I want to talk a bit about a lot of things, but in particular Equine Advocacy and the internal frictions within advocates/advocacy groups. While I might be considered a newbie, during my four years (so far!) in equine advocacy, I have been an active member of many secret groups, and groups in general, with the purpose of working on solutions to the issues facing our beloved horses, donkeys and mules. I’ve worked in collusion with many groups to stop the transport and slaughter of equines. Each and every time the attempt was made to plow through data to understand this issue, the work would inevitably suffer due to internal conflict. Advocates would snipe at other advocates over petty differences or ideas, or worse, groups that profess to want the issues solved, refused to work together because of mainly personality or ideology differences. Nothing gets solved this way.
This includes seasoned advocates who have been doing this work for many, many years, yet still believe that only they alone can solve the problems. They cannot. It is too big of an issue. It is going to take each and every one of us as a collective, cohesive, well-oiled machine with grit and determination to put a stop to the systematic destruction and exploitation of our equines. Positive change will never happen if advocates continue to bash other advocates over minuscule issues that would better be solved over time by creating a forum to discuss their best ideas and run with them. Issues that could be solved if they would just talk to each other in a civil manner.
Egos, big egos, constantly get in the way and nothing gets accomplished because of it. I recently experienced this in a public group and was sadden to see the public remarks made about long time WH&B groups and advocates that are by no means perfect, but put on their boots daily, for years on end, to do something, anything, to end the long-standing cruelty faced by our wild and domestic horses, donkeys and mules. It isn’t right, nor is it fair, to believe that these people or groups do not have the animals well-being in mind just because they have an opposing view, when in reality, they most certainly do. They show that daily through numerous efforts, just not as a cohesive unit.
There are so many great advocates that have a lot to offer with incredible “real world” job skills that could be put to use, but are repeatedly overlooked, shunned or put on fabricated “do not trust” lists, simply because they would not fall in line with agendas put out by certain groups of advocates. Usually, the discourse is so petty that is it laughable. Sometimes it is as simple as a misunderstanding or due to the inability to get behind some of the ideas, suggestions or directives of long time advocates, or worse, stealing an idea and promoting it as their own, without giving credit where credit is due. Then you have Wild Horse advocates that will not support domestic horse slaughter issues, and vice-a-versa? Or won’t support burros. Why? The last destination for all equines is slaughter, that is the commonality, yet factions exist. Why?
I continue to see seasoned advocates ignoring newbies, or even long time advocates that want to help further the agenda of saving these animals (wild or domestic), however, have not been in it for very long and do not have a grasp of the entire subject matter. They repeatedly ask for clarification or help in understanding how they can help, and are either ignored and/or treated indifferently. They are rarely educated by senior advocates. Why? Obviously, the more advocates involved, the better. Why not educate new and renewed advocates?
When a newbie does work up the courage to jump in by asking questions, making comments or suggestions, they are ignored, belittled, or worse, removed. We must remember that fresh eyes are important to any issue. But yet, it continues to this day. The majority of advocates are women –strong women with a passion for creating change. To see strong, determined women treat other groups with a majority of women with the same passion, expressed desire and intention to get this changed by hook or crook, demeaned or admonished for those efforts is wrong and makes me not only incredibly sad, but angry. This is NOT who we are!
Mainstream groups that I have supported started with very small numbers four years ago. By spreading their blogs, Facebook pages, etc., old and new advocates working tirelessly daily get their words out to the general public, they are now large conglomerates due to the efforts of ALL of us spreading their message. They did not do it alone — we made the sometimes painful and soul-wrenching effort to share their horrendous piece of vital information in hopes of teaching others about this cruel and secret business. Each day, it has taken away a piece of my soul in doing that. Each time that I shared horrific information or graphic photos with family or friends, I lost their valuable connection or association simply because they could not bear to see it, thus blocked me or my personal posts. Some people just don’t have either the time or courage to fight back.
These “conglomerate” non-profit organizations’ donors have increased their purse strings, thanks in part to the participation of new (and old) advocates seeking desperately for an answer on how to end the exploitation, but yet, four years later, absolutely nothing has changed. New folks that cannot take the time out of their busy lives to learn about this issue throw their hard earned money at these groups in hopes that they will finally get a solution once and for all. However, another year passes and they have failed to do that, why?
