I was perusing a Wild Horse Yahoo group digest last week, when I came across the heading to a post entitled “Awaken Your Spirit.” I recognized the name of the author – she had recently purchased my DVD set and we had e-mailed back and forth a few times – so I went down the page to view her post. I wasn’t expecting what I read, but found it inspiring and thought others might too. I asked Jennifer if she would like to share her article as a “Guest.” She agreed – so in her own words…

“Awaken Your Spirit” by Jennifer Gage

In my dreams thundering across the plains, race immense herds of mustangs, running like the wind-free in every sense of the word in all their glory. “In riding a horse, we borrow freedom.” –Helen Thompson.

We will never see this magic again and like the buffalo, the mustang too will be gone before we know what happened if we don’t act now. Please vote now on Change.org to save the mustangs: http://www.change.org/ideas/view/stop_cruel_blm_round_up_of_wild_horses

Every single day mustangs (wild horses) are being rounded up and put in holding pens like discarded waste. Families are torn apart, mothers and babies put in separate pens. Their fate is uncertain; to be slaughtered for Europe’s elite diners (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gAX5snG7-4 **Warning – Contains Graphic Material**) or to live in some holding pen the rest of their lives is not what most Americans believe they deserve. These horses have been grazing these lands for over 200 years, and in fact, horses are an integral part of American heritage and culture as even Congress declared in 1971 with the passage of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.

A captive Bolder from the Pryor Mountains of Montana

What the opposition and people like Sue Cattoor, Bob Abbey, Ken Salazar can’t see or feel is the true beauty these precious, magnificent creatures exude-their spirit is one with Mother Earth and all that She has to offer the mustang. Those that cannot see the treasure that is the mustang with all its beautiful colors, spirit, freedom, joy, fierce loyalty and love of family have grown dull toward this world in which we live; they have forgotten that it is not normal or scientific in any sense of the word. “Every once in a while something will come along and shock us right out of our dullness and resignation.” That’s what the mustangs and watching “The Stallion and the Foal” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JKKWF0ZUGk)
have done for me.

Thanks to photographers like Pam Nickoles, Carol Walker, and cinematographer Ginger Kathrens, I got to experience the mustang like I never have before. I didn’t even know they existed wild on the plains of 10 states. There used to be 2 million mustangs in 1900 throughout 16 states. They are now extinct in 6 states. If YOU do not act and do not let the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), President Obama, senators and congressmen know of the value these animals have, they too will go the way of the buffalo and the wolf. We cannot let that happen to them – to the horses that took us to battle when our nation was young and brought the pioneers to the west. I cannot let that happen.

“Just as we have lost our wonder at the world around us, we have forgotten what a treasure the human heart is. All of the happiness we have ever known and all of the happiness we hope to find is unreachable without a heart.”—John Eldredge.

My human heart is telling me the mustang is capable of bringing me this happiness-this borrowed freedom. To know this happiness yourself, go to YouTube and watch the videos about Cloud and his herd by Ginger or “Stampede to Oblivion”
(http://rtfitch.wordpress.com/2009/10/12/news-update-the-stampede-to-oblivion-is-now-online/) or Calico, Nevada-Where the Wild Horses Roam (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-0OK3i1YFI) or countless other wild horse videos found on YouTube.

Cloud - Pryor Mountains Montana

The wild horses are protected by The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 (Public Law 92-195), which states that Congress finds and declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene. It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.

“Less than one percent of humans who live in America have ever seen wild horses running free. I have spoken with many of the few who have and each has said the view they made will never be forgotten. As remarkable as a distant sight of wild horses can be it remains the tip of a glorious iceberg. The actual lives of wild horses reveal to humanity the privilege having a life on the planet earth and how vital it is to respect the privilege.” Twelve the King, -Michael Blake

Michael Blake with his gelding Tomas

“Before I purchased El Mariachi, that beautiful horse belonged to each and every one of you. All of the BLM managed Mustangs belong to you. Many people don’t even realize this, but the wild horses belong to the PUBLIC. You. Their futures are in your hands as well. If you ever have an opportunity to view a wild horse in its natural surroundings, I guarantee that you’ll be changed forever, and maybe you’ll begin to understand why many people work so hard to preserve them. Hopefully, you’ll become involved in the wild horse protection efforts yourself. There are so few wild herds remaining, it’s imperative that people act NOW. The wild horses are magical, spiritual creatures and they absolutely deserve their place on our Earth.” -Pam Nickoles

