Thursday, January 12, 2012

In Memory of Davy Greasewood ...

Tonight instead of doing a painting for the Mustang A Day Challenge I decided to talk about the passing of one of the Great Band Stallions of the Sand Wash Basin HMA.  His death has touched the hearts of many people and brought to light a serious issue facing all of the wild horses and wild animals on the open ranges. Some of the details are a bit graphic; however, the photos are not.

Davy Greasewood Print from Original Painting
by LindaLMartinArtist
Davy Greasewood was Challenge Painting #20

Image of wire beside the Sand Wash Basin HMA
entrence. This is a wake-up call for all
Animal Rights activists and Horse Advocates
throughout the USA. These photos
by photographer Jim Weston
are typical of trash  and  abandoned wire
that  is spread all across the
Wild Horse Management
areas throughout the West.
Some of this wire has been
there for generations.
I decided that instead of painting a mustang tonight that I would share some of the documentation Photos by Jim Westin from the Range in Colorado.  This week one of my favorite band stallions from Sand Wash Basin HMA was found gravely injured. Photo documenters familiar and frequent to the horses reported the problem to the local BLM office. There were photos and a video that were put up on line so show the severity of the injury. The stallion was in obvious pain and could not put any weight on it. In my opinion had the horse gone down he would not have been able to get himself back up again. From the photographs I saw the injury also seemed to be reoccurring and ongoing so it couldn’t heal properly. There also seemed to be a large amount of what horsemen call proud flesh was surrounding the wound. Normally an injury to a leg would heal relatively fast.  But this one wasn’t healing.

Wire mixed in with nylon or plastic string is a lethal
combination to free roaming wild life on the range.
Photo by Jim Weston 
As soon as  it was discovered that  that the band stallion Davy Greasewood was in trouble, it was arranged for several vets to take a look at the issue.  According to a friend of mine, The BLM vet and crew went out on Tuesday January 10th and assessed the situation. Due to the condition of the horse, who had lost a lot of weight (according to the photos I saw) and the severity of the injury that wouldn’t heal, They decided that euthanasia was the best course. They also brought the horse’s body back to the vet office to find out why the injury wouldn’t heal. What they found was a 15 inch piece of wire wrapped around his leg. Each step he took would have been excruciating. And each step would have re-injured his leg. The metal embedded in the horses leg would have acted like shrapnel and would never have healed.

All types of wire are represented out on the range. This tangle is of barbed
wire. Random wire laying around and abandonded  might not have
been seen by a grazing horse at certain times of the year or at night
because of its dark color. Photo by Jim Weston 

  Being tangled in wire does not just hurt horses; it hurts all forms of wild life and domestic animals. Please it is time to get down and dirty and put on your work gloves and get out your wire cutters and adopt a range and go get this stuff cleaned up so we dont have any more tragedies like we did with Davy Greasewood. Protesting and letter writing has its place but the well being of our wild horses is really what its all about. If your local HMA doesn't have a private group, then form one or go down to your local BLM office and volunteer with your friends. If you are too far away there are also things that you can do to help support those that can go.

Personally, I have designed this T-shirt specifically to raise awareness about this problem. I will donate a portion of my royalty toward helping get the wire off the Sand Wash Basin HMA. Please do what you can.

My Tshirt Design to promote awareness of the abandonded wire issue on
the ranges and wildlife preserves. You can help!
Order your t-shirt here:

   Just to make you aware:

This wire isn’t the fault of the BLM so no sense blaming them. This wire was left behind by old ranches and homesteads.  Due to budget cuts there really hasn’t been any extra funds for infrastructure or trash dump removal. They didn’t put the wire there.  To be perfectly fair many times because the wire is hidden in little ravines or even buried no one even knows its there unless the wind rain or snow reveals it through erosion.

Keep in mind that in large rural areas where there was no trash pickup and no landfills each homestead or ranch had to do whatever they could to deal with their fence trash. A lot of times farmers, ranchers and homesteaders simply left the falling down fences in place and put up the new fence right along side of it. Other times they would roll it up and pile it into piles and just abandon it or  put a fence around it to keep the livestock out of it.

We have areas here in Virginia where there are dump sites on old farms and all throughout  the East Coast that look just like I have described so this didn’t just happen in the west. Before you go out and disparage anyone who lived out there before  our generation remember they did the best they could with what they had and probably didn’t know that it would cause trouble for us, generations later.

Please also don’t blame the  photographers and documenters for this either. Its also not the fault of advocates who go out and photograph. Every photographer I know of has gone out of their way to pick up trash, including wire whenever they came across it on the range. Its just a matter of conscience and a matter of compassion for the horses and wildlife that live there so they do it without thinking and just to make it a better place.

The hard truth is that the wire is there and all the people who care need to be proactive in working, even with people they don’t agree with, to move that wire out of there. Even if every activist I know went out one weekend a month, it would still take years to get the miles of wire off the ranges. For Davy Greasewood’s memory and for the sake of the mustangs still out there please do what you can. Of all the issues surrounding wild horses this is the one that is most dangerous to the horses. And because of the size of the HMAs we don’t know how many animals that we don’t find that may have suffered and died.

Rest in Peace Davy Greasewood.

YOU CAN HELP Get the Old Wire off the Range
Models provided by
order here:

Note: Davy Greasewood print and products are listed on Zazzle here*  A portion of my royalty from the sale of these products will go to help document and support the  Wild Horses of Sand Wash Basin. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog and for being a part of the solution by buying the products and by volunteering to help.


  1. Nice article Linda and valid points. I would also recommend contacting any groups (including hunters) who also utilize the HMAs to help clean up, either organized or when they are hiking, camping or hunting and bring back wire to be disposed of.

  2. I think that is a great idea, Puller. I hope the groups local to the HMAs consider that when they organize their efforts.

  3. I find old barbed wire on my own 6.75 acres of heaven all too frequently. Some spots there is so much of it I have just fenced around it. . . would need a tractor to remove it and it's in the back woods. I have no idea where it came from or why it was left. I've had barbwire injuries because of it and it's frustrating! You think you get it all and the next rain more pops up. I can only imagine it is a billion times worse out there on the range. There is NO easy way to get barbed wire out. You can't haul it out by hand, there is too much of it. you can't pack it out, it's dangerous, and you can't drive it out cause it's in locations that aren't accessible. I hope some headway is made with it but a jumble of barbwire isn't anything near as easy to move as a nice spool of wire going up on a fence. Terrible tragedy for Davy though. So sad.

  4. I know what you mean Amy. Our country side is littered with it from coast to coast. And its so horridly dangerous. People who are unaccustomed to handing it will have to be taught how to safely. And they will have to find someone with the right equipment to salvage the larger amounts of it.

    I was thinking last night this has almost become the " land mine" issue of the USA. My mom has a little over 6 acres and it was never fenced, thankfully, because it was harvested forest land before it was developed. However every farm Ive leased has had areas that were unusable because of wire. One has to teach their horses to be very careful but it only takes one hot head to panic in a wire situation and the event will be devastating and final. One farm I leased We used to go out one or two days a month just to pick up loose wire as it appeared. We rolled it when it was single strand. We folded the American Wire so we could carry it out. We didnt get it all because the farm was over 100 years old. This is why when you have a farm every one on staff has to carry pliers on them all the time. You just never know what you will run into. We are very sad about Davy. Maybe there will be something good come out of it.