Christmas “list”, a blog entry


Heading into freezing fog at Antelope 2011 to view roundup (photo Mike Lorden)

Blog entry from Laura:

Today I realize how close it is to Christmas. It is simply a statement of “what is.” I had been asked to post a list for Christmas and a link to the cafepress store for WHE. At least now I can take it off the “to do” list.

For me the calendar runs on wild horse and burros roundups, meetings, field work, report crafting. The new year begins on March 1, not January 1. March 1 is when BLM’s roundup schedule ends. That is when work shifts to field data and archiving to prepare for the next round of removals that usually begins on July 1.

This last year was an exception and the choppers flew in June. That operation resulted in yet another court action at Jackson Mountain (read here).

We have two other active court actions that will see a flurry of activity in January and February… as we continue to try to address the issues at Owyhee.

Paint falls over barbed wire, Owyhee

Paint falls over barbed wire, Owyhee

This past year we took both the humane care case and the press freedoms case forward. We filed and won another temporary restraining order at Jackson. We gained the Injunction at Triple B (humane care). We gathered data and addressed the Nevada Department of Agriculture during the drought as they made requests that all federally protected areas be removed to minimal numbers. We worked with Dave Philipps in uncovering BLM’s direct link to slaughter. On and on….

So I forget things like Thanksgiving and Christmas and birthdays and… live in a bit of a “bubble.”

Just a few days ago I left the Owyhee roundup to get back to the desk. I am sitting here editing and writing and making attempts to address these ongoing issues as I am finally shaking off the hypothermia.

Branded horses in trap, Owyhee

Branded horses in trap, Owyhee

Last night a friend told me to get out and be “human.” I went and saw Lincoln. It made me smile listening to the banter of law and realizing how young our country is and how far we have come… and how far we have yet to go. Think about it… there was a time when it was an outrage to think that all races and sexes could be free and capable of casting a vote. Not simply as an intellectual argument but a biter, vehement, violent opposition to something we view today as a “given.”

In the “battle” to protect wild horses and burros on public land the opposition runs many parallels to what I saw on the screen last night, (oh yes, I can already hear the sighs and eye rolls). Public land issues are mired with greed and prejudice. Our public land has a history of management that has had it’s own violent past and biter debate.

In modern times the subject of that prejudice is often the wild horses and burros. Scapegoats for almost every ill they are accused of existing in overpopulated masses destroying the grazing and sucking up the water having severe impact on all other uses. All of that is false.


High Rock horses the day before capture

Our wild horses and burros, that mirror our own history in our great country, exist barely on the edge of survival. Genetic viability is only truly possible in 28 areas… out of the 303 we started with and have only 186 areas left. The animals themselves are trapped behind fences that create artificial movement that can momentarily give an impression of numbers. The impact wild horses have on the land is minute, except where we create the problem.

When you make a stand for an ideal that feeds your concept of being an “American,” you meet violent opposition. Being American, in my opinion, meant being capable of an evolution of law that truly recognized the value and rights of all. Yet if your interest is enriching your “American” soul through anything but private profit, in the public land “battle” you are absolutely discriminated against. Your voice, and even the process you must address issues under, is in a separate league.

As I sit here attempting to find the avenues to address this “multitude of issues” I am struck with theses thoughts:

In this issue, that truly is one of greed and prejudice, do we really need to compound the conversation with a vehement need to continue cruelty? Have we not evolved at least to the stage where issues of profit can remain in the convoluted exhausting framework but issues involving decency can transcend? Is it a matter of laziness or simply that if a humane care standard is created that someone will see that as a “loss?” A loss of what? A loss of an inability to recognize the value of the life of a being that assisted this nation with creating it’s very history? Why is it such a fight to get people to fill a ditch if horses might fall or say don’t hotshot anything under a year or an injured animal? WHAT IS SO UNREASONABLE ABOUT ASKING FOR HUMANE TREATMENT? Don’t we all “win” if we move into an area of creating improvements?


Horse hit with helicopter, Triple B (Leigh)

But I sit here and read BLM press releases that state all horses were handled humanely. I read statements that claim a multitude of fictions and I will continue to try to address the issues. I continue to hear a denial of the truth that will continue to keep us from ever having a conversation that actually addresses any issue in an honest fashion.

It was suggested that I put up a list of what WHE would like for Christmas and what I might personally like. A couple of years ago I put up a list that noted I had not had time to buy socks or underwear and that list became an attack point. However, WHE needs a new camera (a Rebel Tsi or a really nice camera with a long lens that does video and stills like a Canon 60D) and a real tripod. WHE needs external hard drives (we have filled 3 terabytes). WHE needs a part-time mechanic, new shocks and struts, another spare tire and an unlimited supply of tranny fluid, oil and windshield wash. WHE needs financial support and sponsorship.

Me? I could use an enforceable humane care policy for wild horses and burros that is NOT based on the discretion of those guilty of the violations I have witnessed, and continue to witness. I could use a bit of sanity in this.

