What do you think of roping and 'brumby' running as a control method?

by Catherine Russell, about 3 years ago
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A historical approach to controlling wild horses in the Snowy Mountains was roping and brumby running – where by wild horses are pursued on horseback and caught via roping. The practice is currently illegal in NSW national parks as it is was regarded to be high risk to both horses and riders and inhumane.What are your views about Is this as a legitimate control method?

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HVBA Vice President about 3 years ago
I agree with almost everything Dr Braysher says, except, the evidence from the recent counts is that the population is growing at around 11% not 20-25%(see my comments in the thread about increasing rehoming rates if you would like to know how I reached that number) and that the current management plan has been able to halt the growth of the population over the past five years. I also think its strange to call for a magic bullet (ha see what i did there) solution, there is no such thing, if people believe that the population would be ever increasing if we do nothing, then even if the population is reduced, it will always need management, otherwise we should just cut our losses and stop all management now.Now for the above topic about roping and brumby running. I had been avoiding this topic in previous discussion threads because I know that the position of the HVBA is quite different to some of the other brumby adcocate groups and I did not wish to upset my allies, but now I must face it head long, and I hope everyone will be able to understand where we are coming from.Let me first start by saying that I have never been on a brumby run, I have seen countless youtube videos and pictures of people doing it, I have also read stories and spoken directly to people who have done this, and finally I have been involved in training a Brumby that we are 99% certain was once roped. I understand that there are different methods used by different runners, and I understand that there are a large number of runners who would never do what I am about to say, but, as with aerial culling, the problems lay with the exceptions.In 2012 we picked up a group of 6 brumby colts, they were mostly leggy babies who had yet to grow into their heads and knees, except one. The man from the holding property who had separated off the colts from those that were to be sent to slaughter said to us "I had to get him for you, that's a really good horse". We were instantly taken by him, we didn't realise yet but he was a mature bachelor stallion who had finished growing, which explains why he was so nicely put together. When we got him home, he was a little more skitish than the others, but they are all different and he was still settling in well. He would sniff your hand when offered, accept a scratch from the horsemanship stick and we had even managed to get a halter on him. Then it came time to clip the rope to the halter. As always, we offered the rope to him so he could sniff it, see what it was and that it wouldn't hurt him, and that's when he exploded. He reared up in the crush and struck out at the rope. This seemed strange so we tried again thinking maybe he just got a fright that time somehow. Same result. Offer your hand without the rope, he would sniff. Offer that same hand 10seconds later holding the rope, and he would rear up. Such a strange reaction from an animal that should never ever have seen a rope before. Brumbies are generally curious horses, they will sniff, lick, bite, nudge anything you offer them, and we had never seen a horse react like this to a rope before so we started to have our suspicions about what might have happened to him out in the park. Then his winter coat fell out, and we could see the scar around his neck, just where the neck attaches to the chest, a dark ring like a necklace, or a neckrope as the case may be. When we were finally able to convince this horse to allow us to connect him to the leadrope, he would literally stand there looking at the rope and trembling. If it so much as brushed his feet, he would start to dance, kicking out and shaking his legs, turning circles in an attempt to get away from the rope. It was heart breaking to see. All other aspect of his training were coming along fairly well, but there is only so much you can do without having him on that scary leadrope. It took eight months to be able to stand on his near side with him on the leadrope, something that usually takes a matter of days. This is the long term effect that can happen to a horse that has been roped. We talk all the time about how we probably should have put him down, we cannot rehome him, but we are glad we didn't. He is now a vital member of the HVBA team, leading our bachelor herd and teaching the new brumbies that come in, what it has taken two years to teach him, that humans are actually really great, and domestic life, with its buckets of food and sheds to shelter in, is the best.This is why we will never support brumby running. The lasting effects on the horses are clear. Like aerial culling, the potential for foals to be separated from their mothers and starve is too great. The potential for something to go wrong, for the brumby to hurt itself in the chase, for the rider or its horse to hurt themselves is too great. The videos that I have seen are terrible. A man running the terrified brumbies as fast as they can go, I have seen foals split off from the mob and just left as the rider continues the pursuit of the adults, I have seen the faces of the poor brumbies once they are caught and it is pure devastation. We have heard of people tying the roped brumbies to trees and not being able to find them when they go back to collect the days work.We have also heard of people just letting them go once they catch them, it was just something fun to do for the day and they don't actually want the horses so they just let them go. I'm sure that there are some runners that do a good job, that make it quick and painless, that believe in what they are doing and how they do it, but this is not what I have seen. If you allow running as a form of management, how can you say that they general public can't do it too. From what I've seen, the general public are not experts at brumby running, well i hope they aren't anyway. By the way, The Man from Snowy River does not rope the brumbies, he musters them.
