The ~Texas~ Mustang Project's Blog

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

FROM BLM, *NOT TMP*: Respiratory Disease Status at Indian Lakes Holding Facility

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on June 12, 2010

It has just been brought to my attention that this post appears to be directly from TMP. It is not. This post is a re-posting of the report released by BLM on the Calico Daily Gather Updates webpage. In my attempt to distribute this information, I failed to make it clear that this was not the opinion of myself or anyone else affiliated with TMP. This is directly from the BLM and their veterinarian, Dr. Richard Sanford.  

Again, the following information is not from TMP or its authors. It is copied here, in its entirety, for information distribution ONLY from the BLM report released on the Daily Gather Updates webpage. 


Currently there is a minimal amount of viral respiratory disease at the Indian Lakes Wild Horse holding facility in Fallon, NV. It is located in the oldest of the 2010 born colts (Feb. & March). This is part of the normal pattern where newborn colts lose their disease immunity they receive from their mothers via colostrum and actively build their own immunity to common disease organisms. This process typically takes two – four months. During this time colts will be vaccinated to stimulate immunity to common equine disease and be naturally exposed to common equine pathogens. Typically, maternal immunity wanes at three – four months of age. This will be an ongoing process until fall as the colts continue to grow.  


Influenza, Rhinopneumonitis and other equine pathogens are endemic to horse populations, both on the range and in confinement. Incidence and rate of spread are typically higher in confinement due to concentrated conditions. Overall, this is analogous to young children going to school or daycare for the first time.   

There is no specific treatment for viral respiratory disease other than rest. Antibiotics can be administered to prevent or treat secondary bacterial infections as needed. Typically, this involves dosing individual animals with injectable penicillin or dosing all animals in the pen with an antibiotic added to the drinking water.   

Currently, these pens of colts are being monitored and those that appear sick are being treated. Two colts were treated during the first week in June. One colt later died. Pneumonia was noted on the necropsy. The other colt is doing well. There are currently 10 colts in the pens           with nasal discharge. They will be monitored and treated with antibiotics if they have signs of secondary bacterial infection.   

Many adult horses at the facility exhibited the same clinical signs (cough and nasal discharge) during and after capture. They have all recovered and are doing well. There have been no adult deaths attributable to viral respiratory disease. There is   

no evidence of strangles (more serious equine respiratory disease) in the Calico horses. Although historically, it has been present in this herd.   

Richard Sanford, DVM   

NV# 565   

June 11, 2010   


18 Responses to “FROM BLM, *NOT TMP*: Respiratory Disease Status at Indian Lakes Holding Facility”

  1. elizabeth slagsvol said

    Why is it minimal if it’s normal? All newborns should have it right? My colts and fillies have always been healthy, no weird viral infections. I guess it’s because I am a conscientious barn manager and guess who’s not? In the wild the horses thrive, why are you interfering with Mother Nature?
    wrong wrong wrong….

