Wednesday, January 20, 2010

For these who suffered...

This is the property that was 3 Strikes Ranch, owned - at that time - by Jason and Anissa Meduna. This is not in any way what the property looked like when Meduna purchased the ranch from Glen and Lucille Kooper, even though in court he said it was just tumbleweeds. If you knew what the Kooper Ranch looked like before, it would be only natural that tears might fall from your eyes, seeing the devastation the Medunas caused on the land. The land is now owned by someone else. Good people. It will be interesting to see the before and after pictures. This above, being their before.

This rescue at 3 Strikes Ranch, started the day Jason unloaded his first semi-load of horses. 115 horses in the sand hills, in drought conditions. There was the first two strikes against the horses in the beginning. We observed, we watched, we visited among each other; how could this work on this land? Then more horses arrived. More horses, less rain, less grass, less hope.

Before the trial is discussed, I would like you to see, through theses photos, why this trial even existed. Many people gave their time, money, prayers, and dedication to see justice given to one who would cause such suffering and hardship on any animal. The law says 70 perished. That is what they could actually account for. It wasn't until closing statements, that I realized the entire acreage had not been canvased. I went out on my 4 wheeler, Sunday, January 17th. Apprehensive of what I would find, camera along... I started the journey of discovering for myself how many animals suffered and died.

This is a tag from one of the horses, found amongst the remains. I have only explored the north east portion of the land. This is a lot of what borders our land. I do believe this: in the short time I've went through these hills, only 2 hours, and I put 10 miles on the 4 wheeler, trying not to miss any little pockets on the hills, covering each section of land the best I could - I do believe there are many more that 70 dead horses that died in Meduna's 'care'.
You don't see the horse? No one did. No one but Meduna, maybe both of them? These trees are in the meadow that borders ours. From our meadow looking south, they are quite a distance away. As I drove nearer to this spot, there lay camouflaged in the fallen dead tree limbs, a horse skeleton.
Did he lay his head on the fallen branches, hoping to find shade from the hot summer sun? Was there enough grass to graze from under the trees, finding his last meal before his strength gave way to despair? Until his despair gave way to death? His legs are near by in the trees. It is my prayer he died before the coyotes came. If not, it is my prayer somehow God let his helpless body go into shock, and he was not aware of the predators feeding on him. Sounds horrible? It's the cold, hard facts of what happens out here. Do Mustangs die from other predators, in the wild? On the BLM grounds, where cougars, bears, or wolves take care of the weak, the old, the horses that cannot get to their feet.
But here; this was supposed to be like a sanctuary. People brought their horses here to live out the rest of their lives in a beautiful, better place. This should not be how a mustang dies here. Euthanasia is better than being eaten alive. This is not 'wild country' where the predators roam, looking for helpless animals. This was to be a place of dignity, of freedom. And then I saw the bottles. Empty bottles. Right at these trees. What happened here? Was this the 'thinking log'? Or just the stop off place, the resting place for the human - to refresh himself before tying onto another horse, to drag to the pit.

These are the remains of horses, but not in a pit. Not in 'the pit'. They lay only on the side of hill. An attempt to cover with hay, only to be exposed by wind, and drug out by predators. How amazing to see so much hay given to dead horses. In the court room, Meduna told the jurors that he did not cover the horses because he wanted to 'get to the bottom of it'.

Hillside piles. Not a pleasant thing to come across. Notice the mound? He didn't cover the horses? This hay covered who knows how many horses. How do I know? Because when I went to step upon the pile to take a picture of a hoof, the ground moved underneath my feet. Not like wavy moving, but like a sinking in, and that was mixed with a crunching sound. A sound of bones giving way, under the pressure of something on top of them. All over. The whole pile. I swallowed hard, and continued observing. Peeking up from underneath the hay, would be various bones, trying to protrude into the sunlight. How many were underneath? The only way one would know, would be to remove the hay. I was not ready for that. Not now.

One thing that really bothered me, besides all the needless death; was seeing the color/hair of the horse. I don't know why...maybe because so many will never be known or identified. But for some, there is a beautiful color left to their remains. I could capture whatever was left of them. Morbid as that sounds, the thought of having a pet (as our horses are) suffer through this was just almost unbearable. The skulls peeking up from their resting place under the hay. Hooves of all sizes. Many babies born. Many babies died.

