Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday.  Well, my favorite non-religious holiday, anyway.  You just can’t beat a day that is filled with family and football.  I love being lectured by my Gramma about all the ways I’m cooking the turkey wrong.  I love watching the Macy parade with Grampa’s not so subtle innuendo when the Rockettes are on (he got to see them live once while stationed on the east coast during WWII).  I love watching football with my dad, getting pumped up for the Husker game that always comes the Friday after.  Heck, I even love cleaning the dishes and getting every single bit of turkey cut and stored for future meals.  Challenge accepted!




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The Worst Kind of Gods

Boy, has it been a month or what?  Such a month necessitates that I crawl out from the rock I was hiding under.  Don’t get me wrong, I realize that I’m not going to offer any monumental, mind-blowing commentary.  It’s more of an … itch.  Some folks in the wild horse realm are wrong, wrong, wrong and my skin is crawling to call them out on their garbage.  Better late than never?

So I’ll start this blog off by talking about the jerkiest thing of all to happen this month.  The BLM’s Advisory Board met and in the course of the yammering and complaining 8 out of 9 members voted to recommend the BLM euthanize the horses in Long Term Holding… aka they wanted the BLM to kill about 45,000 of them.


Marty here was released in 2011 and now has a thriving band of his own, but he just as easily could have been one of the horses trapped in Long Term Holding right now.

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A Tail of Two Fillies

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Sort of.  I mean, technically our story isn’t set in France nor are there any plot twists involving revolution or guillotines.  Also one of the foals is a boy, but  the title just wouldn’t rhyme as well then, now would it?

We start in the center of the White Mountain horse herd.  Cody’s band is a motley crew, consisting of five mares, two yearlings, a two year old, and a satellite stallion whose sole job seems to revolve around unsuccessfully trying to convince Quicksilver she should speed up and walk at the same pace at the rest of the group.  Yeah, I feel really sorry for the satellite Outlaw.  That dog just don’t hunt.


Cody’s band, give or take yearling, satellite, and part of a foal.

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White Mountain Roundup & Spaying Scoping – The More You Know

Well, the day I have been dreading for over 3 ½ years has finally arrived.  I suppose I should be thankful they waited so long instead of having it show up in August, but really, I would have been perfectly fine waiting forever only to have it never show up.

What am I talking about?  The BLM has released a scoping statement for the White Mountain Wild Horse Herd.  This is the first step of the process.  Basically, they are announcing their intentions.  The public has the opportunity to comment, at which point the BLM goes back and write a more detailed Environmental Assessment.  There is another comment period on the EA.  After that the BLM, having done their bureaucratic due diligence, proceeds to do whatever they want.

vimes band

Vimes’ Band.  Left to right: Striker, Guinivere, Saran, Chasma, Bink, Nova

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Have it to the Full

This isn’t the blog post.  That one is coming.  It is half finished and I can’t really put it off much longer, but it isn’t the kind of thing you throw at people on New Years Eve.  There is also the minor detail that it’s just plain hard to write.  I don’t know how I am supposed to make sense of a single decision made by humans that has such a huge impact on life and how it functions in our “modern” world.

And really, that’s been the story of this entire year.  Life.  Figuring out how to live life through all the chaos. Watching new life taking its first steps.  Seeing lives completly change.  Watching with bated breath and trying to figure out whether or not those changes will be for the better.  Watching life fade.

00 june

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Mercuria & Paquita Update

Adendum:  I take it all back.  Since the letters were given, the BLM has not only not made a decision on Mercuria but have also taken Montana (only non-inbred offspring of his dam Fresia) and Moorcroft (one of Brumby’s two remaining kids – a mare who has now seen 4 out of 5 offspring removed and 3 out of 5 grandchildren removed, with another likely to be removed next year).  Jared is a lazy moron who is taking horses just for the sake of removing them, with no further thought towards the importance of their bloodlines.

Great job everyone! Brigitte delivered 39 letters to Jared early this afternoon supporting the release of Mercuria and Paquita. She currently is busy enjoying her time in the Dryhead – she’s earned it! So here is the update:

Brigitte delivered the letters and had a nice conversation with Jared Bybee (Pryor Wild Horse Specialist) explaining our position on Mercuria and her filly Paquita. Jared was described as being a good listener and semed like he might be receptve to the idea.

So now we play the waiting game. One I know what will happen to Mercuria one way or another, I will let you all know. If I had to take a guess, I would say that the odds of Mercuria’s release are 50/50. The letters and the manner in which they were delivered should give Mercuria a chance. At the same time, the odds are stacked against her.

