Equine family finds a friend
By Electa Draper
Denver Post Staff Writer]
The palomino stallion stands with his colt at the BLM facility.
Normally, the two and the colt s dam would be separated. (Post / Cyrus
Cortez - Fortunes changed this week for a wild palomino stallion,
a sorrel mare and their gold colt, rounded up last week because they
strayed out of the fenced-in Spring Creek Herd Management Area.
Normally, the horses would have been separated. But this tiny outlaw
band from southwestern Colorado gained some notoriety and allies who see
wild horses as a symbol of American freedom and the spirit of the West.
Horse advocates from Wyoming to Illinois have moved mountains of Bureau
of Land Management paperwork so the three horses can live together on a
ranch, at least until the colt grows up.
"There is so much that is sad and hard in the world, but sometimes I run
across a situation and think, 'If I work really hard at this, I can fix
it,"' said Valerie Kennedy, a Chicago mother who also has a home in
Boulder. She called the BLM.
The palomino and his band now appear bound for a ranch in Wyoming owned
by a benefactor who wants to remain anonymous.
There the horses will have as much freedom as any of Colorado's 800 wild
"I'm told I should run the wild horse program like any livestock
operation," BLM manager Fran Ackley said. "But we manage human emotions
more than livestock. Even somebody living on the East Coast who will
never see a wild horse wants to know they're still running free in the
Running free is a relative term because wild horses, roughly 33,000 in
10 Western states, are confined to herd management areas of various
sizes. The horses at Spring Creek - one of five wild horse herds in
Colorado - are kept within 22,000 acres of desert rangeland they share
with cattle and antelope.
The BLM recently gathered up 91 horses of the Spring Creek Herd, which
every four years or so grows too large for its food and water supply.
The BLM released 40 of the horses back to the range. People adopted 28
horses. One broke his leg and was put down. The others, including the
palomino band, were sent to the BLM's wild-horse facility
in Caņon City.
BLM managers said the palomino's band had to leave the range because
they kept escaping into the San Juan National Forest and occasionally
grazed on private land.
But during the gather, the palomino stallion, a fierce and able
protector of his foal, earned the grudging respect of wranglers and
mention in a Denver Post story.
"I'm hoping this story has a happy ending," said Kennedy, who has been
joined in the cause by other horse advocates. "All of us are now focused
on getting these three animals out of harm's way. "
The BLM would have offered the 4-year-old mare and colt for separate
adoptions once the colt was weaned. But the 11-year-old stallion faced
an uncertain future. He is over 10 and therefore eligible for either
transfer to a sanctuary or for sale by the BLM. The agency strives to
avoid selling horses to those who would have them slaughtered for
European meat markets, Ackley says.
But the BLM can't control or know the long-term outcomes of sales, says
Chris Heyde, executive director of the National Horse Protection
Kennedy said that when she took on the palomino's cause and tackled
negotiations with BLM officials, she found them surprisingly
"I admire what she's trying to do," Ackley said. "But there are some
realities. The stallion's 11. He won't be gentled. I hope the place he's
going has a stout fence."
Staff writer Electa Draper can be reached at 970-385-0917 or
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