Veteran’s Day Tribute: “12 Strong” America’s Horse Soldiers

“Each and every Veteran’s Day we attempt to highlight equine bravery that has helped to keep this country free and with that said, we usually land on telling the story of Sgt. Reckless, a little mare that attained the rank of Sgt. in the Marine Corp. during the Korean war.  But there have been so many other horses who have served bravely and some not all that long ago.  Which brings us to the upcoming release of the movie “12 STRONG” the unclassified true story of America’s first soldiers to enter Afghanistan after 9/11 and they did it on horseback.

We are not hyping a movie but instead applauding the telling of an important tale where horses were one of the most important components of battling for America’s freedom and sovereignty.

To all my fellow veterans, (both 2 and 4 legged) thank you for your sacrifice, your service and the pledge that you made to your commander-in-chief, country and God.  You are the backbone of our freedom and independence while being true role models for generations to come.  For you I stand with pride and tears in my eyes during the playing of the National Anthem.  May God bless you all.” ~ R.T.


Chris Hemsworth (“Thor,” “The Avengers” films) and Oscar nominee Michael Shannon (“Revolutionary Road,” “Nocturnal Animals”) star in “12 Strong,” a powerful new war drama from Alcon Entertainment, Black Label Media and Jerry Bruckheimer Films. Based on the best-selling book Horse Soldiers, it is story of heroism based on true events that unfolded a world away in the aftermath of 9/11.

Award-winning director Nicolai Fuglsig directed the film, which is produced by legendary producer Jerry Bruckheimer (the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films, “Black Hawk Down”), together with Molly Smith, Trent Luckinbill and Thad Luckinbill (“La La Land,” “Sicario”) under their Black Label Media banner. Oscar winner Ted Tally (“The Silence of the Lambs”) and Peter Craig (“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Parts 1 & 2”) wrote the screenplay, based on the acclaimed book by best-selling author Doug Stanton. The executive producers are Oscar nominees and Alcon principals Andrew A. Kosove and Broderick Johnson (“The Blind Side”), together with Chad Oman, Mike Stenson, Ellen H. Schwartz, Garrett Grant, Yale Badik, Val Hill and Doug Stanton.

“12 Strong” is set in the harrowing days following 9/11 when a U.S. Special Forces team, led by their new Captain, Mitch Nelson (Hemsworth), is chosen to be the first U.S. troops sent into Afghanistan for an extremely dangerous mission. There, in the rugged mountains, they must convince Northern Alliance General Dostum (Navid Negahban) to join forces with them to fight their common adversary: the Taliban and their Al Qaeda allies. In addition to overcoming mutual distrust and a vast cultural divide, the Americans—accustomed to state-of-the-art warfare—must adopt the rudimentary tactics of the Afghan horse soldiers. But despite their uneasy bond, the new allies face overwhelming odds: outnumbered and outgunned by a ruthless enemy that does not take prisoners.

Time to ban horsemeat trade in all of North America, as investigation in Mexico uncovers horse sold as beef

by Wayne Pacelle as published on A Humane Nation

“A new study in six Mexican cities has found horsemeat in nearly 10 percent of meat products that are being sold as beef…”

American horses and burros, both wild and domestic, are NOT food animals. – photo by Carol Walker of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Mexico is forging ahead on animal protection. Earlier this year, its Congress made dogfighting a felony throughout the nation. Mexico City adopted an extraordinary charter on animal protection. A number of major food retailers in Mexico have said they will change their purchasing practices to stop buying eggs and pork from operations that confine hens and pigs in small confinement cages and crates. Our Humane Society International/Mexico office and partner organizations are working hard to keep this important and strategic country trending in the right direction and to also crack down on other abuses of animals.

One of those abuses involves the slaughter of horses for human consumption. A new study in six Mexican cities has found horsemeat in nearly 10 percent of meat products that are being sold as beef or that are not clearly labeled. The samples of meat were collected from common vending points, including butcher shops, supermarkets, street markets, and street stalls.

