The ~Texas~ Mustang Project's Blog

Working for better management options and cohabitation through compromise and communication for the American Wild Mustang

You Be the Judge, 4th Edition, January 11, 2010 – Calico Gather…

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on January 11, 2010

You Be the Judge™
4th Edition
January 11, 2010
By: Tracie Lynn Thompson


 Last Thursday evening, Jan. 07, 2010 I spoke with Gene Seidlitz, District Manager for the BLM Winnemucca District Office. I asked him several questions about the current Calico Gather Operations, but specifically I asked about the reports regarding the 20 year old mare who was euthanized at the Black Rock East trap site. Gather officials and the onsite vet stated the decision for euthanization of the mare were related to her poor body condition, (Body Condition Score of 2.4) and her unlikely ability to survive either the transportation to Short Term Holding or returning to the wild.

Even more disturbing were the reports that this mare’s euthanization orphaned a not-yet-weaned foal. The alleged foal has been reported to have been taken to the Fallon Facility after his dam’s euthanization by other blogs and news articles. It has been said that he had “recovered well”, being placed in a pen with other mare / foal pairs and had bonded “with one of the mares, standing near her for the comfort and security his mom would have provided”. Further accounting states that “the BLM reported that it had separated this foal from the mare/foal pairs.” The foal was then “housed by himself in an adjacent pen”.

There are even further statements that “rescue groups were standing by and would easily have taken this older mare and her foal”, thus making her euthanization and the foal’s subsequent separation unnecessary. According to onsite observers and personnel, Mr. John Neill is with this foal, and gives the following update as of Jan. 07, 2010 through Mr. Willis Lamm as posted on The Cloud Foundation’s Blog page:

Willis, just a quick update on the orphan: He has been gaining strength each day. We did relocate him to an adjacent holding pen next to the pairs in order to provide him more nutrition than he would consume through oat hay. He presently has both oat hay and alfalfa along with BLM formulated pellets for foals. Dr. Sanford and I continue to monitor the health of the animals each day.

Mr. Willis Lamm and wife and Sharon Lamm of California are the founders of Least Resistance Training Concepts. LRTC is a non-profit corporation for the purpose of researching and sharing humane and effective techniques for gentling and training horses, mules and donkeys.. Mr. John Neill is the Manager of the Palomino Valley Holding Facility, and soon to be the manager of the new Fallon Facility.

There have been so many reports from so many sources, and yes, this can be looked at as “just one more report” but it is a report, nonetheless, from the site.

According to Mr. Seidlitz, the 20 year old mare who was euthanized on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009 (1) did not have a colt at her side, (2) was not currently nursing a colt, and (3) did not appear to have even had a colt this year. The mare’s milk bag was not swollen, was not partially swollen, and did not appear to have been “currently in use” so to speak. Mr. Seidlitz also states that to his knowledge, there have been no orphaned foals as a result of this gather. The ones who are still at their dam’s sides nursing are kept with them per BLM protocol, but even of these he has only counted a few thus far.

Dr. Al Kane, APHIS Veterinarian on site, emailed to say that there was another mare who had to be euthanized in the late evening Thursday, Jan. 07, 2010. Dr. Kane stated that the mare was about 30 years old, was red in color, “severely worn, broken incisors and molars, and was put down based on poor body conditions and poor chance of improving from said poor condition. Molars on each side were worn to the gum line. The mare likely would not have made the trip to Short Term Holding, and to have released her back to the wild would have been inhumane due to her lack of ability to consume forage adequately.”

Comments have been made by several among the Wild Horse Advocate world regarding the issue of “floating the teeth” or “mouthing the horses”. The questions and comments basically all come down to this: “If the both the mares’ teeth were in bad shape, why didn’t the vet just float them and return them to the wild?”

 Equine Dental Care, Dr. Patricia A. Evans, Assistant Professor and Extension Equine Specialist, Utah State University
Why do domesticated horses need dental care when the wild horses live without it?
While wild herds live in a more natural environment grazing coarse grasses and shrubs, they also would benefit from dental care. All animals with hypsodont teeth develop points, hooks and irregular wear problems. Today domesticated horses live much longer and healthier lives due to veterinary care. Domesticated horses may require additional dental care due to the types of feed eaten and the height at which fed. For example, domesticated horses need more attention to overgrowth of their incisors where wild horses tend to wear these down. In natural grazing environments, horses will eat with their heads below shoulder level while in many stables horses are fed at higher levels. Due to this unnatural height, hooks can develop on the upper first molar as the lower jaw is shifted back, although hooks develop for other reasons as well. 