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Happy Jack about 3 years ago
11%?, I doubt that figure currently in Kosi ! A small mob I see often, has gone from 8 last year to 11 at present. (2 new foals and If I am not mistaken atleast one very wide mare)... and they are definately getting much more aggressive. This is despite the "parks" trucking a few out from the mobs further up the valley, at the end of last season. Numbers are defiately growing despite the current management efforts, in the areas that I frequent. My experience with "running" is that a few locals do cut out young foals for their own use from time to time... but it is very limited.It may be that the only ones to push for this "running" option would be the few who want to reduce the impact on themselves of being caught at it.
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Themba about 3 years ago
To provide people with an idea of how often Brumby running happens in the park, I can tell you that I know of three of my neighbours from different properties who currently do this to provide horses for themselves, family and friends. And no, don't ask me for any names or details because I won't provide it. I can say that the young horses they catch appear to be ok but the older ones are certainly more wary and nervous of people, whether this is from being captured I don't know.I haven't witnessed a Brumby run myself but would expect it to be quite stressful for the horses and as in the HVBA Vice President's example, I believe it would cause long term psychological damage to the horse. Like any animal, if you treat it badly it will remember and associate the thing that caused it pain be it a rope, stick of whatever with that pain forever.
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The longer we wait... about 3 years ago
Don't provide names and I won't either, but do those three families also seed horses into the park so the ones they get out have the colour, nature and composition they want? Or is it just a horse exit strategy...
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Themba about 3 years ago
No they don't seed horses back into the park. They take out what they need and are not concerned about colour at all. All the ones I have seen are just your normal brown in colour. The nature and composition of the horses is exactly why they are taking the brumbies out of the park. They like the nature, temperament and composition of the horses.
Themba about 3 years ago
It would be interesting to see that same mob in a year's time and see just how many of the foals survived the year. Can you explain how they are getting more aggressive? Is it the stallion defending the herd that you are referring to or something else?
pepper about 3 years ago
Its people like you people that convince members of the public that roping is just a cruel thing.Your Vise President at a meeting in Tumut commented there were worse things then death.When the subject of roping was discussed. Well let me just say I have seen alot of good kids horses come from brumbies that have been caught by roping.Parks created the problem when they banned brumby running.Now they have as they say too many horses in the park pfft.Once again mismanagement on their behalf and the brumbies are paying the price. Pretty sad I would say.
