Save These Priceless Mustangs!
Articles From The Caring Heart with Dr. Joyce from Spokane Washington

“A man is ethical only when life, as such, is sacred to him, that of plants and animals as well as his fellow man, and when he devotes himself helpfully to all life that is in need of help.” – Albert Schweitzer

“How good, how delightful it is for people to live together as one.”
(Psalms 133:1)

I’m hoping the Lord doesn’t mind if I extend the meaning of the above verse from Psalms to include people AND the animals living as one, for that is how it is to be in God’s Heavenly Kingdom.

To me, the horse is the most majestic creature ever created (I admit, I’m real partial!) I read somewhere that, going back thousands of years in time, up to the present, wherever man’s footprints walked the earth, the horse’s hoof prints could be seen walking right along side. Whether that statement is literally true, in all cases, or not, the point is that, alongside the dog, the horse has been man’s best friend throughout history. Horses played a long-standing, crucial part in forming these United States. Without horses, would the pioneers have “made it?” So, it seems beyond being cruel, selfish, and unconscionable that the mustangs, the free-roaming wild horses, are treated so badly in these modern times. By the many thousands, they have been hunted down, gathered up, and sent to very cruel slaughter. They have been hog-tied in the desert to wait for kill trucks and hauled of to be ground up for fertilizer, chicken feed, and pet food. Their meat has been sold to Europe for European delicacy dishes. I have heard horse ground meat has been mixed in with beef hamburger in this country, I’m not sure where or how much. Young, healthy, well-conformed horses are destroyed as well as the old and infirm. It does not matter.

In noticeable contrast, well-bred, registered show and sport horses are treated like they are almost human. Horses are “schooled,” in arenas that are called “schools.” Valued, trained horses are supposed to have manners, like people should have manners. Horses are said to have careers, like people have careers. They are not to be left lonely, and should have equine and/or human companionship. Expert riders are extremely sensitive to the horse’s cues, and vice versa, until the horse and human are operating as one. Beautiful! They can need and do receive extremely expensive veterinarian care. They are pampered, brushed, stroked, and dressed up in the loveliest of tack. Horses are so sensitive to human’s personality needs they are used as skilled therapists and are effective in healing human emotional hurts and traumas. They are indispensable therapists for physically challenged children and adults. To kill horses for reasons other than health reasons which are untreatable is as much genocide as killing a bunch of humans is genocide.

When she was driving to work one day in 1950 Velma Bronn Johnston saw blood dripping out of the rear of a big trailer stuffed with horses. She followed the trailer to the slaughterhouse. She learned that they were free-roaming horses gathered from state and private lands in Nevada’s Virginia Range. Oh boy! - did witnessing that event start Velma Johnston on a massive crusade! She inspired students to write countless letters to their senators and congressmen. She fought throughout Nevada and in all the federal lands in the West. She won! On Sept. 8, 1959, federal legislation passed Public Law 86-234 which banned air and land vehicles from hunting and capturing free-roaming horses on federal lands. HORSES WON RIGHTS ON THOSE LANDS!! That law became known as the “Wild Horse Annie’s Act.” And Velma became known as “Wild Horse Annie.”

The issue was not really settled, however, because ranchers continued to use helicopters to round up wild horses, claiming that those horses could have descended from their own horses and were therefore not really wild. So, Wild Horse Annie continued her campaign. In 1971 the 92nd US Congress unanimously passed The Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. This act was signed into law by President Richard Nixon Dec. 15, 1971. Unfortunately for the horses and burros, that act amended by a public law on October 21, 1976, allowing equines once again to be rounded up by helicopters and other similar motorized vehicles.

Fast forward to the recent and present times, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has jurisdiction over free-roaming, wild horses, or mustangs. Usually, helicopters are used to round up such horses. Million dollar contracts are offered to secure the services of helicopter companies.

They drive the horses and burros up and down hills, through valleys and gullys oftentimes treacherous runs, to get them into a corral, with the aid of a “judas horse,” who runs ahead and leads them into captivity. Such terrible roundups are called “gathers,” and typically start in July after the peak of foaling season. Of course, such young foals cannot handle the terror and speed, and many are killed. Horse injuries frequently occur too, and the fear and desperateness are excruciating for the horses. Once captured horses are separated into groups. One group is slated to be kept to be readied for adoption into loving homes. Another group is to be released back into the wild. A third group is permanently slated for unending confinement in large corrals or pastures, probably usually without shelter, but I don't have informaton on the quality of those accommodations. Of course, family life, which is of supreme importance to the horses, is completely disrupted forever, except for those few who accidentally manage to remain together.

