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of Simone Netherlands

I, Simone Netherlands, hereby declare as follows:
I have over 25 years of experience observing, training and working with horses (domestic and
wild) as a former dressage competitor and importer of Friesian horses, and as a natural
horsemanship trainer. I am also president of the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group,
and as such, have spent hundreds of hours observing and documenting wild horse behavior in
the Tonto National Forest and elsewhere in the U.S.
On 3.5.2015, I attended a workshop at the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center in
Scottsdale, Arizona. I was invited to the workshop, in my capacity as president of the Salt River
Wild Horse Management Group, and was asked if I wanted to explore the possibility of utilizing
ovariectomies as a population management tool for older mares on the Salt River. I stated I was
interested in knowing more about it.
I attended the workshop with an open mind but was progressively appalled by what I observed.
I have observed surgeries previously and have an equine science background, and am not un-
accustomed to watching surgeries or seeing blood. Although I am not a veterinarian or
veterinary student, I have studied horse anatomy, nutrition, science and medical care, and have
rescued and brought back from near dead many horses, including BLM wild horses and burros. I
am familiar with many medical situations both in the field, where we observe horses on the Salt
River every day, and in a domestic setting. As a natural horsemanship trainer, I am adept at
reading the expressions and body language of horses.
The workshop was conducted by Leon Pielstick, a veterinarian from Oregon. There were 9 total
attendees at the workshop, including veterinarians, non-veterinarians and veterinary students.
The round pen and chute were located outside. The weather was windy. The ground consisted
of Arizona sand. The environment was by no means sterile.
In the BLMs expert spay panel report, Dr. Leon Pielstick states that there were 5 burros used in
this workshop. He omits that he also performed this surgery (colpotomy) on a horse, and that
he castrated 2 male burros as part of the workshop. The males may be considered irrelevant to
this project, but the horse certainly isnt. In addition, to the best of my recollection there were
6 female burros. The horse surgery was performed in the barn, while the burro surgeries were
performed outside in the chute and the castrations on the ground. There were two flank
incisions and the rest were vaginal surgeries (colpotomy) on the Jennies.
From my observations:

Most of the burros were inadequately sedated when Dr. Pielstick began the procedure.
They visibly reacted to pain still, for example, when he would push his hand farther up
the canal or when one burro kicked right when he was tightening the tool around the
ovary and severed it. They would still move their hind legs from the discomfort and two
of them were struggling in the chute so much that Dr. Pielstick asked for more sedation.
The assistant replied that she had had the same dose as the others. Dr. Pielstick did not
apparently consider this unusual and continued the conversation over the ruckus of the
burro kicking the walls of the chute as well as it slipping on the ground of the chute.
They discussed dosing of the drug xylezine and stated that one needed much more than
the other, they gave the kicking burro an additional half of a full dose. Dr. Pielstick
discussed that horses need a very large amount and that made the surgery very tricky
and that these burros were much more docile than horses.

The burros faces still seemed alert and looking around alertly, but helplessly, yet not in
a completely sedated manner. To be noted: these were once wild burros but they were
now tame. In my own experience, wild burros and especially wild horses have enormous
survival instinct, which produces large amounts of adrenaline in a stressful situation,
which makes sedating them difficult.

Dr. Pielstick treated the horse differently than the burros. He seemed concerned about
whether the horse was a very important horse or not. He asked first who owned the
horse, how she was planning on using the horse in the future, and if the horse was a
performance horse. The answers were that the horses career was over but that she did
have an owner (friend of wildlife center director), but the owner didnt use the horse
anymore. Dr. Pielstick seemed to feel that it was ok to perform this surgery on this mare
after determining that she was not that important to the owner. In my opinion, this
indicates that Dr. Pielstick may be fully aware of how risky his surgeries are and that he
may not be willing to do them on a horse that is important to its owner. He put a
twitch on her nose and then sedated her and waited a longer amount of time before he
began the surgery. The horse did not react as much as the burros to the surgery itself.
This was a domestic mare and former performance horse, whereas the burros were
once-wild animals.
Dr. Pielstick entered the abdominal cavities with his hand, arm, and the tool (ecraseur
rodlike device with a chain on the end) repeatedly in some cases 4 or 5 times to
adjust the tool.
The vaginal surgeries caused a surprising amount of bleeding, given that Pielstick said
the incisions were small. When he removed his hand, his gloves were covered in blood
and blood could be seen dripping from the animals vaginas (visible on the video).

