Horse News

Cupid Shot an Arrow for the Wild Horses and Burros

by R.T. Fitch ~ President of the Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF)

Valentine’s Day was a Hit for both Horses and Humans

It is rare that we can look back over a week that has passed and find more good news than bad but in reviewing the past week, there have been a lot of good things that have occurred for the wild horse and burro advocacy that should not go unrecognized.

Upfront a surprise gift was granted to us on the 14th with the ruling from the 9th District Court of Appeals which pounced on the fact that Laura Leigh’s First Amendment appeal was validated and will be sent back to the Reno, NV courtroom as her complaint was not moot and the local circuit Judge may not have best protected her free press rights under the First Amendment.

Although the case is being sent back and the same local judge, again, make the same ruling the 9th District made a very serious dent in the BLM’s worn-out and tired “mootness” defense.  In fact, they shot it so full of holes it looks like a piece of Swiss Cheese and we at the Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF) are going to put a bur the size of a bowling ball under the BLM’s saddle over this from this day forward.  In other words, the BLM got caught with their pants down, again.

Another Valentine’s gift for the horses was the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) agreement to cancel its plans to capture and remove 198 wild horses living in the Monte Cristo Wild Horse Territory (WHT) in eastern Nevada in exchange for being dismissed as a defendant from the federal lawsuit filed by the Cloud Foundation, Western Watersheds Project and the AWHPC.  That is a double barrel victory to say the very least.

But we won’t stop there; likewise on the 14th the Wild Horse Freedom Federation received their determination letter and approval from the United States Internal Review Service to be legally classified as a 501(c)3 non-profit.  Since its inception seven months ago WHFF has been a registered non-profit corporation with the state of Texas but it has taken over seven months for the documentation to be received from the IRS.  All donations to WHFF, retroactive back to June of 2011, are officially tax deductible.  Not only was the documentation received on the 14th but our tax return was promptly prepared and mailed on the 14th to verify our transparency, honesty and dedication to both our donors and to the horses for whom we are undeniably committed.  Virtually, within a cent or two, all donations go right to our legal fund to pay for the litigation that we are involved with which we should clarify, here.

In the past we have been known as the Habitat for Horses Advisory Council which is still a viable organization and originally funded both the West Douglas Herd case, with the kind help of Front Range Equine Rescue (FRER), and co-funded, along with the ASPCA, the fight to save the North Piceance herd.  The HfHAC is a registered 501(c)4, which is a lobbying organization and donations were not tax deductible hence the need for the development of a (c)3 and WHFF was born.

With the help of FRER Wild Horse Freedom Federation is funding the effort to save the zeroing out of the Colorado West Douglas herd whose plaintiffs include the Cloud Foundation, Front Range Equine Rescue, Habitat for Horses and several individual plaintiffs.  This litigation has been ongoing and has, likewise, been very costly but to date the West Douglas herd continues to run free thanks to our collective efforts.

WHFF has also funded, with the help of kind public donations, Laura Leigh’s “Humane Case”, exclusively.  A large chunk of the funds came from one private donor who wishes to remain anonymous and the remainder from individual donations.

Likewise, the current appeal case for Laura was funded by WHFF with the inclusion of WHFF’s attorney, Bruce Wagman, sitting in to assist Gordon Cowan.  The Valentine gift from the 9th was greatly appreciated.

Also, if I may wax personal for a moment, the 13th was found to be my personal birthday as the numbers continue to mount I fret over the vast, but unrealized, accumulation of years.  So this year there was a different twist…I actually was in the air, crossing the International Dateline, when my birthday occurred, i.e. I boarded a plane in San Francisco on Monday morning and landed in Beijing China on Tuesday night the 14th…now how weird is that.  So in my young and undeveloped mind it is as if my birthday never occurred and I have not aged a year.  Am I correct in that assumption?  It didn’t happen for me as I stepped into a time machine; in fact I think I might be able to subtract a year, correct?

