Thursday, September 9, 2010

Out Of The sky

August 14th 2010
I had known this day was coming for months.  The roundup of
the Twin Peaks horses had been under way a few days before I
was able to go out.  I had thought about it a lot and tried to prepare
myself for what I would see and what the beloved horses that over
the years I had grown to love would have to endure.  I had no idea !!!

We met at the BLM head quarters at 6 a.m. and followed BLM law
enforcement officers out to the trap site in the Skedaddle Range.  I looked
at the vastness of this country where two months before we had ridden 47 miles
on back roads and only found five stallions.
We watched the first band out in the flats, not knowing what to do as
they ran around in circles, unsure of where to go.  My heart broke..all of the
work I had done preparing myself up for this, went right out the door.  I could not
hold back the tears, and I was not alone.   Never in my wildest dreams could I
have imagined the terror that the horses had to be feeling.

They looked tired and I hated what was happening to them...

The young foals struggling to keep up...Horses of all colors, they
were so beautiful...what would their future hold for them...

The helicopter speeds up and moves down closer to the horses, the
closer to the trap corral they get, the lower and faster the helicopter
pushes the horses.
Once over the little ridge, we cannot see the horses enter the trap.

The helicopter pushes them at a full run, so by the time they enter the
corrals, they must come to an abrupt stop,  realizing there is no where for
them to go..their freedom is forever gone.

After getting the herd in the trap, the helicopter went back out
and hovered in one place, and we didn't know why, and then we saw a
mare and foal, the mare not wanting to be separated from the
rest of her family, but not wanting to leave her baby behind..

Poor little guy, but what a devoted Mother...!!! 

Another group with two young foals in the back..

The lead horse is called a Judius horse, he is held out along the jute fencing,
and then when the wild horses get close enough, he is turned loose and runs
for the catch corral, the wild horses following him...
The end of their freedom, the end of their families...

In the catch corral, they stallions, mares and foals are separated, and
loaded into stock trailers and taken to a holding area.

August 15th

This day was only proved to be worse....

We could hear the helicopter for a long time and finally a several bands
of horses appeared on the horizen...

We never thought that the pilot would herd them down the face of the
mountain.  There were small foals, we were afraid that if one went
down, its chances of being trampled was very high....this was sad.
We held our breath and could not believe what we were seeing..

Once at the bottom, they didn't know what to do..some stopped and looked
wondering where to go, trying to get away from the helicopter

Confused and wondering which way to go.....
The choice was made for them as the helicopter came in behind them,
running them towards the catch pens.

At a full run now, he herds them into a draw  that will take them
down into a pens, and out of our sight...

Down into the draw and the catch pens..we can no longer see
what happens to them, we can only guess

Rush Creek
Aug. 17, 2010
Two things tell us that horses will soon be in.  When the "Judius" horse
is taken out,  This horse has been trained and when the wild horses get close
enough, it will be turned loose, leading the wild horses into the catch pens. The
other is the drone of the helicopter over the distant hills.  It is still out of sight.
but we know that soon it will be bringing in horses, taking away everything
they have ever known.  Their freedom, their country, and most of all
their families...

We see the first group coming in.  We have been watching this group
from across the valley, they have been running a long time, I would say
at least a half hour.

It doesn't get any easier watching this happen to the horses...
I hate this...
 I couldn't tell for sure, but on the gray horse in the front, it almost looked
like blood on the right front leg....How I wish this we could get close enough
to look at these horses after they are trapped.  BLM and the Cattoor's make
sure that we are kept at a distance for that very reason.

Cropped....and it still looks like blood on the front right leg
The helicopter swoops down and does his dirty little deed by running
them at full speed into the trap.

I have cropped the picture and the front leg on the gray horse looks like
it is bloody...
The Judius horse in the front with the halter on...leading the wild ones
into the trap....

BLM makes sure that we are far enough away so that if a horse gets hurt
we are not there to photograph it.  Their reason for our distance is so that
we do not scare the horses...
Its an excuse to keep us out of camera viewing.

Captured.... life for them forever changed...
Even if some are released  it will be without their family members.

As if they have already not been through enough, this young foal is
taken away from its will be reunited after it gets to the holding
pens...but for now..I am sure it is scared and unsure as to where its mom is.

Never been in pens or trailers before, these horses are prodded
and pushed into loading up. 

Once loaded, they will now be taken to the holding corrals.

The pictures tell the story....another family coming to and end

Pushed hard and fast into the catch pen...

Way in the back is a horse that is trying to keep up with its herd...
it struggled the entire time we could see it.
The horse still lags way hehind....