It would actually be a real start to having the conversations we so desperately need to gain the protections deserved for the equine companions, workers, soldiers that built this country with us. But maybe that is the problem? If we begin to treat them with respect as we handle them it might lead to understanding what they need on the range? Or is it that we will stop seeing this (public land cash cow) as a monetary profit driven mechanism and see the “profit” (enrichment of the American spirit) that enriches a soul? And if we recognize that… who knows where it could lead? (Reminds me of the movie and EGADS if we ratify the 13th amendment someday women might want to vote! If we begin to treat these animals without cruelty it might mean we have to give them adequate forage! )

I have posted the last two “years in review” videos below. Yes, I will edit one this year as well but it may come a bit late. Working on the Owyhee… I am writing an article to share on Owyhee and will have it out soon.

Thank you all for letting me “express” a bit here…. back to work.



Help keep us in the field and the courtroom!

Help keep us in the field and the courtroom!


10 thoughts on “Christmas “list”, a blog entry

  1. im new too reading you and yours,i have to admit i really like your style and commitment.well worth a good are honestly portrayed.thank you for telling this so correctly.speaking truly from the animals soul n spirits.your lips to gods ears.well done well done!you have a new follower me!right on..peace.cheshire.

  2. Pingback: Christmas “list”, a blog entry | akacheshire

    • Thank you Lynne. A good mailing address (instead of the PO Box where I only check once a month or so) is the attorneys office. They make a pile for me to grab when I am in town. You can mail: Wild Horses (Leigh) c/o Cowan Law 10775 Double R Bvd, Reno, NV 89521 THANK YOU.

  3. We don’t have Pay Pal but want to donate. Please give address so we can send a check to help with your efforts. You have to be successful for all our sakes. Thank you for all you do and Thank you for sharing information that is so important.

  4. It’s unbelievable that after 41 years humane care is still on the wish list and not yet a reality. Coal and cow patties under the Tree for BLM! Thank you for being there through thick and thin to let everyone know what America’s wild horses are going through and for fighting to help them.

  5. Dear Laura, First, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart and soul. You have been a hero and a model for people every where. Your dedication knows no limits. I think of you often, getting up early and driving for what, an hour or more, then trying to get video of the brutality that must break your heart. When I cry from watching the horror that the horses and burros are put through, I think of you. It must be so hard for you to see these beloved horses and burros treated with such cruelty. It must be so difficult physically and phychologically but between your love and anger you manage to carry on. Not only do you do all that but also keep all of us informed and fight the fight in court. Also you have to keep finances in place. I just wanted you to know that your so appreciated. I’m sure all of your supporters would agree. Please take care of yourself. With all you do it is easy to make yourself last and i can tell that it would be easy for you to do that, as driven as you are. I have donated four times in the last four months and will send more in January but feel it is so superficial compared to all you do. Thank you for this recent email. You not only share what’s happening with the horses but you share your self with everyone. Your heart is huge and and your spirit is beautiful. l love you for it. I’ll keep you in my prayers and send all the positive energy I have your way. Judy Maxwell

  6. Perhaps We should start rounding UP OUR Children to go to school with copters-Think that would get someones attention! Last nite I saw a video of a dog go out on the 10@pull a hit dog(it lived)off the busy hwy@construction workers run to help After the dog had pulled the injured Dog off the road! Then,another video started of a child being hiit@run over several times (an Asian ctry).people never stopped! They drove,rode,walked around the child..The Mother finally came@picked up the child which died later…Isn’t that just terrible! Abuse of All kinds is ramport in this country@animal abuse seems to be progressing as people become more angry@stressed. These wild horses R abused right down the line thru to death, what makes a person so callus@ignorant as to allow such horrific treatment for the sake of land,horse management? Everyone of thesae horses can be broke to ride but not even given the chance, they r abused,slaughtered@eaten. President Obama,Joe Biden SHOULD GO on a rd-up copter ride@witness Pg mares abort there foals on the run, foals hoofs wore off@so on. THEN taken thru a slaughter House@watch these Creatures of god beingf hacked to death@strung up while alive! Washington is corrupt@so is the BLM in its inhumane treatment of Wild Horses@Burros. God Bless You for standing up for what is right@just….Thank You

  7. Dear Laura Leigh,

    My husband and I have come late to this issue but we have a desire to help and a personal interest in the welfare of the Nevada mustangs. I would echo the sentiments of Judy Maxwell. I am so impressed and awed by your work and your dedication.

    I have a question which you might or might not be able to answer. If not, perhaps you could point me in the right direction. My husband and I have been traveling in the Pershing County Kamma Mountains routinely three or four times per year for the past three or four years. We have never seen mustangs there before July of this year. When we returned in November they were still there. Is it possible that this herd is made up of survivors of the Jackson round-ups?

    Thanks for any help.
    God bless.
    Vivian Vedder

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