And finally, on the 14th, my wife Terry and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary…of course I was not there but do you think for a moment that she did not receive a bouquet of roses?  (My mamma taught me well)  I am not a stupid man; we were married one day after my birthday and on Valentine’s Day so that yours truly would never be found guilty of forgetting his wedding anniversary.  I don’t know what you mares think of that but my male associates think that I am a genius.  If I EVER forget our anniversary then I truly deserve to be shot and buried on the back forty as I don’t deserve to breathe the air that the rest of you do.  I am good to go.

So for the wrap-up of the week; it’s been great and most of it has happened only because of the astute attentiveness and generosity of the wild horse and burro advocacy; you guys.  YOU made it happen…not the birthday or wedding but the other stuff.  Please, take a moment and bask in the rightful warm glow of success and pat yourselves on the back for a job well done.  Breathe deep and enjoy as we have a lot of work to do in the future with a plan that is coming together and each and every one of you are an indispensable component in the success of saving our equine icons.

It all just goes to prove that “keeping the faith” reaps great benefits.

May the “Force of the Horse©” be with you all and God bless.

28 replies »

  1. Good news Sunday, RT….thanks for reminding me of all the progress our fellow advocates have made.

    Congrats on the status designation.

    Keep up the information, works and good news.


    • Oh, and Happy Anniversary Terry and RT….I love it when a plan not only comes together, but stays together…..must be a good plan. 🙂


  2. It’s impressive that so much has been accomplished in such a short time – 7 months! I’m glad to have found this source. Go Facebook.


  3. Happy Birthday RT , also Happy Anniversary what a great week for all of us especially the horses, one more great victory is New Jersey will not have Horse diving, thanks to all the advocates who protested it ….. Thank You everyone !!!!!!!!


  4. Published: Saturday, February 18, 2012, 11:00 AM
    The Associated Press By The Associated Press
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    The Diving Horse has finally been put out to pasture for good. The owner of the Steel Pier in Atlantic City, N.J., says he’s dropping a plan to bring back the legendary attraction, which featured a horse and a rider plunging into a 12-foot-deep water tank from a platform 40 feet in the air, after animal-welfare activists lodged fierce criticism. The act ran on the pier from the 1920s to the 1970s.
    diving-horse-atlantic-city.jpgView full sizeCharles Rex Arbogast, The Associated PressA horse plunges into a tank of water on the Steel Pier in Atlantic City, N.J., in 1993.

    Anthony Catanoso, whose family owns the historic pier, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he’s no longer interested in reviving something that helped make the pier world famous in the last century.

    “We just felt that since Atlantic City is moving forward, we should move forward with it,” he said. “We should create new memories for visitors instead of recreating old ones.”

    Catanoso revived the act once before, in 1993, but shut it down after two months following similar protests from animal-welfare activists.

    He had envisioned the Diving Horse as the centerpiece of a refurbished Steel Pier, part of an overall makeover of the gambling resort being planned by local and state officials. He downplayed the significance of public opposition in the latest decision to pull the plug on the Diving Horse but acknowledged that the protests did take their toll.

    “That negativity — we didn’t want that to interfere with the positive things we’re trying to do,” he said.

    Roseann Trezza, executive director of the Associated Humane Societies in New Jersey, said she was delighted with the change in plans.

    “You have people trying to make a buck off the backs of animals, and it’s really cruel exploitation,” she said. “Everybody worked together against that, and I am so happy to see that happen.”

    Catanoso proposed reviving the act earlier this month when a massive redevelopment plan for Atlantic City’s Boardwalk, casino district and shopping areas was unveiled. But within days, animal-welfare activists were voicing opposition.

    The Humane Society of the United States said its members “emphatically oppose equine diving acts.”

    “This is a merciful end to a colossally stupid idea,” society president Wayne Pacelle said. “We are pleased so many citizens spoke up and urged that this spectacle never get off the ground. Horse diving has the potential to frighten and injure and kill horses, and it rightly belongs in Atlantic City’s history books.”

    A petition against the act on the website garnered 10,000 signatures in one day.

    Catanoso said he extensively researched the act, including speaking with past performers. In a press release announcing his intention to bring back the act earlier this month, he determined that no horse was ever harmed.

