Tag Archives: round up

Lion: The Stallion that Made a Difference in My Life

8 Dec

Lion: The Dun Stallion Triple B HMA roundup August 2011 ©2011 afroditi katsikis

Lion: The Dun Stallion
Triple B HMA roundup August 24, 2011 ©2011 afroditi katsikis

We named this stallion Lion. He was rounded up during the Triple B 2011 roundup. This photo was taken Aug 24, 2011 at the temp holding pens. This was the first day that I went to a roundup and the first time I was at a holding pen.

He captured my attention right away at the holding pen because of all the commotion he made in the stallion pen. I’m not sure when he was captured. This day I was an observer in Newark Valley and I reviewed all my 900 images I took that day and could not identify him in them so it’s not likely he came from Newark Valley.

While walking around the holding pens, trying to get good photos to share, there was a moment when he was staring at me. I began talking softly at him, telling him not to be angry with me and apologized to him that he was caught because I didn’t want to see him or other others captured.

As my friends joined me in the following days at the roundups in Butte Valley and we visited the holding pens, everyone remarked about him. He stood out above the other stallions as the leader of them all! He always dominated this end of the holding pen because it was the closest to his mares. In between the wet mare pen and the stallion pen was a small pen with a branded horse in it.

By the end of the round-up, my friend Maureen, decided she was going to adopt him. I was elated to say the least because I fell in love with him and I knew he would be safe at Maureen’s place and I would see him again!

BLM sent him to Gunnison. Maureen let it be known she wanted him intact – BLM acknowledged that would be fine. However, Maureen discovered they gelded him anyway but she still was going to take him.

On the day she arrived at Gunnison to pick him up, he died while they were trying to load him – he broke his neck while Maureen was in the office signing papers to take him. She was devastated! She loved him too. She called me the next day and told me what happened – I was crushed for days! – a horse I barely knew but felt an instant connection with him.

Lion and the Stallions at the Triple B HMA temp holding pens August 24, 2011 ©2011 afroditi katsikis

The Stallion Pen: Lion Controlled them all in the temp holding pen Triple B HMA August 24, 2011 ©2011 afroditi katsikis
The Stallion Pen: Lion Controlled them all in the temp holding pen
Triple B HMA August 24, 2011 ©2011 afroditi katsikis
When Lion died, I hadn’t been a horse advocate for very long – maybe 10 months. Even though I had heard about the atrocities at roundups, experiencing one was a sure eye-opener – one that I will never forget! But what happened after the roundup was just as bad – not only because Lion died but there were horses in short-term holding who also died as a result of colic. Since BLM doesn’t count the foals, there’s no telling how many of them died in holding pens!I know how all my friends feel about losing a horse they love (I have never had a horse) and I understand how one can know the magic they feel when they first see or meet a horse with an instant connection.Lion is in my heart forever and is my driving force to see the wild horses and burros back where they belong – running wild on public lands!I know experiences like this are hard to handle but it’s real important for as many people as possible to go to a roundup so you can share what happens at a BLM roundup. Be a witness before they are all gone from the wild places in which they belong.

Lion, The Dun Stallion directly staring at me. ©2011 afroditi katsikis
Lion, The Dun Stallion staring at me (there was no else there for him to stare at but me)
©2011 afroditi katsikis

©2013 afroditi katsikis


Federal Court Forces Interior Department to Consider Scientific Evidence Regarding Wild Horse Management | American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign

10 May

Federal Court Forces Interior Department to Consider Scientific Evidence Regarding Wild Horse Management | American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign.

!! WOOHOO !!
“The Honorable U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell stated in her 23-page opinion that the agency

“may not simply remain studiously ignorant of material scientific evidence well known to the agency and brought directly to its attention in timely-filed comments.”

(Emphasis added.) She decisively rejected the BLM’s attempt to exclude the expert declarations from the agency’s decision-making process and affirmed that the Court would consider the “material scientific evidence” contained in the declarations as in future rulings in the case.”

