Horse News

First Major DC Conference on Equine Welfare Launches

Story by Steven Long ~ Editor/Publisher of Horseback Magazine

Conference to Focus on Scientific Equine Facts

HOUSTON, (Horseback) – The acknowledged leaders of the animal welfare movement will gather Monday for the first time in a hotel in the Washington suburb or Alexandria, Virginia to confront some of the thorniest issues to ever face horses – and some of the deadliest.

Organized by the Chicago based Equine Welfare Alliance and the Animal Law Coalition, the meeting was spearheaded by Dr. Ann Marini, principal author of a landmark scientific paper linking the common horse anti inflammatory drug phenalbutazone and death in humans eating horsemeat. The moderators are author R.T. Fitch and EWA Vice President Vicki Tobin.

Keynote speaker for the meeting is longtime equine welfare advocate John Holland of Virginia. Other nationally known speakers the first day are Jo Anne Normile, founder of the famous race horse rescue organization CANTER, Barbaro author Alex Brown, Equine Director Keith Dane of the U.S. Humane Society, and Marini. The meeting will then continue with a screening of the new award winning Katia Louise film, Saving America’s Horses, a Nation Betrayed. The meeting will end with a strategy session targeting anti-horse slaughter legislation currently in Congress,, and pro slaughter efforts by a small Wyoming based group of activists.

The Tuesday session kicks off with an address by Virginia Rep. Jim Moran (D). He will be followed by law University of Maryland law professor Valerie Stanley, and Katie Fite, a wild horse and public land use expert. Nancy Perry, vice president of government relations of the ASPCA has been a longtime leader in the effort to end horse slaughter.

Montana State Sen. Dave Wanzenreid fought an effort to bring a slaughterhouse to his state. He will be followed by Karen McCalpin, an east coast wild horse expert. The afternoon session kicks off with an address by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R) Kentucky, a longtime leader of anti-slaughter efforts in Congress. He is followed by activist Susan Wagner of Equine Advocates. Attorney Sonja Meadows, founder of the animal cruelty investigative unit Animals Angels will explore “The Link between Horse Slaughter and Cruelty.” Later Dr. Elliott Katz, DVM is president emeritus of In Defense of Animals and he will be followed on the dais by Paula Bacon, former Mayor of Kaufman, Texas where one of the two Texas slaughterhouses were located before a Texas law forced their closure.

Suzanne Roy of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign will speak on the continued efforts on the part of the federal Bureau of Land Management efforts to decimate western herds.

Tuesday’s session will end with a detailed analysis and refutation of a controversial GAO report on horse slaughter.

Holland’s remarks will almost certainly prompt news stories because he is likely to allege the document was unfairly influenced by pro-slaughter interests in Congress.

For the first time a highly official with the federal Bureau of Land Management will meet with animal welfare advocates in what is being billed as a breakthrough. Joan Guilfoyle, newly appointed chief of the bureau’s Wild Horse and Burro Division will introduce herself to advocates for the first time.

Famed documentary filmmaker Ginger Kathrens, an Emmy Award winner for her documentaries of an iconic wild horse named Cloud will address the group on “The Movement to Preserve Wild Horses and Burros on Public Lands.”

Wildlife Ecologist Craig Downer has spent a lifetime studying wild horses and the crisis they are facing under federal stewardship. He will be followed by Karen Sussman, an international expert on wild horses and burros.

Dr. Dan Rubenstein of Princeton will speak on population control, adoption, and immunocontraception of wild horses.

Billionaire Madeleine Pickens founder of Saving American Mustangs, has become the face of the American wild horse preservation movement. Her address is titled “Solutions to the Wild Horse Issue.”

The meeting will see a screening of the James Anaquad Kleinert film, Wild Horses and Renegades.

Dr. Caroline Betts of USC will again dissect the GAO report, on the unintended consequences of the cessation of domestic slaughter.

Captivity expert Dr. Bruce Nock of the Washington University School of Medicine speaks on stress to animals held against their will.

Montana zoo expert speaks on fertility control. Stephanie Boyles of the U.S Humane Society will address the HSUS vision for wild horse management in the U.S.

Karen Laney of the National Academy of Sciences will review science and the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro management program.

