4th of July: A Time to Look Inward

OpEd by R.T. Fitch ~ President/Co-Founder of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Patriotic Ginerous Legacy (Harley) rescued from slaughter by Terry and R.T. Fitch, may he now rest in peace.

It’s a dangerous time for not only our wild horses and burros but also for our country in general.  Although there is renewed hope that we will no longer “lead from behind” in a world that is full of terrorists and rouge nations there is also a deep feeling of uncertainty as our new leadership attempts to be allowed to get it’s footing and move forward with an agenda that the American public hopes will improve the lives of families and friends.  And here at SFTHH and WHFF we consider our native wild horses and burros to be that family and to be those friends.

We, as an advocacy, are going to be calling upon each and everyone of you to become yet even more involved over the next several days.  We currently are asking you to pick up the phone, to make the calls and to write the emails and within the next few days we will be giving you some additional information and ammunition that will further empower and embolden you to help save our wild equines from slaughter and total ruination.

But on this day we need to recharge our souls and look deep within ourselves to reassess just WHY we do what we do and what makes it important to keep the movement rolling forward with gusto and dedication.  It’s a pretty easy glance; we quickly look beyond the common sense and moral compass that tells us it’s the right thing to do, that is a no-brainer.  But like the wild horses and burros who are all about family and freedom we do it for the exact same reasons; the future of our children and the freedom that they should experiance, to be able to live the lives they deserve to live and to relish in the natural world that so many have forgotten.

Old time Rocker, Neil Young recently made a  Facebook post that caught our eye.

“We made a record we wanted to share with you,” Canadian rocker Neil Young said. “We played with a bunch of people … total strangers in the same room on a full moon, 65 of us. It was very great. We had a great time. Enjoy.”

Neil was referring to a new song that has been titled “The Children of Destiny” and although I usually concentrate more on the musical content versus the lyrics the words of this song, coupled with the images, sincerely resonate within my soul upon this day:

Stand up for what you believe,

resist the powers that be

Preserve the land and save the seas for the children of destiny

The children of you and me.

Isn’t that exactly why we are doing what we are doing, preserving the future of our wildlife for the enjoyment of future generations?  Does that not fully shine the light on our motives and direction?

The song goes further to say:

Should goodness ever lose

And evil steal the day

Should happy sing the blues

And peaceful fade away

What would you do?

What would you say?

How would you act on that new day?

My answer is to ensure that such a day never comes to fruition, that it never happens, that such sadness does not occur and that is why we fight and that is the reason we will be calling upon you to help make a difference in what can and will be enjoyed for generations to come, together we can make this happen and on this day we all to need to look inward for the strength, purpose and guidance to move forward with what is right, just and pure red, white and blue American.

Today we gather our forces, tomorrow we fight on with renewed strength.

Together we can make this happen.

Former SFTHH posts that you might find of interest: https://rtfitchauthor.com/?s=4th+of+july&submit=Search

Feel Good Sunday: Hay – The Final Frontier

Story by Johnny Oleksinski as published on NYPost.com

“I must say that Capt. Kirk and I share several mutual passions regardin our feelings for our brother/sister equines friends.  But his celebrity status aside, we do differ on one glaring obvious issue: he has hair and I do not…sigh.” ~ R.T.


Shatner rode a horse alongside Patrick Stewart in the 1994 movie “Star Trek: Generations.”

William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk on “Star Trek” for three seasons and seven movies, is peeling back yet another layer of his complex personality: He’s come out as an equestrian.

Hollywood’s jack-of-all-trades, Shatner is a Shakespearean actor who’s starred in “Henry V,” a musician who’s recorded trippy spoken-word covers of “Rocket Man” and “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” and a prolific author who’s written or co-written more than 30 books.

Now the 86-year-old opens up about his love of horses — a passion so all-encompassing that he’s devoted his latest book, “Spirit of the Horse: A Celebration in Fact and Fable” (out now, Thomas Dunne Books), to the beasts.

Here are four ways Shatner boldly trots.

Horses haunt his dreams

“My own sleep is sometimes filled with Centaur-like imagery of being one with the horse,” Shatner writes. “It will start with me atop the horse galloping across the field, the horse’s head visible ahead, his eyes becoming my eyes as if it were me galloping.”

