Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wyoming: It’s Wild Horses and the BLM

Straight from the Horse's Heart

Story by Lauryn Wachs of The Cloud Foundation

Protesting to Save Wyoming’s Wild Horses

Rock Springs, Wyoming, is not exactly what I would call ‘close’ to Colorado Springs. Nevertheless, our new intern, Erin Clifford from Michigan; and I hopped in the car and started up I-25 northbound, picking up our fellow wild horse advocate friend, Rachel Reeves, along the way.
When we finally pulled up the drive to the BLM office the first thing I noticed was my tax dollars at work: a shiny new building complete with landscaping and the works.

BLM Office in Rock Springs
Our little group of advocates joined together outside the building, which included our carload, a few other superb advocates from Northern Colorado, and two delightful women who came all the way from California! We totaled ten people, but our signs and presence were enough to frustrate the folks inside.

From left: Advocate extraordinaire Linda Hanick, Erin, and Lauryn

Part of the protest crew. Photo by Frances Miller
During the meeting itself we were surrounded by a lot of ranchers, most of who belonged to the Rock Springs Grazing Association – the largest grazing association in the country. Each of them gave a sentence or two on the plusses of helicopter roundups and how necessary they were, same ole, same ole. We had some great points brought up by each of the wild horse advocates who spoke. Trying to explain the issues we have with helicopter use during roundups in only three minutes is no small feat!
With everyone a little tense after the meeting, Rachel, who is quite familiar with the herds in the area, suggested journeying up the road to the White Mountain, one of the herds that is slated for a roundup and now is going to have only gelded stallions remaining post-roundup if the BLM has their way.

A White Mountain mare
The sun was slowly setting, but as it was the summer solstice and we were out on the range well after 9 watching the horses and enjoying  “magic hour” with them. It was Erin’s first wild horse experience, and you should have seen her face!

One band was urged on by their stallion

An older bachelor is forced onward by a bay roan stallion

Lauryn and Rachel
In the morning we woke up early to stop by the Rock Springs Corrals, the short-term holding facility in town. The only way to find it is to follow the sign that says “Wild Horse Viewing” which inspired a large eye roll from yours truly. We parked at the overlook to the corrals and were glad to see that at least the corrals were clean. It seemed they were in the middle of doing a lot of cleanup, probably in preparation for the White Mountain herd that we had seen just last night. It was a bitter reminder of the impending terrible summer that faces those horses and the ones in the Little Colorado herd just next door.

The Rock Springs Corrals
Instead of taking the normal interstate highway drive back to Colorado Springs, we diverted to visit Colorado’s largest herd in Sand Wash Basin just north of Maybell. To get there we drove through the Salt Wells herd area in Wyoming, but we saw no horses. This herd was devastated last year. Almost all the horses are now incarcerated at taxpayer expense.
We drove into the Sand Wash area as far as we could, given the short amount of time we had to spend there. We encountered some absolutely stunning bachelors and a large band that had a couple of foals. They are truly a striking herd based on what we saw.

This pinto bachelor was really beat up, but still going strong

An absolutely stunning trio of bachelors
It doesn’t matter how many wild horses you’ve seen or where you’ve seen them, they still leave you awestruck every time. It’s truly an addicting experience, and we were hard-pressed to leave Sand Wash. And it is a strong reminder of how important it is for us, the American public who these horses belong to, to stand up and give a voice to all our wild horses and burros. I know I’ll do my best to make sure the wild ones stay wild.
All the best,

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