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

You Be the Judge, 10th Edition, February 18, 2010 – Q&A w/ John Neill, Mgr of the Fallon Facility…

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on February 18, 2010

You Be the Judge

10th Edition

February 18, 2010

By: Tracie Lynn Thompson

          On February 08, 2010 I spoke with Mr. John Neill, Manager at the now “infamous” Fallon Facility in Fallon, NV (AKA Indian Lakes Rd Facility or Broken Arrow USA) following the end of the 2009-2010 Calico Wild Horse Gather. Some of these answers you may have heard before, but I’d be willing to bet that you haven’t heard at least a few of ‘em from below. The topics I discussed with Mr. Neill included deeper exploration into:

  • The Colts with Hoof Sloughing
  • Calico Daily Gather Updates – Deciphered
  • The Miscarriages
  • The Calico / Fallon “Orphaned Foal”: Status Update
  • The Windbreaks
  • Dietary Concerns & Sorting Concerns

         I requested this conversation with Mr. Neill for a few reasons (curiosity mostly) but more so in response to the many comments and concerns about the communications – or lack of communications – between BLM personnel and the public. Now, I am not in Nevada, nor am I an “observer” of the gather from on site. But I am an observer nonetheless and I am a member of the public.

         For those not familiar with YBTJ Q&A format, these are very candid conversations from both me as the author and from the individual being questioned. I ask questions as pointedly and as bluntly as I can, and I report the answers as they are given to me, albeit checked for spelling and grammar. Mr. Neill proved true to YBTJ form and answered just as candidly as I was asking the questions.

         By the way, I left a few little “clues” throughout this edition –just for those who pick up on ‘em – as a reply to the questions of “what are my issues with this whole situation” and “sneak peaks” at my proposal for better management options. Best I can do at the moment, but of course – more to come later. And don’t forget to check out the great list of references and links at the end!

The Colts with Hoof Sloughing:

T: Medically speaking there is a correlation between nutritional deficiencies and a resultant inflammation – the inflammation being a precursor to the hoof sloughing. Could that be a possibility with these two cases? (1) (2)

Mr. Neill: That did not happen here.

T: Ok. What exactly did happen to these colts that would’ve caused sloughing of their hooves?

Mr. Neill: Extreme trauma to the foot / feet due to traveling too far over rocky terrain, that’s what’s happening there. It isn’t related to a diet change issue or anything nutritionally related. These two colts that have this trauma came in with poor body condition prior to the gather. The gather had nothing to do with their poor condition. The gather did have most likely everything to do with the trauma to their feet.

T: Just so I know that I have this correct, are you saying that the colts had in fact had “their feet run off” as some advocates have charged?

Mr. Neill: No, I’m not saying “they had their feet run off” because their feet were still attached.

T: Well obviously their feet were still attached, but are you saying that the hoof sloughing, lameness and consequent euthanasia of these colts were all a direct result of the gather operations?

Mr. Neill: It’s a result of severe trauma to the foot from running over rocky terrain. To be fair, none of us were there. Maybe it wasn’t too far; maybe it was over rocky terrain; maybe these two colts weren’t in too tough of a condition when they came in; maybe these colts had other things that attributed to it. We don’t know. All we know is what condition the horses are in when they arrive here at Fallon.

T: Personally, I have taken issue with this situation. I may be wrong, and am willing to admit it if so, but this doesn’t sit right with me. In the domesticated horse world – rather in my own personal domesticated horse world – I typically will treat my own horses with my own remedies at home without ever having called the veterinarian. This comes from years of experience and passed-down knowledge from my family and from being very involved with veterinarians over the years as my close friends. I will call the vet when I feel it is appropriate, but for the most part I can treat to healing without having to do so. The hoof ailments are one in particular where I have treated to healing before on my own horses. *Please, always consult your veterinarian for medical advice and treatments.

Mr. Neill: Ok.

