EDITED TO ADD that Jack (8459) is on the BLM Internet adoption with 8377 (filly) from Jackson Mountain. To go to our page about the wild horses featured on the adoption go HERE>>> http://wildhorseeducation.org/2014/03/09/internet-adoption/
Jack WAS adopted on the Internet adoption. We think of you all the time Jack and remain committed to helping your cousins in the wild and those in holding stay safe.
Jack’s story is the same for so many of the wild horses caught by BLM.
My name is Jack. I am a one year old mustang gelding. I spend my days at Palomino Valley Center in Nevada. As a matter-of-fact I have spent almost my entire life here.
I was born during the second week of June in an area you humans call the Jackson Mountains. In the shadow of a 7000 ft mountain I took my first steps while the smell of sage filled my nostrils. My mom nudged me close and I took my first fill of the warmth her body made for me. It made me feel strong and my legs began to carry me with surer strides.
As I took several steps I could see that my mom and I were not alone. My aunties came and took my scent as I belonged to them too. A chestnut youngster bounced over and told me in a couple of weeks we would be able to play because my legs would be strong like his. A large dark horse moved close and the others moved away. A large face covered in scars came and took my scent…. he was my father. This was my family!
We would travel down the northern slope of the mountain each morning and back up to the trees to spend the heat of the afternoon. Momma and the others liked the cool spring water at the bottom of the canyon. My favorite time of day was nap time under the trees. Each time I woke I felt a little stronger. My feet and legs were changing rapidly now and each time I woke from my nap I felt different. When I was born my fetlocks touched the ground, they no longer did. My feet were very soft when I was born with little feathers to protect my mom from tearing, the feathers had dried and fallen off and my feet were a little harder… but not as hard as moms. I could make the walk to the canyon stream and taste the water without needing to lay down. But I was still very tired when we made it back to the trees for nap time.
On the morning after my 22nd night I woke up to hear a dreadful noise in the sky and my mother screaming for me to wake up as our family was running full gallop down the mountain side. I stood and ran as fast as my legs would carry me. I lost sight of my father and aunts as they entered the tree line! I could still see my mom… but this huge loud predator kept trying to catch her! “MOM!” I screamed and she ran under the loud monster back to my side. Mom galloped next to me and I ran as fast as I could into the trees with her.
I could see our family moving through the trees and my heart raced, my lungs burned, my feet hurt as we raced to catch up. The loud predator moving just above us. We ran and we ran and we ran…. further and faster than I had ever run before. It seemed like we would never stop.
Our family entered a valley I had never seen before with the predator right behind us! I had never heard my father scream before as he moved behind my mother and I and tried to get the predator to follow him. He ran left and right and even lagged behind but the loud monster did not follow him… it wanted the family!
My father ran to my mother and I. He bit my mom and told her to run! “We must survive,” he choked and sped off to my cousin and aunts. My mother increased her speed and I tried so hard to keep up. The sun began to burn and my mouth was filled with dust. As my legs could no loner run I watched as my mom disappeared with the predator right behind her.
I was lost. I had never been in this valley before. My mom told me that if I ever got lost to hide in the trees… but what trees? Where? I wandered around as my heart felt like it would burst through my chest and my legs and feet throbbed. I saw some trees and began to walk toward them up the slope of the valley.
Just then I hear hoofbeats! Was it my mom! I saw three horses coming in my direction… but it was not my family. These horses were like the predator. They had humans on their backs and the sound of leather and metal and smelled like fouled water. I mustered all I had left and I ran!
I ran and I ran and I ran! The predator horses were slower than mom and my family but they caught up to me. I hear a human voice yell and a rope hit the back of my neck. I turned and the rope slide off and I ran. I heard another human voice yell and a rope hit my ears, it slide forward, it tightened around my neck. “NO!” I screamed as I fought the predator and tried to run. The predator horse ran with me and the rope slipped under my legs to my belly and my legs could not move as I was lifted off the ground and fell. I just laid there.
The three predator horses moved to my sides and they pulled the rope making me get back onto my aching legs and feet. They wanted me to walk. I tried. I stumbled. I tried to run and could not get far as the rope was tight on my neck. All I could do was follow the predator horses.
I could hear my mom! That was my mom screaming for me! I could hear my family! I tried to walk faster. I saw my family caught in a cage of metal! There were humans all around. The predator horses walked me past my mom… “Mom!” I called…then someone grabbed my tail and lifted my back end off the ground and pushed me into another metal cage. My cousin was there. He was covered in sweat and his mouth was filled with dust.
A large metal box came loudly to the end of the cages and men with sticks moved toward my family. They screamed at my family and shook the sticks and whipped them at my family to move them into the box. As my mother moved by me she stopped. “MOM!” I cried… she tried to touch me through the bars and instead screamed in searing pain as a yellow stick that burned hit her in the face. She tried to touch me again and again the biting, burning stick hit her in the neck. She was pushed into the metal box….
