On the morning of Wednesday, October 6th, a valiant wild stallion tragically lost his life because of the callousness of a BLM contractor who ignored the frantic horse's distress at having been separated from his mare and foal. It was a needless, heartless, and gut-wrenching death, as the sorrel stallion now known as Braveheart furiously rammed his body against the metal barriers that kept him from his family, and in doing so, killed himself.
The BLM dryly reported the stallion's demise at the trap site of the Silver King roundup in Nevada as a "gather-related" death, caused by a "broken neck." But this time, in spite of BLM's efforts to hide the gruesome cruelty of the roundup, people were watching. This time, people were there to bear witness to the ways in which horses are stampeded, and trapped, and cavalierly torn from their families, without regard to what that does to them. And this time, people not only watched in horror, they took pictures.
Now, the truth of what happened to Braveheart, his mare, and his foal, has been poignantly told by Suzanne Roy of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, who, with Deniz Bolbol, managed to videotape the sickening events at the trap site, in spite of the BLM's all-out efforts to prevent them from doing so. What they captured on film is terrible to watch, and Ms. Roy's graphic written account is equally disturbing. She writes:
"Braveheart charged the bars of the trap pen, defending his mare and foal against an enemy he recognized: another horse. Though the BLM contractor clearly observed that his saddle horse was causing Braveheart's agitation, he tied his mount just outside the stallion's pen. To Braveheart, the saddle horse appeared to be within striking range. Braveheart didn't know men and their metal fences wouldn't give way to his charge. And, slamming himself against the metal fences, he went down.
BLM often claims that horses with broken necks die instantly. They don't.
Braveheart fell down after sustaining a mortal injury, but then he struggled to his feet. Head hanging down, he searched for his family. Could he see them nearby? Could he hear or smell them as he lifted his great red-gold head one final time?
As Braveheart lay dying or dead, the BLM wranglers loaded his white mare into a trailer. Dazed by defeat, she no longer struggled. Her stallion was dead, her foal forcibly taken from her.
Next the wranglers dragged the stallion's body, covered by a tarp, onto the same trailer, forcing the pale mare to stand over her dead mate."
The BLM's war on wild horses like Braveheart is impossible to explain, let along justify. What happened to Braveheart is happening to countless horses who are being relentlessly victimized by the BLM and its contractors throughout the western states. And we have to ask: would Braveheart's death even have been noted by the BLM if independent observers hadn't been present? I don't think so.
With plans to seize 12,000 wild horses this year, and perhaps as many as 15,000 more next year, the BLM is an agency that has spiralled out of control. Its PR honchos seem to believe that if only they can keep the grotesque details of the roundups out of the public eye, they can get away with the physical, mental, and emotional atrocities they're perpetrating on our wild horses, at the trap sites and beyond.
They'd better think again, because the citizen advocates whom the BLM is trying to intimidate are not going away. Far from it. We will be here until this agency's unabated cruelty is stopped, once and for all.