The stable is his church

“I have been to truly sacred and highly spiritual places. I’ve been in sweat lodges, I’ve been in smoke ceremonies where a shaman drifts smoke over you, I’ve been at the confluence of several mountains near Mount Everest where there was a great Buddhist temple,” Shatner writes. But all those left him cold. “For most people — perhaps all? — wherever they love to be, that place is a cathedral to them … For me, it’s a stable.”

He talked horses with Christopher Reeve during Reeve’s worst moments

Some years after Christopher Reeve was paralyzed in 1995 by a horse riding accident, Shatner visited the “Superman” actor’s rehab facility in West Orange, NJ. “[Chris] couldn’t walk, he had no control over his body below his neck, he couldn’t even breathe without a ventilator,” Shatner says. “He said with his first breath, in about three phrases, ‘Tell me. How your horses are. And how much you love riding.’ Those words, the intonation, the longing he put into them — they will stay with me always.”

His favorite day on “Star Trek” wasn’t on the ship

For “Star Trek” Season 1’s episode “Shore Leave,” Shatner and Leonard Nimoy filmed an Old West-type scene alongside a peaceful horse. Its beauty has stayed with him forever. “Standing near a settled horse, with no pressure to do anything other than absorb the morning and eat the [craft services] sandwich, that was magic.”

http://nypost.com/2017/06/01/william-shatner-is-weirdly-obsessed-with-horses/

Something Old, something New

From Rewilding Europe

“At the rate that the BLM is decimating our last remaining free roaming herds of wild horses and burros we may find ourselves taking notes on how the Europeans are bring wild equines back to their rightful ranges.” ~ R.T.


Looking to boost the benefical impact of free-roaming wild horses in the Coa Valley, Associação Transumância e Natureza (ATN) starts the Zebro Project.

Raising the grazing

Free living Sorraia horses in Faia Brava nature reserve, Western Iberia rewilding area, Portugal. Juan Carlos Múñoz / Rewilding Europe

Rewilding Europe wants Europe’s native herbivores to return in significant, naturally balanced numbers to the lands where they once belonged. With domesticated livestock numbers on the decline in many European countries due to land abandonment, such herbivores can play a vital grazing role, opening up landscapes and enhancing biodiversity.

To this effect, Rewilding Europe now supports natural grazing in 16 different pilot areas across nine countries. In Faia Brava, one of our largest natural grazing pilots located in northern Portugal’s Middle Côa Valley, wild Garrano horses are the herbivores now reshaping the landscape in a way that benefits a wide range of local flora and fauna.

Thanks to the efforts of Associação Transumância e Natureza (ATN), our partner in the Western Iberia rewilding area, another site in the Middle Côa Valley will soon benefit from wild equine grazing too. The Portuguese NGO has this year started the so-called Zebro Project, carefully selecting and cross-breeding Sorraia horses to maximise their wild characteristics. These animals will eventually be released as a herd at a site close to (but separate from) Faia Brava.

“Our eventual aim is to recreate wild, free-roaming horses that will replace those that have been lost from the Iberian ecosystem,” explains Pedro Prata, the Western Iberia rewilding area team leader and ATN’s executive coordinator.

“We want rustic equine and cattle breeds to take back their ancestral grazing role in the Middle Côa Valley in a natural and sustained way,” continues the Portuguese. “These herbivores can reduce weed density, create clearings, promote seed dispersal and favour populations of wild scavengers and predators.”

An equine experiment

The rewilding of horses began back in 2005, when ATN introduced five Garrano horses into Faia Brava. Further introductions since then have seen the number of free-roaming horses in the reserve rise to an estimated 60 to 70 animals. These are now part of Rewilding Europe’s European Wildlife Bank.

Like the Garrano, the Sorraia is an ancient horse breed that was once found wild across the Iberian Peninsula, but whose populations decreased dramatically under pressure from hunting and the rise of domestic livestock and mechanised agriculture. The Sorraia has a particularly interesting history, having once been called the “zebro” or “zebra” in Portuguese, due to its striped markings.

Hardy native animals that lived off uncultivated lands and salt marshes in Iberian river valleys, zebros were occasionally captured by farmers for agricultural work. A small population of Sorraia horses, thought to be direct descendants of the zebro, was discovered in the 1920s. It is from this stock that the lineage has been preserved, although the breed remains rare.