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HVBA Vice President about 3 years ago
Yes I did say that Pepper and I believe it! I have no doubt that you have seen good kids ponies coming from roped horses. Brumbies make excellent kids ponies, they are gentle and sensible and intuitive and they seem to understand that a child would never hurt them. Just because the outcome is the same doesn't mean we should allow cruelty to exist. That is my argument around aerial culling as well, just because the horse that is aerial culled and that which is killed in an abattoir are both dead at the end, doesn't mean we should count the methods used to get there as equal. Let me give you an example. If a horse is shot at pointblank range, it is dead. If a horse is stabbed 100 times in the neck, it is dead. Do you think that means the second one is any less cruel. In the second case, it is not the death that is the worst part for this horse, but the way it died. That is why I believe there are things worse than death. To go back to your justification of roping based on the horse becoming good kids ponies. The horses that have been passively trapped make excellent kids ponies, and this is how they get there. They walk into a yard to get some hay, eat, turn around to leave and the gate is shut. They are then loaded (like cattle are, which is quite humane) onto a stock crate trailer and taken to some holding yards where they are fed food and then eventually loaded onto another truck or trailer and taken to be rehomed or humanely euthanised. Lets contrast that with a horse that has been subjected to running. The horse is pursued at top speed by someone, then a rope is thrown over their head and pulled tight to make them stop, the brumby does not yet understand the concept of pressure and release, so they will struggle against the rope trying to get away, from what I've seen, a common way to combat this if the horse is small enough is to jump on it and try to pin it to the ground, or if not, drag it towards a tree and let the brumby wear itself out struggling against the rope which is now tied to a tree. Once the horse has completely shut down from exhaustion and fear, the people manhandle them into a trailer or float, often hobbled, so they can then get them home. Now the result is still the same, they eventually get broken in, and become good riding horses, but no horse deserves to go through that terror as their introduction to domestic life. Now lets look at another aspect of brumby running, the foals that often get split away from their herd. If the mother is the horse that is roped, now this foal has absolutely no chance, it will starve to death, and this starvation is much worse than the death itself, it would be better if they were going to leave it to die anyway, the runners could at least have done it the courtesy of shooting it, but they were too busy trying to catch the mare to even notice that the foal fell down. This is why I am proud if I can convince members of the public that roping is just a cruel thing, from as far as I can tell, it is.
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pepper about 3 years ago
Removed by moderator - the comment contained bad language. Please refer to moderation rules
InterestedObserver about 3 years ago
How can you say that the current management plan has halted the growth of the population over the last five years, when your calculations in another thread show it has grown at 7.2% per year over the last five years? And 11% growth above?
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Catherine Russell about 3 years ago
Thanks for your comment Interested Observer. Could we just clarify if this is directed at a contributor in this forum or if it is in relation to information put forward by NPWS on this site to aid discussion? This inforgraphic link provides an overview of the wild horse population growth, using conservative fertility rates, and factors in the impact of the trapping and removal approach on the overall population. http://protectsnowies.environment.nsw.gov.au/Further information on the wild horse population estimate is also available herehttps://engage.environment.nsw.gov.au/protectsnowies/news_feed/summary-kosciuszko-national-park-preliminary-results-from-draft-aerial-survey-report
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InterestedObserver about 3 years ago
That was directed to HVBA VP. Sorry for the confusion.
HVBA Vice President about 3 years ago
Hi InterestedObserver, I see that you have read my previous comments about the 7.2%, did you also read the comment underneath from Perplexed, they "reminded" me that 2000 horses have been removed during that time so the growth rate was revised to 11%. I described how to reach that number in the post. Its simply a compound interest calculation. I have used the number given in the draft report that admin has posted here (6000, plus the 2000 that were remove ) and my starting population came from Dawson's 2009 count (4237), hope that helps.
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InterestedObserver about 3 years ago
So how can say that the current management plan has halted the growth of the population over the last five years?