BLM says that we cannot get close as we might scare the horses or cause
imjuries to the workers or horses...but notice on the hill above the horses
are why are we not allowed to go there....we know the reason !!!

The horses come to a slamming stop as they enter the pens at a full run..!!

Aug. 21, 2010
Shinn Ranch Road

A lone horse is brought would think one horse, they would
let it stay out....not this bunch....!!

In the corral alone..I am sure he is wondering what is going on..
A big group was brought down on the south side of Observation Peak
and they headed  into the trees for protection.  For about a half hour the
helicopter worked to get them out.

Because of a fence line, the horses were herded up the far side to a
downed gate, and they brought back east to the catch pens.

There were several families in this group
This was a beautiful family...the young ones looking like Dad...

Herded out of sight and they brought back around to the catch a run, the helicopter close behind.

Off on the bank on the right, the Judius horse makes his appearance..
to lure the wild ones on into the trap...
They follow him, but the helicopter also drops down low and
pushes them faster.

After chasing this lone stallion into the catch pen, someone decided that
he should be turned out....good call ..

They opened the gate..he trotted out...never stopping and never looking
back..We watched him travel up the side of this mountain
and over the top....He was free....alone again..but free!!!

I will go out soon to see if I can find him...although I am sure
he has been left with a terrible fear of man

The next herd is brought down and they run across the flats towards us.
If we could only protect them....

The two in the back seem to be looking for a way to escape...

The front two run ahead as the two in the back veer off....

Only to be turned as the helicopter dives down at them..

They turn to follow the leaders..they have no choice...

And into the catch pens....its over for them....

The gates shut behind them....
The horses were separated..stallions in one trailer and mares in another
They would never be a family again..torn apart for ever.

This was very hard for me to watch and I could not stop the tears that
filled my eyes and rolled down my cheeks....the beautiful bucksin stallion that
only hours ago was the king of his family...looking at his home as he was trailered
out broke my still aches just looking at him.

The buckskin mare here, getting a last look at her home...
 Painters Flat.. 
BLM placed us so far away that we could
hardly see anything..

At the ebge of the far hill is where the trap pens are set up...we
are placed on this rock out not to "frighten the horses",
 as if we could scare them any more than the helicopter already had...
what a joke as far as I was concened..

Even with my zoom lens,  taking pictures was a waste of time...

This bunch brought down the hill had been chased a long time...they
were soaking wet with sweat, you could see their bodies glistening from
the sun.

Cropped you can see their glistening coats....

At this capture, a BLM official came up to us, and told us that
at the first roundup that morning, before we had arrived, they had run in
a herd of horses, and the stallion had run into the gate post at the catch pen,
and broke his neck.  He said that he was dead before he hit the ground..
BUT....he was 20 years if that was going to make it be wasn't.
I asked the man what the Stallion had looked like. My heart ached as he
described him...I had watched a beautiful paint Stallion for several years
in this area...he was always very alert, and as soon as he saw us, he would
take his herd and leave...but over the years, I had managed to get one
picture of him...and in my mind, as we were being told about his death..I could
see him standing on the bluff watching us with his herd...

I will always wonder if this was him....what a beauty he was...and what
a terrible waste of a beautiful creature...They would not let us go down
and look at him, so I will never know.

I took many pictures at the roundup, but they were so far away they
really are not worth putting up.... I thought it strange that BLM would take
a lady down to the catch pen that published Range Magazine, and a
reported from the New York Times, both making money off of the
pictures that they would take...but us..that were there totally because
we loved the horses, were not allowed to go down. 
 The last load taken out for the the day...leaving behind only memories
of the time in Painters Flat..what a sad day !!!!

Pilgrim Lake

Once again, we are placed clear acorss the other side of the Lake bed...

This young colt got separated from its mother and herd, and they
went out and roped him around the neck and brought him in.

This herd fought and fought to get away...

One inside the rute fencing, this Stallion tries to jump over it, getting
tangled in the fencing, he went down, and struggled to get up and get away

Finally getting  free of the fence, he makes his get away....I  still wonder if
he is  out there... I wish that I could see the markings on his face
so I could reconize him again if I saw him..
Another herd brought in....

We watched these brought in across the hill side...They looked so pretty.

Once again I took many pictures but it was just to far away
to get any really good ones. 


I will never forget these roundups.  I understand that there must be a way to
control the herd population, but this is not the answer.  To think that a large amount
of these horses are going to long term holding in the mid west, where they will live
in private holding areas for the remainer of their lives is sad.  That we, the ones that
love these horses,  will never be able to go and enjoy them, is not right.
My dream  is that someday....they will be able to remain free and wild...
that some how BLM will find a better way to manage these beautiful animals
so that the generations to come will be able to enjoy them....

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