Feel Good Sunday (video): Humans Help Save Injured Baby Donkey

by Animal Aid Unlimited, India

“With all the madness that has enveloped the equine world, be it man-made or caused by nature, it feels good to simply sit back for a moment and watch kind gentle souls help a four legged critter in need.  We by no means endorse a particular rescue but simply thought this story was worth sharing; brings back memories closer to home of the rescue/rehab work of Marjorie Farabee, Jerry Finch, Hilary Wood, Elaine Nash and many others.

To all you human angels who tend to those who traverse this planet on 4 legs, may God bless you and keep you.  Your wingspan is greater than you may think.  Keep the faith.” ~ R.T.


Multiple CA Wildfires Take Heavy Toll on both Humans and Horses

By and   as published on The Orange County Register

“This is a tragedy that I have shied away from because of the voluminous amount of news on the subject.  Hundreds of articles are out there detailing the death and destruction with horses being killed and lost at an unprecedented rate.

But today I  decided to share this story because while reporting all of the bad news there lies within a sliver of joy, hope and happiness.  Often you have to dig deep to find something to feel good about and today is assuredly one of those days. 

Our prayers go out to those who struggle to keep themselves and those they love, safe.  May God be with you.” ~ R.T.


OCEANSIDE, CA – Fire crews stopped the Lilac’s destructive march on Friday, keeping to 4,100 acres a blaze that a day earlier had forced thousands to flee their homes, destroyed at least 105 structures and killed dozens of horses.

With the strong winds that initially drove the flames dying down overnight, fire crews were able to move from defense to offense, as aircraft dropped water on hot-spots while hand crews kept an eye out for potential flare-ups.

Despite the improved weather conditions, San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob cautioned residents to remain alert. Officials reported 15 percent containment of the fire Friday night, meaning for only that amount were they confident the flames wouldn’t jump the perimeter.

“A fire that starts in the back country can go anywhere at any time, particularly when those winds shift,” Jacob said. “We are not out of the woods yet.”

The fast-moving blaze ignited late Thursday morning. Officials estimated that around 900 people have shown up at fire shelters, while an estimated 10,000 people were evacuated at one point. The cause was unknown.

Two firefighters and four civilians were injured. It was unclear how many of the 105 structures were homes.

Flames burned through a quiet, semi-rural portion of San Diego County best known for ranches and orchards. Crews worked to keep the fire from burning west toward the larger Oceanside community or onto Camp Pendleton.

Trainers and staff at the facility cut loose some of the 450-plus horses so they could escape the flames. Dramatic video apparently recorded by a stable hand in the midst of the rescue efforts showed waves of horses running through the smoke as workers hurried to release them. Still, the California Horse Racing Board estimated 25 horses died.

Most of the survivors were trucked to the safety of the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

More than 1,000 fire personnel were dedicated to the Lilac Fire on Friday, along with more than 100 fire engines and 15 helicopters, Cal Fire spokesman Kendal Bortisser said.

“We continue to fight this fire from the air and the ground,” Bortisser said.

The Lilac fire put thousands of U.S. Marines at nearby Camp Pendleton on alert. Two military aviation strike teams were on-hand to help support firefighting efforts.

Of the 85 destroyed structures, officials were unsure how many were homes.

“There were quite a few mobile homes that were lost in the area,” San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said. “That includes senior citizens.”

Friday, residents were taking stock of the damage.

Mary Klodell, 54, was riding her bike on the San Luis Rey trail when she saw smoke in the air – sending her racing home to pack essentials before leaving the area.

“We heard crackling and popping behind us,” she said. “I was panicked and looking for my keys.”

On Friday, Klodell returned to the neighborhood, walking the ruins of some homes and finding others still intact. A neighbor told her that only a small shift in the weather saved her residence.

“He told me the wind shifted right in time, or else my house would be done now,” she said. “That’s God protecting me.”

