Thursday, March 26, 2009

On being a Mustang..

"Handsome" means many things to many folks. If people consider me handsome, I feel quite flattered - and have my parents to thank for it. Realistically, it doesn't hurt to be good-looking, especially in this business."

-- Augustus Clayton on being a handsome, iconic symbol of the American West.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"The Mustang Brand"

The following text is a repost, and includes a few excerpts from the American Herds blog, dated Wednesday, March 25, 2009.

In December 2008, The Horse Industry Policy, a resolution submitted by Rep. Wallis to the states National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) was passed after a vote session from the members of state legislators from all 50 U.S. states. The main focus of the resolution is to urge Congress not to pass federal legislation that would prohibit horse slaughter in the U.S. or interfere in the transport or export of horses to slaughter.

Prior to submitting her resolution of the Horse Industry Policy to the NCSL, Rep. Wallis first enlisted the aid of pro-slaughter state horse councils by asking them to provide letters showing their support for the return of horse slaughter in the U.S. These were then presented to the NCSL to substantiate the position that horse slaughter has broad based support in equine communities nationwide.

While Wallis's plan for America's wild horses and burros is not revealed in the resolutions of The Horse Industry Policy, the first hint of what her intentions are behind the scenes begins to unfold with Wallis thanking the man she claimed was "instrumental" in getting the resolution passed, Conrad Burns.

Burns, a lobbyist who promotes the horse slaughter industry, is a former U.S. Senator from Montana responsible for sneaking an 11th hour amendment into the 2004 Agriculture Appropriations bill without review or a vote by either the people or Congress that was quickly signed into law by President Bush. The Burns Rider, as it became known, gutted almost forty years of wild horse and burro protections and now mandated their “unconditional sale until all excess horses had been disposed of”, including authorizing their sale for slaughter.

Hidden behind Wallis's Horse Industry Policy to slaughter America’s domestic horses is also several documents extolling the virtues of using the backlog of excess mustangs and burros in long-term holding to fed the worlds poor and hungry.

Wallis pitches mustang meat patties in #9 of her talking points: “Remind them that 10 million people starve to death every year in this world…maybe our excess BLM wild horses could be put to much better use by providing high quality, nutritious animal protein, untainted by BSE-type disease concerns of other livestock to people who could never afford to buy it. Once again, Americans can use an abundant and sustainable resource to come to the aid of the poor and starving of the world.”

Wallis’s Open Letter To Congress and State Legislators

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Augustus and Iceman

We have a new arrival at Shiloh...a 3 year old Mustang stallion named Iceman. It is really neat having Iceman at the ranch, especially since I have known him for quite some time from out in the wild. Iceman was a part of the Spring Mountain Herd Management Complex (Red Rock, Johnnie, & Wheeler Pass) and spent his last days on the range with two other Palomino stallions, and covered an area ranging from Wilson Pass to the town of Goodsprings, Nevada. Iceman was recently gathered on February 10, 2009 due to an unfortunate nuisance situation on the outskirts of Goodsprings. I contacted the BLM and arranged for him to come to Shiloh. Iceman arrived on Sunday afternoon, safe and sound, and hopefully will enjoy his new life out at Shiloh.

I brought Augustus over to meet him Sunday afternoon, and they seemed to really hit it off. Like I stated earlier, Iceman is still a stallion, so I really didn't know what the first reaction would be. They just sniffed and talked for a bit, it was actually quite uneventful. Iceman's wild band was small, and all male, so that may be why there was no stud-like behavior right at first. I think Augustus was telling him that he didn't need to be scared and that he was in good hands. I also think that Gus said something like, "If you don't fight and let Eric halter you on the first try, then you can be that much closer to having fun with me in the turn-outs and we can run around all day and play Mustang." Who knows, maybe Gus and Iceman will become the best of friends. The Mustangs gotta stick together! :)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Augustus + Wishes = Forever

