The Red Desert Lawsuit Sale!

Quick housekeeping: Lauryn & I are going to White Mountain this weekend to celebrate my slow descent towards senility and osteoporosis, so hopefully I will come back with some inspiration and new blog fodder. I know I have been distracted and done a very poor job updating the blog through July. I am deeply sorry and will try my best to find the time to make it up to everyone this August.

And now… to the pitch!

Feeling Bolder 8x10 CPR low

Feeling Bolder?

So I have this problem.  I am currently tapped out.

Of money, that is.

Okay not really.  I still have enough money in my bank account to buy hay tomorrow (the boys have exacting standards) and Runza on my birthday, but I’m past what I can feasibly donate to The Lawsuit.  And by “The Lawsuit” I mean the litigation to try to stop the Adobe Town, Divide Basin, and Salt Wells roundups that are supposed to start later this month.  You can donate here, but you may wish to finish reading my post before you hop on over there.

So as I said, I’ve donated what I can to The Cloud Foundation to help fund the lawsuit to stop the roundup and ultimate destruction of the Adobe Town, Divide Basin, and Salt Wells herds.  But it is one of those things where it still doesn’t feel like quite enough, you know?

Like a hazy dream laced with coffee beans and unicorns dancing on rainbows, the answer to my dilemma dawned on me while staring at the clock at work, half buried in paperwork and moving way too slow. I’m out of money, but that doesn’t mean I’m out of capital.  Not entirely, at least.

 

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A Call to Arms (More or Less)

Great Divide Basin cpr

Starting today, the above photo will be in a gallery for the month of August as part of the Cloud Foundation Art Exhibit & Fundraiser.  It is not my most popular photo, but I’m really proud of it and glad that it made it into the gallery.  It’s my kind of photo, you see – plain bay mares in the Great Divide Basin casually strolling towards water on a serene Sunday morning.

 

Yet all I can think about is that while that print is hanging around on a wall, those mares may finds themselves galloping across that range in terror, chased down with a helicopter, taken away from their home, and separated from their family band forever.

third group 12

Adobe Town Roundup, November 2013

 

A couple weeks ago the BLM released their roundup schedule for the rest of the year.  There was no small amount of hullabaloo over three specific herds – Adobe Town, Salt Wells, and Divide Basin.  For while the rest of the schedule was fairly tame (for BLM standards) and primarily consisted of smaller removals of horses that were outside the boundaries of the established herd management area, the planned removal numbers for the Red Desert herds were downright shocking.  The numbers on the chart read that the BLM was going to zero out Divide Basin and Salt Wells, and take over 1/3 of the remaining Adobe Town horses.

 

The plan looks a little something like this:

WY BLM Adobe Town HMA  w/ Salt Wells 8/20/14 8/24/14  177 177 Horses  WY State Office
WY BLM Salt Wells HMA w/ Adobe Town 8/24/14  8/28/14  228 228 Horses  WY State Office
WY BLM Divide Basin HMA 8/28/14 9/10/14  541 541 Horses  WY State Office

 

 

 

Reading these numbers, it felt a little like the world was crashing down, like I was stuck on a calving glacier just waiting for my feet to fall out from under me so I could hit the icy punch of the water while the ice crashed down on my head.

 

And yet, how much worse is it for the horses?  They don’t even see it coming.  The horses are busy living their lives as best they know how.  They will be busy storing up fat for winter and then suddenly BAM!  Running for their lives, permanently separated from their families, spending the rest of their lives in government holding.  If they are lucky the horses removed won’t be euthanized or slaughtered by an organization that was ordered to protect them, but who now is looking for easy escapes for a problem that they themselves created.  It’s sick.

 

If you are me, the only way to combat that sickness is to dive into the numbers and type out a few feelings.  Let’s break all of this information down in a comprehensive way.  This roundup is a little more confusing than others, after all, which is exactly why it must be stopped and stopped quickly.

Divide Basin Bachelor

Divide Basin Bachelor

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The Untying of the Knot

It’s hard out there for a pimp.

 

Or so I am told.  I don’t have very much experience with the pimping business, and can only go off of second hand knowledge gleaned from the music that my little brother listened to a decade ago.

 

Now as the song goes on, it blames {ladies} for jumping ship.  Okay, the song does not actually use the word ladies, and all ladies regardless of their career path deserve to treated with dignity and respect .  So you probably should not look the song up.

 

Jackson’s mares did not jump ship.  After a tough winter which left Jackson beat up and thin, he did not have the strength to keep everyone together.  His band was broken up, with mares ending up all over the place.  That did not last long.  The mares were devoted enough to one another that they still ended up back with one another, even without Jackson.

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Lifestyles of the Young & the Restless

Isadora is not a happy camper.  Or a camper at all, really.  Those child bearing hips of hers would have a heck of a time fitting into a tent, and zipping up a sleeping bag around all four legs would be challenging endeavor to say the least.

 

Our story begins on a windy Sunday morning.  It actually has been going on for weeks now, but I cannot speak to events I have not seen.  Flint’s band appeared through the binoculars, merrily grazing their way across the meadow with a level of intensity that only a hungry horse who has made it through a Pryor winter can appreciate.

Flint

Flint

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To Be or Not To Be

I am never sure how to write about the Pryor horses.  When I go to a place like White Mountain, I can easily sit on a developing story for a few months to see what happens.  That way when I do go to write, I can have a direction to go.  That is part of the fun of spending so much time with a relatively unknown herd.

