Good Day!

Its another travel day for me and as my friend Polly says, on Sundays, I am like a trail horse headed home. As much as I love to travel, heading home is always the best part. Cant wait to see my dog, my horses and my husband (not necessarily in that order, of course). But for now I am sitting at an airport, waiting on a delayed flight and wishing I had stayed in bed another hour.

It was a busy weekend at the Women & Horses Expo. Although the turnout was small, the people were great and I had some good demos and fun horses to ride. There were lots of Mustangs there and I rode a cute little Mustang pony in one of my demos. I think that the Extreme Mustang Makeover (EMM) has really revitalized the Mustang market and given new life and enthusiasm to the ownerswhat a wonderful thing. The wild horse dilemma is a tough situation for which there seem to be no good answers. Too many Mustangs sit unwanted in government holding pens as humans encroach on their range but the EMM has been so outrageously successful that more and more people are jumping on board and adopting. Sadly, many of the Mustangs rounded up are so traumatized that they aren’t offered for adoption, but the others are getting placement a little easier due to the attention the EMM has brought.

Having seen one large holding facility with more than 450 head of unwanted Mustangs in ita sad sight of diseased and depressed horsessometimes I wonder if it’s humane to keep them in prison until they die of some disease that runs rampant through an over-crowded herd. It would be a perfect world if these horses could just stay on the range and live happily ever after but in this reality, the cattlemen win out because you can place a dollar figure on the value of cattle, so the sparse forage is given to the cattle. This whole situation is compounded tremendously by the bill passed by Congress that banned the slaughter of horses in the US. Now in addition to the 100,000+ head of unwanted horses that used to go to slaughter every year, we also have hundreds of Mustangs to find homes for and the shelters, sanctuaries and rescues are all full to capacity, fighting for funding and struggling to take care of all these unwanted horses. You may not like the thought of horses going to slaughter, but sometimes I wonder if it is the most humane alternative. I hate that horses are starving to death or suffering the fate of uncertainty and abuse. I know this is a touchy issue but horses being shipped to slaughter in Canada and Mexico by the thousandswas highly predictable. Whereas we used to be able to regulate the transport and humane slaughter of horses, now they are truly on their own, with no regulation, and the end result is not pretty.

How do you weigh in on this subject? Do you have experience with Mustangs? And what about the unwanted domesticated horseswhat will happen to them now? Do you think the breeding of horses should be regulated by the government, as it is in other countries, to cut down on the unwanted horse population? Due to the poor economy, the slaughter bill and the lack of a basis for the horse market (like it or not, the killer horse market used to be a bottom line for horse prices and now there is no bottom), the lower end horses are extremely difficult, if not impossible to sell now. How do we climb out of this hole and how do we protect the unwanted horses from a fate worse than death?

Its a heavy subject for a Monday, but one that needs our thought and attention.

Until next time,

Julie

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17 Comments

  1. Here’s an interesting thought: The annual cost of maintaining 33,000 mustangs alive in government facilities is less than the cost of ONE DAY of war in Iraq.

  2. How do I weigh in on the subject?

    Anti-wild horse people are doing a great job of scaring us all into thinking there are no solutions except mass killing.

    There ARE other, more humane solutions. YES WE CAN!

    Let’s start with “How did we get into this mess in the first place?” And its follow-up – “even if we did erase the current 33,000, what is to prevent it from happening again?”

    BLM has operated these past decades with basically one management tool: the gather. MANY other options have long been – and continue to be – available to them. Rangeland improvement, water deveopment projects, birth control applied widely instead of just “study areas.”

    As Patti Colbert, head of the mustang Heritage Foundation, said, the current burgeoning holding pens are not an overpopulation problem – they’re the result of poor marketing. The adoption program is poorly funded (the poorest-funded program within the entire BLM and its “parent” the Department of the Interior), poorly marketed (although improving, but unfortunately the times are so tough economically that it may seem not to be working).

