Guest Blog: Placitas Horses

Today my friend Mary Ann Shinnick has a blog for us.


Placitas Horses

By Mary Ann Shinnick

Doranna and Patty have generously allowed me to do a “guest blog” this week.  I am Mary Ann Shinnick and have been active in horse rescue at Walkin N Circles Ranch since 2011.  As a Board member, I help coordinate our equine acquisitions through the New Mexico Livestock Board and often with owners who need to surrender their own horses for a variety of reasons.

I became aware of the current plight of the Placitas horses through an email sent to WNCR by the advocacy group “Placitas Wild”. This is a 501C3 organization which was formed to tackle the ongoing issue of what to do about the Placitas wild horses.  They are supported entirely by donations.

Where in the state can 71 horses be re-settled?  That’s the question that has members of Placitas Wild losing sleep.  They are beating the bushes to find safe places to move them to.  Their deadline was February 18, but the Pueblo of San Felipe has granted them an extension until March 18.

If you have lived in New Mexico for any time at all, you know about the Placitas wild horse population.  Their presence in and around the upscale Placitas community has long been a source of conflict between the residents who consider them pests who nibble on and trample their landscaping, wander on the highway (4 were killed last year) and those who believe that their presence adds a magical quality to their life in Placitas.

Sandoval County, Governor Richardson, our Senators and San Felipe Pueblo (and others before and after, to be sure) have all been party to efforts to resolve the problem of what to do about these wild horses.  About three and a half years ago it was thought that a solution had been found.  The Placitas Wild advocacy group and San Felipe Pueblo had collaborated to create a sanctuary on Pueblo land in perpetuity. Pueblo members would be employed in managing the herd and the public could come to enjoy tours and photo ops.  Herd population growth has been controlled through the administration of the equine contraception PZP (Porcine Zona Pellucida).

Historically, wild mustang herds have freely roamed a corridor from the Jemez Mountains, to the Sandia and Manzano ranges and north to the Galisteo Basin.   They are considered “wild” but because of their extensive interaction with humans in recent history, many are quite comfortable around humans.  I watched a YouTube video from 2011 showing a family from Scotland feeding a small group carrots by hand as the father photographed.  The Placitas Wild group feeds them on a daily basis.

This dilemma is but one example of the challenges of the Wildlands/Urban interface, and is occurring all across the western United States.  It is an extremely complex issue politically, environmentally and socially.  Herds of wild horses teeter on the brink of being sent to slaughter in Mexico as their numbers grow and tolerance for them shrinks. Organizations such as the American Wild Horse Campaign take the battles with the BLM and ranching organizations to state and the federal legislatures.

So my purpose in writing this article is not about pointing fingers, or assigning blame, but about how to prevent our native New Mexican Placitas herd from meeting their end.

I have personally contacted every horse person and trainer I know to inform them of this situation, in hopes of finding a couple of horses’ placements, even if temporary, as this gets sorted out. Offering training to make them adoptable would certainly be a bonus. Please watch the KRQE news segment from February 8 which addresses this situation. Check Placitas Wild to learn more about how you can help. I believe that one can visit the herd and select the horse(s) that are right for you.

Please spread the word!

Wordplay Addendum (ie, this is Doranna!): I contacted Placitas Wild to get more information.  The current primary effort is a frantic fundraiser to get them into Mustang Camp for gentling and adoption prep.  Anyone interested in a direct adoption should contact Sandy (info at the fundraiser link ).  Their summary:

Mustang Camp, which gently trains mustangs for adoption, has offered their services to help the Placitas Horses get homes. While they are donating their time and expertise, we will have several expenses, which include, but are not limited to, veterinary care, vaccinating, gelding, micro-chipping, hay, transport, etc. The overall cost is estimated at $600 per horse for 70+ horses. Any donation amount is gratefully appreciated. A group of small corrals in Placitas will be available. In addition, several pastures in Bernalillo are available for rent @ $25 per horse per month.


About BlogPatty

Here's the skinny: I have a thing for horses. They make sense to me. I have a small horse training business (it's a "boutique" training business, not because it's super fancy, but because the horses get a lot of personal attention). I also go by Dr. Wilber, and teach biology full-time at a Central New Mexico Community college.
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3 Responses to Guest Blog: Placitas Horses

  1. CMH says:

    If they are truly “wild” then people need to stop feeding them. I know it’s hard not to want to help, but feeding them is only hurting them in the long run. People are artificially strengthening the herds by providing food sources, while also making them less afraid of humans, which invites accidents. Imagine if that group of tourists had been hurt while feeding carrots to the herd. If they are wild, leave them wild.

    • Doranna says:

      I think part of the problem is that since they have been fed, and are strong, removing the food would result in a lot more property damage as they forage.

      Not that I disagree in principle, just thinking it’s probably not that easy.

      (I can’t find anything on their site about selecting horses.)

  2. Sam says:

    Let’s focus. The issue is not the feeding (although where they are there is no forage). The issue is keeping them from a bad ending. They cannot be wild as the possibility of roundup looms. If ANYONE has enough private land where the horses can run free, the horses and the nonprofit would be eternally grateful. No semantics … let’s help save the horses from a potentially tragic end.

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