El Mariachi

Some facts:
• The half-million acre Calico Complex herd management area is the last stronghold of the American mustang and was designated by Congress principally for the wild horses and burros. Millions of head of livestock graze at a cost of $1.35/cow-calf pair/month.
• Overall welfare livestock constitute a net loss of $123 million annually to the American tax payer.
• The scapegoating of wild horses and burros for range deterioration must stop—they comprise only a tiny fraction of animals and wildlife grazing on our public lands.
• Cows graze within a mile of water. In comparison wild horses are highly mobile, moving 5-10 miles from water and grazing on more rugged terrain.
• BLM does not adequately control cattle on the public’s land and has not sustainably balanced use of the “forage”, water and space.
• A 1000-lb cow not only eats 26 lbs. of forage daily, but they consume as much as 30 gallons of water a day and defecate in it as well.
• Private and corporate livestock outnumber wild horses at least 100 to 1 on public lands.

Search your deep heart and investigate what I have just told you if this has motivated or awakened you to the dullness of your life. Pass this on and awaken your family, friends, coworker, children and grandchildren. Let’s not leave a legacy of dust to our children and grandchildren where the mustang once roamed like the buffalo…YOUR HELP IS DESPERATELY NEEDED TO SAVE THE WILD HORSES OF THE WEST! YOU ALONE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THEIR LIVES!

I leave you with this piece of beauty…All the Little Ponies. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXl8GwrBkxM

May you be blessed,
Jennifer

Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.

Resources:
http://www.thecloudfoundation.org/
http://www.wildhorsepreservation.com/resources/calico.html
http://www.wildhorsepreservation.com/
http://www.theamericanwildhorse.com/
http://www.madeleinepickens.com/
http://www.idablog.org/category/horse-campaign/

Jennifer has been involved in the wild horse protection efforts for only about 3 months. She is obviously passionate about the cause and she has done some research to back up her beliefs. I hope that others will be inspired by her words, follow her lead and decide they too can make a difference in the lives of our wild horses. Thanks Jennifer. I’m honored to have been a small part of your journey of discovery into the beauty of, and the issues facing our wild ones.

Adobe Town HMA wild horses

Stay updated with current Wild Horse news: http://nickolesphotography.com/HTML/wildhorseinformation.htm

More Wild Horse video clips: http://www.nickolesphotography.com/HTML/videoclips.html

(Photos are for viewing purposes only. Images are copyright protected and owned solely by Pam Nickoles Photography. No reproduction permitted. Feel free to share the link, not the images.)

We had been shuttled off the grounds pretty quickly the night before. There was a sense of urgency about it and we all felt uneasy and suspicious of why. At the morning briefing, it was disclosed that Jackson’s mare Brumby had tied up after coming in and Cloud’s daughter Rain had colicked. Sickening, troubling news, but the Vet assured us that both horses were doing fine. We asked for and were granted a walk through of the corrals so we could see the condition of the horses for ourselves.

On the way into the corrals, you pass the youngsters - several of Cloud's family are in this pen and available for adoption including Image, Rain, Arrow, Ember, Summer and Sage. From L-R: Ben Susman, Ginger Kathrens, Carol Walker and a BLM representative.

On the way into the corrals, you pass the youngsters - several of Cloud's family are in this pen and available for adoption including Image, Rain, Arrow, Ember, Summer and Sage. From L-R: Ben Susman, Ginger Kathrens, Carol Walker and a BLM representative.

Little Image looked so sad and lost

Little Image looked so sad and lost

Image

Image

Ginger Kathrens peers in at the babies she's known and documented since their births.

Ginger Kathrens peers in at the babies she's known and documented since their births.