In its attempt to recreate the zebro, or a genetic approximation of this ancient wild equine, the challenge is to identify the right horses for breeding.

“It is difficult to find modern-day horses with the genotype, phenotype and behaviour of ancient breeds,” explains Pedro Prata. “We are looking  for animals with more rusticity, which are strong enough to survive in adverse conditions, resist pathogens and diseases, and generally adapt to wild conditions. These are now quite scarce.”

Since the beginning of 2017, ATN has acquired several stallions and mares displaying the Sorraia phenotype. The plan is to acquire further animals this year, using part of the ATN membership fee for acquisition, transport and habitat management, and to launch a new line of merchandising to celebrate the project.

While the European wild horse is officially extinct, its genome is not lost and still exists across several types of old horse – from Exmoor ponies in the United Kingdom to the Hucul ponies of Eastern Europe’s Carpathian Mountains. These primitive animals still boast many of the characteristics and genetics of their ancestors, making them particularly suitable for rewilding and the grazing of wild habitats.

Rewilding Europe’s brochure on rewilding horses can be viewed here.

https://www.rewildingeurope.com/news/something-old-something-new/

CBS Mother’s Day Tribute – Wild Horses – a little Late but it’s all Good

We leave you this Mother’s Day morning at Arizona’s Music Mountains, where mares and their foals run free. Videographer: Carl Mrozek

Update: Status on Massive Former Wild Horse and Burro SD Rescue

Source: Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary Alliance

It has been a long and difficult journey for the 907 horses that the State Attorneys in South Dakota found to be suffering from serious neglect last  October. From freezing temperatures and soupy mud, all of the unadopted horses healthy enough to make the journey have been relocated to a safe staging area in Colorado. (or to a new adoptive home.) We’ve come so far and we couldn’t have done it without you!

But we aren’t done yet! There are still 170 horses waiting to be adopted  and transported to their new adoptive homes, the Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary Alliance members and partners continue to work hard to raise the $8,000.00 a week still needed to complete one of the largest horse rescues in U.S. history (bolded) as soon as possible.
Alliance members have been providing support to Fleet of Angels and its ground team by doing our part to raise funds for feed and care. With your help, and the support of the citizens and ranchers from Faith, S.D., 312 horses were relocated at the end of March to a well-equipped adoption hub in Ft. Collins Colorado.
Since last October, 712 of the 907 horses have been adopted minus some 24 horses that had to be euthanized due to medical reasons (like broken bones, cancer and other irreversible conditions). The numbers are staggering. It has been a challenge to get this far and it could not have been done without everyone’s help- every contribution and ‘share’ with friends has made a lifesaving impact.
The Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary Alliance will continue to do what we can to raise funds to help cover feed and labor until all the horses reach new homes. Weekly costs for board, feed and laborare over $8,000.00. Thanks to contributions from the ASPCA, all Coggins costs have been covered and thanks to Shirly Puga/National Equine Resource Network and The Unwanted Horse Coalition, all gelding fees have now been covered! 
This is a team effort and without the support of The Griffin-Soffel Equine Rescue Foundation, The Humane Society of The United States, the ASPCA, the Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary Alliance, Victoria McCullough, Best Friends, and every individual or group that has contributed, more than 600 horses would have been sold at auction last December, with most winding up hauled to Mexico or Canada for slaughter.
Since October, when a ruling of neglect was made against the International Society
for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros (ISPMB), an outpouring of generosity (has) made it possible to feed the horses and reimburse costs incurred by two South Dakota counties.
That allowed the counties to call off a planned public auction of the ISPMB horses at which many would have fallen into the hands of kill buyers, and feed the horses and ground crew. At the same time, adoptive homes were found for over 270 of the estimated 907 horses originally found on the ISPMB property, and the health of most of the others began improving. Since then, all but 170 horses have been placed with safe homes- but we need help. Every dollar helps make this possible.
Now, we need your financial contribution to cover the remaining cost of housing and care for the 170 horses who are still in need of adoptive homes. We need to cover costs for hay, facilities and labor this week.
We are grateful to EVERYONE who has chosen to be part of this effort and remain committed—with your help—to leave no horse behind.
On behalf of the Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary Alliance, please help us in this final stretch of reaching that goal.
Thank you and please help today,