Its been nice out at the ranch, but also kinda sad at the same time. My friend, Jenny, will be moving her two horses, Wishes and Colbert, into town so that she can be closer to them and see them more often. This is great for them, but sad for us, especially since Gus and Wishes have been "an item" for quite some time. I have pictures of them together as far back as early January 2008. Jenny has become a great friend to Gus and I, and hopefully as our horses become older, we can meet up from time to time for a nice trail ride somewhere. Wishes has played such an important role in Gus' life, especially since as a young Mustang, he was taken away from his family and thrown into a strange environment far away from home and needed his herd. Wishes is definitely family, and she will be greatly missed. I wanted to share some of my favorite pictures of Augustus and Wishes, dating back from January 2008 to the present.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

BLM Official Response to Madeline Pickens‏

Copied from the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program website...

Contact: Tom Gorey, 202-452-5137

BLM Statement regarding Madeleine Pickens' Wild Horse Sanctuary Proposal
The Bureau of Land Management is grateful to Madeleine Pickens for her interest in helping the BLM deal with the challenges of managing wild horses and burros, both on and off Western public rangelands. The BLM is committed to continuing its discussions with Mrs. Pickens to address these challenges, which include the effective management of wild horses and burros and the protection of taxpayer dollars expended through the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program.
Last November, Mrs. Pickens offered to take over the care of thousands of wild horses that the BLM holds in facilities across the United States by setting up a private foundation that would care for the animals at no cost to the government, potentially saving American taxpayers millions of dollars.

Mrs. Pickens’ more recent proposal seeks a BLM stipend of $500 per horse, per year for the life of each horse. Under this plan, Mrs. Pickens' foundation would first take about 10,000 wild horses currently in BLM short-term holding facilities (corrals), the costs of which are significantly greater to the BLM than those of keeping horses in long-term holding (pastures).
To realize these potential savings to the BLM, however, Mrs. Pickens’ sanctuary plan would need to meet certain requirements for wild horse management.

First, Mrs. Pickens’ plan to care for these animals at $500 per horse, per year is similar to the long-term holding contracts that the BLM currently has with private landowners in the Midwest, where about 22,000 unadopted or unsold animals are cared for at an annual cost of about $475 per horse. The animals graze on private pastures in Oklahoma, Kansas, and South Dakota, where forage and water are abundant. In contrast to these annual contracts, Mrs. Pickens has asked the BLM to commit to lifetime payments. Because Congress appropriates the agency’s funding on an annual basis, the BLM is not authorized to make such an unlimited commitment.
Second, Mrs. Pickens’ plan proposes to take the animals from private pastures and facilities and instead graze them on private and public lands on a large ranch in Nevada. However, current Federal law prohibits the BLM from using allotments associated with that ranch for grazing wild horses. The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act restricts animals to the areas where they were found roaming when the Act was passed in 1971. Unfortunately, none of the BLM grazing allotments that Mrs. Pickens proposes for her sanctuary were areas where wild horses roamed in 1971.

Congress would have to amend the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act to address this aspect of Mrs. Pickens' proposal.
As an alternative, the BLM has offered to advertise a holding contract on private land and welcomes a bid from Mrs. Pickens’ foundation. Open bidding on such a contract would ensure that taxpayers get the maximum benefit from their investment.

The BLM is committed to working with Congress, stakeholders, and the public to ensure the welfare of wild horses and burros, both on and off public rangelands, while also protecting these Western lands from the destructive effects of herd overpopulation.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Monthly Review of the National Wild Horse and Burro Program

Hello all -
I was checking out the National Wild Horse and Burro Program website and stumbled across these statistics and thought you might find them interesting. The link below will take you straight to the page where you can view the following statistics:

Adoption Statistics - FY 2009
Herd Management Area (HMA) Gather Statistics - FY 2009
Holding Facility Statistics


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

It's a beautiful country..

Sunset over the Mesquite Mountains, just west of Sandy Valley.

"It's a beautiful country, a man could get lost out here." - Robert Duvall

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Wild horse refuge flawed?