At the Stepp Stables at Camp Pendleton, Sandrine Linglet was overwhelmed and crying tears of joy. A day earlier, seeing smoke and fire in the air, Linglet, 46, had driven to the Oceanside Equestrian Center, where she kept four mustangs.

“I could barely see, it was back and red everywhere,” Linglet recalled.

On her first trip, Linglet, who had also been forced to evacuate her Oceanside home, was able to get two mustangs into a trailer. Ignoring warnings from firefighters, she returned Thursday night to rescue a third with the help of two Marines and brought the horse back to the Pendleton stable. They were unable to corral the fourth unbroken mustang.

“I was in tears and exhausted,” Linglet said. “I felt guilty. I couldn’t believe that I left her behind.”

Linglet spent the night at Stepp Stables — partly hunkering down with the three rescued mustangs and then sitting in her car listening to news reports.

“I cried the whole night but I was sure no matter what, i would not give up,” she said. “No matter what, no matter how, I would try to get my horse.”

Just before daylight, Linglet returned to the Oceanside Equestrian Center on Friday just a few miles from the stables at Camp Pendleton. She was shocked to see her fourth mustang, Margo, standing in a field. Hours later, the four were all safe at Camp Pendleton, which lent space for evacuated steeds.

Around 11 a.m. on Thursday, James Adams smelled smoke near his 3,300 square-foot home that overlooks the San Luis Rey river valley, about eight miles from Fallbrook. He helped his wife gather paintings and other valuables and got her, two dogs and a parrot into the car.

“I didn’t want her to be here,” the 68-year-old said. “I didn’t know how fast it would come.”

By 2 p.m., the fire had consumed the house two doors away, as the wind screamed over his home. He watched as the wind and flames shifted to the south, burning five homes to the ground at the end of this street. That night, there was no electricity, but he saw an orangey sky.

He called 911 twice, alerting firefighters to fire near him. Each time, helicopters doused the flames.

“I think the fire fighters did an amazing job,” he said.

Friday afternoon, Adams was able to think about how lucky he had been.

“I’ve been putting my library together for 40 years,” he said, “it’s one of my most personal possessions.”

Other links:

Horse death toll at San Luis Rey Downs from wildfire could climb past 40

Trainer severely burned, race horses killed in California wildfires

At least 50 horses die as Southern California wildfires take ‘tragic’ toll on equestrian communities

Lilac Fire at San Luis Rey Downs takes devastating toll on horse racing community

Feel Good Sunday Video: 16-year-old boy drives through burning barn wall to save 14 trapped Clydesdale horses

source: TNK

““He busted through like Rambo and opened up the end of the stalls…”

Macon Martin, 16, is being called a hero after his quick thinking saved the lives of 14 Clydesdale horses.

The family home, located about 60 miles east of Atlanta, Georgia, was struck by lighting in the middle of the night.

“It shook the whole house,” Macon’s mother, Shannon said. “One minute I am in bed; the next minute I am standing up next to the bed trying to figure out what bomb went off.”

Without power, the family could only see by the light of a fire that quickly engulfed their horse barn. To make matters worse, the barn doors were locked and there wasn’t enough time to find the key.

“I just ran right out. I had no clothes on, no shoes, no nothing,” Macon said. Without hesitation, the heroic teen jumped into a nearby 4-wheel drive utility vehicle and drove straight through the barn wall. “I just jumped in our Gator and I just ran it right into the door,” he told local NBC affiliate WKYC Channel 3 News.

“He busted through like Rambo and opened up the end of the stalls and said, ‘Mom, this way,’” Shannon said. “And we were able to push the horses out that way.”

All 14 horses made it out unharmed, but the barn was a total loss. “It will take some time to rebuild,” Shannon said. “This was a dream. We saved and built it brick by brick. We’ll have to start over.”

Hear more about Macon’s heroic act in the news video below…Click on Image to View

http://www.thenewskiller.com/2017/11/11/16-year-old-boy-drives-burning-barn-wall-save-14-trapped-clydesdale-horses/

Wild Horse & Burro Slaughter Endorser, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Is Embroiled In More Than One Scandal

by as published on ThinkProgress.org

“It started with trying to legalize horse slaughter plants in his home state and has only gone down hill from there…”

Dinky Zinke asks; “Filly Fillet in this hand and Bucking Bronc Burger in this hand, which would you pick?”

