Ask Joe: Is there shade for horses at BLM facility?

Reported by: Joe Hart
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Updated: 7/14/2014 6:46 pm

From the Ask Joe file, one of our viewers has a question about the wild horses which have been rounded up by the BLM, and are housed in Palomino Valley.

Debbie Schwaiger asked what is being done to protect the wild horses in Palomino Valley from our extreme heat?


There are about 975 horses housed at the Palomino Valley facility. Joe spoke with Zach Reichold, the Deputy Division Chief for the BLM, and he oversees the facility north of Spanish Springs.

Reichold said there are five shade structures there. A couple were donated by the National Humane Society, and the others were built by the BLM. The problem is only about ten percent of the horses take advantage of the shade.

It is something of a mystery, and the BLM has actually launched a study to find out why. It could be that in the wild, horses stay away from cover or trees because that is where predators tend to hide.

In any case, Reichold said the animals do have plenty of fresh water, and there is some shade provided for them. Also, Reichold said in the past week, one horse did die at the facility, but it was from an injury and not heat-related.
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Shane Destry - 7/19/2014 11:54 AM
0 Votes
It is a national disgrace that our wild horses are being rounded up at all by the BLM not out of any real need but because welfare cattle ranchers and fracking operations want them moved off our public land so they can drain it of the last drop of water and destroy it for profit ! Leasing fracking and grazing permits for cattle and sheep net the BLM hundreds of millions in $$$ revenue yet they can't spend even a few thousand to provide shade and adequate water in this heat ! A national disgrace !

MonikaCourtney - 7/19/2014 10:50 AM
1 Vote
Heat info on horses: Part 4: Wild horses in their natural habitat are well adapted to handling fluctuations in vitamin and mineral contents of feeds, since various regions and seasons affect availability of some of the necessary micronutrients. Dry grass in winter is devoid in carotene (from which the horse manufactures vitamin A), but this vitamin is stored in the liver for long periods until green grass appears next spring. Since horses store and conserve vitamins and minerals (and create B vitamins in the hindgut), the wild horses have plenty of energy roaming prairies, traveling to water and sprint away from predators. Foals grow up healthy and fit on grass and mother’s milk. They might get thin during winter, but grow up sound. Wild horses in the wild, their natural habitat – are not facing the structural problems which plague the formerly wild equines now corralled in holding pens. The proper provision to meet all basic needs, including sufficient shelter from extreme elements, which they naturally seek and find in the wild, must be established for all horses corralled in holding facilities. Quality veterinarian care and regular monitoring shall be part thereof. These provisions must be put in place as soon as possible, as increased heat patterns (data furnished by NCDC to me last summer) pose additional health risks due to lack of above mentioned standards. No delay shall occur as to ensure that all horses subjected to federal imprisonment and lack of free movement in their natural habitat are safe from all elements and thus of unnecessary suffering. Monika Courtney, June 7th, 2014

MonikaCourtney - 7/19/2014 10:49 AM
1 Vote
Heat info on horses: Part 3: The prevention of overheating and health risks thereof for horses in federal holding facilities and corrals must be taken very serious and conform to the standards of domesticated horses, mandated to the protection of shelter, food and water, basic animals’ needs. Included must be the consideration of harsh winter elements such as ice winds, snow blizzards and brutal cold, from which free ranging wild equines seek shelter. Their sturdy and adaptive make up can handle some of these extremes, yet if weather conditions become severe, they mandate protection to all equines in winter prone holding facilities with established severe weather protocols being put in place. No equine shall suffer in prolonged winter conditions that affect its wellbeing, without access to adequate shelter, especially the very young foals. Furthermore, knowledge and recognition of signs of overheating and its treatment must be current. Preventative measures keep a horse well, but should it develop heat stress or a mild stroke, appearing overly tired, stressed, breathing heavy, sometimes panicky – staff on site shall monitor all horses during extreme weather. If first signs of heat stress occur, affected animal shall be hosed down with cool water and a veterinarian called. Babies (as they cannot regulate their body temperature as well as adult horses) on the ground need to be monitored for any signs of heat related illness as it can be a slow and insidious process.

