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

Under the Skin – Donkeys at Risk

Source: The Donkey Sanctuary

donkeys-at-risk

Right now, millions of donkeys from Asia, Africa and South America are at risk of being stolen and slaughtered for their skins – the gelatin in the hide being a key ingredient in the prized traditional Chinese medicine called ejiao (e-gee-yow).

A new report by The Donkey Sanctuary reveals the shocking scale of this global demand for donkey skins – a demand that is unsustainable, whilst simultaneously causing mass-scale suffering to donkeys and risking the livelihoods of millions of people who depend on them.

Read here about the serious issues being faced and act now to add your voice to our campaign and help us curb this trade.

To learn more: https://www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk/under-the-skin

Feel Good Sunday: MustangMedia 101 – Whose Home on the Range?

By Terri Farley

Helping Wild Horses and Burros

terri-farley1. KNOW THE FACTS

You’ll feel comfortable telling people what’s happening to wild horses and burros if you know what you’re talking about.

Check out these websites for news, statistics and resources. If you are working on a wild horse or burro report, these are good sites to visit.

American Wild Horse Preservation
The Cloud Foundation
Chilly Pepper – Miracle Mustang, Equine & Neonatal Mustang Rescue
Hidden Valley Wild Horse Protection Fund
The Wild Horse Sanctuary
Wild Horse Freedom Federation
Wild Burro Protection League
Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation
Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue
Montgomery Creek Ranch

2. WHAT’S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW?

Websites can’t cover every single news story about wild horses and burros, but you can create a Google alert for wild horses and burros. Here’s how.

Pay attention to these alerts to see where your voice is needed before the damage is done to your mustangs!

3. Forward this to those who care or need to be educated about wild horses:

Forward this to those who care or need to be educated about wild horses and burros:

ANNOUNCING MustangMedia 101 by Terri Farley: Whose Home on the Range?

Bookmark and Share

Wild horses and burros can’t speak their own stories. Once, that didn’t matter, but now wild horses and burros suffer and die at human hands. We take their food, water and homes. A few people want wild horses and burros taken off public lands so corporations can earn money from the land’s minerals, oil and grazing. But most people love wildlife and wild places. They’re learning to stand up for wildlife because the Western public lands belong to all Americans! Our hearts lift at their rough power and beauty.

Knowing mustangs inspires me to tell their stories as well as I can, before they’re extinct.

MustangMedia 101 by Terri Farley is my attempt to explain modern challenges facing wild horses and burros.

4. FOUR FILL-IN-THE-BLANK STEPS TO MAKE A LETTER-IN-WAITING

When you see an opportunity to comment about wild horses and burros online or in person, do it! For short Facebook or Twitter comments, use only Step One. For letters to editors, blogs, letters to government representatives, use all 4 steps.

STEP ONE: Make a statement and use BECAUSE to back it up.

EX:

“Wild horses and burros deserve freedom because laws have given them the right to roam public lands.”

or

“Wild horses and burros belong to all Americans and, because most American don’t believe in eating horsemeat, mustangs and burros shouldn’t go to slaughter.”

STEP TWO:

• Describe your personal connection to the issue in 2 – 3 sentences.

STEP THREE:

• Give 3 facts about the issue — 1 – 3 sentences

STEP FOUR:

• WHAT ACTION do you want people to take? – 1 sentence

That’s it! In 3 – 6 sentences, you will have explained why you want to live in a world with wild horses and burros.

You can keep that short document as a letter-in-waiting, but whatever you do — put your opinion out there!

You don’t have to be brave or brilliant; you just have to speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves.

Breaking News: BLM Soliciting Nominations for Wild Horse and Burro Slaughter Advisory Board

reported by R.T. Fitch

“We were attempting to keep only good news and articles flowing during the holiday season but this announcement just broke, today.

Currently Ginger Kathrens is the only qualified person serving on the present board and she is, likewise, the only member to vote against butchering tens of thousands of wild horses that the BLM has illegally captured and currently  confines at taxpayer expense.

Ginger is the token advocate, while the rest are all special interest, per-screened appointees that are interested in only horse slaughter, welfare ranching, hunting and personal affirmation.

If you could recommend anyone to stand with Ginger, fat chance, who would you pick…we can play this exercise, again.

Brainstorm away….” ~ R.T.

Banner from America’s Wild Horse Advocates (AWHA) with Melissa Ohlsson, Vice President of AWHA as artist

Banner from America’s Wild Horse Advocates (AWHA) with Melissa Ohlsson, Vice President of AWHA as artist


[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 248 (Tuesday, December 27, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 95177-95178]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-31216]
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Bureau of Land Management

[LLWO260000.L10600000PC0000.17X.LXSIADVSBD0.241A]


Call for Nominations for the National Wild Horse and Burro 
Advisory Board

AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------


SUMMARY: The purpose of this notice is to solicit public nominations 
for three positions on the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board (Board) 
that will become vacant on April 3, 2017. The Board provides advice 
concerning the management, protection, and control of wild free-roaming 
horses and burros on public lands administered by the Department of the 
Interior, through the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the 
Department of Agriculture, through the U.S. Forest Service.

DATES: Nominations must be post marked or submitted to the address 
listed below no later than February 10, 2017.

ADDRESSES: All mail sent via the U.S. Postal Service should be sent as 
follows: Division of Wild Horses and Burros, U.S. Department of the 
Interior, Bureau of Land Management, 1849 C Street NW., Room 2134 LM, 
Attn: Dorothea Boothe, WO-260, Washington, DC 20240. All mail and 
packages that are sent via FedEx or UPS should be addressed as follows: 
Wild Horse and Burro Division, U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau 
of Land Management, 20 M Street SE., Room 2134 LM, Attn: Dorothea 
Boothe, Washington, DC 20003. You may also email PDF documents to Ms. 
Boothe at dboothe@blm.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dorothea Boothe, Acting Wild Horse and 
Burro Program Specialist, 202-912-7654. Persons who use a 
telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay 
Service at 1-800-877-8339 to contact the above individual during normal 
business hours. The Service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 
You will receive a reply during normal business hours.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Members of the Board serve without 
compensation. However, while away from their homes or regular places of 
business, Board and subcommittee members engaged in Board or 
subcommittee business, approved by the Designated Federal Official 
(DFO), may be allowed travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of 
subsistence, in the same manner as persons employed intermittently in 
government service under Section 5703 of Title 5 of the United States 
Code. Nominations for a term of three years are needed to represent the 
following categories of interest:

