What happens if you’re a horse and NO ONE claims you? What happens if you are an ENTIRE HERD of these horses, multiplying steadily yet struggling to survive?
A Little History:
We have been concerned about the plight of feral horses in Wheeler County for quite some time. In 2013, we helped the County with a different group of feral horses. In the last year, we’ve been made aware of another group of feral horses. Both of these herds date back to generations ago when ranchers used to allow their horses to roam free. Long ago, most ranchers stopped managing these free-roaming horses, and they’re reverted to a feral state.
Because these feral horses are not part of an official BLM-designated wild horse area, they are not protected under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. This leaves the Twickenham Valley ranch horses ownerless with very little protection as their numbers increase. Now, as they breed unchecked, they are causing issues that make some people mad enough to kill them. We have heard rumors of hundreds of these horses being shot on private lands. Other property owners really enjoy them but are at a loss of what to do.
On March 14, 2019, we headed out with the truck and trailer yesterday to check out reports of theTwickenham Valley ranch horses starving in the recent heavy snow. We packed some sturdy panels to make a corral to feed the horses in for a while and possibly eventually catch some. This was a scouting mission intended only to assess the situation, get a feel for the area and figure out logistics. Oh, the best-laid plans…
Once we got there, it was clear that a band of a half dozen horses needed help right away. Not only were they desperately skinny, but a couple were injured. The group was so tired and hungry that we were able to set up a corral only 50 feet away from where they were eating some recently delivered hay. With the help of some alfalfa and some patient trainers and volunteers, we were able to lure them into the coral and then later into the trailer. They were too hungry and too tired to resist much.
About 18 hours later, we returned to the Portland area around 3am with two studs, one we’re calling Knightly and the other Kinsley, who has a severe leg injury from fence wire that is wrapped around his leg, along with a pregnant alpha mare we’re calling Cersei, a yearling filly named Rook, and a severely emaciated mare we’ve named Rue and her skinny colt Bishop. The horses were taken to our intake facility and looked at by a veterinarian.
We are working in collaboration with some concerned property owners as well as the Oregon Department of Agriculture Livestock Division. The next step is to consult more with biologists on how any of our plans could affect herd behavior. We are hoping to continually capture some of the Twickenham Valley ranch horses a few at a time and get these gorgeous ranch stock horses into some caring homes.
Thank you, Silent Wave Horse Rescue, for providing hay for these horses and helping us corral and load them! And a big thanks to Marta Johann, Bree Alsman and Roslyn Trapanese for going on this wild ride with us and helping corral and load these horses!