T: India – the buckskin mare shown on The Mustang Project’s Blog “About T” page – is notorious for having hoof abscesses (3). She shows no rhyme or reason, and as she came to us as an 8 year old we do not know of any previous trauma or condition that could be the root cause. Obviously, she is fed hoof-strengthening supplements and a well balanced diet along with being provided regular hoof care by me and by our farrier. However, when the times do arise that she has an abscess, my treatment of this condition is very swift. The Bute (4), penicillin (5) and betadine flush with bandaging and tape is performed on the first day to prevent any further worsening. The dosages of the Bute (7) and penicillin (6) are – of course – case dependent upon the severity (8) of the condition at the time. This regimen is followed twice a day – sometimes up to three times a day, again dependent upon severity – until the issue is resolved.

Mr. Neill: Right.

T: Now, I do understand that this scenario is in the domesticated horse, and therefore I do not expect that the same level of care be administered to a wild horse. To be frank about it, it’s just not possible. The wild horse does not understand that the human is there to help – not hurt – in this situation. However, even at this level of their human relationship, it seems that there could have been a different set of steps taken to prevent the lameness and subsequent euthanasia to the first colt with hoof sloughing. Again, I could be wrong and will admit so if this is the case. But still, as I reviewed the veterinarian’s report on this colt, I noticed a lag in the treatment times of this colt’s illness / injury. The report read, “The colt came in on or around January 6th, he was fed and watered for a day, and when noticed to be lame was removed from the general population and placed in the hospital pen.” I’m going to say that this moving of the colt was on the 7th as it states that he was fed and watered for a day and then moved.

Mr. Neill: Ok.

T: But it wasn’t until January 8th that the colt was actually treated with Bute and penicillin.

Mr. Neill: Right.

T: First question about this is: what was the reasoning for the time lag in treatment for this colt? Why was it a day later before he was given medicinal treatment?

Mr. Neill: No lags. For the most part, when we work these animals and we see that they are lame, we will get them sorted out and bring them up that day. Usually the following day – maybe sometimes that day – we will doctor them. We don’t always doctor them the same day we remove them from the pens that they’re in.

T: The report goes on to say, “On 1/8/2010 this horse was treated with [Bute] and penicillin for presumptive sole bruising and abscesses. No abscesses were noted at this time but there was some foot swelling suggesting hoof trauma. During the next 5 days the colt which was nine months old was fed and watered in the hospital pen and observed for body condition and lameness.”

Mr. Neill: Ok.

T: He was retreated on the 13th – now that’s 5 days later – with Bute and penicillin. The report continues, “Sole abscesses and potential hoof sloughs were noted. Both hind feet were flushed with betadine and bandaged with gauze, antibiotic ointment and tape. The colt was slightly improved after treatment but over the next couple of days spent more and more time lying down. On /18/2010 the 2 hind feet were examined again. Multiple hoof sloughs were noted and the foal was euthanized for humane reasons.”  Why the time-lag in between treatments here? We see the first day he was moved to the hospital pens (7th), examined and treated; then 5 days later he was examined and treated again. Another 5 days passes and on the 18th he was examined again, only to be found now totally lame as a result of hoof sloughing and was subsequently euthanized.

Mr. Neill: He was treated on the 8th with Bute. We’re presuming he came in on the 6th and was treated 2 days later when he was sedated and [anesthetized]. There were no signs of any abscessing at that time. With our history and our experience, you have bruising first. And then after a period of time bruising, normally – sometimes if it’s bad enough – will turn into an abscess. And that’s what happened here. A lot of times just rest – when they’re in severe trauma – is really good for them too with supportive drugs of Bute and penicillin. We don’t run these horses through each day and [anesthetize] them. Basically, what you’re saying is giving these animals “hospital care” in a feedlot environment and that’s really never, never happened and I don’t see where the outcome really changes that much on that.

T: The jury is still out on whether or not I agree totally, but I will definitely concede that you have made some interesting points towards understanding some of the differences in the care of a domesticated and a wild horse.

