“The greatest deterrent
to freedom are men and women of zeal, well-meaning, but
without knowledge or understanding.”
~Justice Louis Brandeis~

"People are so quick to defend their own agendas, but they so often fail to realize we must protect the rights of all if we are to continue to have any rights of our own."

Ranch meaning, in general, any real world dwelling probably not involving full care board. Kind of a rural voice of real horse owners, trainers, traders, auction owners, rodeo contractors, etc.. all of us who have taken a verbal beating and called greedy ass hats. Back at the Ranch contributors, moderators, subjects, and so on, are pro-horse, pro-owner, and pro-slaughter.
Back at the Ranch was formed by a group of like minded horse / livestock owners. It is a place for us to try to educate, a place to vent our frustrations with the current equine industry, a place to share humor and snark, and in general try to open the eyes of the public who seem to be anti-agriculture.We do have a section for comments of course, and if you would like to email us you can do so directly or through the contact us form. We like to hear from our readers. I hope you enjoy reading our blog as much as I enjoy managing it.
Ranch Manager

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Wild Horse Sanctuary……Wild Horse Breeder….. Research Facility…….Tourist Trap…….I Am Confused…..

Mustang preserves, horse sanctuaries, rescues, or anti-slaughter figure heads who own stallions rub my fur wrong. Humanitarians with hands out and pockets open all the while condemning those who try to produce the next generation of good horses at a profit for creating the problem. Those who reserve the right to panhandle for donations should not be allowed to reproduce your problems/horses. If the horses have nowhere else to go and you depend on the taxpayers/philanthropists to support them, for love of all that’s holy, don’t make more of them. Not even in the name of research or love.
Personally, I love geldings. As a matter of fact I am looking into a grant to research the cultural herd dynamic of the altered male domestic horse as we speak. To truly understand these unique special horses and educate people in their care we need to study their habitat and culture. Of course, I will need to lease more pasture and obtain more altered male domestic horses. I have transportation equipment and an operational head quarter, but would accept donations to offset the cost of maintenance and day to day operation. Anyone wishing to sponsor the training of or adopt one of these altered male domestic horses please refer to the
Anything For a Buck Rescue blog written some time ago, while the horse described there has been sold (err….adopted) I have others. I know…. it just doesn’t work for me…….go figure……..anyway back to the article in question and my backward rubbed fur.
The following is taken from an article in South Dakota magazine, the May/June issue to be exact. The article is available in its entirety if you wish to purchase the magazine back issue you can do so at
http://www.southdakotamagazine.com/ . If not then you’re going to have to make do with what I comment on. You will have to take my word many of the pictures accompanying this article contain 2009 foals. One foal is saved from frostbite in the house after being born in the late spring blizzard this part of the country had the pleasure of enjoying. No, I don’t think the foal should have been left out in the blizzard. I think his mother should never have been allowed to become pregnant in a “sanctuary” in the first place. Hopefully, this winter will be kinder to the northern plains than last.
Karen Sussman has been active with International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros, since 1983 and six years later became the group’s third president. She moved to South Dakota ten years ago, hoping to find a home for the wild horses being removed from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. She kept the horses in the badlands of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for two years before buying a patch of grass on the Cheyenne Indian Reservation northwest of Pierre.

Not entirely sure how that works. I was not aware it was possible to “buy” reservation land but that’s what it says so that’s how I will tell it.
She now has 350 horses on 680 acres.
We have to hope she is practicing good horse management or keeping her horses in the same manner as any breeding, training, or boarding establishment which must maintain a large population of horses on a small amount of land. If not she is heading down the Three Strikes path to decimate more than a section of range land grasses. It is the opinion of a local couple, good friends of mine who do know horses, this sanctuary may be sliding down the slippery slope of “hoarder” with a cause.
One of my main pet peeves in the mustang/anti-slaughter debate is the almost total misunderstanding, underestimating, or just don’t give a damn about how much land, funding, and logistics will be needed to work this horse thing out.
Ms. Sussman’s stocking rate on her 680 is 1.95 acres per horse. That’s way over grazing even the best pasture I’ve been lucky enough to rent. The land needed to carry a horse in the Lantry, South Dakota area is closer to five times that I would guess. The stocking rate at Three Strikes which starved 300 head of horses last winter at Alliance, Nebraska was 6.33 acres per horse. Is anyone doing the math here???
There are many areas of public land where the number of acres needed to support a horse is over 100. I am referring to the free roaming horses who are supposed to be self supporting in their natural habitat. I fail to see the difference between 350 horses on 680 acres at a “sanctuary” and any other form of captive confinement by the BLM. The website I visited while researching the numbers for the 41 Mustangs commentary was adamantly against capturing BLM horses to keep them confined.

