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Letter to the Observer: ‘Vigilantes’ robbing Placitas while it sleeps


In 1999, my wife and I moved to New Mexico from New Hampshire.

We encountered our first Placitas free-roaming horse the first winter here. Outside, we saw a magnificent gray stallion followed by his mares and foals. It was exciting to stand within yards of these wild horses. No skinny horses here. Getting too close meant that they moved away, not running nor terrified by people, but just not interested in close contact.

There exists a vigilante group in Placitas that lures horses into private property by baiting them with hay, then has them removed by contacting the New Mexico Livestock Board and applying the “stray” rules. They have taken the law into their own hands, and public officials are ignoring that they are illegally trapping horses within the same fences constructed to keep them out. New Mexico is a legal fence-out state.


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It will soon be too late to save the Placitas horses. On April 11, another herd was captured by these vigilantes. Was it just coincidence this happened the same day Karen McCalpin, CEO of the Corolla Wilderness Horses on the North Carolina Outer Banks area, was to address a meeting of Placitas Citizens for Open Discussion of Wild Horse Management?

Though the horse-baiters didn’t shoot these horses (which happened to the Corolla horses in the 1930s) they simply called the Livestock Board and falsely claimed these horses to be “stray.” The Livestock Board rounded them up, loaded them on a trailer and penned them for auction. The Placitas vigilante horse-baiters seek total eradication, not reduction in numbers. They seem happy to see them sold to Mexico as horse meat.

A recently formed Sandoval County task force is seeking to solve this and will soon have nothing to discuss … because the issue will have been eliminated. There were over 120 horses free roaming in Placitas just last summer; the current estimate is less than 40.

In the near future, Placitans may never again see a wild horse.

Do you wish to have this shameful and senseless crime happening in Placitas?

Placitas, you are being robbed while you sleep!

Robert Landers