Natural Resource Management
Wild Horse and Burro Research
Public Interest (Equine behavior)

    The Board will meet one to four times annually. The DFO may call 
additional meetings in connection with special needs for advice. 
Individuals may nominate themselves or others. An individual serving on 
another resource advisory council is not eligible to serve concurrently 
on the Board. Any individual or organization may nominate one or more 
persons to serve on the Board. Nominations will not be accepted without 
a complete resume. The following information must accompany all 
nominations for the individual to be considered for a position:
    1. The position(s) for which the individual wishes to be 
considered;
    2. The individual's first, middle, and last name;
    3. Business address and phone number;
    4. Home address and phone number;
    5. Email address;
    6. Present occupation/title and employer;
    7. Education (colleges, degrees, major field of study);
    8. Career Highlights: Significant related experience, civic and 
professional activities, elected offices (include prior advisory 
committee experience or career achievements related to the interest to 
be represented). Attach additional pages, if necessary;
    9. Qualifications: Education, training, and experience that qualify 
you to serve on the Board;
    10. Experience or knowledge of wild horse and burro management;
    11. Experience or knowledge of horses or burros (Equine health, 
training, and management);
    12. Experience in working with disparate groups to achieve 
collaborative solutions (e.g., civic organizations, planning 
commissions, school boards, etc.);
    13. Identification of any BLM permits, leases, or licenses held by 
the individual or his or her employer;
    14. Indication of whether the individual is a federally registered 
lobbyist; and
    15. Explanation of interest in serving on the Board.
    All nominations must be accompanied by at least one letter of

[[Page 95178]]

reference sent from special interests or organizations the individual 
may represent, including, but not limited to, business associates, 
friends, co-workers, local, State, and/or Federal government 
representatives, or members of Congress as well as any other 
information that is relevant to the individual's qualifications.
    As appropriate, certain Board members may be appointed as special 
government employees. Special government employees serve on the Board 
without compensation, and are subject to financial disclosure 
requirements in the Ethics in Government Act and 5 CFR 2634. 
Nominations are to be sent to the address listed under the ADDRESSES 
section above.
    Privacy Act Statement: The authority to request this information is 
contained in 5 U.S.C. 301, the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), 
and 43 CFR part 1784. The appointment officer uses this information to 
determine education, training, and experience related to possible 
service on a BLM advisory council. If you are appointed as an advisor, 
the information will be retained by the appointing official for as long 
as you serve. Otherwise, it will be destroyed 2 years after termination 
of your membership or returned (if requested) following announcement of 
the Board's appointments. Submittal of this information is voluntary. 
However, failure to complete any or all items will inhibit fair 
evaluation of your qualifications, and could result in you not 
receiving full consideration for appointment.
    Membership Selection: Individuals shall qualify to serve on the 
Board because of their education, training, or experience that enables 
them to give informed and objective advice regarding the interest they 
represent. They should demonstrate experience or knowledge of the area 
of their expertise and a commitment to collaborate in seeking solutions 
to resource management issues. The Board is structured to provide fair 
membership and balance, both geographic and interest specific, in terms 
of the functions to be performed and points of view to be represented. 
Members are selected with the objective of providing representative 
counsel and advice about public land and resource planning. No person 
is to be denied an opportunity to serve because of race, age, sex, 
religion, or national origin. The Obama Administration prohibits 
individuals who are currently federally registered lobbyists to serve 
on all FACA and non-FACA boards, committees or councils. Pursuant to 
Section 7 of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, members of 
the Board cannot be employed by either Federal or State governments.

(Authority: 43 CFR 1784.4-1, 43 CFR 1784.6-1)

Kristin Bail,
Assistant Director, Resources and Planning.
[FR Doc. 2016-31216 Filed 12-23-16; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-84-P

https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/search/pagedetails.action?granuleId=2016-31216&packageId=FR-2016-12-27&acCode=FR&collectionCode=FR

LOSING THE WORLD’S POPULATION OF DONKEYS

Opinion by: Marjorie Farabee, Director of Wild Burro Affairs for Wild Horse Freedom Federation

“Donkeys have long endured ridicule from people who have taken their quiet, kind nature for weakness. They make fun of their lovely voice and beautiful ears. They torment them, and work them to the bone, because the donkey doesn’t complain. The donkey wants to please, and finds even the smallest gesture of kindness a great gift.”

merrychristmasTaking Benny on public outings is a joyful experience. As this sweet young survivor of severe malnutrition, nuzzles a child or looks for approving rubs from adults, we are reminded of his beginnings two years ago. We are also reminded during these holy days that miracles are possible. Donkeys are often the among the most abused and misunderstood animals on earth. Little Benny was only three months old when TMR Rescue, Inc. rescued him along with the rest of his family who were all malnourished. The scene encountered on this emergency rescue was all too familiar to this large equine rescue located just outside Houston in Plantersville, TX. Marjorie Farabee, the equine manager at the ranch, learned of the starving family of five miniature donkeys in need of assistance, at 3 pm. By 5 pm they were on the road to make the two-hour trip to save them. A great deal of time had been lost because other organizations had been alerted for months that there was serious situation unfolding. Yet, not one of those organizations chose to follow up on the report. We were not notified until the actual day of the rescue.

recoveryGiven the unforgiving weather headed our way, and the fragility of a three-month old baby, we knew there wasn’t much time since the temperatures were expected to drop into the teens that night. As soon as the five were loaded on the trailer, Marjorie headed straight to Texas A & M veterinary hospital. It was clear from the condition of the baby that they all needed to be seen immediately. Little baby we named Benny, weighed only thirty-nine pounds and had the gravest prognosis. They gave him a twenty percent chance of survival. Then, overnight, his bladder burst reducing his already slim chances to a mere ten percent. It took combining allopathic and homeopathic medicine, plus the will of one baby donkey to survive for Benny to recover. His mother, aunt, father and brother were also in need of care. Sadly, his aunt miscarried a foal in

the days following the rescue, and his brother spent a week getting stickers removed from his mouth. All were malnourished and needed care for about a week. Benny’s stay was much, much longer with his life hanging by a thread for weeks. Today, we joyfully celebrate his determination to live and love for people everywhere we go. He is an inspiration. His story can be found under special stories on our website at http://www.tmrrescue.com.

Donkeys have long endured ridicule from people who have taken their quiet, kind nature for weakness. They make fun of their lovely voice and beautiful ears. They torment them, and work them to the bone, because the donkey doesn’t complain. The donkey wants to please, and finds even the smallest gesture of kindness a great gift. Yet, there is no question that the donkey played an enormous role in helping humankind to reach great distances to settle in new lands. Their strong backs were used to carry goods hundreds, even thousands of miles thus, establishing trade routes and civilization. Humankind owes these remarkable animals respect not ridicule.

For those of us who have come to know and understand the intelligent, inquisitive donkey, have been rewarded with a new perspective on the world. It is a world where slowing down to be in the moment is everything. These times of complete connection are like meditation. Perhaps, this is one of the reasons that donkey trekking in Europe and pack burro racing in CO are so popular. http://www.awayfromthecrowds.com/holidays/donkey-trekking-holidays/donkey-family-trail-5-days What a wonderful way to see the world! Traveling with a donkey companion who has memorized the way to the next station and will carry your supplies while providing complete companionship is rejuvenating and for many life changing. For pack burro racing the competitors are the burros who must have their human still attached to the lead rope when (if they decide to) cross the finish line. It is a high energy, physically challenging sport that has the burro’s temperament racing day to factor in which makes for a really fun afternoon of fans cheering on their racers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgrBhjRdqTw Clearly, we owe the humble donkey so much more than the harsh treatment they receive around the world.

Donkeys are often the brunt of irrational hatred. We see it in the USA where our wild burros are constantly targeted for removal and blamed for damages they have not caused. An entire propaganda language has been born to assist agencies like the BLM and Forest Service to zero out wild burros in the United States. This targeted elimination program uses language like over-populated, destructive, feral and exotic to further their cause of removing burros from their designated range lands. The truth of the matter is that our wild burros qualify as endangered by IUCN standards. The truth is that burros are critical to habitat restoration in desertified areas. The desertification is due to poor livestock management and short sighted management decisions made by the BLM. Burros, dig wells which sets up a cascade of life in the desert. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-unseen-ecology-of-the-wild-burro#/ Burros are also indigenous to the North American continent. https://awionline.org/content/wild-horses-native-north-american-wildlife The sad reality is that burros provide a scapegoat for the loss of western lands to overgrazing by livestock which outnumber burros 100 to one. And, as these powerful agencies close in our benign burros for removals, the actual activities decimating our western lands are increased and pushed through without oversight such as the peace trail through Black Mountain HMA which will unleash thousands of off road vehicles onto the fragile desert lands the burros call home. With all of the pressures facing these remarkable animals, the future for donkeys is becoming increasingly uncertain.

China is presently responsible for slaughtering four million donkeys a year for traditional medicinal products made from their skin. There are three components in all Chinese medicine and ejiao is one of them. https://tcmwiki.com/wiki/e-jiao Because of this, donkey skins (ejiao) are the new rhino horn, and just like the rhino, the Chinese demand is unsustainable. Already, countries in Africa are seeing their donkey populations drop at such an alarming rate that the poor who rely on them for survival cannot afford to buy one. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3930644/Decimation-donkeys-4MILLION-animals-slaughtered- year-make-Chinese-miracle-youth-serum.html Villagers are also having to keep the donkeys that are in their possession closely watched to protect them from poachers who roam the countryside looking for donkeys which they slaughter and skin. So, in an act of desperation, villagers have built areas where they can be guarded from poachers inside the perimeters of their villages. South America is also seeing a spike in donkeys being stolen and found slaughtered. The Chinese are sending agents all over the world in search of donkeys to meet their demand. It is clear that this demand will place the world’s population of donkeys in the critically endangered category within a decade if efforts are not made internationally to curb the export of donkeys to China.

The Chinese appetite for donkey skins has risen to such a degree that a worldwide crisis is unfolding for donkey populations around the world. To get a perspective on how unsustainable the demand is in China a look at numbers will help bring this into perspective. In the United States the population of donkeys is estimated to be between 250,000 and 400,000. Our wild burro population ranges between 4,000 to 10,000 total on all BLM public lands. They are already in trouble. The Chinese demand is for ten million donkeys a year. Currently, they are able to provide four million donkeys a year. Clearly, at this rate, our population of donkeys in the United States would be wiped out in a few months. We cannot allow this to happen in the States. Yet, weekly, there has been a clear increase of our donkeys being exported to Mexico for slaughter. The alarm bells should be ringing.

josephandmaryWorldwide the population of donkeys is estimated to be forty million donkeys. With Chinese demand as high as it is, a future with donkeys in it is not looking good. We need to make a stand to protect these wonderful animals before their population is in true crisis. In a future plagued by climate change, donkeys may be the salvation of pastoralists living under harsh conditions. Their footprint is light; their energy needs are meager. Because of their gentle nature, donkeys are the preferred working animal of women who live in the harshest conditions and who need them the most to survive.

At this time of year, it brings to mind the role donkeys played in history. In particular, I am thinking of one donkey chosen by a family to help them travel to Bethlehem. With each sweet step this humble, donkey carried Mary with great care to a stable. This donkey witnessed the birth of Jesus.

SD Sheriff Moves Wild Horse Auction to Undisclosed Location Amid Threats of Violence

Forward by R.T. Fitch
Statement from Dewey County Sheriff’s Office
Reaction from Restore the Legacy of ISPMB – Demand the President and BOD Step Down

“Just when you thought it could not get any worse…”

bangheadondesk“It is often times disheartening to realize that people (humans) are probably the most pathetic and at the same time dangerous life-form that walks (or slithers) on the face of this planet.

We have been involved and engaged with equine advocacy for well into two decades (one day we would like to retire) and witnessed that history continues to repeat itself over and over again with no lessons being learn.  The formula for disaster (which always leads to horses and donkeys paying the price) is this:

People create a serious problem for the horses; then people attempt to correct the problem that other people created who are then blocked or further impeded by people who think that they are correcting a wrong only to whip up a bigger problem for the horses and donkeys that people had created in the first place ultimately resulting in the equines paying the price for the stupidity of…(drum-roll)…PEOPLE!  I HATE IT!

I have further opinions on this topic but I do not want to overshadow the disgusting course of events, detailed below, that were caused by PEOPLE!

Below is an official statement of the Dewey County Sheriff’s office as published on their Facebook page; directly following that statement is a comment made on Facebook regarding this course of events, it pretty much sums up what I was alluding to above.

PEOPLE if you want to make a difference you can do a variety of things other than put the horses at risk and showing your asses, recommendations would be as follows:  (contact numbers are listed in previous posts)

  • Donate to the county for hay for the horses
  • Support Elaine Nash and Fleet of Angels to help transport the horses
  • Get up off your dead ass and volunteer for on the ground work
  • Call up the ASPCA, HSUS and with respect and controlled passion seek their assistance in this case
  • But above all, don’t threaten, harass, demean or insult those who are in control of the horses.  Even the twerpyest, little sniveling geek can sit behind a computer screen in the wee hours of the morning and act like some big bad ass, twisted gangster but it takes a real, self-actualized individual to bite their lip, raise their hand and selflessly offer to assist in a situation where confrontation would be an easy out.

Get after it, do the right thing, grow some kahunas and most importantly…do it with dignity and grace.  The horses and donkeys need us.” ~ R.T.


THE ISPMB HORSE SALE WILL NOT BE AT PHILLIP LIVESTOCK

THE SALE OF THE ISPMB HORSES IS STILL SCHEDULED FOR THE 20TH OF DECEMBER. HOWEVER I WILL NOT LIST WHERE THE SALE WILL BE HELD UNTIL CLOSER TO THE SALE DATE

THE REASON IT IS NOT BEING RELEASED IS TO PROTECT THE LIVESTOCK YARD FROM THREATS, ECT AS WERE RECEIVED BY PHILLIP LIVESTOCK

YOU HAVE CAUSED THIS ACTION IN ORDER TO PROTECT THEM FROM BEING HARASSED AND THREATENED.
I TRIED BEING OPEN WITH INFORMATION SO THE PEOPLE WHO WANTED TO BID WOULD HAVE PLENTY OF TIME TO PLAN. MY ONLY OPTION NOW IS TO SHORTEN THAT TIME. I WILL PUT THE LOCATION OUT BUT IT WILL ONLY BE A FEW DAYS BEFORE THE SALE

DO NOT ASK EARLIER AS IT WILL NOT BE RELEASED


 Restore the Legacy of ISPMB – Demand the President and BOD Step Down

This deserves it’s own post. The main reason the Auction has been moved is because there were people who took it apon themselves to call and threaten the stock yard in Phillip. While I don’t think this was done by any of our active members, I have no doubt that the Special Snowflakes reads our page religiously. I am sure that you feel like you scored a huge victory…..Here’s the reality by acting like an idiot you just gaurenteed a longer haul for sick injured and pregnant horses, not to mention young foals. You also destroyed the groundwork of alot of people who were working with Phillip Stock yard in order to be ready to purchase as many horses for as low of a price possible. Know what you didn’t destroy? The reality that unless a miracle happens these horses are going to be Auctioned. Continue to bully and intimidate the smaller yards they will simply go to a major one. That’s a longer trip, to a place that eats the threats of Activists for breakfast and use their tears to sweeten their coffee. They won’t work with anyone and will simply run the horses through and go about their day. So if you really want to see these horses shipped to Mexico by all means keep up your stupidity.”

Newbie BLM Advisory Board Member Attempts Justification of Wild Horse & Burro Murder Recommendation

Reply from and Facebook post by BLM Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board member Ben Masters

“Wet behind the ears, eager to make a name for himself and an ego the size of Texas newly appointed BLM Advisory Board member Ben Masters gives a weak and misguided explanation on why he would just LOVE to see the blood of 45,000 wild horses and burros spilled.  The father of the most inhumane concept in modern human history falls flat but welcomes comments on his idiotic attempt to make a name for himself at the expense of tens of thousands of innocent equine souls.

Important to remember:

  1. This is only a recommendation from a corrupt group of appointed special interest individuals whose intent is known to all.  They are an embarrassment to the American Way and fly in the face of Federal checks and balance systems.
  2. Do not confuse the name of Ben Masters with several really great people out there…it is not their fault that this dark lord was given the same first name as they.” ~ R.T.

The State of Wild Horses & Burros – September, 2016 WH&B Advisory Board Meeting

"Come here 45,000 ponies, we have a big surprise for you!", BLM Advisory Board

“Come here 45,000 ponies, we have a big surprise for you!”, BLM Advisory Board

The current situation with BLM Wild Horses, Burros, and the habitat they and wildlife depend on is an emergency. Yesterday we finished the Advisory Board Meeting in which I am the volunteer sitting in the Wildlife Management chair. The meeting was intense and the incredibly difficult recommendation to the BLM was made “To follow the stipulations of the Wild Horse and Burro Act by offering all suitable animals in long and short term holding deemed unadoptable for sale without limitation or humane euthanasia. Those animals deemed unsuitable for sale should then be destroyed in the most humane manner possible.” Here is how this recommendation came to be.

