The following text is extracted,
with the author's permission,
from Arnold McKee's
The Forgotten Corner: The Roundup of 1994
Twenty years of selective controlled breeding and thirty years of Nature's selection under harsh range condition. This made for fifty years of horses in the British Block...
...I had to assume, like everyone else, that in thirty years of confinement, that they had to be a bunch of jugheads out there. Or as people put it after the roundup, which was wrong, they are nothing but shitters.
In 1981 to 1984 a Range Rider in a PFRA pasture bordering the Block convinced a Major at the time, to manage these horses some. What exactly was done I could not pinpoint, but gleaned some pieces of this venture. There is a horse brand registered to CFB Suffield and this brand is Diamond Lazy D, right shoulder. Now at this time some horses were branded with this, how many no one knows, no records, you see. If young studs were taken out and sold it is not known for sure. This only lasted a season or two and was discontinued under a new commander. Apparently this was used as part of extra activity for the army trainees to wrestle these horses down. This would toughen trainees fairly well, seeing as how there were no ropes; all was done with their bare hands and body strength.
These horses in the Block had to learn how to deal with fire as the British Block is on fire more than it is quiet...
They also had to get used to land mines, live shelling and all the other good experiments of war. The ones that didn't get killed got smart real fast to avoid whatever had killed or crippled the other herd members. This helped build intelligence and strengths into what we could call super horses. Great strength and intelligence.
In the late winter of 1992 there were rumors circulating around this area that a great number of horses had been taken out of the block. Now, at this time, people just thought it was just a a bar room story, and what the heck; someone got it over on the Army and the Government. As gossip goes on, it always grows to big proportions, and in the case of the horses and the British Block, it has always been no records, so all is assumption how these things took place... It would be interesting to know how this many horses were gotten out, as it is a restricted patrolled Army Base. One thing for sure was that there were some pretty much wild mares that ended up on PMU lines, since there was a shortage of mares and there were extra barns put up that year. There was a substantial increase in wild horses in Fort MacLeod and rodeo try-outs. No one knows where they appeared from so maybe the rumor had some merit.
In any case, it was announced at the end of 1992, or the start of 1993 that the horses were to be taken out of the British Block. It was said that they were damaging the sensitive areas of the British Block. I am not sure how these horses did this, as the ground shakes here at home when there are live-fire training sessions, and as well, fires burn at all times in there. The thought was that they were doing too much damage in this area and they were so inbred that they were mostly all cripples and dying like flies. This was told direct to me, as I inquired about the procedure to put in a bid on the Roundup, and asked why it was being done...
So it was announced that the horses had to be taken out. Now everyone in North America, it seemed, knew all about these horses and the bombing area. The argument started to leave them alone, as it would be cruel to round them up. In actual fact, horses have been rounded up in the wild since the base was formed. Also no one really knew of this British Block or the horses that were in it until it was announced to round them up.
...The Suffield Base turned the records over to the SPCA and SPCA files are confidential so no one will ever see the actual documents, just numbers, and anyone can add numbers. Much the same scenario as when the land was expropriated in 1941.