*** Just as I am completing this article, we’ve received notification of yet another round up, which will be Round Up 13. This email is focused on the events from Round Up 12 which occurred in August 2019***
Every time a round up occurs I think to myself how absolutely unnecessary these removals are.
Kisatchie: 604,000 acres
Fort Polk: over 150,000 acres and growing as they continue to purchase more and more land.
With reports stating there are less than an estimated 20-30 horses remaining in the North Fort Area, the Range Control / ITAM Division at Fort Polk has all but annihilated these precious herds by removing 318 horses to date.
A direct consequence of their chosen Course of Action (COA7) is these wild horses are funneled into an already flooded domestic horse market, using Federal Dollars to do so, rather than using federal dollars to implement a herd management program. No they use your tax dollars to destroy biologically unique herds that have ranged on these lands for centuries, as far back as the 15th and 16th centuries.
One instance is that approx. 100k of federal grant money was used to contract with the Thompson Kill Pen last year for round up and capture. More about Federal Grant Money used to fund Thompson Kill Pen
Further more, rescues have to absorb the cost of vetting because, God Forbid they use a cent to actually HELP the horses or rescues. And on top of that the Army has a “rescue”, known for sending horses to kill pens, at the top of their “501c3” list. And this fraud of a rescue remains on the top of the list until they FAIL to pick up the horses. And they will stop at nothing to remain on top, they already have transferred Fort Polk Horses to the “Thompson Kill Pen”
Rescues who are focused on preservation have to “wheel and deal” with the bogus rescue to ensure they don’t end up in a kill pen. In addition, approximately 44 Fort Polk Horses, from earlier this year, were picked up by Agents of Meridian Falls and they have all but vanished. So where did those horses end up?
Four years ago Fort Polk held a meeting regarding this removal. From day one the public has begged them to consider other options, to consider their significance, to at least treat these horses with respect and be conservative in their removal plans. This fell on deaf years … while the army was required by federal law to opened it up to public comment they didn’t bother to consider any sort of preservation and basically ignored the public.
A legal battle ensued and lasted from December of 2016 to 2019
In the end the ongoing fight to protect and preserve the wild and free roaming horses of Louisiana’s Kisatchie National Forest continues despite Judge Robert Summerhays decision, choosing to IGNORE significant evidence of their genetic and cultural importance.
Why was crucial evidence ignored by the court? Short answer is evidence was ignored on a date technicality.
Judge Summerhays cited the reason being…. that Pegasus Equine Guardian Association discovered and submitted after the June 2016 comment period ended. This evidence was collected as a result of Pegasus’ time and money to prove significance and could have only been collect and analyzed after the comment period because it takes time and money to collect and analyze evidence… this should have been done as part of the Army’s Environmental Assessment but conveniently this was ignored… and not done.
Sadly we lost our lawsuit; however we lost on narrow grounds. The info wasn’t available at that time the army closed their EA, back in 2016. Even during the hearing We could tell that minds of judges were being changed when they saw the potential of biologically significant horses. However the judge that heard the case was not the deciding judge and our case past through a few judges hands before Judge Summerhays ruled against us and ignored the evidence based on a date technicality.
It is important to note that a two equine research labs agreed to analyze and one has included some of the captured Fort Polk Horses blood in an ongoing research project that was a cooperative international effort.
Take action today: https://pegasusequine.wordpress.com/take-action/
This is a collaborative effort by like minded individuals and grass roots rescue and equine advocacy organizations.
Round Up # 12 – August 2019
August 8th, 2019 – Notification Day
Fort Polk Public Affairs Office sent out a Capture Notification to almost all 501c3s on their approved list, with Meridian Falls Ranch (MFR) taking priority as the organization with first choice to the 31 horses captured. ** it is important to note that MFR has been at the top of Fort Polk’s list since May 2018. Approximately 44 taken by them, disappearing completely and another group was given/sold to the Thompson Kill Pen.
August 19th, 2019 – Pick Up Day
After a week of negotiation with MFR, Haseya’s New Beginnings Animal Rescue picked up the 31 horses from Round Up 12. Representatives of Pegasus Equine Guardian were in attendance as well. Thankful for each volunteer that attended and helped load and transport to a holding location that has all the qualities of a sanctuary, albeit temporary.
“Loading and hauling 31 wild horses, who have never been handled by humans, is a sad, intense and often a terrifying experience. What makes them truly unique is that less than 3% of horses living and thriving in the wild have Iberian lines, such as Louisiana Wild Heritage Horses. It’s truly tragic, because once removed the long term viability of herds that have ranged on these lands for centuries is destroyed. Witnessing the destruction of that is absolutely heartbreaking. The only bright side is that these herds are now in the hands of people who truly care and exhaust all options to ensure they are treated with kindness, for that I am grateful to each person who played a role in securing this group. We do what we can in an impossible and unjust situation.”
August 21st, 2019 – Vetting Day
Vetting day went way better than I anticipated. Skilled Vets, expert handlers, and a team in sync, made all the difference Everyone fell into place… a little “easy does it” kindness goes a long way… don’t get me wrong we had explosive moments but skilled hands knew exactly what to do to calm and soothe even the most terrified and trembling wild horses. My heart is overwhelmed with gratitude and appreciation for the team we had on the ground this day. No words can describe the gratitude in my heart ensuring these horses were treated with respect and gentleness.