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HVBA Vice President about 3 years ago
Oh sorry I forgot to say about that. I think one of the very first posts that I ever did on this forum was about how you can often pick and choose certain numbers and statistics to tell whatever story you would like. This is one of those situations. So if you take the raw numbers only, and calculate the population growth, you will find, 7.2% if you don't include the 2000 that were removed, and 11% if you do. These are the sort of calculations that have been done in the past to give the estimates on population growth that we are so familiar with.If you instead take a more scientific approach and analyse the difference between the two populations that you have counted, you end up doing a "comparison of means". This would not only tell us if the population was actually different, but how different it was. Is the second population really "very much" larger than the first one, or only a "little bit" larger. How significant is that difference between those two populations. I would love to do this particular analysis but I do not have all the information required to do it, only the researchers have that. So in the absence of that info, in some circumstances you can do a different test. You graph the results, and if the error bars (if its standard error, which I believe it is in this case) overlap, then you can say that "there is NO significant difference between the two populations". I have done this, and they overlap alot. So from these two counts, we CAN'T actually say there is ANY difference between the two populations. The error is too high, so we can't actually tell if there was 4000 both years, 6000 both years or something in between. All we can say, is they are not significantly different from one another. So, considering we have taken out 2000 horses, and the population has not changed enough over that time to be able to tell if there are actually any more or any less horses than we had in 2009, I would say that the current program has stabilised the population. To me, the actual population growth rate over the past 5 years seems to be 0%. I put more info on this in one of the other threads (I think the re-homing one) if you are interested :)
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InterestedObserver about 3 years ago
How about we leave the significance of the statistics to the statisticians (careful your not confusing confidence intervals with standard error – I thought the +/- 2000 was the 95% CI). There might be 8000 horses. Or even more, it’s only a 95% CI so there’s a 2.5% chance the actual population is greater than 8000 horses.It seems as though the techniques are different between 2014 and 2009 anyway, which makes direct comparison difficult, so it’s probably best to just work with the estimates provided by the experts.Whatever the case, a 7.2% population growth per year DESPITE very expensive control is environmentally and economically significant. If in five years there are 8500 horses (+/- 2000), will you claim that’s not significantly different from the 2014 survey? What about 12000 horses (+/- 2000) in 2024? Those CI’s would overlap so you would suggest there’s no sig diff between the 2009 and 2014, 2014 and 2019, and 2019 and 2024 surveys? What about between 2009 and this highly likely 2024 estimate given current controls.If the population continues to grow at that rate, regardless of error (and aerial surveys are renowned for being under estimates so the actual population is probably in the + end of the +/- range), it’s still increasing and causing increased impacts to the natural environment that is supposed to be conserved in the park. That’s more horses causing more damage, so it’s significant.
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HVBA Vice President about 3 years ago
Thanks for your concern, but I am not confusing it, I have checked multiple times and Dawson 2009 calls it Standard Error as does the recent draft, and they are linked anyway. The confidence interval tells you how likely it is that you will find your value within the standard error, hence you are 95% certain that you will find the true value of the 2014 population between 4000 and 8000. I would love for some statisticians to have a go at these numbers (I feel that the 5 years of statistics I did at uni and the 3 years of using them in the workforce should be quite helpful) I would love it if they would actually include this comparison of means in the new report when the final is released so that we can find out if I am right. I am also annoyed that the techniques are different considering comparing populations is the entire point of the exercise, but that doesn't help your argument either. If you want to talk about how high the population could be, lets also talk about how low it could be. It could be as low as 4000 this year and as it could have been as high as 5310 in 2009, that would mean that passive trapping has actually reduced the population by 25%!!! See what you can get if you just want to pick and choose the numbers to suit your argument. That's why we deal with means, and that's why we need a comparison of means to be done in order to know the true state of the wild horse population and hence the effectiveness of the current program.
HVBA Vice President about 3 years ago
I would like to add a little more because at the 21st century town hall meeting on the weekend I had the opportunity to talk to some people who were pro Brumby Running (and others who were anti). I would like to acknowledge that there are some people that believe that as soon as you get the rope on that brumby, you are training it and as such treat the horse with respect, take it home and use it. I am sure these people do everything they can to treat the horses humanely. This is very different from those that use Brumby Running as a sport and after a little fun let the horse go at the end of the day, or worse rope it to a tree and leave it to die. Brumby Running is used for management in Victoria. Some of those that have a contract to do this have admitted to using boat winches to drag the horses on to their trailers and using dogs to chase and grab the horses. These brumbies cannot be rehomed, it has been attempted and they are too traumatised. These differences demonstrate, what I would believe to be the impossibility of policing such an activity, part of the reason why we do not support it. If you believe the term Brumby Running is synonymous with mustering into yards, then that is a different case again.
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Catherine Russell about 3 years ago
Thank you HVBA for your additional comments on this topic. There are many different views and ideas about what 'brumby' running is and involves. And thank you for your reflections on the 21st Century Town Hall meeting.