Triple B, August 25 Newark Valley trap site

15 Oct The third band, 8 horses and one foal, running hard at the trap site.


Again we were told to meet at the Ely village park at 4:00 am which meant a 2:00 am wake up call and a 3:00 am departure from Cherry Creek. Today we had a different plan. Now Arla and Maureen knew where the trap site was in Newark Valley and they were going to do some scouting in the area looking for an appropriate vantage point. I was supposed to meet them at the 30 mile loop turn-off from route 50 at 2:30 in the afternoon.

The BLM caravan, Chris Hanefeld and Vanessa in the first car, followed the three HSUS reps, me and two rangers, heads out of town on Route 50 towards Newark Valley again. We arrived at Ruby Marsh Road and as soon as the vehicles in front of me hit the first patch of very dusty dirt road, I literally had to stop – I could not see the road! I wasn’t so worried that morning as I had been on this same road the day before. As I stopped to let the dust clear, the ranger behind me passed me and took off! Another cloud of dust to wait through! I found out later he was the new guy on the team that day and didn’t know all the correct protocols – i.e., a ranger is supposed to stay at the end of the caravan and not leave an observer behind.

Chris Hanefeld and the HSUS SUV were waiting for me at the temp holding pens. They were wondering what happened to me and I explained I chose to drive carefully within the 25 mph speed limit, and had to wait for the two plumes of dust to clear before I would drive on.

We got to the trap site and started walking over to the observation area when Chris got a message that the chopper was bringing in a band of horses. We hurried to get there and set up our cameras.

Early in the day I decided to ask Chris Hanefeld about the 500 foot clearance that the chopper was required to keep from people. Chris Hanefeld said the FAA rules is the reason why the observers were to keep 500 feet from the trap site. Chris added that the fuel truck was also supposed to keep 500 feet away from the trap site and the observation area since the chopper ‘hot-fueled’ there. [Hot-fueled – the chopper is fueled while the chopper engine is still running.]

The First Band

First Band is Sighted in Newark Valley

First Band is Sighted in Newark Valley

First band was found early and appeared to be brought in without incident but I had no idea how long or far they had been driven or where they had started? I could not see what was going on in the areas hidden from view due to the terrain but once I had a shot of what I presumed to be racing horses and chopper dust, I clicked to preserve the time. Sometimes it was not obvious until the cloud of dust got closer.

When I finally got a chance to view my work, I realized that the first and second band were really the same band; they were split into two groups. The first band consisted of 9 horses and two of them were foals. The first five were pushed into the trap site while the other four initially escaped by heading back down slope (north and away from the trap site). These four can be seen standing around in the background of a few shots while the first five were being pushed in the direction of the trap site. Each group had one foal.

The first half of the first band

The first half of the first band approach the trap site.

The First Band

The First Band

The second half of the first band.

The second half of the first band.

The Second Band

The second band is spotted north east of the trap site.

The second band is spotted north east of the trap site.

The second band was a different story – chopper drove the band a long time and a long way – photo time stamp shows that the chopper and horses were in view way down the valley at 7:45 am and were pursued until 9:07 am. This was the largest band of horses I saw at one time so far and they managed to escape! Made me feel real good especially after all the miles they ran!

The second band approaches the trap site.

The second band approaches the trap site.

The chopper ended up pushing them in a box pattern around the trap site and observation area and if my observations are correct they would have run more than six miles or more around us (this does not include when the horses reversed direction from time to time) nor does it include the miles they must have run just to get to the trap site.

The second band regrouping in the trap site area

The second band regrouping in the trap site area

As the horses approached the trap site, the grey mare was leading but three dropped from view and another horse took the lead away from the trap site leading the seven up the hill to the south behind the observation area. The chopper turned them around several times but the horses were determined and kept on heading south. At one point 3 reversed direction and headed south (uphill) the seven others headed north. The north bound horses reversed direction and headed back uphill the way the other 3 had gone. Next time I could see them, there were only nine horses! One had dropped out somewhere. The group of nine continue uphill until they took a right turn and ran west, crossing the road near the ranger parked on the road uphill (south) of the trap site; when this happened I was reaching for my next camera memory card and don’t have any photos of them crossing the road.

The band is headed south

The band is headed south. And one of the 10 makes a run for freedom.

The band is heading west

The band is heading west

{See photo gallery below for the photos in the order they were taken.}

After crossing the road they took another turn right and headed north on the other side of the road. Even though they were less than a mile away, they could not be seen due to the terrain until they were north of the trap site.

