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.
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:
****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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As a general rule, it is a very big mistake for me to start running my mouth off online when I am overly emotional. The problem with that is that we are only 1/3 of the way into an emotional year that feels like it is just going to keep building and building until everything spirals out of control. When you are faced with such a time, it seems logical to get it all out in the open while you still have the chance.
Because the fact of the matter is, we were snookered folks. And the most ridiculous part, is that we were conned by the same people that con us over and over again without remorse. It’s almost like an abusive relationship. You tell yourself that this time it will be different, things will get better.
I have a website! www.rachelreevesphotography.com It is a real website and everything! I’m not going to pretend it is anything fancy, but feel free to check it out if you have a free moment sometime. Now with that out of the way, on to the important stuff!
Custer is the greatest. No really Find me doesn’t like Custer. Oh, that’s right; you can’t. That is because everybody loves Custer.
Our story begins in 1996. A small dark colt was born to Sitka and Shaman. You may have heard of them before. They were only the Pryor power couple of the nineties. Custer is the second of five of their offspring who are still wild and kicking.
So the time has come again for another episode of Rachel Has Loads of Feelings. The BLM released a new Environmental Assessment (EA) regarding the PZP management of the Pryor wild horse herd. You can find it here. I highly recommend that you read the EA yourself. It is less than 20 pages long and a lot of those pages can be skipped, so it is a quick read.
It feels a little early for me to be writing anything about this subject. But frankly, I suspect that the stud piles will soon be hitting fans on both sides of the aisle with the ‘Big Boys’ weighing in, so I figured that if I get my say out right away I might have just enough time to duck for cover. Also, I did not want any of my conclusions to be biased by the opinions of others before I had a chance to take a hard objective look at the information myself… and isn’t that just a little hypocritical of me?
Some of that is normal. Not being a horse myself, they often act in ways that I do not expect, leaving a years worth of puzzles before me. Sometimes it just takes a little time for a Eureka moment to break through. Other times, there is no answer beyond the knowledge that every horse has their own distinct personality and that there are bound to be a few oddballs out there causing mayhem.
So first of all, I sincerely apologize for my lack of updates these past months. I have this tendency to take September and October off. I think it has something to do with how busy summers are and the challenges of being an extreme introvert to the point it is borderline ridiculous. Whatever causes it, I spend these months relaxing with my own horses, watching football, catching up on my reading, etc. and forget to do basic things like read and respond to emails, log on to Facebook, blog, etc. So if it seems like I’m a total jerk and I didn’t answer a question or reply to an email, well, I am a total jerk. I am also really really sorry. I either never saw it or meant to answer but completely forgot.
(Actually now that I think of it, I do think Puller sent me an email. I’ll look for that after I’m done with this!)
The next thing I need to briefly address is the Divide Basin and Salt Wells roundup. I did try to write about that a few times, but the words would not come out. They still won’t. It’s hard sometimes, forever opposing an enemy that plays with a stacked deck. It isn’t quite fair, how the wild horses (and their advocates) can never quite catch a break, – even a well deserved one. But the concept of fairness is nice, but it doesn’t really exist in the real world. I am surprised and disheartened, but it is not time to give up the ghost just yet.
I received a request to write about my visit to the Pryors in early October. It was a quick in and out visit, which means that the only real way to talk about the trip is chronologically. That … isn’t exactly my strong suit. I have a computer folder filled with no less than 6 failed attempts at chronological stories, but hey, 7th time is the charm?