    • Elizabeth,
      This circumstance is a constant reminder to all of the differences between the domesticated horse and the Equine of the Wild. Our domesticated horses are born into a world that is less dangerous from all aspects. They do not have to worry about infections from the “buglies” as I call them because they are vaccinated. They do not have to worry about death from predators because they are protected by our fences and barns. They don’t even have to worry about their water and food supplies because those are all provided to them by their dutiful caregivers.
      In the Wild, Equines are nothing at all like their domesticated counterparts. In fact, from the standpoint of biology, physiology, psychology and even mental capacity, these Wild Equines are in a sense a completely different species. Their lives are totally different from the moment they are conceived until the moments of their last breaths. To expect them to react and respond in the same manner as those who are domesticated is completely errant on the part of mankind.
      I spoke in another reply just a moment ago about the re-wiring of an Equine mind to better suit the mind of a human. It is a violation of everything that the Equine has known leading up to the process itself. However, if the re-wiring occurs in the human’s mind to better suit the mind of the Equine, the partnership and relationship between the two becomes more fluid and less confrontation on even the smallest of scales.
      The lack of science and research into the vast and intricate world of the Wild Equine has produced these results. However, much debate has been conducted over what methods exactly would be most appropriate to accurately study such situations. How do you accurately capture the essence of Wild Equine physiology without first bringing that Equine into domestication? The variables change as a result and therefore no longer produce results that accurately apply to Wild Equines.
      Personally, I think the trick might be a series of 10 year studies conducted on the open range by a single Equine Specialist with veterinary skills and experience and a background in (true) Wild Equine Behavior. The reason I do not suggest a veterinarian directly is because at present, I do not know of one who does not view all Equids as one collective species different only in their habitats. (By all means, if there is one among any of the readers or if any readers know of one, PLEASE send them my way or me their way because I have much to inquire about!)
      A human with this mindset could possibly gain access to certain clues necessary for the furthering of our knowledge base when it comes to how to treat any number of ailments and injuries. Fecal samples fresh from the range; placental blood left over from a birth fresh from the range; hair samples, blood and tissue samples left on the offending object from injuries, hoof wall chippings, umbilical cord stumps… All of these could be collected fresh from the range and be analyzed in the lab for findings and results that have never before been implemented in Wild Equine Science.
      But the study must be conducted by one single person due to the incroachment of the Wild Equines pressure zones and territories by humans. It must also be by a human with a sincere respect for the space of said Equines due to the occurrence of interference from those without this respect. Such interference has in the past caused mares to abandon their foals in an attempt to remove themselves from the incroachment when the human will not.
      Well, I could go on forever about this so I’ll cut it short here. Bottom line is this: We do not currently have the scientific data sets we require to effectively care for Wild Equines. Why are we bumbling our way through it anyway? That’s an answer best left to the personal opinion.

  2. Patricia Austin-Puccio said

    What a load of sh%&! I am astounded with every new post that you guys, under the banner of the government, get away with these illegal roundups, the abuse, death and slaughter at your hands. I dream of the day that not only do you all get fired but that charges are brought against you. YOU ARE CRIMINALS!

  3. I have had horses most of my adult life. Raised four from when they were very young. Never, ever any respiratory problems. Many times respiratory problems in horses are a direct result of stress. These wild horses more than their share of stress and I would say it is safe to say that the respiratory problems are a direct result.

    • Jo,
      Again, this goes back to the response I wrote to Elizabeth… Additionally, you are hitting the nail on the head when it comes to the amounts of stress placed upon these Equines. I wrote an email today to “the powers that be” explaining the psychological basis for a different situation occuring at Broken Arrow; the main and most prevalent reason for these particular behaviors is a direct result of the psycholigical stresses they have endured for the past six months. The physiological stresses can and have maninfested themselves physically.

  4. Linda said

    I don’t remember anyone – BLM or independent observer – mentioning “many” adult horses coming in with coughs and nasal discharge. Did I miss something?

  5. sandra longley said

    I disagree with what the BLM has posted on their website. Its sound as if they are minimizing or repeating some BLM BS. It is not “normal” by any stretch of the imagination for these problems to occur. There are several causes, as well as combinations of factors that make this inevitable under these conditions. It is a fricking feedlot, close quarters, dusty and the foals receive more of that dust in their lungs than the adults from the obvious. They are closer to the ground and can’t get out of it. 1 cause of pneumonia. 2nd: They may or may not have received adequate levels of antibodies from the colostrum… mares only have antibodies for diseases and viruses they have been exposed to. Mares produce different levels of colostrum. Foals have to be tested to see what titers of antibodies they have received. Done routinely on breeding farms. Where in the hell are they getting the idea that mares in the wild have viruses and rhino ect? Thats BS. Not unless they have been exposed by domesticated horses. When a colt is passing pus out its eyes and nostrils you’ve blown it – and I say that as a breeder. Now you have heat – colts will drop like flies. They will be running high temps and won’t last long. Was it viral “infectious” pneumonia? Did they test for it? It doesn’t arrive with the stork buddy. Pneumonia can also just be the secondary problem of a septic foal… septecemia is the cause but they die of pneumonia. Quite frankly they are so behind the curve its pathetic. What happens when you crowd people or animals together??? Pandemics. It is inevitable. The young are the most susceptible. What the hell good does it do to put antibiotics in the water? The foals are sick. They are not going to be drinking the water. Come on, use your head.

