- Where did the research for the film come from?
- I plan to post a Bibliography soon. The film highlights several major topics I decided were the most important to expose to the general public. Numbers I mention in the film came from the BLM website which means the numbers from my POV are conservative and not as current as I’d like. The number of horses on the range and the number of horses in captivity are a moving target. The amount of land once allocated to horses, now reallocated for other interests, also came from the BLM web site. The narrator quotes their laws and a couple of BLM officials at a round up present their side and attitude about round – ups. The number of cattle on the range and the consequences of that came from Western Water Shed Project. Information and articles about Native status can be found in various posts on this web site. There is no conclusive – authenticated data for pre-historic origins of modern horse genus on this continent. There’s tightly guarded speculation. Since the National Academy of Science is written into the Wild Horse and Burro Protection Act, they have the authority to suppress attempts at making new science public. The interviews in the film are with individuals who have been involved with the issue since the 70′s. They provided a wealth of grounded information for me to weave the story together and write the narrative. I read a couple of dozen books and hundreds of articles. I talked to everyone I could line up on all sides of the issue.
- How many horses can the range sustain?
- Every range is not the same. Unbiased studies are not done, so the wild horse is the scape goat for all problems on the range.
- What are good solutions?
- Study them on the range as an integral part of the entire eco-system. Use birth control to cut down on herd sizes and restore more land for the horses.
- Why did I take a stand for the horse as Native to the land and can this science be authenticated?
- Advances in molecular biology show these native bones to be the same genus species as today’s modern horse. Authentication is suppressed because ….. it goes a lot of people’s invested interest to prove the horse is native to this continent.
- We know there were prehistoric horses with three toes and of a different species. How do we know there was also a species of horses very close to the same genetics as today’s modern horses the Equus Calbius. ( See above)
- Where do burros fit into this picture?
- There is no evidence they are native and likely came from Africa. They still helped us explore and settle our country and have a right to a presence on this land. They need a bit more management because they will eat trees.
- Why is the issue of wild horses so controversial?
These are public horses and burros on public land, ill managed with our tax dollars. People have very strong opinions and emotions that run hot toward issues surrounding horses.
- Should birth control for mares and gelding of stallions be part of the solution for managing horses in the wild?
I think it’s a good solution to manage herd sizes, thus preventing brutal round ups. The herds must be studied first so the darting of the mares is done selectively.
- Why are helicopter round ups bad for the horses?
- Can all the horses stay forever on the range?
- Does the BLM cull the weak and sick horses thus leaving behind a stronger herd?
- What’s wrong with the current management of America’s wild horses?
- What mangement strategies will help the wild horses?
- What difference does being referred to as a feral, trespasser make to the wild horses?
- Why has the Wild Horse and Burro Protection Act been continually manipulated?
- What is the Taylor Grazing Act? How has this effected range land for all habitat?
- Here’s a recent response to doubts posted about the contents of the film.
COMMENT: – “Winds of Change” had an excellent opportunity to let the American public know the real issues and suffering of wild horse yet you chose to use animal rights bias and misinformation rather than do your research.
RESPONSE: I did lots of research before I put in any numbers or made a claim for their “native” status. Science is in the business of new discoveries and molecular biology can date the bones of horses found with camel, mammoth and Clovis points as EQUUS CALLIBUS. ( the same species as today’s modern horse. ) I did not believe the claims at first so I delved into it in depth. The film I chose to make since I only had thirty minutes was to “expose” people to the issues – in hopes they will dig further themselves.
COMMENT: Wild horses are not native species or equal to other native species. Most wild horses have bred with domestic horses turned loose over the years.
RESPONSE: The main presenter, Ecologist, in the film says “What we have is a hybrid – with a history of rancher’s breeding horses for their own domestic use……… and if you recall there’s a draft horse pulling a wagon to the Farmer’s market whose Mother was a mustang. I saw horses of every shape, color, size, curls, stripes and broom tails while making this film so of course I know there is much mixed breeding. The same lineage of people who bred the horses to be bigger to fit their needs – are the same ones who lobby hard to be rid of them from the range. Stories abound about how small the wild horses were until Europeans bred them to be bigger. A small horse has less impact on the land and resources and are more susceptible to predation, so without out interference perhaps over-population in an area wouldn’t have become such an issue.
