Captive wild horses need relief from heat, says HSUS

At the BLM’s Palomino Valley Wild Horse and Burro Center outside Reno, a sprinkler attached to the panel of a large wild horse pen sprays water while horses eat in the distance.
At the BLM’s Palomino Valley Wild Horse and Burro Center outside Reno, a sprinkler attached to the panel of a large wild horse pen sprays water while horses eat in the distance. © BLM

A push by wild horse advocates for better shelter for captive mustangs at a Nevada adoption center has the backing of the Humane Society of the United States.

The society says about 1800 wild horses are in a potentially dangerous situation at the Palomino Valley National Adoption Center, a facility operated by the Bureau of Land Management near Reno.

Temperatures have been reaching record highs exceeding 100 degrees this month.

The society says there is no shelter for the horses at the center, despite the fact the bureau requires those adopting wild horses from the agency to provide adequate shelter for the animals.

In a letter to Neil Kornze, principal deputy director of the bureau, the society urged the agency to immediately install shelter for the horses at the center, and ultimately at all of its short-term holding facilities.

The society’s senior vice president of programs and innovations, Holly Hazard, said: “Wild horses on the range survive severe temperatures by seeking out shade, but the horses in the BLM’s care have no choice but to swelter in the sun.

“The BLM’s response to the situation — installing a sprinkler system and nothing else — falls short of its responsibility to the horses in its care, and the agency’s defense that the horses can cope in hot temperatures is unacceptable.”

The Nevada center announced on June 28 that it had installed sprinklers in three of the large, outside wild horse pens and five mare-foal pens as a stop-gap measure to attempt to reduce heat levels inside the corrals.

It said staff would observe how the animals responded to the sprinklers.

But Anne Novak, the executive director of Protect Mustangs, one of the groups pushing to get shade installed for the animals, said: “Putting sprinklers in a few pens appears to be a publicity stunt when what they really need to do is create shade for this emergency situation.

“The BLM is full of excuses of why they can’t create shade when they need to cowboy up and make it happen.

“If the government can send people into space then they can figure out how to shade the captive wild horses or just return them to the range. In the wild they can migrate to shady areas. In captivity it’s cruel to deny them shade.”

However, the bureau said that shade shelters in corrals had been considered and evaluated many times.

It said wild horses and burros were accustomed to open environments and when their nutritional demands were met, they did well against the natural elements, including sun, rain, snow, and hot and cold temperatures.

“Open corrals with plenty of sunlight have proven to be the best way to minimize disease-causing organisms. The BLM’s open corrals enable the drying effects of the sun and wind to take effect.

“Due to the temperament of the animals, the social hierarchy between the animals, and their unfamiliarity with shelters, the BLM feels that corrals without shelters are the safest approach.

“Shelters could create a potential obstacle for animals running and playing in the corrals, and cause significant injuries. The BLM has wind breaks and/or shelters for sick animals.”

The bureau added that it was nevertheless planning to consult the scientific research community to inform future options on this issue.

Latest research and information from the horse world.

10 thoughts on “Captive wild horses need relief from heat, says HSUS

  • July 18, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    In an “open environment,” the horses and burros have the choice of whether they are under a tree or some other natural shade or whether they are out in the blazing sun. And it is not a matter of whether they CAN survive in extreme weather, but if it is kind to force them to do so. Since the society requires that adopters provide shelter, they obviously acknowledge the importance of doing so. Wild horses have survived for hundreds of years on the plains. It is hard to imagine that wild horses “running and playing” in the corrals are too stupid to avoid the “obstacle” presented by man-made shelters.

  • July 19, 2013 at 2:48 am

    The sprinklers are ludicrous. We humans don’t have the hide an animal has. The hair gathers the water keeping it from breathing. This could actually be increasing the body temperatures of the horses by acting as insulation. This may not be the case but there is some reason the horses are avoiding the mist.

    Our skin sheds water much quicker and the evaporation does act as a coolant. But not all animals work this way. Elephants dispel heat with their ears which is why they flap them. Dogs and cats pant.

    How many of you have owned horses and seen them wallow in the dirt after getting wet? It’s not natural.

    It’s a publicity stunt to avoid building proper shelters.

    If you can’t care for them…LET THEM GO!

  • July 19, 2013 at 4:47 am

    One excuse after another. Let the horses free !

