"Wild Horse Petition" - Page 3 - The Horse Forum
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post #21 of 69 Old 10-13-2018, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Filou View Post
Then there's the whole horses vs cattle grazing land argument. I do believe cattle are the reason the horses have such poor grazing available. I'm all for less cattle, but I wouldn't replace them with horses. I'd want them replaced with native flora and fauna.
IMO, being a mustang owner I'm already doing my part, and I don't need to sign any petitions for whatever it is.
Cattle numbers have decreased on public grounds yet the horse population increases by approximately 20% every year, averaging close to 10,000 additional horses.

When you do the AUM math, that equals to putting an additional 12,700 head of cattle on the range a year which is not happening.

In short no, the cattle are not the problem. It's the overpopulation of horses.
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post #22 of 69 Old 10-13-2018, 04:27 PM
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Folks told me that if a kid got into the same pasture, he would yell "Watch out! That's a MUSTANG!" My horse had been captured as a 2 year old. She was over 20 when I got her.
If I found that sort of view about brumbies, I just wouldnt tell anyone they were! Frequently I have heard the opposite here, how wondrous brumbies are & how faithful & gentle & smart. How you can trust any of them with your 5yo child... which is just as silly.

But whether good or bad, behavioural or physical(tho physical depends a bit on region, whether inbred, starved, whatever), I don't get people generalizing about them. They are just crossbreed horses. Period. There is huge variation, just as with domestic horses. Especially in a big land like Oz. Especially when traditionally station(what you mob over the sea call ranches) horses are left to breed & run 'feral' until they're rounded up as 2-3yo, sometimes older, just as needed, to be broken. What's the difference??

My older boy, though not labeled a brumby, came from an appaloosa stud that was a fair few 1000 acres of bush & hills, that the horse's all ran wild on, and he would just round the bands up yearly, drench & check them through a race & sell off most of the 2-3yo. Let the rest go again. That was the extent of their 'handling'. When I met him he was retiring & downsizing so was selling mares with foals at foot(I bought a pair) and most of his boys of all ages, most of whom lived in a bachelor mob. Seriously, when talking traits, what's the difference??
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post #23 of 69 Old 10-13-2018, 05:51 PM
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The thing is... Not all wild horses need rounding up. Most would be fine if you just injected them with pzp to keep the current population stable.

Look at these mustangs. In this herd, there is 1 horse per 2000 acres. More than plentiful forage. Yes the government wants to remove 3/4th of the population next year (2019).

https://www.larajoy.us/blog/2017/2/8...66aZ1w2KamY2ko

In my area, they removed most of the wild bison because it was easier than fixing the fences at the preserve.

There are areas in drought or with fires- those are the areas that need roundups.
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post #24 of 69 Old 10-13-2018, 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by COWCHICK77 View Post
Cattle numbers have decreased on public grounds yet the horse population increases by approximately 20% every year, averaging close to 10,000 additional horses.

When you do the AUM math, that equals to putting an additional 12,700 head of cattle on the range a year which is not happening.

In short no, the cattle are not the problem. It's the overpopulation of horses.
I'm under the impression that the horses are over grazing their land, but the reason the horses are there and not cattle is because the land isn't suitable for cattle. Hence cattle being the reason for poor grazing for the mustangs. Cattle is taking up all the usable real estate. I'm also under the impression that land that is suitable for cattle is being sold for grazing and thus cattle are decreasing on public lands, but may be increasing as whole (or at least were over the past 10 years, we may start hitting a plateau as majority of our usable land is delegated).
Additionally mustangs over populate the land they are let to use and degrade it, but most of the time it's land that can not tolerate grazing(hence no cattle). With some plant types, the horses(or any grazing animals) can actually be beneficial with the correct practices.

tldr version,
The land was no good to begin with, and it's only being made worse by overpopulation of mustangs. Due to other uses for good land, this is the only land made available to mustangs.
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post #25 of 69 Old 10-13-2018, 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by loosie View Post
...They are just crossbreed horses. Period. There is huge variation, just as with domestic horses. Especially in a big land like Oz. Especially when traditionally station(what you mob over the sea call ranches) horses are left to breed & run 'feral' until they're rounded up as 2-3yo, sometimes older, just as needed, to be broken. What's the difference??...
Selective breeding by nature isn't going to select the same characteristics as selective breeding by people. To use "Cowboy" as an example...




He has excellent feet. Every horse should be bred to have feet like his! And he has good leg bone for his size. Mia was 10-11 inches taller, yet her legs were only slightly thicker than Cowboy's. I consider that a big positive, but others might consider it a fault. He has no withers and a short, very broad back. Those are kind of good, kind of not. Tough to find a saddle that fits him well. But it IS a strong back for his size. Short, thick neck. If he wants to ignore his rider, it will take a lot of work to get him to change his mind. Big head for his size. The good news is he also has a brain.

I stink at judging conformation, but his walk rolls like a drunk sailor, his trot is choppy, yet his canter is wonderfully smooth.