63 replies »

  1. A great meeting of the minds and voices of our wild ones – it doesn’t get much better than these people. Now, who will be listening is the question?


    • There is NO PETITION to stop the roundups and have a moratorium on the capture and removal of Wild Horses and Burros at the White House site. I have tried to get into it and to start a Petition…

      NO WAY does an anti slaughter petition have anything to do with saving our wild horses and burros on their ranges!!!!

      Please, if anyone can get into the White House petition site we need to get a
      petition going for the Wild Ones!!!!!

      Please help!


      • Here we all are talking about the burros and the wild horses and we do not have a petition at the White House site for them!!!

        The anti-slaughter petition is great but it has nothing to do with saving the wild horses and burros on their ranges and having a moratorium on roundup/removals for 10 years!

        Please try to get into the site where we can start a petition for the wild horses and burros!! I cannot get into the site…

        Please help get a petition for the wild horses and burros going at the White House site!!!!


  2. Re: “Joan Guilfoyle, newly appointed chief of the bureau’s Wild Horse and Burro Division will introduce herself to advocates for the first time.”
    I would be interested to find out how much time she actually spends at the conference listening to and talking to the speakers. Here is her chance to really learn what is going on from those who know. Will she truly listen or will she be whisked in and out so as not to be tainted and infected by the advocates? I hope for the best.


    • Sorry but with Bobby boo boo around and Kennie Salazoo the odds are she’ll be whisked in and out the advocates won’t hardly even know she was there.

      They won’t want her associating with the “enemy”. We might twist her thinking–making her understand just how corrupt BLM is.

      And then there the issue of NAS. I think you can still email your thoughts in today. But today is the last day. And its important that we make a stand. The folks currently on the list are totally one sided–against the horses. They have conflicts of interests etc.

      NAS was suppose to be neutral. The way it currently stands its anything but.


    • I meant Guilfoyle and Karen Laney, both are under scrutiny, Reason: Guilfoyle is new and might turn on selective deafness, and Karen Laney: the up coming release of the report by the NAS with potential bias toward cattle I cant help but feel hesitant toward what the might have to say and what they are willing to hear about the fact’s pouring in about this very issue of Slaughter and the abuse and unclear justification of gather’s and the way they are conducted. The overwhelming corruption runs rampant in this agency.


  3. That sounds like an excellent conference. So wish I could be there. My biggest hope is that the new director Guilfoyle will have an open mind and open heart.


  4. Maybe one day we will be having meetings to develop management alternatives and needed projects for our wild horses. The wild ones are overshadowed by issues I am hoping will be resolved soon so we can concentrate on them. They need us Now. Funding is critical to the several suits and major observer. I feel this is not being addressed on a national ‘needs to be a priority’ level. Somehow people are not thinking this work is important enough when it is proving to be Crucial. If advocates can rescue and transport horses by raising thousands of dollars in days I believe this needs to be done for our active people who work overtime for our wild ones. Not once has all the advocacy stood together and with all the Acknowledged Leaders called for solidarity and a goal of funds for the wild horses! The wild ones need us to be more effective. There are actions we should be undertaking but for the lack of funds we are not. The impatience expressed by people towards the wild horse crisis needs to be addressed also.

    I hope the people attending this conference will keep in mind the wild horses being rounded up while they are gathered to listen to our experts speak. If you don’t know what to do about the wild horse issues choose someone to support and then Support them as much as you can!


    • Laura has made it easy for you to donate you have to use IE browser (for instance some of the buttons I need don’t appear on my iPad or Google browser. No problem with IE). But you can choose to support her just in the field or send a few dollars to Mr. Cowan. It’s vital that he be paid. He has bills too. He also needs funds so he can file suits as they come up.

      If you can donate even 5 dollars to each fund every month it would make A HUGE DIFFERENCE. Please help Laura stay in the field. And let’s get Mr. Cowan his money due from prior suits.