The study, commissioned by HSI and conducted by researchers at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, also found high levels of a veterinary drug commonly prescribed for horses, clenbuterol, in some raw meat samples. Clenbuterol is not approved for food producing animals, and can be harmful to humans.

The researchers collected 433 samples of cooked and uncooked meat from an assortment of vendors across Mexico, of which nearly 10 percent tested positive for horsemeat. Samples were collected in six cities: Aguascalientes, Zacatecas, Chihuahua, Mexico City, Pachuca, and San Vicente Chicoloapan. The samples included four types of meat samples (ground meat, regular tacos, crispy tacos, and thin steaks [bistec]) and were either unlabeled or labeled as beef. The samples that tested positive for horsemeat were obtained at informal selling points such as street stalls and markets, and most vendors appeared to be unaware that there was horsemeat in the products they were selling.

Mexico is the second largest horsemeat producer in the world, after China. According to the Mexican Ministry of Trade, between January and August 2017, Mexico exported almost 1,500 tons of horsemeat, worth more than $4 million, to Japan, Russia, and Vietnam. Mexico not only kills thousands of its horses for human consumption each year, but also slaughters tens of thousands of perfectly healthy American horses. U.S. kill buyers acquire working, racing, and companion horses and even children’s ponies and try to make a fast buck by funneling them to horse slaughter plants over the northern and southern borders. Just this year, as of September, kill buyers have shipped more than 60,000 horses to Canada and Mexico to be killed for human consumption.

Horses in the United States are raised as companions and partners in work and sport, and not as food animals. As a result, they are commonly treated with drugs deemed unfit for human consumption. In 2014, the European Commission suspended the import of horsemeat from Mexico to the European Union due to food safety concerns. The HSUS has documented, via undercover footage, the incredible suffering faced by animals: downed, injured horses slaughtered for human consumption despite being ill, horses suffering in export facilities on U.S. soil, and horrific welfare problems during transport. The same drugs would put at risk Mexicans, Canadians, and the Japanese, as well as visitors to those countries and others who would sit down to a horse steak – either knowingly or not. No one is immune from drugs long deemed unfit for human consumption.

Beyond the issue of self-interest and public health, Mexico should not be complicit in this grisly trade, and the United States should not use Mexico as an export market for an enterprise that’s illegal on our soil. The practice of slaughtering horses for human consumption should stop across North America. The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, H.R. 113/S. 1706, which would cement the existing prohibitions on domestic horse slaughter and build on that provision by stopping the export of horses for slaughter abroad, is just one important policy vehicle to help us achieve that goal.

The evidence that we’ve obtained in Mexico reveals that this ugly enterprise is trying to trick Mexican vendors and consumers. It’s a disreputable industry, and the country’s lawmakers should build on their recent good works and establish protections for animals who have changed the course of North American history for the better. It’s a small act of reciprocity for North Americans to honor the role of the horse in North American settlement, commerce, and recreation and end the most extreme form of human-caused exploitation of these noble animals.

P.S. Americans can take action today to protect U.S. horses from being slaughtered for human consumption. As our companions in sport and leisure, we owe it to them to make sure that their lives do not come to a terrifying end in a slaughterhouse to feed the international demand for horsemeat.

https://blog.humanesociety.org/wayne/2017/10/time-ban-horsemeat-trade-north-america-investigation-mexico-uncovers-horse-sold-beef.html?credit=blog_post_103017_id9361

Feel Good Sunday: Horses are Hilarious

“It’s Sunday and time for a chuckle.  This compilation is a long one, filled with commercials that you can bypass but well worth the watch.  If you are lucky enough to live with horses you have seen each and every one of these antics but I will caution, on the safety side, letting your horse hang his or head out of a moving trailer is never a good idea nor is allowing a horse to rear and cavort next to a T-Post fence with no post end covers…all bad.  With that being said, have a chuckle, enjoy, relax and we will get back after the battle in the morning.  Be safe my friends.” ~ R.T.


