Monday, June 30, 2008

Welcome to the Pasture

Well folks, today was a big day for Augustus and I. He has made the move from his stall to a nice pasture. The stall was very important in the begining, essential for training and the gentling process, but my boy is growing up fast. This is such an important step for Gus and I look forward to his continued happiness and health. Mustangs in the wild have extremely healthy feet and are constantly moving, allowing the hoof to flex naturally. The hoof is supposed to flex with every step and that simple act of flexing is just about the most important thing a horse can do for good health and long life.The flexing provides shock absorption for the joints, tendons and ligaments in the leg and shoulder and acts as a circulatory pump for hundreds of blood vessels in the hoof mechanism. It also helps the heart get that blood flowing back up the leg. Being in the pasture will enable Augustus to move at his own will and explore with his pasture mates...his "herd." He can eat all the free choice grass hay he wants and will still be able to enjoy his well water over on this side of the ranch. Hopefully, he'll manage to place pretty high in the herd's pecking order. :) His two bestfriends, Borrego and Cochise, are also moving to the pasture so they will not be separated.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Augustus and Friends

Over the last year, Augustus has made some really great friends and all have amazing stories. His two bestfriends are Borrego and Cochise, owned by another Shiloh boarder, Sharil Palaggi. Borrego found his way to Shiloh through Animal Control. His previous owners abused him badly, beating his penis until it was eventually not functional. While in rehabilitation, he underwent three surgeries, one to geld him and the other two on his penile prolapse finally resulting in the partial amputation of his penis. After healing successfully, he was adopted by Sharil and has since had a wonderful life. Cochise was also brought to Shiloh through Animal Control. He was found wandering around a neighborhood in Las Vegas and was never claimed (sometimes people will just let unwanted horses loose to fend for themselves) and eventually was adopted by Sharil. Augustus' girlfriend, Wishes, was saved from slaughter. Her mother was dumped at a feedlot when Wishes was an unborn foal. Shiloh was able to save her mother from the "killer buyers" and brought her back to Shiloh. The birth of Wishes was uneventful, but her mother rejected her and would not allow her to nurse. Every attempt Wishes would make, her mother would kick out and squeal. Shiloh made the tough decision to take the foal in to the vet clinic for badly needed Colustrum at hour 5. There is a 12 hour window for a foal to get the much needed Colostrum from its mother, but she was in danger of getting injured. At the vet clinic Wishes was tubed, given the Colostrum, and also given an enema to keep things moving along. When she returned to Shiloh, her mother still would not accept her and Wishes was bottle feed every 1.5 hrs by staff. Luckily, her mother eventually accepted her and began nursing her to health. Wishes was adopted by Jenny Kane, who also boards her at Shiloh.
Gus and Wishes

with Borrego

with Cochise

Augustus Clayton

A few pictures of just Gus..

Augustus and Eric (2)

And some more of my favorite pictures of Gus and I over the last year (June 2007 - June 2008)..

Augustus and Eric (1)

These are a few of my favorite pictures that have been taken over the last year of Augustus and I. (June 2007 - June 2008)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Shiloh Horse Rescue

( Founded in 2003, Shiloh Horse Rescue and Sanctuary is a Federally recognized non-profit that rescues abused, neglected, injured, and slaughter bound horses of all types. They attend slaughter auctions and rescue horses from the killer buyers, bring the horses back to the ranch for rehabilitation, and then adopt them out to new homes. Shiloh is run by a mother / daughter team, Jill Curtis and Sally VandenBerg. All of my boarding costs go back into the rescue to help the horses with all necessary feeds, medications, and supplies. Augustus has made himself quite at home with Shiloh. When he first went through those gates on June 24th, 2007 and into his new stall, he was completely wild. From the open range, to the holding facility, to the adoption, and now Shiloh, he had been through so many changes in such a short time and now faced another. But, all the daily happenings, sights, and sounds at the ranch proved wonderful for Augustus. He was exposed to boarders, visitors, volunteers, ranch dogs, tractors, and various other animals on a 24/7 basis. Within a few months, our bond was solid. We were leading all over the property, exploring each and every inch, and discovering all the arenas, pastures, and turnouts. He starting becoming more curious toward other people, making some friends to play with, and of course realized how tasty a carrot could be. So, in an effort to bring all of you folks up to date as soon as possible, Augustus has become quite a charming and intelligent young colt, and has opened the eyes of many to the Mustang breed along the way. Being at Shiloh has helped me in many ways too. I have become more aware of all the issues surrounding horse slaughter and livestock auctions, and have come to realize and see the extent of improper care and inhumane treatment horses of all ages are subjected to, both domestic and wild. Gus and I have made some great friends at Shiloh and are very thankful for the sense of family that has developed. The next few pictures were taken on Gus' first day at Shiloh.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Meet Augustus

