Clearing The Air

Lakota, July 2011
Lakota, July 2011

From the beginning, I started this blog to not only share my experiences with the Pryor Horses, but I also had another  intention in mind: To Be There For The Horses.  To work with those involved with the horses for the better good of them.

I knew that some things that I would say or do would not “sit well” with some people or groups.  But I pretty much say it like it is and how I feel.  I have said it before and I will say it again:  “I am here for the horses.  I am not a BLM hater, nor am I a BLM lover.”  Also: ” I do not belong to any one group, I am here for the horses.”  I will work with everyone involved if they are good, HONEST people.  I would like to be treated with respect and I also expect the same for my friends and family.

Let’s just say, I don’t mind ruffling a few feathers if it gets the job done.

So, it is with that mind set that I am publishing Lori’s story.  I love Lori like a sister, and I stand behind her.  We are a lot a like.  Don’t back us in a corner, it won’t be pretty. But stand beside us, and we will fight to the end for you. (and bring you chocolate chip cookies).  We don’t hesitate to state what is on our mind for the animals (and people) we intend to protect.

Because of my post in August: “Please Stop , Thank you” (click HERE to read that), my blog got the attention of some people in Washington, DC and caused quite a wave of trouble here in Montana and also for Lori in Wyoming.  I don’t regret a thing.  I would do everything the exact same way, except I guess I would let Jared know that it was coming.



From Lori:

Liesl and Lori’s Story

Since someone has asked a question about how Liesl injured herself, I thought I would answer this question as honestly as I can. I was not going to bring it up because I did not want the Center to appear “insensitive” or “irresponsible” to Liesl’s blindness, but since it has been brought up, I think it is only fair that everyone should know what happened. I will start from the beginning so that everyone will understand how and why Liesl got hurt.

When Kaibab & Liesl came to the Center, Diane Granger (board member) and I volunteered to be the care takers for them. Since that day both of us have been feeding them, cleaning out the Shelter, and spending time with them. Diane has a heart of gold and loves those two horses, and the ones who run wild and free!!  She has been going to the range faithfully since 1993!

Diane and Liesl
Diane and Lisle

At this time there were other horses in the field outside of the corral, including Exhilaration. As time went on we were seeing bent & damaged panels on the corral.


I am sure that Liesl did some of the damage as she is BLIND and was frightened of the other horses poking their heads through nipping and kicking at her, but, one has to imagine not being able to see the threat that is real through Liesl’s eyes. Her reaction is to kick & run away from the threat of danger. This is normal behavior for a blind horse. Also, keep in mind that her whole life has been this way…picked on, kicked, bitten, and chased away, because she is blind. I found this information while researching about blind horses: You can read more on this website, by clicking BLIND.

Horses are herd animals with a social hierarchy and a well-defined pecking order. Usually the blind horse falls to the bottom of the pecking order. The others sense the blind horse’s vulnerability and take advantage of it. A blind horse will get beaten up, chased away from food, and run off from the group. It is not a pleasant life. Blind horses can get hurt in a herd environment because with their fight-or-flight instinct, blindness leaves them with only one choice: flight. And fleeing from a bully in the herd in a blind panic (literally) is when a blind horse will run into a fence or a tree and get hurt.

We’ve found that even in an otherwise easy-going small herd of four or five horses, it only takes one sighted horse to bully the blind one and you have a potential injury on your hands.

The answer is not to isolate your blind horse, but to give him or her a compatible pasture buddy to hang out with. Horses need company, and a lonely horse is an unhappy horse. So we keep our blind horses in pairs, or with a sighted pasture buddy (we call them our “seeing eye horses”), in separate pastures. The rest of our herd – elderly sighted horses – stay together as a group in a different pasture. 

We’ve seen that even small groups of blind horses can create pecking order problems. A lot depends on the individual personalities of the horses and the ‘social chemistry’ when they’re together. You’ll quickly discover what works and doesn’t work for your blind horse in your situation. 

Although there are exceptions, in general a herd is a bad place to be for a blind horse.

IMG_1734 (1024x683)

The decision was made (not sure exactly who made this decision) to take all of the other horses, except Exhilaration, home. They needed the corral to gather up the other horses and so Liesl & Kaibab were released out into the field while the other horses were rounded up into the corral and loaded up into a trailer.

After that Liesl & Kaibab were in the corral with the heated water tank, and Exhilaration was on the outside. Everyday someone had to let Exhilaration in to get water, and the little ones went out into the field. At night Liesl & Kaibab were locked into the corral, and Exhilaration was on the outside.

Still we were noticing panels being dented and actually one of the bars on a panel was broken in half. It was then that someone decided to bring Exhilaration home. The Center has replaced the two panels that were totally destroyed, and since then there is no more damage to the panels.

From the beginning Diane and I had reservations about letting Liesl out into the field as it is fenced with barbed wire and the fact that she is blind, for the most part.

Our fear of Liesl getting hurt on the barbed wire became reality on the 16th of January.


I was getting their food prepared (they eat pellet mare/foal & some hay) and Kaibab was already in the corral. Liesl was making her way around the fence and just walked right into the barbed wire fence. She bent a T- post and ripped a section of her shoulder. It was a pretty nasty wound, but since I have horses at home I usually have medicine for these types of injuries.  I went home and got some Fura-zone salve and applied it to her wound for three days. I have been spraying Vetricyn on it since then. It is healing well. Diane asked our Veterinarian about antibiotics and she said to just keep a close eye on it and as long as it did not look infected it should heal up well. Thank goodness she is healing well and should be fine.