Mr. Neill: Normally, our protocol is about 5-6 days is when we work our horses in the sick pens.

T: Every 5-6 days!?

Mr. Neill: Yea, normally.

T: So, if you have a horse that is in the hospital pens, and he or she has a problem that requires a more aggressive approach than “every 5-6 days”, what happens then?

Mr. Neill: Then we’ll administer care to them. But on a normal basis, this is how it’s done.

T: Ok…

Mr. Neill: You know, when you have 1900 head of horses coming in off the range and lots of other things going on, then we treat the ones who really need the treatment and we take care of them. And the rest of the time we’re doing other things that we need to do to these animals.

T: Ok… Describe for me – just briefly, a quick run-down – take me the through the process of what happens when a horse comes through your gates. Once he arrives and he’s unloaded from the trailer, what happens?

Mr. Neill: Pretty much – if there’s any sorting that we need to do on them, we’ll sort them and then we’ll go stick them out in general population and just put them on food, water and rest.

Daily Gather Updates – Deciphered:

T: Going back to Monday, January 11th, from the Daily Gather Updates: “One mare from the Black Rock East HMA was found dead over the weekend.” Comment has been made about the discovery of her demise regarding as to whether or not there were personnel present over that weekend, or was her demise discovered on Monday morning when everyone showed back up for work after having been off for the weekend?

Mr. Neill: We have a veterinarian and personnel on site every day.

T: Thursday, January 14th, from the Daily Gather Updates: “Two mares and one stallion were found dead at the facility. Cause of death is attributed to failure to adjust to change in feed.” This can be attributed to the hyperlipemia we spoke of earlier, but to elaborate: What is the overall general body condition score of the horses whose deaths have been attributed to the failure to adjust to change in feed; have you had any horses that were between a 4 and a 5 on the Henneke scale?

Mr. Neill: Not that I’m aware. They’ve all been between 2 and 3.

T: Monday, January 18th, from the Daily Gather Updates: “A foal that was born on Thursday (January 14th) was euthanized on Friday (January 15th) after it became apparent that it could not thrive.” Was this a premature birth; or could this have been a case of delayed fetal development as a result of nutritional deficiencies in the dam?

Mr. Neill: It was not a premature birth that I am aware of. It could not stand on its own. It looked like a normal birth. The mare was weak, thus resulting in a weak foal.

T: Saturday, January 23rd, from the Daily Gather Updates: “One mare at the facility ran into a gate and broke her neck.” Can you tell me about this mare and what happened?

Mr. Neill: My wrangler staff was bringing up the pen that had all of the poor mares in it so that we could sort them off and place them in hospital pens so they wouldn’t have to compete for feed and water. While we had them up inside the smaller pens working them off, one of the mares ran around behind the guys and took on the gate, “head on”.

T: Monday, January 25th, from the Daily Gather Updates: “One stallion was found dead in the corral; cause of death is unknown.” Do you know what yet what the cause of death was?

Mr. Neill: No, I don’t and I do not know if we necropsied him either. I think he was pretty old too.

T: Wednesday, January 27th, from the Daily Gather Updates: “One filly and three mares were euthanized at the Fallon facility. Two were in poor condition and not adapting to change in diet, one spinal injury and one sole abscess and pelvis injury.  One filly was found dead of unknown cause at the facility.” The spinal injury and pelvis injury are the two that stand out the most to me. What happened with these two mares?

Mr. Neill: They were just found that way the next morning. We weren’t there when it happened; maybe they started fighting in the pen, maybe they were running and she slipped and fell. We don’t know.

T: This is why I am asking about this date’s casualty report because the sentence is fragmented on the report I have in front of me – “one spinal injury and one sole abscess and pelvis injury”. So was the spinal and pelvic injury on the same horse? Or was that two different horses?