  • July 19, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    Um, any of you commenting on here ever been to the desert of Nevada? Thought so…it is called desert because there is very little vegetation and NO TREES for hundreds of miles where these horses roam in the wild. So they DO NOT seek out shade in the wild since they would be walking very, very, VERY long distances to find any. The corrals of Palomino Valley are NO DIFFERENT than what they contend with in the DESERT, …unless you figure they have WAY MORE FOOD AND WATER than they would ever find on their own.

  • July 20, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    —–Original Message—–
    From: Tcourt5096
    To: feedback
    Sent: Sat, Jul 13, 2013 5:14 pm
    Subject: Projects for range improvements grants
    Dear Secretary,
    Below please find my input to BLM about much needed provision of shelter from elements in holding.
    Monika Courtney, CO.
    —–Original Message—–
    From: Tcourt5096
    To: TGorey ; JGuilfoyle ; joan_guilfoyle ; dbolstad ; rubyredhorse ; james_beck
    Sent: Fri, Jul 12, 2013 4:44 pm
    Subject: Projects for range improvements grants

    Dear Mr. Gorey, Dear Mrs. Guilfoyle, Dear Mr. Bolstad, Dear Mrs.Gleason,
    In the above press release of last year pertaining to projects for range improvements, could you please give me an update as to which projects listed within the grant have been completed, if any. Also, if projects such as to improve water sources on range areas to possibly sustain wild horses are considered in this grant.
    As I have done some research to see which holding facility may have provision of shelter/relief from elements, I found the Ridgecrest, CA. facility to be an example of adequate humane standard by providing shade with a canopy, to which the equines are drawn according to photos and common sense. I believe that wild horses do seek shelter/shade when having a choice on the open range, as stud piles were found in pinyon-junipers.
    Any horse seeks relief from elements within the environment he is living. In open areas that accounts to rock formations casting shade/wind or snow protection, or trees offering a cooler environment with shade tops, thus also providing partial shield from insects. Wild horses seek cover and shade in thickets of riparian habitats and dense brush, wooded areas or canyonlands. Since horses’ health can be compromised in high temperatures, even wild horses’ internal body temp’s rise, and if so at 104F. or higher, his metabolic system may not function properly. At 105F his organs are affected and circulatory collapse or death may result. While wild horses are adapted to ample challenges in a harsh environment, they nonetheless seek out relief to protect their vitality. The foal that died last week at PVC is “undiagnosed”, yet I believe the extreme heat caused her to stop perspiring due to high heat stressing her system and having no escape thereof. If corralled horses have no cooling in form of shade or temperature reducing misters, they are subjected to serious health risks, dehydration and sunburn; prevention thereof would move the program forth with implementation of shelter, such as Ridgecrest canopy or similar sturdy roof structures as shown in the attached pdf.file for your view.

    Misters help greatly to reduce temperatures as I found one system in Los Angeles that is portable, and giving 250 ft. of relief, I sent that idea to you two weeks ago (That guy would gladly fly to PVC and show the staff the potential and how it works, on his own dime and is very willing to adapt price). Also, adding electrolytes to some water troughs in the pens would help prevent dehydration. Horses under high heat with no availability of shade can suffer heat exhaustion and that is serious. The sprinkler installation at PVC is allowing horses to facilitate cooling evaporation and shade certainly would increase the quality of life all together.

    I understand the planning and approval of budget in this concern may take time. If above grant may allow expenditure to be applied to improvements at holding such as PVC – I ask you please consider any way to make this happen. Otherwise I am very willing to go about a nationwide public fundraiser to raise the funds. I hope to hear from you.
    Thank you for your time in this matter.
    Monika Courtney, CO.