Because they are not one voice, one intention, one direction. They are not cohesive for the simple fact that just like the BIG orgs, they have to feed us the discourse in order to continue to rake in donations. Why can’t they say, “Hey, put us out of business. Help us shut down our doors!” Wishful thinking I suppose. I guess if legislation does finally pass, they would have to shut down those doors, now wouldn’t they? I would have to logically assume that the reason they are not working in a combined effort to shut this issue down once and for all would mean a loss of income, for all involved on both sides of the issue.
The SAFE Act failed simply because of agricultural factions in Congress want to see the 50K WH&B’s now in holding go to slaughter and to of course, allow horse slaughter to resume as a commodity in the USA. That is it. That is the truth of the matter. Congress only wants to solve this issue on behalf of their AG constituents and remove the burden of care of these animals from their budgets. Ranchers involved either privately, or within the safe confines of the Bureau of Land Management, absolutely WILL NOT share one blade of grass of our Public Lands with these protected animals. But that was the idea wasn’t it? To put so many in holding that Congress would be forced to do something, anything, to rid themselves of the tax burden of supporting these animals for the rest of their lives, which could be upwards of 30 years. This will absolutely be their downfall. There are advocates heading their way that will put them out of office once and for all.
The reason that there are 50K in holding is because it was, and still is, being entirely fabricated by the BLM in order to get to the end result…..slaughter. Speaker John Boehner held the SAFE Act up in a committee, and would not allow it to come to the floor for a vote in order to make it fail. And it did. Do you realize that this was the 14th attempt to stop horse transport and slaughter? For 14 years advocates have been fighting our Congress to protect domestic and wild horses and donkeys from slaughter, and every single time it has failed. Why? The only assumption one can make is that there is no money to be made if the issue is solved, either from non-profits or from pro-slaughter interests. Leaves a disgusting taste in my mouth just putting those two groups together in a sentence.
I watched the live feed for the Nevada RAC (Resource Advisory Council to the BLM) meeting and was so grateful that advocates spoke out so eloquently on the reasons why wild horses and burros should be saved. They spoke for me, all of them. When they spoke, they were spilling out all of the words that I wished I could say in person. Their only goal was to speak for these animals and tell our government and these ranchers that sit on that RAC that this is not who we are as a Country.
We owe our allegiance to the only animals that fought with and carried our soldiers out of harm’s way, carried our ancestors to a better, brighter future, delivered goods, helped the Native Americans…I could go on and on to the many ways they have contributed their blood, sweat and tears to our way of life. We OWE them our loyalty and protection.
Congress agreed with us and recognized their worth in 1971 by putting protections in place to prevent what is happening right now, this very moment. What happened, where did it all go sideways? The Bureau of Land Management was put in charge, run by ranchers who know that it is not in their best interests to protect them. That is exactly why we are where we are today.
The suggestions made at the RAC meeting by ALL advocates fighting against WH&B’s demise were splendid, however they fell on deaf ears. Snide remarks were reported by advocates that were at that meeting, remarks made from the people that sit on the RAC. Derogatory remarks about the WH&B’s were made by the very same people sitting on that RAC and profess to have their best interest in mind. What is wrong with this? How many of those RAC members are also receiving grazing allotments from us, the American Taxpaying Public? How many are getting grazing fees? How many are ranchers? And they are in charge of submitting suggestions to the BLM? The Bureau of Land Management Advisory Council, the very council that is supposed to have ALL of our interest in mind is made up entirely of pro-slaughter factions, with what I believe is just one anti slaughter advocate (50:1, sound familiar?) This would not stand in a corporate nor court room setting. These people are NOT my peers.
Let’s get real honest here about the PZP debate. If people are desperate to end the torture and destruction of animals that are well loved, cherished and admired by well over 80% of the 300 million people in the USA, and a crumb was offered in hopes that this known government entity would finally leave them in peace if only allowed to dart WH&B’s by a drug, would you take that peace offering? Did we believe that if we agreed to the PZP that their suffering would finally be over? Absolutely and many have, including myself.
What would you be willing to do so in order to allow these animals to roam peacefully on their mandated lands, free from harassment or from the cruelty of long term holding? To no longer allow WH&B’s to be subjected to long, horrendous runs that are usually performed in the dead heat of summer, many mares with small foals at their side and hooves fall off due to that run and last by not least by far are terrorized by a helicopter? You would cave. Most people would. If the hierarchy is made up entirely of white ranching cowboys in cowboy hats, what choice do you really think we have? You bend or lose more horses/burros into the deep, dark den of inequity in which they will no longer be found or accounted for. This is what we have all understood in advocating for these animals. That once WH&B’s enter into this hell, none escape with any real quality of life or any life at all.