For those of you unfamiliar with the “plight” of the mustangs, here it is in a nutshell…
The Ancestors of Wild Horses evolved in North America but went extinct in the Great Pleistocene Extinction over 10,000 years ago. Fortunately, they migrated across the Bering Strait prior to extinction where they were eventually domesticated, breeds developed, artificial selection occurred, and horses were ultimately brought back to the Americas during European Expansion. Horses escaped, were set free to breed, and multiplied in a “Wild” or “Feral” state for hundreds of years. As the West was settled, these Wild Horses, often called mustangs, were rounded up to the point that Velma Johnson, AKA Wild Horse Annie, pushed for legislation to protect the remaining Wild Horses. This culminated in the Wild and Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971 that protected the 15,000 or so Horses and Burros remaining in the American West. Today Wild Horses and burros are managed on about 32 million acres of land in about 179 Herd Management Areas (HMAs).
Under protection, the Wild Horses and Burro populations grew about 15-20% annually and threatened overgrazing on the rangelands that they shared with wildlife and in some cases livestock. So the BLM, the government agency in charge of managing the Wild Horses, created Appropriate Management Levels (AMLs) which is the number of horses that each Herd Management Area (HMA) can supposedly sustain in a thriving ecological balance with wildlife and in some areas livestock. Currently, the total Appropriate Management Level nationwide for Wild Horses and Burros is 26,715.
The Appropriate Management Level on the range is 26,715 but the current population is about 75,000 horses, nearly 3X the AML. I’m getting that number from censuses (conducted in the manner recommended by the Academy of Sciences) on March 1, 2016, which was 67,000 plus the additional number of foals that have been born since then. The BLM is supposed to gather excess horses to prevent overgrazing but they can’t because they’ve already gathered and are boarding 45,000 Wild Horses and Burros in holding pens. The BLM is spending $50 Million annually (2/3 of its Wild Horse and Burro budget) on hay and pasture bill for the horses in holding. This expense has eaten into funds that could be used for on-range management or adoption incentives. The BLM doesn’t have enough money to conduct enough gathers to control populations on the range and they don’t have a place to put them even if they did gather them.
So why can’t we just leave the horses alone? The reason is simple. Overpopulated grazers (whether horses, cattle, sheep, elk, or deer) will and can overgraze the land that they depend on. In the delicate Western desert ecosystems that our Wild Horses and Burros depend on, overgrazing can lead to devastating effects that can last far beyond my lifetime. Right now we are witnessing an ecological disaster on tens of millions of acres of our beloved Western Landscapes. It is affecting reptiles, mammals, birds, invertebrates, migrating species, amphibians, threatened and endangered species, plant communities, soil health, and even water availability. I have seen it firsthand.
During this Advisory Board Meeting, we took a field trip to the Antelope Valley HMA Complex. The Complex is East of Elko, NV and is 1.3 Million Acres of High Desert that gets about 5 inches of precipitation a year, mainly as snow. It is a very delicate ecosystem that can take decades, if ever, to recover if it is overgrazed. The Appropriate Management Level for the Antelope Valley HMA Complex is 278-464 horses. The current population is 3,360 horses, over 700% of the Appropriate Management Level.
On the way to the Antelope HMA Complex, we saw about 100 horses drinking from a pond next to the road. Bruce, our tour guide, explained that the main water sources for all 3,360 horses were on private land. That means that the water for all these horses is dependent on private landowners who could very easily and legally fence out the horses. In this particular case, the private landowner was a mining company that bought the ranch for the water rights for future mining activity. This shocked me. It seems extremely risky to me to depend on the water generosity of private landowners or businesses that own the surface and water rights…(Click HERE to continue reading and to comment directly to Darth Vader on his Facebook post)

BLM Board (Bored) Meets in Nevada: Pack of Liars Minus One

Commentary by R.T. Fitch, co-founder/president of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

“I didn’t make it, but that does not mean we are not paying attention.

Our sympathies go out to Ginger Kathrens who is stuck sitting amongst a bunch of special interest anti-horse/burro bigots who allegedly advise the Federal government’s most corrupt and vile agency, the BLM.  Horse haters all!

The meeting was being streamed live at (http://www.blm.gov/live/) and conveniently went dead JUST before public comments were about to be made.  Imagine that…but one of our readers did manage to snag the bulk of comments in form of a transcript (https://app.box.com/s/n1kqhbtihpeny8d2kk07q5opdi9wpnyf)

Most troubling was Dean Bolstadt talk where he misrepresented the facts and as usual, lied about the numbers:

67,000 on the range March 1st
9,000 foals born since March 1st
= 75,000 in the wild today
plus 44,000+ in holding.

Bolstadt is “alluding to” having Congress change the law – i.e. Congress giving $ to kill them.

And that is what he wants his legacy to be, he can almost taste it…he wants them all dead. They all do.

Below is a local news article that fans the flames of destruction for the wild horses and burros and brings to light how serious our fight for the future safety and welfare of the wild ones really is. It’s all hands on deck as the lying continues, today!” ~ R.T.


State vet: Declare horse population an emergency

BLM Advisory Board - Ginger Kathrens (left) stuck in a very painful purgatory - Elko Daily Free Press Photo

BLM Advisory Board – Ginger Kathrens (left) stuck in a very painful purgatory – Elko Daily Free Press Photo

ELKO — Public comments at the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board addressed contraceptive efforts as well as what was described as the disastrous effects of the animals on the rangelands.

“No, folks it’s an emergency today and it will be a disaster tomorrow,” said State Veterinarian Dr. JJ Goicoechea.

He used the example of over 250 horses that were in desperate need of water Thursday, referencing an earlier phone call resulting in the horses receiving both care and water.

Goicoechea furthered the conversation concerning how the issue of wild horse population is truly about the resource.

The spring, surrounding range and the horses will not come back, he said.

“It’s an emergency today and I encourage this board to please ask the director to declare it an emergency,” said Goicoechea, explaining if there is a concern about funding emergency appropriations can be sought to complete the work.

He said both fertility control and the removal of excess horses is necessary. The former is not going to fully alleviate the situation until the appropriate management level is achieved.

Goicoechea also said he wanted to discuss the Bureau of Land Management’s issues with fertility control because of branding problems.

The veterinarian expounded upon the fact the State is willing to work on identification efforts and not keeping the agency from conducting fertility control in that manner.

“Dr. Goicoechea couldn’t have hit it any better on the head. We’ve got a disaster out here on the open range,” said Assemblyman John Ellison. “People should be arrested for the shape these horses are in.”

Ellison also discussed the state of the range, claiming ranchers are being pushed out with the water levels from the drought and more wildland fires are started due to an increased fuel load by taking cows off the land.

“What you need to do is find a place to move these horses,” he said.

He asked the advisory board if something is not done, who would be responsible for the death of the horses?