Federal agency says Madeleine Pickens idea for wild horse refuge flawed as proposed

By SANDRA CHEREB Associated Press Writer
4:55 PM CST, March 2, 2009

RENO, Nev. (AP) — An offer from the wife of Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens to establish a sanctuary for 30,000 wild horses is "problematic" and not viable as proposed, a federal land management official said Monday.

Nonetheless, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is willing to continue talks with Madeleine Pickens, said Ron Wenker, the agency's state director for Nevada.

"We tried to thank her politely" and leave the door open, he told the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board.

Pickens last fall proposed establishing a wild horse sanctuary after the BLM said it was considering euthanasia as a way to stem escalating costs of keeping animals gathered from the open range in long-term holding facilities.

She said she was looking for about 1 million acres, or 1,500 square miles, to establish the refuge.

About 33,000 wild horses roam in 10 Western states, about half in Nevada. The horses and burros are managed by the BLM and protected under a 1971 law enacted by Congress.

The agency, which set a target "appropriate management level" of 27,000 horses in the wild to protect the herd, the range and other foraging animals, rounds up excess horses and offers them for adoption. Those that are too old or considered unadoptable are sent to long-term holding facilities, where they can live for decades.

There are now about as many animals in long-term care as remain in the wild.

Wenker, who recently served two months as acting national BLM director, said there are two problems with Pickens' offer.

One is the $500 per head, per year — or $15 million annually for 30,000 horses — she was asking to take the animals now in long-term holding facilities off the government's hands.

Pickens last week told The Associated Press the stipend would used to finance a nonprofit foundation that would care for the animals.

"You've got to get some kind of break from the government," she said. "We need help from them." She estimated her plan would save the government as much as $700 million in costs otherwise spent for long-term holding by 2020.

BLM officials project holding costs in 2009 at $10.3 million for horses in long-term care and $22.6 million for those in short-term facilities, where they are readied and made available for adoption.

The government pays ranchers about $475 per animal, per year, to provide long-term care for federally owned horses on private land. Most of those facilities are in the Midwest, where natural forage is more plentiful than in the arid West.

Pickens could apply for a similar contract, Wenker said, if her sanctuary was confined to private property.

The other problem with Pickens' proposal, Wenker said, involves use of public lands.

He said government land Pickens has considered for the sanctuary is ineligible because federal law restricts horses to areas where they existed when the Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act was enacted nearly four decades ago.

"Because the BLM grazing allotments under consideration by your foundation did not have wild horse herds in 1971, wild horses cannot now be placed there," Wenker wrote to Pickens in a Feb. 20 letter obtained by the AP.

"At this point, two options seem most plausible," Wenker wrote. "The BLM could contract with your foundation to care for wild horses strictly on private land. Alternatively, your foundation could own and care for the horses without compensation from the BLM, as you first proposed."

The BLM has said it would not implement killing healthy wild horses this fiscal year that ends Sept. 30 while it seeks other alternatives to controlling populations.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Hearing on H.R. 1018, the ROAM Act

I was checking out the latest updates on Madeline Pickens and her proposals and was able to read her complete testimony that was stated before the United States House of Representatives Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Committee on Natural Resources on Tuesday, March 3. The complete testimony is posted below.

Hearing on H.R. 1018, the ROAM Act
Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify on behalf of H.R. 1018 and wild horses, an issue very near and dear to my heart.

My name is Madeleine Pickens, and I am a lifelong equestrian and animal lover. My husband, T. Boone Pickens, and I keep horses on our ranch in Texas, and I have had the good fortune and privilege to have bred and raced multiple champion race horses, including the famed Cigar, over the years. I am also keenly interested in wild horses and burros, and therefore am grateful for the opportunity to testify before the committee today on H.R. 1018, the Restoring Our American Mustangs (ROAM) Act, and to share some of my wild horse proposal with the. I commend Chairman Nick Rahall and Subcommittee Chairman Raul Grijalva for their willingness to lead on this issue. I know you are both true wild horse champions.

