I was perusing a Wild Horse Yahoo group digest last week, when I came across the heading to a post entitled “Awaken Your Spirit.” I recognized the name of the author – she had recently purchased my DVD set and we had e-mailed back and forth a few times – so I went down the page to view her post. I wasn’t expecting what I read, but found it inspiring and thought others might too. I asked Jennifer if she would like to share her article as a “Guest.” She agreed – so in her own words…

“Awaken Your Spirit” by Jennifer Gage

In my dreams thundering across the plains, race immense herds of mustangs, running like the wind-free in every sense of the word in all their glory. “In riding a horse, we borrow freedom.” –Helen Thompson.

We will never see this magic again and like the buffalo, the mustang too will be gone before we know what happened if we don’t act now. Please vote now on Change.org to save the mustangs: http://www.change.org/ideas/view/stop_cruel_blm_round_up_of_wild_horses

Every single day mustangs (wild horses) are being rounded up and put in holding pens like discarded waste. Families are torn apart, mothers and babies put in separate pens. Their fate is uncertain; to be slaughtered for Europe’s elite diners (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gAX5snG7-4 **Warning – Contains Graphic Material**) or to live in some holding pen the rest of their lives is not what most Americans believe they deserve. These horses have been grazing these lands for over 200 years, and in fact, horses are an integral part of American heritage and culture as even Congress declared in 1971 with the passage of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.

A captive Bolder from the Pryor Mountains of Montana

What the opposition and people like Sue Cattoor, Bob Abbey, Ken Salazar can’t see or feel is the true beauty these precious, magnificent creatures exude-their spirit is one with Mother Earth and all that She has to offer the mustang. Those that cannot see the treasure that is the mustang with all its beautiful colors, spirit, freedom, joy, fierce loyalty and love of family have grown dull toward this world in which we live; they have forgotten that it is not normal or scientific in any sense of the word. “Every once in a while something will come along and shock us right out of our dullness and resignation.” That’s what the mustangs and watching “The Stallion and the Foal” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JKKWF0ZUGk)
have done for me.

Thanks to photographers like Pam Nickoles, Carol Walker, and cinematographer Ginger Kathrens, I got to experience the mustang like I never have before. I didn’t even know they existed wild on the plains of 10 states. There used to be 2 million mustangs in 1900 throughout 16 states. They are now extinct in 6 states. If YOU do not act and do not let the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), President Obama, senators and congressmen know of the value these animals have, they too will go the way of the buffalo and the wolf. We cannot let that happen to them – to the horses that took us to battle when our nation was young and brought the pioneers to the west. I cannot let that happen.

“Just as we have lost our wonder at the world around us, we have forgotten what a treasure the human heart is. All of the happiness we have ever known and all of the happiness we hope to find is unreachable without a heart.”—John Eldredge.

My human heart is telling me the mustang is capable of bringing me this happiness-this borrowed freedom. To know this happiness yourself, go to YouTube and watch the videos about Cloud and his herd by Ginger or “Stampede to Oblivion”
(http://rtfitch.wordpress.com/2009/10/12/news-update-the-stampede-to-oblivion-is-now-online/) or Calico, Nevada-Where the Wild Horses Roam (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-0OK3i1YFI) or countless other wild horse videos found on YouTube.

Cloud - Pryor Mountains Montana

The wild horses are protected by The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 (Public Law 92-195), which states that Congress finds and declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene. It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.

“Less than one percent of humans who live in America have ever seen wild horses running free. I have spoken with many of the few who have and each has said the view they made will never be forgotten. As remarkable as a distant sight of wild horses can be it remains the tip of a glorious iceberg. The actual lives of wild horses reveal to humanity the privilege having a life on the planet earth and how vital it is to respect the privilege.” Twelve the King, -Michael Blake