    Not all BLM facilities are staffed with people who see promoting adoption as a priority in their mission and duties. This has not been true in my personal experience – I’ve always had good experiences – but I do hear persistent reports across the country of people who find that many BLM personnel seem not to want to be bothered by their desire to adopt – it is just a lot easier to round ’em up and ship ’em off to long term holding.

    BLM is a huge federal bureaucracy. I know many BLM employees who are passionate and dedicated, who got into it becasue they love horses, and then I know others who are just trying to get to retirement and don’t actually know or care much about horses. And I know still others who are right in the hands of the well-organized, highly politicized anti-horse groups like NRA (who wants to the range for hunting and doesn’t want competition for their bighorn sheep) and Big Oil & Coal & related minterals (who don’t want horses messing with their pipes and drilling/mining and railroad lines), the military (who has a legitimate gripe about the incompatability of wild horse herds and military training agendas on the same land), cattlemen (most of whom are NOT the small family operations they would like us to think), even environmental groups like the Sierra Club (who believes horses are non-native) and general land development interests.

    For the past several years, the Department of the Interior (which BLM is a part of), has been directed by appointees who have not been pro-environment or pro-wild horse. Hopefully we will see a change in the future, but the wild horse is still officially classified as a feral non-native species, so that’s not a given.

    Currently BLM waits til horses are starving and then has to do an “emergency” gather. But such emergencies happen because no one was minding the shop in the first place. Those are foreseeable and preventable emergencies if the range is being managed diligently.

    My solution? Take the money that would be going into gathers and put it into short term support for horses still on the range. Put a moratorium on gathers for 2 years OR until the 10,000 to 15,000 young highly adoptable horses currently in holding are adopted, whichever comes first. At that time the holding pens will be down to just the older poorer adoption prospects. These can also be placed by working with individuals and groups who want them for the ambience. Examples would be retirement developments with the word “Wild Horse” in them, projects such as the industrial park on the border of Reno/Sparks that “adopted” two intact family bands of Comstock Range wild horses because the people who work there enjoy watching them, etc.
    Those that remain unplaced would then be sent (if they aren’t already there) to the government sanctuaries in Oklahoma, and they would be down to a number that we can afford to allow to live out their lives in a humane environment.

    After the two year period, actively manage the herds on the range (including widespread birth control and environmental improvements to reverse damage done primarily by the millions of cattle who spend their springtime on the range each year) so that the only gathering needed is within the scope of adoptability. In other words, if 7,000 can be adopted or placed annually, manage the range so that you don’t need to gather more than that.

    There ARE solutions – we just need the Will to think outside the box and try them.

  3. Wow! The diversity of opinions in response to Julie’s “unwanted horses” blog is mind-boggling, from both the mustang & abandoned domestic horse perspective. I’m from Texas where our legislature finally passed an effective bill last year banning horse slaughter in our state.

    To the good-hearted folks who pushed for the ban, this probably seemed like a simple solution to a cruel practice. But like all matters that involve animals and their quality of life, there are hidden complications with far-reaching effects attached to the law that people didn’t foresee.

    First and foremost, the bottom dropped out of the equine market which means even young, registered horses are worth less at auction. Performance horse breeders are liquidating their stock of young horses, and many breeders have gone out of business. Second and even worse, slaughter buyers were suddenly left with pens full of unwanted horses they couldn’t sell. Since the ban put small-time buyers out of business, the majority of these horses were abandoned & left to starve. Law enforcement agencies and animal rescue organizations are maxed to the limit in dealing with this problem. With their limited resources, veterinary care and maintenance is beyond the scope of rescue workers.

    Slaughter buyers and even ordinary folks with horses they simply can’t afford to keep, have been dumping these unfortunate animals on remote country roads to fend for themselves. My husband and I adopted one such horse last February, an ancient thoroughbred race horse (ID via a lip tattoo,) who was wandering the dirt road near our ranch. He was sick, extemely emaciated, and incredibly filthy, but trying his best to survive on water & dog kibbles that our neighbors had left out for their dogs. We named him Chance, given he now has a chance to live, and put him with our other rescue horse, a mare named Hope. After nearly a year of veterinary care & good food, both horses look & feel much better. But prolonged starvation is harder on senior horses than it is on younger ones. Neither of ours will ever be sound enough to ride. But their kind old souls make them a pleasure to care for, so they’re enjoying a comfortable retirement in a forever home.

    Ironically, with Texas’ proximity to Mexico, the horse slaughter business of gathering horses in the US hasn’t stopped. It just moved across the border where there are NO humane slaughter regulations. (We’ve all heard about what happens in Mexico.)

    The anti-slaughter law shut down plants in Texas and put small-time shippers out of business. Of course, this opened the window for large slaughter shipping operations to make more profit. The result is that horses are being shipped in greater numbers for longer distances. Since auction prices are lower, shippers are choosing only sound, young horses that can survive a long trip in crowded conditions. Older horses are passed over. There’s no market for old horses, so what happens to them? Based on what we’ve already seen, the answer is abandonement & starvation. Given the negatives of the anti-slaughter law, it makes one wonder if good intentions haven’t gone awry and actually made things worse for horses…

  4. Wow! The diversity of opinions in response to Julie’s “unwanted horses” blog is mind-boggling, from both the mustang & abandoned domestic horse perspective. I’m from Texas where our legislature finally passed an effective bill last year banning horse slaughter in our state.

    To the good-hearted folks who pushed for the ban, this probably seemed like a simple solution to a cruel practice. But like all matters that involve animals and their quality of life, there are hidden complications with far-reaching effects attached to the law that people didn’t foresee.

    First and foremost, the bottom dropped out of the equine market which means even young, registered horses are worth less at auction. Performance horse breeders are liquidating their stock of young horses, and many breeders have gone out of business. Second and even worse, slaughter buyers were suddenly left with pens full of unwanted horses they couldn’t sell. Since the ban put small-time buyers out of business, the majority of these horses were abandoned & left to starve. Law enforcement agencies and animal rescue organizations are maxed to the limit in dealing with this problem. With their limited resources, veterinary care and maintenance is beyond the scope of rescue workers.

    Slaughter buyers and even ordinary folks with horses they simply can’t afford to keep, have been dumping these unfortunate animals on remote country roads to fend for themselves. My husband and I adopted one such horse last February, an ancient thoroughbred race horse (ID via a lip tattoo,) who was wandering the dirt road near our ranch. He was sick, extemely emaciated, and incredibly filthy, but trying his best to survive on water & dog kibbles that our neighbors had left out for their dogs. We named him Chance, given he now has a chance to live, and put him with our other rescue horse, a mare named Hope. After nearly a year of veterinary care & good food, both horses look & feel much better. But prolonged starvation is harder on senior horses than it is on younger ones. Neither of ours will ever be sound enough to ride. But their kind old souls make them a pleasure to care for, so they’re enjoying a comfortable retirement in a forever home.

    Ironically, with Texas’ proximity to Mexico, the horse slaughter business of gathering horses in the US hasn’t stopped. It just moved across the border where there are NO humane slaughter regulations. (We’ve all heard about what happens in Mexico.)

    The anti-slaughter law shut down plants in Texas and put small-time shippers out of business. Of course, this opened the window for large slaughter shipping operations to make more profit. The result is that horses are being shipped in greater numbers for longer distances. Since auction prices are lower, shippers are choosing only sound, young horses that can survive a long trip in crowded conditions. Older horses are passed over. There’s no market for old horses, so what happens to them? Based on what we’ve already seen, the answer is abandonement & starvation. Given the negatives of the anti-slaughter law, it makes one wonder if good intentions haven’t gone awry and actually made things worse for horses…

  5. My hubby and I adopted our first Mustang in 2000, and since then we’ve been totally hooked, and now own 5, plus a mustang-cross mule, 2 BLM donkeys and 1 mammoth saddle donkey.

    We are active BLM volunteers who halter train “failed adoptions” for successful re-adoption, and we mentor new adopters who may have hit a temporary snag in gentling their new Mustang. I also created and maintain a large informational website Mustangs 4 Us
    (www.mustangs4us.com ) We also organize and/or help with public events that help promote and educate about Mustangs.

    In my experience Mustangs are rarely emotionally scarred from the gather experience itself, though if it is a large gather and they are at the back of the pack they can have (usually temporary) dust-inhalation health problems. Where they do suffer is in the holding pens, where they are separated (and I agree such separation must happen, its just sad for the individuals) by age and gender, and they must learn to eat hay and live in much closer proximity to one another than they are used to on the range. Stress-related infections are not uncommon within the first few weeks after being gathered. The BLM facilities I have visited all take excellent care of the animals and do their best to minimize the stresses and to maintain a healthy environment.

    The Mustangs in government holding pens are “unwanted” mainly because the major management technique used these past many years has been gathers, regardless of adoption market. I would like to see more efforts toward on-the-range-management, such as water development projects, birth control, and helping locals develop “eco-tourism” horse-watching as an economic stimulus for appreciating Mustangs on the rangelands they lease at ridiculously low prices from the government.

    I would also like to see the older, unadoptable wild horses – as well as ALL wild mules – allowed to live out their lives on the range. They are very poor adoption candidates, and have no future in holding pens.

    The politics of wild horses and burros are extremely charged and polarized, and BLM tends to respond to the squeakiest wheel, which has been the anti-wild horse interests in recent times. The highly-organized rangeland cattle raising industry, mineral and industrial development, housing development interests, the Military, The National Rifle Association (who see wild horses as interfering with proghorn and bighorn sheep hunts, etc) and even the Sierra Club (who – mistakenly in my opinion – see wild horses as invading alien species) etc, all have organized and well-funded lobbyists, and the wild horse has no such lobby in its favor except on very grassroots levels.

    Wild horses are definitely wanted by the American public ON THE RANGE – and 6,000 – 10,000 are wanted by adopters each year.

    Mustangs as an adoption choice should not just be rescues or a sympathy cases. They are fabulous horses. Even the ones who derive entirely from domestic stock have been bred almost exclusively by Mother Nature since at least 1971,(with a few high-profile herds being the exception) so the vast majority are hardy and strong, with good bone and excellent functional conformation. Because overly reactive, nut-case horses get hurt out on the range, Mustangs generally have quiet, intelligent minds. They live in highly functional social units, and once they let go of their fear of people, they will amaze you at their good manners. They know how to respect space!

    They do tend to be “Black Belts” at reading you, however, which is why a lot of people get into trouble with them – they read the real you, not the fake smile, and they act accordingly.

  6. “Diseased and depressed horses”??? You say this of mustangs? Mustangs are a product of natural selection. Only the strongest, hardiest, and healthiest survive. I’d really like to know what oyu mean by diseased Julie. I can’t accept that label otherwise.
    To repeat the already repeated, I too will say that Mustangs are awesome horses, very trainable, very loyal and devoted and very intelligent. As the adopter of 3 so far and 3 in training through the BLM and the Mustang Heritage Foundation I can’t find a negative in my vocabulary to describe these majestic animals. I have one 2 yr old, three 3 yr olds, and two 4 yr olds, and one 4 yr old captive bred mustang at the moment. Only one of the above 7 horses listed is not completely gentled yet. She’s a 4 yr old and still wants to hang on to her wild roots a little bit longer. Her adopter is anxious to take her home and continue the journey with this mare, which will be full of rich rewards in the years to come.
    Mustnags are very strong and hardy. I’m willing to bet you didn’t see diseased horses.
    Kahlua, the pony you rode is a wild caught mustang. I don’t need to tell you how good she is do I? I have pictures from the Expo of Kahlua and Jessie, wish I could insert one here for all to see a mustang in action.
    To people reading your blog I have one thing to say:
    Do something wild; Adopt a Mustang.
    You will not regret it.

  7. Mustangs so traumatized by roundup that they are unadoptable? This has not been my experience at all. I can see your point that there are unwanted Mustangs, but I disagree that there are mustangs too traumatized to be adopted out.

    The first mustang I adopted was what some people might have called “unadoptable” because he was 4 years old. Any reasonable horse person knows that a 4 year old horse is still curious, still trainable. In fact, I would say an older horse is more mature of mind and body, making him therefore easier to train.

    I can’t imagine a baby mustang would have bonded with me any earlier than this “old” mustang did. I believe this gelding would have given himself up to some friendly rancher, had he not been gathered. 🙂 He’s got itches he can’t reach, loves having his beautiful, long mane combed and is completely content to jog into his warm stall on cold winter nights.

    I have had my gelding for seven years. He excels in dressage and out on the trail. I ride him three times a week and his wonderful ground manners and smooth gaits make him a joy to be around. His hooves are strong, he has never shown any signs of colic and even when viruses run through our boarding barn he somehow manages to stay healthy.

    I don’t know how to fix the problem of unwanted horses of all breeds standing around in backyards. I don’t know how to fix the problem of mustangs standing around in BLM holding pens for years.

    I do know that I have saved this gelding from the labels “unwanted, unadoptable and untrainable.” I do know that I have helped by adopting this gelding and showing others that he is very valuable and highly desirable.

    We need horse lovers to DO something. Don’t sit on your tush, hiding behind the excuse of “I can’t fix the whole problem.” Fix what you can. Do what you can. How much change would we give this world if we all simply did what we could?

  8. I don’t have a bunch of good answers to all of your questions, but I do have to say that the slaughter market where I live is still alive and well. And I do not believe that slaughter is an ethical option to end a horse’s life. Unless it were at the meat packer down the road, which for some reason isn’t done. Large-scale shipment and slaughter of horses is just plain inhumane, whether it’s in the US, Canada, or Mexico. I would never, ever, ever send a horse down that road. I’d rather shoot them myself and dig a hole by hand.

    I have some mustang experience. I have to say that my mustangs that I have started from scratch have been far better horses than any horse I have ever bought. Today on the trail my four year old mustang behaved like a perfect gentleman while two older quarter horse mares fought and threw fits. Not that the mares are bad, they just need more work.

    I’m a mustang person, can’t see myself ever being anything else. The bond is strong.

  9. Oh do I ever agree with Angela’s comment that Mustangs are addictive and you won’t go back to domestic’s once you own a nice Mustang! I started out adopting one Mustang filly, to use as a brood-mare for breeding mules. I have since re-homed all my other (domestic) horses and continued to adopt more Mustangs… about a dozen in all. These wild horses are amazing animals! Very different from domestic horses. I will never own any horse but a Mustang from now on. And I cannot applaud EMM and the Mustang Heritage Foundation for what they have done to promote this extremely strong “breed”.

    On the issue of Mustangs vs. cattle on public lands… it really has nothing to do with the value of the cattle, as there are less than 2% of all U.S. cattle raised for meat, grazing on public land. So, the cattle grazing on public land basically do not even affect the cost of meat we buy at the market. There is simply a very strong cattlemen lobby, which is determined to get unbelievably cheap (almost free) grazing rights for a few select cattlemen and they then want all the wild horses off the public lands because they eat some of the grass. It’s a matter of greed. The numbers of cattle on public lands are tremendously greater than the nunmber of wild horses on public lands. The horses belong to the public, and are a disappearing living legend… the cattle belong to a few select cattlemen, who are using public land for their own personal benefit. How many of us can feed our livestock for less than $2 a MONTH? (That’s all they pay) If this were truly bringing down the cost of meat to us, the public, it might be different. But, it doesn’t.

    However, once we lose these precious wild living legends, they will be gone forever. A century ago an estimated 2,000,000 (2 million) wild horses inhabited the United States. It is officially estimated that there are less than 25,000 (25 thousand) left running wild today. But, there are over 6,000,000 (6 million) cattle grazing on public lands today… all for personal gain.

  10. Hi, Julie!

    It’s Karen, whom you met in Colorado 3 years ago at the spring clinic in Colorado Springs. I own the black mustang who took a nap during our groundwork; you said, “That little horse might not respect you, but he sure does trust you!”

    I adopted Ranger as a wild horse from the Burns, OR BLM. He’s my first horse, ever, and I gentled him myself. I was the first person to ride him. He’s AMAZING–I couldn’t have asked for a better friend or partner.

    We won High Point in Training Level (dressage) at the winter series last year, and High Point in the Versatility Ranch Horse summer series. We’ll be working towards our bronze medal in 2009, and hoping to compete at the State level in VRH. So, yes, mustangs are incredible, versatile, hardy horses.

    For those interested in mustangs, please join us at the wild horses and burros yahoo group: http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/wildhorsesandburros

    As for the unwanted and excess horse population, no one answer is perfect. Thus, I think a multi-pronged approach is the best management tool. I’d like to see breed organizations add a surcharge to registrations. Make it a high surcharge to register a new foal ($100 or more), and perhaps a $5-10 surcharge for yearly registrations. That money could be earmarked for rescue and euthanasia. It might make breeders think twice about producing foals without a thought to their future. Since unregistered horses don’t bring as much money, it might help the over-breeding problem. Some of that money might even help people who DO want their horses, but just can’t afford them any more due to our terrible economy–a lot of people have taken very good care of their horses for a very long time, but when it comes to choosing between buying hay or feeding the kids…

    In the meantime, keep showing off those mustangs and educating people one person at a time–that’s how Wild Horse Annie did it!

    Karen

  11. It is interesting to read your comments about mustangs. We have twelve horses (techincally 10 horses, 1 burro and 1 mule) – and five of them are mustangs, as is the burro. All of them, except one mustang, was a “wild” adoptee. We have found mustangs to be highly intelligent and very trainable. We don’t feel that mustangs require any special abilities to train – just not your first horse perhaps.
    Mustangs could be managed properly in their herd areas with simple birth control practices. The BLM’s determination of what an unadoptable mustang is leaves much to be desired. Our adorable little burro is a three strikes burro, my mustang was a two strikes mustang. Simply being presented to the public at an adoption day is a strike. Any mustang over 10 is automatically considered to be unadoptable. The entire equine industry is responsible for the current state of horse overpopulation. The various breed registries that allow multiple foal registrations from mares should be ashamed of their “pro” slaughter stances. The equine market has been artificially propped up for years and there’s no government bail out coming for the industry. This is not an issue faced by just mustangs. This is an issue the entire equine industry faces. We frequent the local auctions, and can sometimes bring an old soul home to end his/her days on our ranch. We have two such souls right now, a clydesdale with 23 degree rotation founder and a elderly arabian mare. For now they are happy and comfortable, but their days of riding are behind them and they live a peaceful life until their journey over the rainbow bridge.
    I believe the problems look most people in the mirror each morning … you can either make your corner of the world better or you can continue about your business oblivious to horses needs around you ….

  12. “Sadly, many of the Mustangs rounded up are so traumatized that they are unadoptable, “

    Huh? This may make for good press, but surely is not true. But then, I suppose unadoptable is in the eye of the beholder. I see them as individuals, some are just greater challenges and sweeter victories than others.

    I’ve also been to holding facilities with hundreds of horses and after a winter in the care of the wranglers, they’re fat, sassy and terribly healthy. They’ve never had it so good. Think about it…a smorgasbord of food that’s delivered to your door twice a day, rain, sleet or snow, and fresh water at your whim. Diseased and dying? I’ve really got to wonder which facility you visited to see this, and if the horses you saw were direct from the range.

    I don’t know…I guess I see things in a totally different light…

  13. Hi Julie:

    Thanks for your comment about the cute mustang pony you rode….Her name is Kahlua and she is my daughter’s best friend & best mount…We are a family that is owned by our 3 mustangs….And enjoy promoting that mustangs can be a safe and reliable mount for anyone with just a little extra work initially. Warning though, mustangs are addictive! Once you own a mustang you won’t want any other breed! The bond is incredible! Anyone wanting to check out our Midwest Mustang and burro group please go to http://midwestmustangandburro.com/default.aspx
    and check out the little girl on the palomino/creme horse…That is Jess and Kahlua!

  14. Robert mentioned the cartoon “Spirit”, interestingly the horse that was the model for horse in the cartoon was at the Sedalia, MO Women and Horse Expo. A beautiful stallion and had an amazing demo of ground work.

    I know of only one or two herds of wild horses here in MO. The mustangs are shipped in for adoption by the BLM. I agree with Julie that there was a good group of mustangs at the expo and several performed well.

    I so enjoyed the information that Julie shared with us and am glad she referred us to her website and blog. While she didn’t have time to talk in detail about the horse slaughter situation at her lectures, I’m glad she came home and wrote about it. Indeed our congress did not do the nation any favors when the passed the anti-slaughter bill. We live next to Truman Lake, a Corp of Engineers own property. Last year the Mo Department of Conservation found a dead horse with a halter still on it, dumped out on the public property. There are rumors that there have been horses turned loose on the public property around the lake because of the anti-slaughter bill. I haven’t seen any of them yet, but neither have I seen the cougars at are in the area either, but they are here.
    I hate to think what their fate will be in a few years.

  15. That’s interesting, I don’t associate wild mustangs with that part of the county … but then again, I’ve never been to “the show me state,” which among all the states probably has the best motto, right behind NH’s “live free or die.”

    We’ve been watching this really fund cartoon called “Spirit” which sort of glamorizes the idea of wild horses, … but that’s just the operating theme of the cartoon.

    The relationship in general between horses and humans is really fascinating, and so much tied to who we are as people and a culture.

  16. All of my parents’ horses are Mustangs or Mustang-crosses. My dad’s Mustang was adopted through the BLM by someone who couldn’t handle him (Ranger was 9 when he was rounded up) and sold him to my dad. It took a lot of time and patience to train Ranger, but it was well worth it. We all learned a lot about horse handling during Ranger’s training, the most important being that you can’t “cowboy” a Mustang. If you try to “break” a Mustang, you’ll end up being the one broken.

    My mom’s horses are Mustang crosses; each was “found” with its mother during spring round-up for a local livery. In the past, these foals were killed because they were thought to be useless animals – good for nothing. It turns out that they are unbelievably smart and sturdy mountain horses and the livery has since stopped killing them outright and sells them after each spring round-up.

    It is important to realize, though, that it does take specialized education about Mustangs to safely train them – they don’t react to things the same way domesticated horses do – this is something that my parents learned the hard and painful way.

    It breaks my heart to hear of so many Mustangs rounded up and dying a slow death while waiting for adoption, especially having spent the last nine years around my parents’ Mustangs. If more people understood what amazing animals Mustangs are, I think they’d be more adoptable. Thanks to the EMM more and more people are seeing them as viable alternatives to the more expensive horses. I’ve not seen a better trail horse than a properly trained Mustang – my own non-Mustang horse included.

    Shawntel

  17. It’s unspeakable the way horses are killed in Mexico. No horse should have to endure that gruesome end. At least Canada is similar to the U.S. in its practices. If the newest anti-slaughter bill passes which will eliminate all horse slaughter for human consumption, I think low cost euthansia might be a way to go. But, then we need a low cost disposal method-maybe incinerators?
    People MUST stop breeding a horse just to breed and practice responsible horse ownership!!


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