Horse News

We the People, For the Horses

Article by equine author Milt Toby of The Horse

A Tool for the People

Wild and Free ~ photo by Terrry Fitch

The right to petition the government to complain about something or to demand action on an issue is as old as our country itself—it’s enshrined in the First Amendment, along with rights to freedom of religion, freedom of speech and the press, and freedom to assemble. It’s a fundamental part of our political system.

We’re all familiar with petitions: someone corners you at the mall, armed with a clipboard and a stack of papers, asking for a signature. You sign, or not, and usually never find out the final outcome of the petition campaign.

That was old school.

The new way to petition the federal government, like most everything else these days, is online. “We the People,” at, allows citizens (at least those citizens over the age of 12 years) to create petitions on any issue imaginable and then seek electronic signatures from everyone else. The web site provides a forum, but it’s up to the person who created the petition to publicize the effort.

Petitions that garner 150 signatures within 30 days will be listed on the website in a searchable database. If the petition garners enough public support during a set period of time—currently 25,000 signatures within 30 days, although that can change from time to time—someone at the White House will review it and issue an official response. Petitions that meet the second threshold also will be sent to the appropriate government agency for consideration. Petitions that don’t meet the minimum will be removed from the site.

Actual active petitions range from the very specific (fire Ken Salazar as Secretary of the Interior), to the very general (end legal abuse), to the very odd (requiring the government to disclose details of its communications with aliens from space).

A Horse Race

Of the 200-plus petitions listed on the site in mid-October, four addressed horses—one to stop all wild horse round-ups, one to reform the Bureau of Land Management’s policy for managing wild horses and burros, one opposed to horse slaughter, and one in favor of slaughter. (The Ken Salazar petition probably fits into the wild horse category, too, but I’m not counting it here.)

Among the four, the slaughter ban petition has collected the most signatures (nearly 5,500), followed by BLM reform (5,000-plus), restoration of horse slaughter (almost 4,000), and a ban on all wild horse round-ups (less than 2,000). All four were launched in late September, when the threshold for administrative review was 5,000 signatures. The slaughter ban and BLM reform already have met the minimum number of signatures and a White House response should be forthcoming; the more general ban on wild horse round-ups and a call to restore slighter probably won’t make it.

If the petitions are a referendum on issues, bans on slaughter and wild horse round-ups are the winners.

There’s no guarantee that anything will happen if a petition makes it through all of the necessary political hoops, and I’m cynical enough to think that it’s all window dressing. On the other hand, maybe the President (or at least someone in the White House) does read the mail and actually pays attention to the concerns of citizens. I hope that’s true.

What would you like to tell the Obama Administration about horses?

30 replies »

  1. I am afraid it is window dressing. They provide no answers to issues and questions submitted through their feedback form, (though they ask for your email if you want a response.) They are not removing petitions that have past the deadline for signatures. They could at least disable the signature feature and remove them from the searchable list of petitions.

    I think we the people have been duped.


  2. We wound up with over 6000 signatures on the S1176 petition to ban slaughter. Pro’s were about 700 signatures under us. I was sadly disappointed with the round up petition. We do still need to continue to push & share the Congress petition as pro’s remain in the lead on this petition and it goes straight to Congress!! Though I’m like you R.T., in being pessimistic about our government listening to the people or having the moral fabric to do what is right, we must continue to push and yell loudly! This petition remains important and we need to share it, email it, call our friends & family. The dance isn’t over yet, so folks pull up your boots & let’s get er done! Thank you R.T. for all you do for the sake of our horses!


  3. The only thing we can do is continue to educate the naive and those that choose to go through life being clueless on the subjects. Other wise it wont get the attention that is needed. Its a matter of choose your battles and generating as much support from educating people of all ages. When doing a report I have to back it up with facts. Everyone is subject to the same scrutiny. Fact’s are needed to get the point across as quickly as possible. Keep is simple.


  4. Two Comments:

    1. Petitions, like most everything else in a democracy, can be manipulated. Thus, while an overwhelming majority of Americans oppose horse slaughter on an ongoing basis, 4,000 signatures can be “collected” electronically in these times which support it. That’s the trouble. Some people are going to look at 4,000 v. 5,500 and draw their own conclusions. It’s virtual reality folks.