    “Through this research, we determined there was no animal cruelty or abuse that occurred in the past,” he wrote. “The new act will be humane, provide the horses first class care, operate under modern safety standards to protect both the riders and the horses and will not subject the horses to cruelty. We understand and share the community’s concern regarding the inhumane treatment of animals. For the past 20 years, we have been dedicated to providing wholesome family entertainment in Atlantic City. We are committed to that goal and would never feature any act that would mistreat an animal.”

    Protesters had been trying to organize a demonstration at the next meeting of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority to protest the inclusion of the Diving Horse in a redevelopment plan for Atlantic City, the nation’s second-biggest gambling market after Las Vegas.

    Although the Diving Horse was the most attention-getting aspect, the Steel Pier is undergoing a $100 million renovation that will take 3 1/2 years and will make it a year-round attraction. Some work is already under way. This summer, there will be six new rides, several new games, beer gardens, new food and beverage kiosks and a resurfacing of the pier floor.

    Wayne Parry of The Associated Press wrote this report.

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    Creole C. February 18, 2012 at 11:25AM

    Simple solution. Robohorse. Made in Japan. In addition, switch to Robowoman.

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    lolarites February 18, 2012 at 11:31AM

    Everytime that horse had to do that, it was in full panic, an act of pure survival for him. Horses will step in water, but only when they can see the bottom, to jump into a tank of bottomless water would be horrifying for a horse. Thank God, it can finally have some peace.

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    calanthe February 18, 2012 at 11:45AM

    “For the past 20 years we have been dedicated to providing wholesome family entertainment in Atlantic City.”
    Yeah…they used to think pitting Slaves against Lions was entertainment too….
    What an idiot.

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    nola2013 February 18, 2012 at 11:52AM

    I never understood the opposition to animals performing to make money for others (and earn their keep). People do it do it everyday.

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    tim9lives February 18, 2012 at 1:14PM

    Yea,,kind of like getting the mentally challenged to be the court jesters who performed for the king.
    Sure,,,lets go to the mental hospitals and get those who are committed to be modern day jesters,,,,that way they can also earn their keep.

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    • Belated happy birthdays to R.T. and Laura and anniversary to R.T. and Terry.

      Arlene, thanks for sharing the good news about Steel Pier’s decision to drop plans for the diving horse act. I had to laugh at these three sentences: “Roseann Trezza, executive director of the Associated Humane Societies in New Jersey, said she was delighted with the change in plans. ‘You have people trying to make a buck off the backs of animals, and it’s really cruel exploitation,’ she said. ‘Everybody worked together against that, and I am so happy to see that happen.'”

      Right, Roseann. R.T.’s readers: you don’t deserve to be fooled by such blatant hypocrisy. AHS has been trying to “make a buck off the back” of the world-famous pit bull Patrick, who was saved from a Newark garbage chute. See


  5. Well I knew the 13th was your. Irthday but didn’t know Tuesday was yours and Terry’s anniversary so HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

    It has been a tremendous week for the horses. A good week. One we don’t see all that often. Maybe the tide is turning and we will have more of these.

    A few things for the coming week…

    Please note that the Twin Peaks case in CA which was scheduled for Thurs has been pushed back to Fri at 10 am. IDA is hoping as many advocates as possible can be there. Because BLM has an office in Sacramento we want equal numbers showing “force” for the horse. (note that force is just my wording to indicate offsetting the numbers of BLM employees expected to show up)

    And although this happened Fri night at Freelandsgypsyhorses I got to witness online the birth of a baby GypsyVanner filly! Absolutely beautiful! She tried to figure her legs out but couldn’t. After half an hour Beth went in, they gave the little one some oxygen and helped her up. That was all it took! She figured out what those legs were suppose to do! She nursed like crazy for the six hours that I saw. She fell a couple of times but got right back up! By morning she bouncing around the stall! She is incredibly beautiful. Sadly she’s already sold (boo hoo) but apparently is going to a great home! She will live with mama for six months and go to baby school.

