July 15, 2008
NATURE viewers asked a lot of thoughtful questions in the comments they left on the NATURE site since Cloud: Wild Stallion of the Rockies aired on July 6. Ginger recently took some time out of her busy schedule to answer many of them.
Cheryl Roemmele wrote:
“I saw Cloud for the first time on July 6th and was deeply moved. Please, someone tell me what I can do to help stop the government from interferring in onw of nature’s most beautiful stories, documented so beautifully by such a talented lady. What can I do? Thank you.”
Thanks for your kind comments on Cloud: Wild Stallion of the Rockies, which was our first program about this charismatic horse. Right now we are shooting the third show, which should air next spring. You can catch up on everything that is happening in Cloud’s world by going to www.thecloudfoundation.org, a non-profit we started to save Cloud’s herd and the other mustangs still roaming free. There are some very specific people to contact and they are listed on the site.
On June 30 the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced plans to euthanize (a misuse of this term as they really mean “kill”) thousands of mustangs they have rounded up and are warehousing in sites around the country. The reason they plan to kill them? A budget crisis. It’s too expensive to take care of them. Well, this is a budget crisis of their own making.
The BLM has rounded up 75,000 wild horses in just the past 8 years, bringing the population of horses that are still free to the brink of extinction. We have to stop this unthinkably cruel plan. Tell all your friends about this and get them to help us save Cloud and the mustangs. We don’t know if the thousands still slated to come off the range this year are candidates for the death penalty or not. No wild horse is safe… not even Cloud.
Thanks so much for your concern. Now is the time to act. I don’t want the Cloud shows to outlive mustangs in the wild.
“Any one can tell me if the Arriflex camers used bt Ginger Kathrens ia a 35mm or a Super16, and perhaps the model number. It would be much appreciated. Carrying this camera as Ginger has must be hard on the back. Thanks, Yvon”
I use an Arriflex HSR (H meaning High Speed, so I can shoot really slow motion). We also used Arriflex 35mm cameras and a Mitchell 35mm for some of the time lapses in the shows. I use Canon lenses, and my favorite is the Canon 150-600mm, which is a huge lens that allows me to be far enough away from the action not to be noticed by the horses, or the bears, coyotes, and other wildlife you see in the shows. It is heavy, but the results are great. I have a special backpack that I can use, putting the camera and the Canon lens in there already assembled. This is the only way I can carry the camera really long distances. The big tripod we have is the real killer. It is unwieldy and heavy but necessary to get smooth shots using those really long lenses.
Maria Ruggiero wrote:
“love your work of the story of cloud i would like to ask what kind of saddle you were riding on with your horse trace i am looking at trail saddles an want some thing light and will stand up to trail riding. thank you . maria ruggiero”
I ride Trace in the programs in a mostly synthetic Orthoflex “Patriot” endurance saddle. It allows my legs to be free, much like an English saddle, and to have closer contact with Trace. It is light weight, which is easier on me when saddling and easier on Trace when we ride. The first saddle you see in Cloud: Wild Stallion of the Rockies when I am training Trace is my first Orthoflex saddle, which I still use. It is a bit heavier than the synthetic one as it is leather. I also have a Synergist endurance saddle for my Spanish Mustang which I use in 50-mile endurance races. This saddle puts me in a more upright position–straighter versus more chair-like in the Orthoflex saddles. None of these saddles has a horn and I think that is safer for the rider. If you don’t plan on roping, then the horn is unnecessary. My first saddle as a kid was a heavy old western saddle, which was as heavy as me, or seemed like it. These newer, lightweight saddles are the way to go I think.
“I am so crazy about Cloud and horses! I may only be a tween girl, but I still love them all! (12 years old) When I read on the website that there was going to be a Cloud III, I screamed and threw my hat off! When I saw the picture of Image, Rain, and Cloud, I was thinking, “Is Image a filly? I just know that she is Cloud’s daughter.” Image and Bolder are my favorites of Cloud’s offspring and grandkids. But what I don’t get is, is Rain Image’s mom or Sitka’s yearling daughter?
