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Inquisitive

Inquisitive

It has been a hectic 2 weeks as WHOAS and our volunteers have been working very hard to ensure the comfort of all our new arrivals. Despite this, inspiration to carry on can come from some remarkable little individuals. Such is the case with a young little lady, Emily, who is 7 years old. She and her family visited our facility today to donate a picture she had painted of a wild horse.

A wild horse painting

A wild horse painting

After hearing about what we were doing for the wild horses, Emily was determined to do what she could to help. Her idea was to paint a picture and donate to WHOAS so that could raise funds to help us in our work. Above is the framed picture.

First touch of a wild horse

First touch of a wild horse

For as long as her Mom and Dad can remember, Emily has loved horses. We took this opportunity to show her and her family all the horses that we have in our care. Here she was able to meet “Missy,” one of our first little fillies we took in. Her enthusiasm and excitement was evident to everyone and the love of the horses was in her eyes.

Feeding the little ones

Feeding the little ones

So determined was she to help, her, her sister and little brother also pooled their pennies together to take out a family membership with WHOAS. Then having just a little bit left, donated that too.

She and her family’s actions give such a positive and uplifting feeling to all of us who have been working so hard for the horses. We thank them sincerely.

Bob

 

 

More newbies

More newbies

Although WHOAS was still in disagreement with a capture season going ahead this winter, as previously stated we were given the opportunity by ESRD to have first choice to rescue some of the wild horses that were captured. As per our Society’s mission statement, we are committed to doing everything possible to protect, rescue and save our wild horses. Therefore, we as a dedicated group of volunteers we have stepped forward to rescue a large number of the horses caught this year. This is not exactly what our facility is designed for as we thought we would be taking in horses that got themselves into trouble or abandoned by their herds as we have done over the years.

Meeting the neighbours

Meeting the neighbours

Settling in

Settling in

On Thursday evening we were informed that another 11 horses had been caught and transported to the Innisfail auction mart. Even though we were close to capacity, there was no way that we could not respond and do what we could for as many as we could. Attending at the auction, it was decided by our team that we would take seven. WHOAS right at this point would like to thank the Innisfail auction mart for their assistance they have given us in order to sort and load the horses in a manner that caused the least stress to them.

Now located at our facility of the 44 horses caught so far, we have taken in 26 of them. The work is monumental, but our team of volunteers are up to the task and do it with love in their hearts.

We would like to thank all those who continue to believe in all that we are doing and for the generous donations we have received.

Bob

 

 

 

Introductions

Introductions

On Tuesday, February 24th, we attended at the auction mart to select and rescue as many of the 12 horses that were brought in over the weekend. This is still such a difficult process for our members. We were able to bring home 6 new young ones–3 fillies and 3 colts. Right here we want to thank the staff at the auction mart for how they’ve handled the horses and how they have assisted us in our efforts. Also they have committed to not allowing any of these horses we have had to leave behind go to meat buyers. WHOAS has also been in conversation with individuals and a couple of horse ranchers to attend the auction and purchase for themselves some of these older horses. This is great.

Hay time

Hay time

Calm and curious

Calm and curious

These are our new charges who have settled in nicely and quickly in our facility. Once unloaded it did not take long for them to start making introductions to some of the other horses we had rescued through the fence panels. Again they will be allowed a few days to figure out the system – lots of hay and fresh water and activity.

Gentling

Gentling

Here one of our brand new volunteers, under the tutelage of Jack, begins introducing herself to one of the new boys. It is uplifting that so many individuals have stepped forward to volunteer to help gentle, clean pens, bring water, and scoop the “poop!”

Introducing the halter

Introducing the halter

The first stage of the gentling process is the pen work, getting the horses used to you and being touched, as our volunteer was doing. The next step is getting them haltered. Here one of the young fillies is in our chute which allows us to gradually place the halter. This young filly has spent some time in here so she doesn’t get excited.

Getting use to the touch

Getting use to the touch

Another phase when they are in the chute is to get them further used to being touched and here a very soft brush is used to stroke and soothe the new trainee.

