I have been doing some soul searching and passion questing since the Save the Mustang rally in Sacramento. Well, actually, let me step back… I’ve been passionate about helping the Mustangs for a long while but the rally made me turn a corner.
I TURNED A CORNER Previously, I thought that we could create change through legislation. I thought the government would listen to the people and do what was right. I thought that if we were able to close the loopholes in the Wild Horse and Burro act of 1971, the horses would gain some integrity and there would be new rules in their favor. Didn’t happen.
IS FIGHTING THE GOVERNMENT WORKING? I say this because the rate of the round-ups has been intensified as well as the veracity of the methods. There have been more gathers this year, in off-seasons and inclimate weather, then ever recorded. Unheard of numbers of horses have died during and after round-ups. Foals’ feet are being sloughed off after being forced to run for 10 miles at a time without rest. Humane observers are not allowed to watch most of the operations, probably because they have previously caught images of horses being pushed by helicopters, babies being lassoed, horses dropping dead and so many gruesome details that I cannot print them here. Observers talk about the non-stop sound of the newly captured Mustangs throwing their bodies against the pipe corrals night and day. They see mares who have aborted or dried up due to stress. Babies are neglected and dying… ala Honey Bandit
Then, after surviving the hideous round ups, our American Mustang icon is being forced to live out their days in concentration camps. Their human captors (the BLM) give the Mustangs three attempts at adoption. Of course, without intense gentling, these horses are not adoptable. So, most of the horses 3 years and up are not adopted and they go to slaughter. The BLM doesn’t even have to account for horses over 10 years old. They are deemed unadoptable and immediately sold to destinations unknown… Truly, the only Mustangs who stand much of a chance at adoption are the foals. So, these once majestic and free animals are now captured by man and sent into a living hell.
I’M NOT AN ACTIVIST BUT THE POLITICS OF THIS STINKS This stinks. The BLM, who has control over the mustangs, doesn’t care. Well, I shouldn’t say, THE BLM, since the BLM has some good people there… The person I mean to point the finger toward is Salazar, the Director of the Interior and therefore the BLM. HE doesn’t care. The Mustangs are considered a nuisance animal to him (and we all know where that got the wolves and the bison).
Salazar is a fifth generation rancher with all the grit and none of the hospitality. He looks at the Mustang as a deterrent to ranching, gaming, pipelines, industry and anything else that can make a profit from the land. He says the range cannot sustain the mustangs yet they show healthy in all photos. And the cattle that appear on the now devoid of mustang rangelands are doing just fine — in larger numbers. Salazar’s great idea to maintain the herds is to sterilize them all (which will zero out the bloodlines, and of course, the species) and move them to non-native South Dakota. Great. I’m a Native American and this is sounding very familiar… And, even after all the Gulf Coast oil mishaps and glad handing attributed to Salazar, Obama has turned a blind eye and appropriated an additional $26 million dollars to help Salazar gather the rest of the mustangs… It stinks and it doesn’t make sense.
THE GOVERNMENT MAY WIN THE BATTLE BUT MAYBE THE MUSTANGS CAN WIN THE WAR… HMMMM. I have a dream. Maybe helping the mustangs comes from a different direction… Maybe it is something other than fighting the BLM… You see, I don’t think we are going to be able to help the Mustangs through the government. But, maybe there is another way. Massive open space (it is out there), educated herd management and public education. Sounds basic. It isn’t. Herd management is difficult and ever changing. Educating the people takes money But, it would be my dream to help create it, produce it and market the heck out of it so that the kids of today (and the rest of us) grow up and grow into revering the Mustangs. And, hopefully, being able to see the Mustangs in the wild and know that they live, free. I’VE FOUND SOMETHING REALLY GREAT! Now I’m not against owning and gentling a mustang. I’m just saying that gentling a mustang is a unique endeavor and it takes a special human and a special mustang to make it work well. And, that isn’t what is happening with the BLM gathers… Wild animals have the right to be wild. And, luckily for the Wild horses and burros, there are a few Mustang Sanctuaries where horses that have been previously gathered are re-introduced into the wild. The Mustangs are monitored and fed, but not treated as domestic animals. Imagine the feeling of releasing captive herds back into the wild?! Imagine the feeling of retribution and fulfillment when the pens open and the Mustangs are set free?! Imagine knowing that you have helped not just ‘adopt’ a wild mustang, but RETURN HIM/HER to the wild?! That concept and emotional ‘righting of a wrong’ is what I want to support for this November’s Bucket Fund. And, I know just where to find it…
BARBARA CLARKE/FREEDOM FOR THE MUSTANGS I’m going to introduce the Director of the sanctuary before the actual sanctuary. The reason is because this woman is one of those women who if you knew her, you’d follow her anywhere. You know how this goes… Some people just add legitimacy to whatever endeavor they procure. She is one of those people. I first met her when I was interviewing Barbara – who was then the director of Redwings Rescue – for HORSE AND MAN (the TV series… click here to learn about Barbara’s segment which is in the pilot). I hadn’t met her but I was to interview her for the series. As a producer, I’m always apprehensive to interview a person I haven’t met. But, I had nothing to worry about! Wow. Barbara had it in spades. Not just a presence but an actual passion and devotion for the horses. And, most interestingly, she has a very mathematical and business mind – which is somewhat rare in the Rescue industry. I instantly wanted to join whatever team she was heading… not because she was charismatic (which she was) but more because she was smart and used her smarts to develop really wise plans.