Mr. Neill: Looking back at my notes, I show that there were 5 mares deceased on this day. There was one 2 y/o that was euthanized that was poor. There was one 15 y/o that was euthanized that was poor. Those were the only two that were euthanized as a result of poor condition / not adapting to feed / hyperlipemia etc. There was one 12 y/o euthanized due to a broken neck/spinal injury, cause unknown. There was one 18 y/o euthanized that had a pelvis injury. Then there was a 2 y/o that died, cause unknown.

T: For all of these deaths, are there necropsy reports on all of them?

Mr. Neill: No ma’am, not on all of them. We’ve only been necropsying the poor conditioned ones.

T: Of those necropsies on the poor conditioned ones, what have you found so far?

Mr. Neill: Hyperlipemia, their livers are shutting down. But there’s going to be more results coming, and we’re still waiting on reports from the lab on the tissue analysis. We have necropsy reports; we have blood sample reports; now just waiting on the tissue analysis reports. We put all that information together, summarizing it, and I’ll pass that on to you, and it’ll be distributed to the public.

T: Thus far, with all of the necropsies and testing, have you found any infectious agents, such as viral, bacterial, fungal, any types?

Mr. Neill: No.

T: Wow.

Mr. Neill: Why?

T: Well, it’s kind of hard to see this many poor conditioned animals without infectious agents of some type on board.

Mr. Neill: Well, at least it hasn’t shown up in the blood sampling and it hasn’t shown up in the necropsies. Maybe it will in the tissue samples.

T: If nowhere else, then maybe in the histology reports. It seems that there is a trend going with the Black Rock East HMA horses.

Mr. Neill: Well, I tell you Tracie, there’s a pocket of horses from out there that came in with a lot more poor condition than did the rest and those are the ones we’ve had issues with. There’s been some Warm Springs and Calico mixed in there too, but for the most part they’re the ones coming from Black Rock East.

T: That’s significant to me in that the trend of these Black Rock East HMA horses is showing what the conditions of that range must have been like. In your opinion, what could be an explanation for that?

Mr. Neill: I don’t even know how to speculate on that one. Maybe it was that there were more animals on that HMA at one time than there were at another; maybe some animals left to seek out other food sources and some stayed – concentrating their grazing in that area. I’m not out there on the ground, so I really don’t like to speculate. I can just say that the mares that were pregnant from that area were in pretty tough shape. It’s high-desert sage-brush country; there are perennial grasses that grow and forbs and shrubs and browse, and a lot of sage.

The Miscarriages:

T: Were these miscarriages a result of the gather?

Mr. Neill: Yea, they were. The mares are late in their gestation, and they’re poor, and they’re under a lot of stress and strain metabolically – things just don’t work at times. But would miscarriages have happened out on the range, and left in the situation they were in? Yea, probably some of them.

T: Are miscarriages something that you all see on a regular basis out on the range this time of year?

Mr. Neill: Sure, you bet you do. I’ll explain it to you a little bit. BLM’s gather season runs from July 1st through the end of February each year. In July, we normally have fewer issues with dietary changes because usually the feed that they are eating on the range has more nutritional value to it and in it, so they can adapt a lot easier to domesticated feed. The mares are not very far along in gestation if we are looking at the average foaling season in the spring. So there is a lot less trauma to the mares in the summer. However, there is increased trauma to the colts because they are normally born in the spring; they’re smaller – usually they’re around 4 months old or so. So there’s increased trauma there as far as stone bruising on the feet, things like that.

Now, in the winter, like with the Calico gather, the colts are way bigger; they’re 6-10 months old. There’s a lot less trauma with them but there’s increased trauma to the mares because there’s less forage out there, especially because they’re so far along in their gestation period so they’re bodies are under a lot of strain. So the different times of year affects the different ages of animals. Obviously, if the mare is under strain, and you stress her with diet change, nature is basically going to say, “Ok, let’s get rid of the foal that’s inside of me in order to preserve myself.” Sometimes that happens and that works. Other times it doesn’t – there’s a miscarriage and the mare still doesn’t survive.

