Survival Guide for a BLM Roundup

6 Apr

Survival Guide for a BLM Roundup

         [a collaborative work by the members of Hippies for Horses facebook group]

Having followed the Antelope Valley roundup in Nevada this year as close as we possibly could from our computer screens, and since there are poeple in the group who are considering observing one, we prepared this article to assist those people make their plans to attend a BLM roundup (aka: BLM gather) for the first time.

Every night we would review videos and photographs posted in blogs, BLM reports, and comments made by on-site observers at the roundups. Some nights, emails and phone calls were made to the photographers in the field to clarify the previous day’s activities.

Everyday that photos and videos were posted, we emailed each other to discuss what we saw, made notes of what was not in the clips publicly posted and made attempts to contact the observers at the roundup to clarify what we were seeing in the photos and on video. Of course only a small amount of what was actually filmed/photographed was publicly posted.

For those who hope to go to a BLM roundup as observers (if the roundups resume in 2011), please be prepared and educated. What follows is a checklist of what to take with you and what you should know before you go.



Both still and video cameras must be *GPS enabled, with good zoom lenses

Tri-pod for Video

Tripod or mono-pod for camera with a long telephoto lens


Take extra camera batteries and memory sticks.

Small portable digital audio device for making notes quickly (consider wearing one around your neck)

Consider separate GPS unit to track route into trap site from easily designated spot off main roadway

[ *GPS – if you don’t have a digital camera with GPS some cameras have auxilliary devices to add to your camera and if you can’t afford that, go to the Roundup anyway.}


Sat Phone – can be rented by the week or month – don’t rely on your cell phone to have service at all the trap sites – unpopulated remote areas do not have many, if any, cell towers.

Sustenance and survival

water, snacks – no amenities available

toilet paper and a small shovel to dig a hole (no port-a-potti)

consider wearing depends

hand sanitizer, sun screen

lightweight folding chair or stool – something to sit on

Small luggage cart with big rubber wheels to carry everything needed for a sun-up to sun-down day – most likely your car will not be at the trap site so wear hiking boots for the walk from the parking lot to the trap site.

Even in summer, nights in the mountains and desserts can get very cold – bring a coat

BLM guidelines ask all observers to  wear muted colors (earth tones and neutral shades) Bright colors are not allowed.

Phone numbers

BLM: Wild Horse Roundup hotline

BLM staff responsible for the roundup

BLM’s WH&B Specialist


BLM District public affairs specialist

Local sheriff and or state police

Media contact information–establish media contacts prior to roundup and persuade them to attend or at least make connection prior–so they will help support get your footage on the air during and after the roundup




Local map with directions to the closest sheriff’s office

Topographical map of the HMA and the local area

Pre-roundup reading material:

HMA information and recent reports &/or press releases

Animal abuse laws of the state the gather occurs in (bring a copy with you)



What to Know:

How to judge a horse’s general body condition


– signs of age, pregnant & wet mares

Horse care



Photographic observations to include:

Views of:

Parking lot

Walk into trap site

The road the horse trailers will be using

Trap site – is it easy for the horses to move into the chute

All roundup staff – employees, contractors, bystanders, observers

– closeups of the faces of the BLM employees and contractors

– closeups of the pilots–perhaps during refueling

*Consider working in teams with some photographing horses, some photographing staff

Empty pens and pens with the horses (do the corrals have any trash in them?)

Chase scenes to include some pan outs for a sense of distance horses have been chased

Close ups

– horse heads

– mare-foal pairs

– injuries

– problems in the chute with the horses

– any faulty equipment

– problems trailering

Loading of each horse onto trailers


– zoom in on DOT # and license plate information

– condition and type of trailer

– no-skid ramp and trailer floor

Any Semis tractor trailer rigs

-zoom in on DOT # and identifying information on truck, and license plate information

Trailering – are the horses secured in the trailer?

Location of BLM personnel during the capture – along the chute, etc?

Helicopter – especially the reg # on it

Observe the horse trailer pull away and travel from the trap site to the parking lot – was the truck driver careful and cautious?

How many horses in each band rounded up? Try and get a head shot of each wild horse or burro.

Try to get closeups shots:

– If any horse has any obvious injuries, blood, wounds, swellings.