Feel Good Sunday: Photobombed by Horses

by R.T. Fitch

“Last week a reader dressed me down, just a bit, for deviating off the course of equine advocacy with our traditional “Feel Good Sundays” and a part of me is in full agreement, BUT we will continue to attempt to bring a smile to your lips and an uplift to your heart on this day of rest.  Granted, we may slam an article of concern down on the table later in the day but at least we can start the day with a little bit of equine sunshine.  Have faith and please be safe, my friends.” ~ R.T.


If you are fortunate enough to live with horses and donkeys, or at least visit them often, you are well aware of the multiple and different personalities that each of them poses.  Every one of them is as unique as a snowflake and twice as special and with that singularity often runs a strain of comedy, every pasture has a class comedian or village idiot; that’s what makes life so very special.

Just a few quick glimpses to share with you, today, to reinforce the opinion that when it comes to horses a comedy show is not far behind.

“CHEESE”

 

First up is a young woman who thought she was taking a happy picture standing in front of her horse when just as the shutter clicked, or iPhone, the horse broke out into his own happy smile that, if you look closely, appears to match that of his human buddy.  Remarkable.

 

“SMILE”

 

 

 

Another one of my personal favorites is a big ole Drafty who decides to add a little extra to a family photo taken of a little girl who is standing in front of him.  As a guardian of a big ole Belgian/TB cross I can tell you that there is a funny, and gentle, gene that resides in their great big, giant hearts.  One of the most remarkable things I have observed about horses is how they react and become so very gentle around human children.  It is stunning.

 

 

A camera is a sure fire way to ensure that the “Hey, look at ME!” syndrome is quickly awakened in any equine as comically demonstrated in the video below.

And in conclusion, I offer firm evidence that I know of what I speak as Terry and I were continually interrupted by one of our equine children as we attempted to tape an outreach segment, at our home, for Wild Horse Freedom Federation.  I share this video with a heavy heart as the antagonist is our Harley, a former racing TB who suffered a slab fracture to his left front knee and was on his way to the Kaufman, TX slaughterhouse until his owner intervened and entrusted us to give him a new life.  We did just that for almost 20 years until his bad TB feet could no longer bear him.  Drugs, abuse and greed surround horse racing but I digress.  He gave us years of wonderful companionship and comic relief because he always was the big “Sh*tstirrer” in the pasture.  We all miss him greatly.

This video is long but Harley owns the beginning and he most certainly is in charge of the finish.  Thank you Harley.

Wild Horse & Burro Crisis – Your Action Is Urgently Needed

Support from our good friends at Equine Advocates

Wild Horse Crisis!

Survival of America’s Wild Horses & Burros Threatened!

Horse Slaughter Crisis!

This Repulsive and Un-American Practice Could Return to U.S. Soil for the First Time Since 2007!

Both of these vital equine issues are now hanging like large clouds over our country where the vast majority of Americans disagree with what some politicians are trying to pull off to satisfy special interests in the ranching, oil & gas, mining and horse industries. The history of both issues are long and complicated.

For right now, however, we have a RED ALERT, so please take action now:

The House Appropriations Committee recently passed the Stewart Amendment which would allow for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) under the Department of Interior to kill 92,000 healthy Wild Horses and Burros. Most will end up being slaughtered. This is not only outrageous and barbaric, but goes directly against the will of 80% of the American People who want them preserved and protected. The Senate Interior Appropriations Committee can do the right thing and decide to prevent the killing of these animals when they hold a hearing on this matter during the week of September 18th.

  1. Please take the time to call your two U.S. Senators. You can reach them at this number: (202) 224-3121 which is the switchboard for the U.S. Senate.
  2. Please identify yourself, providing your name and address.
  3. Tell them that you want the protections of Wild Horses and Burros in the 2018 Spending Bill for the Department of the Interior to remain and prohibit the killing and slaughter of our Wild Horses and Burros.
  4. Also call the two leaders of the Interior Appropriations Sub-Committee, Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Tom Udall (D-NM) and express the same sentiments to them.

There is no time to waste!  Please act now!   Thank you!