Michael Blake with his gelding Tomas

“Before I purchased El Mariachi, that beautiful horse belonged to each and every one of you. All of the BLM managed Mustangs belong to you. Many people don’t even realize this, but the wild horses belong to the PUBLIC. You. Their futures are in your hands as well. If you ever have an opportunity to view a wild horse in its natural surroundings, I guarantee that you’ll be changed forever, and maybe you’ll begin to understand why many people work so hard to preserve them. Hopefully, you’ll become involved in the wild horse protection efforts yourself. There are so few wild herds remaining, it’s imperative that people act NOW. The wild horses are magical, spiritual creatures and they absolutely deserve their place on our Earth.” -Pam Nickoles

El Mariachi

Some facts:
• The half-million acre Calico Complex herd management area is the last stronghold of the American mustang and was designated by Congress principally for the wild horses and burros. Millions of head of livestock graze at a cost of $1.35/cow-calf pair/month.
• Overall welfare livestock constitute a net loss of $123 million annually to the American tax payer.
• The scapegoating of wild horses and burros for range deterioration must stop—they comprise only a tiny fraction of animals and wildlife grazing on our public lands.
• Cows graze within a mile of water. In comparison wild horses are highly mobile, moving 5-10 miles from water and grazing on more rugged terrain.
• BLM does not adequately control cattle on the public’s land and has not sustainably balanced use of the “forage”, water and space.
• A 1000-lb cow not only eats 26 lbs. of forage daily, but they consume as much as 30 gallons of water a day and defecate in it as well.
• Private and corporate livestock outnumber wild horses at least 100 to 1 on public lands.

Search your deep heart and investigate what I have just told you if this has motivated or awakened you to the dullness of your life. Pass this on and awaken your family, friends, coworker, children and grandchildren. Let’s not leave a legacy of dust to our children and grandchildren where the mustang once roamed like the buffalo…YOUR HELP IS DESPERATELY NEEDED TO SAVE THE WILD HORSES OF THE WEST! YOU ALONE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THEIR LIVES!

I leave you with this piece of beauty…All the Little Ponies. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXl8GwrBkxM

May you be blessed,

Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.


Jennifer has been involved in the wild horse protection efforts for only about 3 months. She is obviously passionate about the cause and she has done some research to back up her beliefs. I hope that others will be inspired by her words, follow her lead and decide they too can make a difference in the lives of our wild horses. Thanks Jennifer. I’m honored to have been a small part of your journey of discovery into the beauty of, and the issues facing our wild ones.

Adobe Town HMA wild horses

Stay updated with current Wild Horse news: http://nickolesphotography.com/HTML/wildhorseinformation.htm

More Wild Horse video clips: http://www.nickolesphotography.com/HTML/videoclips.html

(Photos are for viewing purposes only. Images are copyright protected and owned solely by Pam Nickoles Photography. No reproduction permitted. Feel free to share the link, not the images.)

March For Mustangs

February 27, 2010

(From The Cloud Foundation)

When: Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Time: 1:00-3:00 PM – Press conference and speakers at 1:30 PM (Filmmaker/Advocate Ginger Kathrens, Author R.T. Fitch and many more- including special guests to be announced)

Where: Lafayette Park (northside of White House, on H Street between 15th and 17th Streets, NW). At 3:00 PM. Protesters will march with signs to the BLM office at 1849 ‘C’ Street.

Plus Mustangs on the Hill II: On Friday morning we’ll meet and brief people on meeting with their Representatives in meetings to save the mustangs. Please schedule an appointment with your Representatives for Thursday morning or Friday.

Why: BLM’s cruel and poor mismanagement is destroying a vital piece of the American west. The American public is standing up for our horses and burros- please join us in a March for Mustangs rally and protest.

Roundups increased significantly in 2000 in the Bush years and they haven’t let up under the Obama administration. 12,000 wild horses and burros are scheduled for removal from our public lands this fiscal year alone. These helicopter roundups come at enormous expense to our wild herds and to the American taxpayer.

Recently, the roundup of 1900 mustangs took place in the Calico mountains of Northwestern Nevada during the dead of winter, ending early in February when BLM realized the herds were far smaller than estimated. To date, 60 horses have died due to this roundup and the death toll continues to climb daily. This does not include the 30 plus mares that have aborted their late-term foals in the feedlot style corrals in Fallon, Nevada where the horses are being held. Two foals had their hooves literally separate from the bone after the helicopters ran their families for miles over rocky and sharp volcanic ground.

