Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Kissy, Orphan Foal of Sand Wash Basin Challenge Painting #406

Kissy and Her Band Stallion Viggo
5 by 7 inches Graphite on Paper
by Linda L Martin Artist
$90.00 Original
$35.00  for 11 by 8.5 inches in house signed prints
Reference photos by John Wagner (Kissy) and Patrick Brennan (Viggo)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Kissy, Orphan Foal of Sand Wash Basin Challenge Painting #405

Kissy the Orphan Foal and her Oldest Brother  Stomper

"Stomper and Kissy"
5 by 7 Graphite on Paper
by Linda L. Martin Artist
 Original $75.00
11 by 8.5 inch in house signed prints available for $35.00 each
contact me via Info@llmartin.com
Reference photography thanks to John Wagner and Patrick Brennan

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Kissy, Orphan Foal of Sand Wash Basin Challenge Painting #404

Kissy and her Brother, Jigsaw of Sand Wash Basin HMA
"Kissy and Jigsaw"
Brother and Sister of Sand Wash Basin
4 by 6 inches Graphite on Paper
by Linda L Martin
8.5 by 11 inch on demand signed prints are available for $35.00 each
info@llmartin.com to purchase

 Reference photography Thanks to John Wagner

Monday, April 22, 2013

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Dickie,Virginia Range Wild Band Stallion Part 2 Challenge Painting #402

 Part 2 of Dickie's Story:

As A Band Stallion
5 by 7 inches watercolor
by Linda L Martin Artist
 After the drunk driving incident, in which three of Dickie’s band were killed on Highway 50, The Department of Agriculture stepped in.  The idea  was to prevent  road deaths before a person was killed. For the first mare in Dickie’s Band and two others, it was too little too late.

 Wild horse photographer, Mikel Ann Hettrick tells the story this way:

“A drunk driver killed his first mare her foal and another mare, because they were grazing alongside highway 50.  Next thing,  the Dept. of Ag. trapped the remaining band and put them up for adoption.  Lacy J Dalton's Let ‘em Run foundation purchased the 8 horses. With the permission of a private land owner, of over a hundred thousand acres, and about 400 other wild horses, Dickie and his band were  were released to freedom again. “According to Mikel Ann they were released on privately owned land.

“Jim Barbee, director of the Nevada Dept. of Ag. approved the gelding of him the day before the sale. “
“The next tragic event was when he was stolen from the range. He was missing for a period of six months and was found to have been released on the out skirts of Reno.  Dickie would never have left his band, nor could he have traveled to that specific area unless he was moved by someone. “ according to Mikel Ann.

“ Time is giving all the leads as who took him. Again the the Dept. of Ag. trapped him, even though they were sent an e-mail stating we were aware of his whereabouts and were going to bring him in and place him in a private setting. How I wish I had put that rope around his neck. About a month after his capture he was released.” This time Mikel Ann brought him home and he lives safely with her now.

I asked Mikel Ann how they  knew that  someone had taken Dickie off the range.

“Dickie was definitely stolen. We are trying to prove it.  A wild horse does not go missing for six months and come back knowing how to do things a trained domestic horse does. The tell-tale signs of him being captured were I haltered right off and as I ran my hand down his legs he raised each foot.   He will ground tie and the second day he stood there for over an hour while I detangled his mane and tale.  “

“The third day after having him at my house, he trotted on cue to both voice and cluck.  He also went right into a canter the same. What was astounding was when at the lounge he would come to a sliding stop when I said whoa.  He never had a bit in his mouth, as I am working on that. He also knew how to flex his neck. The strange thing was he had no whiskers on his lower lip, like someone clipped them.  He now has whiskers under his chin. He does not mind when I lay my body over his back, I have never straddled his back, but sat sideways on his back. The only mystery left is where his older mare is.”

