopw many are coming. This is not all blow and no go ~ I am serious. Its time to clean house and I have a broom to do it and I think everyone that will come to this march needs to bring a broom to also make the statement ” It’s time to clean house”


  19. this situation is totally unacceptable. no one is listening to we the people.. i think the million strong march on washington is a good idea. how do we start to mobilize? also vote them out……. let’s time with picken’s pony express september 1, 2010.


  20. There is the rub Libby. First people have to get together in their community ang get me a number so I can apply for the permit in DC. While that is happening, those that can absolutely not attend should set up a local march for this cause. Also I need some help with this as I am new and have never organized a march before. I spent all morning sending emails to every Senator we have demanding the arrest and prosecution of Ken Salazar, all BLM that are involved, along with all contractors and flat said nothing else will be excepted.

  21. cat Kindsfather Says:

    Thank you Pam, for finding them and sharing your images and story.
    We need a bulletin board everywhere to educate the public and to create a bigger voice. New York to California. Madeleine, how about it? Could use some help.

    Great images Pam… : ) Glad you finally found some.

  22. Puller Lanigan Says:

    I think we should cease paying our taxes until we have someone’s attention.

  23. Patti Williams Says:

    Thank you Pam for the beautiful pictues. I recently contacted BLM concerning the removal of these horses. I am a retired school teacher and my students would get really excited to see the horses, sometimes a little ways from the highway. What a terrible crime this is to remove these horses that have been in this area since 1622. They have more of a right to be here than we do. I also have a few pictures and I have searched for more horses. Sometimes I find a few. They certainly look healthy enough to me. I have heard horror stories of how these roundups are conducted. I have also heard that BLM will not let anyone near the roundup area. That is a first. We’ll see. The whole thing just makes me sick.


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