This was posted on Laura Leigh’s blog “Art and Horses” today.
from the desk of Laura Leigh, President of Wild Horse Education (follow ongoing work at wild horse education website)
It is very hard to describe the personal experience of the current state of the issues that Wild Horse Education is addressing for our herds.
On one hand this has been an extraordinary physical marathon of range work, in all kinds of weather, under all kinds of physical extremes. Dust, mud, blistering heat and frigid temperatures take a toll on equipment and ones physical body. Files are massive and the quantity of documentation fills drive after drive and causes laptops to choke. The vehicle makes new sounds every time it is shaken, bounced, bumped and run in sub freezing temperatures or high heat, your physical body begins to mirror the creaks and groans.
The very real need to expand this aspect of the work is apparent. This aspect of the work is what gives us the ability to demonstrate a first hand knowledge of the range and present accurate information toward gaining real changes as we try to bring an honest conversation to the management of wild horses and burros to the agency itself, the public, legislature and if needed, the Federal courts. You make this part of the journey looking like a character out of “Mad Max,” or other post apocalyptic film. You forget to brush your hair, have no time to clean your clothes and your equipment is a mishmash of devices pieced together that looks like it shouldn’t even run but is a powerful editing tool.
On the other hand this work requires diligent research and organization. Thousands of hours of video footage, hundreds of thousands of still photographs, assessment documents and grids, reference material and the hundreds of documents filed in court. You have to focus, wear the right glasses to read, remember to shower, and raise your vocabulary above the guttural sounds that your dog finds acceptable as conversation on the road.
Then there is another aspect, communication with the public. Somewhere between being a “range rat” and an “accountant” you need to remember the social skills to engage the public in a conversation that relays what you “gained” on the range, digested in the “library,” in a manner that speaks to the daily lives of “normal.”
Many of you have written wondering what it is like to do this work… the best way I can describe it… it is like carrying a bag filled with “hats.” Some of the hats you have worn before and they fit well, others don’t fit quite right but when you wear them in enough storms they shrink and mold and become familiar.
Today I sit at the computer organizing three active cases against the Federal government. Two of them speak to the objective of gaining a humane handling policy for wild horses and burros, one of them speaks to access to animals from range “through ultimate disposition, adoption, sale or death.” I am organizing depositions, documents and editing video footage for various purposes.
I wanted to “touch base” with the followers of the blog and say “whew” as we gain the first step in the conversation at Owyhee toward gaining a “humane” objective in the ten year plan and “where’s the #@*! coffee?” as we start to compile and hone the effort on access. The work we are doing on land use plans and investigations such as the slaughter issue are also still in progress AND I have to get back out on the range.
Yes, there is an extraordinary amount of work that needs done YESTERDAY. There are tools that as an advocacy we do not have and must literally build. But this is not without hope… we are building the tools and creating the language for conversations based on first hand observation… we are gaining a conversation that can lead to changes… that can grow to more changes. It IS movement.
As a MOVEMENT we must recognize that fact and gain momentum. If there is an opportunity, no matter how small, if it is not seized the moment passes. The road to change leads to change as the road of apathy leads to apathy, the road of depression leads to depression. We are on the road to change…. it may be a two track in the dessert but eventually (even if you have to travel off-road a bit) it leads to a highway.
Best to you.