COMMENT: The damage the horses are doing is huge and well documented complicating and increasing the suffering of horses and other wild species competing for water and grass and destroying land.
RESPONSE: If you listened carefully to the narration and interviews in the film you would have caught many of these statements that you seem to already have a dyed in the wool opinion about. I came into the story as a lover of nature – leery that wild horses were not a detriment to the land — and were there because of abandonment over time. Thorough research convinced me other wise. The government has sold off or reallocated millions of acres of land that was lawfully given to the wild horses to free roam upon. Now we’ve fenced them into smaller and smaller spaces in an increasingly arid western landscape. In addition the ranchers and hunters have killed off their predators so — our over manipulation of the eco-system has caused more messes than it has fixed. Not all ranges or horse herds are the same so no one can make sweeping statements about how damaging a herd in on the range. Non biased studies are needed that are willing to look at the wild horse as wild life because as Ms. Simons says in the film “there isn’t a horse out there that doesn’t think it’s wild. They were born wild, they live wild, they adapt to the environment …. and they’re ancestors have roamed our country since prerecorded history. Even if — some of them were given a title as slightly different species due to antiquated taxonomy of the times, the horse have a longer claim to this land than most of us American’s do.
COMMENT: Native Americans will be the first to acknowledge their love for horses and also to acknowledge something has to be done as more and more domestic horses are released on their lands and wild horse herds are out of control and suffering. Ask the tribe leaders they’d tell you in a minute the only solutions and they include horse processing plants.
RESPONSE: I am surrounded by Indian reservations in the southwest and I see the starving horses and even know someone who is now a paraplegic because he hit a roaming horse on Indian land. Native American tribes are not united in how they see horses and even people in my extended family who are native people, are trying to get slaughter plants on the reservations. Domestic horses are seen as a commodity and one that native people have been able to eek out a living from so with an excess of horses, the price per horse is nill. There is a Native American prophecy that we are entering a “return of the horse culture.” There’s a lot of press, media and awareness building about horses ( not just wild) so I”m hopeful we’ll see this prophecy unfold soon. We need some horses left roaming free and wild but we also need more people to be able to value them and afford them. It’s idealistic in an era of high tech and fast cars, but… who knows how the tides of time may turn.
COMMENT: Your coverage on helicopter captures is down right a lie. Valid studies show horses are not stressed or injured and it is the most humane method to control them. Did you bother to check the horse gathers or read the BLM study that was just produced?
RESPONSE: Calling a person a lier isn’t nice and is indicative of your anger — but I think it also shows that you wouldn’t want a horse to be hurt or abused. The footage in the film and all the reporting is a result of direct experience. I attended several roundups and the numbers presented in the film are from the BLM.
It is cruel to abruptly split up the herds – many horses are injured, terrified and in shock. I didn’t even put the worst of what I saw in the film. Not all horses are injured in round ups and not all people involved in round ups are physically abusive to horses, but some are. I showed horses slamming against the gates because they want their freedom back. I didn’t show the human abuse to animals that I did see and document. The BLM generated a lot of propaganda to make people think their operations are above board – but reporters on the front line have evidence to the contrary.
COMMENT: I love horses and they don’t deserve large tracks of land over any other species.
RESPONSE: I think we all need to share the land an it’s resources. I love Nature and have spent a large part of my life in it. I read “biased” articles in Audoban, Geo, Smithsonian, High Country News, that perpetrate the myth that the wild horses are all feral – invasive species and definitively damage the land and riparian sites. Do you recall the scale in the film – comparing 12 million cattle to give or take 30 – 40, 000 wild horses on millions of acres of western land. Cattle are destructive to the landscape and that’s the law that should be changed. The cattleman’s lobby is so strong and interwoven with the BLM I have my doubts if it will ever change. I don’t think anyone is asking for wild horses to have exclusive rights to land that would exclude other wild life. They are asking for wild life not to have to share with domestic livestock interest.