Should Animal Abuse be Considered a Violent Crime?

by as published on OneGreenPlanet.org

“When we consider the harm done to animals as equal to the harm done to members of our own species, we can begin to change cultural perceptions of animals…”

Naysa with bullet wound to head Rescued June 9, 2007 ~ photo courtesy of Habitat for Horses

As news reports and undercover investigations reveal, animal abuse occurs with troubling regularity in the United States. No species of animal seems to be immune from this cruelty: from companion animals to circus animals to farmed animals, animal abuse is an increasingly concerning issue.

Perhaps more concerning is how little protection and justice animals are afforded under the law. Very often, animal abuse is simply ignored by authorities. When it is charged as a crime, defendants often get away with insignificant misdemeanor convictions and trivial fines as their only punishment. For example, a New Jersey woman who starved her dog, stuffed him into a trash bag, dumped him into a garbage disposal, and left him to die only received a $2,000 fine and 18 months of probation for her crime. In another case, workers who viciously kicked, stomped on, and beat dairy cows at an Idaho dairy farm received nothing more than minuscule $500 fines.

These disproportionate results may be because historically, animal abuse has not been considered a particularly serious crime. However, there are a number of reasons why animal abuse should be taken much more seriously and considered a “violent crime” deserving of stronger punishment.

What is a “Violent Crime?”

A “violent crime” is one where the victim of the crime is harmed by or threatened with violence. Under U.S. law, violent crimes include murder, rape, sexual assault, robbery, and assault. Such crimes are considered especially serious and are thus closely tracked by law enforcement and typically punished more harshly than other crimes.

Currently, a violent crime only qualifies as such if the victim of the crime is a human being. This means that an act of violence committed against an animal – no matter how egregious – is not technically considered a violent crime, and it is not punished as such.

Why Isn’t Animal Abuse Currently Considered a Violent Crime?

Astonishingly, animals are still considered property under the law, much the same as a table or chair. Because violent crimes contemplate harms committed against people and not against property, animal abuse does not qualify as a violent crime, despite the fact that animal abuse very obviously involves violence.

Instead, animal abuse is often treated as an infraction or low-level misdemeanor, typically punished by no more than a fine and probation.

Animal Abuse Should be Considered a Violent Crime!

There are a number of very important reasons that animal abuse should be considered a violent crime in our legal system.

First, we know based on personal experience and countless scientific studies that animals are not things. They are nothing like other “property” such as tables and chairs. Animals are sentient beings with the ability to feel a range of emotions, and they are harmed both physically and psychologically by violent abuse, much as human beings are. They deserve to be treated under the law as the complex creatures that they are.

According to a report made by the family lawyers Melbourne team, animal abuse is strongly linked with other forms of abuse, such as domestic violence and child abuse. One study found that animal abuse occurred in 88 percent of homes where child abuse had been discovered. Another study found that up to 83 percent of women entering domestic violence shelters report that their abusers also abuse the family pet. In fact, animal abusers are five times more likely to abuse people…(CONTINUED)

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/should-animal-abuse-be-considered-a-violent-crime/

Panama City Beach “Big Lick” Horse Show Manager Tells CCABLAC (Citizens Campaign Against “Big Lick” Animal Cruelty) Animal Welfare Advocate “You Are A Dead Man”

Posted on BillyGoBoy.com

PANAMA CITY BEACH (FL) –  On Wednesday,   April 26, 2017,  the  Panama City “Big Lick” Horse Show Manager Mr. Todd Fisher assaulted a CCABLAC (Citizens Against “Big Lick” Animal Cruelty) Welfare Advocate Clant M. Seay at the Frank Brown Park by telling him “You Are A Dead Man”.

