Please read this dramatic and heart wrenching story – and then pass it on to all of your horsey friends.

The plight of the American Mustang is dear to my heart.  Living in CA, I have attended helicopter and truck roundups in Oregon and Nevada.  Horrible.   I couldn’t stop crying.

The BLM holding facilities are like prisons.  Small, over crowded metal pens – often times with no shelter from the wind, rain and snow.

No one will ever convince me that the Mustangs are starving (without humans putting fences where they shouldn’t) and no one can convince me that there are too many.  Try and find them… (other than Nevada where they are lured to food and water troughs in order to trap them.)  You will hear that the mustangs are all over cattle land – .  But the land doesn’t belong to the cattle.  The mustangs have lands devoted to them, owned by the BLM who leases it to the cattle.

The situation is complicated and in the end, only the Mustang loses.  Soon, the only mustangs you will find will be in BLM holding facilities.

Ask any cattleman how they feel about the wild horse.  Most will tell you that the mustangs are a nuisance animal.  Do you know how strong the cattle lobby is in Washington?  Well, it will take all of us to help the mustang.  All of us.

And there you have it.

Here is a beautiful story written by Voices of the Herd, linked here.

Click to go to the original story.

On day two of the Cedar Mountain Herd roundup, I witnessed something that has stuck with and disturbed me ever since.

We heard the rumbling of the helicopter as it pushed a new band of wild horses into sight, around the hillside, and across the valley towards the trap. They were running hard and covering miles and miles of land quite quickly. There was a paint bringing up the rear lagging a little; some of us thought that maybe it was the band’s stallion looking to protect the herd from behind.

The helicopter rounded the herd into the V, and they hooked onto the Judas horse, following him right into the trap, capturing them all… except for one. The paint horse avoided the trap and took off the opposite direction across the valley. It seemed that the BLM contractors usually let single stragglers go if they took off from the herd alone, but for some odd reason, the helicopter zoomed after this single horse in hot pursuit. The helicopter was right on her tail – alone now, severed from her herd and family, she galloped for her life as fast as she could. The iron predator didn’t let up, and he ran her for miles across the valley. Finally he confined her in a little ravine, but no matter how he pushed and pressured her, she seemed to refuse to back down or run back towards the trap.

We saw a wrangler take off on a horse, galloping towards the gorge where the helicopter was low, holding the mare. He had a lasso in his hand. When he reached the ravine, the strong paint mare took off towards the fence line where all of our cars were parked. He was right on her tail, attempting to lasso her maybe 4 or 5 times with no luck. She kept running as fast as she could. The wrangler and helicopter chased her down the barbed wire fence line. We watched in silence – I couldn’t believe how hard they were trying to capture this single horse. I cannot even imagine the terror and exhaustion she must have felt having lost her herd and being relentlessly chased like this.

There seemed to be no escape. She was running from a flying beast that was impossibly fast and never seemed to tire, meanwhile having ropes thrown at her neck by a rider right on her tail. With one last throw, the rider lassoed the paint mare and pulled tight as it caught around her neck. She crashed head first through the barbed wire fencing to the ground.

She had so much momentum and fell mid gallop; her body collided so hard with the ground.

She got scrambled up to her feet as fast as she could. The wrangler thought he had got her.

Despite the rope tightening when she pulled, she yanked as hard as she could, and through the strangulation, she took off the opposite way. After all of this, she wasn’t giving up. The man had to drop the lasso at this point, and so she took off up the opposite hill, looking behind only to see if he was still pursuing her. Finally after all of this time, they gave up.

She approached the viewing area.

This beautiful mare who we had just seen galloping miles away, who we had just seen crash through the fence, who we had just seen escape despite all odds, was right in front of us.

She was maybe 20 feet in front of me, and I got to look into her tired eyes. She looked so drained. Even though she was filled with fear, she just looked tired.


She was maybe 20 feet in front of me, and I got to look into her tired eyes. She looked so drained. Even though she was filled with fear, she just looked tired.


Just look into those eyes…

She was drenched in sweat, exhausted, and most likely pregnant.

I could hardly believe what I had just seen… and to now see her up close… it was overwhelming and incredibly emotional to say the least.
After taking a look at all of us here witnessing on the hill, the incredible paint mare trotted around us into the hills of her homeland, the lasso still dragging from her neck.

We were silent.

With the impact she took, the cuts she must have gotten from the barbed wire, and the trailing noose around her neck… there is no saying what could happen to her out there. I hate to think about it, but we need to understand the consequence of these actions. She could very well strangle herself if the lasso gets caught on something out in the wild… she could abort her foal after such an impact… she could develop an infection from the barbed wire…

The possibilities haunt me.

I hope so much that she finds a way to get out of the lasso and finds another herd where she can live peacefully.

If any horse could make it through these struggles, I think I would be her; she proved herself to be quite the fighter. Her spirit and resilience is astonishing, and because of it, she escaped against all odds.

