Western Horse Watchers Goes to School of Hard Knocks

Two weeks ago tomorrow, the colt reared up and came down on top of me.  Yeah, that colt.  Probably around 500 pounds.  I got up, dusted myself off, but did not respond in kind.  Just a colt acting like a colt, I thought.

As they say, if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

I’ve been bitten, kicked, stepped on and knocked to the ground, not by wild horses but by those on lead ropes or in a corral.  This was a new experience.

Every youngster, you have to set the limits, teach them what’s okay and what’s not okay.

The whoosh of a hoof going past your ear, you don’t want to hear that very often.

Colt at Eleven Months 03-01-21

Allotment Status in Idaho

The Allotment Information report in RAS can supply data for all allotments in a state by selecting the state and choosing all of the districts and all of the field offices.

Allotment Information Report for Idaho 03-07-21After hitting OK, scroll to the bottom of the bottom of the report and save the results by choosing Export > Data > CSV, which will generate a comma-separated file that you can save to your computer.

Opening the CSV file in Excel should launch the Text Import Wizard, which will copy the data into the rows and columns of a new spreadsheet.

In step 1, choose Delimited.  In step 2, put a check mark next to Comma, clearing any other choices.  In step 3, hit Finish to complete the process.

Allotments with more than one permittee will appear multiple times in the list but you can use the Remove Duplicates tool to filter them out.  Filter on the Allotment Number column only.

Filtering Duplicate Rows 03-07-21

A pivot table can be added to the spreadsheet to compute statistics from the dataset.

The filtered list had 2,111 allotments, as of today, with the following breakdown:

  • Improve: 787
  • Maintain: 614
  • Custodial: 703
  • Unclassified: 7

The condition of the custodial allotments is unknown.

With a little over one third of the allotments failing to meet standards for rangeland health, grazing activity may not seem to have a very large impact in Idaho.

But if you look at the public acres, you get a different picture:

  • Improve: 7,968,881
  • Maintain: 2,878,052
  • Custodial: 508,111
  • Unclassified: 7,217

Seventy percent of the land is in the Improve category!

Given that wild horses in Idaho can access only 418,000 acres in six HMAs, they are probably not responsible for much of the damage.

RELATED: Rangeland Conditions In Horse-Free Areas.

Evaluating Management Priorities in Mixed-Use Areas

Some HMAs are managed for horses and burros.  Some allotments are permitted for cattle and sheep.  Sometimes you know the number of animals allowed by plan and other times you know the active AUMs and grazing seasons.

An HMA may fit within an allotment or intersect a large portion of it, resulting in a common area.

What do the resource allocations tell you about the management priorities in that area?

The trick is to put everything on a consistent basis.  Don’t try to compare burros to cattle and horses to sheep.

Convert burros to horses and sheep to cattle.  The resource requirements of horses and cattle are said to be equivalent, allowing a direct comparison.

Consider this example.  The HMA and allotment occupy the same 88,000 acre parcel.


  • AML for horses: 42
  • AML for burros: 92
  • Grazing season in months: 12


  • Cattle on permit: 224
  • Sheep on permit: 640
  • Grazing season in months: 6

Start by converting burros to horses and sheep to cattle.

Two burros are equivalent to one horse and five sheep are equivalent to one cow, so the equivalent number of horses allowed in the area is 42 + (92 ÷ 2) = 88 and the equivalent number of cattle is 224 + (640 ÷ 5) = 352.

The horses require 88 × 12 = 1,056 AUMs per year and the cattle require 352 × 6 = 2,112 AUMs per year.

Horses receive one third of the authorized forage, neglecting wildlife, and cattle receive two thirds.

The stocking rate for horses is 88 ÷ 88,000 × 1,000 = 1 animal per thousand acres and the stocking rate for cattle is 352 ÷ 88,000 × 1,000 = 4 animals per thousand acres.

The HMA is managed primarily for livestock.  The forage assigned to cattle would support an additional 2,112 ÷ 12 = 176 wild horses, for a True AML of 264.

The new AML could be distributed any number of ways among horses and burros, for example, 150 horses and 114 × 2 = 228 burros, as long as the total AUMs are 3,168.

Due in Two Weeks?

Photo of colt’s mom taken this morning.  Conventional wisdom says she’s due mid month, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.  These are not randomly selected horses thrown together in a corral, they are family.

One of the theories in the wild horse world is that roundups stimulate reproduction, growth rates are lower when herds are kept intact.

Video of colt at eleven months was posted to YouTube yesterday.

RELATED: Another One on the Way?

Due in Two Weeks 03-06-21

More Protections for Wild Horses in New Mexico?