That is a sample of one. There are mustangs that would tower above him, slender mustangs, mustangs that look part draft, others that look more Arabian. My point is only that human breeders select for things that the human wants, while nature selects for efficiency and survival.

Over half of the mustangs are in Nevada. Deserts. By definition, they are on overgrazed land. They wouldn't be "surplus" otherwise. So the deserts select for smaller horses, and competition for food doesn't help. That is quite different from a ranch letting horses roam on the land, controlling what stallions are there to breed, being willing to provide hay in tough times, etc.

Bandit comes from the Navajo Nation, which doesn't come under the BLM. Lots of feral horses. His mother was a "mustang" in the sense she was often feral, but they know who the mother was...so not entirely feral. And the dam was ridden some of the times. She would probably be better described as a free-ranging horse ridden occasionally instead of a mustang - probably closer to what you are describing in Australia.

My guess is that free range horses learn to think for themselves. They have to assess their own risk and determine how to handle things. They learn the local environment from the herd, but one from the open deserts of Nevada may know nothing about thick forests. I like negotiating with a horse. When we come across a rise, or are about to drop into a wash, Cowboy and Bandit both like to pause, look, smell and assess. Trooper will plow on without looking at anything. And I like a cautious horse who is thinking for himself.

But not everyone does. There is a "sticky" on HF that says a good trail horse never looks at anything besides the trail. Bandit is always looking, smelling and listening on the trail. I think that is good...but I've been told by experienced riders that I shouldn't tolerate it! Many training programs assume instant and total obedience is the end-all of riding. Cowboy became a very sour lesson horse. I think part of it was the lessons made no sense to him, yet he was expect to snap to and obey what he viewed as stupid commands. And if he rebelled, he was punished. Punished, IMHO, for having a good brain!

BLM mustangs aren't quite the same as free-range ranch horses. I'm not saying they are BAD horses. If I had to trust one horse in the desert with my life, it would be little BLM mustang Cowboy! That is why my wife rides him on the rare times she rides. I trust Cowboy to bring them both back! But my 1.5 mustangs are not what a lot of folks would want in a horse. Neither has much 'curb appeal'. And how often do you hear a horse buyer saying, "I want a cautious, thoughtful horse who is willing to tell me no"?

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post #26 of 69 Old 10-13-2018, 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by loosie View Post
But whether good or bad, behavioural or physical(tho physical depends a bit on region, whether inbred, starved, whatever), I don't get people generalizing about them. They are just crossbreed horses. Period. There is huge variation, just as with domestic horses...
This is very true. Yet the average new-to-horses owner around here who romanticizes about and wants a mustang thinks of a mustang as "a horse is a horse" and they believe if they send the horse to a trainer, they'll end up with a nice beginner horse.

The crossbreds that have an average horse size and look like a QH can be a good beginner horse. The ones three of my friends ended up with appear to be a mix of draft and spanish blood. Most of the ones resulting from these types of crosses are strongly independent, a bit slow or "dull" to respond to training, and need clear leadership they can trust to get the best out of them. This type of temperament is not ideal for insecure handlers or riders.

Some of the people who've been around observing these horses with their owners believe the difficulties they come across are due to the horses being mustangs. That's not really true, because these same people would have a lot of trouble if they ended up with a green, four year old Percheron/Andalusian cross of the same size.

They are just crossbred horses, but some are crossbreds that don't have the easiest temperaments for everyone to work with.

While I've ridden and worked with a lot of mustangs, I believe they are only good for a small number of people. For experienced riders such as myself, many of us want a horse that has an average size (bigger than pony) and also the build to do athletic things. Many of the larger mustangs (and smaller ones) have drafty builds, and are not going to be good for speedier sports or endurance.

Edit: Just read @bsms ' post above and wanted to agree. Although mustangs are crossbreds, I've handled or ridden more than a dozen personally and something every one of them had was a strong trust in their own judgment. They would never override their own judgment in favor of a human, but if you proved yourself very trustworthy, over time they would trust a person a lot too. This trait was something that made them less suitable for beginners, because mistakes or poor judgment made the horse seem to think the person was not to be trusted, and immediately they would default back to their own opinions. This seems to have been strongly selected for in feral horses, and it makes sense to me because it is something they would need to survive.
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Last edited by gottatrot; 10-13-2018 at 08:24 PM.
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post #27 of 69 Old 10-13-2018, 08:21 PM
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BLM and USFS land available for grazing is not being sold to anyone, @Filou . Nor do ranchers use it free. Ranchers have to pay for permission to use it. And unlike mustangs, a section of land that is being overgrazed can have the cattle cut in half immediately. Or it can be terminated.

Last year, I spent some time in some mountains in Utah where I had done vegetation surveys back in 1980. There is more growth now than in 1980. They have bears and cougars there now, and there were NONE in those mountains in 1980! It is grazed regularly by both sheep and cattle, but someone assess the range regularly and adjusts how many cattle or sheep graze there based on the quality of the growth.

Well, that and a HUGE helping of ignorant political interference, often by people who have never set foot in Utah! And that political interference is ALWAYS on the side of LESS grazing!

