We at Sky Mountain Wild hope you and yours are enjoying spring. The Sky Mountain wild horse band is once again flying across green grass, up into the trees, and back out again under open sky. Snow melting in the surrounding mountains of the Carson Forest brings the sanctuary alive with purple and pink wild flowers and the sound of rushing water. The band moves together grazing, galloping, and taking turns standing head to tail to groom each other, thereby speeding up the shedding of their winter coats. They belong to the wild and to each other.
We are amazed by Sun, the band’s lead mare who is now about age 28 (our vet’s best guess). She’s a gorgeous elder and we are grateful for time with her. We marvel at and are grateful too for the community that Sky Mountain Wild Horse Sanctuary is becoming. Our members range from age 3 to past 80, living in California and Texas, Missouri and New York and beyond. We are deeply touched by all who join and those who give in honor and in memory of others. Thank you to Cindy, Nan, Max, Dyan, Jaquelin, Yvonne, and Tres, our circle of volunteers.
We continue to build Sky Mountain Wild as a non-breeding, no-kill forever refuge for mustangs deemed ‘unadoptable’ while we work to end the removal of mustangs from the wild through humane birth control efforts. On behalf of the board, thank you for supporting wild horses and being a part of the Sky Mountain Wild community.
A Different Vision for Wild Horses
Today, there may be more wild horses in long-term holding corrals with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management than there are running free in the wild. Approximately 30,000 mustangs rounded up and removed from wild horse territories live in holding facilities. The history of treatment of wild horses in our country is one of brutality paired with some instances of humane action, old ideology competing with new methods and now, much hope for a different tomorrow. One long-standing argument against having wild horses on public lands is that they are a non-native species that competes for forage with other wildlife and privately-owned livestock. The passage of the Free-Roaming Wild Horse & Burro Act of 1971 made illegal many former “management practices;” intended to remedy those including killing horses on public land, and designated wild horse territories where mustangs are protected. Despite the passage of this legislation, the primary method for managing wild horses on public lands has been continued round-up and removal. These wild horses are offered for adoption and most are then sent to long-term holding, with some going to slaughter.
In the years since 1971, many of the territories designated for wild horses and burros throughout the West have been zeroed out, meaning horses and burros have been removed from their lands. New Mexico once had eight territories, we now have three with wild horses left in them. While these devastating changes occur, science advances and now tells us that the mustangs of today are native to America (Kirkpatrick & Fazio, 2009). This understanding, along with innovations in options for horses such as development of the birth control Porcine Zona Pellucida (PZP), underscore the possibility for change.
We at Sky Mountain believe that this moment holds true opportunity to revolutionize the treatment of wild horses in the West. We are continuing to explore new technology and innovative partnership opportunities to keep wild horses free and healthy in numbers that are sustainable on the land they share with other species. Partnerships with private landowners such as the one we have for the sanctuary, and learning more about grazing lease retirement to benefit animals, the land, and the humans involved are paths we continue to explore. Our work administering PZP with our partners in the PZP Project in the Carson National Forest continues as well. For more information about PZP and to read previous coverage of the project, please visit our web site.
Contributed by Teresa Jacobs and Karen Herman
Introducing…El Rito Moon!
El Rito Moon, or ‘Moon’ is a sweet, inquisitive mustang who just turned 3. He arrived at Sky Mountain a thin, stunted-looking colt about 4 months of age. He’s now a beautiful dark chocolate mustang like his mother, El Rito Fire, all brown-black except for a sliver of crescent moon on his forehead and a white snip on his nose. Moon was born in the heart of winter, out of season for foals and in circumstances that make it difficult for them to survive. At adoption, his prominent ribs were accented by tufts of winter coat that stuck to his frame for a long time due to his poor condition, making him quite the sight. We wondered if he would always be small given the difficult time of his birth and first months.
Today, Moon is thriving. Alternately curious and shy, quiet and playful, steady and quick to run, he has grown tall and filled out. He seems to share a deep bond with his mother and is often in her company. He’s quick to initiate a game of wild horse tag with his friend Starlight, the sanctuary’s other 3 year old. He likes to splash and play in the creek or jump from one bank to the other. He is likely to approach when I am sitting amongst the grass. He stands a foot or sometimes inches away, looking intently and often bobbing his head as if he has something important to say. Then he wheels around and is back to his band and to gallop across the sanctuary.
As I watch Moon graze with his mother, play with Starlight, and run with the rest of his band, I am reminded of bonds between wild horses and how they live connected in their own ways. Keeping mustangs wild and together with their own is at the heart of the mission of Sky Mountain Wild Horse Sanctuary. Thank you all for making this possible for Moon and the Sky Mountain band.
Contributed by Karen Herman
Sky Mountain Welcomes and Thanks Our Newest and Current Members!
Welcome to our newest members:
Jeffrey Fornaciari Karly McIlwain
Tammy Ebersole Molly Land
Dyan Oldenburg Cameron Crandall
Jann Besson Julianne & John Greenspan
Sue & Larry Luck Ellen Fogarty
The Turner Gang Connie Monahan
Charles & Penni Caughey in honor of Micalah Caughey
The Kassell – Yung Family in memory of Nancy Kassell
Beth Reister in honor of Robert LaRue
Brenda Bell in memory of Caitlyn, who touched many
Lauren Lucey in memory of Nancy Kassell and in honor of her daughters Nicky, Tash, and Lauren
Our gratitude for continuing support from our founding members: