BLM Bypasses Ginger Kathrens, R.T. Fitch and other (real) wild horse advocates once again

By Debbie Coffey, Vice President and Director of Wild Horse Affairs, Wild Horse Freedom Federation.    Copyright 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

In reading the BLM Press Release below, a few things stand out, besides the fact that we don’t see the names of Ginger Kathrens or R.T. Fitch on this list of people who were just appointed to the BLM’s National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board.

Advisory Board Nominees R.T. Fitch and Ginger Kathrens speak at press conference during BLM Advisory Board meeting in March 2013 ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Advisory Board Nominees R.T. Fitch and Ginger Kathrens speak at press conference during BLM Advisory Board meeting in March 2013 ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

While Ginger Kathrens (Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation) has spent many years studying actual wild horse behavior on the range, BLM’s new appointee Dr. Sue M. McDonnell maintains a semi-feral herd of ponies specifically for the study of their physiology and behavior under semi-natural conditions.”  McDonnell’s books are published by The Blood Horse and Eclipse (Blood Horse Publications) Blood Horse Publications is owned by the Thoroughbred Owners & Breeders Association, which promotes thoroughbred racing and breeding.

According to the BLM Press Release below, Dr. Robert E. Cope moved to Idaho and was “elected as a Lemhi County Commissioner in 2001 and currently serves in that position.”   Dr. Cope has been “active in the National Association of Counties” and served as the vice chair of its Environment, Energy, and Land Use Steering Committee for nine years.

This is kind of interesting, because the Nevada Association of Counties recently filed a lawsuit against the BLM to remove wild horses, and to euthanize all wild horses in holding.  The White Pine County Commissioners (Nevada) voted to donate $5,000 to support this lawsuit, and Elko County Commissioners (Nevada) voted to donate $10,000 to support this lawsuit.  BOTH of these counties are members of the NATIONAL Association of Counties.  Meanwhile, Iron County Commissioners in Utah are threatening to illegally roundup wild horses.  It seems we’re seeing a pattern with counties.

In documents received in a Freedom of Information Act request, even Edwin Roberson, BLM’s current Assistant Director of Resources and Planning, noted that county interests could be seen as representing livestock interests.  Robertson noted “Wild Horse and Burro Advocacy Groups may see a county elected official position on the Board as an attempt to make the Board membership weighted towards livestock interests, which is already represented.  Many of the Wild Horse and Burro advocacy groups have already accused the Board of this.  Livestock interests in the many western states and groups like the Public Lands Council will likely be in favor of a county official position on the Board.”

Roberson also noted “The Nevada Association of Counties (NACO) and the Western Counties Alliance (WCA) have requested that a county elected official position be added to the Board.  Director Abbey responded to NACO in the attached letter, dated September 27, 2010, explaining that any change in membership categories will require a change in the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board’s Charter and encouraged NACO to nominate individuals that qualified for the present existing positions.”

And then, referring to WH & B Advisory Board member Callie Hendrickson, Roberson noted “Presently one of the public interest representatives now on the Board is closely aligned with county representation in Colorado as the Executive Director of Colorado Association of Conservation Districts.”

Finally, in the press release below, it states “In Fiscal Year 2013, the BLM generated $4.7 billion in receipts from public lands.”

In other words, in only one year, the BLM sold off over 4 1/2 billion dollars of public lands and public resources, so if you hear anyone bring up the money BLM spends on holding facilities for wild horses at this National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board, direct their attention to the money BLM rakes in on our natural resources.

SOURCE:  blm.gov

Bureau of Land Management Contact: Tom Gorey For immediate release: Friday, April 11, 2014 (202-912-7420)

BLM Announces Three Selections for National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board

The Bureau of Land Management announced today that the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture have made selections for the three open positions on its nine-member National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board. Dr. Sue M. McDonnell of West Chester, Pennsylvania, has been appointed for the category of wild horse and burro research; Fred T. Woehl, Jr., of Harrison, Arkansas, has been appointed for the category of public interest (with special knowledge of equine behavior); and Dr. Robert E. Cope, DVM, of Salmon, Idaho, has been appointed for the category of natural resources management. Each individual will serve a three-year term on the Advisory Board. Dr. McDonnell is Clinical Associate and Adjunct Professor of Reproduction and Behavior at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Also, as a certified applied animal behaviorist, she consults privately on equine behavior and welfare. Dr. McDonnell, who holds a Ph.D. from the University of Delaware, co-edited the current leading academic book on horse behavior, titled “The Domestic Horse: The Evolution, Development and Management of its Behaviour,” published by Cambridge University Press. Mr. Woehl has been involved in the horse community for more than 40 years as a trainer, natural horsemanship clinician, and educator. He is actively involved with the Equine Science Department at the University of Arkansas and taught Equine Science at North Arkansas College. He has served as a volunteer for the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program for 10 years, conducting demonstrations of wild horse versatility and assisting with adoptions. Mr. Woehl worked as a senior agricultural adviser for the U.S. State Department from October 2008 to November 2009 in Iraq, where he was responsible for the development and implementation of agricultural programs and policy for the Ninewa Province. Dr. Cope, who earned his DVM at Kansas State University, has practiced veterinary medicine since 1975. After relocating to Idaho, he was elected Lemhi County Commissioner in 2001 and still serves in that position. Dr. Cope has been active in the National Association of Counties (NACo), serving as chair or vice chair of NACo’s Environment, Energy, and Land Use Steering Committee for nine years. As a veterinarian for nearly 40 years, Dr. Cope has focused on large animals, particularly range livestock. The National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board advises the BLM, an agency of the Interior Department, and the U.S. Forest Service, part of the Agriculture Department, on the management and protection of wild free-roaming horses and burros on public lands and national forests administered by those agencies, as mandated by the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. Members of the board, who represent various categories of interests, must have a demonstrated ability to analyze information, evaluate programs, identify problems, work collaboratively, and develop corrective actions. Information about the board can be found at: http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/whbprogram/Advisory_Board.html The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’s mission is to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under its mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield. In Fiscal Year 2013, the BLM generated $4.7 billion in receipts from public lands.

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Wild Horses Expected to Explode from near 20,000 to 69,000 in only One Year

OpEd by R.T. Fitch ~ president/co-founder of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The Magic of Federally Perpetrated Propaganda and Blatant Lies

BLM mouthpiece predicts that sex crazed wild horses to triple in number within 12 months

BLM mouthpiece predicts that sex crazed wild horses to triple in number within 12 months

There was a time, not long ago, when the Department of Interior’s (DoI) Bureau of Land Management (BLM) would slip in a few false numbers and bad mathematical equations when publicly discussing the last remaining wild horses and burros on western public lands.  But now the federal propaganda machine has turned up the volume and enlisted the help of their bed-fellows, cattlemen, to such an extent that anyone with an education beyond that of the third grade can tell that they are out and out lying.

For the last several years the enemies of America’s national icons have loosely stated that there are between 30,000 to 40,000 wild equines roaming upon their rightful land on 10 western states.  (These numbers have never been verified but all leading indicators point to more like 20,000ish are still free.)  And the number held unnaturally imprisoned has always hovered around 50,000 give or take a couple of thou.  All of this bad math has remained constant while the renegade agency has consistently ripped an average of 12,000 wild ones a year from their federally protected homes.  “Duhhhhh, do the math, boys!”

AND if left on their own the wild ones will double in herd size every four years; WHAT?

You do know that they are stoking the fires behind the scenes to actually kill our wild horses, on sight, and sell the prisoners of their concentration camps to slaughter, don’t you?  That is why they have hand picked an advisory board that is made up of 50%+ openly pro-slaughter mouth pieces with the bulk of the remaining members being pro-cattle and hunting special interest representatives.

We, Wild Horse Freedom Federation, exposed in a FOIAed internal BLM document that high ranking BLM officials have and currently are discussing killing wild horses on the range; well now they have their special interest buddies doing the same in public media.

One Thomas Mitchell wrote an editorial in the Ely Daily news that the wild, or in his uneducated opinion (feral), horse population is going to explode, overnight, to 69,000 (where the heck did that number come from) and that killing them is a viable option.  In what galaxy does that make sense?

He referenced our exposed document, without naming us of course, and included that the AP had said paperwork, yes…from us, but then rambles on about the deadly sage grouse and all of the damage herds of crazed wild equines will wreck upon his much coveted and loved Nevada.  Give me a break.

The only common ground that we share with this BLM puppet is that contraception can be a viable option of on range management IF and only IF it is done correctly and used only where needed…on viable herds, not the decimated majority of herds that the BLM has run into ruin by attacking them with helicopters at about every opportunity or when the mood so moves them.

Let’s get this right, folks; you know that the BLM is lying when their lips are moving.  Not only do they fudge the numbers but also it has been verified by the National Academy of Sciences that was hired BY the BLM to look at their broken Wild Horse and Burro program.  Did they, the BLM, pay heed to what the NAS said in their report and get their act together, hell no.  They just plod on under the direction of their semi-covert buddies and plot to wipe our wild equines off from the face of the planet.

Public beware; there is a Wild Horse and Burro apocalypse coming and it is closer than you may imagine.  The BLM has been creating a false emergency of loading up all of their short and long term holding facilities so that they can look to their big brother government and shrug their shoulders and say, “Day gots ta go!”, and the killing shall begin.

We need to ensure that our natural, four legged resource is protected for years to come and to do that we must expose the BLM for being the corrupt and mismanaged that the agency really is.

The evidence is there, in black and white, all we need to do is spread the news and shine the light…it really is just that easy.

The BLM cannot be left to their own corrupt devices and be allowed to manage our wild equines into extinction.  That cannot happen, it must not happen and we, meaning you and me (us), are the only hope that the horses have for salvation.

Let us not let them down!!!

Click (HERE) to comment directly at the Ely News

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For the Love of a Dog, Companion and Friend

An original story by R.T. Fitch

“It’s ‘Feel Good Sunday’ and I am going to do something different, today.  Instead of sharing something that someone else has written I have penned, for you, a few thoughts and feelings that crossed across my heart this very morning.  A true blog is supposed to be an online journal of the creators thoughts and plans but we use this as a sounding board for the causes and issues that engulf our American Equines both wild and domestic.  But today I wax a little emotional with an eye turned inward, not a bad thing to do to revitalize one’s heart and soul.  So today I share this moment in time and hope that the love and the glow reaches out through the words to touch your heart and brings you great joy.  Keep the faith, my friends.” ~ R.T.

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Suzie ~ photo by Terry Fitch

Suzie ~ photo by Terry Fitch

I woke up rather differently this morning.  Only three days into attempting to pull myself backwards in time from living 13 hours ahead of U.S. Central time; the night had been sporadic and unsettled enough without my wife’s phone pinging an audible text message signal at 0523 hrs.

“Who would be texting her at this hour?”, my jet lagged brain attempted to deduce when it chimed again, followed by a ping.

I tried as I may to keep my eyes closed and my mind turned off when it happened yet a third time and when I heard the following ping I realized that the last tone was and had been coming from my phone recharging in the kitchen.

“Who would be texting both of us at this time of day?” I thought as I stood up from the bed and scooped up my clothing, flashlight and Big Max from their every ready state next to our bed.  (Yes, being a former volunteer fire fighter has taught me to be ready in an instant, even when you are asleep.)

I scrambled to the kitchen while pulling on pants, shirt and socks only to realize that I could not read the messages on the phone without my glasses, getting old is such a bitch.

Once I had the Coke bottle bottoms latched onto my face I could read that the messages had come from one of the barn’s internal surveillance cameras as movement within our closed up barn had activated it and there were no horses inside…this peaked my interest.

So I strapped Big Max onto my right hip, not for protection from critters but the two-legged kind, and put the torch in my left pocket while heading for the garage door only to almost trip over our geriatric German Shepherd, Suzie, sprawled out in front of the back door.  She struggled to stand when she spied me out of her last working eye; I could tell by her expression that she wanted to go out.  So I helped her up, as she has trouble standing, and opened the back door for her to go out.  I closed the door behind her and turned away as it pains me to watch her struggle to negotiate the three low steps that take her down to the patio, she is tough though.

I exited the house through the garages and opened up half the barn door with torch in hand.  Quickly flipping on the light switches I was greeted to a great big nothing, no one or no thing was there.

I entered and listened for any sort of sound and nothing came bouncing back to my ears.  Methodically I opened up each stall door and peered inside with the LED torch ablaze, nothing.  I looked up into the haylofts and walked over to the ladder, “A raccoon could be up there I thought”, so I pocketed the torch and headed up.

