Sandoval Signpost


An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

Whoa! Here comes another wild horse. Pregnant mare photographed crossing road in September in Placitas

Horse talk

—Ty Belknap

September was a time for a lively online group dialogue, copied to the Signpost, over the issue of stray horses in Placitas. This dialogue was prompted by Cosmos Dohner when he placed a large sign on Camino de las Huertas that read, “Rodeo de Placitas™ Septembre 21—Run the Wild Horses back to San Felipe Pueblo, NM & Bring in the Longhorns!”

The sign was a spoof, but it drew negative comments from the Wild Horse Observers Association (WHOA) and other horse advocates. Opposition to the propagation of the beloved Placitas horses is politically incorrect, to say the least. Advocates have been successful in exponentially expanding the range and population of stray horses. WHOA keeps a tight rein on any information, and seems to equate any position judged to be “against the horses” as being “for” the dreaded loop road and more residential development. The local media—especially the Albuquerque Journal—has been demonized for being anti-horse. Even the realtors have been forced to tow the politically correct line.

Most of the participants in the online dialogue did not respond to the Signpost’s request to reprint their contributions. Horse advocates offered the usual “fence them out or go back to New Jersey—this is the Wild West” and alluded to the horrors of horse slaughter. WHOA tacitly acknowedged horse overpopulation, but bemoaned their inability to get official sanction to administer contraceptives.

Lynn Montgomery, never one to shy from sharing his opinion (he even said that he had eaten horse and would be glad to do so again), told us to “have at it.” Here are some exerpts from his emails:

“The fact remains, despite fences, that our land is degraded from overgrazing by horses. We have a problem. People love the horses. I love them, too, but we can't have people (and yes, it is we who are responsible) letting horses propagate in an enclosed range and expect everything to be okay. The horses are obviously fed. There is no way they would look so good after the years of drought and overgrazing that has left hardly any sustenance for them from the land. Fed horses are not wild horses. They are pets. Wild horses starve to death. Wild horses are subject to predation. The horses graze what they like first, then they graze it again and again. This favors unwanted species, like our local locoweed. Eventually, the land will become poisonous to all stock. The goatheads, which I eradicated from the 250 acres under my charge over several years with a hoe, have returned with a vengeance. I have spent about fifty hours this summer just trying to control them on Sun Farm's 19 acres, but that battle is going to be lost.”

And: “Our diversity has fallen off drastically. Is it right to have just horses at the expense of everything else? What about the unnoticed little, beautiful kangaroo rat whose burrow is stomped in and his food taken? We need to expand our consciousness if we are to be good stewards of the land and water. There are fascinating, wonderful worlds out there. We stomp all over them, oblivious to what we do, in frantic effort to get that perfect shot of the latest foal.”

Even the venerable Michael Crofoot felt compelled to join the fray. Some of his comments refer to Patience O’Dowd’s article in the July Signpost entitled, “Wild horses: It’s time for the facts.” She quoted Craig Downer who claims horses are good for the environment. Crofoot wrote:

“A friend in my area planted a bunch of buffalo grass which he watered and cared for, as it is a wonderful plant. But the wild horses found the grass plot and ate all of the grass right down to the nubbin. I used to visit a good dry meadow of buffalo grass on one of the north facing slopes on a hill near where I was living off Camino de las Rosa Castilla. The horses found that little meadow and now there are no buffalo grass plants there. There are a number of places in the Open Space which the horses have devastated…

“Mr. Downer’s asserts that “few will acknowledge, for example, the great positive contribution made by horse feces in building rich, moist, and nutrient-laden soils, and in seeding many plant species.” This may be true out east or west of New Mexico, but in the Placitas area this statement would be laughable except that the subject matter is so serious. You will find no such ‘rich, moist and nutrient-laden soils’ made by wild horses in our Placitas area, nor on BLM land hereabouts.

“I started the Jubilee Community Gardens across the street from Las Placitas Presbyterian Church six years ago. Although we had the go-ahead to plant some of the garden this year from church authorities and also from our mayordomo of the acequia that runs through the garden, I decided not to plant the garden, because the wild horses would have trashed it.

“When I worked at Diamond Tail Development for three years, I harvested, pressed, mounted, and photographed 160 native plant species. Diamond Tail now has a captive wild horse herd of six or so inside the fence. I will guarantee you that Diamond Tail has lost at least fifty species over the last two years. Fifty wonderful rare native plant species… fifty! The other wild horses in the Placitas area are likewise grazing the road sides and must be significantly corrupting a list of our beleaguered native plant species.

“I think that things are coming to a head now, WHOA folks. If I was youse, I would work concertedly with other groups to get these abandoned outdoor pets away from the dangers of living by the roads in the Placitas areas as soon as possible.”

The Wildlife Society writes, "Feral horses and burros are invasive species in North America. Exotic, nonnative species are among the most widespread and serious threats to the integrity of native wildlife populations because they invade and degrade native ecosystems. When invasive species are perceived as a natural component of the environment, the general public may regard them as “natural,” not understanding the damages they inflict on native systems." To read their entire position statement, visit:

Eat, drink, and support recycling

—Robin Brandin

The Placitas Recycling Association (PRA) is partnering with the Range Café to offer a delicious way to support recycling services in Placitas. On October 22, the Range will host a fundraiser on behalf of the PRA. Range customers will be able to receive a ticket from a PRA volunteer at the restaurant throughout the day, and the Range will donate twenty percent of their bill to support recycling in Placitas. The Range is located at 925 Camino Del Pueblo in downtown Bernalillo.

The award-winning PRA is a self-supporting, all-volunteer organization that provides recycling services to the Placitas community and the surrounding area. The PRA was designated 2012 Community Recycler of the Year by the New Mexico Recycling Coalition. Proceeds from the sale of recycled materials and from fundraisers are used to maintain the yard and equipment at the Placitas Recycling Center on Highway 165. Volunteers operate the center on Saturday mornings and prepare and transport the recycled materials to vendors in Albuquerque. The center collects about 120 tons of recycled materials every year—materials that are put to beneficial use instead of ending up in the regional landfill.

As an all-volunteer organization, the PRA is always looking for new volunteers to work on Saturdays or help out during the week. Volunteers are typically scheduled to work a couple times a year. Anyone interested in volunteering can sign up at the recycling center on Saturday mornings or call Max Pruneda at 877-7745. For more information on recycling in Placitas, visit the PRA website at:

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