MonikaCourtney - 7/19/2014 10:48 AM
1 Vote
Heat info on horses: Part 2: . Increased water consumption to offset water loss from sweating along with sufficient provision of minerals, being present in appropriate amounts for biochemical reactions to proceed in an orderly manner (wild horses in their natural habitat find salt deposits in soil areas licking the ground to get the minerals), is essential for proper physiological actions in the equine body. Depletion of electrolytes interferes with muscle contraction, function of nervous tissue; results are medical conditions such as poor tissue perfusion, metabolic alkalosis, and inefficient transport of oxygen and energy substrates, thumps, muscle spasms, gastrointestinal stasis, kidney impairment and poor recoveries. Fresh, clean water at the proper temperature must be provided at all times. Horses will drink more water when it is maintained at 45F – 65F, thus kept in an insulated and/or shaded container should insure adequate intake during hot weather. Changing water daily and maintaining a regular cleaning schedule will keep it fresh, thus keeps the horse drinking. Proper hydration will insure an adequate amount of water in the horse’s body to maintain normal sweating rates to maintain normal body temperature to protect the immune system and prevent metabolic problems and respiratory distress. Prevention of excess protein is crucial. To avoid additional break down of protein for energy production, called deamination (generation of more metabolic heat compared to regular digestion and absorption of dietary protein) good quality grass or mixed hay such as timothy/alfalfa or orchard grass/alfalfa with an intermediate protein level must be provided.Extra heat in form of excess protein increases a horse’s total heat load, thus forcing it to burn even more calories to increase breathing and sweating rates, and to drink more water to rid its body of extra heat and nitrogen.The dietary crude protein level should be between 10%, 12% to avoid excessive dietary protein.

MonikaCourtney - 7/19/2014 10:46 AM
1 Vote
Heat info on horses: Part 1: Wild horses, burros and astray horses within the state of NV that have been removed from their natural habitat and placed in holding facilities, fenced areas, corrals, livestock pens or are confined in any enclosed area that restricts free movement of said animals shall be provided sufficient shade for protection from direct sun and heat which can cause compromise of health, such as metabolic malfunction at 104F, organ failure at 105F which can result in circulatory collapse or death. Heat stress in horses occurs in hot desert terrains posing serious health risks to equines that have no access to cooling or shade. Sunburn, dehydration and heatstroke are results thereof, mandating the provision of adequate shade and cooling of ground with sprinklers or misters, and possibly fans to increase air circulation. Periods in which the National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory put foals, especially the very young, at risk. Foals, particularly those under 30 days of age, are very susceptible to overheating or mortality, as their tiny bodies cannot handle extreme stressors such as high heat because their heat regulatory system has not fully developed yet. Exposed to direct sunlight without shade or if horses have long hair coats, they have poor thermo-regulating ability.For proper feeding management, feeding of poorly digestible feed shall be avoided as the production of heat to digest such feed can seriously affect horses prone to stress. Every horse shall have access to salts in form of salt blocks, containing electrolytes and trace minerals such as sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium and calcium, which are lost in sweat.

MonikaCourtney - 7/19/2014 10:42 AM
1 Vote
Perhaps the long term "goal" of the "shade trial" will be to announce that horses are "not utilizing" shade... although we have photos to the contrary. The small low installed tarps are a start - horses do stand under. Yet, big solid roofs like they have over hay is what is appropriate and meets the needs and nature of horses. BLM's wasting time and money on unnecessary research, while common sense and logical facts are the catalyst that is simply avoided here. EVERY horse seeks relief - domesticated or wild, or formerly wild. The opinion of highly respected equine vets and professors which I presented at the workshop are relevant to ratify this even more. BLM reform is slow, now they talk shipping burros to Guatemala... they have funds for that ? Yet... a roof can't be built due to lack of funds ? Common !!