After you act, please read on:

  • What we do know is that Americans do not want Wild and Domestic Equines slaughtered for food. We want a law banning horse slaughter and horse slaughterhouses from operating in the U.S. as well as banning the transport of any live equines from the U.S. across our borders into Mexico and Canada for slaughter or to any other country for that purpose.
  • We want our Wild Horses and Burros preserved and protected. We want the round-ups to stop and we want the Wild Mustangs and Burros being held captive in holding facilities “managed” by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) turned back out on the range. We want the BLM dismantled and a new agency with real experts who can get together on ways to humanely manage and preserve these animals on the range to take over with a new approach that honors the will and sentiment of the vast majority of the American People on this issue.

However, right now, there exists a political climate in this country unlike anything we have seen in more than a decade.  There are more horse slaughter proponents in the current administration assuming positions of power than ever before, including two Cabinet members, Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke and Agriculture Secretary, Sonny Perdue.

In addition, Forrest Lucas, billionaire oilman (Lucas Oil; Lucas Oil Stadium), rancher, horse slaughter proponent, and founder of the anti-animal lobbying group, Protect the Harvest, has been given access to the executive branch and has used his influence to add horse slaughter proponents and those committed to the destruction of our Wild Horses and Burros to this administration.  These are just three of many horse slaughter supporters, including Members of Congress, Governors and other elected and appointed officials working to take this country backwards and return horse slaughter to U.S. soil.

No Wild or Domestic Equine has been legally slaughtered in this country since 2007.  There also have been many Scientific Studies and White Papers released since 2010 to further support the many reasons why horses should not be slaughtered for food. One is the 2010 landmark study on the serious health risks for people who eat the meat of equines treated with the common drug Phenylbutazone or “Bute” for short. Click here to read that study.

Another is the 2015 Chapman University Study documenting the presence of horse meat in some chopped meat products in the American food supply.  Click here for this study.

On August 1, 2017, the Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF) issued a White Paper, the result of years of research. It exposes the corruption within the BLM and its shocking and deadly agenda for America’s Wild Horses and Burros.

The WHFF documents vast discrepancies in BLM records, including the numbers of horses in certain BLM holding facilities, the numbers captured, the ones that disappeared, as well as many discrepancies pertaining to financial matters, including the misappropriation of funds.

Please take the time to read this important WHFF White Paper and the Exhibits (exhibits are on a separate tab at the bottom of the page).

What More You Can Do:

  • Please use these important documents and take them to your elected officials to illustrate why horse slaughter should be banned entirely and not allowed to return to the U.S. and why Wild Horses and Burros should be preserved and protected – and not destroyed which is the government’s agenda right now.
  • Please use Equine Advocates’ Horse Slaughter Fact Sheet 2016 as a guide as well.
  • It is imperative that you contact your members of Congress in the House of Representatives (we all have just one) and your two U.S. Senators as soon as possible (preferably during this month of September 2017) and let them know that you oppose the return of horse slaughter and that you want protections of Wild Horses and Burros restored and their sale to slaughter banned.

Please stay tuned as we provide updates and new developments about these two vital issues facing America’s horses.  To receive our online alerts, please click here:

Time is of the essence!

Thank you!

 

 Hayden & Nelson, rescued Wild American Mustangs residing at Equine Advocates Rescue & Sanctuary in Chatham, NY.  Photo by Kara Heniges.

East Texas Equine Evacuation / Disaster Relief Network

“Elaine Nash is hard at it again…if you can help, please do so.” ~ R.T.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/EastTexasEquineEvacuationNetwork/

Horse Slaughter, Wild Horses & Burros; Senate Save – House Kill, What the Heck Does It All Mean?

Source: ASPCA

“Today we share with you a recap of recent legislative events that impact the future health, safety and well being of not only our domestic equines but also our federally protected wild horses and burros. Today’s news round up comes from the ASPCA and is a very readable article that helps to clarify the whirlwind of events and future legislative action relative to the wild ones, we thank the ASPCA for putting this together.

Likewise, we would like to recognize Neda DeMayo and the efforts of RTF for keeping us up to date and focused on the events of the past several weeks…many thanks.

