Feel Good Sunday: I Woke Up This Morning Ready To Cry

By Karen and Michael Budkie

“You may find that today’s title/headline for Feel Good Sunday is a tad unusual being assigned to the “Feel Good” department, but there is a method to the madness.

I have spent the bulk of last week out on Oregon’s open range with the very talented and insightful Carol Walker world renowned equine photographer and Director of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation. We were on a very important mission; to document and photograph the herd families of the mares that will be targeted by the BLM’s blood lust machine for sterilization experiments, this fall. (They need ‘Fresh Pregnant’ mares) And also to photograph the mares that are currently being stockpiled and catalogued at the BLM Hines facility where the experiments will be conducted, open air, in non-sterile or safe corrals. And yes, I woke up in the morning ready to cry…but I also knew that we had to keep going, keep snapping the pictures, keep posting the articles and just plain keep on keeping on. The horses needed us then and they need us now more than ever.

So I identify with what is said, here, and am greatly encouraged that others feel exactly the same way that I do. From knowing that, I draw strength and it is my most sincere hope that you too can draw strength from the fact that you are not alone in this fight, there is a legion of compassionate and concerned individuals that share your drive, your quest and your love.   You are not alone, we are ‘one’ and fighting as one will one day give us what we all strive to achieve; the ultimate freedom for our wild equines so that they can live free, with their families and prosper so that following generations can share their grace.

That is our prayer for this Sunday morning; keep the faith and never falter. They need us.” ~ R.T.


I woke up this morning ready to cry, and the tears have not left my eyes.

On a day like Memorial Day, which is designed to remember the dead, tears will fall all across the U.S. This day was set aside to remember those who have left this world before us – during war or during everyday life. The deaths of millions and millions of people will be remembered today, often with tears.

But how many people will take a moment to remember the billions of animals that we humans are responsible for killing? Whether it is in laboratories, factory farms, forests, circuses, zoos, or any of the other killing fields that we have institutionalized. The death tolls climb too fast for us to even conceptualize – the counters spin and spin, with too few people trying to slow the progress.

I can only speak of the brutality and slaughter in which I have chosen, for good or ill, to immerse myself. Pictures of sentient beings whose captivity, suffering, and victimization have led them to self-destruction swirl in my mind. Primates tearing at their flesh, biting off their own fingers, ripping out their hair. They are accompanied by visuals of those thoughtlessly destroyed by humans – used and thrown out – as if they were nothing more than some piece of trash. Ironically, rats and mice, those considered most disposable, are given so little consideration, that we can’t even be bothered to insure true death before they are tossed into the carcass freezers. We can’t even kill them correctly.

Ninety-nine percent of the time I am ready for battle, wielding facts as weapons, hell-bent on exacting retribution by shaming the abusers in the public eye. But it’s the one percent when the stench of death so fills my nostrils, when the visions of corpses spin endlessly in my mind, when the stream of carnage and insanity is so overwhelming that despair claws at my consciousness and declares that I am utterly powerless to make any difference.

When I find myself in this pit of despair, I am tempted to give up. Walk away and do something simpler and less depressing that doesn’t fill my mind with images that no one should be forced to see. But even now, when I am at my weakest, when capitulation seems like the only choice, I know that it is not a choice at all.

This is my lot, it is what I have chosen and I will not flinch from this mission. I have said this so many times before, that it has become a cliché, but with knowledge comes responsibility. Those of us who have seen these horrors first hand, have an obligation to fight to the bitter end for their termination. The price is irrelevant and the pain that we feel is insignificant.

For if simply reading about their suffering, or seeing a picture can swamp our souls, how much worse are the experiences of the animals who actually endure the agonies that we only read about? If the imprisoned animals can somehow, someway, get through another day as they wait for someone to open the cage door and lead them to freedom, if they can go on, then I MUST.

There really is NO CHOICE.

Right now, as you read this, millions upon millions of animals are struggling through another day of suffering, waiting for an end. Hoping for either freedom or death. Longing for their lives to become something like what they were intended to be – and less like a nightmare.

What they are really waiting for is US. They wait for us to realize that despite the seemingly insurmountable odds, despite the apparent strength of those who exploit animals, despite the apathy of the masses, WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

We are capable of opening the doors of the labs and forcing the public to look inside. The truth is sufficient, reality is horrible enough. We CAN make everyone see that there simply is NO justification for brutality. Selfishness does not justify slaughter. No matter how much money can be made, no matter how scientifically interesting a process might be, Scientific Curiosity does not justify Cruelty. Abstract Knowledge does not justify Abject Victimization.