I want to share with the Committee details of a project I have been pursuing for several months now that could significantly assist the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) policies and practices when it comes to America’s wild horses and burros and which should be considered as the Committee reviews H.R. 1018.
For some time now I have been in discussions with the BLM regarding the establishment of a private sanctuary for wild horses. This will be the same program I would like to expand on for burros as we move forward, for they too deserve protection. The wild horse sanctuary would receive and care for some 30,000 wild horses currently in short‐ and long‐term holding facilities, thereby saving the BLM, and the American taxpayer, approximately $700 million by 2020. At a time when the country is facing growing economic difficulties and the federal budget is increasing dramatically, a proposal to save hundreds of millions of dollars while ensuring the survival of a national treasure should be a welcome opportunity. It is time to think big about how we can improve the Wild Horse and Burro Program, both operationally and legislatively.

I first became interested in the plight of wild horses and burros when working with others to end the slaughter of American horses, a campaign I know both Chairman Grijalva and Chairman Rahall strongly support. These are magnificent creatures, a true American icon, and they should be treasured and preserved. The more I learned of their management by BLM, however, the more despondent and frustrated I became. It makes no sense, either from a fiscal or humane perspective, to manage a program to the point where more horses are in holding than are on the range, and where the proportion of animals in captivity to those in the wild will only increase as the years go on. It doesn’t make sense for the horses, and it doesn’t make sense for everyday Americans who are footing the bill.

I have put forward a very serious proposal to the BLM to establish a 501(c)(3) eco‐sanctuary for all horses currently in holding facilities. I have been actively seeking appropriate land with sufficient forage, water sources, and more. The animals will be free‐roaming and able to form natural bands. While the primary objective of the project is to care for these wonderful creatures, we will also be stewards of the land.
In short, the opportunity we are presenting to the BLM should be used to improve their image and the public’s perception of the wild horse and burro program. I was not born in the United States, but from the time I was a little girl I dreamed of coming to this incredible country. I was filled with visions of the Wild West, where horses roamed free and individuals such as John Wayne exemplified an image of strong yet compassionate people. Probably no other image around the world symbolizes America like that of the wild horse. Over the past year I have been inundated with media inquiries about my proposal from the United States and all around the world– including documentaries, newspapers, radio, and television from Germany, France, Sweden, Australia, the Czech Republic, England, and Japan. They are captivated by and curious about the thought and imagery of America’s natural history. They don’t have such a wild and romantic past. While England may have the tales of Henry the VIII and his wives, and France may have had Napoleon and Josephine, we in America were blessed to have had Lewis and Clark, cowboys and Indians, the Pony Express and wild horses. These great individuals and the stories of the West are not mythical; they are real. They are the fabric that made up America. We need to respect our history and respect our God‐given heritage.

I also want to emphasize my utter support for language included in H.R. 1018 that would overturn the Burns Rider, thereby restoring protections included in the original 1971 Act that were designed to prevent the slaughter of America’s wild horses and burros. It is crucial that these protections be reinstated so as to ensure that our mustangs never have to endure the horrors of slaughter. No horse, wild or otherwise, should be brutally butchered for human consumption.

In closing, I want to thank Chairman Rahall and Chairman Grijalva for their leadership in seeing that America’s wild horses and burros are treated with dignity and respect. I also wish to thank the entire committee for the opportunity to share with you the proposal I am putting forward to assist with this situation. The sanctuary I am seeking to create will be good for America’s wild horses and burros, good for American taxpayers and good for the BLM. If this can be rolled out in tandem with some of the legislative fixes included in H.R. 1018, we will have an opportunity to effect real change and I look forward to working with you in this endeavor. While other countries have their history in books and museums, our history is a living museum. Let’s allow the American people to have the chance to enjoy and experience these reminders of our history which are alive and well today roaming the West. Let children from big cities have the opportunity to view the treasures right here in the United States, encourage our Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to come and experience nature and its inhabitants. Let everyone see and appreciate the foundation upon which our great nation was established, by ensuring wild horses are protected and enjoyed forever. Let share this with the world.