– If they are weaving and not running straight, stumbling, sweating steaming bodies during winter.

Horse Observations

Take special note of foals and any horse having trouble keeping up with the chased herd

How many pregnant mares are there?

How many wet mares & foals are there?

What is the general body condition of the horses?

Are any limping, breathing hard, sweaty?

Roundup Observations

Is the helicopter keeping it’s distance from the horse?

How long has the helicopter been out looking for horses when it comes back with a family band?

What does the entry chute look like?

Will the approach to the chute cause any problems for running a horse in?

Is there anything attached to the corrals that is flying in the wind that may scare the horses?

Are they using the shade cloth on the sides of the corrals?

How are the horses corralled? with thier famiies or by gender with foals separated?

Upon rounding up the horses and burros, are they applying PZP?

What does the range look like – is it damaged in anyway? Is there plenty of forage?

Post Roundup

After the horses are loaded hike around the area with binoculars looking for injured or dead horses and foals or aborted babies.

Keep a daily diary of events: who you talked to, what you saw or didn’t see, or expected to see. Be sure to note any weather conditions and any changes that may have occurred everyday you attend the roundup.

Things to note:

* Did they release any horses. If so were they PZP’d and released?

* Document every mare PZP’d in order to track her

* What temporary holding facility were they taken to?

* Did the BLM and/or contractors follow their own guidelines?

* Document all BLM staff in charge of roundup–photograph their close ups and names

* Document all staff hired by BLM as contractors in charge of roundup–photograph them with their close ups and names. Include all wranglers with plastic flags and all staff, and volunteers around horses as much as possible.

* Note the times and keep detailed notes.  What time did the helicopter take off?  How long was it gone before returning with horses?

With all your dealings with the BLM, being polite and non confrontational can be helpful.  Even though the roundup staff may not have read all the documents suggested in this article, not all of them are evil; honey catches more flies than dung , so be sure to be polite and professional.

If you see something wrong specifically, ask kindly if it can be changed…for example the orientation of the trap, debris flying around in the corral or on the fencing, or when a horse needs help.

Since clearly the BLM holds all the cards on the roundups and controls the fates of the wild equines in America, so we must continue along the same lines as Wild Horse Annie, aka, Velma Johnson, methods and continue to increase public involvement and dialogue with the BLM for solutions to problems and for better and humane care of all the horses and burros.

I hope this article was helpful in getting ready to attend a roundup.  If you manage to go to a round up for a the first time this year, please let us know if the checklist was helpful and we’d sure see your photos and videos.

If we left something out, please add your comments…


3 Responses to “Survival Guide for a BLM Roundup”

  1. Anne-Marie April 7, 2011 at 5:37 pm #

    Excellent guide and info.Just to ad;wild horses can not be “secured” in a trailer, however all trailers should have skidproof footing, and no “open trailers” with just bars on top. Also we should get some info on how many animals can be transported per/sqare foot or something like that. When people go, if more then one person, there should be a “team approach”every person should zero in on certain aspects. Otherwise it can be overwhelming. Also get to know each other and the person’s background.Observers with more extensive horse backgrund should be monitoring the horses physical condition. Other observers, should record BLM personel, vehicle IDs and other data, that they don’t need experience with horses!Then one person compile all data in laptop at the end of each day If there is a need to take action re: animal cruelty or abuse, again organized effort brings the most result. There should be a “Team leader or captai”, of the Observers/advocates, who is familiar with the procedure of initiating an “Animal cruelty charge” this person takes all necessary and pertinent info, eyewitness data, location all proof etc. This person than follows through proper chain of command. The “Teamleader” will approach BLM person in charge, and will ask for immediate action to correct the situation. Record response of BLM personel, complete data, name, rank, response etc.If situation remedied immediately, then no need to pursue it further, if not than there is! Just my thoughts.


    • westdeltagirl April 7, 2011 at 7:51 pm #

      Thank you Anne Marie for your excellent and helpful comments. Let’s hope that the on the ground observers team up before hand.! This is only a tool to help anyone or any group that go to the roundups.


  2. KA Schaaf(kasohio) August 2, 2011 at 11:09 am #

    Good article. I will let others know!


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