With all that said, you have not heard much, specifically, from Wild Horse Freedom Federation; there is a reason for that so please allow me to briefly explain why.

As I type, every single member of our Legal Staff, Directors, Officers and volunteers at WHFF have their collective nose’s to the grindstone putting the final polishing on a five year project that is ensured to raise eyebrows, shine a light on the truth and give both legislators and the public the tools that they need to further the protection of our wild horses and burros. We stand at the brink.

Stimulate your curiosity? Then stay tuned, remain focused and keep the faith…we will prevail, my friends. Until then, may the Force of the Horse be with you.” ~ R.T.


photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The ayes have it! That was the Chairman’s call Thursday morning in the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee after it passed the Udall-Graham-Coons-Feinstein-Reed-Collins-Shaheen Amendment to prevent horse slaughter plants from reopening on U.S. soil.

This amendment to the fiscal year 2018 Agriculture Appropriations bill is the Senate’s response to the House Appropriations Committee’s narrow, disappointing failure to pass a similar provision last week (in a 25-27 final count). It also means we have a fighting chance to retain the horse slaughter prohibition in the final law when it passes.

The House and Senate each work on a different version of the annual Appropriations bill. Once both House and Senate have passed their respective bills, they merge them together and decide which provisions to keep and which to toss. The key to our ultimate success for horses is to ask both chambers, particularly leadership, to retain this important prohibition.

For more than a decade, Congress has rejected the idea that the government should spend our tax money subsidizing horse slaughter. Outcry from voters, animal welfare advocates, equine rescues, horse industry groups, veterinarians, farmers and therapy organizations has been extremely compelling for most legislators.

Polling at the federal and state levels has repeatedly and resoundingly demonstrated that Americans view horses as companions, not food. As work and therapy animals, athletes and friends to young riders, horses have served us well. Allowing them to be served to diners overseas is not acceptable.

While this amendment cannot completely prevent all horse slaughter, we have seen encouraging statistics this year showing a dramatic 44% decline in the number of American horses taken over our borders for slaughter. We are on the right track, and once we are sure horse slaughter plants are not allowed to operate on our soil we will direct our energy to passing the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act (H.R. 113). This bill would permanently prevent horse slaughter in this country as well as halt the transport of our horses to Mexico and Canada for this gruesome purpose.

The future of our nation’s wild horses was also considered this week—by the same House committee that opened the door for slaughter last week. Not surprisingly, the committee approved an amendment to allow the killing of thousands of healthy wild mustangs.

The U.S. has protected wild horses and burros from wholesale massacre for decades, but the Trump budget proposal seeks to allow the government to take the lives of thousands of horses held captive in holding pens. Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) offered this amendment to remove protections against killing any wild horse, and it passed over the strong objections of many members of the committee. We must speak out against lethal measures like this, and we must prevent the Senate from voting the same way.

Congress takes the month of August off. With this recess looming, we encourage advocates who want to ensure we win these fights to engage their federal legislators back at home in their districts and states. If you want to help wild and domestic horses, please join the ASPCA’s Horse Action Team and we’ll arm you with the information you need.

Today: The Horses and Burros Won a Battle, Tomorrow: The War Rages On

Many thanks to RTF and Neda DeMayo for this update!

“Senate Says NO to Horse Slaughter

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved, on a voice vote, an amendment barring the U.S. Department of Agriculture from hiring horsemeat inspectors – keeping alive the effort to prevent legal horse slaughter from returning to our country.

That’s good news — but there’s still much to be done.

In the days ahead, the Senate Appropriations Committee will take up the interior appropriations bill, which includes the Wild Horse and Burro Program.

Despite the same committee voting against horse slaughter today, recent votes in the House show that we cannot take it for granted that the committee will reject proposals to kill wild horses.

The situation in Washington, D.C., is much too precarious not to keep pushing.

Please call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (if you reach a full voicemail, look for district office phone numbers on your senators’ webpages and call them) and tell your senators:

* I oppose any provision that allows the Bureau of Land Management to kill wild horses,

* and I oppose any attempt to remove sale restrictions, opening the door for BLM to sell wild horses to kill buyers.