If the photographic evidence were to be looked at, it would be seen the horses are pushing away cattle and elk from riparian areas, said Ellison, encouraging members to look at different areas around Nevada to get first-hand knowledge.

“With no water and no vegetation out there, this is getting to where it’s critical. Either you can sit here and do nothing and let them die, or make the decision this board needs to make,” he said, discussing how what is being done is not working.

Ellison brought up a point made by many commenters that these are feral horses, not mustangs, with 90 percent of the horses being wild.

Dr. Boyd Spratling restated the cost these animals are having on the resources, such as the potential of an entire generation losing a watershed or habitat.

On behalf of the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association, Spratling said, it will support “any safe manipulation to reduce population growth.”

Transcript: https://app.box.com/s/n1kqhbtihpeny8d2kk07q5opdi9wpnyf

http://elkodaily.com/news/local/state-vet-declare-horse-population-an-emergency/article_6e6e6e25-e053-5284-aeff-30b67fb4bc52.html

Putting An End To Animal Abuse At Havasu Falls

By: Michelle Grinnell as published on The Outbound Collective

This is ugly. The good news? Things are moving in the right direction.

Photo: Tiffany Nguyen

Photo: Tiffany Nguyen

Havasu Falls is one of the most picturesque waterfalls in the country, if not the entire planet. Nestled deep within the Grand Canyon on the Havasupai Indian Reservation, thousands of visitors are flocking each year to get a glimpse of the pristine turquoise waters that make the falls so special. The destination is rapidly growing in popularity as vacationers post exquisite photographs of the falls on social media. This is the means by which my sister and I learned about this beautiful place, and we immediately made reservations to stay for a few nights.

Getting there is no easy task, as the 10-mile trail from the Hualapai Hilltop to the campground is not accessible by car. Access to the falls is available by helicopter, but most tourists opt to hike in, and many use pack horses and mules to pack their gear, to make the hike less physically taxing. Unfortunately, we learned very quickly that the gorgeous pictures we had marveled at on Instagram and Facebook, our very inspiration for making this journey, were not an accurate representation of all that one will witness while visiting Supai.

Just before dawn on April 19, 2016, my sister and I began the journey from the start of the trail at the Hualapai Hilltop. As we descended into the canyon, it wasn’t long before we came upon the first string of packhorses quickly approaching. We were immediately struck by how sickly many of them looked, noting not only how malnourished they appeared, but also how several of them had open sores where the leather on the pack saddles and straps had rubbed them raw. We looked at each other in shock and discussed our relief at having packed our equipment in ourselves rather than having paid to use the services of these horses. The effects on this community as a result of years of impoverishment were not lost on us; we knew we’d observe animals that were underfed and somewhat atrophied, but this seemed like something more. As we entered the village, making our way to the tourist office, we passed numerous pens containing horses that were emaciated; some eating their own dung or garbage. Later in the evening, after the pack horses had been retired for the day, we witnessed horses that had moderate to severe wounds, where their hides had been split open from heavy loads and ill-fitting saddles. We photographed some of the worst cases, where some had backs that were gushing with blood, with the bones in their spine exposed. We wondered how so many of these severe injuries could possibly go unreported…and later surmised that they go largely unnoticed by many tourists as they are hidden away under packsaddles and camping gear; only at the end of the day when the saddles are removed would these injuries become visible. We decided that we could not ignore this.

e366b3233f101dd56e4f913811f8e518Upon our return home, we began to research our options. We understood that because these actions are taking place on tribal land, and the Havasupai are their own sovereign nation, regular means of law enforcement would not necessarily apply. This would make our quest for justice for these animals an arduous one. Was there a way to provide immediate help some of the most habitually abused and neglected horses and also offer resources to the tribe so that different procedures could be implemented moving forward? Was there a path to holding chronic abusers of these horses accountable for their actions and rescuing horses that were in the most deplorable of conditions, while also encouraging and fostering existing good practices for horse owners who were acting responsibly? We soon learned that addressing these questions in a sensitive manner for the sake of the tribe, yet holding firm with our conviction that the abusers in the community must be held liable, proved to be an enormous challenge.

The first step was to contact members of the Havasupai Tribal Council to voice our concerns and to ask how we could work together to resolve this. We emailed every available contact listed on their official website and left voicemails on every phone line. Days passed with no response. We tried again once more, this time also phoning and emailing the Bureau of Indians affairs, and like our first attempts, we were met with silence.

It was then decided that sharing our photographs and story on social media would at the very least, help to spread awareness to the general public. More importantly we hoped this knowledge would be passed to tourists travelling there, with the hope that they would elect to travel with compassion and pack in their own equipment or use the helicopter, rather than to use one of these animals. We also included a petition, created by another group of citizens concerned for the welfare of these animals, which implores the Havasupai Tribal Council to establish and implement a minimum standard of care for these horses and to stop the violent individuals responsible for the most atrocious acts of cruelty.

The Facebook post we made went viral. Not only was it shared almost twenty-one thousand times, but the comments and private messages that came flooding in after, from tourists who had visited Supai before we had been there, began to illuminate a deeply disturbing pattern of enduring and violent abuse of these horses and mules that has been spanning decades. Some said they saw horses being punched and kicked on the trail after they had collapsed from exhaustion and could not take another step forward. Others said they saw a mule being beaten with a chain as it lay on the ground from fatigue. More still, have watched horses plummeting off the switchbacks from weariness, and left there by their handlers, on the canyon floor to die, rather than be euthanized or given any veterinary treatment. One said they witnessed these acts of cruelty as far back as 2006. Another said they noticed this as far back as 1989…The petition, which now has nearly two hundred thousand signatures, catalogues even more stories of visitors witnessing brutal maltreatment, but didn’t think they could do anything about it because the abuse happened on tribal land and local authorities would have no power to stop it.