    2. The First Amendment codifies our right to redress of grievances. Those mentioned by Milt include freedom of speech and press, and the freedom to assemble. Perhaps it is time to exercise all of these, all at once, together, as a counterpoint to what I perceive as the “electronic trickery” of 4,000 v. 5,500.
    There is not much trickery in several thousand wild horse and burro and anti-slaughter supporters circling an office for a peaceful teach-in. American grandparents, parents, and children sticking up for their horses in public is not trickery. Protecting horses and burros by being there with a webcam saying “the whole world is watching” is not an overstatement. Being on BLM sidewalks,BLM roads, and in front of BLM gates a few thousand at a time in “grass roots” teach-ins is one way to protect that very grass American horses and burros ought to be allowed to free-roam, and eat.
    Creating a permanent invitation to an open, mic-and-camera public forum where proponents of BLM policy and horse slaughter can match up on the facts with the scientists and public advocates of American horses and burros is one way to teach the public the truth of the terrible mistreatment of horses and burros in this country.

    All of these opportunities reflect the American way, like Milt says. For American horses and burros. They are in the First Amendment. An agency of our government isn’t doing the job of educating Americans and protecting our horse and burros the way they are supposed to. A dedicated few in Congress (maybe we should call them The Wild Bunch) support American horses and burros. The rest give them short shrift. And agencies designated to protect them sell them down the river.

    What else, as Americans, are we supposed to do, within our rights, besides protect them ourselves? We can wait to see what happens with petitions in the virtual reality of America. But we live in more than virtual reality. This is the real America. Horses and burros suffer in it every day, side by side with our rights to protect them. It may be 2011, but it feels like 1776 to me.


  5. So far I believe that nothing this ADMINISTRATION receives from us including the the thousands of phone calls i have personally made have ever prompted any kind of an answer!!!!!! I have emailed the White House hundreds of times and including email ed the First Lady never a reply i have ever received from them !!!!!! I have made so many calls to the Presidents phone line the people who answer know me by name !!!!! To me any Administration who ignores the Importance of the survival of the very Animal who has literally built this Nation has absolutely no business being in Office……The Wild Mustangs reek with Americas Successes , they were involved in so many of them, their services to this Country can never be denied, for this they deserve the highest recognition and Honor and should be protected and preserved at all costs by our Government…………………. They represent Freedom in its most awesome state……. When I think of Americas Freedom which is the most precious to each of us The Mustang is my first thought he displays it so beautifully and so innocently, with Pride and Honor it BLOWS MY MIND with Honor for him…………………… Nature has given to him no falseness, He stands Proud in Beauty and Faithfulness in what he is and that is FREEDOM>>>>> For me they Are America,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, Mother Nature has given to them not only the Beauty so there can be no mistakes in recognizing this but she has given them all the tools they need to make it undeniable …………………. Those who do not see this are truly blind !!!!!!


    • We are deliberately shut out from this level but the irony is we are shut out for things we have never done. It is a definition of us that has never fit. We are just folks and we have given far and away enough info and input to get an official response a dozen times over. But BLM and Salazar have made themselves the the backstop as they think they can contain us. I do not think they can, tho’. We are too scattered across the country. This also shows we are really the voice of the people, from everywhere!

      Maybe BLM needs to hear more from us! We want what they have, after all.


  6. I agree with Arlene. Ford Motor company has named one of their best selling cars appropriately – Ford Mustang…How many Mustangs have you seen people driving. I connect the power to the horse as do many other people. Perhaps its time to see what Ford Motor company could do for the very icon that they named one of their cars after. Like I have said so many times before,
    the wheels of justice move very slow. But what I have seen from this blog is an explosion of the many people who are in support of our Wild Horses and Burros. We must in some way harness all this energy through picketing
    some of the BLM offices even in Washington. Locally its a fact that they just see the supporters as fleas on a dog and nothing more. I think its a matter of
    organizing. But how do we do it when we come from so many parts of the country? Laura is doing the best she can and is doing fantastic when it comes
    to the photographs and court appointments. But you are right Arlene about the calls and emails, we sometimes think they aren’t doing a thing about the calls and emails, but do not know what is going on in the Legislators offices. I wish I was a fly on the wall.


    • Dear Gail Thank You !!! you have a great Idea, on has to wonder, how many gazillion dollars Ford Motor Company made with using the name MUSTANG,(OMG OUR MUSTANGS ARE ALSO CAR SALESMEN) Why Did people buy the Ford Mustang because it was fast, built power full , it also reminded them of the power , pride strength and stamina of Americas Wild Mustangs, it also reminded them of pure freedom …….. One would think FORD Motors would love to help the Wild Mustangs for ALL THEY HAVE DONE FOR THEM…………..There are such things as to pay Homage to what made you what your are……………………………………..


  7. There was an article in the Wall Street Journal last week about the petition site. The point of the article was that no one using the site to petition for better jobs or a better economy. However, the article did mention some of the really, to me only I’m sure, petitions. I was disappointed that it did not mention any of our horse and burro related petitions.