The longer we wait... about 3 years ago
The historic activity of brumby running was not used for 'control' to reduce the population of horses in the Snowy Mountains.Brumby running was only used to retrieve appealing horses from the park so they could be used as domestic horses. Maybe some ugly ones were killed which would be control but I'm dubious.Retrieval is still the reason why horses are illegally run out of Kosciuszko National Park (except the ones run down and roped by bloodthirsty thrill seekers).Because brumby running has never been a population control activity, there's no reason for it to be dressed up as one now.If people want to catch wild bred horses, they should find a non-national park to do it on.If people want to catch wild bred horses for a thrill, they need to stop it. It's cruel.And the people seeding the horses into Kosciuszko National Park so they can run and rope their offspring out later, need to stop that too. It's a national park which means it's environmentally set aside for nature. Not for breeding feral species.
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Themba about 3 years ago
Actually, Brumby running is used as a population control method on the Victorian side of the park to reduce numbers. I agree with you that people who want to catch wild bred horses just for a thrill should be stopped along with the people who currently go into the park and shoot them with guns and crossbows for "sport". It amazes me how cruel people can be to animals labelled feral.
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The longer we wait... about 3 years ago
Yes it's allowed in Victoria. True. Not sure that means it's working to reduce the population though.The crossbow hunters are disgraceful I completely agree and anyone who shoots anything for 'fun' is lowest of low to me. I haven't seen photos of horses shot that way but believe you. I have seen photos of roos shot that way. My point being I'm not sure the people breaking all those laws care if something is feral, introduced or native. They're not thinking types. Just my view.
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gerg1400 about 3 years ago
It should be used where appropriate to help control numbers. NPWS are using some limited brumby running to force brumbies into corals but mainly catching them with salt licks. Just saying it stresses the horses and separates the foals from parents ignores the alternatives such as shooting which is certainly stressful
Themba about 3 years ago
The brumby running is sanctioned by VIC Parks so they must believe it is reducing the population or they wouldn't use it I suppose. I totally agree with you about crossbow hunters, I have seen pictures and it is horrible to see a horse being used as a "trophy". I agree with you that some if not most of these "people" and I use the term loosely wouldn't care if the animal is feral or not but, a proportion of them appear to believe it gives them the right to kill the feral animals in any way they like and it is "more legal" because the animal is feral.
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InterestedObserver about 3 years ago
Victoria also allows the use of dogs to help catch these horses. That doesn't sound very humane ot me, and in a submission to the Vic Alps Horse management review the Victorian RSPCA stated they did not consider it to be humane (even without dogs) and ineffective.http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/609075/Submissions_61-70.pdf (RSPCA NSW says hunting pigs with dogs is humane, so I assume they'd feel the same way about using dogs to run foals to the point of exhaustion, then put a rope on them to lead them out).Uncoordinated roping would provide no better population level control than recreational shooting.So, in summary, my understanding is that it's inhumane, ineffective and should not be used anywhere.
Perplexed about 3 years ago
I do not think brumby running and roping is a control method, it is a sport. And you have to question on whether it is acceptable sport, given current societies view of fox hunting with hounds, bull fighting, steeple chase just to name a few. To say and justify it by its a tradition but then be against other legitimate control methods such as ground or aerial shooting has always confused me. Maybe aerial or ground shooting might be too successful therefore limiting the ongoing sporting opportunity? From what I have seen there is no intent to reduce numbers for population control via roping or running. It's like asking a hunter to go and shoot every last deer or pig.
Mbidgee about 3 years ago
If this method is seen as inhumane to horses and a risk to riders engaged in roping, then it has no place as a cotrol method. The chasing of horses in an attempt to rope them is likely tpmake horses more shy, and then less likely to enter trapyards, so decreasing the efficiency of that control method.Roping and brumby running is a historical method, and should be left like that, historical and not used in parks in the modern era. It may have been useful when everyone needed a horse, but now, when there are too many horses in NSW`and many are sent to knackeries, the value of of hotrses is low and there is no justification in catching horses by roping to provide a supply of horses. Running horses is also likely to increase horse inpacts as mobs of horses will run from teams trying to rope them, and concentrate their impacts where it is easiest to run.