COMMENT: You neglected to include how 100,000 unwanted domestic horses complicate the issue. The two issues are linked although no one wants to admit it.
RESPONSE: The narrator in the film says the ” even in good economic times the adoption demand doesn’t keep up with the number rounded up.” This statement is a clue – that it’s not a good time for horses in general. I compressed a lot of information into thirty minutes and I already had more than I could develop fully. I made a film about wild horses so I needed to stay on track about what’s going on in their world. As you know I presented mustangs with human companions as one possible solution. I loved making the adoption stories that are posted as you-tube videos on View Movies on my web site. But — mustangs are not all going to be safe for riding and like you said there’s a glut in the market. If the wild horses are birth controlled and more land, with predators is returned to them, the population can be controlled. This form of management is far less expensive than round-ups and long time warehousing.
COMMENT: 38,000 horses in holding pens by BLM aren’t really wild any more, 37,000 horses on BLM land that can only sustain around 25,000 makes the situation nightmare that will only get worse.
RESPONSE: If the horses who stand around in these Government holding pens are returned to the wild, they are once again wild horses. There are a couple of horses in my film that were rounded up and after a few weeks released again. If domestic born and bred horses are turned out into the wild, they may run and have some fun for awhile, but they don’t have a good survival rate, especially through winter. If a foal drops in holding and never learns to be wild – then unless they’re turned out with their mother and a band – they might not have the knowledge it takes to survive in the wild. Because horses band together, a young colts only chance for survival would be being accepted into the herd. If you know horses, then you know that would be a matter of the character and nature of the horse. The counts and studies the BLM uses are done two years in advance by biased researchers because it is a beaurocratic land management office. There is rarely any employee present on the range. The studies do not factor in an ecological look at the range from year to year including natural predation, plentiful rains or drought conditions. The intricate balance of nature is not part of the studies or the reason for horse removals. Selling natural resources for a profit is.
COMMENT: You had several good points but your reporting was totally bias with an animal rights slant rather than an animal welfare slant.
The last documentary I made “Heart & Soil”, turned out to be a lot about “animal husbandry.” I’ve been a vegetarian all my life for health and ethical reasons, so as that film unfolded I wondered why I was going to turkey butchers and highlighting farmer’s whose livelihood depended on the animals they raised for food. I stayed on the sunny side of the fence with that film, deciding to show how an animal could have a happy life and a painless death. I did not show all the horrors of animal abuse prevalent in the livestock business. I don’t believe death is the worse thing that can happen to an animal or to a human. And.. in this film I began asking about the cowboy way of shooting the horse in the head for an instant death? Both my Grand Dad’s were cowboys who “busted” broncs and had to shoot a horse from time to time. There’s a documentary in circulation at film festivals called “Saving America’s Horses, America’s Dirty Little Secret. “. I haven’t seen the film but it might be something you should see, to balance your opinion about slaughter as a good option for all these horses. So — how to compassionately kill a horse is not the subject of my film. I believe killing an animal just to be rid of it promotes a culture of violence that erodes our humanity.
Not all horses can stay on the range even if more land is restored for them. Like all “wild life” they need to be studied and managed. This approach would save millions of dollars and prevent calculated suffering to these animals who are “in our hands” to manage. It would also decrease the over-supply of “unwanted” horses so more horses could have a chance for a good life.
COMMENT: – What a disappointment for a major media provider.
RESPONSE: Media is an opportunity to show many sides — and effect consciousness in the world. Compassion toward animals is one mission of my production company. This film came to me, and I had to serve the message I felt most important. We are guardians of the natural world and all of it’s inhabitants and I believe we can do a lot better job if we can put aside our selfish interests and personal biases long enough to feel the presence of the teachers and teachings of nature and animals. There isn’t one solution for these issues but there are many solutions and as more people learn about the problems, my hope is more informed, educated pro-active solutions will develop. This film is not an angry film – and many people tell me they feel I presented it with an even hand. if I put the arguing sides of the issue in this short film – all I would have done is leave people frustrated and confused. It’s actually more trendy to do that — but my background it to inform, educate and inspire and call upon people to Learn more.