  5. This conference is another great one. Many excellent speakers, please pass on the info to us. Wish I was there! I believe in giving Ms Guilfoylea a chance. However, the politics runs rampid. I would be very neive to think she was appointed because of her fresh and new ideas. I also feel that she will either be wished away or allowed to stay to hear what tactics the advocates may be formulating. The BLM is totally corrupt and I think that she has been be given her marching orders. She is just a distraction and I I do not feel she has any leverge to make any kind of decisions. I would love to be wrong, but my life experience has told me different. The BLM needed something to try and relieve them of some of the heat that they have been receiving. What better way to do that than appointing a woman.


    • Gail you maybe right, also to consider she maybe a scapegoat as well. Someone to blame when things go wrong on her watch. She will be looked at in that way because she is a woman. Ken Salazar, Tom Gorey and Bob Abbey are the three powerful stooges as a result of political appointments by Republicans throughout this process. politics has a big part in what it going on. Laura can only do so much with what she is given. She needs more funding for what she can accomplish and for legal fee’s which are not cheep. We need an access to a secure account to drop what ever we can to help her keep going.


      • There are two Paypal buttons on her page. If you don’t want a Paypal acct you can fill out the long form each time. Paypal IS SECURE.

        How can you tell? When you get notices from Paypal they will address it to you. The spammers don’t. Don’t trust the email you received? You can always check at the website itself for notices.


  6. I say give Guilfoyle (sp?) a chance.

    A silver lining might be that they (DOI) put her there because they know the “end” of the current system is coming….although I HATE saying that on a public forum monitored by the wild equine exterminators (thus far). It could signal a transition period (I doubt it).

    The other possibility is that BLM appointment is a death peanalty appointment and they couldn’t get anyone else….it may indicate that all the litigation (BOIA, BLM, etc) know a tsunami against them is coming.

    Either way….not soon enough for our lands, wildlife and water resources.


  7. In the meantime…I sure wish we could get some updates and dream of all dreams, a live feed (where appropriate).

    Barring that, read these 2 articles in the LATimes:



    The first link is a bit hard to understand and sort out the truth and players….but worth the read.

    The second link is VERY important because those areas discussed involved grazing, public lands and NOTHING about the wild ones in the areas….it also includes comments from Sierra Club folks that are anti wild equine.

    You can comment by registering or using “facebook/google/yahoo”, etc.


  8. REMINDER….be certain to comment here..TODAY is the final day for comments:
    We have been waiting for this review by the National Academy of Sciences and it is IMPORTANT that they get it right. The panel/committee is UNBALANCED.

    One panel member has close ties to the NEVADA CATTLEMEN’S ASSOCIATION

    Two members hold official positions with the Wildlife Society, a group which has consistently taken a strong position against wild horses, testifying at public hearings, issuing press releases defending current BLM policy, and promulgating a policy statement that espouses the scientifically disproven theory that wild horses are a “feral,” “invasive,” and “non-native” species.

    Several members have been proponents of the contraception drug GonaCon, about which there are serious concerns regarding side effects and behavioral impacts. However, the committee lacks a proponent of the fertility control vaccine PZP, which has a 20-year history of use in wild horses and is considered to be both safe and effective.


  9. Since the DOI/DOA continue to categorize the wild equine as feral, I thought this may help (check link following). The categorization of wild equines as feral, within and aside from the 1971 Act is troubling. If you include the “discretionary” terminology of the Act and it’s amendments and it continues to doom the wild ones judicially and is more than relevant; it’s causative of their current state.

    Here is the link…look at the photos:

    I believe these animals WERE here before the Spaniards, although herds are as result of the colonial period. Ain’t NO way Lewis and Clark can say Spanish horses multiplied in these numbers over a period of 76 years.

    The only thing feral here is the BLM (look at their genesis).


  10. I responded weeks ago and said that finding mustangs feral is basically stupid when archeiologist have found remains and DNA to back it up they have been out west far longer than we first thought. The biased toward cattle is a big concern. The ecologist who stated that they over graze and encroach on other species habitat is dead wrong and should go back to school and learn that equine do contribute to the ecosystem. What they don’t digest as far as seeds go they poop it out on their way to the next grazing area. Cow’s if not move regularly they will strip out each blade of grass by the roots and chomp it completely leaving nothing behind except the parched earth it grew in. Their hooves are like mini roto tiller’s designed to cut through soil especially when wet. That’s why cattle drives are important, you must keep them moving. That is what a responsible cattle rancher is supposed to do. Not chase them with ATV’s that also destroy. Some places ban motorized equipment because of that fact. Horses domestic or wild are generally picky eaters and just don’t stay in one place because they feel like it they need to move because of the digestive set up and what types of plants are edible for the time of year.


