Temporary Holding, August 24
In my last post, I neglected to mention anything about the loading of the horses into the trailers for transport to temporary holding along Ruby Marsh Lake Road. The reason for this was it was virtually impossible to see them loading with any clarity. They did it pretty quickly, I thought.
We had passed by temporary holding in the morning on the way to the trap site but didn’t really see it. By the time I got there, they had unloaded all the horses and they had been sorted. Stallions in the pen on the far right in back; mares and foals in the pen in the far left in back; dry mares in the pen on the far left in front (described from standing in the parking lot above the pens.)
Apparently the site of this temp holding facility is an old gravel pit, a previously excavated site. In order for the BLM to put up a trap site or temp holding facility, they have to consult with the state’s archaeologist who must approve the temp holding site as well as every trap site for their work. If the site chosen was used before as a temp holding or trap site, they don’t have to consult the archaeologist. Since this was a previously excavated site for some other purpose, they also do not need to consult the archaeologist to place the temp holding pens there. There were mounds of rock and gravel around these pens and they referenced this as the gravel pit.
The area around this temporary holding pen also had three large fifth wheel trailers, the helicopter, several horse trailers, and a trailer full of alfalfa mix feed bales. There was a separate round pen for the domestic horses used at the trap sites. This temporary holding area also had a port-a-potty – I’m told there usually are none at the trap sites or temp holding!
A black SUV with three women that had not been at the trap site that morning was in the parking lot. Later I found out they were from HSUS. One of the ladies was carrying a golden gift bag (ones used for wine and other alcoholic beverages). I was standing in front of them while I photographed the pens and overheard their conversation with Ben Noyes, who was very appreciative of the gift.
Eventually, Ben Noyes took us for a tour around the pens and offered to answer any questions we might have. I was silent for a while, concentrating on getting shots and listening to the questions by the HSUS. The horse’s water buckets were checked twice a day and refilled more often if it was unduly hot. They were fed an alfalfa mix twice a day by placing it just under the corral panels so they wouldn’t trample it. Near the mare and foal pen there was a bag of milk replacement placed on the ground outside the pen. The area just outside of the dry mare pens had an assortment of junk and tires that could not be seen from the parking lot.
A pen in between the stallions and the lactating mares was set aside for a BLM freeze marked adopted mare that was rounded up. It was not possible to see her from the parking lot and not much better when I was on the ground in front of her. The freeze mark was also not very good. I asked about her and they said they were working on finding out who she belongs to. A couple days later, they ended up shipping her to Palomino Valley before they could figure out who owned her.
What was going on in the pens was quite interesting. The stallions had separated into two groups, the Dunn stallion on the right by himself and all the other studs at the other side of the pen. The Dun was in control in the pen and didn’t want the other stallions to forget it.
The dry mares were the easiest to see from the observers’ box next to the parking lot and for the most part, they seemed to all huddle at the left side of the pen. It turns out that’s where the water was! Even though they crowded around that water bucket, they were waiting their turn, no fighting and very quiet.
The pen with the mares and foals was the hardest to see because they were behind the pen holding the dry mares. The foals stayed as close to their mares as they could, especially the younger foals. The mares with foals also seemed to be moving around a lot more than the dry mares. When we walked around the pens, it was not that easy to get good photographs of the horses, a result of my short stature and the green plastic snow fencing that is placed over the steel panels.
The longer I stood there, the more fascinated I became by the dun stallion and the two black dry mares that stuck together like mother and daughter. All three would be marked as sale authority horses.
The dun stallion was determined to keep the other stallions away from the end of their pen that was closest to the wet mares. By the looks of him, he was quite a fighter with many scars across his back and the presence he commanded in the pen. By the end of the roundup, Maureen had decided to adopt him as soon as it was possible and let everyone know she didn’t want him gelded. She found out that only a few days after he was shipped to Gunnison, he was gelded. She still wants him and is still trying to get him. The two black mares won Cinnamon’s heart and she made arrangements to adopt them both after we visited Palomino Valley the day they arrived there. Unfortunately, she found out several days before she was going to pick them up that the older 20-year old mare had died as a result of the rich feed. The other black mare was picked up from Palomino Valley yesterday and is now at the Full Circle Ranch in California.
I couldn’t tear myself away from the temp holding pens. I wanted to take in every detail and not forget these beautiful wild horses.