Link to Video: Vetting Day – Part 1
Link to Video: Vetting Day – Part 2
Preservation-centric, grass-roots organizations will continue to need your support in caring and finding sanctuary for these horses
Preferably a “forever sanctuary” scenario, so they may remain Wild and Free, without expectations from humans.
To help with horses from the last few round ups please visit,
Haseya’s New Beginning Animal Rescue
Pegasus Equine Guardian Association (PEGA) formed to unify efforts to preserve and protect these free roaming herds. PEGA asserts that the free roaming herds of Kisatchie have been a part of Louisiana’s local culture since its early beginnings and prior, and therefore should have Heritage standing. In addition to the undeniably unique historical and cultural significance Pegasus Equine Guardian has worked to establish genetic analysis in an effort to educate the public about the truly significant genetic and biological treasure that exist in Louisiana’s Wild horses, which has been largely unknown until recently ( 2018 ).
In December of 2016 Pegasus Equine Guardian Association, represented by Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, filed a complaint in the Louisiana District Court against the US Army at Fort Polk Louisiana, charging that the Army’s plan to eliminate herds of horses violates the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA)
We continue to investigate avenues to protect these herds to this day.
“It is difficult to understand, let alone explain, how the government came up with its cost rankings. Based on the record, it appears the Army either ignored its own cost estimates, by arbitrarily assigning numbers with predetermined bias towards certain COA” (course of action) Legal Counsel for PEGA in Motion for Summary Judgement filed 10/01/2018
Biological & Genetic Significance
Pegasus Equine Guardian Association (PEGA) formed to unify efforts to preserve and protect these free roaming herds. The free roaming herds of Kisatchie have been a part of Louisiana’s local culture since its early beginnings and prior, and therefore should have Heritage standing. In addition to the undeniably unique historical and cultural significance Pegasus Equine Guardian has worked to establish a scientific record of these horses, in an effort to educate the public about the truly significant genetic and biological treasure that exist in Louisiana’s Wild horses, which has been largely unknown until recently.
What’s happening to these herds is just wrong. They should be protected not destroyed.
Preliminary genetic testing of random blood samples from several wild horses at Fort Polk, Louisiana confirmed heavy Spanish associations, pairing them with Puerto Rican Paso and Venezuelan Criollo horses (descendants of horses brought from the Southern Canary Islands region of Spain) in 15th and 16th centuries.
They are one of the few herds of wild horse with unique genetic markers from Colonial Spanish lines.
Less that 3% of wild herds have these markers.
It’s extremely concerning that Fort Polk would push through the process of elimination before truly understanding the impact.
“The direness of the ongoing loss of genetic diversity in domesticated and feral horses cannot be understated. The need to conserve the remaining unique genetic characteristics among domesticated and feral horse populations is essential. Once a strain dies off, the genetically unique characteristics associated with that strain and related phenotypes are gone forever…”
– Amicus Brief filed to the Court by Dr Phillip Sponenberg, DVM, PhD, ACT (Honorary) | Professor, Pathology and Genetics |Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine
Historical and Cultural Significance
While free roaming wild equine herds in early settlement regions of the United States are quickly disappearing from our American landscape, they can still be found in Kisatchie National Forest (KNF), Louisiana. While each herd member is an integral part of their family band, many are also unique remnants of early horses that inhabited the Kisatchie region with homesteaders well over a century ago. Generations of herds were self-sufficient with the lands’ fresh water, grass varieties and the seclusion of dense and vast stands of trees to shelter them from the elements, long before there ever was a Fort Polk. And they are still there, living with their families and herd bands that make this region their home.
The origins of some are linked to Native Americans and settlers, some were descended from livestock of heritage families, settlers and farmers in the area that had been used for many purposes as they toiled to carve out a rugged existence in the early years, long before Louisiana became a state in 1812. These unique herds of wild horses have been referred to by generations of locals as Range Horses, Choctaw Horses, Swamp Horses, or Piney Woods Horses, they have peacefully grazed in the wide open grassy and remote wooded areas for as long as they can remember.
Historical documentation show that Horses arrived with both Spanish and French settlers as early as the 15th & 16th century in the region. References: The Arrival of Horses into the Americas , Louisiana Conquest Trails , North American Colonial Spanish Horse
Two additional historical references, funded by the United States Department of Defense.
“A Good Home for a Poor Man: Fort Polk and Vernon Parish, 1800-1940” and
“A Soldiers Place in History: Fort Polk, Louisiana”
Sadly Fort Polk Officials have denied the significance of these horses repeatedly, despite their own documented history. Federal and State public Officials continue to turn a blind eye to pleas for help.
PEGA launched a Survey in 2016 to get insight regarding what the general public thinks about Louisiana’s Wild Horses.
96% Would like to see a wild horse designated area in Kisatchie National Forest
95% Against horse slaughter.
In an effort to document all Fort Polk horses removed PEGA created a easy online form.
If you have rescued or adopted a horse removed from Fort Polk / Kisatchie, please take a minute to document your horse(s).
Of the 318 horses removed, 82 have been entered in the registry.