The public outcry has been infectious. We utilized it to reach out to media outlets in order to keep pushing awareness. We joined forces with other individuals who expressed trepidation regarding this issue and pressed several of the tour outfitters who lead trips to Havasupai Falls to cease the use of the packhorses. None were willing to address there is an ongoing problem…until just recently. After being faced with the continuing negative publicity, Wildland Trekking, one of the larger of several tour outfitters offering guided trips in Havasu, announced their suspension of use of pack animals. On June 1st 2016, in a statement from Steve Cundy, Director of Sales and Customer Service, Wildland Trekking will move forward, “…using a combination of porters and the existing helicopter service to transport supplies in and out of Havasu Falls. Backpacking options will also be available. There will be a transition period where we work to hire and train a crew of porters and develop the needed infrastructure. People who are already booked will be accommodated under this new system”.

Dead BurroBy taking leadership on this issue where others would not, Wildland Trekking may have just changed the game. Their willingness to acknowledge that this has been an ongoing problem that can no longer be ignored and modify their business practices as a result, displays an integrity we are now asking from the rest of the tour operators working in Havasupai. Outfitters who profit off the backs of these animals need to actively participate to ensure their welfare. It’s not just good business practice, it’s an ethical responsibility. We urge these companies to revise their practices in one of two ways. Primarily, we’d like to see tour business eliminate packhorses as an option and replace them with a viable alternative, just as Wildland has, so that human porters and the helicopter become the sole methods for hauling gear, beyond guests packing their own equipment. The second approach would be to require outfitters to contribute their own income to help employ an enforceable standard of care. Part of that requirement would necessitate that the tribe allow an independent entity to regularly come to Supai to ensure compliance to confirm that the animals are receiving adequate water and feed on a consistent basis at the Hilltop and in the village, proper rest, consistent veterinary and farrier care, and an animal husbandry education program. Most importantly, this includes reporting and prosecuting abusers. Demanding both parties be accountable for the care and treatment of these animals would be a solution that would allow for long term and sustainable improvements in the lives of these horses, and it is extremely overdue.

Although bringing legal action to incidents of animal abuse taking place on tribal land is difficult, it is not impossible. Case law has now been established for federal authorities to intercede in animal abuse cases on tribal land. On April 14, 2016, Leland Joe of Havasupai was arrested by federal officials for two felony and two misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty and abuse to trail horses. Four of his horses were confiscated. This was a monumental day, as it was the first time an arrest of this kind has occurred on tribal land. His arrest was spurred by a vocal group of alarmed citizens, all whom had witnessed the abuse of these animals first hand, coming together and reaching out to various federal agencies. There are many tourists whom have witnessed abuse and stayed quiet about it upon returning home, often because they assumed there was nothing they could do, or that their single voice would not be enough. As we have learned by sharing our story, and in light of the recent arrest of Leland Joe, this is not true. It is critical that tourists document this abuse by taking photos, videos and providing written statements recounting what they saw. Both the FBI and Bureau of Indian Affairs should be contacted to report any documentation of abuse that is observed. Tourists should also reach out to Supai government officials. They have a website with email addresses for the various council members, and a mailing address.

Employing a standard of care is the ideal long term solution, however, implementing such procedures may take a while for outfitters to embrace, so for now, the public can help foster a change for these horses by refusing to use tour companies that continue the use of these packhorses. Visitors can easily utilize the helicopter option provided by Airwest Helicopters. The best method of all however, is choosing to pack your items yourself. Havasupai is a beautiful destination. The journey there will be made so much sweeter by choosing to explore it with compassion. Let’s offer a voice, in this place, to these animals who cannot speak for themselves.

Learn more about the Havasupai horses and how you can help:

Cover photo: Shannon L Haskie 

https://www.theoutbound.com/michelle-grinnell/putting-an-end-to-animal-abuse-at-havasu-falls

Feel Good Sunday: He Runs Rocky-Mountain Marathons With a Donkey. It Was the Perfect Preparation for Being a Dad.

as published on Naratively

“Happy Father’s day to all the dads out there!” ~ R.T.


Becoming the world’s best burro-racer takes patience, humility and endurance—skills that came in useful in the amazing race that is fatherhood.

Teddy and Harrison cross-terraining. (Photo by Hal Walter)

Teddy and Harrison cross-terraining. (Photo by Hal Walter)

It was a beautiful day for a track meet in the small mountain town of Fairplay, Colorado, which sits at nearly ten thousand feet. The high altitude and thin air didn’t bother twelve-year-old Harrison Walter. He often hikes and rides his multi-speed Diamondback mountain bike on the steep roads and trails around his home in the neighboring town of Westcliffe. He sometimes has to carry his bike while his dad bushwhacks a trail for them in the woods.

But as he approached the race’s second curve, Harrison veered off to the right. Then, he stopped. He ran in place. Then he backpedaled in front of the bleachers, nearly knocking down the two boys who had by then lapped him and were in first and second place.

Stopped in front of the spectators sitting in the stands, he was confused and upset. His father sprinted over and crouched next to him.

“Harrison, do you want to stop or finish?” asked Hal Walter. He reached to hug his son, who took a swing at him. Hal wasn’t fazed. He kept encouraging him until Harrison decided to keep running, jogging slowly into his second lap with his father running in the turf beside him.

As he made his way down the straightaway, kids from the opposing team jumped off the bleachers and joined him on the track. Harrison pulled his shirt up over his head, but he kept going, as even more kids, their coaches, and Harrison’s dad were joined by his Westcliffe teammates. The group stayed with him through the finish line, mobbing him all the way to the perimeter fence. Harrison covered his ears.

Harrison Walter isn’t your typical 800-meter racer. He is autistic, or as his parents prefer to call it, “neurodiverse.” Many of the kids in the neighboring mountain towns – from his hometown of Westcliffe to Salida to Cotapaxi – have known Harrison his entire life. They see him and his parents at the feed store, at the Main Street bakery, and at the library. He is in their classroom – not in a separate class for special needs students – and they have witnessed his meltdowns and his hard-won accomplishments, know that he is so adept at numbers and directions that he can map obscure mountain roads on Google Earth. He knows the intricacies and release dates of Minecraft. He is one of them, and his triumph was their victory too.

“Harrison can be as wild as he is calm,” Hal Walter says the following month, an unseasonably warm June, as Harrison sits on the couch at their home, enthusiastically playing Minecraft on his Kindle, still wearing his helmet from an earlier bike ride. Harrison can be just like other boys, but he has also been sent home from school for hitting teachers and blocking doorways as they attempt to leave.