Secretary Ken Salazar, who oversees the BLM, has decided there is no room left for our mustangs on their designated lands in the west. The Secretary and has proposed purchasing private land in the East for our Western wild horses. This only adds to the financial and humane train wreck that the Wild Horse and Burro Program has become.

So rather than spending over thirty million dollars this fiscal year to remove our wild horses and burros from the range, let’s protect them on their western lands. The intent of Congress’ 1971 Free-roaming Wild Horses and Burros Act was not to warehouse horses, but allowed them to live in freedom in self-sustaining numbers on western rangelands designated primarily for their survival. Drastic change is needed in the management of wild horses and burros if they are to survive, as wild animals, into the future. Wild horses benefit the land as they evolved in North America and they represent our living history in the west.

Annually we lose $123 million running a taxpayer subsidized grazing program is often referred to as “welfare ranching” due to the small fees charged to livestock permittees. The rate is currently the lowest allowed by law—$1.35 per cow/calf pair per month. This rate needs to be raised to over $9.00 in order for the program to break even. If cows were removed and horses allowed to stay, we’d save even more—including our valued mustangs. Holding the 1900 Calico horses alone in a feedlot style facility amounts to a staggering cost of over $10,000 per day!

But change is on the way for our wild horses and burros! Some 25 protests have been mounted from coast-to-coast including Chicago, LA, NYC, Denver, Las Vegas, Reno, and Sacramento since late December. Thousands of people have braved the cold and come out with their families to hold banners and signs demanding that President Obama react to the hideous mistreatment of our spectacular wild horses and respond to the incredible waste of taxpayer dollars on a broken program that only lines the pockets of powerbrokers and cattle barons. Now is the time to say enough is enough. Open the gates and return our wild horses to their rightful ranges.

Please take action for our wild herds. An immediate moratorium on all roundups is needed! This must be followed by hearings and investigations on BLM mismanagement; accurate and independent assessments of just how many wild horses we have left and the real range conditions. Then we need to develop a sustainable plan for our wild herds on our Western public lands and restore their protections set forth in the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. Moving our wild horses in non-reproducing, broken families to the East is not the answer.

Join us on Thursday, March 25th for a Mustang March on Washington and take action today to save these incredible animals who are currently being managed to extinction.

Call President Obama 202-456-1111

Call your Senators 202-224-3121

For more information, go to The Cloud Foundation: http://www.thecloudfoundation.org

You can follow the Calico horses through the Humane Observer, Elyse Gardner’s Blog: http://humaneobserver.blogspot.com

Stay current with Wild Horse News: http://www.nickolesphotography.com/HTML/wildhorseinformation.htm

There are many other informative sites listed under my Links heading on the right.

Adobe Town HMA stallion (Wyoming)

Wild Horse Medicine

January 3, 2010

I had a wonderful Christmas with my family, made all the more special by my Mom’s current health status (she’s in remission!) and the beautiful new snow that covered the ground. Even as enjoyable as everything was, I felt restless and anxious. It was the wild horses that were on my mind of course. The decision by the Federal Judge not to grant a reprieve of the planned Calico Complex roundup in Nevada just drained the drive and hope right out of me. I knew I needed recharging so I asked my husband if we could visit the horse ranges over the extended holiday weekend and as always, he agreed we could. He knew I was in need of some wild horse medicine.

We never know if we can get very far on the range roads in the winter, but we decided it was worth a try. A new wild horse friend and advocate I’d made in NW Colorado told me she had been able to navigate a few miles of road at the Sand Wash Basin HMA recently, so we were hopeful (thanks Nancy – be sure to check out her Blog as she follows the Sand Wash horses). We decided to attempt Adobe Town first. If we were unsuccessful there, we’d backtrack to Sand Wash.

We left just after 5:00 AM Sunday morning. The drive was absolutely gorgeous with the new snow. Rabbit Ears Pass was truly a “winter wonderland.” The drive alone jump-started my attitude adjustment.