    Within the article was this important piece of information as it relates to this post. According to the article, today is supposed to be the first day that these petitions begin to be addressed.


  8. Gail,
    While you can’t find out everything that is going on in Congress, you will be surprised by what you can find out by getting familiar with tools like Thomas (The Library of Congress) and goining to House and Senate Committe web sites. Of course, this is only an inkling about what will be talked more openly about in Congressional offices, but it is amazing what you can learn or figure our if you start to follow a strand of legislation or the work a committee. There are a few other tricks of sleuthing, and a lot of people who come here will share them from time to time.

    We must be vigilant, and share what we learn to be more effective. There are people in Congress, maybe more than are apparent, who may share our concerns. We just have to figure out who they are and help them figure out how to help us help the horses.

    I realize that I have made this sound very simple, and it is anything but simple. It is time consuming, and it takes an unreasonably long amount of time to get things done (at least in my case).

    Having said this, the study provides context, but it is action, the right action, at the right time, in the right way that will save our horses and burros.


  9. Does anyone really read, or, even see these petitions? Do our signatures really matter, or count? Does anyone in our government even care about wild or domestic horses or burros, or, what “we” the people say or want, for that matter? Even for all the good in this world, this world we live in is a very sad, scary place! And, if any of these petitions actually make it where they’re suppose to go, how much red tape do they have to go through? How many more of these amazing, magnificent animals will have to suffer, get rounded up to extinction, or killed?


  10. #OCCUPY EVERYTHING Reports say that the wall street occupiers are unfocused–have many agendas–are undirected. OK –but they are there and their anger makes news and gets noticed. Will the petitions be read/acted on–I don’t know–but I’m signing all of the ones dealing with the wild horse/burro issues–and “Fire KSalazar”. If a petition doesn’t get enough signatures by the deadline–start it up again.We’ve tried the phone calls and the letters and the marches. BLM has been “gathering” for 40 years. The internet has brought their cruelty and secrecy into national scrutiny. The internet has toppled governments. Don’t give up, don’t shut up, don’t go away.


  11. I will never forget a horse named Blue Moon ,how the BLM just stood there and watched this beauty fall to the ground and suffer and die without not one of them flinching or helping, he died an agonizing death I remember every Mustang that the BLM has murdered senselessly, needlessly……by this Agency who thinks that they are invincible,I love the title of the page because Yes we the people will stop them, we the people will find the way to bring them down ………………..


  12. From Equus Spiritus;



    1) Reform Federal Wild Horse & Burro Management Programs and Related Policies!/petition/reform-federal-wild-horse-burro-management-programs-and-related-policies/KlDTT2ls

    2) Protect Wild Horses and Burros; Reform Inhumane Interior Department Management Program That Wastes Tax Dollars!/petition/protect-wild-horses-and-burros-reform-inhumane-interior-department-management-program-wastes-tax/MYTbsKg6

    3) Restore the Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 to its original intent that no organization or person be exempt!/petition/restore-free-roaming-horses-and-burros-act-1971-its-original-intent-no-organization-or-person-be/YNvBf2Cf

    4) Fire Ken Salazar as Secretary of the Interior!/petition/fire-ken-salazar-secretary-interior/PN0WDXfp

    5) Stop all Wild Horse Roundups!/petition/stop-all-wild-horse-roundups/mgMMmZcq

    6) Support a Ban on Horse Slaughter!/petition/support-ban-horse-slaughter/q30gJg1k
    Unlike · Share


  13. Linda Horn’s excellent petition that covered the recall of the Burn’s Amendment and having a moratorium and meeting with BLM until change can happen IS GONE. I am so sad that we do not work together. All the petitions deserved our attention. Wild horse advocates support all the work the anti-slaughter folks do and yet these people have forgotten the wild horses and burros are in danger constantly. I am pointing a finger. Why are we not working together and why are people only critical instead of searching for the answer to this? Laura is out there running on empty also. Most people say they support her… but she needs real support. Like a family member she is helping all of us help the wild horses and burros and she deserves our total support. We need to get further than our own status quo folks!


      • If our wild horses and burros truly belong to the people then We the People should be able to save them, ya think!? We will have to muster what it takes to go into the next phase… I will be working on it so I hope you all will be too. What are you willing to do you have not yet done?

        Thanks, RT…..


  14. Mar,
    Linda Horn’s amendment was well written and I signed it. But her’s was the third petition on what to many people will be the same subject. Not everyone who cares about wild horses and burros have, at this point, assumes an advocacy or activist role. Lots of the people whom I contact have adopted one or two, trains them, is in an equine related business, or is moved by them. We got most of our punch with the first petition which had been out a couple of weeks if memory serves me correctly.

