Calico Complex Gather In Retrospect

Posted in the project on April 2, 2010 by Laura Leigh

Click the Theatre link in the menu to the right to view full feature in two parts, free. Below is the “Trailer.”

The Project

Calico Complex In Retrospect is a 22-minute short film illustrating the Bureau of Land Management’s recent wild horse gather of the Calico Complex in Nevada.

Despite a recommendation from a federal judge that the round-up be postponed, the BLM went ahead with plans to roundup 2,700 wild horses. The gather began a few days after Christmas. The total cost of the gather, processing and holding comes in at approximately $2,000,000 US taxpayer dollars.

Despite a public outcry that produced over 8,000 comments on an Environmental Assessment done by the BLM, those comments were found “Of no significant impact.”

At an Advisory Board meeting less than a month prior to the start date of the gather, BLM chief Don Glenn proclaimed, “All of our gathers are open to the public; the public is invited to come and watch all the time.”

The BLM set up their trap sites on private land and then sent horses to the newly constructed privately contracted Broken Arrow holding facility in Fallon, Nevada. The public’s ability to witness their actions was severely restricted and controlled and remains so.

There were several people that made the journey to the isolated regions where these horses would lose their freedom.

The horses and their ranges were documented before a helicopter ever took to the air. Documentation disproves the BLM’s claim of starving horses and degraded range.

The helicopter round-ups were documented through the brief, controlled visits the public was permitted. Armed guards stood watch over the observers as they filmed the process. One of the most revealing images documented was of a helicopter coming to within feet of a foal struggling to keep up with his band.

At the Broken Arrow holding facility the documentation includes the endless rows of faces of those now captive. Many of those faces we have come to know as individuals: Lightning, Freedom, General, Tomahawk, and Little Hope.

The round-up is over. The deaths from the stressful capture and confinement continue to mount.

The people that contributed to this piece were the eyes of the public.

Later the producer/editor of this piece, Laura Leigh, founded to take her work to a new level.

It is simply what they saw

To view the piece in two parts click here.


This is a disturbing statement of what is becoming of our wild herds. If we cannot suspend the government sanctioned round-ups, this documentation will be essential to depict to future generations how the last of our American heritage disappeared from our Western Ranges.

……..  Vicki Tobin, Equine Welfare Alliance