The events with Dickie, in the opinion of this blogger, were caused by feeding a wild horse so that it became tame enough to loose fear of people.  After seeing video tapes of The capture of the Pine Nut Mountain HMA wild horses being lead into a trap simply by shaking a bucket,  I understand  how easy it would have been to  approach Dickie and any of his band out on the open range, even on private property and simply sake a bucket and capture him.  This irresponsible behavior not only endangered people driving along roads where wild horses congregate but it endangered Dickie and his band. The side effect was that it also makes it possible to illegally steal wild horses right from the range. This is why it is against the law to feed wild horses.

Currently in Nevada a group of Citizens are working with the Nevada State Legislature to tighten Astray laws that forbid the feeding, trapping, impeding or harassment of free roaming wild horses on state land in Nevada by private citizens. In the initial language any of these things could become a class one misdemeanor which includes a hefty fine and jail time for each incident.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Dickie,Virginia Range Wild Band Stallion Challenge Painting #401

Dickie, Wild Stallion of the Virginia Range:  "When Civilization Directly affects Wild Horses."

5 by 7 inches watercolor
by Linda L Martin Artist
Dickie is alive and well, however, he has quite a story.  This is a story that plays it’s self out  every day every time  wild horses come into contact with humans  near subdivisions  and towns.  You see whenever development is put in the place that cuts across the historic  trails to water or pasture, wild horses will come into contact with humans.

This isn’t unique to  wild horses, these sort of conflicts arrive anytime any wild life comes into contact with humans and learns, through no fault of their own, that humans are a source of food.
Here in Virginia we have the same problem with black bears,  deer, raccoons and skunks. However, the danger is, as with the wild horses of the Virginia Range, that untamed, un-handled animals are not only dangerous to  humans, who mistake them for tame, but the animals are in danger of abuse or  injury because they have a false sense of security near the food source.

Part of Dickie's Harem grazing on
bunch grass near the Bunny Ranch
Brothel in 2011
Generally, when a wild horse, or any wild animal, becomes what is known as a nuisance animal, It is captured and released  in an area far away from  human  interaction .  Generally, if there is plenty of food and water in the new location the horse will stay put. In the 300,000 plus acres of the Virginia Range there are still plenty of locations to remove horses too. However, sometimes if  there is a food shortage or even an overpopulation of stallions seeking mares, a stallion might migrate back to his old range with his mares seeking relief from hunger and  constant defense of his harem. 

In the case of Dickie's Band,  part of the year , like many of the Virginia Range Horses, they come down  from the mountains in search of food and water. Because of development around his home range near route 50, Dickie and his band  were forced to migrate through developed areas.  Had the residents  of those areas not interfered and not fed the horses , the band would have simply passed through the location and returned to their mountain range.

Mikel Ann Hettrick, a long time resident and wild horse photographer,  on the Virginia Range now owns  Dickie.  Mikel Ann tells his story:

Dickie 2011

“I was taken with him from the moment I found him up in the hills behind my house.  From that time on he was mine in my heart. I have always said I wish I would have put a rope around his neck and had taken him home. I will always regret I did not do that.” 

“ He stands at fourteen hands, has a stocky body with attractive pinto markings. He has a N brand on his neck, which means he was captured and relocated by the state of Nevada. That was in 08 and I followed him where ever I could find him. I was there when he got his first pinto mare and when they had their first pinto foal.  Over the years his band grew to ten.  What happens next goes deep into my emotions." 

“The prostitutes at the Bunny Ranch brothel began feeding and watering them.  This act was absolute stupidity since there are hundreds of acres of feed. And within half a mile from the brothel there is a large watering hole. The brothel only sits three tenths of a mile from highway 50.  By feeding the band they never went back into the hills.” 
Dickie and His Band grazing near
the road at the Bunny Ranch in 2011
Click Image
to see larger version.

“In between feedings, the band was often seen foraging along the side of the highway. On one occasion they crossed the highway where one of his mares was killed by an oncoming vehicle.  Feeding horses in this environment makes them loose their fear of people and traffic and the brothel still continued to feed. "

“A month later a drunk driver killed Dickie’s first mare, her foal and another mare, because they were grazing alongside highway 50.”