    Regarding the Burns Amendment, as much as we might want it nullified or removed from the 1971 Act, the Burns Amendment is really only known to advocates and political watch dogs of a certain vintage. Try searching for the Burns Amendment on the Library of Congress web site, and maybe, it will work better for you than it did for me, but that is not how as it appears in P.L. 92-195. It isn’t that people don’t care; it is that they don’t know or they know only a little bit.

    Advocates know exactly what we mean when we hear Burns Amendment, but from the results I got on Thomas, Senator Burns amended a lot of of other legislation.

    The Burns Amendment is the dark side of the moon when it comes to wild horses and burros, but almost as problematic is the broad discretionary power of the Secretary. In addition, there are some other parts of the 1971 Act that may have been neutral to wild horses and burros at the time, but under today’s political reality, i. e., wildlife no longer meaning conservation, but more aligned with hunting, might need to be revisited. Then I wonder if the only way the bill passed the way it did is because possibly the anti-wild horse and burro people wanted a little insurance that they could somehow manipulate the outcome, so when the bill was written the discretionary power was written into it so it would pass. At the time, it would have protected the wild horses and burros from the biggest cruelties they faced, but Burns changed that.

    The point of this is, to me, this is not about who does something or who gets the credit for it, but who is going to get something acceptable done as soon as it can be done. We can worry about the details after we get the big things done. It is only my opinion, but stopping the roundups and winning an agreement to fundamentally reform the agency are more important that the smaller pieces. It’s like losing the war because we used all our ammo in the first battle. But man, were we awesome in that battle…

    You want to stop the slaughter of wild horses and burros by repealing Burns. I want to stop the slaughter of all horses both domestic and wild. In some ways, the slaughter of a wild horse as a protected, heritage breed is worse, but all horses with the exception of burros, are the same species. Does one suffer more than the other? Both of my horses are rescues. One is domestic and one is wild. t would be impossible for me to say that it was OK to slaughter a domestic horse, but not a wild one, I could not choose the suffering of one to the other.

    Nor can I separate the ability to slaughter wild horses from the drive behind removing them from the range in order to supply a certain amount of almost certainly nonbuted horses to the International market. Maybe these are what the royals eat or serve whatever…but this is how US horse meat was marketed before 2007, and Bob Abbey felt it was important for him to attend the equine torture them as they die summit so….if we closed down the trafficing of all US horses, our mustangs would be emminently safer. Making slaughter illegal won’t guarantee that no horses will be slaughtered, but it will be a lot easier to catch the people who are doing it, convict them, and send them away for awhile.


    • HH, I understand what you are saying and it plays right into what I have been writing. But on the Burn’s Amendment, if the anti-slaughter bill is not passed we still need to kill the Burn’s rider to save our LTH horses. It just makes sense. We need a moratorium. We need meetings… and Linda had that up only days after Deniz’s was up… and the anti-slaughter petition is fine but it does not solve the roundup problem and Linda’s petition addressed all of this.

      These are two separate issues and they overlap in only that one instance. Yes, people do not understand the details of the wild horse crisis. This is very true. But there is a strong group who does and they are the backbone of this movement and Anti-Slaughter had eclipsed the wild horse issues this summer and reduced our effectiveness. This is just what I see happening. I am not wanting this schism to continue. It used to be the wild horse folks were helping the anti-slaughter folks out… now we have people who have not returned to the wild ones but, like you, think we will save wild horses by stopping slaughter. Yes, it would but it will not stop the removals, cruelty, deaths and land grabs.

      The wild horse issue is huge and I do not believe the majority of people have no idea what the Burn’s Amendment is… we have people who are in different stages of understanding, but we have a huge force who have been at this for several years now, making the calls and emails and faxes to DC and and BLM. They do know. I see the activity here has slowed. I see there are many absentee advocates because of petty differences. I see a movement that needs shoring up and redirecting away from slaughter to the end of BLM control and the freedom of our wild ones once again. It is not a combined campaign anymore. The anti-slaughter people have not all been helping the wild ones in their larger and more complicated crisis This Summer and Fall. And I do not want to hear from those who say they are doing both… (I have been doing both!) many of us are… but the central issue for the wild horses is NOT Anti -slaughter!! It is the fight against BLM control, removals and loss of designated lands among other things! The lawsuits have barely touched on slaughter as it is the bi-product of removals. The lawsuits need support and Laura needs to be able to follow through as does RT and others who have filed suits. Fund raising is needed. We do not have have a Full Time Fund Raiser and we Need One! We are not looking at our campaign to strengthen it and we need to be doing this NOW, over the winter. We must turn things around.