Brumby - the mare who tied up

Brumby - the mare who tied up

Jackson

Jackson

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Jackson's band

Jackson's band

R.T. Fitch, Ginger Kathrens, Elyse Gardner and Terry Fitch at the corrals

R.T. Fitch, Ginger Kathrens, Elyse Gardner and Terry Fitch at the corrals

Bolder

Bolder

Bolder's band

Bolder's band

Bolder's filly

Bolder's filly

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Cassidy - tagged for adoption

Cassidy - tagged for adoption

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Band stallion Chino - he has gorgeous amber eyes and he's a rare color among the Pryor horses. A beautiful buckskin.

Band stallion Chino - he has gorgeous amber eyes and he's a rare color among the Pryor horses. A beautiful buckskin.

Band stallion Duke

Band stallion Duke

A foal from Duke's band who was very sore

A foal from Duke's band who was very sore

Duke's band

Duke's band

Morning Star's band

Morning Star's band

Ben Susman, Ginger Kathrens, Carol Walker, Sandy Elmore, R.T. Fitch and Terry Fitch.

Ben Susman, Ginger Kathrens, Carol Walker, Sandy Elmore, R.T. Fitch and Terry Fitch.

Cloud

Cloud

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Later, we were taken over to Greasewood Flats to observe more horses being processed.

Starman in the alley while he waits for other members of his band to be processed

Starman in the alley while he waits for other members of his band to be processed

Bolder watches the activities

Bolder watches the activities

A lucky group - they all have the blue dots that indicate they will be released

A lucky group - they all have the blue dots that indicate they will be released

The band stallion Cappuccino bangs his head in the chute in an attempt to escape

The band stallion Cappuccino bangs his head in the chute in an attempt to escape

And he does get out

And he does get out

He frantically runs up and down the alley way looking for members of his family

He frantically runs up and down the alley way looking for members of his family

Finally, another family member is processed and released into the alley way

Finally, another family member is processed and released into the alley way

Band stallion Mescalero did not want to go into the chute. BLM personnel haze him with plastic bags attached to whips

Band stallion Mescalero did not want to go into the chute. BLM personnel haze him with plastic bags attached to whips

They actually hit this horse - a member of Mescalero's band

They actually hit this horse - a member of Mescalero's band

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Mescalero released into the alley way

Mescalero released into the alley way

Once the processing was completed, we were allowed back up on the viewing ridge.

Baja's band

Baja's band

Baja's band - Baja's mare Bacardi and another foal were missing as the others were brought in. We were later told that the foal just couldn't keep up so the pilot decided not to pursue them. They were left behind without their family.

Baja's band - Baja's mare Bacardi and another foal were missing as the others were brought in. We were later told that the foal just couldn't keep up so the pilot decided not to pursue them. They were left behind without their family.

The two foals that did come in with the band were very, very footsore. It's inconceivable to me to push any horse, let alone a foal, that hard for that many miles.

The two foals that did come in with the band were very, very footsore. It's inconceivable to me to push any horse, let alone a foal, that hard for that many miles.

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(And though I failed to mention it in my earlier posts, if the distance wasn’t enough, these horses were also forced down the mountain in 95+ degree temperatures).

After Baja’s band came in, we were told no more horses would be brought in. The helicopter was finished for the day. It was pretty early yet. Again, we wondered about the motives for this move.

One of Baja's foals that came in so very footsore

One of Baja's foals that came in so very footsore

Another footsore Baja baby

Another footsore Baja baby

Tom and I left Britton Springs, Lovell and our fellow observers that afternoon. We had made the difficult decision to move on to the McCullough Peaks HMA to photograph the horses there before the scheduled round up. We had just enough time to capture a few evening light photos before finding a place to stay in Greybull, WY. Though we were exhausted, we both had something nagging at us that we finally discussed before calling it a night. It wasn’t over – we hadn’t seen the conclusion or outcome of this roundup and it didn’t feel right to either of us. We knew we had to go back. We decided to leave Greybull very early and catch some first light photos at McCullough Peaks which would put us back at Britton Springs close to noon. Nothing much (other than the briefings) really went on until then anyway – or so we thought.

(More to follow…)

Stay updated on the latest wild horse news and information available on my website under the Wild Horse Information link: http://www.nickolesphotography.com/HTML/wildhorseinformation.htm

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