T: Did you have any mares that did not survive a miscarriage during the Calico gather?

Mr. Neill: Sure, there were poor mares that miscarriaged and did not survive. Either they died on their own or they were euthanized.

T: How many mares exactly did you lose as a result of miscarriages?

Mr. Neill: It’s not that they were lost due to miscarriages. Loss was due to factors such as coming in with poor body condition followed by hyperlipemia – which is where they start breaking down their fat stores and then they have liver issues which is basically what they die of. The miscarriage is a result of the hyperlipemia and liver failure.

T: “The miscarriages caused the deaths, the gathers caused the miscarriages etc… hence the gather caused the deaths.” This is a common theme right now about the gather as a whole. With these mares that have died either “as a result of the gather” or “as a result of the change in diet” – How many in particular did not survive this ordeal and had miscarriages?

Mr. Neill: I don’t know that we’ve quantified that. We haven’t associated the miscarriages with the mares that have died. There have been miscarriages and mares that still are surviving, and will survive, but then again there have been miscarriages and deaths too. So we haven’t tallied that one. It’d be pretty tough for us to associate that. I mean, you can darn sure notice!  There are some mares, when you walk out there each morning in the pens and there’s a fetus there, and you see a mare that is pretty tucked up – looks like a greyhound – you can pretty much assume that she’s the one who miscarried.

T: In any of these mares that miscarried were there any complications from the miscarriages themselves, such as a prolapsed uterus or inability to expel afterbirth or toxemia that resulted in the death of a mare?

Mr. Neill: No.

The Windbreaks:

T: How many horses have you seen that were having difficulties based on the weather?

Mr. Neill: Zero.

T: And the ones who were observed to be of poor body condition and would likely have complications were moved to the hospital pens?

Mr. Neill: Correct.

T: There had been some controversy over the issue of whether or not to install these windbreaks initially. Wild horse advocates cited inclement weather conditions and recently stressed horses as a “definite reason” to install them, but BLM, facility and contractor personnel all stated that there was no need due to the past history of the sturdiness of these horses, and the lack of illness, injury and/or fatalities in the past years due to inclement weather. What is your take on this, given the outcomes of the Calico gather?

Mr. Neill: Windbreaks have been put up in the hospital pens for the animals whose health has been compromised for reasons other than inclement weather. However, there has been very little wind since the arrival of the horses at the facility with the exceptions of the stormy days – some wind gusts up to 40mph and sustained winds of 20-30mph – but for no longer than an 8-12 hour period at a time.

T: When did the construction of these windbreaks start?

Mr. Neill: I believe the installation started on January 23rd and continued for a week or better.

T: And have you noticed any difference in the horses’ overall health or behavior – negative or positive – since their construction?

Mr. Neill: Not really, no.

Dietary Concerns:

T: What types of hay do you use for their diet?

Mr. Neill: We use orchard grass hay, meadow grass hay and we also have some rye grass hay too.

T: And is that free-choice at the beginning?

Mr. Neill: Yes, it is.

T: And the water is free-choice as well?

Mr. Neill: Water, yes, and there’s also a mineral block that’s out in the pens that’s free-choice.

T: Is the water regular water or electrolyte-treated water?

Mr. Neill: Regular water.

Sorting Concerns:

T: As for the sorting, do you sort by just sex and age, or is there sorting by sex, age, and by what harems/bands they came in with?

Mr. Neill: No, no harem sorting. Right now it’s sorting by sex and their HMAs. And of course, by the weanlings – they go to a pen. If there’s too small of a foal that still needs to be on its dam then they’re paired up and put in a pen. Then you have your mares and your studs.

T: Do the studs go in together?

Mr. Neill: All the studs go together.

T: In the same pen?

Mr. Neill: Yea. We can’t separate each stud by himself in each pen. I mean, you’re looking at a feedlot environment here.

T: What types of behavioral issues do you have as a result of placing all of the studs in the same pen?