Liesl's wound
Liesl’s wound
Liesl, January 29, 2013
Liesl, January 29, 2013
Liesl, January 29, 2013
Liesl, January 29, 2013
Liesl and Kiabab
Liesl and Kiabab

I am not placing the blame on anybody; I am only stating the facts.

I think that the Center is planning on replacing the fence with wood this coming spring/summer.

IMG_1722 (1024x683)

Since resigning from the Center I am now a volunteer for the care of Liesl and Kaibab, but am not the one making the decisions concerning them. I can only make suggestions.

This leads me to the rest of my story:

I have always had the horses first and foremost in my heart and that has always been and still is one of my main concerns. I am a very passionate person when it comes to what I believe to be right. I will not compromise my principles, and I will not back down from what I believe is the right thing to do.

For those of you who know me personally, you know that I never claimed to be “politically correct”, nor am I afraid to “make some noise” and stand up for what I believe in. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease” is an old English idiom. Sometimes it makes a difference and sometimes it does not. But to sit by and do nothing when I believe something needs to be said is not an option for me. It is not in my nature. I admit that I can be a bit outspoken and blunt at times, but it is never without conviction from my heart, and I never intend to hurt anyone on purpose.

With all of this said, this past August I questioned the BLM and the NPS (by telephone) as to why they were gathering more horses from the Dry Head part of the range. I thought it strange that they would remove more mares and foals as there are way more stallions than mares in the Dry Head.

Kerry and Maclean, July 30, 2012
Kerry and Maclean, July 30, 2012
Malayna and Kaelia
Malayna and Kaelia

I had also made a couple of “personal” comments, from my “personal computer” on Sandy’s blog stating my “personal opinion” on the continuing gather/removal. I did this from home, not at the Center and in my mind it had nothing to do with the Center or my job as Director.

I believed that I was doing the right thing by the horses, and that it was part of my job. I believed that it was my job to question those who are responsible for managing this herd when and if the need arose. Well I guess I believed wrong. .  I suppose they did not want any “friction” from the Center and “how dare I” question the government!

The BLM certainly did not appreciate my questioning and they sent a letter to the Board concerning my “combative behavior”   among other things.  They never even mentioned all of the good things I had said about what a good job they were doing throughout the gather or what excellent care the horses that were removed were getting!

The majority of the Board did not stand behind me (although John Nickle did and I believe Diane Granger also) but the rest did not, and so I felt that there was only one choice for me, and that was to resign.

If I could not have a personal opinion, and I could not question what I thought was a legitimate cause for concern, then I could do better for the horses on my own and through other avenues. Also, I suppose the Center does not need someone as “feisty” and “outspoken” as me to be the Director.

I gave my heart and soul to the Center, and so did my most loyal and compassionate husband.

It is with great enthusiasm and passion for these beautiful horses that I will continue to observe, study and protect the Pryor Mountain Wild horses. I also have peace in knowing and believing that I did the right thing for the horses, my character intact!


I want to thank Sandy for allowing me to help with her blog, and also for doing this post!!

Thank you Sandy for your dedication, honesty, passion and generosity to and for the Pryor Mountain wild horses!


A couple of quotes that I like!

Character is higher than intellect.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
In matters of principle, stand like a rock; in matters of taste, swim with the current.  ~Thomas Jefferson


Logo designed by Amber Bushnell
Logo designed by Amber Bushnell

57 thoughts on “Clearing The Air

  • I feel that you are exactly the kind of person that needs to be the director of the center. The center is supposed to be there to help protect these horses and have their best interests in mind. That means questioning the management of these horses if the need arises. And I don’t think you have anything you should have to appolagise for. For years the center has repeatedly stated to the public that they don’t work for or with the BLM, have connections for them, etc. That they are simply there for the horses. If that were truely the case I don’t think the BLM would contacted your board of directors and even if they did, the board wouldn’t have felt the need to address the issue (especially being unsupportive of you.) And like you said on this blog, you were expressing your own personal opinions and not with affiliation to the center. There have been times with Matt and his blog that I’ve felt he was being somewhat censored in order to “keep the peace.” I agreed with the “Please Stop” post as well and especially questioned the reasoning for the continued removals in the Dryhead. I also did not hesitate to make comments on NPS’s facebook page. They were showing off a picture of Kerry and her colt so I decided to let their followers know the role they were playing in having more Dryhead horses removed. Especially since Kerry and her colt had been removed just days before. I really think that the horses and the center would have benefited from you continueing to be the director, but I know you will still be doing everything you can for these horses.