 

Getting used to the rope

Getting used to the rope

After having the halter on her, she is led out of the chute with a lead rope on her. With our method they quickly learn not to pull back and to step forward. This first touch is so important to begin to gain their trust. So far we have haltered 5 youngsters and getting them used to being led and handled. We make sure that all our volunteers are very calm and relaxed around the horses and this helps the horses to be calm while being gentled.

Next step - in the stall

Next step – in the stall

After the new charges get used to their leads and being tied, they are brought into the stalls where they learn there is abundant hay all to themselves. This process is also very important as it allows us to go on either side of them to brush and get used to the close contact.

Feeding time

Feeding time

As anyone that has horses knows, that once they have finished their dinner it quickly passes through and leads to our next biggest activity.

Poop patrol

Poop patrol

So this is assuring that the pens are kept as clean as possible and is an ongoing daily job. This also helps the horses get used to human activity which will help them get accustomed to their new homes with new prospective owners. Stay tuned for more updates in case we have more arrivals.

Bob

 

 

Welcome to your new home

Welcome to your new home

On Wednesday evening we received a phone call from the ESRD, indicating that another 13 wild horses had been caught and were being transported to Innisfail.  Seeing that we had already taken in 5 horses on Tuesday, we knew that it would not be too long before we had to rescue more. We were working on a hectic schedule which included having to purchase another $9,000 worth of panels and another shelter in order to be ready. As I have stated before, this is because we were caught unaware of the capture of the wild horses that is happening now. We had not expected to expand until the summer. Gratefully we have a strong core of volunteers who sprung into action. Wednesday, prior to the phone call, was spent running into Calgary to pick up the panels, then to Caroline to pick up the shelter. While this was being done, others worked on getting the site ready where new pens were to be set up to facilitate the safe environment for the newcomers.

Unloading new panels

Unloading new panels

Then on Thursday, after the call went out for help, we had a good group of volunteers show up to help start setting up these panels as we knew we had to rescue more horses later that day. With everyone’s help, and especially the use of a bobcat that was brought by one of the volunteers, the job went very quickly. After that another crew responded to Innisfail to select the young horses that had been caught and that we were confident we could handle and find adoptive homes for. This is always extremely hard for our members as we wish we had the resources and people to be able to consider taking them all. Unfortunately this is not the case at this time, maybe in the future as we continue to grow.

Of the 13 new horses, we selected 8 that fit into our program – four colts and 4 fillies. That left 3 stallions from Tuesday and another 5 stallions today, all older than 3 years of age that we had to leave behind. These horses will be up for auction on February 28. However, we are working with a couple of horse ranchers who may be able to step in and take these boys. We have our fingers crossed.

New home

The arrival

Again from the loading to the unload, our new wards surprised us with the ease they loaded and the calmness when they unloaded. The 5 other boys greeted them with excited whinnies. Of course they were a little bit excited with what has happened to them the last few days. It did not take long, however, for them to start to settle down. It was great to see that the youngest of them all was the first one to find the scrumptious green hay.

Hello from the new arrivals

Hello from the new arrivals

There is a lot of colour in this last group as you can see. To us though they are all equally beautiful. As with the other five, they will be left alone to settle down and become accustomed to their new surroundings. We have had donations of hay, which we are extremely grateful for as it will provide great nutrition for all the horses while they are under our care.

Two new beautiful young fillies

Two new beautiful young fillies

We are receiving a large number of emails requesting information on adoption and we are trying our best at this hectic time to respond to them all. In light of this, we will be emailing all those that expressed interest an application form that will be required to be filled out. This is in order to ensure that anyone who adopts these young horses has the proper setup and knowledge to be able to deal with a wild horse. The adoption fee we charge goes right back into our work to protect and save our Alberta wild horses. These horses will remain with us until we can be assured that they are safe to handle and also that any colts have been gelded. We do cover that cost.

The season still has nine days to go and there is no doubt that WHOAS will be called upon to rescue more. We will answer that call.

Bob

 

The boys

The boys

The 2015 capture season authorized by the ESRD has begun as of February 13th. Our WHOAS Board members and volunteers were on pins and needles awaiting word of any wild horses captured. Monday evening we received word that some horses had been caught and that they were all young studs. As indicated before, WHOAS was given the opportunity to select all or any of these horses. The were hauled by the trapper to a location where we could select those that we are confident we could work with, gentle and find good adoptive homes for them.