We startled a coyote dining on frozen road kill. At least nothing goes to waste.

Downtown Steamboat Springs, CO

Turning onto the road that leads to the Adobe Town HMA

We didn't have to drive far until we ran into a bunch of mule deer

And this little bunny trying to hide from us - I wondered why he wasn't in his white coat (as we'd seen some that were). Then I learned it was hares, not rabbits that take on the white color in winter.

Everything was wonderfully frosty. It was -9 degrees when we got to the range. The roads have to be frozen to be passable, so at that temperature, we knew we were safe.

Some of the terrain

It would have seemed a lot colder, but amazingly (anyone who’s been to Wyoming knows what I’m talking about), there was NO wind. I couldn’t believe it. Just as calm and peaceful as could be. I actually ended up peeling off a heavier jacket and putting on a lighter one over my many layers. It was just a perfect day.

Horse sign! A lovely sight indeed. A stud pile. These let you know you've entered wild horse territory.

Horse tracks through the snow

We spot our first horse! A handsome black stallion with his nose in the snow.

And he's not alone - there's another stallion with him. Bachelor boys.

He decided he'd like to be closer to his buddy.

They didn't seem overly concerned about me. I worried about stressing the horses in this weather, so I stayed a fair distance from them.

Handsome wild boy

We drove on to the reservoir in a canyon area. We figured we might find horses here as it offered some shelter.

The waterhole in winter

I hiked out to take a peek over a ridge.

Too far away to hike to, but a nice sighting

There was LOTS of horse sign in this area, but we didn’t find any other horses. We got back on the main road and continued west when we came upon another small family band. The grey is the stallion and none of them wanted anything to do with us – they left in a hurry.

It was time to let the puppies out to play. While I normally don’t bring the dogs on our wild horse trips, I couldn’t bear to leave them this time (after just losing our Kaylen girl). We were careful to make sure no horses were in sight and that they weren’t out too long as their feet got cold pretty quickly. Tom and I kept telling each other that Kaylen would have been right in her element – she was a Husky mix.

Sub zero temps and hubby is out there without a jacket, but he's got a hat on! Little Sage is running full speed towards me as Brihten looks on. The dogs had a great time on this trip and were perfect little travelers.

I saw a horse dot up over a ridge so I decided to get out and walk in hopes the vehicle wouldn't scare the horse off. As I topped a hill, I saw this lone grey stallion.

As I slowly walked forward while looking through my lens, he finally looked up at me.

He decided to investigate and came trotting over towards me.

I wish shutters were silent. As soon as he got close enough to hear the click, he stopped.

He retreats

As I follow him through my lens, I see that he's joined another horse that popped up from a valley. Safety in numbers.

And up from that valley, the number of horses grew!

Two stallions

The two stallions kick up a little snow in a brief and half-hearted skirmish

Wild horse family portrait (minus all three stallions)

Two of the three stallions decide to move the family away, so I start to back off. My fingers were freezing at this point and I needed to get back to the Jeep to warm up anyway.

As I walk back towards the Jeep, I notice that somebody else has been watching the horses too.

Our day was going by quickly and we knew we’d have to start heading back shortly, but we both decided to drive just a little further west since we were running into more and more horses. We spotted a herd in another valley and as I walked out to get a better look, I could see more horses in both directions. We felt like we had hit the “mother lode.”

The lead mare keeps a close eye on me.

They move off, but they don't run far. They are smart enough to conserve their energy for a real threat.

We were over 2 hours west of the nearest “real” road. We told each other we’d be out of the range before dark, but we weren’t going to make it. It was so hard to leave, and just when we had figured out where the horses were. At least we’d know where to come back to. Our high temperature for the day ended up being 9 degrees.

Heading out...

We stayed in Craig overnight and decided to venture out to Sand Wash Basin before leaving around noon for home. Man, was it COLD when we started loading our gear that morning. I couldn’t believe it when I read the thermometer at -27 degrees!! Tom was nervous about the anti-freeze in the Jeep holding up, but again, there was no wind and Sand Wash is not quite as remote as where we’d just been. And surely it would warm up once the sun came through. (Nope, it never got out of the negative teens!) We decided to brave a trip out. We could always turn around if we had to.