    It was incredible to be able to see this. Scary and all. Two and half days of foal watch, no sleep and wondering just when she was going to get down to business.

    Oh and Evenstar the mare? About 3:30 amFriday morning she started playing with the video camera in the stall. She’d stick her nose right into the viewfinder, breathe, fog everything up and then blam! She’d hit the camera with her head to move it! We had get views of the ceiling of her stall! And since it wasn’t a one time deal–it became a total game for her. She’d move the camera and humans would show up to readjust it. She wanted company–she was feeling pretty awful I guess.

    And she is a GREAT mom. She nuzzles her baby, cleans her, does the whole bonding thing. Never lays her back. And when baby is down sleeping mom is so careful moving so she doesn’t step on baby.

    You can watch the excitement at


    • I was attending the majority of foal births in my 26 years breeding Warm Blood horses. and nothing is more exciting, and stressful, and touching, and humorous, and loving in the world. And I miss it so much since I quit breeding 5 years ago. so thanks for the wonderful story to remember it by.


  6. Congrats on the anniversary Terry and R.T. and happy birthday. Congrats to Laura you are my hero, and a great big ole WOOPDEEDO for the horses! XOXO


  7. This is why we continue the battle to keep our Wild Herds WILD and on the Public Lands, where they rightfully belong. The American Public has the right to enjoy and learn about them….we know so very little. Wild Horse Family and Band behavior is something that we need to learn and study. This cannot be done in holding facilities/concentration camps or in sterilized Herds:

    “The Stallion and the Foal”
    While photographing in the McCullough Peaks Wild Horse Management Area in April 2008, we came upon one of the most unusual and dramatic situations I’ve seen since I began documenting the wild horses. My husband and I were told that there was possibly an abandoned foal in the company of a bachelor stallion known as “Chaco. Two of the more plausible reasons why this foal had been abandoned are that a visitor had gotten too close to a new mother who consequently abandoned the foal, or, that the mare foaled very close to the fence line (as seen in the photos) and the foal simply rolled under the fence where the mare was unable to reach it.

    In any case, Chaco became this foal’s guardian and he took this responsibility very seriously as evidenced when another bachelor stallion, “Chiricahua” came to investigate the pale Palomino-colored youngster. The images depict the longest and most fierce stallion battle I have ever witnessed. Were we about to watch this little foal get caught up in and probably trampled during this stallion confrontation? That was not an image I wanted to capture. (Maybe Chiricahua simply wanted the baby as a prize, like a mare. I don’t know that his intentions were to actually hurt the foal, but he certainly gave his all vying for possession). As night fell, we knew we had to leave, but I was sick about it as I felt sure there would be no happy ending for this little baby.

    When we returned to the HMA (Herd Management Area) in the morning with Tricia, the Wild Horse Specialist from the Cody BLM, we expected to find that the pretty little foal had not made it through the night (since no mare was nursing this baby). To our amazement, the foal was up and walking and still being tended to by Chaco. As we watched from a distance, Chaco coaxed the little foal until she was finally through a gate. I was told later that Chaco guided that foal all the way down a hill to its mother, Sierra – a mare in Olathe’s band. Thanks to Chaco’s efforts, the mare and baby (a filly named Little Medicine) are still together and doing well. It’s hard to guess why Chaco stayed with the little filly – stallions have been known to kill foals that are not their own or that appear to be sickly and/or crippled (as shown in Ginger Kathrens’ documentary, “Cloud: Wild Stallion of the Rockies”).

    Obviously, they can be very compassionate too.

    Note: I have a long lens, the images have been cropped and, as always, my husband was spotting for me. Please do not get too close to wild horses. During foaling season from March – mid July, it is imperative to keep your distance or a mare may abandon her foal. Please do not interfere or attempt to rescue a wild foal.


  8. I forgot to mention that it was Laura’s birthday on the 18th…didn’t mention it as boss mares sometimes get a little spooky over that subject and she may not be celebrating anymore.


  9. THANK You Louie and Pam, the beauty like this can only be found with the Horses…..That was so beautiful , I cried……Such wonders they are capable of , Im amazed by them always………………………….. Thank You !!!!! Bless the Horses with Freedom and peace !!!! VIVA El Caballo…………………….