    • I AGREE WITH YOU Elizabeth Morgan, also the only thing feral around here is the BLM , and their attitude…………………….i have also heard those same findings , the horses are very indigenous to America………………Based on Fact findings…………………………..


  11. I certainly hope that someone is speaking for the Burros as well. They are just as important as the horses. None deserve this type of mistreatment. Looking forward to Marjorie’s Farabee speech as well, but didn’t see her as a speaker?


  12. This might be of interest from
    Results of public comment period
    1348 comments submitted
    Plus 30,617 from separate organizations that allowed individuals from all over the world to submit form letters pertaining to Wild Horses and Burros


  13. Great pre-event piece. I like that the speakers roster reads like a ‘Who’s Who of Good Guys’, with just one question mark, by Ms Guilfoylea’s name, since she has yet to prove herself to be a friend of equines.

    Omitteed from the article is the fact that MARJORIE FARABEE from Mission Ranch, TX will be a speaker at the Conference, and is the sole representative of ‘the other equines’- the burros!

    Burros are being shot on site by TX State Park employees, to make room for bighorn sheep that commend high priced hunting license money for the TX parks. Without Marjorie’s devotition to stopping this unconsciounable ‘policy’ through the non-profit org- The Burro Protection League, which she founded, those burros would have no voice at all. In addition, Marjorie rescues donkey and mules from all over the country, giving them lifetime homes in a burro paradise, and she advocates for better treatment of burros by BLM. It would have been great if her name had been included with the other voices for animals who were listed in the article. She certainly deserve the recognition.


      • Elaine,

        It’s not over yet (coverage of the conference…just wish there was more real-time and I don’t “Tweet”).

        Ms Farabee has always been on my equine welfare screen…especially since the Big Bend and Presidio, TX coverage on Horseback; plus being from the Southwest, I know the plight of the burros.

        There was a good story in the LATimes (yep, I read it and NYT, WashPost, WSJ regularly) about burros from Hawaii to CA by a group from CA and now in TX too. I didn’t bring it up as burros, Big Bend and those involved can be a “flame on” topic.


    • I think it’s doubly important we make the effort and acknowledge the distinction for wild burros; that ‘response’ bob abbey submitted to Laura’s case involving the helicopter had him including wild burros in the “virtually no/no/few” predators category and it is simply untrue.

      Our burros are at the crappiest end of an already crappy scale of inequities for wild equines.(McGee Mountain, for instance, is 41,160 acres; AML for burros is a ridiculous 41.) They’re body-counted same as horses even though they’re much smaller. They’re numbers are so few compared to their larger cousins and nearly everything else they have to share their homes with. Their hybrid offspring are counted same as burros, even though mules are comparable to horses in size and appetities.

      And their treatment by various agencies is contemptible.

      Burros deserve a ‘scale’ all their own, where their unique aspects as a species are taken into extreme consideration. While wild horses are the results of what Nature has put together from many different component breeds, burros are a purer species, nearly unchanged for thousands of years. That they are managed even more restrictively than wild horses makes absolutely NO sense at all.

      I am grateful for Ms. Farabee and her expertise and I believe she will rock the house.


      • Exactly Lisa! A tear-drop more about our wild burros: Twin Peaks said they had 231 burros on the HMA before last summer’s roundup. They documented that they captured 162 and yet their post-gather report says there are 160 still out there. That’s BLM math for you! [231-162=69 when I went to school] I recently spent two days on the Twin Peaks range and covered approximately 10% of the entire HMA and saw ONE burro – sad but true. So if I saw 10% of the range and there was one burro then that would point to there being a gigantic number of TEN burros left on that 800,000 acre range. The short little burros with the long ears are without a doubt getting the short end of the BLM stick!


      • It is my opinion that not a single burro should be rounded up or included on any future round up for the forseeable future. Their numbers do not warrant it anymore. The BLM has done a outstanding job of pushing them to the precipice of complete extinction. With fewer than 2000 burros left over 10 western states, that averages to just 200 burros per state. And the reason they continue to target them is what? They are destroying the range? That would be a scientific impossibility at this point. But the BLM isn’t too keen on science.


