March 2012 Highlights


copyright Laura Leigh

Broken Arrow 2010, foal born at Broken Arrow (Leigh)

Wild Horse Education

The US government and another “Trail Of Tears”

By Leslie Peeples

Many interests covet our public land for their own use and monetary gain; these entities throw millions of dollars into the game to win what belong to us all. Wild horses and burros have no money, so, no voice, they are allotted the mere crumbs that are left over after all the other users have their way with our public lands. Consequently, they have been captured and removed from their homes.  We now have around 47,000 wild horses and burros in government holding facilities and every year thousands of horses are injured and die under the mismanagement of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the very agency charged with their protection and preservation by congress. Our government of the people, for the people and by the people has been operating contrarily, as an untouchable entity and has attempted to block our documentation of this travesty at every turn. Most of our wild horses and burros are held in facilities that are closed to the public and we do not have a clue as to their welfare.

Laura Leigh~ photojournalist, videographer. A few years back I met an old mustang in the kill pen at a packing plant while rescuing another horse. I offered to buy him (for more than three times the market rate, cash) and was refused. A load was going out and they had to “make weight.” I have never forgotten his eyes. He was freeze marked, born “wild and free” and had served man well into his twenties. How did that happen? I had to find out.”

Barren Valley Roundup (Sept. 2011/Leigh)

“I came into this issue with the mindset that the “truth” of a story could only be revealed if it is “lived”. So I set off and literally immersed myself in the issue and discovered that Wild Horses and Burros have an entire act of Congress devoted to their protection, but the US governments program looks much more like pest extermination. There are glaring similarities with what our government is now doing to wild horses and the cruel injustices that were levied on the native people of North America. Maybe the horses came from another country once, yet the evidence points to reintroduced native species, but they are here now. They are as American as the land itself and deserve respect and compassion.”

“During the 2009 Calico Nevada roundup I documented foal that had just been captured. His hooves were separating from his body (literally falling off) from a long and terrifying run in front of a government helicopter. I asked to adopt and care for him and was later told he had instead been euthanized. He is one of many. I named him “Hope Springs Eternal”, and in my heart I still have “Hope”. I work for “Hope”. I work to honor all the wild horses and burros who have lost their lives and families to greed and callousness. I will continue this work for the wild horses and burros of the future, so that they will be there for generations to come. This is who I am and why I do what I do…” 

Wild Horse Education (WHE) founded by Laura Leigh, is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of our wild horses and burros, by empowering American’s with the truth and holding our government accountable to equitable and humane management. WHE got off the ground running in April 2011, rather bare bones, with one determined woman and a fat, fury, dog body warmer named “Elvis.” Some inadequate camera equipment, an overloaded laptop and a beat up Ford Explorer were the “tools of the trade.”

Laura Leigh has contributed to publications such as Horseback Magazine and True Cowboy. Her video footage has been used on CNN, and I-team reports of George Knapp as well as many documentary films and news broadcasts. In the last year and a half Leigh has witnessed more roundups than any person, including government personnel, and her travels have taken her to six different states to view wild herds.

“We are starting to group together an amazing team, people passionate and motivated on one goal, positive change.” said Leigh laughing, “Founding WHE has been like giving birth. But this ‘baby’ needs to start being able to walk on it’s own. It takes a village to raise a child.”

Triple B roundup in July… foaling season

Here is some of what we have accomplished so far:

*Documentation of wild horse roundups and holding that opened the public’s eyes to the truth.

*A very high profile and successful (Ninth Circuit recently denied BLM a rehearing) 1st amendment rights law suit that is still in active litigation on the public’s right to know and see what is happening to our wild horses on our public lands. It includes the disposition of the horses from the range, though every step in the process until their final destination and all information and documents regarding them. This suit has far reaching implications to public access to public lands. This case reads like a biography of Leigh’s life.

*The first “Humane Care” law suit for wild horses and burros, still in active litigation, to hold BLM accountable for civilized and humane treatment. This suit produced the 1st temporary Restraining Order to stop the inhumane Triple B roundup in Nevada and spurred BLM to do a review of operations regarding humane treatment. The BLM report on the review admitted shocking abuse by BLM. (Our Analysis of the Review can be here:

*Captured footage of a “horse tripping” (a barbaric and deadly so-called “sport”) that was submitted to Nevada legislators, who had been told that it doesn’t happening NV. To create legislation based on intentional misrepresentations is as wrong as the behavior that a proposed ban was presented to address. (As the state Legislature meets every other year this issue will resurface).

