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Onaqui Fractured - July 2021

If you follow me on social media, then much of this will be repeated. My apologies for that, personal bandwidth has been shaky at best this past week.

"The "End of the Trail" is a sculpture by James Earle Fraser. It depicts a weary Native American man hanging limp as his weary horse comes to the edge of the Pacific Ocean. The statue is a commentary on the damage Euro-American settlement inflicted upon Native Americans. The main figure embodies the suffering and exhaustion of people driven from their native lands”.

If you’ve never seen this sculpture or read of this work of art, please google it. Haunting.

One week ago today the round up ended. Old Man was looked after every day of the round up. My sincere gratitude to the volunteers who showed up to do this work and to The American Wild Horse Campaign for securing this option. Something that has never happened before, keeping the helicopters away from senior, solo stallions.

Unfortunately, he now looks out onto his home of 30+ years and sees so few of the horses that made this landscape, his landscape, wild and beautiful. A healthy herd consists of many different roles, from the youngest to the oldest. Older stallions do often times get pushed to the far stretches of the herd dynamics and depending on the area, they will still have an eye line view to the herd as to not be completely alone. They many times form bonds with other elders, younger bachelors, or even an injured horse for a their recovery period. Its a remarkable thing to witness, and watching this guy since 2008 has been such a privilege.

His aging body, his resilience, nourishes my soul with hope and renewed strength that people who care can and will make a difference.

(continued from email...)

There are so many facets of this grueling experience its near impossible to pick where to start. I’m truly at a loss and have not been myself or living in my body since.

The round up ended last Sunday, with a final 91 frightened horses being chased into the trap site at once by helicopter. Bringing the round up totals to 435 horses removed, 1 death and 1 bad ass mare who jumped a 6 foot panel from a stand still and I can’t wait to see her.

After a painful drive leaving the range, the 12hour journey home began. Stopping in Delta, which, didn’t necessarily need to happen, but did. While pulling into the gas station a sinking feeling came over me and there, parked opposite was one of the stock trailers that hauled my beloved Onaqui horses away from freedom. I felt ill inside. The floor of the trailer covered in manure from frightened horses who made the two hour journey to holding.

I’ve been to the Delta Corrals before, the town is not that big(or remarkable) and figured memory would get me there. It did. Right to the locked up gates a good distance from the entrance with no visibility. The universe, likely trying to protect me, but persistence took over and down side roads I went. Wishing I hadn’t. It was awful to see horses I have known for years roaming 205k acres of open, desert landscape now crammed in small cages. My heart, having no more places to shatter, now felt empty.

Using the word ‘humane” and a helicopter round up is irresponsible and a lame attempt at appeasing the American public. There is absolutely NOTHING humane about the process and the use of them no matter how much effort is attempted to hold back. That said, I am hopeful that these horrid machines will never chase the Onaqui wild ones again. Ever. This herd is accessible, there are no more excuses for a productive PZP program moving forward(which should have happened years ago) and if removal is needed for any unknown, or extreme circumstance, bait and trap will work work just fine.

I did not see a need for this round up, period. And will not stray from that statement. Given that it happened, I want to express my gratitude to Sam Couper for starting the Onaqui Catalog Foundation three years ago. We spoke often during the round up and I recalled the day we met by the sheep herders trough, Spring 2019, when she shared this idea she had. No one, herself included, at that time had any idea where this would lead. AWHC was able to secure OCFs access at the trap site, a grueling and extremely difficult job identifying the horses being captured they too love so much. OCF’s work not only documents the horses who have come off the range and will assist in placing these cherished animals, but also will assist the BLM in making the best decisions possible about which horses to return based on thoughtful criteria including keeping family bands together and genetics. This was important work. It also is a record of the Onaqui horses themselves, so we can be certain these creatures don’t end up in the slaughter pipeline. To Sam, and the entire Onaqui Catalogue team I truly bow to you all, you have my respect and appreciation.

I swore I would never attend a round up again, but representing American Wild Horse Campaign was an honor. Thank you for everything you have done, and continue to do. You put up with more negative naysayers than any organization I have ever been associated with. Yet, you continue to do the hardest work with the smartest, most forward thinking brains I have been blessed to stand alongside of.

Another Utah round up is slated to start in early August, Oregon as well and Wyoming is scheduled to be obliterated this fall. This fight is far from over.

My wild things be free…FOREVER xokc

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