Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Good Days & Bad Days For Mustangs

Yesterday, after I blogged about the Lauman videos, I went out and had a horrible day with my Beautiful Girl. (Insert violins)

I went out determined to flag her, get her to lead, and pick up her feet with the rope and then my hands--two hours later I had accomplished my goals.

But not without getting very mad at her, and her getting very stubborn with me, making the whole experience seem like a major loss and downer.

So why did I get mad at her and what did I do?

I got mad because she wouldn't give me her feet, and she threatened me with the front left. I had already picked it up several times with the rope, and I'd picked up the right with my hands quite nicely. But it came down to this one issue: picking up the left hoof with my hands. She said NO WAY. I said, you better.

Actually, I said NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO--when she threatened to strike me (as she did the farrier a week before). Her eyes looked a bit frightened, and then something else set in--determination. The fact is, she's not scared of me anymore--it's a battle of who will surrender, and she tries to outlast me.

By the end of it, she haltered, led, picked up both feet, and surrendered her entire body, but let's call that a BAD DAY.


Now fast forward to today--A GOOD day.

At the very foundation of all of this lies one simple truth: I am my mustang's friend. And she knows it.

There's no horse in the world more appreciative of hay, a warm, clean place to lay their head, and safety, than a poor mustang. Just look at the legislation coming before congress now--to euthanize the 30,000 mustangs in holding because the BLM can't afford to care for them anymore, and you will agree, there is no animal more at risk than these animals.

Everyone will soon be asking themselves the hard question--What is the importance of the Mustang horse to the United States of America, and how much is it worth to us to preserve it?

I have insight to both sides--the cattlemen and the horse lovers. I know the cattlemen want and need land, and the horse lovers want their mustangs. I know that horses tear up the ground and compete for scarce resources and federal land like nothing else can.

But I also know the wild horse is an American Symbol. It represents survival, tenacity, pride--what amounts to the American Dream. At the very least, there should be some HARD thought and innovation put forward to preserve it.

When money is scarce, it's the weakest that die or are neglected first. The mustangs have been protected since the early '70's, so who will be next when money is still short?

Will it be the elderly? Will it be our children? Will it be the disabled vets?

When you start breaking promises, it's a slippery slope.

And, since I got onto that subject, it's hard to come back to the other subject of Beautiful's Training.

Today was a good day--it ALL went well. She surrendered her feet kindly--she led nicely. Every day is, truly, good for Beautiful--or better than her brothers and sisters and cousins that were not adopted in April.

Right now, when a horse goes to three adoptions and is not homed--they're out. It's the three strikes you're out rule.

Hay and money are a scarce commodity for horse owners--horses are a luxury it is more and more difficult to afford. Many of our mustangs are not being adopted--many of them have three strikes.

Should they have been rounded up in the first place? Should they be let loose now?

Let's put our heads together and come up with a responsible and humane solution that will make it a "Good Day" for every sound Mustang in America.


  1. I feel guilty now. Your doing serious training and I've just been teaching my Mustang how to drink beer from a can!

    The politicains have to shell out more money for America's horses. I get so mad when I think of all the money wasted in Iraq, not to mention lives. There has to be better control over the horses, maybe rounding up all the colts and gelding them as often as possible. I don't know. But I know killing them is not the answer. I'm trying to do my bit by showing as many people as possible that Mustangs are great horses. I'm blown away by how intelligent and funny my boy is.

    As far as the cattle goes; I don't get it, we have cattle and we have to graze them on our own property. I'll have to ask my husband about this, but why do some people get to graze their cattle on public land and keep the profits? I think they pay some grazing fees but I bet it's not much. Those horses are America's horses! I think you'd be hard pressed to adopt one of those cows for $125!

    I'm going to keep blogging about my darling Mustang and maybe adopt another when I can walk better. Also I'm intending to publically shame Congress critters like Cathy McMorris Rodgers who has a anti-wild horse voting record.

    This three strikes thing; is it being taken to three adoption events or is it being adopted three times and returned. If it's being taken to three adoption events then that's so unfair. The Odessa adoption was in the middle of nowhere and only two horses where adopted, one of them was my Wildairo. It was a real bust if you ask me. Lovely location though.

  2. I couldn't agree with you more: it's time for Americans to set priorities. You can't have it all--and maybe its time to start thinking of the promises we made to our own people, land, animals and resources.

    The way I understand the 3-strike rule, is that they get 3 adoptions and then they are moved to a permanent holding facility--I would guess that these would be the first animals to be euthanized under this proposal.

    And, if you can't afford to give a horse adequate care--they'll end up being euthanized anyway--for health problems. (ie. Beautiful's feet).

  3. Hi Linda- I had no idea about the Mustang issue with the cattlemen and Congress. That is truly a shame. I don't think they should have been rounded up in the first place. I was under the impression that wild horses keep their distance from people and civilation. On the subject of Beautiful...I'm happy to hear you are making good progress with her and that, at least, she, is safe with you. She is very Special.

  4. I like this quote: "The (proposal) is killing pure and simple to balance the books for an agency whose reckless management has caused immeasurable harm to a national treasure at considerable cost to the American taxpayer." Chris Heyde, depute directory of government and legal affairs for teh Animal Welfare Institute.

    And, I must correct myself--it is the BLM who is making the proposal to euthanize excess mustangs--and this proposal would have to go through congress.

    Lacy Dalton, of the Let 'Em Run Foundation, proposes alternative solutions to this problems, such as birth control and tax incentives for private citizens to let them graze on their property.

  5. That is a wonderful idea for letting some horses graze on private lands. I think the BLM should expand some of their holding facilities. We don't have any in ND, MN, or SD. There are lots of open spaces here that they could possibly buy and let them graze on.

    As far as the 3 strikes mustangs (aka Sale Authority horses) they are deemed a 3 strikes mustang (and branded a second time with a U symbol)when they are taken to 3 adoptions and passed over at each adoption OR when they are horses who are over 10 years old and are less desireable because they are "hard to train". They can then be sold without protection for way cheap. You can buy about 20 horses for $10.00 each (which totals $200.00 for the 20). Then these horses can be sent to rodeos or shipped to slaughter or bought by decent people. Here is a link to some info about Sale Authority Mustangs: http://mustangs4us.com/sale_authority_horses.htm
    and here is a link to a ranch that I believe sells 3 strike mustangs: http://www.lbranchmustangs.com/sales.asp

    You are doing a GREAT job with Beautiful. Just rememeber that we all have bad days and for every step forward you take with her you'll end up taking 3 steps back.

  6. Thanks for the information, Nikki--that shed more light on the situation.

    And, you're right about the 3 steps back for every 1 step forward.

    They all have different personalities, too, I'm sure.

    I don't know if you guys are familiar with Linda Tellington-Jones' book about how conformation informs personality, but there is some wisdom in much of it. I'm assessing Beautiful's personality right now, and I'll add it to the blog when I'm finished. :)


Please feel welcome to join our discussion by telling us about your own thoughts and experiences.