The arrival at WHOAS facility

The arrival at WHOAS facility

Rallying our group of volunteers on Tuesday morning we went to the pick-up location to view the horses. Five young males, 2 years old and younger, were identified as the best prospects. Without any difficulty they were loaded into our trailer and transported.

A new beginning

A new beginning

Exploring our new home

Exploring our new home

Our facility had been set up to enable us to unload any horses safely. Opening the trailer gate, it was wonderful to see the boys dash off into their new pen. This will be their home for a period of time until we can gentle them properly, have them gelded and then rehomed to their new owners.

Fresh hay

Fresh hay

They soon realized this place was okay with some fresh hay awaiting them. They all began to concentrate on having a few bites to eat and they quickly settled down in this new environment. We will wait a few days for them to become accustomed to us before we go any further in handling them.

Exploring

Exploring

WHOAS will continue to respond and rescue if any more wild horses are captured. It is our intention to take in as many as we can adequately and safely handle. This for the horses’ safety as well.  As we have indicated before we only have limited resources and volunteers able to help. Keep checking for updates. Thanks to those who continue to support us in our efforts.

Bob

 

Winter break

Winter break

On Wednesday February 4, 2015, the ESRD announced to the media that there would be a capture season this year in the Ghost Equine Zone.  WHOAS along with the rest of the stakeholders were informed of this decision at the same time.  The public outcry over this has begun and many people are attacking WHOAS as well, for what they perceive to be our stance on capture taking place.

This post is to clarify exactly what WHOAS’s position is.  In November 2014 when we signed the MOU with the government, which allows us to carry on the two programs we have mentioned in the past, (adoption and contraception), it was made clear to us that a capture season may occur in other areas outside the boundaries of our research area.  We had truly hoped that this would not happen this winter.  It was our belief that if a season did not occur, then when the annual aerial census was done in March this year it would quickly identify if the herds are increasing at the rates some say they are, are they stable or are they decreasing.  However the decision was made to remove 20% of the Ghost Equine Zone herd which numbered 240 last year. This was a true disappointment to us. One of the things guaranteed to WHOAS was that the Sundre Equine Zone where our programs are being operated would not be included in any capture plans. Also, we were informed that area where the horses may be captured would be kept well away from our southern boundaries, assuring no interference in our work. Horse know no boundaries.

In light of this announcement WHOAS was approached to see if we would be willing and ready to take some of the horses that may be captured this year. This was a no brainer–of course we will do whatever we can to save as many as we can. This is going to be extremely hard and heartbreaking as we are limited by finances and resources into how many animals we can take in. Finding good adoptive homes has proven to be a challenge in the past. Lots of people say they will but in the end they do not follow through and we have to continue to search for appropriate adoptive homes. We wish we could save them all however in reality this is not possible at this time. So we will do our best to save as many as we can. Now we can only hope that other individuals and/or groups will step in and help rescue more.

In all the years that WHOAS has been operating we have stepped forward to rescue an extremely large number of wild horses that got themselves into trouble and/or were captured in previous capture seasons.

First arrivals

First arrivals

Our site is almost complete but we are up and running and have stepped in to assure the safety of a band of seven horses. These horses will remain on our property and allowed to live out their lives in peace and safety. The filly and the colt pictured above were part of that group. We have begun to gentle them because eventually as in every wild horse herd, they would have been kicked out by the herd stallion. It is better to work with them now while they are easier to gentle.

At rest in their stalls

At rest in their stalls

Part of the gentling process is to have them tied in a stall where they learn that their human caretakers offer them no harm and they become accustomed to our touch.

As we move forward and begin to intake other horses from this capture, we will be needing more volunteers who are willing to devote their time to these horses.  In dealing with wild horses, it is extremely important that they learn to trust their human counterparts. Therefore patience with soft hands and voice, become the best tools. Right now we have 2-3 experienced volunteers who have done this for many years. They are willing to pass on their knowledge and understanding of wild horse behaviour to those that are willing to learn. We will also be seeking adoptive homes for all the horses that we may have to deal with.  The biggest thing to note is that these are wild animals and it takes a special person with the proper facilities to give the proper care for one of these beautiful animals. In the end though the new owner will have a truly loyal and trustworthy companion.