 According to Mr. Seidlitz, the BLM does not perform any type of “regular” teeth floating. Depending on the horse’s body condition and overall health when they are examined in the chutes, the BLM may do some teeth floating if the horse has a good chance of recovering on their own.

I was concerned about Capture Myopathy in the horses being gathered, especially with the temperatures falling so low and the amount of moisture in the air. I asked Mr. Seidlitz how far they were running the horses. He replied that on the day he was present it was“maybe a mile to a mile and a half, at maybe 20mph, and they are actually brought in very ‘gently’ and it’s very ‘docile’”. He went on to say, “I have been pleased with the contractor because the pilot is really going as easy as possible on the horses.”

Capture Myopathy is a devastating condition involving the muscle groups of a wild animal during and following capture. Myopathy is defined as a condition of the musculoskeletal system characterized by muscle wasting, weakness, and histologic changes. As well, diseases that produce primary damage to the skeletal muscle fiber, excluding those of inflammatory origin and those secondary to neural lesions, are considered myopathies.

Capture Myopathy is defined as an acute myopathy occurring most frequently in wild animals after a long chase or with a lot of struggling. The course is short and the death rate high. Affected animals are recumbent, dyspneic, hyperthermic and show muscle tremor. It is basically an exertional myopathy. Myopathies can affect any and/or all of the muscles in the body depending on the type and severity of the myopathy.

Exertional Myopathy is just what it sounds like: when a horse is exercised too much, he becomes exerted. If he is exerted too much, he can no longer have normal muscle contractions. The most common cause of sporadic tying-up (exertional myopathy) is exercise that exceeds the horse’s underlying state of training. The incidence of muscle stiffness also has increased during an outbreak of respiratory disease. Deficiencies of electrolytes, vitamins and nutrients such as sodium, calcium, vitamin E, or selenium in the diet may also be contributory factors. (This form of Capture Myopathy can best be likened to the ailment that “Brumby” suffered during the Sept. 2009 Pryor Mountain HMA Gather.)

On the whole, from his perspective, Mr. Seidlitz gave a brief but thorough accounting of the events pertaining to the euthanized mares and the conditions of the horses being gathered. He left the conversation with assurances that he would double check all of the information, and that should there be any differences from those in this article, he would transmit those corrections post haste.

 As for this author, I am going to step a little bit outside of my own rules in this Edition, but just a little.

 I am very worried about the horses involved in this gather, as I am worried about all of our Wild Horses and Burros. The temperatures are not conducive for healthy exertion. Anytime you mix perspiration with cold temperatures, you have a clear recipe for respiratory and/or musculoskeletal disaster, among other illness and injury. Given this mixture’s addition to an already “poor condition of horses from a poor range”, my concerns run even deeper. I will stay on top of this situation as best I can, and I will post any findings as promptly as possible.

 As always… Stay safe, and never give up!

 Tracie Lynn Thompson

© 2010 Tracie Lynn Thompson. All rights reserved.

 The following are links to educational sites if you would like to learn more about these conditions:

 How Stuff Works: How Muscles Work; by Craig Freudenrich, Ph. D.

 The Merck Veterinary Manual: Myopathies & Myositides

Recumbent: lying on one’s side.

Dyspneic: short of breath; having a hard time breathing.

Hyperthermic: body temperature above normal.


4 Responses to “You Be the Judge, 4th Edition, January 11, 2010 – Calico Gather…”

  1. gene seidlitz said


    We were back in operations yesterday with 99 wild horse gathered on 01/12/10

  2. […] To view the 4th Edition of You Be the Judge:… […]

  3. […] round-up in the Calico Complex), spoke with the author of a blog called The Mustang Project, and had this to say about “the 20-year-old mare” that was killed at the round-up site in the first days of the round-up: According to Mr. Seidlitz, the 20 year […]

  4. Well, as far as I’m concerned, the entire situation is totally unacceptable. The land belongs to the public, and the horses belong to the public. Not to mention the fact that the BLM is being PAID by the public.

    Under the circumstances I think we deserve a complete and accurate accounting of what is happening to our horses taken off of our land by the people we are paying to “protect” (!) them.

    God help our horses.

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