Once up I could clearly see the second hayloft and it was clear, I could look down into all of the stalls and nothing stirring.  Likewise I surveyed the storage area over the tack room and the bales of hay in the loft itself and not a creature was stirring, not even a rat.

Hmmm, something must have triggered the camera but it was obviously not inside anymore so I carried my search outside to the parameter of the barn.  Nothing to the north, east or south but down in the western pasture the eyes of the grazing horses and deer reflected back to me as did two rabbits nibbling grass in the backyard.

False alarm, so I retraced my steps down the barn’s drive, across the driveway and into the garages and back into the house where I knew a hot cup of tea would help clear away the cobwebs of jet lag, as it always did.

But once wide awake with a steaming hot cup of hand carried Chinese Ginseng tea in hand I noted yet another alert coming across my phone, a weather warning.  It seemed that a narrow band of thunderstorms was bearing down on us from the northwest so instead of making a detour into my home office to work on a morning installation for the blog I headed back out the garage door to sit and watch the natural fireworks in the darkness of the early morning.  It would be refreshing and rejuvenating.

So I sat under the west garage’s porch as I sipped my tea and listened to the distant rumble of the storm; suddenly my chair nudged from behind.  It was Suzie, she had finally made her way around from the back and was coming to the garages to see if any of her people were about, and they were…I was there.

I looked down at her and scratched her graying chin, she closed her eyes and instead of gracefully lying down next to me she did the only thing she can now do to recline, she fell with a thud.  Riddled with arthritis she cannot bend like she used to so she just falls and each time she does it I become a little shaken.  But she does not cry, whimper or complain; it just is.

I have talked with Terry about releasing her, about allowing her to transcend her aging and crippled body but Terry claims that she has not asked nor is she ready.  We must be patient and help her whenever we can; she deserves that much respect.

But I see her fail more each time I am away and then return, so much so that I said my heartfelt goodbyes before I left last month as I was certain that she would not be here upon my return, she proved me wrong.

As the breeze began to freshen and the petals from the Bradford Pear tree blossoms fell on us like snow I looked into her one seeing eye and listened, I tried to shut my mind off so I could hear her and to my dismay I found that my brain would not stop talking and continued to yapp away about her condition.

I looked away as the first drops of the storm began to fall and noted that both of us were a little too close to the edge of the roof line to be fully protected from the rain.  I stood up to move my chair back and Suzie took that as a cue to move, too.  She sat up on her front two legs and paused, I saw her hesitate and then she looked right into my heart and said, “Help me”.

I did; I hugged my arms around her and gently slid her back to my chair so that she would not have to go through the effort of trying to stand up, move and then fall down again.  I just placed her next to me and we both watched the rain.

As the rain fell I softly laid my left hand on her head and gently rubbed her ancient brow as my heart felt yet another hole beginning to form as a piece of me was beginning to dissolve.  It hurt, the knowing of impending loss yet there was a glow under my hand as I softly rubbed her ears as she looked out upon the storm.

I listened over the thunder, wind and rain and I could hear a faint sound of warmth, a feeling of love and a musical note that came not to my heart but instead to my soul.  I listened without my ears and I could hear Suzie humming, not loudly but contently and with great love.

I looked down at her as she looked up to me and I swear that she smiled as I heard her say, “Not today, but soon.  I love you.”

It was not a raindrop but a tear from me that landed between her paws and with her tongue outstretched she gently licked it up and kissed my hand.

We smiled and then turned to the storm.

“Not today,” I sighed.

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An Equine Christmas Story: We Were There

Excerpt from the book “Straight from the Horse’s Heart” and commentary by author R.T. Fitch

“This is the last installment of our Christmas Marathon of Equine stories as…Christmas is here.  And in reality, I hope that few of you read this tale but instead are enjoying the day with your family and friends.  But to those who visit us, today, we wish you ONLY the very best and thank you all for what you do for the horses, donkeys and mules. 

Our companion equines are more than just friends; to Terry and I they are family and I thank them for the bond of friendship that we have been blessed to share.  Merry Christmas my friends and let the Force of the Horse burn brightly on this day.  Keep the faith.” ~ R.T.

It was like any other evening feeding of the horses, yet it was not; or not quite, as something was different.  The air was crisp and cool as Christmas was only a week away in South Louisiana, but the feeling had little to do with temperature or barometric pressure.  There was an electric buzz in the air; the feeling of white noise just outside the audible range of the human ear.  There was something tangible and moving in the barn that night.

I did not pick up on it at first.  Terry, my wife, was off having an early Christmas with her family in Florida, which means that the barn chores and the feeding of all our four-legged children rests upon me when I return home from my office in the evening.  And, at this time of year, it is already dark.  It’s a matter of rushing home, putting the vehicle up for the night, greeting and playing with Kenny, the white German Shepherd who is so excited to see you that he bounces three feet high, dashing into the house to turn on lights, checking messages, changing clothes, feeding the cat; then back outside to dribble the bouncing dog; and into the barn to cook dinner for the equine boys.   Oops, I missed that while in the house I might fix an industrial strength Wrangler Iced Tea to take out to the barn with me, not a requirement, but a nice reward for all the running around.

I scurried into the tack room, flipped on all of the lights and turned up the radio as Christmas music was the order of the day.  As I carefully measured varied degrees of hoof supplement and rice bran with their normal pelletized feed, the thought crossed my mind that my parents, especially my mother, never had the opportunity to see our equine kids nor experience this very special side to our otherwise very busy lives.  I paused from humming along with the radio and reflected on what a tremendous loss that was.  I resumed mixing and humming with a small pang of sadness in my heart.

I went from stall to stall filling up the appropriate feed bins with the proper amount of food.  Each time I exited a stall and went back to the tack room I asked Kenny how he was doing; he sat so attentively out in the driveway.  This simply inquiry would start the bouncing, again.  I’ll never figure out how a 100 lb dog could bounce so high and he made me laugh.  I was just about finished with the mix of the last meal when the traditional and expected three measured knocks came to the back door.  Terry and I have learned to keep the back “horse” door closed until ready to let the horses in as it is such a pleasure to hear those three distinct and perfectly timed and executed knocks.

We know who it is and he does such a good job at it.  It’s Ethan.  He is the King of Knocking, the Guardian of the Food Gate, and the funniest of them all at feeding time. ,

I hollered back through the closed doors that I was hurrying and would be right with him.  With that, I dumped the last bucket of feed in Apache’s stall, walked to the back, and carefully cracked the sliding doors.  Who was standing with his head pressed to the middle of the doors, Ethan, as always.

“Are you ready?” I asked and a part of me picked up on a gentle nod and smile.

The doors were slid open, the breezy gate was swung out and, as they do every night, they came in the barn in perfect order to eat the dinner that I had labored over in preparation for them.

First came Ethan, then Harley followed by Apache and bringing up the rear is the biggest, the youngest and the most fearful, Bart.  He feels more comfortable when they are all tucked away in their stalls with their doors closed so that no one can stick their head out and attempt to bite him as he walks down the aisle.  He actually stops and looks into each one of their stalls and you can almost hear him say, “Ha, Ha, you can’t get me now”.  Hopefully, one day, he will grow up.

Immediately the barn was full of the sound of relaxed munching and filled with the sweet odor of horses and feed.  I looked back at Kenny who only bounced two feet instead of three feet off the pavement hoping that I might sit down and enjoy this moment.  I went into the tack room to pull out a chair and sit in the center aisle of the barn to commune with the horses. My Brazilian hammock, however, caught my eye.

“Ah ha” I cried and snatched up the hammock with one hand while I grabbed the “tea” in the other.  This could be good!

Two quick slips of “S” hooks into the installed tie rings on to opposing stalls and I had the hammock swinging across the center aisle in a heartbeat.  Kenny lay down, as I eased into the hammock, because he knew that this could be awhile.  I sat down with my back propped up and began to swing while singing along with the Christmas music from the radio.

It did not take long to realize that my singing was not appreciated.  Bart began to pound on the stall wall with his right front hoof and Apache quit eating to urinate, on the clean shavings in the stall, in protest of my singing.  I actually was not too offended by Bart’s signal to quit but for Apache to pee in his stall was pushing the envelope a little too far.  I felt rather hurt so I just shut up, set my drink down on the aisle floor and listened to the sounds of the horses mixed with the sound of Christmas.

The music stirred emotions from seasons long past:  seasons of happiness, hope, disappointment and most recently, pain.  But I am the Captain of my ship and I had no intention to sail into dark and murky waters this night.  I simply wanted to let go and feel the companionship of my friends around me.  That’s when I heard the buzz.

At first I thought that the radio was slipping off from its frequency but the music was still there, clearly playing.  The buzz was overriding the music; the “white noise” was multidimensional and not strictly coming from the tack room.  I did not make a serious attempt to think about it as the sounds and smells were like candy to my senses and the buzz was only the canvas that the painting of the moment was applied to.  I relaxed.

I closed my eyes and continued to rock back and forth.  There was a feeling of warmth in the barn, while all of those equine souls were inside eating and enjoying.  The buzz, on the other hand, continued to grow.  In the beginning it really was not something that I was paying much attention to but now I attempted to tune into where it was coming from and what it was.  I continued to rock.  I could still hear the horses and the music but now the buzz was growing in volume.  As I continued to mentally identify its source, it was becoming ever more evident that the sound, itself, was coming from within.  It was coming from inside of my head and not related to anything outside of myself.  I was aware that I was humming “Away in the Manger”, along with the radio but it was becoming evident that the white noise was music also.  In that music there were whispers, words, phrases and thoughts being conveyed.  Without knowing it I gave in to the music from within and opened up to the whispers and words.  There were many voices with varied depths and pitches although different they all blended together in song and, it was soul stirring.  I listened and listened and listened until I finally made out the words that were being sung to me.  It came as abruptly and as clearly to me as if a sonic boom had just resonated throughout the barn.  In thousands of voices, from deep within my soul, the words being sung in perfect harmony were “We were there!”

I stopped rocking and the singing stopped; there was total silence.  My eyes popped open and I was looking straight up.  Once they focused I could see two small sparrows in the barn’s rafters looking straight down at me.  They were looking directly at me with calm assuredness.  The radio was silent, only my breathing could be heard.  I sat up and looked at the stalls; all of the horses were looking directly at me, calmly, with their heads bowed.  I then gazed out across the moonlit pasture and could see the little donkey and her herd of cows staring directly into the lighted barn.  Not one of them was moving.  I quickly swung around and looked out the other door for Kenny; he was laying calmly with his head between his paws and his big brown eyes starring right at me.

I went to stand and in the silence the words came again, “We were there!”  I froze.

“We were there that night”, the collective voices continued.

“Wait, what, who?” I started to ask.

“Just listen and absorb.  Do not ask, we will tell.” the voice said.  “We were there in the stable, that night.  All of us in one shape or form.  We were there long before human shepherds and nobles came to see.  We were there to see him take his first breath.  We were there.”

“It is important, at this time, for you to know that we were the selected witnesses, the guardians and the companions of the Son of the Light.  You need to understand that we are closer to the source of goodness and purity than all mankind.  You need to know that your fight for our lives is a just and noble one.  All of you humans who guard and protect us walk in a very special light.  You have now been there too; now you know and now you must continue the fight”, the voice ended.

“Wait!  What do you mean I was there too?” I called.  I stood up and turned around because I did not know who I was talking to.  I looked at the horses, the dog, the birds, the donkey, and the cattle.  ”What do you mean?”

Reality had yet to come to me as I stared into the horses’ eyes.

Again, the voice returned, “You were there, too.  When you opened your eyes, just a few moments ago, what did you see first?” it asked.

I stammered for a second and came up with, “The birds; the birds in the barn’s rafters.”

The voice asked, “What did you see next?”

“Well, I saw the horses looking at me from their stalls, the donkey, the cows and Kenny the bouncing dog, all looking at me.”

“Yes”, the voice said, “And what were the first impressions in the life of the Gifted One when he first opened up his eyes in that stable long, long, long ago”?

“I would imagine that when he first opened his eyes, lying in a manager, he saw the rafters in the barn ceiling with the birds looking down…” I stopped talking so quickly that I almost bit my tongue.  There was a warm sensation washing over me and it was more than just the tie-in and realization of what had just occurred.

I could not speak and was about to sit back down when the voice added;

“Yes, you see now.  You have been there too.  We all have been there yet, few humans can remember.  This is our gift to you.  Carry the light and chase the darkness; we love all of you for what you do.”

Hearing those words, there was something else, I could not then nor can I now describe it.  Perhaps a sigh, perhaps it was a catch as if emotion had welled up but there was something there, not spoken, that touched me more than the words.

In a dreamlike state of numbness I began the process of releasing the horses from their stalls to their pasture; this is done in the exact reverse of the entry process.  I moved like a robot as the power of the words and the moment were still within me.  I opened up Ethan’s stall and he walked out and stood in the middle of the back door as he often does.

Harley was next.  I stood at his stall door and allowed my hand to move down his furry side as he calmly walked by me and out past Ethan.

Apache usually flattens his ears when he sees Ethan in the doorway and chases him out; but not tonight.  When I opened up his stall he calmly walked past us both without any notice.

Finally, Bart was freed to return to the beloved round bale and as he exited I asked him to stop and I gave him a hug.  He gently kissed my bald spot and headed out past Ethan.

I then turned my attention to Ethan; I stood next to him in the doorway and gazed out upon what he was viewing.  The donkey and cows had gone back to grazing in the moonlight and the neighbor’s horses were tucked away in their barn with their heads hanging out.  Our three were all drinking from the trough, together, and the sky was fantastic with the moon and stars.  It was picture postcard perfect.

As he stood next to me I put my hand on Ethan’s withers.  He turned to me and put his left nostril right against my heart which placed his left eye at the same level with mine.  I said, “Merry Christmas, my friend.”  He blinked, turned and then stepped out into the night.  As I watched that big Appaloosa butt dwindle from the light of the barn he stopped and turned.  Regardless of what anyone says, he had the biggest smile on his face that any horse could have.

I lowered my head, pulled my glasses off to wipe the tears off the lenses, closed the back door, walked past the still full glass of tea sitting on the floor under the hammock, turned off the lights, walked out of the barn and stood over Kenny who had still not budged.

“Want to go inside, boy?”, I asked.

He bounced five feet high this time and we happily dribbled each other up the driveway to the house like we were two ten year old kids headed for a game of basketball.

The moon cast shadows of us dancing on our way as the horses continued to hum in the pasture,

“We were there”.

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The Advocate, the Guard and the Force of the Horse® at Christmas

story by R.T. Fitch ~ author, president of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

“It is ‘Feel Good Sunday’ and our long term readers have brought to my attention that it is time to dust off some of our formerly published equine Christmas stories and start stirring the hearts over this holiday season; so for the remaining Sundays prior to Christmas, Christmas Eve and the 25th of December will be dedicated to sharing tales (tails) from Christmas’ past.  Who knows, maybe even something new will surprise you over this season.  So please enjoy and allow these vignettes to sincerely help you ‘Keep the Faith’.  Best to all!” ~ R.T.

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A Christmas Story for the Wild Ones

Reprint from December 11, 2010:

He checked the time again.  Not an easy maneuver as he had to take his right glove off, shove the left cuff of his parka up, peel back the wrist band of his left glove and then hit the backlight button on his Casio $19.99 special.  Only bought the stupid thing because of the digital thermometer feature it offered and now he wished it didn’t have it as it chilled his insides just looking at the numbers, 33 degrees inside the protection of his parka.

The shivering cold almost kept him from observing the time, 2148 hrs; he thought that was what it said eons ago.  If it weren’t for the seconds blinking and counting down he would have sworn that the watch had frozen and no longer worked.  He tapped the crystal just for good measure and recoiled a bit as the tip of his index finger reverberated with pain from the simple move.  Almost frost bitten he readjusted his left sleeve and hurriedly put his right glove back on.

‘Rotten cold’ he thought.  Brought back memories of sleeping in ditches in Afghanistan in the dead of winter, thoughts he could have lived without.

He stomped the ground, gave himself a big bear hug and began walking towards the compound’s gate.

‘Maybe walking will generate some heat, besides, I wonder what that stranger is up to on top of the ridge.  Better check the gate to make sure everything is secure.’

His feet crunched on the thin layer of snow that blanked the darkened world.  One solitary utility light blazed above the cramped trailer office but with the snow it was bright enough to see down the drive to the compound’s gate some 75 yards away.  The drive was bordered on both sides by holding pens with extra tall fencing.  They were deathly quiet, tonight but that would change in a few days when the “gather” started.

He picked up his pace towards the gate as he was anxious to put the glare of the light behind him so that he could see better in the dark.  Earlier in the evening he had seen headlights crest the hill to the north and head towards the compound.  The two lights slowed just a few hundred yards from the gate and then blinked out.  He could tell that the vehicle was a diesel as he could hear the rumble of the beast idling but now all was silent.  He hadn’t seen it depart and knowing that someone or something was lurking in the dark, watching, unnerved him.

He shivered as he walked, not so much from the cold but from the deadly memories that overtook him.  In his mind images of darkness, glinting movement and the flash of a mortar rocket launch exploded in his head.  He shook himself, again, in a successful effort to bring himself back to the reality of the moment and found himself sweating in the cold.  He just could not shake Afghanistan from his life, not that he wasn’t trying.  He was now home with his wife, she wanted to start a family, his father wanted him to take over the family business and the VA had helped him find this job with the Bureau of Land Management but the gun on his hip and acting as a guard still conjured up demons that were best left in the dark.

He reached the gate and came to a stop.  All was quiet, he hadn’t realized how noisy the snow had been as it crunched under his boots but now while standing still he could hear absolutely nothing, except his own heart beating, nothing else.

Then he heard a sound, a click or a crack like someone stepping on a stick.  Instinctively, he dropped to a squat, pulled out his side arm and aimed in the direction of the sound.  It all happened so fast, so smooth, so finely orchestrated that he actually startled himself in his reaction more than from hearing the sound.

“Whoa now”, came a deep voice from across the gate, “I don’t think you will be needing any firearms, tonight”.

He slowly stood and lowered his hand gun but continued to stare into the darkness from where the voice had emerged.

“Who are you and what are you doing?” he demanded.

“My name is of no importance and I am simply observing, thinking, pondering and maybe even praying.” The voice replied.

“This is Federal property and you have no business being here, particularly at this time of night.”

There came a small chuckle from the darkness, “I beg to differ. This Federal land is public land and I am the public.  Secondly, I am not crossing any fence line nor am I within your compound so as I see it, I am out of your jurisdiction.”

“Fair enough,” the guard replied as he deftly holstered his fire arm on his right and reached for a holster on his left.

“I said no fire arms”, charged the voice with and obvious elevation in intensity.

“No gun, just a light” and with a smart click a beam of searing light tore across the cold Nevada night and lit up the snow covered desert.

His aim was good and true and if it had been a gun, instead of a torch, the stranger would have been shot dead through the heart as he was centered directly in the focused light beam.

The stranger quickly put one gloved hand up to shield his eyes.

“Alright already, kill the theater lights you are ruining my night vision”, the stranger exclaimed, “A little bit of a warning would have been nice.”

The guard’s trained eyes quickly accessed the stranger; relatively trim, tall, worn boots, jeans, parka, rancher gloves, scarf, black Tom Mix style hat with a colorful Indian beaded headband, glasses glinted from under the brim, white beard, a shock of white hair visible from behind the neck and a large thermos mug in the right hand.  His brain registered; ‘Minimal threat’.

He lowered the light so that it illuminated the snowy ground half way between them and in the diffused light from below they were both cast into a curious world of unnatural shadows.

The stranger had been leaning against the outside of the large hinge post for the galvanized gate.  He had straightened up when the light nearly blinded him so now he walked forward and stood directly opposite the guard at the center of the gate.

“What’s you name?” the guard asked with an edge in his tone.

The stranger took a sip from his covered mug, sighed and in so doing let out of cloud of steam.  He paused for a moment as if carefully considering his answer before he replied.

“My name is not important, but it is important for you know that I am an advocate, an advocate for the Wild Horses.  I am hear to witness the atrocity that is about to befall this herd that deserves to be left alone.”

“So in a nutshell you are a nut case.”  the guard scoffed.  He was warned about these types, in fact that was why he was here, on Christmas Eve, to ensure that these horse hugging, weirdo liberals did not do any property damage to the horse holding compound.  He had been told by BLM management that they had creditable evidence that the gather was going to be disrupted by civil disobedience which could include property damage, protests, 4-wheelers, you name it.  These crazies were Eco-terrorists and as a decorated veteran, he was the perfect man to protect his country’s property.  Not that he bought all the hype but he sure could use the time and a half for Christmas Eve and the double time that he would receive once the clock clicked over to midnight.  He was trying to start a new life with a wife that he had not seen in two years and the added money would help to make her smile.  But on the other side of the coin, he had not been with her on Christmas since they were married  a little over two short years ago, before his deployment.  That thought stung his heart and he struggled to bring himself back to the moment.  He fought the urge to look at his watch again.

“If that’s what you want to call me, nutcase will work as I have been called worse.” the stranger countered, “In reality the horses call me Grey Mane so if you need a name you can call me G.M. for short.”

“Sure, so G.M. what’s your business here, in the middle of the night?”

“Just watching and listening”, the advocate mused.  “You know, one of the bands of wild horses is just over that ridge to the west, only about half a mile from where you are standing.  It’s a bright and thriving group.  Ten family members in all including the stallion, mares and foals.  I was sitting up there observing their serenity in the moonlight, thinking about how they only have a few hours left to live, to live free as a family, to live on the land that the U.S. Congress gave them before your agency will meanly drive them into a trap and rip their family apart and shatter their freedom forever.  That’s what I was doing.”

“What are you talking about?” asked the guard.  He was beginning to fidget a bit as the strangers word seemed to drill down to his soul and he did not know why but it made him very uncomfortable.  The confidence and sincerity in which the stranger spoke was extremely unnerving.

“Do you mean you do not know?”

“I don’t have a clue about what you are saying, besides you still have not answered my question.”

“How long have you worked for the BLM?”

“That’s not important nor is it any of your business, just tell me why you are here.”

“No problem there, I am here to witness for the horses.  I will log, photograph, document and note everything that occurs.  I will be a presence of compassion and resistance for all that is happening.  Perhaps I will stand alone as I do now or maybe I will be joined by others.  It doesn’t matter as long as someone is here.  So if you really don’t know what’s afoot, here, I gauge your employment to be under 90 days.”

That last observation caught the guard unprepared, so much so that he almost dropped the light as the stranger was spot on.  He hadn’t been back from the war more than 90 days and had only collected three pay checks from his new job.  He would hit 60 days after the first of the year, next week.

With a bit of a quiver in his voice the guard continued:

“That’s all nonsense, what the BLM is doing is good management.  If they did not capture all of these horses they would starve to death and die.  This is an act of humanity and a proper response from our government.  You can’t just leave all these horses out here to fend for themselves, they need proper care.”

There was an extended pause from the stranger, he lowered his head, put his right hand to his chin then looked straight ahead at the guard;

“I ask for the right to revise my earlier estimate, 60 days or less, that’s the amount of time that you have been exposed to the BLM, right?.”

“What the hell are you talking about, man?” snapped the guard.  Clear desperation could be heard in his voice and seen in his stance.

“No worries; let me ask you a question.  What are you doing for the next couple of hours?”  the stranger asked and through the low lighting a smile could be detected between the white beard and mustache.

“Guarding this place from the likes of you, I reckon.”  The guard answered but even though he was flustered the tone of the stranger had a calming and settling effect upon his jangled nerves. ‘How did he know’, he mused.

“How about a hot, maybe warm, cup of coffee?” the advocate asked.

“Not out of the same mug I hope.”

The stranger smiled, again, “No I have a full thermos.  Now I am going to reach into may parka very slowly for the thermos so don’t draw your gun.”, there was a bit of a giggle in his voice.

The advocate pulled out from under his coat a personal sized, stainless steel thermos and handed it across the gate to the guard.

“You don’t have any poison mixed in there do you?”

“Depends upon what your definition of poison is.  If you consider Bailey’s Irish Cream to be poison then consider that laced coffee to be extremely dangerous.  Otherwise, it might just warm up your innards.”

They both laughed a little and it became obvious that the chill between them was beginning to melt by a degree or two.

The guard poured a copious amount of hot coffee into the top of the thermos and went to hand it back to the advocate who quickly waved him off.

“No, that’s for you, my coffee mug’s meter is still pegged at full. Now, back to our discussion about horses, let me give you a little bit of background.  A little conversation will warm up my facial muscles while that coffee warms you up from inside out.”

The advocate stepped forward, leaned on the gate and began to speak in low and gentle tones.  He took the guard back to Mustang Annie and the unanimous passage of the ROAM act which guaranteed the wild horses a place to live.  He told of the gradual erosion of the law perpetuated by the guard’s employer.  He talked of the grazing leases, of private cattle out numbering wild horses 400 to 1.  He pulled out his iPhone and showed pictures of fat, plump and happy wild horses.  He showed movies of the horror and brutality of helicopter driven gathers, the PZP, the injunctions and the failure of the BLM to follow the law and listen to the people.  He told him of the lies, of Don Glenn speaking to the world of how transparent and open the BLM would be while horses were found shot to death as a secret gather was taking place.  He explained that the BLM’s Director, Bob Abbey, was planning to speak at a horse slaughter summit.  The guard learned that the thousands of horses that would be pulled from his area would be the end of the herd, the end of hundreds of years of free life, the destruction of one of the most unique wild communities in the United States.

And the guard learned that the advocate was not very different from the likes of himself.  His late night mentor was a veteran of earlier conflicts, he had a life, a job, a family and aspirations just as the guard did.  But the advocate also had convictions and the drive to stand up for what he felt to be right and for that the guard respected him as he knew the value of conviction and duty.  He understood it well.

The spell of the advocate’s stories was broken by the electronic buzzing from the guard’s watch.

“What’s that?” the advocate asked.

“My alarm, I set it to notify me when I went into double time.”

“So it’s midnight?”

“Yup, midnight it is.”

“Then I would like to wish you a heartfelt Merry Christmas, my friend.”  said the advocate as he extended a gloved hand over the gate.

The guard quickly clasp his hand in his and used his left hand to grab the advocates wrist, they heartily pumped each other’s arm up and down.

Reluctantly they released the other’s hand and stared across the gate in a clumsy silence when a sound to the west caught both of their attention.  They spun around to look up at the ridge.

While they had talked the full moon had begun to rise and was now just cresting the top of the ridge and as they looked for the sound that had interrupted their respite the lone silhouette of a wild horse arose over the ridge and stood clearly against the light of the moon.

They both stared as the magnificent figure gazed down upon them as the wind danced through it’s mane and tail.  While they were held transfixed; small, miniature ice crystals began to fall and lent a twinkling surreal atmosphere to the scene.  The tiny flakes came not from the clouds but from mountain tops far away, carried by the wind to fall upon their vision.

Far to the right of moon and over the horse a star pulsated and twinkled like a beacon and without any forewarning the shadow horse disappeared leaving only the sound of falling stones and a brief whirlwind of snow.  It was gone.

Neither of the men knew how long they had stood there until the guard broke the silence without mentioning what had just happened.

“You going back to town, tonight?”

It took the advocate a moment to answer as he turned to the guard  who was still looking up the ridge at the moon.

“Yes, I want to catch a few winks at the motel and be back here by first light.  Want to ensure that no chopper takes of early.  I know the date is a few days away but time, date, month, year; it all means nothing to your employer.”

“Not my employer, not anymore.”

“What do you mean?”

“Gun, badge and ID card are being left on the desk in the trailer.  If you will give me a ride I will pick up my backpack and hitch a lift with you back to town.  Don’t live too far from the motel.”

“Well certainly, but what about your job?”

“That’s just it; it’s a job and not my life.  As an American I cannot work for nor represent something that is so foul and corrupt.  I am a veteran and this agency shames me.”

“But what will your wife and family say?”

“Hopefully; Merry Christmas.  I will finally give my father the answer he has been waiting for, taking over the family feed store that he has wanted me to do for years.  And my wife, I will have Christmas dinner with her tomorrow, something I have not done since we were married in a rush prior to my deployment to Afghanistan.  That will be two Christmas presents in one.”

“I should think so”, smiled the advocate.

“But there is one more to give, to give to the horses.”  added the guard.  “I would like to come out here with you in the morning to help you watch and to listen to what you have to say.  I would like to witness for the horses if you would have me.”

The advocate slowly leaned over, set his now empty mug in the snow and reached across the gate, “It would be an honor, my friend, and absolute honor”, and the two men embraced each other across the cold, galvanized gate yet they only felt a burning warmth from within.

“I’ll go drop off my vitals and get my bag, it will only take a second.” said the guard as he spun around and started to walk away.

“Hey”, called the advocate, “Aren’t you the least bit worried about leaving this place unguarded.” there was a touch of laughter in his voice.

“Not if the terrorists are a bunch of Bailey’s drinking thugs like you.” laughed the guard as his shadow grew longer with each step towards the trailer.  “Just hold on.”

The advocate smiled to himself and stomped his feet to get the blood flowing back through his near frozen toes.

He stood there for a moment and allowed his spirit to bask in the warm afterglow of recent events.

He turned, again, to look up the ridge where the horse had stood only moments before.  In that short lapse of time the moon had moved higher in the sky dragging the shining star with it but there was no hint of the horse.

He looked at the star, listened to the wind and noted that the star was brighter and more active in it’s pulsing than it was earlier.  As he gazed upwards it came to him that another birth was being celebrated this clear, cold Christmas morning.  The impact of that realization pushed a warm tear from his eye, down his ruddy cheek and into his beard.

His internal realization manifested itself onto his lips in the form of a big smile and he whispered as much to the Spirit as he did to himself.

“Thank you for the goodness that was born this day and for a new birth, a new beginning for another kind and gentle spirit.  Thank you for an additional voice for the horses, another guardian of their spirit.  Thank you for the new advocate.”

The wind answered with a swirl of snow, a twinkle of a star and the call of a wild horse many miles away.

He smiled in return.

Equine Whispers in the Night

Commentary and story by R.T. Fitch ~ excerpt from “Straight from the Horse’s Heart

“Feel Good Sunday” takes on a special flavor for me, today, because I am home with family and friends after yet another month of globetrotting half way across the world in an effort to provide for those who I leave behind when I travel.  And as luck would have it I will be able to share Thanksgiving at our southeast Texas ranch with our equine family as well; for this I am doubly thankful as my spirit needs to be recharged in the manner that only close contact with our equine children can accomplish.

So in preparation to set my mind right and to seek out an appropriate story to share I spent some quality, private time in the barn with the boys, this morning, so that my head would be re-calibrated; and as I listened to the soft munching of hay and gentle nickers swirling around  me it became clear that I should share a story I had written several years ago, of just such a moment, a point in time that is easy to re-create and to draw upon when living with horses.  With that realization I will set my jet lagged mind free and share with you a story of a like experience pulled from the pages of our book, Straight from the Horses Heart, and go back out to enjoy the company of the characters of said book minus/plus one.  Enjoy and keep the faith, may the Force of the Horse® be with you.” ~ R.T.