Tomorrow: More of Mikel Ann and Dickie's Story; Complete with intrigue, rescue and  a bitter sweet reunion.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Virginia Range Wild Horse Pinto Foal Challenge Painting #400

 Mike Holmes, Former Nevada Department of Agriculture Astray Manager, Interview Part 3 of 3

"Virginia Range Foal"
5 by 7 mixed media
by Linda L Martin Artist
Original $65.00

Mike Holmes, wasn’t just your average mustanger coming into the job of full time Virginia Range Estray Manager . He had experience with horses . Enough experience to  know that he had to learn the difference in handling wild horses and  those horses who had been domesticated from birth.  His many years in the construction business and ranching also gave him the people skills to understand how to work with people.

Among his skills was a  fair and honest method of understanding people and being diplomatic, as well as respectful, while clearly  stating his case to make the point. He didn’t just go out and “manage” wild horses he also tried to learn from those who knew about them.

When asked who probably influenced him the most as he developed his management style, this is what Mike told me: “ Dawn  Lappin , she was the person I went to   when I needed to know something about wild horses.  She knew and worked with Velma Johnston.”   According to Mike, Dawn understood wild horses almost better than anyone he had met. She had also worked with Mrs. Johnston to help get the pass the laws protecting the Virginia Range horses on both a state and federal level.

 “Those were the precise horses that were left out of the Wild Horse and Burro Act. Dawn fought alongside Velma to get them protected. No one ever worked to treat those horses well before Velma came along. “ Mike said.
Velma Johnston of course is also known as Wild Horse Annie.  “There was just something wrong that the Federal Government managed to protect so many wild horses but the Virginia Range was left out.”

Dawn Lappin was also the person that knew enough about wild horses to help with orphan or injured foals.  “ I always brought the foals to her when  we found one orphaned.  She would nurse them until they were old enough, then we would adopt them out. “According to Mike, Dawn also took orphans and injured foals from Nevada BLM Sources. Mike also cooperated with the BLM on a lot of the management issues.  “ It was good to work with everyone and share resources. It was better for the horses that way.”

Dawn Lappin’s  program is WHOA or Wild Horse Organized Assistance . You can read about the work of that organization here: http://www.mustangsofamericafoundation.org/index.html 

“I worked with several  different legitimate non-profits who helped us place and train the horses that we had to take from the range.” Mike added.
Jill Star and Life Savers helped with a lot of adoptions and placement in sanctuary.  Their  web page address is http://wildhorserescue.org/about/history-of-lifesavers/   

And  LRTC  or Least Resistance Training at http://www.whmentors.org/   Helped with the saddle training program and adoption auction held each year to help offset costs of the management and help place some better started animals in home for easier adoption.

“We had a yearlong waiting period for adopters .“ Mike said, “ I would sign the title over to the non-profit that helped adopt them and they would release the horses’ titles once it was proven that  the  adopter  had the horse for a year and the horse was being taken care of. The non-profit organization would decide if it was a good fit  and mentor the new adopters if need be.

 Unfortunately, the program that Mike Holmes started in managing the Wild horses of the Virginia Range was de-funded in 2009. As a result Mike lost his job as Virginia Range Estray Manager. Although he doesn’t work  in Nevada any longer, he is still a wild horse manager on a private ranch.

“There is a lot of difference between wild horses and domestics” Mike stated. “ You have to move slowly and steady around them. You can’t rush in and run at them like you do with a domestic.  They will go straight over or through a fence if you do. They think you are chasing them to eat them.  A wild horse will not follow a domestic horse in, you have to gently push them forward from behind.  This is the way you can move them from place to place safely.” 

 “We have 2000 acres here and run about 134 wild horses.”   According to Mike, some of the horses were nuisance horses from the Virginia Range. Others were some that had over run a ranch and were too old to adopt out.

I asked Mike what advice he would give to anyone who wanted to become a Wild Horse Estray Manager. He answered: “ They need to keep in mind that they are a public servant. They are holding these horses in trust for the people. If they can work with everyone  they will be successful. The main thing is to do the right thing by the horses.”

A special thank you to  Mike Holmes for taking the time to speak with me and share his incites about wild horse management on the Virginia Range in Nevada.

Thank you to Mikel Hettrick for the reference photography.