The second band has crossed the road we drove in on; this is south of the trap site area.

The second band has crossed the road we drove in on; this is south of the trap site area.

The second band running east just north of the ranger parked on the road.

The second band running east just north of the ranger parked on the road.

And again they made a right turn just north of the other ranger parked on the road and the horses continued east. The Ely district BLM had rangers parked on the road about a half mile away on either side of all the trap sites to control traffic should the chopper be driving horses into the trap site area.

Another right turn to head into the trap site but they won’t go there! The chopper continues pushing them and they go south once again, up the hill! As they head south, the chopper splits them up and after a few double-backs, a group of four horses and one foal escape into the trees while the other four horses head downhill (north) only to escape into the trees!

This band won this battle – they are in the trees and not coming out! If ever there was a band of wild horses I’d like to meet, it’s this band – the band that got away!

[There is a slideshow in the works of this band from start to escape which includes a lot more photographs than are posted here – it will be posted soon! in the meantime scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the gallery of photos at the trap site on August 25, 2011]

Immediately after this failure to catch wild horses, the chopper flies directly over the observation area – so close I could see the watch on the pilot’s wrist! At this point I turned to Chris Hanefeld and said, “500 feet?”

I watched theses horses be chased for one hour and twenty-two minutes, according to my camera. Several times I begged Chris Hanefeld to contact Ben Noyes and tell him to stop the helicopter but he refused as it ‘was not his job’ to tell the WHB specialist how to do his job.

The third band also had 10 horses, two were foals. This band was easily herded from the north east into the trap site. They were driven to the trap site through a depression in the terrain and therefore they were not viewable by my camera and half the time, neither was the chopper visible. This band stayed together throughout their stampede and unfortunately for them, they were trapped.

The third band is at the trap site.

The third band is at the trap site.


Everyone's eating dust at the trap site!

Everyone’s eating dust at the trap site!

The last hors of the third band to race over the mound in the jute chuted area of the trap site. The last horse caught for the day!

The last hors of the third band to race over the mound in the jute chutted area of the trap site. The last horse caught for the day!

Immediately after the third band was captured, they began loading the horses onto trailers. They trailered the foals separately. After trailering the foals, they started taking down the trap site.

[Short slide show of trailering is in the works…check back here real soon.]

I didn’t get to inspect the inside of the trailers they used to transport horses back to the temporary holding pens; I suspect it was the trailer they asked us to stand in on Saturday the 27th while we were observing during the Butte Valley trap site. That trailer did not have a skid-proof floor – bare metal! (more about this coming up soon.)

Triple B Roundup

23 Sep

It was quite by surprise that I ended up going to a BLM ‘gather’ (BLM’s word for round-up) of wild horses!  The Triple B round-up in eastern Nevada only had a few more weeks before it’s end date when a bunch of my facebook friends offered to pay my travel expenses to go to Ely, Nevada.  I left a week later …

Getting There

Nothing about this trip was easy. Seemed like every obstacle was placed in the way starting with Amtrak’s late arrival in Martinez by more than 3 hours! I decided to keep on trying to get to Elko, but this meant when I got to Elko I had to get a place to stay as it was not possible to hang out at the train station. There is only a phone booth size compartment that they call a train station in Elko. I had called Hertz ahead of time and delayed the rental reservation till the next morning.


I picked up a Chevy Traverse AWD in Elko and drove it to Arla’s in Cherry Creek. I had been on US 80 many times over the years but have never seen this stretch of the road so green and lush – there was even a bit of snow left on the mountains!

When I reached Wells, I turned south on route 93 and was surprised that the snow patches continued a bit along the mountaintops and high crevices. Along the way, I got off 93 onto Cherry Creek Road, a dirt road that cut 5 miles off my trip Arla told me.  I saw a small group of either deer or antelope and did not have any chance of photographing them as my camera was still packed.  After I got it out, I saw nothing.

