By Ainslie Brennan, Bozeman Daily Chronicle
January 7, 2022
“A Montana solution for saving our nation’s wild horses” by Emily Anderson and Suzanne Roy underscores the dire situation of mustangs. Rounding them up and placing them in holding pens for years at a time with proportionately few adoptions will not solve the problem. Sending animals who have never known confinement through the terrifying process of travel to slaughterhouses is a solution that most Americans find abhorrent. Anderson and Roy are correct: removal of horses results in increased breeding — the same with coyotes — and darting mares with PZP vaccines will save the government money.
Let me explain with one example. I am a professional horse trainer and entered the Extreme Mustang Makeover Challenge, a competition where trainers are given 100 days to gentle a mustang, at the end of which they are auctioned off to the highest bidder. My assigned mustang mare Flaira and I never made it to the final. When I could look under her belly without nearly getting my head kicked off, I saw that she had only one teat. Instead, there were four surgical staples. In an attempt to reach her foal — foals and dams are separated as soon as they are gathered — Flaira tried to jump out of her pen. She was then channeled into a squeeze chute where a vet treated her.
All this happened three years before she was assigned to me. Those three years she spent in a Nevada pen. Since her accident occurred before she was branded, no records were kept and she was given no subsequent treatment. I not only had a wild horse but a severely traumatized one. The BLM offered to take her back but I said no, she had been traumatized enough. PZP vaccinations are indeed the answer.