Mr. Seay is an animal welfare advocate with CCABLAC (Citizens Campaign Against “Big Lick” Animal Cruelty), and Publisher of the www.BillyGoBoy.com website publication.    A month ago,  CCABLAC presented over 100,000 signature Petition to the White House in Washington, D.C., asking President Donald J. Trump to approve a Federal Regulation which would remove the “Pads and Chains” and abolish “Big Lick” Animal Cruelty.

http://billygoboy.com/2017/04/27/panama-city-beach-big-lick-horse-show-manager-tells-ccablac-citizens-campaign-against-big-lick-animal-cruelty-animal-welfare-advocate-you-are-a-dead-man/

Wild Horses Are Being Forced to Wear Dangerous Collars – Demand These Be Removed (PETITION)

by as published on OneGreenPlanet

Right now, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is conducting a five-year study on wild mares in the Adobe Town Herd Management Area (ATHMA) of south-central Wyoming with the help of the University of Wyoming’s Department of Ecosystem Science and Management. And like most recent interactions between the BLM and wild horses, this is likely to result in dire consequences for those mares.

Supposedly, the study is meant to “document habitat selection, movement between habitats, seasonal use, and migration patterns of wild horses” within and outside this area in order to understand how horses move across the Colorado-Wyoming border, how the removal of horses from the checkerboard portion of the HMA influences the movement of mares from non-checkerboard portions of ATHMA (i.e. creation of a void), how horses select landscape resources relative to their proportional availability, and how site fidelity of horses is influenced by season.”

But as Carol Walker, Director of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation, explains, “The researchers are seeking to prove that wild horses will ‘move into a void’ created by rounding up and removing horses from the Checkerboard, so they can ‘prove’ that it impossible to remove horses from the Checkerboard and keep them out. They are also hoping to ‘prove’ that wild horses degrade riparian areas.” The reason? It’s because the BLM works hand-in-hand with the cattle ranching industry to allocate more public land for grazing beef and dairy cows in order to collect more livestock grazing tax from those industry interests.

Those interests continue to claim that there is not enough grazing land due to an overpopulation of wild horses that deplete the area of feed, when, in fact, wild horses occupy just 11 percent of BLM-managed land and ranchers’ cows already outnumber wild horses 50 to 1 … and growing.

Meanwhile, using our tax dollars, the BLM and University of Wyoming team have already bait-trapped at least 14 “test subjects” in the ATHMA area, along with a handful of mares who, after being trapped, were deemed too young to participate in the study. It isn’t uncommon for the BLM to turn around and cull wild horses trapped in its holding facilities or send them to slaughter. And since the agency already voted in September 2016 to kill off 44,000 of the nation’s 67,000 total remaining wild horses, this act of trapping is, in and of itself, a very scary step.

So far, these horses have been spared that fate, though their future remains wildly unsure. They are being fitted with radio collars, which can dangerously impact their health and well-being. For example, if they gain weight either by growing naturally or due to pregnancy, the collars will become too tight for comfort or should their collars become caught on brush or the horses’ own hooves, as has happened in previous studies, it could prove disastrous. Plus, these collars ensure the agency will know exactly where to find them should the decision be made to cull this group of horses…(CONTINUED)

To read the rest of the article: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/news/wild-horses-are-being-forced-to-wear-dangerous-collars/

Equine Charities Unite for Worldwide Welfare Action

Source: The Donkey Sanctuary

“With 180 OIE member states now acknowledging the importance of working horses, donkeys and mules, the time is right for coordinated action to implement the standards around the world. “

photo courtesy of The Donkey Sanctuary

UK equine welfare charities Brooke, The Donkey Sanctuary, SPANA and World Horse Welfare today announce their first formal coalition.

Formed specifically to put policy into practice, the coalition aims to advise, motivate and support the implementation of the first ever global welfare standards for working horses, donkeys and mules. These landmark standards were approved by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) in May 2016 following advocacy and technical support from Brooke and World Horse Welfare.

This is the first time all four major charities have formally joined forces. Although not law, these landmark changes finally give legitimacy to calls for equine welfare to be improved around the world.

Petra Ingram, CEO at Brooke, who spearheaded the formation of the coalition and will be its Chair for the first year, believes that it’s the right vehicle to bring the standards to life: “A respected champion of change can be the difference between success and failure when it comes to implementation. Our message to countries is: let us help; equine welfare is an ally of humanitarian issues.”

With 180 OIE member states now acknowledging the importance of working horses, donkeys and mules, the time is right for coordinated action to implement the standards around the world.