There is no such thing as a rancher who gets to increase his herds 15% or more each year without limit. But that is what mustangs get because no one owns them and the politics say we can't shoot them like deer or remove them like cattle.

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post #28 of 69 Old 10-13-2018, 11:10 PM
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@Filou I wasn’t going to respond, but I decided that I would try to explain something that probably most have not considered.

I am generations in to the same family ranch, which runs cattle on the same range. Only a couple generations ago we also managed the horses, although laws change.

Have you heard the term stewardship? We are the stewards of the range where we run cattle, just as every other range using rancher is. If we were to damage the grass we would lose our livelihood. As many old timers say, “You can not starve a living out of a cow.”

We also are the reason that water is available for any living animal during the seasons where it does not naturally run. After all, cows will die if they are not watered. We are true conservationist even if only for our own gain (although that is not the mindset of anyone I know).

I think it is funny to see that the people who often do not realize that are living in areas where I believe they have “paved paradise.” Agricultural pursuits were not given the best lands if you think about it. Most is harsh...

In any case, in places where the horse activists have ran out the ranchers the land is no longer benefiting anything. After all, the horses do not make a living for anyone. The reason the land was managed was for continued use...

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post #29 of 69 Old 10-14-2018, 12:58 AM
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Selective breeding by nature isn't going to select the same characteristics as selective breeding by people.
Yeah, until only a few generations back (& then some still do), in many areas certain types of domestic horses were released purposefully to improve the wild lines, so there is some degree of (human) selective breeding. Hence why one of mine & many from same area looks haffy. But selective breeding was not really my point - it was just that they're many & varied, just like domestics. And that goes for temperament too.
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So the deserts select for smaller horses, and competition for food doesn't help. That is quite different from a ranch letting horses roam on the land, controlling what stallions are there to breed, being willing to provide hay in tough times, etc.
Yeah, most of Oz as you no doubt know is desert too. I think that nature generally produces smaller horses over time, regardless of environment - tho over here, I'm told mountain horses are typically smaller than those from tennant creek(desert, NT), because with Timor ponies & haffies released in the mountains & drafts having been released in Tennant Creek, it's not all au naturale. Oh and there have been brumby mules occasionally from NT too! Plenty feral donks out there too.

Re ranch/station horses, no, I'm not talking selective breeding, as these horses aren't necessarily that, even if they're 'station horses' rather than 'brumbies', any more than what I said above. And re feeding out hay... no, that just doesnt generally happen on big stations. They eat what's there or they starve, same as cattle in arid regions... that cant be rounded up & trucked off before too late. Tho cattle are generally worth selling off, while there's no economic point for most to ship off horses to the meat works 1000s of kms away.

Quote:
would probably be better described as a free-ranging horse ridden occasionally instead of a mustang - probably closer to what you are describing in Australia.
Maybe you are thinking of my old boy, or many station horses in that comment? Yes, my point was that these aren't technically classed as brumbies, but what's the real difference? And while sometimes station horses were handled/ridden & released again in 'off seasons' or even for years before being caught & handled again, I was talking those who haven't been trained.
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BLM mustangs aren't quite the same as free-range ranch horses.
Maybe in your experience of both BLM & what constitutes a 'free range ranch horse' over there. No arguments that there are differences of experience, environment, etc, etc. Eg can you say it is because they are mustang, or maybe its just because of the experiences they have had with people as to their behaviour? My point tho was in generalising - there are a wide variety of conditions, experiences, types, temperaments etc in feral horses, just as there are in domestics. And many domestics are bred & brought up just as brumbies/mustang, just by another name.
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post #30 of 69 Old 10-14-2018, 01:51 AM
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I'm familiar with what you are mentioning @Knave as the tragedy of the commons.
I'm not really clear on what you mean about the water and being a conservationist.
In California most of the farm land is in the central valley which receives sierra water. Drive through the right time of year and it's flooded.
On the other hand the cattle I've seen come from foothills. Sometime there's springs or wells that feed them.
Now things are changing though and there's less water in storage and some years less coming available. I think some of the best land here is on the coast, and some of the worst is out in the deserts, but there's not a whole lot going on out in the deserts till you get to Las Vegas unless you like specialized plants. The agricultural land isn't the prime spot (anymore, it used to be but many farms are replaced by urban development now, here at least, or people were run out during wars), but it's also not the worst spot.
Personally I'm an advocate for native flora and fauna, and for me, conservation and water use might take on a different meaning than for many others. I know what stewardship is, but the way I perceive care for things is generally different than how most people see it.
Unfortunately it is extremely difficult, if not impossible to restore grazing land to native habitat, so I'm not surprised that the land where ranchers have been run out appears useless to either of us.
Just fwiw I brought up the point that a lot of people consider the argument between mustangs and cattle ranchers a talking point when it comes to these petitions. I'm no expert on cattle ranching but I don't generally think that it's the truth of what is happening today. I don't generally see it as a valid argument and there's no right or wrong in it for me. 10, 20 years ago things might have been different.
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