Australia’s Brumbies, Canada’s Wild Horses, America’s Mustangs
A Christmas Letter to All.
America’s wild horses, also known as mustangs, are supposed to be protected on public lands by the Bureau of Land Management. Because they compete with livestock for forage and water on those lands, and because the BLM caters to livestock grazing, many thousands of wild horses are brutally rounded up by helicopter each year. The wild horses have a growing number of advocates who raise their voices to stop the round ups and try to work with the BLM to more humanely manage the mustang herds and their habitat in the wild. Before the BLM was put in charge of the mustangs in the Wild Horse and Burro Protection Act in 1971 America’s wild horses were managed willy nilly, according to Mary Ann Simonds, who is the main voice for the wild horse in the public awareness film ” Wild Horses In Winds of Change”. Their plight was like wild horses in Canada, Mexico, Australia, in other words, a free for all. Because of the WHMBP act, the mustangs have limited protection as long as they remain on the parcels of fenced in land under the BLM or National Forest Service jurisdiction. Elk frequently break fences, and horses cross into privately leased land. At that point the horses are no longer considered mustangs and can be freely disposed of. Thank you to the diligence and vision of Velma Johnston and advocates from around the world, America’s mustangs became somewhat protected. Now though, more wild horses are locked in holding pens for the rest of their lives. Everyone’s counts vary somewhat but it appears as of this posting their are less than 30,000 on the range and around 50,000 once beautifully free, wild roaming, browsing horses and burros contained like prisoners in holding facilities. Many people push for slaughter of horses in general – because they see horses as a commodity. When there are lots of horses, the price, even for domestic horses goes down which hurts the private horse market. Because horses cooperated with humans and allowed themselves to be conquered, they became considered livestock – even if they were born wild and free. “There’s not a horse out there that doesn’t think it’s wild. They were born wild, they live, they adapt to being wild.”
If a culture learns to respect all of nature, they will also see and respect wild horses and wild life. Australia, Canada and Mexico all have large populations of unprotected wild horses whose lives depend on humans growing awareness and a consciousness that their lives matter for more than the profit of their meat, hide and hooves. Horse slaughter is still thriving in Mexico, Canada, Australia and around the world but today in America we have no horse slaughter plants, although there’s a greed driven drive to turn back history and begin profiting from horse blood again. When there are so many possible ways to make a living and so many things to sell why do some humans insist on profiteering by shedding the blood of animals?
Below is a Christmas letter about Brumbies in Australia
Thank you to Steve Alexander who reminds us that horses all over the world need our voices, hands and hearts to SAVE their lives and find sustainable solutions for their future.
I have yet to see your film in its entirety, however I have been intrigued by it since I first saw the promo and read the articles that are listed here. Doubtless I shall see the entire movie soon as I ordered it today. However, I understand the plight not only of America’s wild horses, but horses all around the world. I applaud your efforts to give them a voice against those that would slaughter them as a means to an end of a human created problem. I have long been associated with the situation of Australia’s own solution against the slaughter of its wild Brumbies (also known as Walers). Horses descended from those horses that fought on the battlefields in Europe and were set free (those that were lucky enough to return home) as their reward, while others that were never needed were also turned loose and allowed to run free. Today they are considered to be feral, until recently they were hunted with helicopters and shot by marksmen. Some left to die in horrible agony died a cruel and inhumane death. Photos of the outcome are visible on the internet. While the outcry over using helicopters resulted in this practice being banned the practice of hunting them still continues. In an effort to save these horses there are some groups of people that trap and attempt to domesticate them for sale to the public in an effort to reduce the slaughter of these magnificent horses. The unforeseen trap here then comes at the sale yards where pet food companies and those that would slaughter horses for human consumption (illegal here but the meat can be exported to Europe) wait to buy up many of those that have been rescued using huge budgets to out bid local buyers. I think it is a tragedy that all this occurs with government approval and is done in a way that the general public is left unaware of this practice. Just as horrifying is the practice of unwanted horses ranging from mares and stallions to colts and fillies from other domesticated breeds that end up joining them and their fate as dog food or a gourmet meal in some fancy European restaurant. I also think given the governments response to live animal exports and their cruelty reported at the hands of those overseas, that it is a shame that no one has yet decided to reveal the truth to the Australian public about the fate of those Brumby herds and their domesticated cousins. For anyone that loves horses the thought of a little filly or colt in an abattoir standing in a crush as it has its throat cut and is left to bleed out as it screams in pain and terror, should create unshakeable nightmares that will haunt them for years to come. To date however there is hardly a whinny heard or a voice raised in protest from those that know and have the ability to do something about it. Sounds of anguish and pain that greet ears that are deaf to their cries is common here. It sickens me that humanity before machines and cars depended on the horse for everything. Without protest it made humanity what it is today… It became a part of our every day lives… and this is how we repay their loyalty. I look forward to seeing the full documentary on these beautiful horses. That you cared to give them a voice has earned you my respect already.
This year my horses Christmas stocking is truly overflowing! But I suppose when your like me and your horses are your family it ends up making pretty good horse sense to treat them. They have two new rugs, two new halters (which actually fit) that came from the US, and depending on how the post goes they also have some pretty nifty pairs of Sketchers horse sneakers which should arrive sometime after Christmas. That will herald the era of no more thrush!
I guess though in the light of both Mustangs and Brumbies, unless they receive a new permanent home with someone that cares, the spirit of Christmas is something that will touch very few of these horses this year should they actually survive it at all. I read the whole story the other night and the only thing that seemed missing from the picture here was the hunting from Helicopters. In matters such as these I learned not to hold my breath, but I hope and pray that sanity and the ground swell of public may eventually see the rights that these horses have respected.
One could quote the lines of the “Desiderata” and apply if not all of it surely most of it to horses and indeed all life on this planet of ours! In the meantime it is those that continue to fight for the rights of these horses that deserve the warmest praise of all! For me it is the simple event of my mare licking my hand and wanting to be with me when I am around. For everyone else, I guess it comes from seeing a wild horse go free or from people that care acknowledging the efforts of others.
I think you can be proud of your efforts, as it seems these days that the media and public opinion are the only tools available to create change in the minds of those that seek greater wealth through the suffering and bloodshed of the innocent… in this case wild horses! I may not have seen your film though the trailers have set the tone well enough to recognise how much you care. From my two girls (Harmony and Ebony) both Miniatures and from me, I pray you have a wonderful Christmas and a safe new year.