A controversial contract benefiting a small company based in his hometown is only the latest possible corruption scandal linked to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who has come under fire for his spending habits as well as his connections to special interests and potential misuse of campaign funds.

On Monday, nonprofit watchdog group the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) accused Zinke’s dormant congressional campaign of dodging rules prohibiting individuals from converting political donations into individual revenue. According to an official Federal Election Commission complaint, the campaign allegedly purchased an RV from Zinke’s wife, then sold it to a friend at a steeply discounted price a year later, lowering the car’s price from $59,100 to $25,000. The recipient, Ed Buttrey, is a Montana state senator rumored to be in the running to be nominated Interior assistant secretary.

The CLC cited the RV sale along with Zinke’s earlier hotel stays in the Virgin Islands and New York — trips he took on the Interior Department’s dime — as possible efforts to skirt federal contribution campaign rules.

“When you combine the disregard for campaign finance laws when Zinke was a candidate with the disregard that Zinke as Interior secretary has shown for the ethics laws, you certainly get a picture of an individual who may not be taking his responsibilities as an officeholder seriously,” said Brendan Fischer, who submitted the complaint on behalf of the CLC.

Zinke’s other ethical close-calls, as the CLC noted, are plentiful.

Last week, a two-person for-profit private company from Zinke’s hometown of Whitefish, Montana secured a $300 million contract to help rebuild Puerto Rico. The U.S. territory has struggled for over a month following a devastating hurricane and much of the island stills lacks access to power and water. But many officials questioned the decision to award Whitefish Energy Holdings the contract and even the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) criticized the deal. The company eventually lost the contract amid “significant concerns” about its ability to adequately perform necessary relief work, as well as increasing scrutiny and calls from Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo Rosselló, to cancel the deal. An audit of the deal is underway on both a federal and local level.

Zinke has denied any connection to the contract, blaming the growing scandal on coastal elitism and a bias against small towns.

“I had absolutely nothing to do with Whitefish Energy receiving a contract in Puerto Rico,” the interior secretary wrote in a statement on Friday.

“Any attempts by the dishonest media or political operatives to tie me to awarding of influencing any contract involving Whitefish [Energy Holdings] are completely baseless,” Zinke continued. “Only in elitist Washington, D.C., would being from a small town be considered a crime.”

But the Whitefish controversy has very little to do with the small town roots of Whitefish Energy Holdings and far more to do with alarm over possible corruption. Zinke has been connected to a number of other scandals — many of them ongoing and drawing increasing scrutiny.

As the overseer of approximately 500 million acres across the United States, Zinke plays a crucial role in crafting President Trump’s domestic climate policy. Under Trump’s budget, the Department of the Interior faces steep cuts, including an 80 percent reduction in funding for climate efforts.

Zinke himself has taken an apathetic approach to climate change and environmental protection on a broader level. He has called the Paris climate agreement — signed by virtually every country in the world apart from embattled Syria — a “badly negotiated deal” and has supported Trump’s decision to leave the landmark decision. He has also questioned the impact of climate change — claiming that “no models” exist proving the phenomenon’s impact on the planet — and sought to heavily downsize national monuments, despite outcry from activists and indigenous tribes.

As a Montana congressman, Zinke took thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from oil and gas companies, many of whom drill on the same public lands he now oversees. Zinke received a total of $345,000 between 2013 and 2017 from donors like these, with one oil-and-gas executive giving the now-secretary as much as $11,600, according to Federal Election Commission data. These numbers have caused many to worry Zinke’s stances are being shaped by oil, gas, and coal lobbyists, as well as by climate skeptics more generally.