In defense of the BLM and our congress, the wild horse population is a big problem and many arguments have been put forth on various aspects, positive and negative for the horses. A big part of that problem is that people have killed off the horses’ natural predators, the mountain lions and wolves, who provided a natural limiting factor to horse population growth. In 2017, the BLM spent $80.4 million on maintenance of wild horses. Adoption numbers have decreased dramatically. Years ago, 6,000 to 8,000 mustangs were adopted yearly. Now, numbers are close to 2,000 to 3,000. Livestock ranchers lease federal lands to graze their cattle but there is not enough food, water, and space for all those cattle, and for other wildlife, unless horse numbers are dramatically decreased. In opposition to the practice of monopolizing land, cattlemen and all those who benefit big time financially from huge beef production are the insensitive greedy ones.

One endangered species, Utah’s sage grouse, is imperiled due to habitat destruction by horses. Wild horses can double their herd sizes every three years, or 18-25% annually. The unsolvable question is WHAT DO WE DO WITH ALL THESE HORSES?

The stated BLM goal is to manage herd sizes to allow for self-sustaining populations of healthy horses on healthy lands. There is an anti-fertility drug, well-accepted by the public, with which mares can be inoculated, by the use of darts. This drug is porcine zona pellucida, or PZP. Reportedly, it works, but only for one year. Mares need to be inoculated every year, at the BLM cost of $2,600 for each mare administration. This has to be done year after year, for each mare. The argument is that there are not enough resources or money to keep inoculating enough mares to make a significant difference. We are talking about stopping 80% of thousands and thousands of mares from conceiving!! Presently, the number of rounded-up wild horses in indefinite holding facilities is around 50,000, which exceeds the number still free roaming, around 35,000. The BLM is planning to proceed with extreme sterilization procedures, spaying mares, which can cause prolonged bleeding and peritoneal infections, and is major surgery and very expensive. Absolutely terrible. (Has anyone thought of gelding stallions instead?)

Another argument is that, because there are too many horses and not enough food out there, wild horses are starving, which has been claimed not to be true at all. Also, another argument is that the government should not lease federal lands to cattlemen at such a cheap price. If the price was a lot higher, the cattlemen would cut down usage, leaving more habitat for wild horses (which is legally their right, remember?). An argument positive for free-roaming horses is that horses increase the well-being of public lands by reversing desertification, by reducing the vegetation fuel for wild fires, and by creating biodiversity in the lands. THE WILD HORSE OVER-POPULATION ISSUE IS COMPLEX, WITH NO REALLY IDEAL SOLUTIONS HAVING BEEN DISCOVERED. The mustang, the free-roaming wild horse in America, is the only animal not defined by what it is but by where it stands. Remember the 1959 and 1971 laws which gave wild horses and burros rights to be NOT captured by any machines on federal lands? Maybe I just don’t “get it,” but seems to me that the thousands of BLM “gathers,” ever since, have been in DIRECT VIOLATION OF THE LAW!! Is it “ok” for two laws to be repeatedly broken as long as it is a federal agency that is breaking them? Huh?

I have been involved in contributing financially for years now to Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue. Mark Meyers, the founder and manager, sent out a letter recently asking for emergency helping funds. He was informed that thousands and thousands of donkeys in Death Valley, CA, will be killed if they are not taken out of that desert, I suppose, again, by the BLM. So, Mark is accepting the challenge of rescuing and supporting all those thousands of donkeys, would you believe? Crushingly huge job, enormous expense over a long period of time. From what he said, the problem is that the donkeys are bothering the sheep. Then, Mark needs to supply feed, hoof trimming, shots and other vet care, and a home to ALL of them. Mark is a hero, for sure!! I sent another check, and wish I could send more!

Currently, news is not at all good for what is coming up for the wild mustangs. The Trump administration is endangering tens of thousands of American wild horses. They are for allowing mustang slaughter for human consumption, on dinner tables. Trump is urging congress to euthanize healthy horses. Where it is illegal to kill horses for human food in the US, there is no law preventing them from being sold alive overseas, where they can then be butchered and eaten. Some American Indian tribes are not friends to the horses either. Reportedly, the Yakima tribe wants to open a slaughterhouse on its lands. Horses on tribal lands legally belong to the tribes. They want to make money by selling horses to kill buyers.

Reportedly, passage of the SAFE Act (HR113 and S1706 as of February 2, 2018) – Safe American Food Exports Act – will cancel out our horses from being shipped to Europe or anywhere else for food, because they have been given shots which could render them unsafe for human health if ingested. The SAFE Act could operate as a SAVIOR Act for the horses.

Folks out there, WE NEED TO DO ALL WE CAN. Please, please help. Call, write, or e-mail your legislators. Ask other people to do likewise. Vote for politicians who are favorable to horse well-being. Find out about and ask your representatives to vote for the SAFE act. Send money donations to responsible horse rescues and sanctuaries. God knows, they need money desperately. If you can, discourage people from being “back yard horse breeders.” Instead, they could adopt a mustang, who would probably be a wonderful horse to have. And, pray – pray for our wonderful horses, who are invaluable AMERICAN ICONS, beloved and treasured by most of the American people, including me. I love them with all my heart.

Copyright - Dr. Joyce 2018 - The Caring Heart

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