The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is giving the public just 17 days to submit comments on a plan to roundup and remove wild horses living in the South Steens Herd Management Area (HMA), which is located 75 miles south of Burns, Oregon. Known as the “Hollywood Herd,” the South Steens horses are both colorful (many pintos) and accessible, making them one of the most popular and frequently photographed populations in the U.S.
Just four years ago, the BLM conducted a helicopter roundup in the mountainous South Steens HMA, removing hundreds of wild horses from the range. The horses were thrown into holding pens; most will remain in captivity in government holding facilities for life. Now, four years later, the agency is planning another roundup in the HMA, and targeting over 300 horses for removal.
Despite sequestration and budget crises and despite the lack of holding space for captured mustangs due to the stockpiling of an astounding 50,000 wild horses, the BLM just does not get the message that its fiscally irresponsible and inhumane ways must change. The agency must stop rounding up and removing wild horses from their homes on the range, and start properly implementing a PZP fertility control program. Current wild horse numbers can be accommodated by modest adjustments to livestock grazing in order to give PZP the time to stabilize population numbers, and reduce the herd size over time.
The BLM allocates 72% of available forage in this HMA, not to federally-protected wild horses, but to a private rancher who grazes his livestock on our public lands at tax-subsidized rates. This leaves ample room for the agency to adjust forage allocations to maintain the current South Steens wild horses on the range and avoid costly removals.
Roll has been off for several months during the Christmas season and then during inclement weather throughout the winter and early spring. His physique has maintained its core muscle strength and his good posture continues to be strong. He has maintained this good posture and musculature over these five months on turnout alone. When an animal’s posture is truly changed and improved, he should reach a point where this becomes the norm and his way of standing and moving will reflect that. He no longer requires formal lessons to strengthen the muscles in good posture because he can now do it himself as long as he is given the room to move on a daily basis.
One of the most important things we did with Roll was to shoe his two hind feet. Back when he was first beginning the round pen work, I noticed he was twisting the rear feet, particularly on the right hind foot. He began wearing his hooves unevenly which was compromising his ability to balance in good posture consistently. We theorized that if we could keep the foot flat when it hit the ground with no give, he would be able to track forward without twisting.
This proved to be true and Roll has done well with frequent resets and new shoes at critical intervals. The founder he once had in his hooves is practically undetectable and his new-found health is exhilarating for him. He welcomes the farrier visits as it makes him feels good. This would not have been possible without the right kinds of exercises and shoes.
Roll stands stock still while he is being worked on and always seeks the four-square balanced position. He doesn’t ever have to lean on the farrier because his good posture and balance is so strong.
His feet are much improved and look fantastic compared to what we started with.
After his farrier work, Roll is asked to do some stretches after having to stand still for quite awhile. This feels good, too and he is happy to comply. First from side to side…
…and then to stretch downward.
All of these exercises allow him to learn to cope with a multitude of distractions and to handle them in a calm and thoughtful way, so that he learns to pay attention to all that is happening around him without becoming unduly nervous. All this helps to make him a comfortable, happy, reliable and a safe equine to be around!
It has come to our attention via the poster shown that a donkey roping event is scheduled for May 25 and 26 in Welch, OK. We stopped ropings in Eden, TX and Van Horne, TX last year. Please send letters and call to get this one stopped too!
Donkey roping is a cruel and completely unnecessary “sport.” Donkeys are anatomically different from cattle, and their bodies cannot stand up to the rigors of roping the way a steer’s can. Their joints articulate differently, and they have a long cervical spine (neck) that is easily broken when stretched between two horses that weight 3 – 6 times as much as a donkey. In addition, given the length and design of their necks, their windpipes are often crushed during the event. The bones in their legs are often broken as well. Donkeys do not have horns to rope, and often the cartilage of their ears is broken by the ropes or by putting the “hats” on that normally protect a steer.
Roping is an art, and the ropes need to land on the correct locations on the cattle in order to handle them without injury. Donkeys do not have the same locations as a cow does, making it much more likely to cause lasting injuries. Also a donkey’s skin is not the same as a cow’s, and often they end up with necks covered in blisters from the ropes tearing their skin
For more information about contacting representatives to stop this event, and to see the damage that can happen to roped donkeys, please visit Donkey Whisperer Farm.
Five miles north of Katy on more than 70 acres of green pastures is where Pops and Honey are living out the golden years of their life, relaxing and enjoying time together.
They often have visitors who spend time with them like Katy mom Kelli Kerkhoff, who said she is grateful to see the couple happy now after neglect and suffering marred their lives.
“Pops is just really sweet and he was about to be sent off to a slaughterhouse so he was brought there,” said Kerkhoff, 39. “And Honey had been kept in a garage for a couple of years and she was underweight and malnourished but she’s there now and doing well.”