She embodies the strength, courage, spirit, and resilience of the horse – all that we love about these incredible souls… it’s how she made her great escape. Seeing her fight against all odds inspires me to stand up for these horses, no matter the resistance we may face. I hope her story may resonate with others and encourage them in the same way. If we honor her fight, her story and herd won’t be forgotten.


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UPDATE on the Caisson story from yesterday: Quincy and Kennedy have homes!

Yesterday, I posted about two Caisson horses who needed homes.  Here is the follow up to their adoptions.  You can read that story here.

Caisson horses come up for adoption at Fort Meyers every now and then.  Stay tuned here to the Fort Meyer available caisson horse adoption webpage where you will learn of the next opportunity!

Click image to go to original article.

Kristen Whittaker hugs Quincy, the horse she adopted, on July 8. Once a participant in funerals at Arlington National Cemetery, Quincy will be moved to Massachusetts where he will live with about a dozen other horses. (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post) There’s already one former service member in the Whittaker household, but soon there will be two veterans: one human, and one horse.

Quincy completed his service to the Army on Friday, and met Sean Sutton and Kristen Whittaker, the veteran and his wife who will take the horse home with them.

“He’s an honored member of the military,” Whittaker said, stroking Quincy. “We can provide a life for him where we can hopefully make him comfortable.”

Quincy had a rigorous job — he served as a caisson horse at Arlington National Cemetery, where he participated in the funerals of military members. Then navicular disease crippled him, and the Army put him up for adoption.

Dozens of people all over the country put in applications, eager to acquire a beautiful Army-trained horse free of charge. Thousands more shared Quincy’s story online, expressing their hopes that a horse who has served his country with dignity would go to a good home for his retirement.

Now he will: Whit Acres Farm, a 40-acre Massachusetts ranch with all the latest in horse luxuries. Quincy will enjoy a heated barn in the winter. Automatic fly spraying in the summer. A padded stall. And an adoring new family, including seven other permanent horse residents, five or more horses boarding while they receive veterinary care, and 7- and 10-year-old humans eager to meet him.

His journey (in an air-conditioned horse trailer) to Massachusetts began on Friday, as did that of Kennedy, another caisson horse who was put up for adoption at the same time.

While Quincy had to leave the Army for medical reasons, Kennedy was dismissed because of discipline problems. His new owner will be someone who knows how to handle him: Carroll Urzendowski, a former caisson soldier himself.

The man and the horse reunited on Friday. Urzendowski left his solemn job at Arlington National Cemetery about a year ago; now he’s a sergeant first class at Fort Polk in Louisiana. He, his wife and their 3- and 4-year-old children now live on an 85-acre ranch in Roganville, Tex., about an hour away. When the family heard Kennedy was up for adoption, they instantly wanted to make him the first horse on their expansive property.

“Kennedy is interesting. Let’s just say he’ll take advantage of his handler if the handler allows him to,” said Urzendowski, 40. “It’s like raising a child. They’ll try to get away with what they can.”

He felt confident he could manage Kennedy; after all, he worked with him before. After a year apart, Urzendowski says, he’s going to have to teach Kennedy to trust him again.

Stroking Kennedy’s neck and back, Urzendowski points out signs that the horse is feeling relaxed and comfortable. His head is down. His lip is jiggling loose. He lifts his back leg, carefree.

Then Kennedy sticks his foot out of the fence. “Get your foot back in there,” Urzendowski says. Kennedy obeys. For a moment. As soon as Urzendowski glances away, Kennedy starts pawing the ground, which Urzendowski knows can damage the horse’s foot. “That’s a no-no,” he says, redirecting the horse. Kennedy stops, then starts again. Urzendowski distracts him again. A moment later, again. And again. Urzendowski remains patient.

“Start moving him, start petting him. You just have to give him something else to think about,” he says, unperturbed that the horse is again pawing away.

First Lt. Austin Hatch, the platoon leader, said about 25 people applied to adopt Quincy and about 25 more applied to adopt Kennedy. A committee of five people, including Hatch, narrowed each pool to about five applicants, then flew around the country checking out possible homes for the horses in person. On those site visits, they selected the Whittakers and Urzendowskis as the lucky new owners of the retiring caisson horses.

“We want to make sure they go to the right homes, because they’ve done their work for the Army, and they’ve served the country at Arlington,” Hatch said.

Both families are keenly aware of the unique role the horses have played, and eager to honor them with a happy retirement. Urzendowski has seen the horses’ preternaturally dignified behavior at funerals — eight funerals a day, in every sort of weather — over and over as a participant himself.

To see a horse honor a service member like that, Urzendowski said, “It’ll put tears in your eyes.”

But Friday, when the horses embarked on their next phase, was a happy day.

When the Whittakers arrived, Quincy greeted them right away and let Kristen rub his face. She caressed him, and told this newly minted veteran: “You’ve got your forever family now.”

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