Mustang whisperer could have answers for BLM’s horse dilemma

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Saturday, April 5, 2014 7:00 pm | Updated: 7:34 pm, Mon Apr 7, 2014.

More than two decades ago, a South Dakota ranch hosted 1,500 unadopted mustangs on the first federally approved wild horse sanctuary. Owned by H. Alan Day, the ranch was unique for more than just the horses.

Day, the brother of former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, tried a “gentling” method he had used with wild cattle to get the horses to trust and follow humans. He thinks his experience with the mustangs could help the embattled Bureau of Land Management as the agency struggles to care for thousands of wild horses on drought-stricken Western rangelands and 50,000 more stuck in holding facilities.

Subscription Required

An online service is needed to view this article in its entirety. You need an online service to view this article in its entirety.

Have an online subscription?

Login Now

Need an online subscription?



You must login to view the full content on this page.

Thank you for reading 5 free articles on our site. You can come back at the end of your 30-day period for another 5 free articles, or you can get complete access to the online edition for $2.49 a week. If you need help, please contact our office at 505-986-3010 You need an online service to view this article in its entirety.

Have an online subscription?

Login Now

Need an online subscription?



Rules of Conduct

  • 1 No Alias Commenters must use their real names.
  • 2 Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
  • 3 Don't Threaten or Abuse. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated. and please turn off caps lock.
  • 4 Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.

Welcome to the discussion.


  • Allan Ladd posted at 12:29 pm on Sun, Apr 27, 2014.

    Ladd Posts: 8

    "Without predators, the herd sizes grew rapidly. The BLM rounded up horses periodically to reduce the herd sizes and offered the mustangs for adoption at low prices. Some of the mustangs rounded up were crippled, old or ugly — not the kind people wanted to adopt. More and more unwanted horses ended up in BLM long-term holding pastures, where the agency is obligated to care for them until they die. The tough little mustangs often live into their 30s." here is the essence of the lie the mass
    media keeps repeating sans evidence. Predators aren't the only population control -drought, stress induced infertiility caused by BLM roundups are others. It is impossible they are overpopulating ! All the stallions in BLM holding have been gelded. We don't need a horse whisperer to lure them into extinction with PZP. We
    need to return wild horses to the range and drive the welfare cattle off!

  • Karen Strickholm posted at 4:32 pm on Tue, Apr 8, 2014.

    KarenSantaFe Posts: 2

    Sorry for my typos. :-(

  • Karen Strickholm posted at 4:32 pm on Tue, Apr 8, 2014.

    KarenSantaFe Posts: 2

    Big kudos go to reporter Staci Matlock for this interested, well-researched piece. I hope you will do a follow-up in a few months.

    I, too, wish I was young enough (an knew how to expertly ride a horse!) to apply for a job managing a small herd of wild horses. What an amazing opportunity!

  • Marybeth Devlin posted at 8:06 am on Tue, Apr 8, 2014.

    MarybethDevlin Posts: 2

    H. Alan Day's wild-horse sanctuary and low-stress handling-approach evidence his enlightened thinking and generosity of spirit. I wish him every success.

    However, BLM's disinformation must be exposed. There is no wild-horse overpopulation. For most herds, the maximum population is set below minimum viable population. There are too-few mustangs on the range, and too-many mustangs in captivity. BLM created this crisis, all the while rejecting "people with constructive ideas."

    BLM does "have the stomach" for slaughter. Three weeks ago, BLM sold 37 wild horses to a slaughterhouse in Canada. BLM speaks sweetly, acts treacherously.

    The contraceptive PZP-22 is effective and long-acting; but BLM prefers helicopter-stampedes -- violent rodeos that cause not only injuries but fatalities.

    Until 2005, BLM counted sales-for-slaughter as "adoptions." After 2005, only "forever-family" placements qualified. Consequently, adoptions "declined."

    BLM claims horses have no natural predators. Cougars and wolves are horses' natural predators. BLM exterminated them.

    Equids evolved in North America. They are a native species. BLM dishonors that fact, instead telling the tale of how Spanish Conquistadors introduced horses to the New World. However, Native American oral history confirms that horses were already here when the explorers arrived.

    BLM disparages captive mustangs as "crippled, old, or ugly." But even crippled wild horses are beautiful, noble creatures, worthy of respect, having survived BLM's brutal roundups and shameful neglect. Old horses, it turns out, play a key role in stabilizing herd-population. Ironically, BLM targets them for removal.

  • James Fitzgerald posted at 2:06 pm on Sun, Apr 6, 2014.

    Jim Fitzgerald Posts: 21

    Were I young again, I would be standing in line to be included in such a visionary project.


Follow The Santa Fe New Mexican

Today’s New Mexican, July 26, 2014

To view a replica of today's printed edition of The Santa Fe New Mexican, you must be a subscriber. Get complete access to the online edition, including the print replica, at our low rate of $2.49 a week. That's about the price of a cup of coffee. Or get online and home delivery of our print edition for $3.24. Click here for details.