And another question that haunts me is: In the Cloud III introduction, it says the mares are being shot with infertility drugs, and in 2006 there was an untimely death of Cloud’s little son. Which son was it? I just hope it wasn’t true.”
Good to hear from you. Image is Cloud and Sitka’s grandson. His mother is Cloud Dancer, who opted to stay with Cloud when Sitka died, although she wanders off to get bred, then comes home.
You’ll meet Rain in Cloud III, and she is just about the perfect Spanish-style filly in my book. She is Velvet and Cloud’s daughter. You will also meet Velvet in Cloud III. Velvet made a brief appearance in Cloud: Wild Stallion of the Rockies. Remember the little filly that baby Cloud “snaked” off—the pretty little black one? Well, that is Velvet, except he didn’t try to drive her off when they both became adults! She turned into a blue roan and is the same age as Cloud. There is the death of a foal in the new program, the year Rain was born. It was very sad, but remember that death is part of life in the wild, and in all our lives.
Bolder is doing great and you won’t believe what happens in Cloud III. Stay tuned!
Christy Reed wrote:
“I would love one of the mustangs. The Blm requirements are so difficult. I would like to save one of the babies or the mother horse. I have a trailer and can pay a small amount for a horse. I want to save a part of history. Can anyone help me. I live in Missouri. Please help me to get one of these horses to save a life!! I will sign any petition please let me know how. I want to help!!!”
Here is the BLM link that outlines the requirements to adopt a wild horse or burro.
I really don’t think the requirements are too stringent. Remember, you will be taking the responsibility for a wild animal who is probably scared out of his or her mind. These horses have been removed from their wild families and no longer have the option to flee (very far) from danger, which is the way the species survived over the millennia, so fencing is critical. And incredible patience and skill on your part will be required in the gentling process. It took years before Trace was a really steady horse. Now, he is a dream to ride and the calmest and most trustworthy of my three horses, so the effort was more than worth the time and effort. Still, I wish he had been allowed to run free. I think he would have been a great band stallion.
There are thousands of wild horses currently looking for homes because the BLM has removed over 75,000 mustangs in the past 8 years, while bringing the wild population to the brink of extinction. So, you would have many to select from.
Cloud and his herd are a part of the “lucky” ones, but even they are in danger. To keep Cloud and his family roaming free, go to www.thecloudfoundation.org and see what you can do to help!
Great hearing from you and happy trails!
Ron J. Klein wrote:
“Please someone tell me where Ginger Kathryn is from in Ohio? We (her and I) have some interesting roots together both being from Ohio, and having horses on a farm there. Also, some in my family also went to BGSU and I (though going to OSU for a couple stints) also went to grad school at FSU, like Ginger. Thanks, Ron Klein.”
I’m from Bowling Green, Ohio. Our little farm was right across from the Wood County Fair Grounds on Haskins Road. My family raised registered Hereford cattle which we exhibited at the fair and around the country, even Canada one year. I went to BGSU (like you!) and FSU (like you!). I was a speech major in undergraduate school and a communications major in graduate school.
You mention you had horses. I only had one horse at a time on our farm so was totally ignorant about the rich lives wild horses have in their family bands. What an eye opener when I started filming and met Raven, the black stallion who is Cloud’s father. I still get chills when I remember first seeing him in March of 1994, eating snow at the base of a red butte at dawn. He died over this past winter, and I am sad about this of course, but happy that his life was lived in freedom. It is rare that a wild horse gets to live their entire life in the place where they were born. We created www.thecloudfoundation.org to see if we can turn that unhappy statistic around.
“Hmm, an easy solution would be for the BLM to adopt the method of another mustang sanctuary. I forget the name, but they’d give the mares and fillies a type of birth control. I don’t think it would permanently sterilize them, it just kept them from having babies every year. The best part about this solution is that you don’t wind up with a lot of mustangs you have to adopt out or kill.”