  14. Obama has a white house website up called, We the People………If the petition reaches 5,000 signatures, Obama will give a direct response to the petition. Who wants to start the petition?


  15. Yikes…we are about 3000 short to meet the deadline (23 Oct 2011) and get on the “issues” list, not good advocates…not good. I know we are better than this.

    It should be 10k, minimum.


    • This is my feeling too Denise. We should have numbers at least as high as the marijuana petitions. No pun intended there. Where are all the advocates, what are they doing that is so important that they can’t sign a petition? Really disappointing.


  16. reply to savewildhorses

    “It is my opinion that not a single burro should be rounded up or included on any future round up for the forseeable future. Their numbers do not warrant it anymore. The BLM has done a outstanding job of pushing them to the precipice of complete extinction. With fewer than 2000 burros left over 10 western states, that averages to just 200 burros per state. And the reason they continue to target them is what? They are destroying the range? That would be a scientific impossibility at this point. But the BLM isn’t too keen on science.”

    I couldn’t agree more; I understand the Marietta Burro Range has come to someone’s attention and the Bureau is makin’ plans.Those burros haven’t been touched since August of 1999 but rather than stop a damn minute and observe why these animal’s numbers are low and stable after not have been futzed with for more than a decade, they only consider AML (burros are currently estimated at 132 which depends, of course, on which Bureau publication you’re reading.) and how it’s been ‘violated’. (AML is 104 for 64,466 acres; puke me a damn river…)

    Rounding up this HMA is NOT not based on scientific principal. And it will be flushing away a perfect opportunity to STUDY & LEARN about these animals – untouched for (I’m gonna yell this) TWELVE YEARS – instead of perpetuating the stereotypical BLM babblespeak.


    • Lisa, I believe the same for the wild horses is true at this point also. Their numbers are way down and the plan to continue roundups is Rediculous!


      • You are absolutely right. And there are HMAs out there with wild horses that likewise haven’t been disturbed for over a decade. Why aren’t they using these opportunities to try and (what’s the word?) ‘manage’ on-the-range, to understand that when these animal populations remain stable over a sustained period, maybe it’s AML that incorrect and not the reproductive habits of wild equines?

        It’s enough to make a preacher swear.


    Stop all Wild Horse Roundups
    America’s mustangs are cherished nationally and internationally as symbols of independence and freedom and protected by an Act of Congress. Yet the BLM’s destructive management policy has reduced their number to a mere 30,000. The agency warehouses more wild horses in government holding pens than are left on the range. The cost to the taxpayers for this broken program is expected to exceed $70 million this fiscal year. On behalf of our collective memberships of millions of citizens, we ask the Obama Administration to deliver the change it promised by reforming the BLM’s current costly and inhumane program. The agency talks about change, but continues business as usual policies that claim the lives of more and more mustangs. The situation is untenable and must change.”

    Created: Sep 24, 2011

    Who wrote this? Why is this not more specifically about a moratorium? This should have been discussed by people involved!!! We are now accepting 30,000 wild horses and burros are on BLM land?



  18. It says who the author is on the petition. It wasn’t a name I recognized right off. We could always get a second petition with a change of facts or statement. The marijuana people have about 5 petitions and right away they were past 8,000 sigs each.


  19. I also hope & pray that all these experts will be listened to, & actually heard, for the sakes of all horses, especially American horses, whether wild or tame, whether loved & wanted, or thrown away & unwanted!! I pray that this crazy world, &, crazier country will come to their senses & stop all this insane cruelty & madness. I also pray that those “in charge”, our “leaders”, will actually not be afraid to BE leaders, & step up to do & enforce the right thing, end ALL horse slaughter, including shipping them elsewhere to be killed. If any horse, or other animal, needs to be “put down” for ANY reason, then do it humanely, do not send it to be brutalized & butchered for food, whether it’s toxic food for humans or for pet foods (isn’t THAT ironic, & scary? Killing one “pet” to feed the other pets!!) We also need some MAJOR educating on this same issue & subject, especially in rural communities, where it seems many young people are growing up brainwashed on the idea that we “need” horse slaughter, to get rid of the less than perfect horses, or the ones who have a mean streak, or the list goes on. What a “wonderful” world this is (NOT!!). I still think horse sanctuaries are the answer. Every horse owner should have to pay into this, either on a yearly basis, or upon purchasing each & every horse they own. Then, the sanctuaries can hire & put people to work taking care of these horses, instead of sending them to their deaths, & retraining & rehoming those that are adoptable. It can’t possibly cost more to try this option rather than the cost of building & running slaughter facilities, hiring people to do that awful task, & cleaning up the surrounding environment. Keeping the horses alive is a LOT more humane & greener for our environment, & better for the sanity of the workers. Just sayin’