Mr. Neill: None.

T: I’m thinking “harem stallion” behaviors could cause a problem.

Mr. Neill: No problems. We have more problems of fighting amongst groups of mares than we do with stallions.

T: Ah, yea, with the lead mares and dominant mares. Yea, I can definitely see that.

Mr. Neill: When you organize and structure your pens, as long as you don’t have mares in heat directly across from a lead stallion in a pen, there’s usually not a problem. That could prohibit other stallions from getting to the feed and water, etc. There’s always going to be a dominant stallion or two in a pen, so you have to structure the pens right so that it doesn’t pose issues.

The Calico / Fallon “Orphaned Foal”:

T: You and Willis Lamm had previously corresponded about the status and updates of a certain “orphaned foal”… Do we have a good status update on him, currently?

Mr. Neill: Yes, he was adopted-out to an associate of Willis’. Let me back up. Willis and his group were out at the gather and they saw this colt – and somehow the foal was associated with the 20 year old mare that was euthanized, which was not his dam – and the foal had gotten dubbed an “orphan”. Yea, it probably was an orphan. It’d probably been an orphan from day 1 almost. We estimated the age at about 8 months old. “Body size” wise was probably about 4 months, so yea it’d been suffering from malnutrition since it was born almost, likely robbing off of the mares in the band that it could, but it’s probably been on a grass diet for most of its life, and its body condition shows that. The tail was down below its hocks, so that shows that it’s an older colt. Mane was a little bit longer, so that shows that it’s older. It’d been orphaned for a while. It came in with a pretty sore foot. The day Willis was over there, they saw it. They were concerned; they wanted to take it home and take care of it. And I said, “Well, it’s not our policy to farm out animals that have severe lameness or sickness. We have the infrastructure and the professional and medical experience to take care of these animals. I don’t have a problem farming this colt out once its better, and I’ll keep you updated.” So that’s what I did. And the colt got better after a couple of treatments. It would’ve probably done just fine with all of the other colts, but just as a feel good deal I contacted Willis, and we went ahead and freeze marked it, did everything we needed to. An associate of Willis’ came and did the adoption paperwork, and picked it up Saturday (February 6th) so it’s now with her. They’ve named it “Calico Callie”.

T: The horses that are there with you now – some 1890 – what’s going to happen with them now that the Calico Gather is over with?

Mr. Neill: We’re going to start our preparation process; we’ll inoculate and freeze-brand them for identification purposes. Age them, draw Coggins test, de-worm them. Four weeks later, they get their booster inoculations and then they’ll be made available for adoption or long term pastures, and/or be offered for sale under our Sales Program (3 Strikes Rules), which is different from Sale Without Limitation.

T: Well Mr. Neill, I appreciate your time and your patience. And I look forward to seeing the results from the tissue and histology reports.

Mr. Neill: No problem. Ok.

          This conversation is one of many I have had over the past several months with many of the BLM and WH&B programs’ personnel, and most all of these conversations have gone the same as this one – pretty smooth. Overall, I was very pleased with the talks on this day as I have been with most before this.

         Especially in these Q&A formats, I’ll admit that most times my own personal issues with the subject at hand do lead the line of questioning, and as well they take the lead in some of my responses. But hey, that’s why I get to be the author and you get to be the judge!

As always, stay safe… And never give up!

Thank you,

Tracie Lynn Thompson
Owner & Lead Instructor
Lessons Learned Equine Instruction
(409)658-4491 cell

© 2010 Tracie Lynn Thompson. All rights reserved.