In the end, one thing helps to make it all worthwhile – knowing that animals can have freedom, too. In this imperfect world, we do sometimes get it right. Animals do get out of labs, and circuses, and factory farms. Sometimes the tears shed can be tears of joy. Recently, I have had this experience, of watching an animal being released into a sanctuary, and knowing that they had this experience, knowing that an animal is free at least in part because of something you did, that is enough to last a lifetime. A few animals are no longer waiting for someone to lead them to freedom, they already have it. With that picture now in my mind, knowing that death doesn’t always win, it is possible to move on.

We must always remember that there is also good in the world, and we are a part of it. If we fight hard enough, we have a chance to literally make it happen. The freedom of even one animal is blessing enough to keep up the battle. If you have saved even one animal, removed one being from suffering, hold on to that one positive. Keep that rescue in your heart. Every new day is another opportunity to make it happen again. Don’t miss out on the chance to give freedom to another, there are no better experiences in this world.

(Thanks to Milbert D. Oster for the heads-up on the Essay)


  1. I will never give up. My hope and prayers are for the wild horses and burros to live free with their families in viable herds til the end of time around the world so that future generations can see them in the wild and not just in the movies. And I pray that everyone learns to love them and learn how to take care of them wisely together, especially cattle ranchers, hunters, native Americans, the government and all agencies involved, gas, oil and mining people, and that the advocates strengthen their conviction to be the wild mustang warriors for as long as there are wild horses on this beautiful and bountiful earth and stop the slaughterhouse pipeline. The future of this planet is trending to build up the cities for humanity. I hope mankind can preserve the wilderness for the animals. What will the earth be without them. In the last fifty years alone, we have been responsible for killing off countless animals and dozens of species. We need to raise the next generations to protect and not destroy like this generation has been so hell bent on. Lab experiments, collecting DNA, promoting GMOs, sterilization of species, desertization of land and countless other mistakes need to be studied and reversed. Our politicians need to learn more how to protect the planet and not just make money. Will Trump and Hillary be able to handle this great task. Will either one listen to the public. Advocates must never give up the fight. I pray for the advocates to be given strength and be able to teach the children to save the animals.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes. Once you are in, you can’t get out. I’ve tried to throw in the towel but I cannot. I’m grateful for my $25.00 mustang that adopted me. She is truly a treasure and so I will continue to fight for her brothers and sisters, even though it seems to go nowhere. I will keep writing letters to my elected’s, keep signing petitions, keep making phone calls and keep talking to anyone that will listen. Though it seems like a lost cause, I will continue because of something that I was told when I was a child. Good always wins over bad and I just have to believe that is true.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.
    -Henry Beston

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wouldn’t it be great if children were able to learn & soak up this kind of knowledge from kindergarten on – at the moment when they are most fascinated by other creatures (other nations)? Maybe even before they are introduced to social media & all of its pluses & minuses! And Henry Beston was right – we do need another wiser and more mystical concept of animals. They are NOT our inferiors & they MATTER!


    • Geri, many thanks for the link to Other Nations. I almost over-looked it. Please everybody see what is happening to all of our fellow beings. All of you here have such big hearts and so much compassion. It made my day yesterday to see all the wonderful and caring posts. I hope R.T. was cheered up a little.
      BTW depression is anger held within so let it out in constructive ways.


  4. “Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

    One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

    As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

    He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

    The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

    “I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.

    To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

    Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

    At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said,

    “It made a difference for that one.”
    Loren Eiseley

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So well said, RT and Carol. We can never give up. Those mares need a voice, and now. Please send Carol’s report to representatives in Washington and to the Oregon State U. administrators. Keep their images in our hearts.


  6. Thank you!! This was a perfect tribute for a feel good Sunday. I learned on Monday that Carrol Abel, a long-time advocate, had passed away. Her body is gone, but her spirit lives on. I was so overwhelmed about hearing of the loss of Carrol, that I went up to visit Velma Johnston at her gravesite in Reno. So much of the time we feel helpless to change the direction of political and government agencies that have absolute power over our beautiful American Mustangs. All we can do is keep the faith and stay focused on the future with wild horses remaining free!


    • So very sorry to hear that Carrol Abel, one of our wild horse and burro lovers and long time advocates has passed but as you said … her dedication and her spirit are with us.


    • Tina, thanks for letting us know that Carrol Abel passed away. I had many conversations with her over the years. The wild horses and burros lost a true warrior.



    Date: Sun, 3 Jul 2016 12:18:18 +0000 To: l.e.gagne@hotmail.com


  8. RT what do we do now? I already signed petitions against this and stating my own thoughts. As with everyone my letter was no doubt tossed in the trash. Even if it wasn’t, it was most certainly ignored. And our politicians are drinking the BLM kool aid, again ignoring us.

    I thought one round of Dr. Mengele was more than enough for this world. BLM’s research is simply go round of Dr. Mengele. There is simply no justifiable reason for this surgery. And the university which is supporting this….shame on them.

