Free the Twins
Following on from our Facebook post about how difficult it has been to rescue horses from BLM corrals, I wanted to explain just how hard it has been to adopt mustangs over the last few years. Even though we are an approved and inspected facility with the highest quality of care and success with all the horses we have been able to take. It literally makes no sense that we have had to fight to get so many horses safely to us. Both Red Lady and Gracie would never have been reunited with Goliath and Maestro as the BLM denied both re-assignments when asked by their adopters.
Last summer saw my visit to Bruneau and a photograph of Magnolia and her baby boy, (a Grulla colt coincidentally). Several people offered to give them a home and we asked to adopt them. I was given reason after reason as to why they could not be picked up. When I was told Strangles was at the facility I asked to come get the mare and foal so that they wouldn't get sick and was denied. The summer went by with further requests to take them turned down until finally the baby passed away. We adopted Maggie but it killed me that her baby never knew he was loved and had a home offer and a good life he never got to live.
This list of horses and donkeys goes on and on, we also asked to take the entire herd of burros rounded up from Warm Springs but were denied, finally last week the biggest blow of all.....
We were contacted by adoption staff at the BLM Burns corrals to tell us about a mare who had given birth to twins. It was the most incredible news for us. The statistics about any mare conceiving twins is 1 in 10,000 but the chances of those babies growing to term and being born healthy and the mother surviving is nothing short of MIRACULOUS — I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I was told one was a little weaker and frailer, understandably, and for that reason the staff thought they would do best with extra supplements, good alfalfa, minerals and for them all to have access to vet care to make sure they were growing in the best health and to make sure they survived.
This was the most positive and beautiful story I had ever heard. Mustang twins born at a BLM corrals. Their mother run pregnant by a helicopter and all the stress and strength that takes only to give birth to her twins in less than ideal conditions in mud and dirty pens. No shelter, no shade and no vet care - and they were still alive. I immediately knew that horse lovers all over the world would celebrate this amazing feat — the perfect story to show the endurance, wisdom, strength, resilience and beauty of these wild horses. This was the perfect happy ending mustangs needed for people to understand just how special they are.
I flew up to Oregon and drove to the corrals in driving rain to see them last week. I sat in the mud and cold watching in complete awe and wonder at the beauty of this mare. I spoke to the babies and told them they were getting out and that their lives were going to count for something and have meaning and love and they would live free with their mother as they were meant to. We arranged to come pick them up at the earliest day we could and I left and flew back down to California staring at the photos of the family, zooming in on their faces and telling them to hang in there.
One of the babies WAS much smaller and I worried about them but said a prayer. The mare was skinny and showing ribs and probably using up much of her nutrients nursing two babies. But I felt in my heart that it would be alright. We would make sure they would thrive with all the extra things that we can provide these precious babies, where a BLM corrals is quite obviously and understandably limited in those regards.
And then I got a message that there was a glitch. The mama mare was on the list for the spay study and for that reason she couldn't be adopted out or sold. I had to read it several times. We had agreed to take them and they were telling us that instead her babies would be taken away and her ovaries pulled out. I have to admit I cried. Huge ugly tears of sorrow for the life they were being denied.
For so many reasons this is wrong. The BLM rounding up wild horses off the range and denying them loving homes to do brutal Frankenstein experiments on them instead, is immoral and I believe illegal. Surely a sanctuary offer trumps doing a study on this mare. They rounded up over 800 horses in the warm springs gather and made a list of 300 who were eligible to be turned back out and the mares to be experimented on must make up 150 of those. Add to that the fact that advocacy groups have twice taken legal action against this study and now the BLM have introduced it a third time!! Are we really to believe that this one bay mare is the key to the whole thing? That she couldn't be given the home she is being offered and the best chance of keeping her twins alive and at her side.
We spoke to three equine vets and the equine hospital where our little donkeys are and they all said that the twin foals would be better off in a private facility with extra nutrients, supplements, minerals and round-the-clock attention, out of the elements and being cared for.