  10. Terrry and RT: Happy Anniversary and Happy BIrthday R.T and a belated Happy Valentine’s Day. Louie, thank you for the battle of the stallions, Chaco and Chiricahua over “Little Medicine”. Yes, this truly shows compassion and love by Chaco. Maybe this was his baby and he wanted it back with MaMa Sierra. Was Chaco in the picture after this. He sure was a life saver. As I watched it, I also was concerned because he didn’t get mama’s milk and he was so tiny. Oh, how I loved him. I for one would love to have taken him if mama was not around and no one was protecting him like Chaco. The last thing I would want is for this beauty is for her to die because of no milk and companion of mama. And, thanks to Nicolas Photography for this amazing video. I hope Chiricahua was okay. I hate to see these beautiful animals hurt one another. They are all so beautiful. Let’s hope we will see our wild horses and burros on their home ranges and everyone harming them now will come to their senses. I wish they would realize that damnation may be their reward at the pearly gates and they all will change their horrible ways.


  11. Hooray for all– the stars aligned in peace and harmony and love–the court room decisions/the birthday candles/the Valentine roses/the 501(c)3 /the anniversary (smart move RT) /the filly found her mom–God’s in His heaven—all’s right with the world. (for now…)


  12. Lynn, this was the rest of the story…the foal was OK. From what I understand, Stallions fight, not so much to hurt one another (not that it doesn’t happen), but each one attempts to drive the other one off. The stronger and smarter ones win the Mares and lead the Herds…hence, survival of the fittest:

    “I was told later that Chaco guided that foal all the way down a hill to its mother, Sierra – a mare in Olathe’s band. Thanks to Chaco’s efforts, the mare and baby (a filly named Little Medicine) are still together and doing well.”


    • Louie: Thanks for the follow-up. I commend Chaco and hope he is okay. He’s my hero. I wonder why he took over the protection of the foal. I guess there was something that bonded the two together – in each vido frame Little Medicine was close by Chaco. God Bless them all and may they stay safe and protected from the BLM and their croonies.


  13. Thanks for the great line up of the week just past. You share a birthday with my X but I certainly won’t hold that against you… you do too much good. And I believe that your anniversary date is congrats on it all. It was wonderful to hear good news…especially when it seems that we send our hopes and wishes and calls and pleas along with the little money that we can spare into thin air, wondering if anyone ever listens and reacts. So the week was really super. And add to that the 100K that Jill and Lifesavers received for the excellent work that they do..and a special Valentine for certain for HORSE LOVERS.
    thanks for all you do.


  14. Thanks again, as always, for all the up-to-date information, with another one of your interesting articles. (-:
    So happy to hear some good news and with it all, I wish you both a very Happy Anniversary and Happy Birthday, R.T! I sincerely appreciate all the work and compassion the two of you and others have given in helping to bring freedom for these magnificent animals. It’s been a long haul, as you know, but hopefully justice will prevail, after all is said and done. I’d like to share this quote with you and others..very powerful!

    “Power is no blessing in itself, except when it is used to protect the innocent” – Jonathan Swift –


    • Jean: Your quote from Jonathan Swift was so fitting in our horses, dogs, and cats situation prevailing today. They are our innocent victims and we must win this fight. We are their voice and we must expend our energies to make sure they are protected and not abused or killed by uncompassionate human beings.


      • Bravo Lynne. you are so right !!!We are their caretakers and if we allow this to continue we are no better then they are……………. I wish I had a penny for all the phone calls I have made, and all the letters I have sent, if I did I would use it all for them……..


  15. Congratulations to you all and Louie, thanks for posting Pam’s video. I like the way you said this:
    “… keep our Wild Herds WILD and on the Public Lands, where they rightfully belong. The American Public has the right to enjoy and learn about them….we know so very little. Wild Horse Family and Band behavior is something that we need to learn and study. This cannot be done in holding facilities/concentration camps or in sterilized Herds”

    Perfectly said.


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