She hopes to add more land and she wants to find homes for some horses. Last year she placed 200 horses, including 30 to tribal schools.
Just reroute your donations (Journal staff Sunday, October 14, 2007)
there was a hay drive in place to feed some of the horses she adopted out. I have nothing against the Tribal School or natural horsemanship but it would streamline the donation process if the BLM had given the horses directly to the school without Ms. Sussman having to raise them first.
Her main goal is to preserve the bloodlines and culture, and to research behaviors. “A horse population has an education system comparable to Harvard”, “Every herd has its own culture, developed from living together over eons of time if they haven’t been gathered, removed, and disrupted”, Sussman is quoted as saying.
These horses have been disrupted and gathered. These horses have been removed and confined. They are in a “sanctuary”. Their sheer numbers on the land where they reside ensures they will need to be maintained as any other horse population. Something tells me that the culture she is studying/preserving in these mustangs will be strikingly similar to the “culture of an AQHA ranch stallion with his band of mares running on the same 680 acres.
The ISPMB believes the BLM doesn’t understand horses from a behavioral standpoint. I’ll let Ms. Sussman take it from here for now.
“They (the BL M) often destroy the band structure by separating the stallions. Then the younger studs take over and all of a sudden chaos can take over. The bachelor stallions will chase the mares, attack them and rape them.
I don’t know much about mustangs, but any young stallion who tries to “rape” any “domestic” range mare I ever met will be one sorry little teenager.
It’s the harem stallions who create order and respect among a band of horses, and no on challenges him until he is too old or too sick to perform his role.
When a harem stallion is in control fillies are not bred until they are four years old. The mares are respected and the bachelor stallions are well behaved. When a younger and younger community of stallions are allowed to take over who don’t have the education taught to them over a period of years by the harem stallions it’s like having a school run not by professors but by seventh graders. Fertility rates could jump from 10 to 12 percent to over 30 percent.”
“The other day I watched a filly from one band in the herd” she continues, “she was in heat and the bachelors were all around her but she was just a year old so the harem stallion should have protected her, but he wasn’t paying any attention so another stallion chased her down the hill to the water where, a second harem stallion chased her right back over to her own harem. I was amazed to see two harem stallions tell her to go back to her own harem.”

Anyone keeping a tally on how many studs she has residing in the same pasture with this yearling filly? Catch colt anyone? And please refer back to the previous comment about gathering, disrupting, and so on. I would like to see the captive fertility rate on relocated BLM horses at 0 but that’s just me.
She and a National Geographic photographer watched as a young bachelor stallion teased his harem stallion. She says in the article “We saw him sneak in behind the harem with his head down. You could tell he was sneaking. Then he went after the harem stallion from the rear, bit him and raced off. It was interesting to see how well they can plot their actions.”
Again, I am not a mustang expert by any means but we have all heard of herd dynamics in training the domestic horse. I believe this game playing has made Parelli and many other “natural” horsemen very wealthy. I don’t think this behavior is entirely unique to mustangs or bachelor stallions. I have seen one of my two year old altered male domestic horses do it from time to time with the boss altered male domestic horse in charge in the pen. Its common horse knowledge, the higher you are in the pecking order, the better life is so many young horses will test the water on occasion. I was not accompanied by a National Geographic photographer so it all went undocumented. See what I mean about needing that grant????
She keeps track of all the genetic records of every horse that arrives on the ranch with the assistance of Dr. Gus Cothran, a Texas A & M equine geneticist. “We determine their DNA and their blood type to establish their historical background. It also tells us how much diversity is in the herd and the minimum number we need to maintain that genetic diversity. Maybe that’s why sanctuaries keep breeding more mustangs??? Contrary to what one might think wild horses suffer from less inbreeding than their domestic cousins. We think they have more genetic diversity than any breed of domestic horses.”
I may be just a hick horse trader but isn’t lack of genetic type also interpreted as lack of a breed type? Which would make these horses nothing more than feral livestock at least genetically????? Matter of fact I heard a joke the other day about how their genetics had advanced so much they were now being born with shoes……not so funny?? It might be funnier if it weren't true in many places.
And of course all this comes with a price………Sussman invites interested people across the country to sponsor a horse for $150, or a herd for $5,000. She is betting the long term success of the ISPMB on tourism. That’s why she came to South Dakota in the first place. The state of South Dakota believes in tourism and invests in it. She is hoping to become a place where people can come and learn about the horses. Visitors can walk safely among the wild mustangs. A curious mare will sometimes follow a stranger, easing up to nuzzle an outstretched hand.
Again what was that statement about understanding how the horses shouldn’t be disrupted???
I realize the buffalo was brought back from the brink of extinction by the breeding of national park and domestic herds. The buffalo was an indigenous unique species of wildlife in danger of extinction. The mustang???? Not so much. The BLM has a problem of what to do with not only the wild population but the ones they have in captivity.
I don’t dislike mustangs because they are mustangs. I do dislike compounding a problem, the blind leading the blind, and tourist traps. Is this a kinder, gentler, politically correct Buffalo Bill dog and pony show or research????

Written by RH1
c.c. Vicki, John, slaughter…….
pictures provided by RM and the world wide web for educational purposes.


  1. I miss Saturday Satire. This stuff is funny, in a very sad, sick way. I beginning to think it's totally impossible for anyone to try and teach these people anything, I'd thought it was just I wasn't a very good teacher.
    I just don't understand the why. What short-circuits in the city head that it just can't seem to understand common sense? Is it because they're more intuned to money and/or ego-tripping by any means than respect for Gods creatures?

  2. It always makes me angry when I hear about ANY mustangs in captivity being allowed to breed! This is one of the things that makes me think a license to breed is necessary and I hate to see more government involvement in our lives. If you don't have the yearly license to breed the stallion then each foal born is a fine. Of course I don't think any mustang breeders should be allowed a license.
    """head that it just can't seem to understand common sense? Is it because they're more intuned to money and/or ego-tripping by any means than respect for Gods creatures?""""
    Shovels, you and I are at the same loss of understanding here.
    By the way the picture at the bottom is of two young stallions..... I predict we will be hearing of a "terrible accident" at her ranch of her or someone being mauled by a stallion.