Partnership equals success for former wild horse |

Partnership equals success for former wild horse

Aspen walks along a roadside in summer 2015.

The summer of 2015 was a rough season for the Cold Creek horses in the Wheeler Pass Herd Management Area and the Spring Mountains Wild Horse and Burro Territory, Southern Nevada District. Extended drought conditions and herd numbers nearly six times the Appropriate Management Level had taken its toll on the range. Bands of horses were oftentimes travelling 20-plus miles round trip to find forage, and it was especially difficult for that year’s foal crop to handle the extended travelling and malnutrition.

The water source in that area is centralized to the Cold Creek ponds and the Willow Creek area on Wheeler Pass Road. Horses traveled down Cold Creek Road as far as the state prisons, a distance of 12 miles one way. Horses need to drink daily during the hot Mojave summers, so the roaming for forage was taking them farther and farther from their only reliable sources of water.

An emergency gather was conducted in late August/early September and one foal in particular had caught the eye of Darcy Grizzle, a local wild horse photographer. She had been observing the wild horses for several years and was present during the gather. A lone buckskin filly had been left behind by her band and was struggling to survive. Darcy brought her to the attention of the contracted gather operators and she was lifted into the back of their truck. Volunteers rushed her to Desert Pines Equine Medical and Surgical Center for emergency treatment. Her future was undetermined at this point, but she was eventually stabilized. Once this was completed, she was fostered by a local couple, Becki and Craig Leets, along with three other fillies who had been orphaned. “It took a village to take care of Aspen for the first month she was with us,” Becki said. “Darcy and several of our neighbors helped feed her four times a day. She was in such poor shape we just didn’t know if she would make it.”

Daily interaction and lots of affection turned her into a spunky filly that caught the eye of adopter Valerie Juick. “I own property in Cold Creek so these horses are very special to me,” Valerie said. “I saw Aspen and she stole my heart and I was lucky enough to be her winning adopter.”

Now, 16 months after the gather and a year after her adoption, Aspen is almost unrecognizable. A sassy young lady, she is in a loving home with other horses and is cruising through her training. Aspen is a perfect example of what cooperation between the BLM, volunteers and adopters can achieve.


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