*A wild horse awareness youtube video which has gone viral and currently been viewed by just under a half million people. (Is it Bad Enough for YOU? Wild Horses)

* Facilitated the rescues and rehoming of several wild horses from the kill pens/slaughter pipeline.

Triple B, 2011 (Leigh)

WHE Main Goals

* A clear and defined standard and protocol for humane handling and management, implemented in the field, with a structure for consequences for violations.

*Full access and transparency to know the welfare and locations of the wild horses and burros at all times. As well as public participation in the process and access to all data and documents.

*Manage wild horses and burros comparably with, (equal to) other uses of the public land.

*Restore the public lands that have been removed for Wild Horse and Burro use, or give them comparable lands.

*Document, educate, spread awareness and bring news to the public, our partners. It will take us all standing as one voice to repair what has been done and make it right.

After the adoption event at Stone Cabin, Shawna Richardson (BLM) and Leigh shared a hug. The event went well in spite of all the challenges. (photo Elyse Gardner)

“Some days I question my sanity for the road that I have chosen. Today is one of those days. This road is painful, long, winding, uphill, dusty and frequently unfriendly. And then I remember the thousands of wild horse souls that have passed in front of my camera lens. I still hear them calling to their families as they are forever separated from all they have ever known. Each one an individual face, a life, burned into my memory and I know, I will continue to stand for them, to be their voice, no matter what comes my way.

I have been on this road for over 3 years now, Last year I put 85,000 miles on my old Ford Explorer, about half of it on bad dirt roads. I had to pry the door open with a crow bar because they became cemented shut with all the alkali dust. I have had blowouts at high speeds while trying to follow horses in trailers that were injured in the roundups. I have wondered if I would make it out of white-out snow storms or if my body would be discovered after spring thaw. I bought 15 cases of hand warmers to stuff inside my clothes and boots just to get through the Antelope Nevada winter roundup where temperatures hovered in the single digits. I have had my life threatened. I have seen to many painful things out here at the hands of our government. I have never known if I would have the funds to continue another day, another week, another month, but good people who care about these beautiful animals have somehow always come through to create another day of documenting, writing and fighting.

Yet there is concrete reason to believe we ARE creating a path for change, even if it s one brick at a time.” ~ Laura Leigh, paraphrased conversation with Author.


Simple Summary-by Leslie Peeples (Co-Director WHE) “Laura Leigh documents abusive behavior at The Triple B roundup, Judge issues a Basic stop order (TRO) during the roundup, but when presented with more documentation later, decides he can only rule on this one roundup, as the original suit was for Triple B, and by law he did not feel he could rule on “program wide inhumane actions”. But during the 9th circuit case a ruling was that roundups are inevitable and will occur again, so Laura is asking the judge to consider the inhumane case based on this inevitability and the 9th circuit ruling. The intent is to hold BLM and their contractors accountable for creating and implementing truly ‘humane standards’.”

“Unsticking” a horse head,(Triple B)

The Court Battle for Humane Care of Wild Horses Marches on

(Reno) On March 20, 2012 a Motion to reconsider the decision in the Triple B wild horse roundup “Inhumane” case has been filed.

On January 26 in Reno Federal Court, Hon. Judge Howard J. McKibben denied the relief requested for Injunctive Relief sought by Laura Leigh, Founder of Wild Horse Education and VP of Wild Horse freedom Federation against the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) treatment of wild horses. That amended complaint sought to take an earlier motion past the end of the Triple B Roundup which ended when a Temporary Restraining Order was granted near the end of the roundup in August of 2011 after incidents of inappropriate treatment toward wild horses were witnessed. The Motion was denied based on the absence of the Triple B Complex from the 2012 roundup schedule.

The new Motion allowed by the Court is based on a ruling in another case brought by Leigh on First Amendment Rights issues that won a landmark win in the Ninth Circuit. In that case three Ninth Circuit Court Judges ruled that the roundups are inevitable based on the current basis of “Appropriate Management Levels” and BLM’s projected use of reproductive rates. The roundup does not need to be on the schedule to consider conduct (in this case the right of the press to report) based on demonstrated history.