How on earth can the BLM go to Congress and complain that nobody wants to adopt these horses and 50,000 of them are in holding pens and that adoptions were significantly down last year and then deny an approved, and financially successful sanctuary? I would happily waive the incentive money of $1000 a horse that the BLM are now giving people to adopt them. They would have three less horses to feed, care for, process and handle. How on earth can that be denied? It is monstrous.
For me this is the final straw in a long long battle to try and talk reason, to apply common sense, to demonstrate the moral issues that they just refuse to understand. To apply decency, compassion and kindness. These horses are not theirs to experiment on if a home offer is in place. They are not laboratory animals. If you look at the EA all the language revolves around doing the procedure and then studying what happens to the mares.
Whether they bleed out, die of infection, die of shock, hurt themselves in the chutes — it's just a number in a study. This mare is not a number. I refuse to call her tag no. 4702. Her name is Elsa, named for the Lion in Born Free, and her babies are Faith and Hope. The corrals don't know the sex of the babies but I know from the photos that one is a girl. Elsa is ten years old which makes her a sale authority horse which even more weakens the argument against saying no to an adoption.
As I wrote yesterday, it is one thing seeing a cold hard number of 100 faceless, nameless mares who will have to suffer this procedure* — but this here is the face of spay. These two babies will be weaned from their mama in a couple of months (August) and the mare taken to an unsterile environment within the corrals where a vet will perform the procedure. I have no idea if the babies will be given back to her or whether she will be released on to the range a week later with other mares who had the same procedure. But it seems to me that when we are offering to take them as a family and keep them together to promote mustangs that might be a better life for them.
Over the past few years so many people have asked what they can do to help these horses….Here are a few ideas:
We are in a public comments period for the spay study and you can go here and write your comments on the study until June 12th. We shall later post some guidelines of things to say but it can also come directly from you. You can email your comments or mail them by hand.
The second thing I would love is for you to go to the BLM adoption application, print it out, and on the top write — Tag number 4702 — fill out your name and address and then write SEND TO SKYDOG SANCTUARY on the rest of the form. Scan the top page and email it to Rob Sharp at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask him to please change his mind and let Elsa and her twins come to Skydog.
Please be polite and do not be hostile in any way, be reasonable and measured in your approach. We just want our voices heard. It has been my experience that the BLM always entrenches and defends their position and the likelihood of them turning around and saying yes at this point, particularly after this post, is slim — in my heart I have already accepted that they are not getting out as a family. But the promise I made to them as I sat and fell in love with these horses stands. I want their lives to make a difference. And I hope beyond hope that both babies make it and don't die in the process like little Maggie's baby did last summer.
You can also use these hashtags and post to all your social media sites — #freethetwins and #stopthespaystudy Let’s make this go VIRAL, as it flies in the face of the BLM's claims that they care and that they want to get these horses adopted.
The Burns corrals are located in Rep. Greg Walden’s district in Oregon. Tag him in your tweets (@repgregwalden) and other social media posts with #stopthespaystudy and #freethetwins. Or if you live in his district in Oregon, you can contact him here and express your concerns about the spay study as well as the mare and her twins.
Lastly, Rep. Greg Walden and Rep. Kurt Schrader are the only remaining Oregon Representatives NOT signed up to co-sponsor HR 961, the Safe Act. If you live in their districts, please reach out and express your concerns about the spay study as well as suggest they support HR 961.
On the BLM’s website they say, "The BLM works to place excess animals into private care through its Adoption and Sales Programs as well as successful partnerships with organizations across the nation." We know you read everything we write so here we are, trying to work with you, trying to take horses out of holding pens into sanctuary and we would love to know why we can't.
* "BLM is determining the feasibility of performing ovariectomies via colpotomy. This is a rare procedure which removes the ovaries by crushing and pulling them out with a looped-chain medical instrument called an ecraseur. This procedure opens the mares up to serious risk from infection, evisceration (should intestines come through the incision) and hemorrhaging. There is a high frequency of post-operative complications affiliated with this some of which can be life-threatening."