    As soon as I read the sentence about Liesl injuring herself at the beginning of this post, my heart sank. I knew it had to be connected with the barbed wire. I have been worried that something would happen with her and that fence. I’m not a fan of barbed wire around horses, and was especially concerned (as you and many others were) with Liesl being blind. Even if she just got confused or even spooked she could easily run into it. And as it happened, she ripped a big section of her shoulder just by accidently walking into it. I’m glad you were the one with her at the time because I’m sure she panicked and I know she trusts you very much. It looks like she cut her shoulder deeply which also makes me thankful that this incident with the fence occured by her walking into it instead of something else. If she had run into it or been pushed into it it could have been a lot worse. So I’m glad her needs have now been realized by the entire board and the new director through this incident and not by one that could have been far worse. It is still upsetting that this happened at all, but I’m glad she seems to be on the mend and doing well. I hope the fence is able to be replaced this spring and that both Liesl and Kaibab aren’t expected to be turned back out there until it is. I’m also so glad that Liesl has Kaibab. He just seems to have been the perfect choice to be her buddy. And seems to have the best temperment, sweet, caring, and nonaggreseive toward Liesl, but also protective of her. He really is exactly what she needs. I’m sure some of the dents to the panels came from Kaibab kicking back at and charging at the horses on the other side who were trying to bully Liesl. I’m also happy with the Center’s decision to send the other horses home for the benefit of Liesl and Kaibab even though the other horses have been around longer. Liesl and Kaibab should be the priority and I’m glad to see that they are. And thank you to you and Sandy and everyone else who is here for the benefit of the horses.

    • Thank you so much Sarah! What you said sure makes me feel good that what I wrote is understood by everyone. I feel so much better now that I have told the truth!
      I think whoever is in the position of Director is, as you said, “censored, as to keep the peace” and it may be good for the horses, but in my eyes that is not always the way to go.
      I have been told that same thing you said…that someone like me is EXACTLY what the Center needed! To others, obviously I was not!
      You are also so right about the fact that Liesl just walked into the fence…she did not run! That would have been disastrous and maybe cost Liesl her life. Thank God!
      I thank you for your support….For the HORSES!!!!!

      • It is definitely understood and I think it’s a good thing you put it out there 🙂

    • Yes Sarah…Kaibab is the perfect “buddy” for Liesl. We can thank Matt for that as he is the one who chose Kaibab to go along with Liesl! They do make the perfect little couple and seem to get along very well together!

  • Well, Lori, all I can say is “you go girl”. The horses in general, and Liesl in particular, need you.

    I’m really tired of the idea that’s prevalent in this country that people are not entitled to their own opinions and must be “politically correct”—meaning they cannot have an opinion that differs in any way from the opinion of their superiors. That’s not what America is about and that atmosphere interferes with the evolving of good ideas and social conscience. I respect your refusal to be swayed from your principles and know that you will find opportunities to do good things for the horses in ways other than being Director of the Center.

    I am curious to know what the answer was to your question of why they were taking more mares/foals from the Dryhead, instead of stallions, or did they put such a spin on the question that you never did get an answer? It IS impossible to get most elected politicians, or many government employees, to give you a straight answer about anything if it may threaten their position. What happened to government “of the people, for the people and by the people”?

    Enough venting. I know my feelings are shared by many others, for better or worse.

    About Liesl—I hope they can replace the barbed wire fencing, or else divide the space so that at least the area that she is in can be safer. And I know all that costs money. Perhaps there could be a “Fence for Liesl” fund set up. In the meantime, THANK YOU for being her caregiver, and her “vet”, and I’m really glad she has Kaibab for a pasture buddy.

    • My best guess about why more mares and foals were removed vs. stallions would be about population control. Based on what I know of deer management in MN the MN DNR is trying to shift people from hunting bucks to hunting does. The rationale would be that if does are the ones who have the babies, then killing the bucks won’t control population in areas where population is an issue. While I try not to generalize management practices from one species to another I would guess that since there may not be as much resources in the Dryhead as other places in the range I think that would be safe to say that those types of management practices could be BLM/NPS are going for. Although perhaps I should say that if I were making that type of management decision that’s the type of logic I would use despite my dislike for skewing sex ratios.

      • Livi, those Dryhead horses are not limited to the Dryhead. Many of them travel miles up Sykes to access some of the best forage on the range. ( I don’t know if you realized that.)

      • The issue with the dryhead though is that the ratio was already very skewed before the gather took place. There were already way more stallions out there than mares. And like Sandy said in her “who may have foals post” there’s only 2 mares that should be foaling this year, Fresia and Halo. And Icara is a slight maybe. And none of the mares that were removed would even be expected to foal this year. Or even next year for that matter. I don’t like the skewing of sex ratios either, but even if they were using that as their “logic” it wouldn’t make sense for the Dryhead area. Even if they had just removed stallions from there, there would still be more stallions than mares.

      • Good answers Sarah & Sandy! This is all true. The fact that they took Lewis too really bothered me. It just seems that little by little they are skewering the entire herd. Thank God that we don’t have to go through this again in 2013, and hopefully in 2014 either! I say let them be for awhile and see how the PZP goes. Nature has its own way of controlling populations.
        The Pryor’s are getting a wonderful dose of moisture. It has been snowing all day here and still coming down!

      • Thanks for reminding of that, Sandy. I’ll admit that my explanation is a bit flawed since I agree with that rationale for skewing sex ratios for deer in MN, I do not agree with skewing sex ratios of wild horses. Not only would that be assuming that a management practice that works in one state will automatically work in another it also assumes that a management practice that works on one species works on another. My example about deer was quite literally a best guess from a natural resource perspective.

