Photo by Melissa Babcock

Photo by Melissa Babcock


As published by Ruidoso News


With their mandatory period of isolation expired earlier this week, the “wild” horses of Alto rounded up in August by the New Mexico Livestock Board soon will be allowed to mingle again as a herd.

Their numbers grew from the dozen originally picked up and then returned three weeks ago to pens on Fort Stanton Road to 13, Lorri Burnett said. One colt, who still is roaming free, will be added to the mix while the court debate continues over whether the horses are wild and not under the jurisdiction of the livestock board or if they are estray livestock and fall under its rules.

“With quarantine over, we’re waiting for the landowners to arrive back,” Burnett said. “The signers of the (responsibility) for the horses then will decide when to release them into the (fenced) field.”

Robbie Davis, who heads the fund raising effort to cover the care and feeding of the horses, put together a report for supporters.

“The horses are doing very well,” she said. “They are very curious about the humans outside their pens, who are providing hay and filling their water troughs twice a day. One of the mares seems to enjoy playing a game of ‘I’m going to knock the hose out of my trough as soon as you turn your back,’ every single time. But, how could you be aggravated with her?”

Davis said she’s received inquiries about one of the other mares who lives on the fringes of the herd.

“Dr. (Becky) Washburn examined them upon their return from Santa Fe and discovered an old injury this particular mare suffered some time in her very early life,” Davis said. “She believes this might be the reason for the partial ‘shun,’ as she is most likely perceived as a weak one.”

The horses will be released from the small corrals as soon as possible this week. The owner of the property has been out of town and all of the signers who accepted responsibility for the horses, must agree to the move, which essentially will be to open the gates and allow the horses to mingle in a larger fenced pasture area.

“We currently have approximately eight weeks’ worth of hay for them,” Davis said. Fund raising efforts continue with supporters able to drop a check off at any City Bank of New Mexico office for the Wild Horses of Lincoln County, or to contribute to the gofundme account.

“Another shipment of the Wild Horses of Lincoln County calendars has been ordered and will be here a little before Halloween,” Davis said. “Any of the Fundraising Committee members can fulfill your order at that time. We still are selling raffle tickets for the two original paintings by Barbara Yates, and a gorgeous custom made saddle donated by Shawna Dobbs Bradley, in honor of her late father, Aubrey Dobbs, who was a very sweet man.”

The people to contact are: Sherry Snow Turner, Sandy Tubb, Debra L Anderson, John Reiner, Kathleen Prewitt, Jessica Valenzuela, Peggy Annen-Schoemann, Beverly Alexander, Pamela Brink, Kim Elkins or Davis.

Burnett characterized the legal side of the issue as being like “a herd of ants going through a tub of molasses.” Patience O’Dowd through the Wild Horse Observers Association is the plaintiff in the litigation that resulted in a temporary injunction that stopped the sale of the members of the horse herd while their classification is being determined. Burnett said the New Mexico attorney general answered the complaint by WHOA, contending the court should “deny everything.”

No date has been set for the next hearing, but Davis urged supporters to remain optimistic.

“As we wait to hear about a date for our court case to be heard, there are other cases being worked on that will affect our herds’ fight for freedom,” Davis said. “As with all legal cases, it is more complex than simple. But the march forward continues with great optimism. Don’t lose heart. Much is being done in the background in preparation for the anticipated day. The work is tedious and the waiting is excruciating for us all.”

O’Dowd will be in Ruidoso Monday.

“We’ll be working with the high school art teacher,” Burnett said. “Patience will talk to classes all day long and give a little history about the wild horses and what WHOA has done around the country to save wild horses. Then the students are going to do some sort of an art project.”

Burnett hopes to build on that beginning to develop a more elaborate art competition with the goal of creating Christmas and note cards to benefit the horses.

Past news stories about the Alto, N.M.-area horses:

Alto, N.M., wild horse herd comes home, Sept. 27, 2016

New Mexico lawyers to debate what makes a wild horse wild, Sept. 13, 2016

Judge orders N.M. Livestock Board to halt wild horse auction, Sept. 8, 2016

N.M. wild horse advocates seek order to stop Livestock Board sale, Sept. 7, 2016

Wild horse advocates sue to protect Alto herd, NM, Aug. 30th, 2016

Alto, N.M., wild horses coming home, Aug. 29, 2016

Alto, N.M., herd rounded up, Aug. 27, 2016