I must admit, I bought it, hook, line and sinker. That is until I did the research. Compromise is great, but not at the extinction of a natural, living being that is not only protected by law and has absolute priority over Public Lands but in addition, adds more value to that environment where they live, survive and ultimately die than take away from it.
EPA has stated in their assessment of PZP that they cannot guarantee that PZP won’t affect other wildlife populations because once a wild horse or burro in nature, either unnaturally or naturally dies, the nearby endangered species would most certainly eat that animal’s flesh and ingest the PZP, rendering that endangered species sterile as well. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. Hell yeah, a peace pipe indeed.
This is unconscionable. We know how this will end. The PZP will be the new scapegoat and the new excuse will be “but we tried!” Oh well, let’s get them squared away once and for all time. This is just another ruse being perpetrated on good, decent American people, using their hard earned money, by a government agency that has shown nothing but absolute contempt for these animals and have absolutely no compunction in stating that fact in a public venue.
They continue to blatantly lie about populations of WH&B’s, their locations, long term holding counts, etc. and we are now not only completely distrustful of anything this agency puts out, but we are pissed off and tired of it.
Those of us that have seen the “Preponderance of Evidence” regarding this rogue agency and their 50+ year record of abuse and cruelties against this benign animal have absolutely had enough. We can attest to the fact that well over 2 million WH&B have been destroyed, disappeared, or put into long term holding over that time frame. Gone Baby Gone…..forever — if this doesn’t reek of extinction; I have no clue how to explain it to you.
How in the name of God can upwards of 2 million animals disappear off the face of the Earth in a 80 to 100 year window? I am not a mathematician, but clearly if 100 years ago there were 2 million mustangs that roamed North America and there are fewer that 25,000 in the wild, with 50,000 in holding, what am I missing here? Where did they go?
This agency most certainly does not have these animals’ best interest in mind. This is a clear “switch and bait” tactic used by self-serving ranchers that run the BLM. Their offer to inject or sterilize mares and stallions using a drug that is listed as a pesticide…let me repeat that…a pesticide, is not a generous offer. It reeks of extortion.
In order to stop this agency from zeroing out entire herds, once again, their solution to advocates and mainstream groups is of course to give them only one choice and that choice is take the drugs/surgery over the roundups. Not acceptable. This solution is not acceptable and the pretense in this case is clearly to obfuscate and scapegoat the animals and advocates once again.
Speaking of surgeries, why would any DVM worth his salt allow a surgery such as complex, dangerous ovariectomy to be performed in unsanitary conditions, outside in a dirt lot or field, with no anesthesia and no follow up care? No one in the real world would allow this, other than DVM’s that are A) Ranchers or B)DVM’s that could not get a job outside of public service.
Most of the Bureau of Land Management is run by ranchers, you know it, I know it. And those government employees are willfully disregarding any and all science proving that these animals are not the true cause of the degradation of public land. Only 3% of cattle that run on those lands benefit the American meat-eating public. Most, if not all of these cattle are sent to overseas markets. We won’t even benefit from allowing these ranchers to utilize our money or the Public Lands. They are happy to take taxpayers money in subsidies, but those of us that give our hard earned money to these ranchers, which in some cases makes them extremely rich, get absolutely nothing in return.
Now, add into this mix the other animals that survive in these environment and most certainly eat resources as well, such as Elk, Bighorn Sheep, Mule Deer and others, and you truly have the bigger picture of what is happening on the land but of course, that information is also ignored. It is always the poor equines that get the short end of the stick.
Many ranching families believe they are entitled to call the public lands their own and they pass this entitlement down from generation to generation. Because of that misguided, ingrained belief system implemented at a very early age, they plow ahead in order to accomplish their long held generational belief system that by teaching their children to consider these animals as “vermin” or “destructive” they feel that their only recourse now as adults is to remove ALL horses and burros in order to protect their “Pot of Gold” or in other words “public land” subsides. The Bundy family comes to mind. Just look at the recent refusal to accept government orders to remove cattle that are illegally grazing on public lands. There are many like the Bundy family, but are not so stupid enough as to step into the media spotlight for all to see.