      • Sometimes I just really wonder about the managing methods. I’d definitely rather see PZP use than removals. And I know we’ve all said before how we’d like to see adjustments to the PZP system so I won’t get into that but I’ve recently been thinking a lot about how the horses “managed” themselves in the past. And how it was before pzp was even introduced. Every mare didn’t foal every year. And the older mares didn’t usually foal. As they got older, they seemed to stop concieving. And it wasn’t very common for young mares to foal either. It was not very often you would see 2 year olds as mothers. And not a ton of 3 year old mothers either. Half sibling interbreeding was low too. I feel like that had something to do with mares having more breeding years over a more spread out period. And having longer breeding years did a lot to ensure genetic representation on the range. There’s quite a few established band stallions that have no offspring on the range, to name a few Custer, Mescalero, Fiero, Fools Crow, etc. And Dove’s filly is Diamond’s first grand-offspring (ha it seemed wierd to say grandchild.) There’s also quite a number of mares who have no offspring. And having late season foals was a very rare occurance. Now there’s a decent group of mares who consistenlty foal off season. I feel like all of these are either something pzp trys to prevent or problems pzp has caused. Most of them are things pzp is supposed to prevent but it seems like it has made it more common. It’s just something to think about. It makes me think these problems are possibly occuring due to too much interference. It’s just interesting to think about how the horses used to handle these problems on their own and did it well.

    • Thank you Linda! I know you truly know my character and also that I will always place the horses before anyone or anything! I appreciate your comment and your understanding & support of my decision!
      The answer I got was that they were on the list. Obviously they were and are really trying to control the population on the Dry Head. That is why we need to be a part of the decisions and write letters. I somehow, sometimes think that they place way too much emphasis on controlling the population. I do think that new studies should be done (of course they are done by BLM)
      so as to actually see how many horses “THEY” think can live on the range. I just have a difficult time with their number’s when there are 38,000,00 acres for the horses to live on.
      The range is recovering from years of overgrazing by sheep & some cattle too. I think it has recovered very well.
      I respect Jared and we are lucky that we do have him as the wild horse & burro specialist. He is doing a great job, but he still has to answer to the big-wigs in Washington DC. Maybe some things will change with the resignation of Ken Salazar. Maybe they will get someone in there who cares about all of the wild horse herds, instead of trying to exterminate them!
      I am so happy that I met Liesl & Kaibab. They have brought a deep sense of peace to me and I love them both. I am only glad that I am there for both of them!

      • Some things to remember about the Dryhead is that there is a lot more forage there than uneducated observers think. Otherwise, why would horses stay there and why do they look so healthy, and like Sandy says, the horses are free to travel to other areas, and they do at times. However, more horses who normally inhabit other areas come there and the midslopes, especially for the winter, and fare quite well.

        Also, the mares who are to get PZP are probably not harder to find, if not easier, in the Dryhead than in other areas. And PZP is supposed to be the method of choice for population control on this range.

        The thought has entered my mind that “they” might be trying to avoid having as many horses on the highway in the Dryhead so that there won’t be as many incidents like Admiral, Kapitan and probably Sam—if the truth were known in his case. But if so, why not just say so. I’m sure someone would criticize them for it, but they should be used to that. The truth is always the best way to go. And they shouldn’t have to limit the population to avoid that, but they sure as heck can’t get PEOPLE to do the right thing and give the animals the right of way on THEIR RANGE, and respect the speed limit, etc. Not without having someone patroling out there constantly, and we can’t afford that.

        I hated to see Lewis removed, too, but at least his removal will help the sex ratio in the future. Same with Jalisco, Jumping Badger and Kokopelli.

        Bottom line is these are very complex issues and there will always be differing opinions. I am truly hopeful that a different attitude at the top will help people like Jared, and others, in their efforts to do right by the horses.

        Kudos to you, Sandy for all you do, and to you, Lori. 🙂

      • I hadn’t realized that there were circumstances involving Sam’s death. I know in Matt’s post he said Sam had been looking healthy the last time he had seen him before he was suddenly found dead. Do people who were visiting the range at that time think that Sam was hit by a car?

  • You are right Linda, and you too Sarah! These are very complex issues and there will ALWAYS be differing opinions. Maybe if they just let “Mother Nature” do her own thing there would not be any complex issues or the need for management.
    I have always said that Mother Nature knows best. It is surly not always pretty, but it is natural.
    The removals of the stallions in the Dry Head will indeed effect the sex ratio, but there are not many young mares out there who will reproduce.
    Anyway, lots to think about for sure and how we can make a good impact on the management of this herd for the good of the horses. It is good to have many eyes and opinions to help with decision making. Sometimes, someone has a great new idea that nobody else thought of! Never know!
    I am not sure about Sam’s death. It could have been that he was hit by a car, but nobody ever talked about it to me. Hmm?
    I have always had respect for Jared, and thought that he did a great job, for the horses. As I said before, he has to answer to others at the top and that cannot be an easy job at all!
    Maybe someone new at the top will bring a good change for the wild horse population!

    • I’m hoping someone new at the top will help make good changes for the wild horses. Like you said, the Pryors are lucky to have Jared as their local person, but he still has to answer to those at the top. And there’s a lot of herds have people in charge of them that truely don’t care. So the Pryors are lucky that they had good people working the gather last summer.

      • I hope so too Sarah. The top is a long way from the bottom, I think the changes need to start at the top and work there way all the way down.

        I do appreciate what and how Jared( and the rest of the Billings crew) works, and I am glad we have someone like that working in the Pryors.