MonikaCourtney - 7/19/2014 10:36 AM
1 Vote
cntinued.... . If shade is not going to be established by BLM, animals suffer - especially the foals, who can't regulate body heat. Horses are smart and adjust, especially when they are permitted to find relief. I also believe innovation of our times consists of several ideal options for real increased comfort to these animals, such as shade, portable misters to cool skin, air and ground (which I proposed in my package in Reno; company rep would have traveled at his own dime from Los Angeles to PVC to assess) and/or acrylic walls for windblocks in winter, for holding such as Rock Springs, WY, for example. Again, I am willing to start a national fundraiser to establish a source for materials/infrastructure for BLM. Please suggest this to your leadership. As you expressed earlier, government cannot accept funds, but materials. I'd like to help expedite this project and furnish the missing link to more humane, up to date criterions within holding. Humane conditions and welfare standards are not solely contingent on expensive, timely research/data collection, but our logical intervention to apply an environment that allows animals to live comfortably, thrive and be mentally and physically sound. The former wild horses now trapped in pens deserve no less. I appreciate your time, Zach. Last, but not least, please let me know how many horses are in your facility as of now.

MonikaCourtney - 7/19/2014 10:36 AM
1 Vote
Zach,Please could you send me a photo of the long pen with your shade provision,as well as the compromised pen.Since wild horses do seek relief in their natural habitat,it is a logical value that the formerly wild ones in your corrals do the same,given that your shade trial assemblies are built in non-risky,solid and highly over the ground mounted structures like the one for the burros in Ridgecrest,CA -canopy style roofs which equines there utilize (see photo).I agree, the utilization of any given structure by these animals depends on the very structure's ideal configuration and construction, thus not scaring or dejecting the animals' desire and need to seek relief, but to accommodate it in non-threatening ways. PVC should have considered planting trees along the pens, when it was built 40 yrs. ago. Several recommendations by nationally known equine experts / vets,which I furnished at the Reno workshop, clearly expressed why all horses need protection from brutal heat to prevent heat stress (2 thereof attached).I believe we could agree that these animals are no different, as long as your design and overlay for shade will be appropriate to meet their needs. Suitable shelter is required in your adoption policies, thus further supporting the need for the same in holding, while at the same time keeping the horses healthy and more adoptable. A roof structure PVC has over the hay pile, which I photographed during the tour last year, or the canopy style of Ridgecrest would be ideal. All creatures seek relief from elements when they become unbearable, and sufficient time and proper, timely (the peak of heat has started now) innovative shade provision will allow the mission to be a success. I firmly believe that highly installed roof structures with few solid beams(letter Dr. Nancy Loving)to allow plenty of air circulation, such as over your hay, will be utilized once horses in barren corrals currently operating in daily survial mode will learn that they can go underneath.

MonikaCourtney - 7/19/2014 10:29 AM
1 Vote
Hi Zach, I see Joe Hart jof 4News Reno did a question on PVC and shade. Let's just hope that Americans will soon see that innovative and humane structures that allow to meet the animals' nature and needs, are not only a thing of privately funded or caring animal institutions. HSUS might have donated some roofs/tarps - yet if funding for more appropriate and bigger designs are needed: again - I can start a nat'l fundraiser. BLM adoption policy requires shelter. Provision of such for your corralls must be considered as a reflection thereof and our modern times. I am still awaiting the good news in regards to CAWP by Debbie Collins, as she emailed me about on May 9th. It is now soon August. Triple digits in your area pose a hazard to the horses. I received a note that tags are often put on too tight. I am including a photo. Why is this happening ? The animals seem to have discomfort with such tight nylon cords. Could this be prevented ? I realize you have limited sources, time and staff... but these horses are not under your care by choice, and they must be treated humane, even if BLM seems burnt out in that aspect over the last decades. It is not appropriate that horses suffer. Federal guidelines for their humane care must be established. CAWP (Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program) is a priority in the reform promised by Bob Abbey and Ed Roberson. We are still waiting. If PVC is down to 975 horses, where are the others ? If they were shipped to Broken Arrow, which is closed to the public, why and how can we know they are safe ?

Cathy - 7/18/2014 4:41 PM
0 Votes
I have 7 mustangs on 5 acres with a 19 X 21 foot shelter. They often use it to escape the sun. 4 of these were born in the wild. I have another 2 wild born, older mustangs on 3 acres who also use their shed. What is important to me is that they have the option to escape the elements- sun, wind and rain.

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