Got to Cherry Creek and of course I was too lazy to look up the email on my phone where Arla gave me directions through her little village so I asked this older gentlemen at the row of the village’s mailboxes who was reading his mail in his truck.  Followed his directions, ended up at Arla’s little gallery where I knew she wouldn’t be so I drove around for a short while when Arla magically appeared and smiled at me and I realized who she was and off to her house at the top of this village.  Awesome view of the valley from there! Later that night I realized how bright the stars were – much brighter than where I live in the Sacramento River delta!

Arla and I spent a good part of the afternoon chatting.  We went to her little gallery, Cherry Creek Gallery, and I got a chance to meet Annie and Spring, Ray’s mustangs.

Later in the afternoon, we took a drive down 9 mile loop to 4 watering spots: 2 little streams, a trough filled by a spring and another little pool fed by a spring – all were full of water and the streams were flowing. They all had hoof prints of horses, antelope, deer and cattle.

However, the least amount of prints were those of horses. Arla kept telling me that this was an unusual year as all these watering spots were full! In years past, these spots had water year round but not brimming as they were this year so late in the summer!



I got up about 2:00am and left at 3:15am but was late arriving at the meeting place in Ely, the little park in the middle of town.

Upon calling BLM, I learned I had arrived 2 minutes after they left. I sat there a while looking at my email on the phone after leaving a phone message for Chris Hanefeld PR, BLM Ely, NV. I also took a few moments to make sure I was in compliance with the rules of observation they sent me via email – don’t wear white, black or red, and no bright colors, only neutral colors, closed toe sturdy shoes, and hat among other items on the list.

Tiffany was told to call me back and I chatted her up a bit and found out three people from HSUS were there since Monday. Somehow on Tuesday, the HSUS group, had gotten a flat tire and damaged the air conditioner in the SUV they rented, so Wednesday they did not show at the trap site but did show up at temporary holding which we visited at the end of the day’s round-up.

I drove around Ely before day break, saw the Railroad Museum, several casino hotels, and many murals on the sides of brick buildings depicting miners and the railroad. Got some gas and went to the only supermarket in town before returning to Cherry Creek.

Becky Springs

Arla and I spent the afternoon chatting about photography, the BLM, horses and late in the afternoon, drove up to Becky Springs which is located where Rte. 93 does a right turn about 15 miles north of Cherry Creek. As we turned onto the dirt road headed to the spring, we noticed an ATV with two hunters. We altered our route to the spring and as we did so spotted an antelope who took off immediately with the ATV in pursuit. We never heard a gun shot so we presumed he got away.

Becky’s Spring was set underneath a tree and had lots of foot prints in the mud surrounding it – saw many deer and antelope prints and an occasional horse hoof print. Maureen was expected to arrive and we knew she’d be arriving soon so we left the springs and headed back to Cherry Creek.


This is the first installment of my experience at a BLM roundup. There will be several more chapters to follow describing my experiences complete with photographs, at the Triple B Roundups in Newark Valley and Butte Valley.

This was my very first experience at a BLM wild horse ‘gather’.  I will also admit that I have never owned or had the responsibility for caring for a horse but learned to ride thanks to my friends years ago who took me trail riding from time to time.  I’ve always loved horses, admired their grace and beauty but it’s been less than a year since I decided I had to stop the BLM from taking the wild out of the wild!

I am appalled that the BLM employees and contractors show such a lack of care for the wild horses, their own staff and observers. They violate or don’t enforce their own rules when it comes to following the BLM Caravan above the posted speed limits on very dusty dirt roads to the trap sites, permitted clothing color requirements for observers or trap site contractors, FAA rules about helicopters, but most of all the rounding up of wild horses with a helicopter … piloted by Josh Hellyer!  Why must he fly so low over the horses? Why does he fly over the trap site and hover so close to the ground?  Why is he allowed to fly over the observation area at less than 500 feet? And why is he allowed to keep the horses and foals running for 30 to 60 minutes at a time?

Each day of the Triple B round ups I attended started at dawn! Only 4 bands caught at most per day before the round ups were called off due to wind before noon?  The pilot would drive the bands down from the mountains (where cattle don’t graze) from miles away, at best we could see them 20 minutes before they arrived at the trap site with them!

My facebook friends have played a great part in my education about wild horses and burros and are responsible for providing the travel expenses needed to attend this roundup. Thank you so much for this experience!

afroditi katsikis

Red Dawn In Newark Valley

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…

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