My cousin and I stood in our cage all day and watched family after family come into the trap like ours. Two other youngsters, little girls, were put into our box with us. There was an empty blue bucket that once had water in it that got knocked over by my cousin before I got there. We were very thirsty. We heard the last family screaming that their new baby was still on the range. I thought the predator horses that went out might bring him in, but they never did.
The cage was opened and we were pushed into the alley to get into a metal box. Our tails were grabbed and my face got smacked when I tried to get the scent of the predator! My legs ached and I could not get into the box. So they lifted me by my neck and I was tossed in. One of the little girls kept trying to get out of the box so they picked up the biting burning stick. I tried to scream but it was too late and they hit her in the face to stop her from trying to get out! The door slammed shut.
My legs burned when the door opened on the metal box. We had been bounced and turned and I could not smell home anymore. I could hear families calling to each other. I could hear others whiney in fear or pain. But I called out…. and my mom answered! We were pushed, prodded and put into another cage but mom was there! I ran to her and took a huge drink! The first drink I had all day.
I laid down and closed my eyes as my body gave out. The smell of the urine of a hundred horses filled my nostrils as I passed out.
From there Jack and his family were transported to holding at Palomino Valley Center (PVC) north of Reno Nevada. He and his cousin spent about the next eight-ten weeks with their moms in a pen at the facility. Babies from the Jackson mares were born at the facility and added to the pen. Mares that aborted after the roundup stayed in the “general population.”
After that they were sorted out and branded. Older mares were branded for long term holding (Jacks mom was one of them). About ten weeks later the colts were gelded and sent into the back pens at PVC. Many of them, including Jack, were infected with ringworm and papiloma virus. Both of these viruses are common in over crowded areas where water sources are shared.
Jack and his cousin are still there to this day.
In the second week of June Wild Horse Education President Laura Leigh amended her Triple B Complaint against the BLM (gained a TRO to pilot conduct and later a Preliminary Injunction) to include Jackson Mountain. On June 18th she filed a TRO against conduct at Jackson Mountain and the roundup was temporarily halted until issues could be heard. On June 22 Judge Howard McKibben held documentation presented by Leigh to be credible enough to over-ride BLMs justifications in using a tiny area of drought to remove animals from an entire HMA during foaling season (June is illegal to use helicopters, as it is foaling season according to BLM, under BLMs own standards in all but extreme emergency to remove wild horses). The truth is that foaling season in the Great Basin extends through July as we saw with tragic results in other HMAs time and time again. LINK to TRO briefs HERE>>
On July 1 BLM was allowed to continued the removal in the HMA itself. Jack was taken the second day of operation. He had three weeks of life to allow his legs to get strong enough to survive. What if he didn’t? Were the three weeks worth it? They were to Jack.
Our lawsuit was filed about the time Jack was born. How many little Jacks are born as the BLM does summer roundups? How many little Jacks are lost on the vast ranges as helicopters stampede their families? How many mares abort? How many little Jacks die in holding?
The Judge also said BLM can not use a small area to justify a large removal. “Unjustified removal,” is huge language in law.
These are the questions that BLM is currently fighting from even being asked in the courtroom RIGHT NOW. We are asking that BLM come clean to the court, have an honest conversation and address the truth. This case is ACTIVE.
We will not go away… but we need your help. We carry three active cases that encompass twelve HMAs. The workload is massive.
Jackson Mountain was perhaps the most callous, brutal operation I have ever witnessed. I still have footage I need to review and edit but as I start (I just did to write this story) I begin to cry. I have seen horrible things and can process and report… but Jackson Mountain goes to a whole new level. The pilot conduct that demonstrated a complete lack of knowledge of equine behavior, the lack of ANY protocol to protect these babies in JUNE, the access games where the WH&B specialist (Melanie Mirati, the same one for the Owyhee Complex) tried so hard to hide EVERYTHING, the total (insane) lack of basic knowledge of horses from the district manager was stunning, the number of brutal actions… the babies I saw run and run and run and never saw again, the “used car salesman” approach to “conversation” that always began with “Laura you need to understand,” and I tried and tried and tried to get them to listen…. one day another baby was lost… and I broke down and sobbed. To this day I can not look at the video (someday I will edit it and get it to the public). We then filed suit.
I visit Jack and the other Jackson horses, Owyhee horses and all the horses at PVC a couple of times each week. Jack has grown from a curious little colt into a stunning, if a bit stunted from captivity, gorgeous gelding. I love Jack. He always comes to see me… it is as if he hears the camera and knows the sound. I have touched him and he has taken carrots. The structure of all geldings he has lived his entire first year in is unnatural… the last I saw him there was fighting at the water trough in 104 degree heat.
If you can adopt Jack, or another like him… please… your home is needed for these innocent victims of greed on our public land. And we need your help to keep fighting for them.