We are always over prepared for trips to the wild horse ranges (well, we’ve learned the hard way that we have to be). I was so bundled up, I felt almost claustrophobic! Lots of layers (top and bottom), scarf, headband, gloves and the most amazing boots – Sorel Glaciers. If my feet get cold, I’m pretty much done but in all the years I’ve had these boots, I’ve never even had a chilled toe. I was ready.

There was fog most of the way out to the range and for much of the time we were there. We spotted our first horses shortly after entering and as I opened the door to get out, I was met with a chorus of yipping and howling coyotes. I wondered what had gone down to get these guys so excited. They went on for quite a while as I took some pictures of the horses in the fog.

I couldn’t be absolutely sure, but I assumed both groups of horses were bachelor stallions.

At the top of a hill scanning for horses. A good time to let the dogs out to play.

Making little Sagey angels in the snow.

Sage is so darn cute!

After the fog cleared for a bit, I hiked down to the two bachelors I’d seen earlier in hopes they’d let me visit for a while.

I was able to get closer and that's when I noticed all the marks on this boy.

Here's a close up. You can see blood and tears in his hide. My mind went back to the yipping coyotes. Had they gone after this guy?

This handsome pinto stallion was with the injured horse.

Once I looked closely at his photos, I noticed that he too had fresh blood on his leg. These two may have had an encounter with that pack of coyotes as we were coming into the range.

I left the boys in peace and hoped they'd have no ill effects from their injuries.

And on our way home, we hoped the same for the Calico Complex horses (though we knew better) as they go through the terror and trauma of a brutal roundup in the dead of winter…

Stay updated with wild horse news: http://www.nickolesphotography.com/HTML/wildhorseinformation.htm

(Photos are for viewing purposes only. Images are copyright protected and owned solely by Pam Nickoles Photography. No reproduction permitted. Feel free to share the link, not the images.)

In Defense of Animals Lawsuit Postpones Huge Wild Horse Roundup

Washington, DC (November 24, 2009) – The U.S. Department of Justice announced tonight that the massive roundup and removal of thousands of horses from public land in northwestern Nevada will be delayed until December 28 as a direct result of the filing of a lawsuit by In Defense of Animals and renowned ecologist Craig Downer on November 23.

Tomorrow, IDA and Mr. Downer plan to file a motion for a permanent injunction, with supporting affidavits from horse experts and eyewitnesses to Bureau of Land Management (BLM) roundups. The motion will ask Judge Paul L. Friedman of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to stop the roundup altogether.

The roundup and removal of 80-90 percent of the estimated 3,055 wild horses living in the BLM’s Calico Mountain Complex was originally scheduled to begin December 1. The BLM has received over 10,000 public comments in opposition to the roundup.

“We welcome this moratorium on the capture and inhumane treatment of the Calico horses,” said William Spriggs, Esq. of Buchanan, Ingersoll and Rooney, pro bono attorney for IDA and Mr. Downer. “The BLM plan for a massive helicopter roundup of these horses is entirely illegal.”

“We are confident that the court will agree that America’s wild horses are protected by law from BLM’s plan to indiscriminately chase and stampede them into corrals for indeterminate warehousing away from their established habitat,” he said. “The magnificent wild horses and burros of the American West are an important part of our national heritage and must be preserved.”

The Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act, passed unanimously by Congress in 1971, designated America’s wild horses and burros as “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West,” specifying they “shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death … [and that] to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of public lands.”

Since 1971, the BLM has removed over 270,000 horses from their Western home ranges and taken away nearly 20 million acres of wild horse habitat. Only 37,000 wild horses and burros remain on public lands in the West. By contrast, millions of cattle graze our public lands. Thirty-two thousand wild horses who have been removed from the range are already held in government holding facilities, and the BLM intends to round up 12,000 more horses in FY 2010.

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