A little to the left

17 12 2021

Another little snowfall … another lotta melting going on.

I was trying to catch Skywalker with the mountains in the background, but he was much too interested in finding edible bits. And the mountains, though draped in a mantle of long-awaited white, were barely visible through snow clouds. The mud makes it harder than usual for the horses (and humans) to get around, but you won’t find any of us complaining! In fact, we wouldn’t say no to more snow for Christmas. 🙂

Remembering a great

16 12 2021

Six years ago today, we lost one of the greatest wildlife advocates of our age: Dr. Jay Kirkpatrick.

I’ve never known a more intelligent, compassionate, big-hearted human being. When friend and inspiration Marty Felix, champion for the Little Book Cliffs horses for more than four decades, suggested I contact him, early in my advocacy years, it was like she’d told me to call up a rock star. And when I did call him, he was just … so … kind. When I met him in August 2010, when I went to the Science and Conservation Center in Billings, Montana, for the training and certification to become a PZP darter, the first thing I did was ask if I could hug him. 🙂 The memory makes me smile and cry in equal measure.

It’s still true: I honor him and his legacy to preserve wild horses (all wildlife) with every dart I fire. He is one of our mustang angels over Spring Creek Basin. He is missed, never forgotten.

(Sun halo seen yesterday over Spring Creek Basin and Disappointment Valley.)

Down goes the pony

3 05 2016


Here’s a chuckle for your morning commute.

The appeal of the soft-silt dry bed of a pond (still carrying some water in the deepest part) was too alluring for Kwana to worry about a crazy ol’ human, so he laid down and rolled – right in front of me! Then he performed a quick equine yoga move before he got back to his feet to continue playing with his pals.


In serious good news (and our mustangs need every bit they can get these days), the second “Mustang Tales” column by Kat Wilder went up on the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign website yesterday. This one is called “Happy Trails,” and its chief message is an incredible and heartfelt tribute to Dr. Jay Kirkpatrick.

‘PZP: Where hope, science and mustangs meet’

6 01 2016

Thanks to Kat Wilder for her Writers on the Range op-ed in High Country News. 🙂

It’s getting harder and harder to deny PZP and its success!


This is Houdini, who, at best guess, is somewhere north of 25 years old. She shows her age but otherwise looks great. She has contributed her genetics to Spring Creek Basin and has daughters and granddaughters and grandsons (at least) still wild in Spring Creek Basin.

I’ve known at least two elder mares that have had foals in the spring and died that fall, leaving their weanlings as orphans. Houdini has contributed her genetics and deserves a long, healthy life  as the wild, wise mustang mare she is, adding her knowledge to the whole herd.

PZP makes that possible.

Rest in peace well deserved, Dr. Jay Kirkpatrick

19 12 2015


From American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign:

“It is with deep sadness that we inform you of the passing of Dr. Jay Kirkpatrick, a true pioneer in the field of humane wildlife management. Dr. Kirkpatrick, the founder of the Science and Conservation Center, passed away earlier this week from a brief but serious illness. He will be greatly missed.

“His passing is a terrible loss for the wild horse community. Our deepest condolences go to his wife and his colleagues at the Science and Conservation Center who are like family to AWHPC, as Dr. Kirkpatrick was.

“Jay was a rare ‘scientist with a heart’ and he dedicated his life to reducing the suffering of wild animals by developing a humane alternative to lethal management practices. The PZP fertility control vaccine that he developed and perfected (as affirmed by 30 years of published science) has kept countless wild animals – from wild horses to deer to bison and even elephants – wild and free by protecting them from capture and killing.

“‘I’m not a bunny hugger, but I’ll never attend another gather as long as I live. They’re flat-out inhumane,’ he told National Geographic in 2009 describing BLM wild horse roundups. ‘There are three reasons why these gathers are an unsatisfactory solution to the problem of numbers. Firstly, it’s genetically irresponsible to be constantly pulling off young horses whose genes will never get expressed; secondly, every time you pull horses out, the reproductive efficiency of the horses that remain increases. And thirdly, the behavioral consequences for the horses are profound.’

“Jay was a visionary, a humanitarian and a shining example of what one person can accomplish in his lifetime. We are so proud to have called him a friend and a colleague. Measures have been taken by the Science and Conservation Center to prepare for this transition and the seamless continuation of the work that he was dedicated to for 45 years.”

Godspeed, Dr. Jay. You trained many angels, and we honor you and your legacy to preserve mustangs and wild burros with every dart we fire.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Little Book Cliffs darting team earns kudos

3 02 2015

And rightly so!

The Daily Sentinel in Grand Junction did a story about BLM’s team of volunteer PZP darters and the benefits they (and PZP) bring to the mustangs of Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Range: “Wild-horse control; dart shooters help manage fertility of herd in canyons behind Bookcliffs.”

The overall article is about the benefits of and process behind using PZP to manage a wild horse herd. This nugget is a little bit buried, but check it out: “The result [of the PZP program] has been a smaller, more manageable herd, longer lives for mares and, this year, recognition by the head of the Colorado office of the BLM of the team as its volunteer of the year. The award, which was presented on Thursday by Ruth Welch, the BLM state director, means the team is a nominee for the agency’s national award for volunteerism.”

Marty Felix and Billie Hutchings are among my original inspirations. This award could go to no better team and for no better reason. Ditto the national award for which they’re now nominated.

Best of luck! I’m going to speak right up for Colorado mustang advocates and say we’re behind ya’ll!

Drummer and Kestrel, stallion and mare in Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Range.

Dr. Jay

15 01 2013

Here’s another nudge for Wild Horse Scientists – and a guest post on Kay Frydenborg’s blog by Dr. Jay Kirkpatrick!

My copy arrived last week, and I wholeheartedly give it two thumbs up. It’s an excellent resource for information about PZP and how fertility control is helping wild horses, particularly on Assateague Island and Pryor Mountain.  It’s a “children’s book” in the sense that we’re all learning and have much to learn. It’s truly appropriate for ALL ages.

Well-researched, well-written, beautiful photographs, and I absolutely enjoyed reading it.

This is a book that should not languish below the radar!