Many mares in the wild (at least the few that are returned to the wild after a round up) are given a multi-year infertility drug called PZP. Unfortunately, they are given this experimental drug with no further follow-up or monitoring to see what result it may have had. This is essential I believe.
In the Arrowheads (Pryor Mountains) where Cloud lives, his mother nearly died last year when a nodule on her hip (that developed after she was shot with a dart gun containing PZP) turned into an abscess. She had an open wound that eventually covered much of her hip. It was ugly looking, and she lost a lot of weight. However, she survived the winter as she is a tough old girl. She has a large scar but she is picking up weight and looking more like her beautiful self. Also in the Pryors, young mares that were given the drugs years ago, who have foaled, have done so in September. One mare even had a filly foal in December. This is no time to be born wild, especially in Montana, where winters, like this last one, can be pretty brutal. We have been told that out-of-season births have been seen in Nevada, but we have no direct knowledge of this. Other young mares on the Pryors have never foaled and appear to have been sterilized even though they were given just a one-year dose of the drug in consecutive years back in 2001 and 2002.
So, infertility drugs might be a solution to overpopulation… if there truly was an overpopulation of wild horses. The animals that are overpopulating our public lands are the millions of head of cattle and sheep, not the 25,000 or so wild horses.
And now the BLM has announced plans to kill thousands of wild horses they have rounded up in the last few years saying they can’t afford to feed them. We just can’t let this happen. Go to www.thecloudfoundation.org to see what you can do to help. Find out more about the issues. Thanks so much for your interest in Cloud and his family and ways to keep them safe. I believe the safest place for a wild horse is in the wild.
“Maybe, instead of doing away with them, the BLM could have anyone sponsor the horses and these people could pay to take care of them individually.”
Your idea is one idea that BLM could look at in lieu of killing wild horses they have taken from their homes on the range over the past few years. Here is another one that I like a lot. There are nearly 20 million acres of land that have been taken away from the wild horses, even though it was land designated for their use. What about letting the 30,000 mustangs in holding facilities go home… to freedom. That is my solution to the budget crisis the BLM talks about.
Mike Breiding wrote:
“These horses are not native. Why should they be allowed to breed?”
I’m glad you asked this question. Wild horses are native to North America. This is not common knowledge as it is new science, confirmed over the past 13 years or so through fossil finds in the Klondike and mitochondrial DNA research. The native horse is believed to have gone extinct some 10,000 years ago, but returned with the Spanish during the conquest of Mexico. So, technically the wild horse in the West is a returned native with an ecosystem that has not significantly changed since its disappearance. It is important to note that the horses that returned and the horses that died were virtually the same – solid-hooved with a flop-over mane and about the size (13-14 hands) of many of the smaller horses on the Pryors where Cloud lives.
You can read an excellent article on this topic by going to www.thecloudfoundation.org and clicking News, then “Wild Horses as Native North American Wildlife,” by Jay Kirkpatrick, PhD and Patricia Fazio, PhD.
“I love Cloud and the series! I watch it everytime it comes on my tv. I am kind of wondering what happened to the stallion, Looking Glass,though. What ever became of him?”
Thanks for your interest in Cloud and his family. You asked about the stallion, Looking Glass, and he seems to be well, but he lost his family this winter. Some of his mares were stolen by the black stallion, Two Boots, and some by a sorrel stallion named Duke. I do wonder if Looking Glass is just getting old and tired of fighting. Although you saw him kill the foal that was not able to stand in the first Cloud film, I never observed him being mean to his own foals.
If you like watching the first two Cloud programs, you’ll be happy to know that a third one is due to air next spring, so stay tuned for more information. It has some unpredictable events that sure surprised me. I don’t want to give away too much, but I will tell you that Cloud is the most dominant stallion on the Arrowheads now – quite a powerhouse.
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