For references and more information, see the following:

14 Responses to “You Be the Judge, 10th Edition, February 18, 2010 – Q&A w/ John Neill, Mgr of the Fallon Facility…”

  1. […] Interview with John Neill, Ruby Pipeline investigations and more: The Mustang Project By thecloudfoundation You Be the Judge, 9th Edition, Part 1, Supporting Documentation You Be the Judge, 9th Edition, Part 1, February 12, 2010 – The Ruby Conflict… You Be the Judge, 9th Edition, Part 2, February 18, 2010 – The Ruby Conflict Continues… ***You Be the Judge, 10th Edition, February 18, 2010 – Q&A w/ John Neill, Mgr of the Fallon Faci…*** […]

  2. sandra longley said

    I appreciate Mr. Neills candor, and he seems to be pretty knowledgeable-I would take a different view on some things however and have posted my views over on the calico roundups on an earlier post, so i don’t want to be redundunt.
    Addressing what he said about the mares that were in foal being in bad shape: given the fact most of the other horses were in fact “good” shape for what you would expect from wild horses coming out of the worst part of winter: It would suggest that doing a fall roundup would prove to be the most benifit to those mares that had a foal at their side and were pregnant again, nursing a foal and being pregnant seems to be the leading factor in their condition-as it was not representitive of the group condition, other than the old horses-worn teeth, there was in fact a 30 yr. old mare put down that had survived 30 winters on that range under varying conditions..I do not expect those horses to be in the same condition as my mares..I would never expect them to be a 5/6 condition as some have stated..A red alert would be if the mares were in a 2/3 condition in the summer with a nursing foal..that would indicate to me a ‘real’ lack of forage and a reason to reduce the numbers..I see the lack of regard for their own protocols to be used during the roundup as the overriding reason for the massive amount of problems at calico..I find their very comprehensive and detailed protocols to be humane..the problem is…they didn’t follow them..which resulted in most of their problems. I should go back and take it point by point-as a presentation to make my point..but I was just trying to clarify in my own mind how this could all happen.
    I was happy to hear him admit that the gather was responsable for most of the deaths, followed by the inability to switch over to hay(another result of gathering in the winter)and lastly because of age, Studies that I have read, plus research from rescued starving horses will show..mares will use all the resources of their body to keep the foal alive-before the body aborts it..I gave what i think to be more reasons in my other post. Again there has been no information or statistics as to what the term of the aborted foals were..late midterm or earlier.

    • Yea, that also hit me a little harder than the rest. I understand that the mares were poor, I understand the complications that face them. I don’t understand a lot of the other factors. Really, too many to discuss in this format, but suffice it to say that I feel there could have been much more attentiveness to protocol and much less attention to time constraints.

  3. sandra longley said

    My second point…was the same as yours…It jumped right off the page the first time i read it..we know from doctoring our horses ourselves..treatments are done at least twice daily..a dose of bute every 5 not a treatment, one shot of not a treatment..I put that on the shoulders of the vet, who is recomending treatment..That colt was not able to rise from at least the second day( I believe that was the timing on Elyses pictures of him)That is a red alert condition..he was not a large colt or an adult-not untreatable as a large horse might have been..having worked on a number of colts-not halter broke, and more active than that should not have been an issue..he should have been removed to the hospital area and treated regularly given IVs to hydrate ect-or put down humanely-allowing him to go 2 weeks-was not humane.

    • Yea, that one really kind of got to me. But at the same time, I can kind of understand what John is saying about the wild vs. domestic aspect of the situation: How do you doctor a wild horse every day, twice a day, the same way that we do a domestic horse? I mean its not like you could just walk out there, throw the halter and lead rope on him, lead him to the hitching post, and just start doctoring LOL. He’d be busting at the seams ready to blow his top if you tried that, and you’d likely do more damage in the process. It’s almost a catch-22 situation; do the risks outweigh the benefits?
      Although, I also feel like if the proper methods of Equus and Natural Horsemanship were used, there would at least be a *chance* to accomplish this. And no, he wasn’t a large colt, he could’ve been handled easier than say a larger colt or grown horse.
      Yea, this is one of the red alerts. (Funny, that’s the way we describe here too LOL.)