        It doesn’t mean I won’t keep an eye on them though! 🙂 Like everyone, we all need feedback and opinions and observations. That is one of the biggest reasons why I won’t be part of any group. I hope that because of it and the time I spend with the horses, my opinion can be heard without any rules on how or when I say it. (in person or in print on this blog)

      • Yes, even the good people still need to be watched. And really that shouldn’t even be an issue because as long as they’re doing their job correctly and carefully, shouldn’t they want people to watch. I think that’s something the BLM needs to realize. Luckily with the Pryors the gather operations aren’t hidden from the public, which I think helps keep everyone honest. I’d like to see that in other areas as well.

  • PS..LInda…I totally agree that they should not have to limit the number of horses because of accidents by cars. That is like limiting the human population so that there are not as many deaths from automobile accidents! I don’t think though that this is a reason for a lower population in the DH range area. I am not sure why because as Sandy said the horses are not limited to that area alone. In fact, in the winter time there are not hardly any horses who stay out there!

    • I don’t think the limits on the dryhead have to do with the number of cars travelling the road ( although there is often a lot of boat/beach traffic that doesn’t seem to slow down or care about the horses). I think it has more to do with the management of the area for more than just the horses. The dryhead area is also an area that has a higher sheep population, and they have advocates like the WSF that probably push for more forage and management for them. A few years ago they used sheep from the south side of the area to relocate near Seminoe, and I talked to some sheep hunters 2 years ago; so I know it is a sheep population that is monitored, has money spent on, and would have an impact on the management of the area. There is probably pressure from other groups, like the marinas, deer and bear groups, etc- so I am sure that part of the management is balancing all of the different species and interests on the dryhead.
      That being said, I did disagree with the later removal ( post mountain top) down low. I think Jared was doing a great job and know that you (Lori) as well as Sandy and others were vocal about the job he was doing, and we all defended his work both down low at the start and on the mountain. The fact that we were supportive, and at times defensive when others were critical, of his work; and then did have questions when the removal was restarted down low should only go to show that this was not a matter of “combative behavior” but a true question of whether the right thing was being done. Most probably know that I agree that some forms of management do need to be in place to control a population without true predators on a confined area, so if I was wondering about the reasoning and motives at the end, I am sure that every one else was way ahead of me. You did what was right by asking what was going on,and if those higher up can’t take questions from some one that supports them and works with them; then the reputation they get of wanting to “eliminate all horses” may be incorrect, but is fully understandable from the groups that feel that way. I think the Pryor horses have been very lucky to have been managed as well as they have overall, but with a lot of the stories I have heard from other areas, the BLM is going to have to be transparent if they ever want to remove the mistrust so many have of them.
      I hate to see the injury to Liesl, but she is tough and has been through so much that I don’t think this will slow her down for long (from what it looks like to me from the pictures). I look forward to seeing her recovered the next time I can get over there.


        Establishment of the Pryor Mountains Wild Horse Range did not end debate over the legal status of the horse herd, how they should be protected, or how many horses should be permitted to live on the range.

        In October 1968, the Interior department established an Advisory Committee to report on the state of the herd, the status of forage on the range, and whether feral horses should continue to be kept on the range. The panel met a month later, and commissioned studies on whether branded runaway horses should be allowed to mix with the herd, whether BLM should build artificial watering holes to encourage the animals to range more widely, whether BLM should manage the herd’s bloodlines by introducing stallions to the herds, and how many horses should live on the range.

        At its February 1969 meeting, the committee proved sharply divided over horse management issues. Studies of the range proved highly inadequate. BLM presented a study to the committee which attempted to show that horses were grazing the land so heavily that extensive erosion was taking place, but a private study found that that the erosion was due to topography and drought and not because of the horses.

        Another study, conducted by a group which promoted hunting on the range, found that the horses were having a negative impact on edible plants in the Pryor Mountains and were having a detrimental impact on deer fawn survival. But the committee discovered that this study hadn’t even been conducted in the Pryor Mountains but at another location.Another BLM study concluded that the Pryor Mountains horses had changed from grazers to browsers and were consuming large mountain mahogany shrub, a critical deer food source. But an Advisory Committee analysis showed that the plants documented in the study were small mountain mahogany shrub variety, not the large mahogany shrub BLM claimed, and that the vegetation was in good shape, not deteriorated as the BLM claimed.


        The Advisory Committee did, however, recommend that the herd levels be reduced to no more than 100 horses; that branded, deformed, old, and sick animals be culled from the herd; that BLM should create new watering holes to encourage the herd to forage more widely; that the range be fenced; and that roads be constructed in the range’s interior to improve access for tourists. In 1970, BLM built a 20,000-US-gallon (76,000 l) catch-basin to help supply horses on the range with water.

      • I see different ways this can be used by different groups. It does mention the management should be for the horses, which can be used by the wild horse advocates. At the same time, in the next paragraph it says that the herd should be managed for 100 animals, which means the BLM or others could argue that another 1/3 of the herd should be removed.

        The other factor that muddles all of this up is that the range covers different agencies instead of being its own entity. BLM usually manages the HMA’s, and all of this seems directed toward BLM. At Pryor, though, the Dryhead and about a third of the range lies outside of BLM “control” and is national recreation area. Hopefully they work together, but I bet it can make decisions, court cases and management visions very messy.

        I definitely think the dryhead mares should have been left alone after they finished on the top. The impression (personal feeling) I got was that the continued removal was more from the BHNRA desires, and that it wasn’t anti-horse but was also based on multiple use and not “horse first” as the committee recommended. Reading it, it also says the committee’s unanimous “opinion”, so I wonder how much power the committee actually had, and if its findings were just suggestions, or if they were a binding directive.