State legislators have proposed SB 385, a measure that would include wild horses in animal cruelty laws, spell out the disposition of seized animals and clarify that they are not livestock, which means they can’t be sold, slaughtered or dispatched like stray livestock.

The state Bureau of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Protection Voters of New Mexico support the bill, according to a report by the Carlsbad Current Argus, but the New Mexico Cattlegrowers and the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau oppose it.

The bill allows wild horses to be captured if they’re a physical threat, need veterinary care or the land has reached its carrying capacity.

The story did not indicate if carrying capacity referred to horses only or horses and livestock.  Wildlife would likely be included in both cases.

Arizona Forests Not Producing Enough Forage?

The Salt River horses live in the Tonto National Forest but are managed at the state level.  There is no Salt River WHT.

Human involvement, including darting and feeding, has, in effect, turned their range into a sanctuary.

Why can’t the horses fend for themselves?  If food is scarce, why don’t they move to greener pastures?  What’s on the other side of the fence?

A summary of grazing activity in Arizona forests during 2016, the most recent year for which the Forest Service has provided data, yields the following results:

  • Forage to cattle: 924,099 AUMs
  • Forage to sheep and goats: 25,129 AUMs
  • Forage to wild horses and burros: 10,427 AUMs

Horses and burros receive 1.1% of the total, which may not include the Salt River herd.

Are the horses constrained by other mandated uses of public lands?  If so, why isn’t the ‘advocacy’ group talking about it?

RELATED: Saving the Salt River Horses by Getting Rid of Them.

Saving the Salt River Horses by Getting Rid of Them

In 2019, more than 100 foals were born.  Last year, only 16 were born and this year the ‘advocates’ hope for even better results, according to a story posted yesterday by FOX10 News of Phoenix.

The multi-dimensional program includes darting and feeding.

As usual, the effort focuses on the horses, not on the causes of their removal from their home range.

Contraceptives have short-term and long-term effects.  Unlike the Covid vaccines, where some acute effects have been documented while the chronic effects are mostly unknown, the short-term and long-term effects of PZP are known but are usually glossed over or dismissed by the PZP zealots.

With this much human involvement, the Salt River horses are no longer wild, they are a carefully curated exhibit.

Go see them before they’re gone.

RELATED: Success on the Salt River.

UPDATE: Added video.

‘Perseverance’ Finds No Pinyon Pines or Juniper Trees

Clear-cutting will not be needed in the Designated Area, according to the Bureau of Livestock on Mars, allowing the project to move to the next step, which is seeding.

The rover has identified some water sources but more will be needed.  With most of the grazing fees plowed back into the program for range improvements, the goal should easy to achieve.

Perseverance Finds No Trees 03-03-21

“Although pinyons and junipers crowd out some forage,” said one rancher, “what we really want is access to areas previously off limits.”  He added that “Seeding boosts forage availability and stocking rates much more effectively than clear cutting.”

“Those fuels reduction programs are bogus,” said another.

As for the RMP, the ranchers want at least 95% of the resources assigned to livestock, with the balance reserved for wildlife, especially big game.

“The WHB Act should be restricted to Earth,” said one of the wranglers.  “Margins are paper thin up here and we can’t afford any losses to wild horses.”

RELATED: ‘Perseverance’ Tests Martian Soil.

Livestock Grazing on Forest Service Lands

The BLM sells about 12 million AUMs annually on 155 million acres.  At current prices, the government receives about $16 million per year, a small offset to the cost of the WHB program, which is operated mostly for the benefit of the public-lands ranchers.

A summary of grazing activity on Forest Service lands in 2016, the most recent year for which the agency has published data, shows sales of about seven million AUMs annually on 102 million acres, for an income of roughly $9 million per year at current prices.

In total, privately owned livestock receive 19 million AUMs per year on about 250 million acres of public lands, allowing for some overlap in jurisdictions.

The ranchers would have to place 3.2 million cow/calf pairs on those lands to consume 19 million AUMs in a six month grazing season, for a stocking rate of 12.8 cow/calf pairs per thousand acres.

At current herd sizes, wild horses and burros are consuming about one million AUMs per year on slightly more than ten percent of the land.

The current stocking rate is less than four animals per thousand acres.

The target rate is one animal per thousand acres, suggesting that resource availability and productivity improve dramatically when areas are designated for livestock.

Storey County Commissioners Oppose Autonomous Zone

Commissioners voted yesterday against the idea, according to a report posted this morning by The Nevada Independent, an online news service based in Las Vegas.