  • July 20, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Original Message—–
    From: Tcourt5096 <
    To: nkornze
    Sent: Tue, Jul 16, 2013 4:08 pm
    Subject: Projects for range improvements / relief in holding
    Dear Mr. Kornze,
    The situation in holding calls for immediate attention as extreme weather patterns have affected horses’ health and risks of fatalities are increased with no shelter in any form.
    The absence thereof does not justify the claim by BLM that these formerly wild horses do not need shade. They are no longer wild, but corralled and can’t roam about as they do in the open range to seek relief, which they in fact do. Please see my letter below.
    The nation is concerned with the welfare of horses in holding and I ask that you please give this urgent matter your speedy consideration. A week ago another foal die at PVC, to add to the long list of “undiagnosed” being loaded onto the rendering truck.
    America must do better than this – After all the trauma and losses they had to endure, these horses deserve better care in holding. They have no enrichment, no stimulation to alleviate boredom. As a horse owner I can tell you it has great impact on the well being of an equine to have these assets, and mostly, shelter- which they seek out to maintain their vitality. I have submitted a proposal of mister systems (see my letter below). The canopy of Ridgecrest CA. is an example of how the animals do seek shade, when given. Federal guidelines in welfare and improved standards in holding reflecting humane animal husbandry must be established. Harsh winter also poses a threat and challenge to these animals and therefore shelter applies to both seasons.
    Please help the horses in holding get a better quality of life and end the suffering and reduction of these noble animals into warehoused commodities. The management reform of the program must incorporate the horses who have been robbed of their home, families and spirits. America stands proud for its freedom. In having taken theirs… please step up and improve holding with immediate provision of much needed shelter/relief. I appreciate any feedback.
    Thank you for your time.
    Monika Courtney

  • July 20, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    A sprinkler is a start to get the issue on the “to do” list. The urgency of this summer’s heat waves with deaths as a result thereof, the suffering, the minimalist modus operandi by blm to horses in holding – has long burdened not only the horses, but thousands of people calling for reform. America can do better than this, and I hope all those within HSUS’ membership will learn another sad chapter of American history and the fate of wild horses under government tyranny. Sally Jewel must no longer ignore the situation that has built up for decades coming to a brink of crisis getting national attention once again. Americans, keep up the pressure and educate others as to what Jane aired again, the plight of a legacy that demands all of our attention now.
    It is great to see the powerhouse of animal welfare stepping up and paying close attention to the plight of the wild horses. Thank you HSUS and Jane for the exposure on this urgent matter. The national call by many advocates and concerned citizens has been heard and with the membership of HSUS now finding out the current atrocities dooming over the horses in holding, the suffering of those animals will bre noted nationwide. No longer a silent dirty secret, but public knowledge, HSUS”s efforts to join the call for improvement at holding is much appreciated. The ultimate goal is to get Federal guidelines established for holding facilities that include shelter as proposed to BLM in several letters, with higher standards including shelter, and/or mister systems, some form of enrichment to alleviate boredom, and maintain vitality. With current increasing pressure the DOI must no longer ignore the matter. Thank you all who contributed to this momentum, I am very grateful.

  • July 20, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    People are retarded…(not PC, but true!!) The horses avoid the sprinklers…must be cuz they don’t want to be wet…HELLO!!! People!! Do you see much shade in the desert? Do you see sprinklers?? Do you see alfalfa hay or hills with rolling oat fields???

    NO, YOU DON’T!!! The City Slicker, crybaby frickin’ Mustang Huggers need to get it through their thick, anthropomorphising (look it up on Google!!) heads that Mustangs have lived for CENTURIES in the toughest most challenging possible environments and SURVIVED to be around today!!

    I can almost guarantee you that if the government cows to the demands of these clueless a**h*les, the Mustangs will not use the shade shelters anyway. THEY ARE WILD HORSES NOT your little fluffy puppies and kitties. I think it should be MANDATORY that EVERYONE who wah-wahs about the Mustangs (no matter where they live)should have to adopt a couple, deal with them on a day-to-day basis, then and only then, be able to have a say with what happens to them or how the are dealt with. Most of the people bitching and whining and sniveling probably MAYBE saw the freakin’ pony rides one time at a carnival and have NEVER been horse owners. CLUELESS!!!

  • July 21, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    All they need are some tarps, rope and a few posts. Enough to cover 1/4th of the corral! Geeze i get so sick of these so called management agencies and their lame excuses!

    On another note has Congress renewed the anti-slaughter bill yet? They go on their Lame vacation in August, until next year. Which will aloow the time for the horse meat slaughter house to round-up and kill 1000’s and maybe more if they capture and hold them while their license is still in effect!

  • July 23, 2013 at 6:08 am

    Our grandchildren will ask us one day,”Where were you during the holocaust of the animals?
    What did you do against these horrific crimes?
    This time around we won’t be able to say, “We didn`t know it was going on!
    Denmark is supports the horses.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *