Science Escapes Wyoming Legislature on Horse Bill

by PATRICIA M. FAZIO as published in the Casper Star Tribune

Recently, I read a report that the gap between the public’s beliefs and scientific fact is rather large — and growing. The gap between the Wyoming Legislature and science might be described as a chasm. A recently passed resolution (HJ0003), describing the wild horse as “feral,” ignores a large body of science that clearly shows the North American wild horse is, in fact, a reintroduced native wildlife species. That’s not opinion. It’s scientific fact. Worse, the term “feral” is a human construct with no biological meaning. But legislatures can do pretty much what they want without dealing with facts.

Modern genetic studies, using mitochondrial DNA and ancient DNA analysis have shown that the horse that disappeared from North America 7,600 years ago is, in fact, the same species that the Spanish reintroduced into America in the 1500s. The modern horse would have gone extinct had it not crossed the Bering Land Bridge before its disappearance from our continent. But it did cross and thrived in Asia and Europe and North Africa until finally returning home to the land of its origin. This is not the opinion of some activist wild horse advocacy group but facts derived via up-to-date science. Does it matter that the American Museum of Natural History agrees with this definition of the horse as a reintroduced native species or that 5,000 years of domestication did not alter the fundamental evolutionary-driven genetics, physiology or social organization of the modern horse, which has been around somewhere between 250,000 and 2 million years – in North America? Apparently not, in the Wyoming Legislature. What’s happened here is that pure politics, attaching a negative term “feral” to a species that is truly wild has, once again, trumped science and fact.

Commentary: Horse People

by John R. Killacky as published in the

“This delightful bit of insight is centered around the world of a boarding barn, where different equines and humans mix in an tight and intimate group.  Another dimension of equine interaction goes to those who live with their horses, on their own land;  communication and exchange is continual with support coming from other like families within the expanded equine community.  Be it global or centered in a simple stall, the bond between human and horse is unlike any other.  Enjoy.” ~ R.T.

Equine photographer Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation with several members of the rescued Fitch herd ~ photo by R.T. Fitch

Equine photographer Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation with several members of the rescued Fitch herd ~ photo by R.T. Fitch

In yoga I’ve learned the term kula, a Sanskrit word for an intentional community. As I journey through my day, I realize I have many kulas, all with different shared values and norms. Family, workplace, friends and neighbors – these are some of the communities I inhabit.

There’s another at the barn where I board my Shetland pony. Here status is irrelevant. The virtues of simplicity are revealed through mundane chores. It’s really hard to be grand mucking out stalls or pounding through ice in frozen buckets.

People’s identities are determined through their relationships with their equines. Morgans, thoroughbreds, quarter horses, my Shetland and others are boarded together — each breed has certain characteristics. And every animal also has a distinctive personality: bombproof, flighty, cranky, laid back or hyper. Like people, they change with age, and human gravitas is earned as we adapt to their behavior.

I’ve now been part of the barn long enough to see little kids on lesson horses grow up to be like the teens they once admired. They amaze me as they pick themselves up after being thrown and jump right back into the saddle. They teach me that fear is to be overcome, or at least managed.

But I really feel part of the late night adult crew. Lawyers, researches, teachers and administrators – we don’t spend a lot of time talking about day jobs, more on what our animals have been up to. Feeding, care, and training tips are topics of conversation. The norm here is to offer advice only when asked. Conversely, request help and everyone is willing.

Success is hard won in the training arena. Mastery is elusive, failure and setbacks are routine. Everyone struggles to improve their dressage and jumping, or for me, learning the fine points of driving my pony from a cart. Trainers and off-site clinics help, but just as important, barn mates are crucial to any improvement I make.

But when my Shetland whinnies, all else are left behind. We’re not two separate beings, but one, as I lose myself in the intense focus of grooming and working with her; other times we play with no agenda.

As she grazes, I stand beside her, trying to be mindful as we observe each other. She is fundamentally joyful, inquisitive, and spontaneous – all traits I want more of. In knowing her, I learn more about myself and carry this back into my other worlds.

Bad Ranchers, Bad Cows

by Vickery Eckhoff as published in The Daily Pitchfork

A newly published study offers photographic proof of what ranchers have long denied: the extent to which livestock grazing damages public lands. (Part III of a series on ranchers in the media)

Private Cattle being moved on Antelope Complex while the BLM was removing wild horses ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Private Cattle being moved on Antelope Complex while the BLM was removing wild horses ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Livestock have been severely depleting public rangelands for decades. They do so by trampling vegetation, damaging soil, spreading invasive weeds, polluting water, increasing the likelihood of destructive fires, depriving native wildlife of forage and shelter and even contributing to global warming—all of which has been noted in study after study. Global studies. Peer-reviewed studies. Government studies. Lots of studies going back many years.

So why do people get up in arms about drilling for oil in the Arctic national wildlife refuge, demolished forests and polluted streams, but accept cattle trampling wildlife refuges and national parks, forests and grasslands as if that’s a productive use of our nation’s shared landscape?

Why does that damage—amounting to as much as a one billion dollar subsidy to a very small slice of the livestock industry every year—go unmentioned by a media that so eagerly condemns climate change deniers and proponents of fracking?…(CONTINUED)

Click (HERE) to read the rest of the story

Click (HERE) to read Part II of this series

A Boy and His Horse: A&M Large Animal Hospital Helps Restore a Special Bond

Story by Megan Palsa as published on Texas A & M Veterinary Medicine website

“This ‘Feel Good Sunday’ we would like to share with you a story of a group of people who are very near and dear to the hearts of all equestrians in our part of Texas; they are the staff and students at Texas A & M University’s Large Animal Hospital.  In our parts, when a vet conducts an emergency field visit to a sick or injured horse and quickly accesses that the situation is more than he can handle the equine patient is immediately transported to Texas A & M University in College Station, Texas…a mere 40 minute trip for us.  A & M has saved one of our horses from the jaws of death and also eased another gently across the bridge.  I will never forget the sympathy card signed by all who attempted to save the life of a very dear equine friend of mine.  Their sincere care, concern and compassion are forever emblazoned upon my heart; so today we tip our hats to those who endeavor to dedicate their lives to better the bond between both horse and human.  Simply put; Thank You!” ~ R.T.

It is often said that dogs are man’s best friends, but sometimes a horse can be a boy’s best friend. Throughout history, humans and their horses have shared a unique bond. Drawn to their overwhelming power and mystique, they continue to be an integral part of our lives. Ten-year-old Kaden Ramirez and his horse, George, share a bond that is deeper than most.

Growing up immersed in the rodeo culture, Kaden’s love for horses was almost predestined. However, it wasn’t until he was diagnosed with autism at the age of six that rodeoing became more than a hobby; it became his therapy.

“It took almost two years for George to fully learn Kaden, which is a feat considering that the process of buying and training a horse for him is very intensive,” said Kimberly Ramirez, Kaden’s mother. “People would stop me and say, ‘Wow, it looks like Kaden finally learned that horse,’ and I would say, ‘No, George finally learned him.’”

The dynamic duo has been rodeoing together for a little over two years now and began excelling in barrel racing all over the region this past year, recently claiming the all-around title in La Grange. Not only has rodeoing with George brought Kaden extraordinary pleasure, doctors have confirmed that participation in rodeos has helped his symptoms.

On the night of September 20, 2014, George had an accident and poked his eye with an unknown item in the pasture, resulting in an emergency trip to the veterinarian. After being treated by their referring veterinarian, the eye was not progressing as they had hoped, so George was sent to Dr. Leslie Easterwood at the Texas A&M Large Animal Hospital.

“George came to the Large Animal Hospital with a five day history of a puncture to the left eye after showing little progression. Dr. Sam Williams, a Texas A&M graduate who had been treating George in Victoria, Texas, sent him for an injection into his eye that is not commonly done out in private practice,” said Easterwood. “He had some fibrin (inflammatory material) inside the anterior chamber of the eye that was preventing his pupil from opening. If the fibrin remained in the eye, the pupil would remain closed, and he would not be able to see once the puncture was healed.”

Although a horse can typically function and perform various activities with the loss of sight in one eye, it would be dangerous for the duo to continue barrel racing unless George regained enough sight in the eye. The extensive veterinary procedures have led to costly medical bills. Easterwood and her team decided, however, that they would do all in their power to keep this duo together.

“After hearing the story about the bond between George and Kaden, we were moved, and agreed to keep George in the hospital to help provide him with the best chance at sight. George would be a very good teaching case and could offer our students the opportunity to follow the case the whole way through and see the effects of our treatments,” Easterwood said. “Although the Ramirez family had not asked for any help, we were more than happy to provide it. The family’s friends also started a GoFundMe account to help with expenses from both our hospital and the charges from Dr. Williams.”

Easterwood and her team kept George over the weekend, performing ultrasounds on the eye to monitor progress with the fibrin, and over time, the pupil opened and George became responsive to light. “These are both good signs that we will hopefully have a sighted eye once the corneal healing is over,” said Easterwood.

An entire community waits anxiously for an update on George’s condition, but none more so than 10-year-old Kaden. Regardless of the outcome, this dynamic duo will stay strong.

“The Texas A&M Large Animal Hospital is a wonderful and caring place,” said Ramirez. “Dr. Easterwood, her team of students, and all of the staff were very dedicated to not only George and Kaden but also us as a family. I feel they all went above and beyond the call of duty, and we will always have a special place in our hearts for this animal clinic. They have made Kaden a big Texas A&M fan, and he now keeps up with all of the football games and wants to get everything in maroon; A&M has made a friend for life.”.

Hunter Involved in Horse Shooting Works For a NY Sheriffs Office

Source: story by Brett Davidsen as published on WHEC News 10

“How do you mistake a horse for a coyote?”

Hunter_involved_in_horse_shooting_works_for_Ontario_County_Sheriff39s_Office-syndImport-053802For weeks, many of you have been asking us to look into the case of two horses shot by hunters in Livingston County.

It happened last month and since then we’ve put in several calls to police and the state Department of Environmental Conservation trying to track down answers. Finally, Wednesday we received a release about the incident and Thursday we learned one of the men involved works for the Ontario County Sheriff’s Department.

Ontario County Sheriff Phil Povero says it was not his investigation, so he was not at liberty to release information. Why the DEC waited more than three weeks to tell us what happened isn’t clear and the horse owners tell News10NBC even they were left in the dark.

Owner Tom Maggio says, “We’ve had horses all our lives. They’re just like your kids and that’s how you feel. You’ve lost one of your family. That’s how my wife feels.”

Maggio is still trying to make sense of what happened on the land in Nunda where his wife and stepdaughter both raise horses.

Last month two licensed hunters taking part in a coyote hunt shot two of their horses in two separate locations on the property. One horse died. The other horse, Comanche, was wounded. The bullet is still lodged in his left shoulder. It initially had us asking how an incident like this could happen.

“Let me ask you the same question? How do you mistake a horse for a coyote?” asks Maggio.

After the incident occurred, News10NBC began asking questions of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the investigating agency. The DEC offered little information. Yesterday, it announced it had taken action against the two hunters identified as Christian Smith, of Phelps, and Glenn Gosson, of Fairport.

The DEC revoked their hunting licenses for three years, fined them $200 dollars and had them pay restitution for the value of the dead horse, its burial fee and veterinarian bills for Comanche. What the DEC didn’t mention is that Smith is also a law enforcement officer. Thursday, in a prepared statement, Sheriff Povero confirmed Smith is a lieutenant working in the corrections division. Povero would not take questions, saying it’s a personnel matter.

“The Ontario County Office of Sheriff is now conducting a separate internal investigation relative to the off-duty conduct of this employee,” says Povero.

Smith remains on active duty. Maggio wonders if the DEC dragged its feet on the investigation and let the men off easy because Smith is in law enforcement.

“I just don’t feel that,” says Maggio. “You know, it was swept under the carpet — too much doesn’t add up.”

We went to the DEC’s regional headquarters in Avon to get more answers. We were told no one was available to speak with us, but someone would call, no one did.

“Something needs to be changed,” says Maggio. “It really, really does. Because this time it’s a horse, next time it might be one of us.”

Maggio says he was never even told the names of the hunters until he heard them on the news Wednesday. He says he believes the men feel bad about what happened, but also says he believes they have given other hunters a bad name.

Battling Horse Slaughter: The Good, the Bad and the Stupid

Source: Anonymous Contributor

“Below is an actual recent phone conversation between a well known equine advocate (name withheld to protect the innocent) and a horse hater (name withheld to protect the stupid) who crawled out from underneath his rock in an obvious effort to display his lack of knowledge, education and social mores.  True, it is just another day in the life of an advocate but often it helps to share some of the joy with other like minded souls.  Enjoy!” ~ R.T.

A redneck sounding guy from (deleted) left me a voice message to call him this morning. Five minutes later, he left a second and identical message. He said it was about horse slaughter. I told (delete) it did not sound like one of our folks! She said “I think that is a safe assumption.”

I called him back and the conversation went something like this (although he continually talked over me):

Eaten  horse is good fer ur complection, er, looks

Eaten horse is good fer ur complection, er, looks

Him: Are you (delete)?.
Me: Yes

Him: Are you against horse slaughter?
Me: Yes

Him: Can I ask you why on earth you would be against it?
Me: It is a cruel betrayal to the horses and the meat is unfit for human consumption.

Him: I could understand that if you were a woman who had raised a horse as a pet, but for a man to think like that is ridiculous.
Me: I can see how a person like yourself might confuse compassion and femininity. Still, I am against cruelty and selling contaminated meat.

Him: Bull s**t!  Ever since the GD Congress closed the plants you can’t get jack for a horse and they are suffering.
Me: Well, how do you say that given there was no reduction in the number of horses going to slaughter. They just went to Canada and Mexico.

Him: I don’t say we should kill all horses, I wouldn’t kill a really good one. But you used to get $1,500 for a nag, now you can’t get $300. I have a load of horses here that I am taking down to Mexico to get knocked in the head and make me some money. (I think he was trying to get me upset with that imminent threat. Like I would panic at the thought given the river of horses we have had to witness going to slaughter all these years.)

Me: You better hurry, the Europeans won’t take the meat any more because horses are not raised as food animals and they have found lots of dangerous drugs in the meat. I am sure you know why slaughter animals have ear tags.

Him: Bull s**t! We use exactly the exact same drugs on cattle as horses and just keep them up for 30 days.
Me: Then you better hope you don’t get caught! Besides, I have studied the statistics and found closing the slaughter plants had nothing to do with the rate of abuse and neglect. Again, how could it if we still slaughter just as many horses?

Him: Bull s**t! It destroyed the horse market.
Me: Then you can tell me how many horses we sent to slaughter last year?

Him: Probably about 20,000.
Me: Over 150,000. Ask the USDA.

Him: It wasn’t enough!
Me: How many would we need to kill to make the market improve? Did you know that breeding is way down since 2005?

Him: Horse crap. The auctions are full of horses and you can’t get anything for them. Every jackass in the world is breeding a horse in their backyard because they think they need a colt.
Me: We agree on breeding! However, if you don’t believe breeding is down, talk to the AQHA, their registrations are off more than 50%.

Him: The AQHA is disgusting. They wrecked that breed. Quarter horses are just pigs on stilts now.
Me: Hey, we agree again! But it is happening to all breeds.

Him: You are the stupidest men I ever met.
Me: Perhaps, but I think you confuse your strongly held opinions with knowledge. I have had my work reviewed in a law journal and they found it accurate. BTW, if you want to know what really causes abuse and neglect to increase it is the price of hay. It has increased 250% in many states over the past decade.

Him: Of course feed is important. The drought has hurt a lot of livestock business, but that all happened after the plants closed.
Me: No, one of the biggest droughts was in 07-08. It hit the Southeastern and Northwest US hard, just as the US plants were closing. Besides, the biggest impact has been from the shift of land use away from hay and into subsidized corn for ethanol as the price of gas went up. Hay crops were dropping every year until about a year ago.

Him: What is wrong with slaughtering horses right here and creating some good jobs for Americans?
Me: The jobs wouldn’t go to Americans, they would go to illegals like they always have, and they are not “good” jobs. They are dangerous and low paying.

Him: So what?  Illegals need to earn a living too. (I can’t believe this guy would be pro-immigrant!)
Me: Do you know what a horse slaughter plant does to the crime rate in a town?

Him: You have to be an idiot not to see that this all happened after the plants closed.
Me: Perhaps you should look for some facts to go with your opinions. It really helps drive your points home.

Him: Where the hell do you live? I bet you live in New York City?
Me: Virginia

Him: I bet you never even owned a horse in your life.
Me: We have 15 and I have owned horses for 50 years. You?

Him: Then you are a GDMF dumb ass <click>

Gotta love it!

Calgary Alberta: Wild Horse Rally Friday

Courtesy of

Ghost River

Wild horse advocates are holding a rally this Friday, Feb. 20, at the McDougall Centre, 455 6th St. SW, Calgary at 1 p.m. to protect the Ghost River wild horses that will be culled by the Alberta government.

The group says the Ghost River Equine Zone is home to an uncertain number of wild horses and the government intends to have 50 to 60 horses removed by Feb. 28.

Following a number of flyovers, the group claims the numbers provided by the government are incorrect.

“Due to a complete lack of transparency and accountability on their part, we took to the air again this year to check out the horse numbers in the cull area for ourselves, said Darrell Glover, of Olds, AB. “After culling 218 horses from the Ghost in 2012, who can possibly justify removing any more horses from the year? If they take the very few that are left from the South Ghost, they will never recover.”

They are inviting people to attend the rally.


Note from Debbie – here is where you can write to tell the Alberta government that you won’t be spending your tourism dollars there because they are removing the wildies:


EU Ban does Little to Slow Export of US Horses to Slaughter

Source: Equine Welfare Alliance and Wild Horse Freedom Federation

An official AG’s opinion from the Texas Attorney General’s office is clear-cut: these shipments violate Texas law.

Slaughter BoundEquine Welfare Alliance and Wild Horse Freedom Federation continue to monitor the shipment of horse meat from Mexico into the Port of Houston, and then on to other countries. There are two important reasons we are doing this. The first has to do with Texas statutes and the second is related to the recent EU decision to ban Mexican horsemeat.

Texas Ag. Code 149 is a 1949 law that makes the shipment of horse meat illegal in the state of Texas. This is the same law that in 2007 closed down the plants in Texas and the same law that made American Airlines cease shipping horse meat from the two Texas plants. Attorneys have researched the issue and believe that once again this state law is being broken.

An official AG’s opinion from the Texas Attorney General’s office is clear-cut: these shipments violate Texas law. We are working closely with the Harris County (Houston) District Attorney’s office to try to gain compliance.


Secondly, the EU food safety ban of horse meat from Mexico took effect January 15. We have been carefully monitoring the shipments through the Port of Houston to determine the effect of the ban on the export of horse meat from Mexico. Since 87% of horses slaughtered in Mexico and shipped to the EU are American, we expected a sharp decline in shipments. This decline would logically be consistent with a sharp decline in the number of American horses exported from the US to Mexico for slaughter and shipment to the EU.

The number of US horses exported to Mexico for slaughter has gone down since the EU ban took effect, but not nearly as much as expected. USDA data shows that in the four weeks since the effective date of the ban, fewer horses have been shipped to Mexico from the US for slaughter compared to last year. However, the reduction thus far seems to be no more than 10% to 20%, far less than the hoped for 87%.

We must, however, realize that the plants may have had an order backlog with non-EU countries and that they could keep their volume up for a while by clearing this backlog. There are some indications that this may be at least partially the case given the most recent reports, but only time will tell.

The last shipments from Mexico prior to the EU ban were not scheduled to arrive in Antwerp until the 16th of February. All of the eight containers were shipped through the Port of Houston in violation of Texas law. Intermeats and Empacadora De Carnes De Fresnillo are listed as the shippers.

Questions remain. Has the EU food safety ban been fully implemented? What will be its longer term impact on the export of US horses? Are other non EU markets taking the horse meat banned by the EU as unfit for human consumption?

What we do know is that two shipments were dispatched from Mexico in early February, after the effective date of the EU ban. The shipments from Empacadora De Carnes De Fresnillo were consigned to non EU countries, Russia and Vietnam. We anticipated continued exports to these two countries, as well as possibly Hong Kong, given pre-ban trade patterns.

Texas Man Charged for Allegedly Dragging Donkey Behind Truck

Source: Multiple

“Unfortunately, this is local news for us and very disturbing” ~ R.T.

The man is accused of tying the donkey to his truck then driving down the road, right past the intersection of FM 1485 and State Highway 242.

The donkey shows no signs of what eyewitnesses say was a disturbing sight. The animal was being lead by the driver of a pickup truck who had tied the donkey to the ball hitch.

“That’s pretty terrible,” witness Hazik Hassan said.

Hassan saw the donkey after the driver was stopped by Montgomery County law enforcement. The donkey had been on a trek of at least six miles.

“That was a long way for a horse, and it was an older horse, mule I mean. You could see its ribs and everything, that’s pretty sad man,” Hassan said.

Montgomery County authorities say 21-year-old Nasim Irsan is being charged with cruelty to animals. Deputies say the donkey had a single rope around his neck with the other end wrapped around the trailer hitch.

It reminds Kimberly Ray of My Feed Store and More of another case two and half years ago when a donkey named Suzie Q was dragged behind a truck sustaining severe injuries.

Nasim Irsan has been charged with animal cruelty for the incident.

“You’d figure that people would learn from someone else’s mistakes because that other gentleman ended up spending quite a bit of time in jail,” Ray said.

And while this donkey is in far better shape than Suzie Q, Ray says it’s no excuse for tying an animal behind a truck.

“They could get scared, get spooked, break a leg, get tangled up in the rope, get out in traffic. It’s not a good way to transport an animal. That’s just not a good way to do it,” Ray said.

The donkey is now with local animal control officers.

Irsan is being held in the Montgomery County Jail without bond.

Our Valentine Story

SOURCE:  Fleet of Angels News by Elaine Nash, Director, Fleet of Angels  (written 2/15/15)

“Many thanks to Elaine Nash for giving up a birthday dinner to save a burro and ultimately calm the nerves of our own, loving, Debbie Coffey!!!” ~ R.T.

Our "Valentine" in an auction pen on Valentine's Day.  (photo by Debbie Coffey)

Our “Valentine” in an auction pen on Valentine’s Day. (photo by Debbie Coffey)

Photo: Anna's daughter, Audrey, grooming Valentine the next day.

Photo: Anna’s daughter, Audrey, grooming Valentine the next day.

I have a nice story to tell you.  Last night I got a call from Debbie Coffey, one of our amazing equine advocates.  (You may know her from her radio show, Wild Horse and Burro Radio.)  Debbie called because she’d happened upon a sweet little domestic jenny donkey standing all alone in a CA auction pen- just hours before she would be herded down the alley and into the auction ring.

The little jenny was standing in a corner, looking very forlorn.  Debbie said that she couldn’t just walk away, so she called me and asked if I could help her find a way to save the burro.  The jenny would need a home to go to, Debbie said, because she didn’t have a place for her, herself.  While I was talking to Debbie – who was standing beside the burro, someone happened to walk by.  Because Debbie doesn’t have hands-on experience with horses, I suggested that she stop the passerby and ask her to help her check out the burro for soundness, estimate of age, etc.

The passerby turned out to be Anna Reminger, who was there checking out some horses in the auction.  Anna proved to be a real godsend.  She stayed until late into the night, helped Debbie bid on the burro, and they bought her!  Anna took the newly dubbed “Valentine” home in her nice trailer, and is putting her up for QT, having her vet come do a vet check and Coggins, and is having her farrier come help Valentine with her feet – which are in pretty bad shape.

In the meantime, I called…. yes, you guessed it, Carole Mj, one of our campaign’s wild burro buyers (wild burro, not wild Carole- lol) who enthusiastically agreed to give Valentine a home in Las Vegas, NV.  Valentine will be pals with Carole’s burro, Bronx.  Anna will transport Valentine to Carole when she’s ready to go in a couple of weeks.

Anna Reminger, the newest "Angel" in the Fleet of Angels

Anna Reminger, the newest “Angel” in the Fleet of Angels

And – Anna has now joined Fleet of Angels, so is now one of our Angels, officially.

Isn’t that just the best Valentines Day story??  Helping was an unplanned – but wonderful, way to spend the evening of my birthday. (We don’t know if Carole’s going to keep the name Valentine.  That’s just what we helpers came up with, considering the day this happened.)