Win or lose, though, I know in my heart that this did matter. So lemme explain:

Mercuria, taken 08/22/15

Mercuria, taken 08/22/15. She looks a little thin, like you’d expect of a growing three-year-old mom, but overall I’d say her body condition is good.



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It’s Time to Rally For Mercuria!

****The timeline has passed.  In total, 37 letters were received.  Thanks for your hard work!  They will be delivered in person tomorrow (08/22) ***

Mercuria needs your help (yes you!) and she needs it fast.

pm mercuria 3

Mercuria as a foal in 2012

The thing with removals in the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Herd is that some foals simply matter more than others.  It stinks.  It makes you feel like a dirty rat when writing to the BLM to explain why one horse is more okay to be taken than another; like you are betraying the “less important” horse.  Yet all those emotions that you wrestle with while thinking about these horses, each and every one of whom I adore, is a necessarily evil.

Because some horses matter more than others.  If the BLM takes the wrong horse, they can accidentally wipe out an entire bloodline.  Sometimes more than one!  This is what happened to Santa Fe, a successful, fantastic stallion who lost so many offspring to roundups and removals that now his entire line rests on one colt.

Mercuria is one such horse.  She is simply more important.

Which is why it is baffling that on Wednesday, the BLM removed Mercuria and her young filly Paquita.  They claimed that Mercuria had a poor body condition.  Now I will also say that I think the BLM has the best intentions in mind, and do not suspect any foul play. However, Mercuria is a growing three year old who is also raising a foal. She is a little ribby, but from the photos I saw she looks very well for her age and body type.

Mercuria with her dam Jewel

Mercuria with her dam Jewel

Why Mercuria is Important

Mercuria is the only daughter of the mare Jewel.  Jewel is a 6 year old mare who was given PZP this past spring (probably on accident).  Under the new PZP rules, Jewel could be put back on PZP as early as 2017, whether she gives birth to a second foal or not.

Jewel of the Dryhead

Jewel of the Dryhead

In this removal, the BLM has been very reasonable by putting most “only offspring” on tier three.  Mercuria was one of the few exceptions to this idea and was placed on tier two. (Curiously all three of the fillies put on tier two despite being an only offspring are in the Dryhead)

The reasoning was that Mercuria’s mother Jewel came from a well-represented line, since she is the daughter of Waif and Corona.  Waif and Corona were a big time power couple for many years, completely devoted to each other. Corona had no other mares but Waif.

Except there is a problem:  Waif and Corona are not nearly as well represented as everyone thinks.

Gramma Waif

Gramma Waif

At the beginning of 2015, Waif and Corona had five offspring that were still wild.  Two of them have already been removed.  The remaining three are all back-to back-sisters:  Halo, Icara, and Jewel.  So far so good, since having three offspring left wild is better than half the mares in this herd get, right?  Wrong.

The problem is that those sisters have hit a reproductive wall.  Here are the stats on Jewel’s sisters (Mercuria’s aunties):

  • Halo has only foaled once, back in 2010. Her daughter was removed two years later, leaving her with no offspring on the range.  Halo will be placed back on PZP in 2016.  In other words, if she is not currently pregnant with a 2016 baby, she it is highly unlikely she will ever foal.  I the best case scenario Halo has a foal next year and the foal survives;Halo would still only has one offspring in the wild.  Worst case scenario: Halo stays barren for the rest of her days.
  • Icara is the best off of the three sisters. She has three foals:  Morgana, Oglala, and Phantom.  Of the three foals, the BLM is actively trying to catch and remove one (Oglala), and there is a strong probability that they will take a second (Phantom) next year.  So Icara’s best case scenario is to be left with two offspring and that is it.  Icara was also given PZP earlier this year and will be kept on it for the rest of her life.
Halo head shot

Auntie Halo

Auntie Icara

Auntie Icara

If Mercuria is taken, the Waif and Corona line would be left in shambles.

Plus there is the fact she’s a girl.  No, I’m not being sexist.  In the Dryhead of the Pryors, there are too many dudes on the dance floor.  Specifically, the ratio is close to 60% male to 40% female.  Added on to that, many of the females that are down there are older and will be kept on PZP for the rest of their lives.  It is not a good situation.

Oglala (right) is Mercuria's cousin. He is in the first tier for removal. Removing more males will help get the sex ratio closer to 50/50. The downside is that removing Oglala will mean the Waif x Corona line grows smaller and rarer.

Oglala (right) is Mercuria’s cousin. He is in the first tier for removal. Removing more males will help get the sex ratio closer to 50/50. The downside is that removing Oglala will mean the Waif x Corona line grows smaller and rarer.