The Pryors is a little different.  There are so many other excellent sources of information, all of whom visit the horses much more often than I am able to do.  If writing about White Mountain is giving an exhibition piece, then writing about the Pryors is more like a celebrity gossip rag.  I just want to get all my readers together in person at some tastefully decorated coffee shop and spend the next two hours sipping on some fancy sugary drink and dishing out who Audubon has been spotted with recently and OMG Isadora and Flint are so going to be splitting up.  (She’s too good for him anyway)

Bacardi and Topper Too are turning into the ultimate frenemies. Minus the friend part. The drama!

Bacardi and Topper Too are still frienemies of epic proportinos. Minus the friend part.

 

So with that in mind, I think I will dish out the steamiest news on the bands that were spotted in no particular order.  If you have any specific requests for who you want dirt on next, please let me know in the comments.  Now keep in mind that most of the Dryhead horses were inaccessible via pickup truck, I did not get to hang out with Casper, and the M bachelors were hiding.  Everyone else is fair game, though.

 

Santa Fe does not actualy make an appearance in this story.  But doesn't his handsome face make you want to read on?

Santa Fe does not actualy make an appearance in this story. But doesn’t his handsome face make you want to read on?

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Strike Out

Writing about wild horses isn’t not always easy.  To see me in front of a computer, you’d think that someone was getting ready to pull all my teeth out with a rusty old pair of pliers.  No matter how much of their society I may think that I understand, they are a very different animal from humans.

 

Things that wild horses consider perfectly normal and acceptable is not always easy to stomach.  Because while I may infinitely prefer the company of wild horses to that of humans, the reality is that I am not a wild horse.  They have to survive the harsh winter with its knee deep snow and summer droughts where finding water is the difference between life and death.  Wild horse behavior that makes me uncomfortable is a necessity to survival for them.

02

Striker

 

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Goonies Never Say Die!

I always have a mental checklist in my head when going to White Mountain.  Documenting a herd of horses is not any more difficult than going places that I do not actively document, but it does put a slightly different slant on how I spend my days in the herd.  In other herds my list consists of:

  • Find horses
  • Try not to get myself killed

My checklist for White Mountain this past weekend looked a little more like this:

  • Find Fibonacci & see what stallion she ended up with
  • Check in on Gladiator
  • See if Kerosene survived the winter (spoiler alert: she totally did and looks fabulous)
  • Explore new 2 tracks in the North
  • Try not to get myself killed

 

Saturday morning dawned cloudy and gray, but filled with promise.  As my friend and I drove along getting a feel for where the horses may be, a fuzzy black shape appeared right off the road in front of us.  Check off the first on my list!  Fibonacci is the only black horse who stays so far South, so it had to be her. But the band Fibonacci had joined was obscured by the hill.

 

After a simply agonizing and suspenseful wait of… oh, fifteen seconds or so, I had my answer.

01

Oh snap!

 

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Stop Frontin’, You’re Just a Puppet

I don’t want to shock anyone, but I am a giant flake.  I completely forgot to get part 1 of my Advisory Board feelings up.  So now I am at work with zero new photos to put in here, but in our 24 hour news cycle, the Advisory Board is already old news so I can’t wait any longer.  So since I will be in Nebraska all weekend and this is my only chance, I’m tossing it up reallyquick.  I apologize for the shoddiness, as well as my apparent inability to name a blog post something other than a random line in a song on my BLM playlist:

Someone, who may have been Benjamin Disraeli once said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

Before you think I am turning away from my Mathematical roots, let me explain. This quote comes from the same place as me pointing out the very true and well documented fact that 38% of all statistics are made up.

Numbers don’t lie. They are incapable of doing so. People, on the other hand, lie all the time. When it comes to Math, people will manipulate statistics and data as a way of making their lies seem more legitimate. The average citizen is less likely to question someone with numbers, because they immediately come across as having researched the subject and thus they must know more than you. Right?

But what does any of that have to do with horses? Horses cannot lie the way humans do, and last I checked, they hadn’t developed a passion for statistics. So why am I talking about liars? Because of the BLM’s most recent Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board. For those of you who are not in the know about this event, you aren’t missing much and may I please swap bodies with you for a little while?

Divide Basin bachelor

Divide Basin bachelor

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You Can Lead a BLM Employee to Water, but Can’t Make Them Not Be a Jerk Face

I’ve kept pretty quiet about the matter of providing shelter to captive wild horse horses kept in short-term holding faculties.  It’s not that I don’t care – quite the opposite in fact.  There are so many eloquent people out there with betters ways of organizing their thoughts, and a larger audience than I could ever dream of having. It seemed like there really wasn’t much I could add to the subject.

Well that’s all over now.  News broke over the quest to put up wind breaks at the holding facility in Rock Springs.  Bad news. Now I have feelings, and darn it, those feelings will not fester in Facebook comments.

At the time this photograph was taken, the temperature was 22 F out with winds gusting at 42 mph

An older mare acts as a windbreak for a younger mare. At the time this photograph was taken, it was 23 F and wind speeds were at 42 mph.

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A Cougar Amongst Them

There is no male equivalent for the word “cougar”.  The kind of cougar I’m talking about is a euphemism used for an older woman who enjoys spending time with younger males. Tonopah in the Pryor Mountains, would be an example of a proper cougar. At 27 years old, she took off from Duke, a stable & well-established band stallion, in favor of hanging out with the youngest band stallion duo on the mountain – He Who & Fiddle.  Tonopah has not been spotted this winter and may well have passed from old age.  If that is the case, and this past summer was one last hurrah for her then man, what a way to go!  Talk about a great role model for all the ladies.

Tonopah, a cougar in her natural habitat

Tonopah, a cougar in her natural habitat

When an old female sows some oats, it’s empowering.  When an older man preys on the young, he’s generally considered a creeper and the young female a gold digger.  It doesn’t really seem fair.  Why can’t older males be like… mountain lions or something?

Fuego

Bet that title had you concerned we were talking about a real cougar. Nope. Just Fuego.

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