Dr. Pielstick repeatedly noted that the flank surgery was safer than the vaginal surgery
because the incisions could be sutured. He stated that he had lower mortality from the
flank approach than the vaginal surgery.
Dr. Pielstick discussed that hes had tricky surgeries on horses when the doses of drugs
were not enough to sedate them and also the most tricky surgeries were when the
mares were pregnant because it displaces everything. He referred to two of the
surgeries he performed at the workshop as tricky.
After doing the surgery on the horse, he gave instructions on her aftercare. He stated
that it was very important to tie the horse to the side of her stall tightly for the duration
of the rest of the day and night to prevent her intestines from coming through the
incision. She was absolutely not allowed to lie down. She was tied tightly against the
stall wall after the surgery and was still that way when I checked on her before I left.
The horse and 3 of the burros appeared to be doing very poorly approximately two
hours post surgery. I checked on the horse in the barn and observed her with ears
down, eyes half closed, neck hanging down on the rope, appearing very lethargic. Two
of the burros were lying down with their ears down, necks hanging, lethargic, with
discharge from the nose. A third burro was standing up, but her ears were down and
neck was hanging. The other burros looked to be doing ok, ears up.
Dr. Pielstick did not provide aftercare to the burros even though some did not appear to
be doing well post-surgery. I expressly asked him about the discharge from the nose and
he repeated that they will be fine. I also asked why the mare had to stand up and the
burros didnt and he stated that it was impossible to make the burros stand up
throughout the night.

I have serious concerns about this procedure and the veterinarian who performed it on the
burros and the horse. Dr. Pielstick:

Stated that he was working on a BLM deal and that he would make a lot of money as he
could do many surgeries in one day and he would charge 300 per horse.
Allowed three vets and veterinary students to put their hands in one burro, meaning
four people total manually entered this burros abdominal cavity. He allowed two
people to perform a surgery on the last burro and remove the ovary. One woman
appeared confused and took a long time. When she finally got the ovary out, people
clapped and made jokes
He was rough, shoving his arm up to his shoulder into the burros. In one tiny little burro,
he pushed extremely hard with the razor blade in his hand. He moved and took in and
out of the vagina as many as 5 different times to adjust the tool.

Did not display respect or care for the animals, and appeared unconcerned when I
informed him of how poorly 3 of the 6 burros looked. He appeared more concerned
about the horse.
He kicked one of the male burros hard to try to get him up faster when it was waking up
from the sedation. This was very cruel as it was just a little skinny burro and his boot hit
him very hard, there seemed to be no apparent reason for it.
Dr. Pielstick repeated several times how there was an overpopulation problem of wild
horses and burros, implying that the value of the individual animals was diminished by
this fact.
When he talked about burros or horses losing their unborn foals as a result of the
surgeries, he portrayed it as a positive side effect, sine you didnt want those babies

There was a slideshow presentation during lunch during which I asked a few questions, and Dr.

When I asked what would happen if a mare got covered immediately or a few days after
the surgery, he admitted it would be risky if a stallion tried to breed a mare right after
the surgery and said he hadnt thought of that before and that it was a good point.
Stated he was the only vet with enough experience to do this in the country because
you had to know exactly what you were feeling, as its a blind surgery.
Said they didnt do any follow up on the mares who were spayed at Sheldon so he didnt
know how many died. He only knew how many had died instantly, but he did not reveal
that number. He admitted that he had no follow up statistics on the spayed Sheldon
Admitted that wild horses are much harder to perform the surgery on.
He mentioned that it often happened that mares lost their babies but that you dont
want them anyway so that did not seem a big deal to him.
He was advising one of the persons there on how to bait trap wild horses, after which
this surgery could be tested, which was in my opinion irresponsible since it would not be
authorized to just go catch any wild horses in a round pen and perform these kinds of
surgeries on without oversight.

In my opinion, Pielstick did not behave in a scientific or caring way and he did not teach respect
for the animals to the students he had that day.
If these surgeries were any indication, performing this procedure on wild, untamed horses will
be even more challenging than it was with any of the animals spayed on this day. I fear for the

outcome for the truly wild mares that will be let out into corrals or the field after this high-risk
None of his research sounded scientific, he did not have statistics, behave in a scientific or
caring way and seemed to be motivated by getting a deal with the BLM.
This surgery seems to hold too much risk overall. I believe that the mortality rate may be
higher than the one burro reported by Dr. Pielstick and believe that the outcome should be
ascertained for each animal, including the horse.
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1746, I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and

Date: __April 8, 2016


Simone Netherlands