DREAMCATCHER SANCTUARY – They’re free and we can help! Fast forward a few years and we find Barbara is now Directing the DreamCatcher Sanctuary in Northern California. I didn’t know this until a few months ago. Someone told me about this wonderful range for wild horses and when I investigated, I found that Barbara was at the helm. Score! Barbara has come to the rescue of several bands of Wild Mustangs. Presently, their herd is made up of Pryor Mountain, McCullough Peaks and Red Desert horses with a heavy influence of Spanish DNA. They also have a smattering of horses from other herd areas… Twin Peaks in California, Calico Complex in Nevada, Seven Troughs in Nevada and Hart Mountain in Oregon. SHE IS DOING IT. SHE IS RESCUING THEM AND PUTTING THEM BACK OUT THERE!
ALL ABOUT THE ANIMALS BEING ANIMALS IN THEIR NATURAL ENVIRONMENT. Barbara thinks of the Mustangs as wildlife. They should be protected and left alone. I agree. Here is her mission statement and a quote. Our mission is simple: create a natural and stimulating environment that allows mustangs to rediscover their freedom and independence and to let the public experience what would be lost if roundups and adoptions continue. “Wild horses are not saddle horses in waiting. They do not belong in our backyards, corrals or show rings. They belong in the wild where they can be free and separate from humans.” DreamCatcher is one of the few sanctuaries that doesn’t castrate the male Mustangs…
SMART DreamCatcher Sanctuary is totally green. They only use solar and wind power. They are growing their own hay. They think about the future and the future of Equine Sanctuaries. They think about trends and economies. If you are one step ahead, you can see the cracks in the pavement. I like that. Barbara has created a managed Fund for all the donations to grow while being held until used (very unique). DreamCatcher is a 501 (c) 3 tax deductible non-profit organization. She lives it. She lives there. She caretakes. She works really, really hard for the Mustangs.
NOT JUST MUSTANGS AND BURROS The open arms of DreamCatcher are not just for Mustangs. There are many horses who have fallen into desperate times who were rescued on the feedlots – awaiting their departure to slaughter. “We have Thoroughbreds, Arabians, Quarter horses, paints, saddlebreds, Paso Finos and warmbloods. Some raced, some where show horses, carried cowboys as they worked a ranch, others were jumpers, performed dressage or were someone’s family pet. Nearly all of them ended up one step away from slaughter.” They also have an ‘abandoned dog’ program which is very successful as well as a healthy coyote band who helps keep down the rodent and rabbit population. And, they have a pair of Bald Eagles living on the Sanctuary. More about that in a later post.
HARDSHIPS Now, I know Barbara and the DreamCatcher Sanctuary sound like they don’t need any help. But, that is not true. It takes much to keep the Sanctuary running… and two years ago, DreamCatcher took a major hit. Previously, the Sanctuary had the same name as another sanctuary that was run poorly, whose caretakers starved and neglected their horses and whose owners ended up in jail for animal abuse. Because it had the same name, many confused Barbara’s sanctuary with that sanctuary. There were even lawsuits to settle this. But, the misunderstanding took its toll and sponsorship is not what it was before this unfortunate incident.
OUR OPPORTUNITY! There is a big opportunity out there for DreamCatcher Sanctuary… They have been offered to lease another 20,000 acres for the Mustangs! Think of how many more Mustangs could be brought out of the prison camps and set free…! I want to help Barbara get those acres for the wild horses and burros. And, I’m hoping you feel moved to help the Mustangs, too. Sure, I’ll still sign all the petitions and call all the government officials the advocates ask me to call. But, I want to have an end run that will work. I want to have something that is real, tangible and set up FOR the Mustangs. I want to give the land back, an acre at a time. And, there is someone in place who can help us do this!
So, please donate to our November Bucket Fund to help the Mustangs (and future wild Mustangs) of DreamCatcher Sanctuary by adding more acres to their homeland. I’m setting a high goal of $1000 so our HORSE AND MAN GROUP can become a ‘benefactor’ to this program.
I say this with certainty. I firmly believe the Wild Mustang herds will be zeroed out by 2011. That is the BLM plan, anyway. And, no one is stopping them. GIVE BACK TO THE MUSTANGS, ONE ACRE AT A TIME NOVEMBER BUCKET FUND:
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