      • Yeah, there is of course a difference in what you can do for a wild horse vs a domestic one. Still, when my QH/pony mare almost sloughed both her front feet at age four, she wasn’t the best patient either. In fact, once she was comfortable enough to stand, she decided she didn’t want any more treatments and was kicking at us – seriously! – but we still managed to do what we had to do. Certainly, we DID have more time to devote to her, but I still think the BLM vet could have done better by that foal.

        And, regarding all the deaths and abortions, my overriding question is: If the roundup had not happened, would these horses still be alive? And if they had been able to state a preference wouldn’t they have chosen to die at home with their families rather than have their last days filled with terror, separation and strangeness?

        No answers, I know.

        • I know what you mean! Its so funny to me sometimes when the horses *tell* us, “Ok, I’m done… No more meds for me.” It makes me think of the kids when they don’t want to go to the doctor!
          And that question is still one that I keep in the back of my mind. I keep it there during all of these research projects and all of these writings as sort of a reminder I suppose. No, we don’t have the answers to those questions because that’s not the way it happened. But the questions themselves can still serve a purpose.

  4. sandra longley said

    I have been trying to do a foal count on the calico gather to determine what percentage had foals last year and how that corresponds to their figures of how they will double herd size in 4 years..according to the gather figures BLM gave as they gathered herds(and they didn’t give the breakdown until their were human observers) the amount of foals ranged from a high of 1/2 with 1 and 2 more. to a low of 1/4 the amount of mares in the band..I have no idea whether any of this band has ever been PZPd..I would sure like to know that number..and I would like to also know why the BLM has only used PZP on 2350 mares since the 90s-if over population has been the reoccuring theme..why haven’t they aggressively pursued this means..cost is 25.00 a mare..surely that is cheaper than 42 million for one ranch to house sterilized horses.I have heard all kinds of excuses-but no real reason why they talk about it like it is a fact and then don’t utilize it…before doing something drastic. Maybe they should appoint a Czar of common sense????

  5. […] an interview, Fallon facility manager John Neill, a BLM employee, frankly acknowledged that the trauma of the […]

  6. Valerie said

    Thank you for these great interviews. It really helps to keep us all informed. I just launched the 4WildHorses website to try and spread the word about the roundups. I will add you to my blog roll.

  7. Anna said

    John Neill:
    but it’s probably been on a grass diet for most of its life, and its body condition shows that.

    John Neill: T: What types of hay do you use for their diet?

    Mr. Neill: We use orchard grass hay, meadow grass hay and we also have some rye grass hay too.

    Anne’s comment: so if John Neill does not think a Grass Diet is nutritionally sound for a Mustang by his comment: it’s probably been on a grass diet for most of its life, and its body condition shows that.
    then why does the BLM put the Mustangs on a diet of “orchard grass hay, meadow grass hay and we also have some rye grass hay too…

    Why does the BLM give the Mustangs “Grass…” instead of Hay ?

    Grass creates Nutrtional Deficiencies

    • Anna,

      If you had not pulled one single statement out of context, your questions would answer themselves. John was not speaking of the all of the horses when he made this statement. John was speaking specifically of an orphaned colt that had come in with the other horses during the gather. See here:
      “Body size” wise was probably about 4 months, so yea it’d been suffering from malnutrition since it was born almost, likely robbing off of the mares in the band that it could, but it’s probably been on a grass diet for most of its life, and its body condition shows that. The tail was down below its hocks, so that shows that it’s an older colt. Mane was a little bit longer, so that shows that it’s older. It’d been orphaned for a while.
      Orchard Grass Hay and Meadow Grass Hay are fed to the horses (as a whole while in the holding facility) because these are the closest species of forage to the forage the horses ate while still on the range. Alfalfa Hay is fed to the horses as well because of its rich protein content – protein that some of these horses desperately needed upon their arrival.
      John did not say that grass is nutritionally inferior to long stemmed hay. The BLM is not feeding the horses “grass” instead of hay. The term “grass” is merely a part of the name of the hay, not the condition of the forage. (grass – green/fresh cut vs. hay – darker/been cut).


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