      People have gravitated to anti-slaughter because of the groups who offer a structure for people to help. They have stayed there because the roundups upset them and they think we cannot save the wild ones!! This is a defeatist attitude that has been growing because people find more satisfaction in helping to rescue horses, wild or domestic, rather than hold out and keep on the BLM and their reps. We need more help than ever and we have to inspire people all over to get back on this issue in a committed manner. Divided advocates have taken their fight and become exclusive of the original central core campaign. Now is the time to fight together- not go in different directions. It is this present dynamic that most people do not see or even realize is happening. I do not want to get hit for saying this as I support anti-slaughter and I have helped to rescue wild horses all this year but to the loss of time and effort for the wild ones still free. Rescue and anti-slaughter are very important but the wild ones need us and we have not been helping enough and we must do more organizing and work to get this crisis redefined and exposed and supported in whole new places with more folks learning and getting involved. To say that people do not understand is only part of it. I think people want to be on a winning team and fear the disappointment of this long campaign. Well, that is a sad thing. I think we can win but we need the people to know there is MORE they can do and it will make a difference.


  15. My challenge to the wild horse lovers is this;

    We need full time fund raisers.
    We need organized writer-researchers to respond and move on all developments as they happen from comments to articles to countering BLM propaganda where it matters and writing articles.
    We need people to write applications and to find and apply for grants that will one day help us to redefine wild horse management.
    We need committed people to stay the course and make sure we are developing a future strategy so we can make a transition and keep going…..

    We need real people doing professional level work now. And I believe we can do this if more people would just come forward.


    • Without further organization there cannot be strategy… I am not telling BLM anything they do not know… believe me. They do not want to see us get stronger through organization, either!! But that is what we need to keep this baby going!


      • From American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign;


        Update on the Two MEGA Roundups Underway To Remove 4,000 Mustangs in Wyoming and California

        1,045 Mustangs Captured To Date; 13 Dead

        Mustangs stampeded into trap at the High Rock Roundup, BLM Photo
        Two massive roundups are currently underway in Wyoming’s Red Desert Complex and the High Rock Complex on the northern California-Nevada border. Both of these roundups are scheduled back-to-back with capture operations in adjacent complexes, creating a mega roundup operation that will remove over 4,000 wild horses from more than a three-million-acre swath of land in the three states.
        In the Red Desert Complex, as of October 24, 2011 (day 16 of the roundup), the BLM is reporting that 580 horses have been captured, 201 horses have been released and five horses have been killed (one horse was killed after breaking her neck, another died from “cardiac arrest” and three were killed for “pre-existing conditions.”). Also this week, the BLM announced that it was shifting gears to begin the roundup in the adjacent Great Divide Basin before completing the Red Desert operation. On Tuesday, October 25, 2011, the BLM captured 218 wild horses in the Divide Basin Herd Management Area (HMA).

        Over in northern California, the High Rock Complex roundup continues. As of October 25 (Day 11 of the roundup), the BLM is reporting the capture of 545 horses and release of 37 horses. Seven horses have been killed, including two foals. One foal died after breaking his neck at a short-term holding facility and the second died after suffering from “severe lacerations, apparently cut by barbed-wire fencing while being gathered” which “detached a leg tendon from the bone.” Other deaths include a mare who was killed after she broke her neck at the trap site, a stud who was killed after he broke his leg at temporary holding and three horses who were killed for pre-existing conditions
        As soon as AWHPC is able to, we will provide you an eyewitness account of the tragedies taking place at these BLM mega roundups.


    • Dear Mar !!!!You have my full support I will help ,I will do what ever is needed to help Our beautiful mustangs, to get them back their freedom and stop the BLM and all others who cause the pain and suffering I Love and respect them for who and what they are……………………..


      • I know, Arlene. We have some great die hards. This crisis has a long way to go yet. This means we have much to do to keep our teeth embedded in the BLM butt in order to make real change!

        We must Follow Through, with spirit and determination, to the last.


  16. Dear Mar, Just let me know what and I am there………………….Signing petitions . faxing . and phone calls seem to fall on deaf ears, my allegiance to the horse is very strong , but there are so many issues , they start pulling me everywhere, spreading myself to thin…….feel like I am running around in circles getting no where even faster….. Maybe concentration is the key………….. I worked on Leroy Baker for many years still he is doing his horror auctions all that was managed was getting him a fine, that is not even paid yet?????? Still the horses suffer under this MONSTER!!!!! These Monsters keep finding outs………………….


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