The current Motion, filed by Reno attorney Gordon Cowan on Leigh’s behalf, states: “When, therefore, BLM returns to Triple B, there is no indication the Triple B horses to be rounded up, would be handled any differently than how they were mishandled previously.”

After the original TRO was granted to inhumane conduct in violation of the 1971 Act protecting wild horses and burros (August 2011) BLM did a review of the events at the Triple B roundup. That review contained admission of conduct that noted (among others): dragging horses by the neck, kicking in the head and pilot conduct including an incident where the pilot appears to hit an exhausted animal with the helicopter skids. BLM’s review included recommendations and outlined a timeline (90 days) for implementation of a protocol. No written policy has been published or implemented.

“Until there is a written clearly defined protocol, with provisions for violation, I have every expectation of continuing to document the same conduct I have in the past” states Leigh, “I have been on a non-stop marathon documenting wild horses and burros for over two years and witness the same things over and over. I have every reason to believe I will see it again.”

The BLM has two weeks to answer the Motion.

~~~ Donations to keep the Wild Horse Education Teams researching, documenting and reporting are greatly appreciated.


Our Spring Newsletter is “hot off the press.”

Our Spring 2012 Newsletter is here! Click link to download.

Wild Horse Education is nearing it’s first anniversary as an organization! Much more to come…


Bullfrog Report from Wild Horse Education representative Tami Crisanti:

This is a “factual” review of the 3 days I spent observing the Burro round up, processing and adoption.  In attendance were several BLM EEs, Cattoor Livestock Round Up, Inc. and their EEs, myself, one additional Wild Horse and Burro advocate (she does not want her name released), and Tom Seley did stop by for a short time.

The round up itself was completed all in one day, Monday, 03/05/12. From 8:30am to 4:30pm with the use of a helicopter and wranglers.

The first trap site was 6 miles from Beatty up 95N on the east side of the hwy.  on or behind private property.  51 Burros were captured in 5 groups from 8:30am until about 1pm.  I had a good view of the trap and the loading of the Burros into the trucks.  I could not visually assess the respiration rates of the Burros (which is the most basic way to assess stress in equines); therefore, from my limited ability to assess, I did not see that they sustained any injuries. In addition, I did not see anything I would consider an official animal cruelty violation in the process.   They were all transported in trucks to the corral at the front of the property, about a 3/4 mile back from the highway. It was not possible to see the corral from the highway with the naked eye.

The second trap site was 3miles back towards Beatty on hwy 95 South, also on the east side of the hwy.  26 Burros were captured in 2 groups from 3:15pm until 4:30pm.  I was not provided a visual of the trap or the loading. I was only able to view the Burros running in the direction of the trap. (strong opinions not provided to the point of indigestion)  The 26 captured at the 2nd site were transported back to the original site and also placed in the corral. Water and grass hay was provided for all of the 77 Burros. They were taken from the desert in good physical condition.

On Tuesday, 03/06/12, the processing of the Burros was completed.  (This is where the Jacks are separated from the Jennys and yearlings.)  Random samplings of hair and blood were taken for testing. 8 yearlings were chosen and transported to a separate corral to be readied for the adoption.  They were freeze branded, vaccinated, had blood drawn to test for coggins and each had a number spray painted on them for identification.

On Wednesday, 03/07/12, the adoption started at 9am.  No signs were posted on the Hwy 95, in or out of Beatty, and the pen was not at all visible from the road. Not one person showed up.

Only two of the yearlings were adopted, both by the Wild Horse and Burro advocate that attended the round up.  This advocate had left Beatty on Tuesday, but drove 1 and ½ hours back to the site the next day when she found out no one had shown up to adopt.  Her main concern was for the tiniest Burro, which she did adopt along with another male.  Both of the adopted Burro yearlings are now adjusting to life in their new home.  The additional 75 Burros were transported to a holding facility called Ridgecrest Regional Wild Horse & Burro Corrals @300 S. Richmond Rd. Ridgecrest, Ca. 93555.

Bullfrog Adoption Burros (screen grab, video Crisanti)

Total Captured, 77                             Yearlings for adoption, 8 (Adopted 2)