What looks like a new burrowed home for some critter, at the expense of a horse's life. The hay had covered this rib cage, along with many others; bones peaked out from everywhere. How many were drug here before covered with hay?

How long did it take this horse to perish? How long without water? When a horse has no food or water, they are too weak to travel in search of nourishment. And how many tried to lie down to have their baby, but without needed strength, could not even manage to have the colt? Or how many had their little baby, but had no strength to get up? And what happened to her baby? What greeted the colt at night?

Ribs, protruding from the mass underneath the hay. He wanted to find out what the problem was? I think it's pretty obvious. So at what point, and how many horses must die, before you think you should consult someone?
Up over another hill, greeted by another skeleton. I plan to take a map of the place with me, to mark them and count them. 70 dead. Meduna claimed 23, or something like that? Shouldn't that be enough for his groupies to no longer follow him? I suppose not.

A couple of places really got to me. This one, because this was a horse we first saw from our fence. Left alone to die.

Nearby this area, was another carcass. But what I noticed, the ground seemed to draw a circle. It may be my imagination, but I do believe a horse had struggled here and began to make a 'halo'. A circle of death as the black mare did. Coyotes drug the bones, they were right at this sight. But how many circles are left unnoticed?

Life taken, unfairly and before it's time.

What is their sad story? Off by themselves, a large skull and a small skull. I can only presume a mare had a baby. And somehow, however long it took; they both died together.

I kept finding a single horse, or a small group. Not the larger piles that were seen from the air. Until I decided to make my way back, as dusk would be setting in.

So close to his house, I found this pile. There are so many, and my search has just begun. I took many pictures, too many to put on here. And for now, again, I'm tired of seeing them. I am comforted with this:

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves,
but rather give place unto wrath:
for it is written,
Vengeance is Mine; I will repay,
saith the Lord.
Romans 12:19


  1. I am speechless...beyond words and so very, very angry.

  2. With that many dead horses and you being a neighbor did you smell death in the air? Why didn't you are anyone else discover what was going on sooner? I am not judging you, just wanting to understand how this can happen to so many animals for so long and why it takes so long before other people discover it and take action to stop it. Over and over again I see new reports about abused animals but it seems no one takes action until there are dead bodies.

  3. Joni, it's your right to judge me, question me, check out what I say...I wish more people would have. Do you know who I contacted at first, BEFORE THERE WERE SO MANY DEAD HORSES? I got the names of rescues and people from 3 Strikes web site, and CALLED THEM. I told them I thought their horses could be in trouble, because the land was bare. Do you know what one person said to me that had horses at 3 Strikes Ranch? She said, "What the hell business is it of yours?" So where do you go from there? And you know what? She still believes in Meduna. A blog is coming on this subject.
    And Mr. Fitch, I am honored you are following my blog.

  4. I must add to my previous comment, many took me serious and we worked together to get something done.

  5. Even though Meduna has been convicted I am glad you are keeping up with this. The "rescues" that said what business is it of yours should be named. People need to know what really happened there, so as not to repete it. Sadly I believe there are more mustang "sanctuaries" headed in that direction :(

  6. The pictures play tribute to the dead. They will not be forgotten. Bless you for documenting their deaths. I have no forgiveness in my heart for this........I can't even think of a word that fits him. I hope the judge gives him the maximum.

  7. It's unfathomable. I still cannot wrap my head around the extent of the suffering. Tears and anger all over again. Bless you Vicki for getting involved - you are my hero.

  8. Please let us know the outcome of the sentence. Nothing but the maximum could justified.

    What a monster.

  9. I will let everyone know the outcome, and there's more pictures and stories to come. I do want to rephrase something...when I said I'm honored that R.T. Fitch is keeping track of my blogging, I am in awe of authors and artists, because that's my dream. But I am equally grateful for everyone who reads it.

  10. Hi Vicki, I'm glad you did this , for yourself and your nieghbors. When I read some of the statements of the ones that left their horses with him and stated that they felt that they would live their lives out like the wild...either he is real stupid and forgot about free roaming or money problems.. either way...he didn't care... he is sick and so is his wife, they let those horses starve to death. People fund raised for the horses and nothing went to them. This could of been worse, they all would have died, over 200 were saved and went to new homes. We will never forget the ones that suffered, they will always be in our hearts, try to think about the ones that are now healthy and living good lives.