Thursday, March 28, 2013

Virginia Range Stallions Challenge Painting #398

Part 6: The first part of a 3 Part Interview with Former State of Nevada Estray Manager Mike Holmes:
Virginia Range Stallions
11 by 8.5  inches Graphite on #110 paper
by LindaLMartin Artist
Original $200.00
Signed Prints $35.00 each plus S&H
I had the great privilege to interview Mike Holmes, the first full-time Estray Manager for the Nevada Department of Agriculture, this evening. Mike and his Wife and their Son currently reside on a privately owned Ranch in California. Mike is the Wild Horse Manager of the ranch there.  The majority of the wild horses managed by Mike and his family on the ranch are horses in sanctuary. The newest additions are a group of Pine Nut Mountain Horses  recently removed from a housing development  where they were considered a nuisance, outside of Carson City, Nevada. Horses in Mike’s care are allowed to roam freely on the ranch  where he and his son inspect each band  almost daily on horseback to make sure they are healthy and injury free.

Over the years Mike Holmes has developed a unique skill as a wild horse manager and understands that wild horses must be handled differently than domestics. He loves the life and wouldn’t change it.

“I really never expected to be doing this all the rest of my life” Mike told me in our phone conversation. “ We are glad we did. As my wife always says: One right turn changes everything down the road.”

While Mike says that he was always involved in ranching growing up; however,  his main occupation had been in the construction industry. One day a friend ,who happened to be brand inspector for the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA)  at Carson City asked him if he would like to work part time as the Virginia Range Astray Manager.
“I agreed and 3 or 4 months later they decided to make me full time” Mike shared with me, “ I wasn’t the first.  That was Bruce Greenhalgh.”Mike also told me that prior to the creation of the  Astray Manager it was the state brand inspector under  the state Veterinarian who removed the horses that caused problems.

Mr Greenlalgh was a retired state trooper who had already retired from one job and according to Mike didn’t want to take on another full time position.  “At the time  the job was mostly picking up nuisance horses  and releasing them in a part of the range that was farther away.”

Occasionally, a horse would keep coming back in to the industrial areas and make themselves a nuisance again so the astray manager would basically remove the animal and then contact a local non-profit organization to take the horse.

“When they made the job full time, I basically had to answer only to three people, Paul Iverson, the Director of NDA; Dr. David Thaine, the State Veterinarian; and The Governor of Nevada.” said Mike.
Mike Holmes’ superiors were looking to him to build a program for wild horse management on the Virginia Range that would serve both the public and the wild horses.

When the state assumed responsibility for the  Virginia Range horses in the 1980s there had been no real management. Ten years later all these horses were spread out and into the developed industrial areas and some were becoming a problem in great number .

Although it didn’t happen overnight the number of horses had grown to between 1200 and 1500. Even though technically the State Was responsible for the management there was no agency in place to manage the horses. “ There were always wild horses there”  Mike insisted, “ but the management was slim to none until the Virginia Range Estray Manager position was created.”

Tomorrow: What may  have been the most successful State Run Wild Horse Management program in The United States.

 Special thanks to Mikel Hettrick for the use of her photography.

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