Chief Executive of World Horse Welfare, Roly Owers, said “We know that horses, donkeys and mules are essential to hundreds of millions of human livelihoods, and it is heartening that the world is now recognising their versatility and importance.

“World Horse Welfare looks forward to working in partnership, bringing our influencing skills and 90 years of practical expertise gained helping equines around the world. The scale of the challenge to help 100 million working animals is so large that we must work together to get them the recognition and support they desperately need.”

As world-leading experts in equine welfare with a combined geographic reach covering the major populations of the world’s working equines, the four UK-based charities will provide a unique resource.

The coalition’s goal is to share a wealth of professional expertise and technical know-how by jointly developing training resources and working with governments, academics, communities and professionals to help put the standards into practice within the contexts of different countries, cultures and economies.

Geoffrey Dennis, Chief Executive of SPANA, said: “It is very encouraging that there is now international recognition for the working equines that play a fundamental role in supporting the livelihoods of millions of families worldwide.

“Through veterinary treatment, education and training for animal owners, SPANA works to improve the welfare of these vitally important horses, donkeys and mules across many countries. We are looking forward to working in partnership to ensure that the new standards are translated into practical support and action that makes a tangible difference to working animals and the communities that depend on them.”

The coalition’s work will use the skills the four organisations have in welfare assessment training; building capacity in equine owning communities; equipping service providers (including farriers, saddlers and vets) with the skills and tools required to provide affordable quality services. It supports universities in curriculum development, and postgraduate vets with continuing professional development; as well as raising awareness of the importance of working equids to human livelihoods with policy makers.

Mike Baker, CEO of The Donkey Sanctuary, said: “This is a fantastic milestone in global equine welfare standards. Our new coalition will really maximise welfare improvements as we share our skills, resources and experience. Millions of donkeys, horses and mules work extremely hard every day and it will be wonderful to highlight how vital they are for their human owners and communities.”

https://www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk/press-release/equine-charities-unite

Amazing Recognition of Death in Wild Horses

reported by Salt River Wild Horse Management Group

“Sad, but beautiful. …”

“Many times I have heard our good friend, Ginger Kathrens, say that our fight for the wild horses is all about their Freedom and Family…this story speaks to the heart and verifies that Ginger is spot on in her description of what wild horses are all about.  Many thanks to all the great people at Salt River Wild Horse Management Group for sharing this poignant moment with us.” ~ R.T.


We did our very best today, to help a young wild mare who’s baby had gotten stuck and died during delivery. Our experienced field team had jumped into action and our vet was getting there as fast as she could, but sadly the mare went into septic shock and passed, the baby had simply been stuck for too long. She was a beautiful dun mare, just 2 years old, her name was Clydette, daughter of Bonnie.

But just as nature gave us heavy hearts and reminded us of how harsh it can be sometimes, it then immediately showed us how amazing it is also. So we’d like to concentrate on that, as it gave us all goosebumps.

Right after we moved away from her body, we witnessed how her band came and nuzzled her, after which the roan, her lead stallion, cried out for her very loudly. Shortly after that, they moved away from her body but stayed close.

Other bands heard that call and suddenly came out of nowhere and then knew exactly where the lifeless body lied, even while there were no other bands around when she passed.

What happened next was amazing; the other bands stood in line taking turns saying their goodbye’s. First one band, then another. Then the two lead stallions of those two bands got into a short power struggle. Then you can see how Clydette’s lead stallion comes running back one last time letting out a short scream in a last effort to protect her, or perhaps to tell everyone that she was his.

It takes a most highly intelligent species to understand and actually mourn death. We have seen bands mourn their losses before, but for other bands to come and mourn her death also was simply awe inspiring. These animals have evolved to have amazing survival skills and very close and protective family bonds. In this natural behavior, lies true scientific value.

This video was taken after her own band (with the powerful roan) had already said their goodbyes and walked on. This is approximately 30 minutes after she had died. We invite everyone to draw their own conclusions.

We thank all of the bystanders and public who were very considerate, helpful and respectful in particular the lady who called this in. Our emergency number is (480)868-9301

Rest in peace Clydette and little Tootie.

(Baby was named by member Destini Rhone who lost her aunt Tootie on this same day, rest in peace aunt Tootie also.)