But we know the truth and have not been subjected to the repeated rhetoric ingrained into our consciousness over the years like the children of ranchers. I liken the conditioning of these children who are now adults, to the “Stockholm Syndrome” Not familiar with this term? Let me enlighten.
“Stockholm syndrome can be seen as a form of traumatic bonding, which does not necessarily require a hostage scenario, but which describes “strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other.” One commonly used hypothesis to explain the effect of Stockholm syndrome is based on Freudian theory. It suggests that the bonding is the individual’s response to trauma in becoming a victim. Identifying with the aggressor is one way that the ego defends itself. When a victim believes the same values as the aggressor, they cease to be perceived as a threat.” Wikipedia
If parents are telling their children that these animals are “bad” “rats of the west” “vermin” or “trash animals” and must be treated with disrespect and cruelty, then that is exactly what any child with those kinds of messages will grow up and believe. The cruelty and abuse of these animals have endured, day in and day out, for years on end by these ranching families will continue. That is the insane familial legacy these adult ranchers now implement. If they are subjecting these animals to daily abuse their entire life, and cannot see that is is unacceptable and inhumane, how are we ever going to change that belief system? We can’t. These attitudes, behavior, and belief system towards these animal as adults is why we are at such odds with such people. And where are these adults now? Some are now employees of the very government agency that is pushing the extinction of these animals.
Why is it that we know the truth and they do not? Because science and ecologists have done the research and tell us what is really going on, whereas the opposite occurs in the ranching family communities. They stick to what they think they know is best for these animals instead of understanding the science, thanks in part to their repeated familial conditioning.
This is a true public trust issue. Many, many reports have been issued stating that there is not an overpopulation of Wild Horses and Burros, but just the opposite. When you have a ratio of 50:1 50 cattle to every one horse, you have to be either incredibly naive not to see that the majority of damage is caused by the grazing of cattle and sheep, which are the real cause of the destruction and pollution of public lands. Or so ingrained and conditioned in a belief system through brainwashing and the repeated messages of fathers and mothers that dished out that misinformation at a young age, this is the only truth that is out there and that those non-ranching, eastern folks must be liars.
Another revelation I found recently is a letter from a group called The Public Lands Foundation. The Public Lands Foundation is made up entirely of present, former and retired BLM employees and they have a lot to say about this issue. Matter of fact, the letter that they sent out to the BLM Advisory Council in 2009 is very telling and exposes this group for what it really is, an extension of the BLM WH&B plan of extinction. You should be very alarmed at this recommendation. Think about this for just one moment. A group of former, current and retired employees with the BLM, giving a very clear message to that employer, suggesting that they remove all WH&B’s and put them in a “National Range.” Wait? What??? No bias there.
The fact that their suggestion to the current sham of a BLM Advisory Board is one of creating a “National Range” in order to corral WH&B’s in just one area and do entirely away with every Herd Management Area in the West is something that not one of us should ever support nor turn a blind eye to.
If we were to go along with this suggestion, and they pick and choose which animals could be placed on that range, can we believe that they would put back all of the horses and burros in holding now? When they say “acceptable number” how many would that be and what would happen to the rest that were not chosen for that “National Range?” What do you think? Think they would be able to adopt them all out? Of course not.
Here is a portion of that letter:
“We believe a long-term solution should begin with a grass roots effort to bring all of the parties together to determine the acceptable number of wild horses and burros that should be maintained in the West, and to discuss the creation of National Wild Horse and Burro Ranges to accommodate this acceptable number of animals. The National Ranges would be managed for the maintenance and protection of wild horses, burros and wildlife. The existing wild horse and burro Herd Management Areas on BLM public lands would be eliminated, and the animals moved to the National Ranges.”
EPONA was designed to teach — to teach all that want to learn the information on this page in order to contribute to making a life long difference for these exploited animals. Through articles, blogs, photos, etc., of these mainstream groups on EPONA, the only goal is to give the reader a better understand of this enormous, complex, dirty secret.
I choose to include all that are speaking up for our horses and donkeys. I can’t know what the internal factions are until I study and research them, and what that does is take my time away from speaking and educating others about this very important issue and what really matters – and that is the continued safety and concern for ALL our horses and burros, both wild and domestic, and protecting them for the ages from slaughter. Thank you for your loyal support of this page and please keep trying, pushing and insisting that this gets solved and soon. They are running out of time.
“What You Allow, Is What Will Continue”