The secretary’s lavish trips are also alarming watchdog groups. This summer, Zinke took a $12,375 chartered flight from Las Vegas to an area near his Montana home, when a commercial equivalent would have cost around $300. That trip was aboard a private plane owned by a Wyoming oil-and-gas exploration firm, once again concerning climate activists.

In March, Zinke also took a taxpayer-funded trip to the aforementioned U.S. Virgin Islands, where he attended a Republican Party fundraiser and donors paid up to $5,000 per couple for a photo with the secretary. That event was one of many Zinke attended with major donors and other political figures on Interior Department-funded trips, according to documents reviewed by Politico.

Earlier this month, 26 House Democrats wrote in a letter that Zinke’s trips “give the appearance that you are mixing political gatherings and personal destinations with official business.” Other figures have also expressed concern — Zinke’s Virgin Islands trip, which are mentioned in its complaint, attracted CLC’s attention three weeks ago.

“This activity constitutes impermissible solicitation of political contributions if event organizers conditioned the opportunity to take a photograph with Secretary Zinke on paying a higher fee,” CLC’s senior director for ethics, Walter Shaub, wrote to the Justice Department’s Office of Special Council. Shaub requested a Hatch Act investigation in order to determine whether Zinke violated rules restricting federal employees from partisan political events and dealings.

Monday’s complaint comes amid a Special Counsel investigation into Zinke’s spending habits, as well as a separate investigation opened by Interior Department’s inspector general.

Audits into Puerto Rico’s canceled contract with Whitefish Energy Holdings are also ongoing.

https://thinkprogress.org/zinke-scandals-papertrail-26c2e725f345/

Save

Wild Horses, Burros, Slaughter and Zinke; R.T. Fitch LIVE on Wild Horse Freedom Federation Facebook – Sunday

It’s not “Feel Good Sunday” by any means but instead it is a heartfelt plea for assistance in saving tens of thousands of Wild Horses and Burros from being shot and murdered to forward careers, egos and budgets.

Tax paying Americans want to take their country back and murdering the very icon of our independence is NOT the way to achieve said goal.

Join me for a brief few moments on Sunday, October 22nd at 7PM Eastern, 6PM Central, 5PM Mountain and 4PM Pacific for a few minutes of brainstorming on where we go from here.  This will not be a lecture nor an exercise in preaching to the choir but instead simply a few moments of face to face commentary on clarification, focus and a suggested best way forward.  I promise not to keep you long…Sunday is for family.

Please join me on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WildHorseFreedom/

It’s time to come together, my friends, and fix this broken system.

See you soon.

R.T. Fitch, Volunteer, Citizen President & Co-founder of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Winter foals are smaller than foals born in summer

photo by Carol Walker

SOURCE:  SCIENCE DAILY

Summary:  Although seasonal effects such as reduced metabolic activity in winter are known even in domesticated horse breeds, effects on pregnant mares and their foals have not been investigated. Researchers have now demonstrated that seasonal changes have a strong influence on pregnancy and fetal development. Foals born early in the year are smaller than those born at a later time and these differences persist to at least 12 weeks after birth.

Seasonal and diurnal rhythms determine the life cycle of many animal species. In equids this is not only true for wild species such as the Przewalski but season-dependent metabolic changes also exist in domesticated horses. Horses can reduce their metabolic activity during the cold season and thus reduce heat loss. The effects of such seasonal changes on pregnancy and fetal development, however, have not been investigated so far. Researchers from Vetmeduni Vienna could now demonstrate that foals born in winter are smaller than herd mates born later in the year.

Reduced metabolism hits a critical fetal phase

The last weeks of pregnancy correspond to a time of rapid fetal growth. This phase is a key moment for development of the foal. “When a foal is born in winter, it is thus likely that the seasonal reduction in energy metabolism affects the fetus,” explains principal investigator Christine Aurich.

Read the rest of this article HERE.