    • sandra longley said

      AND..what do you mean..strangles is more deadly???maybe in your hands it is. and under your management..but most vets or farm owners would disagree..infectious viral pneumonia, and pneumonia in general is much more dangerous..they run a high fever. a foal will quit nursing and dehydrate in a hurry..if this wasn’t so inhumane I would laugh..antibotics in the water..why don’t you just throw them in a toliet..thats on a level of giving the foal with the sloughing hooves antibiotics every other me a medical journal anywhere that recomends treating anything with antibiotics every other day!

      • sandra longley said

        You know i could respect you if you stepped up to the plate and said..look- given the limited people and funds we have to deal with- the amount of horses we have to care for-or lack of experience in dealing with foaling mares and newborns..we are going o have problems..we don’t want these horses to die(I know you don’t)This program sucks..we NEVER should have gathered this many horses and so many mares due to foal…but no, you are trying to bluff your way through this..own it, admit there are mistakes and the program has its flaws..then I could respect you..I should not have to put words in your mouth..they should already be there.

      • Suzanne said

        Besides that, what’s the point of antibiotics at all without finding out what “bug(s)” you’re dealing with? That foal that the vet gave a shot of penicillin to as he rushed by that morning – what the…? He didn’t even know if pen was effective on whatever that baby had. He still doesn’t. Wonder what they’re putting in the water.

        One good thing – THAT foal did not die. I know they said he did, but it wasn’t him. Elyse took pictures of him on that last tour. She still didn’t know which foal DID die. Lots of pictures on her blog.

        I am SO angry.

  6. sandra longley said

    live streaming video from Denver meetings starting monday-everyone tune in..

    • Linda said

      Sandra, I assume it’s Mountain Time, but I’m not understanding the “broadcast” times vs. the “live streaming video” times.

  7. The following is from the UCDavis School of Veterinary Medicine–
    “Of all the interactive enviromental and management factors predisposing a foal to develop pneumonia, the most important appears to be a high ambient temperature (with or without associated humidity), in particular when dry, dusty conditions prevail. The repiratory tract in many animals is important for the regulation of body temperature and it may be that foals are less able than mature horses to tolerate extremes of climate. Harsh fluctations in ambient temperature, such as the hot day/cold night conditions prevalent in arid regions, may exacerbate the problem.”

  8. I am sure that mares in the wild move their foals around to rocky outcrops and other areas that provide relief from the heat. My little herd here has the option to move from the pasture in the heat of the day to a run in shed and they do so. Those mares and foals in the “feedlots” have no options.

  9. I sincerely hope that you guys are sending these comments on to BLM. With the Denver workshop and meeting right at 12 hours away, these are points that need to be fresh on their minds. Obviously, I would hope that any comments made regarding this issue were done in a diplomatic manner. The last thing we need right now is a confrontational attitude as the talks commence. However, these points are valid. They do need to be made. They need to be addressed.

    • sandra longley said

      I am not pouring Honey over dead horses…which is why I am not going..I am not in the mood for platitudes.

      • sandra longley said

        To enlarge on that train of thought..maybe we should place crosses along the road to fallon in memory of those that didn’t make it to long term holding..they are so lucky i am not going to Denver…LOL

  10. sandra longley said

    Please comtinue to read the obituary column at the BLM daily, now weekly update at fallon..They are counting on the fact there are no observers to distract attention from what is going on there..keep up to date and pass it on..

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