Pops and Honey are enjoying a different kind of retirement as horses, being protected and cared for at the Blue Ribbon Equine Horse Rescue at 25150 Beckendorff Road. As a volunteer, Kerkhoff grooms horses, walks them around and feeds them.
“I’ve always had a love for animals, dogs, cats and horses especially, and since they can’t speak for themselves, I have a strong urge to work with them,” said Kerkhoff, who grew up around horses as a child and sought out a place to volunteer after she and her family moved to Katy last year.
Kerkhoff recently combined her love of horses and running to participate in the Chevron Houston Marathon in January to raise funds and awareness for the horse rescue. An avid runner who has competed in five other marathons, Kerkhoff trained with a Katy-area running group for six months to prepare for the Houston marathon.
“I ran my fastest marathon yet by 13 minutes and qualified for the Boston Marathon,” said Kerkhoff, who ran in a rainy and windy Houston marathon. “It was a total shock that I qualified, especially considering how bad the weather was.”
Kerkhoff was “Hoofin’ It for Horses” at the marathon, a catchy name that Blue Ribbon owner Barbara Jacobs came up with once Kerkhoff decided to run to support the rescue.
This story comes from our friend, Luzma Osorio, of Criadero Villa Luz in Colombia. You may remember her previous posts about the mule mother on their ranch!
Very little has been written about Hinnies–most of the time it is unfavourable comments and myths due to lack of knowledge about them. Until now, very few people have bred Hinnies because of speculation about their size and behavior; they are said to be very small and difficult. Typically a breeder or a farmer may only have one Hinny and several mules; consequently his opinion is based on limited experience.
A Hinny is a domestic equine hybrid that is the offspring of a male horse and a female donkey. It is similar to the more common mule, which is the product of a female horse and a male donkey.
Most of the times Hinnies are the result of an accident, which is why they are less common than mules and there is a lack of information about them.
At our Stud Farm, Villa Luz, in Colombia, South America, we have been breeding mules and donkeys for more than fifteen years. There has been a big demand for our Paso Fino male donkeys (Jacks) to produce gaited mules through the years. But we were left with many female donkeys (Jennies), and nobody would buy them to produce mules even though they have the same good genetics and Paso Fino gait of their brothers. So we thought, let’s breed Hinnies–and the project began! This was twenty months ago.
First we selected twelve of our beautiful female donkeys (Jennies), 13 hands height average, with good womb and physical conformation. Then we needed a horse, so we bought a three and a half year old Paso Fino stallion and called him Romero. He is 14 hands. But it wasn’t easy; he didn’t like the Jennies to start with. This is normal, as horses prefer mares and donkeys prefer Jennies. But with much patience and after three hours waiting, Romero finally went for his first Jenny. Now he loves his harem of twelve, four of which have given birth to beautiful Hinnies and six are pregnant! So we expect to have at least ten Hinnies at the end of this year.
Hinnies are thought to be smaller because female donkeys are, for the most part, smaller than mares, but like mules, Hinnies come in many size–it depends on the size of their dam and also the sire.
Female donkeys range from miniatures to Mammoth Jennies that may be over 15 hands at the withers. At Villa Luz farm the Jennies are 13 hands average and the horse stallion is 14 hands so we are expecting the Hinnies to grow around 14 hands in height.
We now have four Hinnies, two females and two males: Romance, Romancera, Ronaldo and Rosarito. They are seven, six, five and four months old respectively. Their mothers had good deliveries without any problems.
The pregnancy time differed a little; Romance was born after 12 months, Romancera after 12 months 21 days, Ronaldo after 11 months 19 days and Rosarito after 12 months and 23 days. The pregnancies of Jennies are normally longer than mares.
We do the imprinting process as soon as they are born; it allows us to mould their personality and make them friendly and well-trained adult Hinnies!
It is said that Hinnies often have shorter ears, although they are still longer than those of horses, and more horse-like manes and tails than mules. Well, our Hinnies certainly have the ear shape of their sire–they are beautifully pointed at the top just like his, but bigger. Up until now the behavior and characteristics of our Hinnies don’t differ much from the mules, they are lovely animals. It is our goal to study Hinnies and help to understand them better.
The good news is, the Paso Fino gait has passed to the Hinnies! This gait is natural and we have seen it in our baby Hinnies shortly after birth! Paso Fino is a lateral gait, four beat footfall, which provides a constant, rhythmic cadence. The rider should not experience any bumping or jolting. They say you can carry a tray with a glass of champagne on a Paso Fino equine as they are so smooth!!
We don’t know if they got the Paso Fino gait from the sire or the dam because both have it, but we certainly will have Paso Fino Hinnies! Very smooth, intelligent and well behaved!