From Wolves to Horses to Dogs, This Big Law Partner Has Built a Practice Exclusively Defending Animals

Jenna Greene, The Litigation Daily

Bruce Wagman, Behind the Scenes Warrior for Wild Horses & Burros

“It is a very sincere pleasure to share with you this article about our legal consultant and my longtime friend, Bruce Wagman.  Bruce was the attorney that we pleaded with, almost a decade ago, to research for Terry and myself ways to stop the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from zeroing out federally protected wild horse herds.  With no organization to back us up and zero history to bolster our dedication to the cause Bruce took up our case and to this day was the silent partner and legal consultant behind our BLM Long Term Holding White Paper…and there is more to come.  Thank you Bruce for all that you do for those who are recognized only as property and even if they could speak, would not be allowed to.  You are the voice for millions.  Rock On my brother!” ~ R.T.


Schiff Hardin‘s Bruce Wagman with dogs Kazi (left) and Tatu at his home in Stinson Beach, CA. Jason Doiy

Schiff Hardin partner Bruce Wagman has the best client list ever: birds, cats, chickens, chimpanzees, cows, deer, dogs, dolphins, ducks, elephants, elk, gorillas, horses, lions, mice, monkeys, pigs, sharks, turkeys, whales and wolves.

Okay, technically they’re not his clients, because, well, animals can’t hire lawyers.

But Wagman, who plausibly asserts he is the only Big Law partner in the country focusing exclusively on animal law, has carved out a unique practice defending and improving the lives of animals.

On Tuesday, he and Schiff Hardin partner Elizabeth Runyan Geise, along with co-counsel from the Humane Society of the United States, scored a big win when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld a lower court decision protecting gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region, which includes Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

They challenged a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rule de-listing the wolves as a protected group under the Endangered Species Act.

The panel—Judges Thomas Griffith, Patricia Millett and Nina Pillard—held that the agency failed to reasonably consider the impact of partial delisting on the remaining portion of the species, as well the impact of historical range loss. Their decision will save the wolves from trophy hunting and commercial trapping, including hound hunting, snares, baiting, electronic calls and the use of leg hold traps.

Per the Endangered Species Act, the prevailing lawyers are entitled to an award of legal fees. Still, Wagman acknowledged one ongoing “tension” in his practice is getting paid. Because in addition to being unable to hire lawyers, animals don’t have any money.

But his partners at 300-lawyer Schiff Hardin have been “incredibly supportive,” he said. Wagman previously practiced with 35-lawyer Morgenstein & Jubelirer in San Francisco, which merged with Schiff Hardin in 2007. “I was in the right place at the right time” to build the practice, he said. “I’ve slowly picked up more and more clients.”

In 2015 when he was honored by the ABA’s Animal Law Committee, Wagman wrote, “I expected my tenure there would last a couple of years at most, and that this Chicago-based firm would not want this animal law weirdo as a partner. Well, I could not have been more wrong. … The firm’s validation of the work has been overwhelming and consistent.”

Among his big cases: defending a California law requiring humane treatment of animals too sick or injured to stand or walk; stopping commercial horse slaughter for human consumption; suing the federal government to stop untested surgical sterilization “research” on wild mares; upholding a ban on the possession or sale of shark fins in California; and negotiating the release of chimpanzees used for medical research. He also helped found two permanent sanctuaries for them.

Some of Wagman’s work, especially the big-impact litigation, is pro bono, he said. Some is “low bono,” for reduced fees. And some is full-fee work for private clients, including dog bite cases and custody fights over pets.

Under the law, pets are considered to be property—a discovery that people who call Wagman up wanting to sue for emotional distress after someone kills their dog find dismaying, he said.

“It’s ripe for change, but change is slow,” he said. Still, he sees subtle signs that more judges are taking into account what’s best for the pet in custody fights, looking beyond indicia of ownership. Who walks the dog? Who has a yard? “It’s happening without anyone realizing it’s happening,” he said.

http://www.litigationdaily.com/id=1202794647496/From-Wolves-to-Horses-to-Dogs-This-Big-Law-Partner-Has-Built-a-Practice-Exclusively-Defending-Animals?slreturn=20170704070805

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/