Proven, humane solutions that would enable the BLM to manage wild horses on the range are available. We do not need to kill national icons.

Return to Freedom appreciates the bipartisan leadership of anti-slaughter amendment sponsor Sen. Tom Udall and co-sponsors Sens. Lindsey Graham, Christopher Coons, Susan Collins, Dianne Feinstein, Jack Reed and Jeanne Shaheen.

Most of all, though, we at RTF and other advocacy groups are grateful for all of you who have called Congress – whether for the first time or the 50th – and encouraged friends and family to do the same. Thank you!

It is true that we are up against powerful interests intent on ridding the West of wild horses.

The opposition has been effective in sowing mistruths about wild horses starving across the range and casting doubt on fertility control vaccines recommended by the National Academy of Sciences and proven safe and effective at our own sanctuary and in many other projects and studies.

Not on our watch, we say.

What wild horses have on their side that can be even more powerful than our opponents’ deep pockets are the voices of the American people, who consistently and overwhelmingly reject slaughter and continue to stand by these living symbols of freedom.

So, keep going. Keep calling. Keep spreading the word.

The future of America’s herds depends on all of us.

Horse Slaughter Vote a Setback, but There’s No Time to Let Up!

Source: Return to Freedom, endorsed by Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Attention now turns immediately to the 2018 Interior Appropriations Bill that could potentially threaten the lives of tens of thousands of America’s wild horses and burros.  

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation and other advocacy groups on Wednesday expressed disappointment in the House Appropriations Committee’s vote opening the door to horse slaughter, but urged supporters of wild horses and burros to keep the pressure on Congress.

“While today’s vote is disheartening for the overwhelming majority of Americans who oppose horse slaughter, there may be critical votes as soon as next week that could further threaten the lives of tens of thousands of wild horses and burros,” said Neda DeMayo, president of Return to Freedom.

“We must redouble our efforts and stand strong for America’s wild horses.”

The full House Appropriations committee voted 27-25 to reject the Roybal-Allard/Dent horse slaughter defund amendment to the Fiscal Year 2018 Agriculture Appropriations bill. Find out how members of the Appropriations Committee voted by clicking here.

Because there is no permanent federal ban on horse slaughter, advocates push annually for an amendment barring the U.S. Department of Agriculture from hiring horsemeat plans inspectors to effectively keep a ban in place. Advocates may have another chance to turn back slaughter when the Ag Appropriations Bill goes to the full House for approval in the weeks ahead.

Attention now turns immediately to the 2018 Interior Appropriations Bill that could potentially threaten the lives of tens of thousands of America’s wild horses and burros.  

A draft version of the Interior Appropriations Bill OKed by the House Interior Subcommittee, also on Wednesday, does not include provisions called for by the administration that would have allowed the Bureau of Land Management to kill healthy horses or sell captive animals without restriction.

While that’s good news, advocates must not be complacent. An amendment calling for inclusion of those deadly provisions could be offered when the full committee meets again, likely next week, so it’s critical that advocates continue making themselves heard.

TAKE ACTION

  • Call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, ask to be connected to your representative;
  • Tell staff that your wish to urge your congressperson to oppose any provision that would allow the Bureau of Land Management to kill wild horses or to remove sale restrictions that would open the door for BLM to sell horses and burros to someone who would sell them for slaughter;
  • If your representative is not on the Appropriations Committee, please urge him or her to oppose horse slaughter when the Ag Appropriations Bill goes to the floor, as well as any provisions that could harm wild horses in the Interior Appropriations Bill.
  • Please be sure to mention that humane solutions that would enable the management of wild horses and burros on the range have long been available.

These solutions include not only using safe, proven fertility control but revisiting population targets, based on a fair interpretation of multiple-use land management; providing incentives for ranchers who reduce livestock grazing in wild horse Herd Management Areas; increasing range stewardship, including much-needed water source restoration; and relocating horses, but only if truly necessary.