Now that you have been educated on the continuing saga of the American Mustang, I would like to take a moment and introduce you to Augustus Clayton. Augustus was born around August '06 in the Stone Cabin HMA (NV618), which is located 28 miles east of Tonopah, Nevada, in Nye County. The area consists of 404,381 acres and encompasses an area 48 miles long and 23
miles wide at its widest point. The Stone Cabin HMA is known for a special herd of grey horses called the "Stone Cabin Greys", which is precisely what Gus is. He was captured in February '07 in the Saulsbury HMA (NV620) during the Stone Cabin Complex Gather'07. A gather is the term the BLM likes to use for "round-up". Once captured, he was taken to Palomino Valley Center (PVC), which is the National Wild Horse and Burro Center, located about 20 miles north of Sparks, Nevada. PVC is the Bureau of Land Management’s largest wild horse and burro adoption and preparation center, with a capacity to hold about 2,000 wild horses and burros and usually prep between 3,000 and 4,000 head per year. While at PVC, Gus was gelded, trimmed, wormed, and given his freezemark. The BLM uses freeze marking to identify captured wild horses and burros. Freeze marking is a permanent, unalterable and painless way to identify each horse as an individual. It is applied on the left side of the neck and utilizes the International Alpha Angle System which uses a series of angles and alpha-symbols that cannot be altered. The mark contains the Registering Organization (U.S. Government), year of birth, and registration number.

After Gus was fully prepared, he was scheduled to head down to Las Vegas, Nevada for a BLM Adoption at Horseman's Park on June 22nd -June 23rd, 2007. This particular adoption was on the larger scale, with over 60 horses and burros, and luckily all animals present were adopted out to new homes. It was at this adoption that I became the proud owner of young, grey gelding Mustang who we should all know by now is named Augustus. When I got him, he was approximately 10 months of age and completely wild. I was so excited but so nervous at the same time. I had been gentling two mares for a few months before the adoption, getting them ready for the event, and at the same time I was mentally preparing myself for the possibility of actually placing a bid. The following day, I met two of the Las Vegas Wild Horse and Burro Specialists and signed all the necessary paperwork. A few BLM wranglers were present and assisted me with haltering Gus and loaded him through the chutes and into the trailer. At that moment, I knew my life had changed and so had his. I had just rescued Augustus. He would no longer be a statistic at a government holding facility and he would not have to worry about being unsuccessfully adopted 3 times, becoming eligible for sale and potentially slaughter. I would be starting from ground zero, creating one of the most awesome bonds imaginable, hoping that the end result would be a well rounded, dependable horse. I also hoped to open the eyes of others, breaking the myths of Mustangs being untrainable and good for nothing, and in turn raising awareness for the wild horses and burros out there, maybe even saving a few more along the way. So with that being said, with the help of a BLM Specialist, Gus was trailered to his new home at the Shiloh Horse Rescue and Sanctuary in Sandy Valley, California....and so began our journey

Photo of Augustus while at PVC

The American Mustang

A Mustang is a free-roaming feral horse of the North American West that first descended from the horses brough to the Americas by the Spanish. In 1971, the United States Congress recognized Mustangs as "living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West, which continue to contribute to the diversity of life forms within the nation and enrich the lives of the American people." Today, the Mustang population is managed and protected by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Mustangs have disappeared from 6 states, and according to the BLM their population is fewer than 25,000, with more than half of them in Nevada, and with other significant populations in Montana and Oregon. By 1900, North America had an estimated two million free-roaming horses. Since 1900, the mustang population has been reduced drastically. Mustangs were viewed as a resource that could be captured and used or sold (especially for military use or slaughtered for food). The BLM is tasked with protecting, managing, and controlling wild horses and burros under the authority of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act, to ensure that healthy herds thrive on healthy rangelands and as multiple-use mission under the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act. Under the Act, shooting or poisoning Mustangs in the wild is illegal, and doing so can be prosecuted as a criminal felony. Mustangs have few natural predators aside from mountain lions, and their herd sizes can multiply rapidly. To counter this, one of the BLM’s key responsibilities under the 1971 law is to determine the “appropriate management level” (AML) of wild horses and burros in areas of public rangelands dedicated specifically for them. The Bureau of Land Management controls the mustang population to within the AML through a capture program. The BLM offers the captured animals for adoption or sale to individuals and groups willing and able to provide humane, long-term care. The adoption fees vary from $25 to $125. In order to prevent the later sale of mustangs as horse meat, adopted mustangs are still protected under the Act, and cannot be sold in the first year except when certain very specific criteria are met. A regular surplus of captured Mustangs over adoptions gave rise to a controverisal January 2005 amendment known as the "Burns rider", after Senator Conrad Burns. This rider modified the management program to allow the sale of captured horses that are "more than 10 years of age" or have been "offered unsuccessfully for adoption at least 3 times." Controversy surrounds the presence of Mustangs on rangeland. Supporters point out the Mustang is part of the natural heritage of the American West, whose history predates modern land use practices, and thus the Mustang has an inherent right of inhabitation. Various groups interested in the retention of the Mustang have formed an advocacy campaign, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign. Opponents of the Mustang contend that the Mustang competes with the needs of livestock for the resources of public land forage, notable cattle and sheep.
An aspect of the debate surrounds the role of the Mustang within the North American ecosystem, regarding its potential classification as either an introduced species like cattle, or as a reintroduced species due to the past presence of horses in North America, albeit with a gap of thousands of years.
There is also debate as to what degree Mustangs and cattle actually compete for forage and water, as the evolutionary biology of the Mustang makes it able to forage in areas and on vegetation that would not be grazed by livestock.