But while Mercuria was removed, this does not mean she cannot be released.  It’s happened before, and maybe with a little luck we can make it happen again.

So let’s try to save Mercuria!

Put simply, we need to politely request that the BLM not officially removed Mercuria and Paquita, but rather allow them to stay in the pens to gain some weight and then release them at the conclusion of the gather later this fall.

The BLM has done things like this in the past. They caught Phoenix and her foal Sax once to treat a wound on her flank.  After a little while they later released her.  They have also removed and branded Shaman and Starman, but released them back into the wild.  So there is precedence.  We do have a leg to stand on.


How You Can Help

My friend Brigitte had an amazing idea and you can help Mercuria in less than ten minutes.  Easy, right?

Write a letter. That’s right, a letter, not an email… well, sort of. An amazing Montana local and good friend, Brigitte Conner, has offered to hand deliver letters to the BLM regarding Mercuria.  Unlike an email, this will give our requests a personal touch and a completely different feel.  It shows that we are taking this seriously, care a great deal about it, but are polite enough to not completely fill up Jared’s email with email after email of ranting and raving.

Now we have to do this fast.  I mean really fast, if it is to work before Mercuria & Paquita are processed and placed into the BLM’s online adoption.

How this will work:  Type up a letter to Jared Bybee, the Pryor Wild Horse Specialist that is short and sweet.  Seriously, if it’s too long is probably won’t get read because Jared and Jim (the local BLM guys) are very men right now.  Now print that letter out and sign it.  Once you’ve given it your John Hancock, scan the letter and email it to [removed – time has passed, thanks!] Put Mercuria Letter in the subject line.

This needs to be done by no later than 3:30  p.m. MST (5:30 Eastern Time).  That way Brigitte has time to get these letters printed and ready to be delivered on Saturday.  Yes, that is a short deadline.  But this could make a difference in two horses lives and a HUGE difference in the long-term health of the Pryor horses that call the desert their home.

Below are some suggestions for your letter.  You probably shouldn’t include all of these, but hit the keynotes, aka “Please consider releasing Mercuria.  Her genetics are important enough to make her a special exception because…” Add anything else that makes sense so you can give it that personal touch.

  • Remind the BLM that two of the Waif x Corona line (Norte and Orion) have already been removed and that taking more is a risk.
  • Point out that Mercuria is a female and that females in the Dryhead were supposed to be given a priority.
  • Let the BLM know that while Paquita’s sire is unknown, it is either Kemmerer or Hawk and either way, she is the first offspring of her sire.
  • Point out that of the future breeding age mares, Mercuria is one of the healthiest genetically and also the least likely to accidentally produce an inbred or linebred foal.
  • Based on your own opinions and comfort level, you might consider reminding them that if they release Mercuria and Paquita now, they can still elect to remove Paquita in the coming years if it is necessary to meet their population objectives. I have mixed feelings on this one because I don’t like it, but do think that it would be worth taking a risk to at least save one of them.  Make that decision based on your own beliefs and ethics.
  • Thank the BLM for their consideration. Overall, they have done a good job with this removal.  I don’t agree with all their choices, but it has been way less damaging that past ones were.  They’ve also shown a lot of care and kindness to all the horses they have removed and I think it would be nice to let them know we’ve noticed.  Mercuria was a big mistake, but one that can still be fixed very easily

I know this deadline is tight, but you don’t have to write a novel.  Just a quick note to let Jared know that you care about Mercuria, realize how important she is, and think that it would be a good idea to consider releasing her will do just fine.   If you absolutely have no way to sign your letter and the send a scanned copy to Brigitte, please at least email her your letter so it can still be included.

So One Last Time:

  • Mercuria is really important because of her smaller bloodline and it would be really good if the BLM would consider releasing her. If they want to keep her for a month or so to let her fatten up, they would be helping her while also not hurting the herd
  • Please please please write and email a letter over to [removed – the deadline has passed!] politely asking that they consider releasing Mercuria to the wild rather than removing her. If at all possible you should print that letter, sign it by hand, scan the letter, and then send it over.  Personal touches like that can make a big difference.

Get it?  Got it? Good.  Now Go!

I only ever met Mercuria in 2012 but if you search for Mercuria or Paquita you will find some toher wonderful photographs to see how she has grown. But as for this blog... look at that precious face!

I only ever met Mercuria in 2012 but if you search for Mercuria or Paquita you will find some other wonderful photographs to see how she has grown. But for now… look at that precious face!