    • THIS IS THE DREAM THAT ALL OF US WILL MAKE A REALITY !!!!! This is the promise to all Wild Mustangs and to all domestic also we will make Slaughter only a horrible memory !!!!!!


  20. We need signatures. Simone has started one for the wild ones to whitehouse. I do not understand why we cannot get 15,000 signatures. The slaughter people are ahead of us on Petition to Congress. Come on people lets get with it and get signers.


    • Sorry for coming in on this petition information late – but Simone (or someone) please post the link here (again?)? I did try to sign up for an account on the whitehouse link to sign the earlier petition but could not get it to sign me up – and know someone else had the same problem … anyone else have that problem and did you figure it out and can you give us the instructions on how to sign up? (there was a place for name etc… but then no place to hit “send” or whatever it takes to get the account in order to sign the petition) Thanks.


      • GG I signed up right from the start w/o problems but I understand others are. Someone said that you have to scroll way down the page. When I signed up I didn’t scroll down far enough to enter a password and was sent one which I later changed. If anyone has signed a petition when you go back in you might not be able to sign additional petitions. I found if you hit the “sign out” button and then close the site down and sign in again then it opens up to allow you to sign away. I think there is a place where you can report problems on the site, if you continue to have problems let them know.


    • Simone Also??? Here is the one there and here is one I wrote;

      Stop all Wild Horse Roundups
      America’s mustangs are cherished nationally and internationally as symbols of independence and freedom and protected by an Act of Congress. Yet the BLM’s destructive management policy has reduced their number to a mere 30,000. The agency warehouses more wild horses in government holding pens than are left on the range. The cost to the taxpayers for this broken program is expected to exceed $70 million this fiscal year. On behalf of our collective memberships of millions of citizens, we ask the Obama Administration to deliver the change it promised by reforming the BLM’s current costly and inhumane program. The agency talks about change, but continues business as usual policies that claim the lives of more and more mustangs. The situation is untenable and must change.

      This is a sample written by me yesterday;

      Lead in;

      Our Wild Horses and Burros are disappearing at an alarming rate. Their management by the Bureau of Land Management has become a

      dismantling of the Wild and Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971. We ask for a Moratorium, preferably for 10 years, on all roundups, removals and continued Long Term Holding of our wild horses and burros. We want to have the participation of the BLM in overhauling and creating new humane management without the BLM control. We ask for this because there is no progressive exchange between BLM and the Wild Horse and Burro Advocates. There needs to be a dialogue for change and developing the future preservation of what is left of our wild herds. In the 40 years of BLM management our wild horses and burros have not once had the recommended independent studies or a census taken! With low approval on wild horse activities the BLM does not know how to stop or change direction. They do not have the right to zero out any herds or dispose of our wild horses as they have done.

      Our government cannot take our wild horses and burros, and their lands, from us, the People of the United States of America! end

      Since Diana’s is there already people who do not agree with an alternative can sign hers. This has more teethe and direction. If people want to toss things around then they should. This is the sort of thing we need to do together. But when it comes time for the advocates and wild horse lovers to sign we need to get a Community press release with everyone on board and get it out so everyone knows this needs all the signatures possible up until the last day in October. mar

      Now Simone is writing another?????


  21. Sure wish I could have been there for this. But am truly grateful to each and every last participant that carries the torch for us across this country to end the suffering, torture and greed for our American heritage. Thank you, each of you. May God stand beside you as the stewarts of his flocks!


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