Alto, N.M., herd advocates continue to wait on the court system to grind out an answer on the future of 13 horses that used to run wild, but were rounded up by a resident as nuisances and hauled to Santa Fe by state livestock board staff.
The horses were returned to Lincoln County while a judge decides whether they are wild and do not fall under livestock board rules or are estray livestock and must be put up for sale. That decision could come by mid-November.
The horses, mares with their foals, were kept in pens for 21 days of isolation after their return, then the mares were released into a larger area to meld back into a herd. However, the younger horses were weaned and separated from the mares, although they can interact with each other, Teeatta Lippert said.
“We took the gates of the quarantine area, but the mares are pregnant and one colt was biting its mother,” she said. “When the new foals arrive, the colts would be mean to the new babies. They had to be separated.”
One mare, who has been estranged from the herd, also is kept separate, but in a spacious confinement, Lippert said.
Although the stallion who led the herd has been spotted by many residents of the area, he apparently has not yet located his returned mares.
The signers (who are responsible for the horses in an agreement with the livestock board worked out through the court) are doing everything under instructions from the veterinarian (Becky Washburn), but I worry (the colts) are being treated like domestic horses and will not know how to be wild horses,” Bruna Campos, who has been involved with several wild herds n Alto for more than two decades, said.
Some supporters advocated for transporting the herd to a larger pasture off Ski Run Road, but that area is the territory of another smaller group of horses headed by a stallion, she pointed out. The road becomes icy and clogged with traffic during ski season, presenting a danger to drivers and horses, especially if the smaller group acted aggressively with the invasion of its territory, she said. Lippert said the nine signers of responsibility for the horses didn’t feel it would be in the best interests of anyone or the herd for the horses to be moved to Ski Run Road.
Supporter Lorri Burnett said Patience O’Dowd was in Ruidoso Monday and visited several classes under Ruidoso High School art teacher Heather Kinney, to tell the story of the Alto herd and of the fate of wild horses in Placitas and other areas. O’Dowd through the Wild Horse Observers Association filed litigation against the livestock board that stopped the sale of the Alto herd and threw the decision into the lap of 12th Judicial District Judge Dan Bryant on whether the horses meet the definition of “wild.”
“We spent the entire day with all classes,” Burnett said, and a future art competition is planned based on the story of the horses. “It was wonderful meeting with them. Heather Kinney is the art teacher who invited us. The kids will decide what projects they will be doing. We are looking forward to working with them and are excited to see what they come up with.”
Robbie Davis continues to head fundraising efforts for the horses through the sale of calendars featuring their photographs and raffles for other items, including a valuable custom saddle. Donations also can be dropped off at City Bank NM for the Wild Horses of Lincoln County account or submitted through GoFundMe.
“We sold out of the first shipment of calendars in four or five days,” she said. “They sell for $10 if they are picked up and $12 if we have to mail them. We have a double shipment coming in next week. We also have T-shirts with an awesome logo and coffee mugs.”
To order items, call 325-0807 and leave a message. One of the fund raising committee members will return the call. The items also will be on display and for sale at the Capitan Country Christmas Bazaar the first weekend in December.
Although supporters and donations have paid for six to eight weeks of food for the herd, supporters said the expenses will continue and more fencing panels are needed to expand the area where the horses can roam within the designated confines on Fort Stanton Road.