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Whispers in the Night

Ethan's Soul by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom FederationI’ve been gone for several weeks, on the road, doing human things and attempting to meet the demands of others’ needs.  In traveling about we are surrounded and assailed by all that is human:  the machines, the noise, the people, and the unnatural mechanical noise that gnaws at the brain just underneath your consciousness.  It wears one out and deflates the soul, leaving only emptiness.  So, I welcome coming home.

Although the commotion does not cease, by being here I can steal several moments of quiet and reflection with the horses and attempt to bring the universe back into balance.  In fact, as I write, the sun is just pushing up over the tree line in the northeast and its rays are setting afire the low mist that has drifted into our pastures from the cornfields.  I can actually sit here and see the silhouettes of five large backs, bodies hidden by the mist, slowly moving in the east pasture.  They look like the smooth backs of a pod of Pilot whales, gently swimming through a channel to the sea.  Occasionally, a head surfaces as if to both take in air and to check out what is happening in the world above, and then back to grazing, drifting, in the mist of the early dawn.  Just seeing this and sharing it has pumped some life back into my spirit.

Last night, after our houseguests were off to their quarters and gently asleep and Terry had been zoned out for quite sometime, I quietly slipped out of the house and jumped the pasture fence.  I wanted a moment alone with the guys and, true to form, all grazing ceased.  Heads were raised in momentary alarm, but a few quite whispers from me put them back at ease and the five of them returned to grazing.  Actually, they returned with even more gusto than before, as the rule is that they can relax their guard when I am in the pasture.  I will take over guard duty and they can then devote 100% of their time to eating.

I have learned not to force thought, idea, or suggestions upon them at times like this.  In the dark, it is best to go from one to one; gently stroking and scratching and occasionally reaching down to tear off some grass as if I am grazing, too.  This seems to relax them further.  Once they were comfortable with me grazing amongst them, I listened; I closed my eyes, leaned up against Ethan, and turned off my mind.

I was both shocked and pleased with what I heard as this is no story of words of wisdom coming from my equine companions; instead, it is a note on happiness.  As I stood there, I could hear humming: a distant but stirring tune being hummed by those around me and perhaps overtones from others far away.  No words, no verse, no refrain, just a spiritually soft stream of gentle and contented humming that touched my heart.  Although no words were apparent, the meaning was clear.  It was clear enough even for an aging human to discern.  The humming was a song of hope; of happy things to come; a tune of love and outreach; and most of all, a song of forgiveness.

I pressed my ear against Ethan’s hairy shoulder to try to hear if I could detect his voice resonating in those great lungs, but I could not.  The distant song was not being heard by my ears, but by my heart.  Its clarity and texture was similar to the sound of a train, late at night, miles away, gently sounding its horn to all that will listen in the dead of night.

Making sure not to disturb their grazing, I walked to each one and gave them a hug.  I then headed towards the fence, the house, and the sleeping humans who had no idea that a chorus was being sung only several feet away.  I climbed the fence and, as I spun around to flip over to the other side, I noted that Bart’s head was ten feet up in the air, ears up and alert, and his eyes staring right straight at me.  I froze, smiled, and whispered aloud, “We are almost there, my friend; we are almost there.  Our promise to you we will keep; the killing is about to end.”  Bart nodded and Ethan snorted.  I dropped to the ground and went off to bed: to dream, to hope, and to hum.

It is such a beautiful song.

Ginger Kathrens, Nominated to National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board

Source: The Cloud Foundation

Advisory Board Nominees R.T. Fitch and Ginger Kathrens speak at press conference during BLM Advisory Board meeting in March 2013 ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Advisory Board Nominees R.T. Fitch and Ginger Kathrens speak at press conference during BLM Advisory Board meeting in March 2013 ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

WASHINGTON, DC (August 20, 2013) – Ginger Kathrens, Founder and Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation (TCF) was nominated to the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board position of  Public Interest (Equine Behavior) by Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), with recommendations from Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Jim Moran (D-VA) and Eric Cantor (R-VA). The uncompensated board provides advice to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) concerning the management, protection and control of wild free roaming horses and burros on public lands.

In her letter nominating Kathrens, Congresswoman Grisham said, “Ms. Kathrens understands the complexities of the issues surrounding wild horses. I have seen her continuously maintain the highest level of integrity, exercising sound judgment and developing creative solutions to problems that arise in this challenging area.   Her efforts to educate the public and foster strong relationships among all stakeholders have established her as a leader in this field.  She is known for her calm demeanor and balanced approach to complex issues, making her an ideal fit for this appointment.”

Congressman Grijalva stated, “Ms. Kathrens has the experience and background to help make policy changes a reality.  Her addition to the board will provide an important and experienced voice.Congressman Moran commented, “Ms Kathrens is one of the most highly qualified persons in the country to hold this position.”  He went on to say, “Kathrens has a proven track record of offering positive and constructive feedback to the Bureau of Land Management…

An Emmy Award-winning producer, cinematographer, writer and editor as well as award winning author, Kathrens’ resume includes nearly 20 years of documenting wild horses in the Pryor Mountains of Montana , and creation of The Cloud Series, for PBS’s “Nature” series. The first Cloud program was voted the most popular in the program’s 25 year history. Kathrens has a life-long fascination with wild animals and a sound foundation in agriculture and the challenges of making a living raising cattle.  These are qualities and sensibilities that allow her to understand the challenges the BLM faces in managing public lands and their multiple use mandate.  She is also an adopter and trainer of wild mustangs, and, through TCF, has rescued many Pryor mustangs and helped in finding them good homes.  Ginger is currently helping publicize the auction of The Badlands Horses scheduled for round up in September in Teddy Roosevelt National Park to insure that those historical horses do not end up in slaughter houses.

Of her nomination Kathrens said, “Many Americans don’t even know we have these incredible animals roaming free on public lands. Those that do, want them protected. If selected for this position I would try to represent the public’s wishes and give voice to our freedom-loving wild mustangs and the burros.”

Given the National Academy of Science recommendations to the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program, the Department of Interior would be taking positive steps toward fulfilling it’s promise to increase transparency and make good on its promise to more humane treatment of wild horses and burros if Kathrens is chosen. With Ginger Kathrens commitment to “on the range management” of wild horses and burros, her recommendations could also reduce the enormous annual BLM Wild Horse and Burro Budget which now exceeds $78 million, 70% of which goes to Roundups and Holding costs.