“It’s weird to have that level of physicality in your life on a daily basis,” says Hal. “He’s used his head to butt me so hard that I’ve passed out for a few seconds.”

It’s time for lunch, but Harrison doesn’t want to eat. He protests, loudly.

“You need to eat before we go out on a bike ride or on those scooters for 4 year olds,” Hal tells his son, who gets up and runs over to him, pushing his head into his father’s chest.

“No! No! I don’t want to.”

Hal is firm but reassuring, putting an arm around his son and repeating quietly that he has to eat something before they go.

“It’s all about patience, humility and endurance – big time,” says Hal, as he tries to convince his son to eat.

Harrison agrees to eat a few bites of the peanut butter sandwich his dad makes for him. But it could have just as easily been a blowout tantrum, Hal says.

here was the time that Harrison refused to put down something he wanted at a Lowe’s store during a busy Christmas shopping day in the nearby city of Pueblo. “He got so upset and wouldn’t calm down that I had no choice but to pick him up right there and carry him out to the car,” Hal says. “It was like carrying a hay bale that’s kicking and screaming. When I put him in the car, you could see it shaking up and down from his tantrum.”

In Hal Walter’s world, any calm moment can be shattered in an instant, but he was preparing for life with his unpredictable son for nearly 25 years before Harrison was born – ever since he raced his first burro. Equus asinus is more commonly known as an ass or donkey, but Walter and other participants in pack-burro racing use the term “burro,” borrowed from Spanish.

Only a few weeks earlier Hal, like his son, was standing at the starting line of a race. But this one was on a small narrow street in Georgetown, Colorado, an old mining town where the racecourse gives way to narrow rocky trails and unsure footing. It’s a fast, high-altitude climb where lightning storms are common.

“You hope you make it back in one piece,” Hal says.

But more than the weather, Hal had to worry about his partner, a nine-hundred-pound burro named Teddy, who was attached to him with a rope, and would accompany him on every step of the trail. Burro racing is a mash-up of horseracing and ultra running, a combination of speed, agility, and strength as man and burro race over rocky trails and high-mountain passes. Any misstep can land you on your head – or tangled up with your nearly half-ton partner.

Hal running with Full Tilt Boogie. (Photo by Kelly Jole Doke)

Hal running with Full Tilt Boogie. (Photo by Kelly Jole Doke)

Even though he had been working with him for months, Teddy was a new racer, unlike Full-Tilt Boogie, with whom Hal won his most recent world championship in 2013, when Hal was 53.

Where once only fifteen or twenty teams waited to start on the main drag of one of this mining town for a pack-burro race to begin, now there were over sixty burro teams crammed on to Georgetown’s saloon-and gift-shop lined street. A small crowd had gathered to see the racers off.

The stampede of racers and burros squeezed through the narrow street and, uncharacteristically for a burro race, headed out under a major interstate on this busy summer weekend.

The burro teams began a steep climb above Georgetown, to nearly ten thousand feet. The traffic zooming by on I-70 looked like matchbox cars. The distraction and chaos of so many entrants and the narrow trail made passing difficult and dangerous, Hal said of his twelfth-place finish.

“The burro started stampeding at about nine miles, going faster than I could go,” he says. “So I had to wrap the rope around my hips and go into a full-body run to stop him.”

Pack-burro racing originated in nineteenth century Colorado mining towns when miners used burros to carry their mining tools through the mountains as they prospected for silver and gold. Since the burros, who were known for their sure footing on rocky trails, were packed with heavy loads, the miners walked by their side, leading them with a rope. The first recognized burro race, in 1949, was hatched to bring tourists and money to the once-booming mining towns of Fairplay and Leadville. In the years that followed, a dedicated group of outdoorsmen from across the Rocky Mountains – marathoners, ultra runners and mountaineers – came together to create a sport that is as uniquely steeped in mining lore as it is a punishing challenge.

“You buy the ticket, you take the ride – or slide. This ain’t no disco,” says Curtis Imrie, one of the sport’s founders.

Hal, a legend in pack burro racing, who has won the world championship seven times, has written a book, Full Tilt Boogie, about how racing in such a challenging sport doubled as preparation for the adventure of fatherhood. (Hal’s wife and Harrison’s mother, Mary, is a former pack-burro racer herself.)

“You need the same qualities as a parent that you do as a burro racer,” he says. “You really need to have endurance. I don’t know how many times I’ve had a burro lose a race because he balked or run off to the side. So you’ve thought you were winning and then out of the blue you end up losing by a nose. You’ve covered thirty miles and lose by half an inch. You’ve got to just keep going.”

Twenty-four years before the birth of his son, Hal Walter raced his first burro, Moose, in Leadville, Colorado. He was twenty, and the 23-mile course took him over rough terrain to the 13,000-foot summit of Mosquito Pass.

“At first, I thought I was doing pretty well,” Hal says. “But then we sort of lost it and came in dead last, the ‘last ass over the pass.’ But what was so great was that as we came back into town, everyone spilled out into the main street – which is Harrison [Harrison Avenue, for which Hal would later name his son] – and those who had been drinking at the Silver Dollar Saloon, the guys at the Elks Club, they all were there cheering me on at the finish. It was the same sense of a community coming together through sports – the same as with Harrison now.”

Hal sees parallels between how he learned to guide a burro, and how he teaches his son. Children, like burros, Hal says, are genetically hardwired to stay in a safe place. “Whether it’s a burro on a busy street in Georgetown or an overload of meaningless homework in Harrison’s brain, they both want to get away from sensory overload. There’s a strong sense of self-preservation that runs deep in the animal. I think the same is true of a lot of the behavior of autistic kids.”

“When I was younger, I was more the cowboy type. Now I let the burro figure things out on his own. It’s the same thing with Harrison. I try to give him a little independence. Both of them do better if they think something is their own idea – it’s more rock solid. If Harrison wants to run cross-country and track and likes riding his bike, that’s great. But I don’t push him to do anything. It has to be his own deal.”

He Runs Rocky-Mountain Marathons With a Donkey. It Was the Perfect Preparation for Being a Dad.