 

Proud

Proud

The work that WHOAS is doing is for the long term benefit of the wild horses. The ESRD understands this and that is the reason that they have allowed us 5 years to prove that both our programs can be very effective and humane population management tools. We know that we can show that in the long run that these projects are the future for sound management. Thus in the future, capturing of wild horse herds as it is being done now, will not have to happen. We have always and will continue to work for the wild horses. We have known many heartaches in the past and hopefully this is the last one we have to face. With continued support we will be able to overcome any obstacles and also succeed in our overall goals.

If you feel that you can help and/or become a volunteer or provide an appropriate home, please let us know by contacting WHOAS at WHOASalberta@gmail.com.

Bob

 

WHOAS is officially sold out of our 2015 fund raising calendars.  We wish to thank all of you who purchased one, as all money from the sale of the calendars goes directly into our work to save and protect your wild horses.  It has cost a large sum of money to initiate our PZP vaccine program, which is proceeding very well.  Also our handling facility was very expensive to get up and running and is almost complete.  We have already taken on some wild horses.

The site is going to become very important in the next few weeks as it was announced today that a capture season was being instigated in the Ghost Equine Zone.  WHOAS will be working hard to save as many horses as we can that are captured.  This news was disappointing and I will do a post on this later this evening after we get all the updated information.

Bob

 

Winter 14/15

Winter 14 / 15

 

Well 2015 is upon us and although the snow is starting to accumulate in wild horse country the wild horses are doing exceptional well this winter.  The snow is not heavy and the horses are easily able to paw through it to find enough forage to keep up their body condition.  This winter, in the more exposed areas, the wind and sun have been able to keep some areas clear.

Pens being set up

Pens being set up

Throughout November and December our teams of volunteers continued to work on developing our handling facility. As a result of their dedication as of today there are just a few finishing touches that need to be done.

Blog 4

The handling chute

The handling chute

Although it did take three months to get to this stage, the site is looking fantastic. With proper pens in place, proper shelters and a cozy office, we are just about ready to be able to handle any horses that we may have to take in.

barn

The tie stalls

The tie stalls

 

An aerial view

An aerial view

We are so happy that after so many years of hard work and unbelievable dedication by board members and volunteers that we finally have a safe and humane facility for any wild horses that come under our care. Set up the way it is will also allow a safe way for our veterinarians, if necessary, to administer any care that may be needed.

Two beauties

Two beauties

With the other aspect of WHOAS undertaking with the ESRD to assist with management of the wild horses, our PZP program is underway. Using our own database, again put together by our members, we have identified mares from healthy herds that we intend to target with the vaccine this year. As we progress we are learning and this project is going smoothly.

The dart team at work

The dart team at work

All this has been made possible through those of you who have purchased our fund raising calendars and have made donations to support us to protect and save your Alberta wild horses. We still have a limited number of calendars left if you wish to purchase one and help our cause. The WHOAS board of directors and our volunteers want to thank each and every one of you for your belief in our work.

Bob

 

IMG_8464

The WHOAS Board of Directors and our many volunteers would like to take this time to wish all wild horse supporters a Merry Christmas and all the best in the New Year. It is through the support of so many, that WHOAS is able to work ahead to make the future of your wild horses look so much brighter. We will continue to work hard for Alberta’s wild horses.

The winter so far has turned out to be so much easier for the horses with warmer temperatures and less snow. The horses are still in good shape and able to find forage easily throughout the wild horse range.

The WHOAS handling facility, due to the efforts of our build volunteers, is almost complete. It is also through your support of purchasing the calendars and many generous donations that this has become a reality. Heartfelt thanks to all.

Bob

 

WHOAS Calendar 2015

Again we encourage the supporters of the Alberta wild horses to purchase a fund raising calendar.  All monies raised goes directly into our work for the horses.

We would like to invite our followers to come and visit us at our booth at the Cremona Winter Fest on December 6th.

Calendars are also available for pick up at the Smokes and Toast Restaurant in Bowden, the Red Barn and Gifts in Water Valley, the Sundre Museum and at the UFA in Olds. We are also now able to take payment by use of PayPal.

Thank you to all who support us through the purchase of these beautiful calendars.