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Terri Farley
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Sunday, August 01, 2010

Letter to BLM

Ghost Dancer, photo by BLM

Dear Readers,
Wouldn't you like to know what's going on in Ghost Dancer's mind? What knowledge of water holes, cougars and shelter from storms does a 15-year-old mare carry in her brain? I can only imagine, and I'm writing new stories about it.
Below, is a different kind of writing I'm doing for Ghost Dancer's still-free friends and family.
This was published today:

August 1, 2010

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management plans to clear the West of 6,000 wild horses between July 1 and Sept. 30. How many will be left?

BLM's figures vary, and when those who speak up for the horses ask for the science, they're brushed aside as the equine equivalent of crazy cat ladies.

Ten years ago, I was writing for Nevada magazine, researching my books and observing BLM roundups. Gather days started at Bruno's café in Gerlach. Before dawn, I drank coffee with BLM staffers, then rode with them to the gather site.

Helicopters drove the horses into the corrals. They fought the confinement but were rested before being trucked to pens in Palomino Valley.

Not anymore. In January 2010, BLM stampeded Calico Mountain herds onto a private ranch, where the public was locked out except on designated observation days.

On Jan. 16, we met at Bruno's again, but my nostalgia vanished when I saw the guns. Most BLM staff were armed. The gather was on fast forward. Two helicopters, not one, chased panicked horses. Horses were sorted by gender. Stallions fought. Mares screamed for foals that clustered together as their mothers were taken away.

BLM's daily updates show the contractor's concern for speed, not safety. The hooves of two foals separated from their legs. Adult horses suffered broken necks, skulls and pelvic bones. BLM says 109 mustangs died and 40 wild mares suffered miscarriages -- from pre-existing conditions.

This summer's roundup hasn't made the BLM look very good. The agency reported no endangered horses on the range before the roundup, but scores died afterward. The roundup was halted until the BLM's Alan Shepherd insisted most of the remaining horses would die if they weren't gathered immediately.

Judge Larry Hicks believed him. The roundup could go on if humane observers were allowed. When they showed up, the roundup had been moved to private land, and they were threatened with arrest.

BLM reports describe a palomino: "bleeding from the mouth ... disoriented and unaware of his surroundings. ... He apparently had sustained a serious head injury and possible jaw fracture during the night ..." Supposedly, the young stallion wasn't run to death; he just woke up mortally injured.

That's why we need a moratorium on wild horse roundups until the BLM clears its name through an independent evaluation. While we're waiting for results, make plans to let the horses earn their own ways.

Consider eco-tourism plans, like those proposed by Soldier Meadows Ranch and Madeleine Pickens. Partner the BLM with the first lady's Let's Move Outside program, letting city kids appreciate wild animals. Introduce middle-schoolers already using terms like "compensatory reproduction" in discussion of BLM's herd management to Sally Ride's science program.

These are cheaper, win-win solutions. Our land, our children, our wallets and wild horses will benefit.

Terri Farley has a secondary teaching credential, 36 best-selling books and two Calico Mountain mares.

* * *

An opinion piece under the by-line of Bob Abbey, Director of the BLM ran on the same page. Here's a link:
BLM's Goal

I hope you'll read it, too, because we all need to keep working with our hearts and HEADS. So, stay informed.

Best to you,
Some of you wanted to see a more complete photo of Tassel. Here's one.
High bidder on this sweet horse is from Pennsylvania. Hope it was one of you!

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Comments: Wow, she turned out to be a beautiful horse! I followed her at Broken Arrow beginning in February.
I gave her her first name, "Fuzzy", as she had so much of her winter coat! Maybe I can grab the link to an image for you. Then, Val named her lop ear, but Elyse's name for her, "Tassel" seems best and so it is....Tassel. Her one ear does form a cute little tassel.
She was so cute months ago, getting my attentions by turning around and flipping her tail, left and right, then running around and facing me again! I loved her and I am so happy she will be getting a great home, but sad that I will never see her again. I had thought she was going to Dream Catchers sanctuary. I hope her adopter knows they are getting a wonderful horse! <3 Thanks for posting her photo Terri! <3
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