      • Thanks Shawn. I know the number of horses has been raised, I was just wondering if that “management solely for the horses” had been changed. Thanks for your input, I value your opinion and your way of looking at the whole picture.

      • Thank you Shawn! You bring up many good points and I have to agree with you about the management within confined areas and also that the BHCNRA has to manage for multiple species, which is probably a difficult thing to do. I have to say that my “heart” says that Mother Nature would do a good job in managing, but the more realistic side of me knows and understands that since the horses are confined, that GOOD management has to be done. However, I do have a problem with the fact that this land was designated a “wild horse range”. It was given to them and they should be able to live on it wild and free. All other species should be considered second to them. Sandy, I do know that the range is being managed for multiple use and I believe that is the last word in the management of the PMWHR. This includes not only other wildlife, but species of vegetation too. We can at least be thankful that over the years the HMAP has changed so that the numbers of horses being managed is higher. I do hope that in the near future those numbers will be raised again, because I believe the range can support more horses. I also believe that some of the factors effecting the management decision making have to do with the natural conditions of the range and not overgrazing. Such as drought and also the opposite, heavy snowfall and washouts in areas. Again, these horses have been surviving for many years and they know where to go in the summer and in the winter. They may not go where others think they should go, or where others want them to go, but they go where they know that there is forage. I may have to do a bit more research on all of this!Thank you Sandy for this information.

      • Thank you Shawn, I appreciate and respect your opinion. You have a great understanding of all aspects concerning the management of the PMWHR. It is a very complex and controversial issue, but in the end I do believe it should be about the horses, it is their range! You see deer, sheep and all kinds of other wildlife in many other areas in the Basin, the Big Horn Mountains, and beyond, but you only see the wild horses in the Pryor’s! I know you are very passionate about these horses also and it is always a pleasure to see and talk to you when you are over this way! How is your Pup, Malacai?

      • Malakai is doing great, and growing bigger. He enjoyed the snow we just got a lot. I was hoping to get over there next weekend and camp with him and Ahnya, but I am not sure if I will be able to because next week is “court warming” and I will probably have to be at the dance Saturday night. I will let you know the next time we make it over so we can stop and see you with Liesl and Kaibab.

      • Sorry I spelled his name wrong..Malakai!
        I look forward to seeing you Shawn. You can always e mail me and let me know when you are coming over..maybe I can meet you and we can go out to the range too, and visit with Liesl & Kaibab!

    • Yes, the horses AND people seem to want to use Bad Pass Highway at the same time. I’ve watched in fear as horses stood tail to head in the middle of the road, swatting flies, on the sharp corners, knowing there would be vehicles pulling boats, etc. emerging any minute. But, I’m also pretty sure that concern about accidents is not an important enough issue to affect the removal plan. That is just a more prevalent danger to the horses who range there like the danger of predation by mountain lions is more prevalent high on the mountain.

      Sarah, I’m not sure now where I read or heard it, but I was under the impression that Sam was first found with a broken leg and was euthanized. I don’t hink I imagined it. Maybe it was word of mouth on one of my visits to the Range. In my mind, there would be a question as to how the leg would have been broken, and horse versus vehicle would be one possible scenario since I don’t think it was a time when there would have been a lot of stallion fighting going on. I don’t suppose we’ll ever know for sure, like with the many horses who just disappear.

      That info from ’68 and ’69 is very interesting, Sandy. Thanks for posting it. It is my understanding from what I’ve read from various sources, that many of the people who worked hard and commissioned scientific studies to contradict the erroneous information being provided about the horses effects on the Range are the same ones who supported the Tillets in their early efforts to protect the herd and established the Pryor Mountain Mustang Association and later, the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center, some of whom are still fighting for the horses thru the Center. Seems like things haven’t changed all that much. Those people make fact-based recommendations (see info on the Center’s website about their communications with the BLM concerning recent gathers). Some of what they recommend happens, and some doesn’t. I am certainly glad the size of the herd has been increased from 100 horses!

      Shawn, you did a good job of outlining just how complex all this is, and we could add all the financial strings and red tape. One thing is for sure and that is that the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang herd is very fortunate to have been protected by those people who recognized their uniqueness and had the foresight to do all they have, even if it has not all turned out as in a fairy tale.

      • I’m sure you didn’t imagine it at all. Someone in charge at the time probably didn’t want it publicly advertised at the time that he was likely hit by a car. Why they might have wanted to “hide” it I guess we’ll never know. But it makes more sense that he was euthenized after having a broken leg. He was an older stallion, but he was in good shape at the time and still had a mare (Hightail) at the time. If so that means Hightail has escaped two close calls with cars. I’m sure she was close to Sam at the time and I know she was just off the road with Seneca when Admiral and Climbs High were hit. So tragic that these three lives were cut short. Since both times band stallions were the ones hit (Admiral took the first hit before Climbs High) I wonder if sensing some kind of “danger” approaching, especially since Admiral and CH were hit at night, these stallions quickly placed themselves between the oncoming threat and their family to protect them.