    Sterilizing a pregnant mare? This isn’t “research”. This is a nightmare. Sterilizing 8 month old fillies? Huh? Reaching one’s arm up, grabbing ovaries and yanking them out….this so far beyond barbaric I’m not sure I have polite words to express myself.

    Honest to God with BLM operating according to their own policy, ignoring the public…how do we stop this? Asking them not to proceed hasn’t worked. Petitions haven’t worked. Ginger speaking hasn’t moved anyone. It isn’t just power trips. This is something really dark and evil. Dr. Mengele is alive and well in Washington. This is so far beyond wrong and just plain evil. I hope someone will appeal to someone within BLM and can make them understand the true evilness of their plan.


    • I am sorry, but I have to speak my mind on this. Ginger is one of my wild horse heros and her efforts are commendable and just unbelievable to most people!! But, she was just too darn (damn) nice at the Sub Committee meeting. These people don’t want to be smiled at and read a report that is ‘like’ or ‘has a fairy tale ending.’ I don’t want to water down her great efforts, but she actually blew the advocates’ chance at putting our foot down and reading them the riot act. (I don’t mean like the protester who was yelling out of turn that the police had to come for her). I mean that Ginger needed to bring graphic posters of pregnant mares, mares and babies, sterilization techniques, slaughterhouse procedures and what ever else needs to be planted into the Sub Committee’s brains. She needed to make a debate with them that shamed them and that made them want to actually investigate more themselves by attending the experiments and organize a meeting with a panel of reputable veterinarians and biologists and scientists, not just one veterinarian and a bunch of cattle people. They need to be compelled to find out more and where the money goes and comes from. The advocates need to hire a strong speaker to be able to pound these points home and not just hope someone listens by smiling at them and being nice. They only respect brute force. Even the BLM rep was being pecked at the whole meeting. He was smart enough to play dumb and not answer direct questions. Ginger did not have the answers they needed to make them ask better questions while this was broadcast to the public. Is there anyone out there or that anyone can recommend to be able to handle bullies. This is definitely a job for a strong voice and strong language. I know five minutes of time is very little, but it was one of our few chances to approach these people and make them realize the insanity of sterilization experiments like the Nazis used. And the foolish “lovely way to die” to put them down language that compared the wild mustangs to puppies being neutered showed their total ignorance.
      Get mad people, tell them we voted for these people in office and it is their job to listen to the public’s voice. It is not their job to decide on what species lives or dies. The Wild Horse & Burro Act needs to be upheld. Even BLM seemed to be on the side of protecting the wild horses compared to the Sub Committee. They need to be educated on this multi-faceted plight that the mustangs are on. It is not a simple neuter and slaughter solution. These are America’s icons. If the world sees American politics is willing to kill off their iconic wild horse, then what do we care about when it comes to any species or needy person on the planet?
      Get angry. Tell everyone you know about as much as you know at every meeting you go to. Hand out cards that explain where to find out information. Put a bumper sticker on your car.
      Everyone has some circle of influence that might know a politician or news reporter or big wig lawyer or speaker or celebrity or wealthy humanitarian or Senator or anyone who could turn some heads. Write to your Congressman to protect America’s Wild MUSTANGS today! Speak out now before it is too late.
      I will never give up. I have invested too much time, too many years of research, too many sleepless nights worrying about these free spirited animals. Stand up and stand up now for what you think is right. I know there are countless things wrong with this world, but this is an important time to work for these wild ones. If we don’t, then 10-20 years from now, they will be gone and we will wonder how we let this happen. Visit a BLM site if you can. Start a letter writing campaign. Talk to adults and kids. Start today. Ginger and RT cannot do this by themselves. They need fresh, bright minds with brashness and power to deal with this brick wall. Even Madeleine Pickens has been tormented by the ignorance of it all. There are endless ways to fight, but it has to be a constant, continual voice and a loud voice. Keep on speaking up. The squeaky wheel gets oiled — just like the cattle ranchers keep complaining. It is our turn to complain and complain til they listen.


  9. if you want to hear about the Sheldon herd round up listen to the second utube:

    Observations of a Horse Slaughter Killer (part 2)

    Interview With a Killer Buyer – Warning: *Graphic*
    talks about rounding up the Sheldon range horses


  10. Excellent essay. Today we celebrate our own freedom and appreciate those who fought for it, but lets also celebrate the freedom of wild horses and those who continue to fight for their right to be free, thank you everyone for all you do, and like the essay says; giving up is not a choice!


  11. Every day as I see all the horses in the kill pens I think this will never end, why do I keep fighting, when they just keep coming. Then as I see my own rescues fat and happy in the pasture and read the stories of so many more that have been rescued and leading wonderful lives I know why I must keep donating, sharing and helping. If everyone would help just a little we could make such a difference in the lives of so many animals. Yes, we must keep on keeping on. We can do no less!!


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