The “Smart City,” to be built on 67,000 acres owned by Blockchains LLC, would include up to 15,000 dwelling units and would almost certainly necessitate the downsizing of the wild horse herds that currently inhabit the area, beyond what the PZP zealots are trying to accomplish.

RELATED: Storey County Autonomous Zone in the News.

Another One on the Way?

The colt was eleven months old yesterday.  He was born last year on April 1.

Mares supposedly go back into heat shortly after birth so let’s say she was bred on April 10.  Adding 340 days to that means she’d be due on March 16—two weeks from today.

She’s behind the colt in the photo, but does she look like she’s two weeks out?  Nope, not even close.  Is the stud still in the corral?  Yep.

After the colt was born the mare told the stud, by numerous kicks, that she didn’t want anything to do with him.  For the first six weeks, she ruled the roost with an iron fist.

So maybe they only get pregnant when they want to get pregnant?

RELATED: Thoughts on New Colt.

Colt at Eleven Months 03-01-21

Fixing the Ranching Problem in the Western U.S.

Many permittees own land and appurtenances known as a ‘base property.’  Grazing privileges on public lands are usually tied to base properties, which may include other assets such as water rights.

Where do livestock go during the off season?  Where would they go if AUMs on public lands had to be curtailed because of a fire or drought?  Back to the base property and/or rented pastures, where the ranchers would have to pay market rates to feed them.

The 4M Ranch, a sponsor of the Meeker Mustang Makeover and probable beneficiary of wild horses thus adopted, has almost 12,000 acres of deeded lands which, presumably, secure its grazing privileges on 125,000 acres of BLM and Forest Service lands.

Hay production on the ranch, about 1,200 tons annually, would support 240 cow/calf pairs, assuming they consume five tons per year per pair (25 to 30 pounds per day).

Forage on the deeded acres would support another 100 cow/calf pairs, assuming a stocking rate of eight pairs per thousand acres.

Additional food can be imported (at going rates) if a larger number of animals is desired.  No more dependence on government, no more slurping at the public trough.

Yes, it’s a radical idea—confining them to their own property.  Nobody has ever been expected to do that.

RELATED: Sponsor of Meeker Mustang Makeover or Beneficiary?.

Quick Note on Overpopulation

It does not mean the carrying capacity of the land has been exceeded, not even close.

It means more horses than allowed by plan, too many resources lost to animals that bring in no economic return.

The resources are there.  In most cases there are no ‘excess’ horses.  There is no basis for a roundup or fertility control program.  Most of the ‘advocacy’ groups are clueless.

The problem is resource management—the plans—which typically allocate four to five times as much food to privately owned livestock as they do to wild horses, on lands identified for the horses.

Thriving Ecological Balance-3

Sponsor of Meeker Mustang Makeover or Beneficiary?

One of the event’s sponsors is 4M Ranch.

The Operator Information report in RAS, for the State of Colorado, Northwest District, White River Field Office, gives an address in Meeker, along with authorization numbers 0505793 and 0505794.

The Allotment Information report ties the authorization numbers to the River and Little Toms Draw allotments.

The Allotment Master report puts Little Toms in the Improve category and River in the Custodial category (condition unknown).  Western Horse Watchers is unable to explain how it qualifies for Custodial.

The principal of 4M Ranch is Craig Macnab, according to a Bizapedia report.

A 1985 announcement in The New York Times suggests that he’s married to Deirdre Macnab, the woman who said that genetic viability of wild horses is threatened by increasing herd sizes.

A 2016 report by the Rio Blanco Herald Times says the ranch was purchased in 2015 for $9.5 million.  It covers 11,870 deeded acres and has grazing preference on more than 125,000 acres of BLM and Forest Service land.  The allotment master report accounts for only a small fraction of the total acreage.

The ranch has 800 acres of hay meadows and supports up to 1,000 cow/calf pairs, for a stocking rate of eight cow/calf pairs per thousand acres.  The aimed-at stocking rate across all HMAs is one wild horse per thousand acres.

To say that the Macnabs have only a passing interest in wild horses would be a gross understatement.

RELATED: Meeker Mustang Makeover Seeks Trainers and Adopters.

Extra Grain Storage

What’s the point of buying enough hay to last four weeks when you can only store enough grain for two weeks?

A 31-gallon metal trash can holds up to three 50-pound bags and they’re great for dispensing daily rations.  Rodents will bore into the plastic ones.

An eight-foot round end tank will hold up to twelve sacks.  Cover it with plywood or similar material to keep pests away.

At current prices, you’ll be paying about $100 per AUM to feed your horses—unless you have grazing privileges on public lands, in which case you’ll pay $1.35 per AUM.

Grain Storage 03-01-21