  • I’m glad you shared this Lori 🙂
    It may have been a hard decision to make, but I think it was a good one. People need to know the truth. I think expressing your opinion to the BLM and NPS was a good thing to do, especially if they were the ones making decisions. If I can see that, as a teenager, I don’t understand why they can’t see it as adults. Some of them aren’t as educated on the horses as your are, as far as ratios, bloodlines etc. goes. I know they were just going off a list, but the Dryhead stuff was a little too much.
    The whole time I was reading this I couldn’t help but think about something we saw this summer. Lori, remember when we saw the NPS’s top five attractions in the National Recreation Area, and the horses didn’t even make the list? They most definitely fit in the top five, I’d even put them in the top three. I’m not just saying that because of my personal feelings about the horses either. After being at the Center this summer and seeing people literally come from ALL over the world, it is not true to say that they don’t make the top five. If that list was put together by the NPS, and the decided not to include the horses, you can tell just from that how they feel about them.
    I guess for those people who are uneducated about the history and significance it’d be hard to understand why all these different things talked about above matter. Oh well, their loss. Glad to see so many people that care and want to make a difference for the benefit of the horses!

      • I agree Sandy, and it is refreshing just to know that there are young people out there, Brianna & Sarah, who are interested and involved with these horses, as well as other wild horse herds in the west. It gives me hope! Thank you Brianna, and YES, I do remember when we found the “top five” attractions and we were both “shocked” that the horses were not on that list. Maybe they will change that because I know for a fact, as you do, that people from all over the world come to see the horses. They don’t even know about the Canyon, or other “attractions”, they just come to see the WILD HORSES”!
        I so appreciate the opportunity that I had to work with you this past summer, and I am thankful for your dedication and support for the horses!
        You are, “wise beyond your years”! Thank you Brianna!

  • PS May I add to my comments that I have never found the people at the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area Visitor Center very enthusiastic about the horses, nor the BLM folks I spoke to when first inquiring about the Range. But, personnel I have encountered on the Range seem more so.

    Maybe the “big wigs” need to hear from you guys with some facts and figures about how many people really come to that area “because of the horses”. You can count me as one, for sure. 🙂

  • All good points Linda, and I have attended a few meetings at the visitor center for the BHCNRA to do just that…give some numbers on the people who come here JUST TO VIEW THE WILD HORSES! I do think that they are fully aware of those facts already. It has been told to me by some that the Park, and I don’t exactly have any names, do not hold the horses in as high regard as they could be. Maybe that will change in time, and they should make them at least one of the highest priority’s since I think the horses are the number one reason that visitors come to the area. I do know that YOU are one of them!

  • After reading all our comments it seems that the thing that is needed the most in the Pryor Range is better communication. While we are all well educated people who have done copious amounts of research on the Pryor range we can’t use that knowledge to brainstorm problems unless the organizations who manage the horses (BLM, NPS, or both) let us know what they view as problems. What I mean by that is we can tell those agencies our concerns all we want, but it won’t matter if they aren’t listening. This could be especially true if those agencies think that we aren’t listening or aware of their needs in terms of management. That isn’t to say that everyone agree, but at the very least they need to show respect. Of course, I know that everyone here is respectful; I’d also imagine that the local BLM / NPS know that too. However, when it’s considered that the BLM as a whole gets so much negative feedback for roundups the DC BLM may not fully understand that there is a certain level of respect made in the comments from people on this blog make. I guess the point that I am trying to make is that while all the points made in the comments of this blog are valid, it’s going to be hard to implement solutions without better communication from the agencies that manage the Pryor Range.

    • Thank you Linda…very interesting indeed! Let’s hope that the change is a good one and for the horses. I think he has some great ideas and I do love that he holds the wild horse herds in very high respect. I also liked that he mentioned “natural” management. I know it sure would save the people an enormous amount of money, save the wild horses from undue stress and save their lives. I am liking this guy more and more!!!

    • Thank you Linda. Yes, I have been following Grijalva for a while now. I do think he would be the right man for the job, but I just don’t want to get my hopes up and then be disappointed. I would think that Obama should be announcing who is going to fill this position soon. Positive thoughts!

  • I like to read your posts and see the pictures, and never comment. But hear it goes…wild horses are wildlife and deserve protection and proper care and management. Other countries and areas of the US, such as Assateague Island, have wild horses and have worked out a system to preserve the horses and habitats. I appreciate your care for them and your blog.

  • Lori, I met you last August during my first trip on the range. I’ve appreciate to ear your point of view about the BLM removing too many horses from Dry Head. And you were very clear about this. It was your poind of view, not the Center’s. When we went at Britton Spring, the BLM guys were very friendly with you and I’m surprised that they end up complaining about you. I just would like to get back to Liesl’s wound. On the BLM web page, I found some informations about the kind of facilities you need when you adopt a wild horse :”Barbed wire and large mess woven, stranded, and electric material are unacceptable for fencing.” English is not my mother tongue but it’s clear for me : Liesl was not supposed to be in the field. I just hope she will recover quickly.

    • Thank you Cedirc! I enjoyed meeting you this past summer.
      Liesl & Kaibab were, and are in a corral which is constructed with the required panels and wood. They have a shelter which is made out of wood. The whole set up meet’s BLM’s required standards and specifications for adopting a horse.
      As I said, they were let out into the field, which is barbed wire, by others, not me.
      Actually the BLM says that you can let them out into a “pasture” when you feel that they can be caught or are “gentled”.
      “PERSONALLY” I wanted to wait until spring in hopes that they both would have been halter broke and that we could lead them around the field.
      That did not happen, and letting them out into the field was not my decision to make.
      Liesl is doing just fine and healing real good. Thank God!
      The Center has plans to construct a wood fence which will be more safe, especially for Liesl!
      She is a tough one, and I am sure that on the range she had many cuts & bruises from running into things. That was apparent when she first came to Britton Springs.
      Thank you for your concern of her.

  • Sarah, there are a couple of things I just have to say here. On the issue of Sam’s death, I don’t recall getting any feeling that anyone was trying to “hide” anything. I had heard that he was found with a broken leg, from an unknown cause, and was put down. Thinking it was possibly vehicle-related was just an idea that came to MY mind, along with all the other possibilities, like getting stuck in rocks while running over rough terrain. When the horses are frolicking, or fighting, they do some very risky things in that rough terrain so there are a lot of possibilities. With reading comments on a number of websites, from a number of sources, stories can get very off-track. In my opinion, whoever I heard the comments from about Sam having a broken leg and being put down could have been mistaken and it could be just as likely that he was found dead of unknown causes, if that was what was posted by Matt. I personally don’t remember that post, but I have missed some posts, and some I just don’t remember. And I wasn’t there when it happened—so I don’t know beyond a doubt.

    Also, I agree with you on many, many of the things you’ve said in your comments, but I have to say I do not agree with (my impression of) your statement that the PMWMC people have denied having a relationship with the BLM on the management of the horses and the Range. I have always been aware that the two entities share information and work together on the issues involving the horses. I can’t give you the exact sources of all the information that has led me to have that impression, because they are many and I’m not good at remembering those kinds of details, but it came from websites, pamphlets and conversations with the people involved. And I know, too, that things have not always turned out the way the PMWMC staff has wanted, but just think how things might be if they weren’t there, in the early days, and now. The bottom line is that the BLM is ultimately the guardians of the public land the Range is on, and the PMWMC has to work WITH them. I am among those who would like to be able to dictate to the BLM that they should do things the way I THINK IS RIGHT, but I have to concede that they, and the Center staff, are the ones who actually have to do it and they, collectively and individually, DO have much, much more knowledge than I, even if they end up making some mistakes. Or at least what I see as mistakes.

    I think one is standing on a very slippery slope when they make judgements about how others feel, or have felt about things, unless that person actually says that they are being “censored” or “pressured”, or whatever. (Case in point, Lori G). But just because it’s the way we might feel doesn’t make it so for others who see things from another point of view and with their own personal knowledge. I miss seeing input from Matt on the blog, and I don’t agree with every move he makes, but I would hesitate to assume what he has been thinking or feeling.

    But, I realize, all this is just me—one person, one opinion 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Good input Linda, and yes the PMWMC is and has been working WITH the BLM concerning the management of this herd. I am not aware that they ever denied this relationship either. Without this relationship who knows what would be happening now. The PMWMC has given great “comments” regarding gathers, and herd information and have had
    a great impact on the decisions that the BLM have made in the past. I for one respect Matt very much and have seen how his input has made a difference for the better of this herd. You are right about some things that did not turn out the way that the Center would have liked, and in the end as you say the BLM are the ones who are responsible for the management of this herd, and they make the final decisions based on comments from many educated people.
    I also miss seeing Matt’s blog and hope that he will continue with it. I know that his job takes up the majority of his time and also that he has to have a life, but still would love to see him continue with the blog.

    • I agree with you Lori. I also miss Matt’s blog. It was so great to hear his report. I have been getting some emails asking “Why can’t everyone work together for the horses?” I have tried really hard in the past to ask and work on that question. I don’t understand why we can not be on the same team. That is still my hope someday. I keep thinking that is what Rev.Schweiger had in mind. But right now I will just keeping doing what I have been doing and try to stay in good communication with the Center and especially Jared.

  • Exactly my thoughts Sandy! I just want to say that my intention for letting people know the main reason why I decided to leave the Center was not by any means to hurt anyone. I only want people to know that I did not “abandon” the horses or the cause just because I did not have any time of my own. I simply was not the right person for the job, and I would much rather be able to voice MY OWN OPINION without any repercussions on any one organization.
    I also do believe that Rev. Schweiger would have wanted everyone involved with these horses to work together for the good of their survival.

  • I know that the center works with the BLM in that they work to provide the BLM with the best information possible and to find the best plan of action with the least negative impact on the herd. But they have stated that they don’t work for them or with them in that the BLM doesn’t have control or influence over their actions. And that they don’t have say or influence over the center’s position, statments, employees, etc. I think that’s how it should be, but in my opinion I haven’t always felt that that is the case. I too wish Matt was still able to keep up the blog. I frequently check back to see if he has posted anything recent.

  • Well Sarah, obviously that was not the case with me. Although I was told that they all would like to forget that “letter”, I could not forget it because it degraded my character. In this case it would have strained the relationship between the Center and the BLM. It all is for the best as far as I am concerned, and now I am free to voice my own opinion.

  • Never trust the government to do what is “right” for the horses. These feds come and go. Just more liberals passing through, nursing the government teat. All fearing for their jobs should they be just a little politically incorrect. Most are just bobble head feds looking for their retirement checks by doing what is expected of them by Big Brother whether it is right or wrong.

    You don’t have any reins holding you back, now. Watch them like a hawk and keep them honest. Give them no slack; no mercy. Show them what “combative behavior” is all about.

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