“Hi,” I’m Laura

Lately I have been getting emails from people new to this issue. Often what I write is a “quick update” from the field and those posts can raise “interest,” but often leave questions.

First: Who are you? (not in the esoteric sense)

I am the founder of Wild Horse Education. The purpose of the organization is to document areas of wild horse management on public land with a primary focus on the “hands-on” care from range through “ultimate disposition.” By sharing that information with the public and other organizations information utilized can be current and appropriate to raise the needed dialogue, in any venue.

I am also currently Vice President of Wild Horse Freedom Federation. That organization was formed with the primary function of condensing existing Litigation efforts. But looking forward the organization’s goal is to increase communication toward effective action whenever required to protect America’s horses.

Both organizations are relatively new. Yet they create vital links in the advocacy chain.

Second: Why do you do what you do?

My love of horses goes back to early childhood. Some of my “perfect” memories involve the smell of horse breath and the fragrance of “stable” on my skin.

As an adult I met an old mustang in the kill pen at a packing plant when I went to pull another horse. I asked if I could buy him (offering more than three times the market rate, cash) and was refused. A load was going out and they had to “make weight.” I have never forgotten his eyes. He was freeze marked, born “wild and free” and had served man well into his twenties. How did that happen?

Life threw me a curve ball and the open road beckoned.

I headed to learn all I could. An “open book” waiting to be written.

I had my research. But I am a “hands on” learner. The education has been extensive and often convoluted. The areas of “basic truth” hard to uncover in the “justification” processes of man.

The real removal of any doubt I had about the programs of management being “flawed” were removed in one moment.

During the Calico roundup of 2009-2010 I visited the now off-limits facility called Broken Arrow in Fallon Nevada (now called “Indian Lakes” by BLM).

There I looked into the eyes of a dying colt. He lay on the ground in the hospital pen of an unfinished facility slowly reaching the almost 2000 horse mark. The hospital pen had no wind break, no chute to treat horses and no daily medical care.

Colt with helicopter just over him (Calico 2010)

I asked if I could find a veterinary hospital to take him to. I would adopt him and assume all expenses. That youngster was dying before my eyes… but I was refused.

I was given a song and dance about foals not being released to outside entities (not the truth).

I then said I would wait to adopt him and expected updates on his prognosis. I received answers to my calls and emails saying he was “fine” and “up and eating.” Claims I found very hard to believe. When you have seen death once it is a familiar presence.

I named him “Hope Springs Eternal.”

One day when I called to check on him and ask, yet again, that the vet report on his treatment be sent. The reply I got went like this: “He was put down Saturday or Sunday, the vet report’s online.”

Calico Foal

Hope (feet literally began to fall off, died) Calico Jan. 2010

That was it. No explanation as how a colt that “was doing just fine” was euthanized. The vet report was not online.

It took several calls and emails to get the vet report. It had no intake date, identification marks of the colt or treatment dates.The colt had been given horsie ibuprofen every five days for pain. His hooves had begun to slough (fall off) and the roundup was cited as “likely cause.” The report claimed his feet had been bandaged on the days I was told “just fine.” The report could have been on any of the young horses I had seen in that facility, any one of them.

I had been in constant communication about the welfare of that colt and was never told he was in trouble. I was given no opportunity to help, where the possibility had existed.

All I continued to receive was a convoluted justification process.

When I shared the information about the colt I received much, much more (restrictions on access and information)… and that has ultimately lead to the current litigation on First Amendment rights violations.

In that moment I had no doubt left. If at the heart of the program the welfare of the horse is not paramount it is broken.

This type of attitude is pervasive in every area of this program.

From management on the range, a lack of humane handling protocol, closed door facilities, FOIA’s unanswered, long-term holding shipping records kept secret…

From that day forward it is “what I have become.” Documenting the death of that colt and the convoluted justification process drew attention to this broken program. Documenting every face I can that is removed from that range and lands in the grips of a program that sees them as “inventory” makes them “more than a number.”

Recently the documentation of the pilot that struck an exhausted horse has gained the attention of a Federal Judge.

Through my camera lens it is my hope that they all become “living beings” in the eyes of those that create policy. That policy can someday begin to reflect that the program exists to manage a “thriving” population of the “living symbol of the pioneer spirit” and not the bottom line to the pockets of special interests that exploit America’s public land.

That is who I am and why I do what I do…

Yes, I have gone to a roundup and hit an armed roadblock while I had a concussion from a car accident. Yes, I have slept in more than one truck stop and use public showers. Yes, I often eat only peanut butter on tortillas and lots of coffee for days. Do I regret it? Not a moment.

In my heart I still have “Hope.”

donations to http://wildhorseeducation.org help keep me on the road

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18 thoughts on ““Hi,” I’m Laura

  1. Marge Mullen says:

    We are all there with you in spirit….you are an angel…

  2. Will LeRoy says:

    This is one of the most well-articulated, passionate and knowledgeable overviews of a person’s reasoning for doing what they are doing that I have ever had the privilege to read. Very well done. God Bless You.

  3. arlene says:

    To read this made me cry, Laura some angels reside in heaven , but I know one who lives and breathes right here on earth and that Angel is You, I share your Love for what I believe to be the most breautiful animal to grace are presence, he is noble , full of pride, he posesses magical qualities that no one can deny,his services given to us are always given in complete trust, some have failed him with lies and torture, he still stands proud, he is a force that needs to be protected we are his caretaker and we will not fail him, everyone of them that was brutely murdered by needless greedy round ups by the BLM theBLM will be held accountable for through all of our efforts, We will through you end this horror for them……………………

  4. Paula Denmon says:

    BEAUTIFULLY, AND PASSIONATELY WRITTEN. I know that you have dedicated yourself to this cause, and every horse matters. First, to have them stay in their natural habitat for Americans to love and support. Second, to demand humane treatment and concern for their welfare every time that human beings are involved in their lives. Third, to encourage the adoption of this wonderful creature into situations, and homes that protect and appreciate their special character and history.
    We hope to support you in your dedication to the work that to each of us is so important and necessary for the protection of these special animals.

  5. Louie Cocroft says:

    You and Erin have a lot in common, Laura

    http://www.brockovich.com/mystory.html
    After being seriously injured in a traffic accident in Reno, Erin moved back to California’s San Fernando Valley, and hired Masry & Vititoe to represent her. They won a small settlement but she still needed work so she got a job at their law firm as a file clerk, it was while organizing papers on a pro bono real estate case that Erin first found medical records that would explode into the largest direct action lawsuit in US history.

    I am an advocate for awareness, the truth, and a person’s right to know. I believe that in the absence of the truth, all of us stand helpless to defend ourselves, our families and our health, which is the greatest gift we have. As with everything, some people always go too far, too far to the right, too far to the left, and this is true of environmentalism and now, in many instances, our issues fall on a deaf ear.
    Often times we don’t think about or worry about or understand what is happening to another until it happens to us. Deceits have no boundaries. Disease doesn’t recognize the color of our skin or our political parties affiliation. When it comes to cover-ups and destruction of our environment, we are all up for grabs.
    I am an advocate for awareness, the truth, and a person’s right to know. I believe that in the absence of the truth, all of us stand helpless to defend ourselves, our families and our health, which is the greatest gift we have. As with everything, some people always go too far, too far to the right, too far to the left, and this is true of environmentalism and now, in many instances, our issues fall on a deaf ear.
    Often times we don’t think about or worry about or understand what is happening to another until it happens to us. Deceits have no boundaries

  6. Mar Wargo says:

    Hi, Take care and hope the truck will get you on the road again, soon!!

  7. Christie says:

    Laura,

    I am bonded with a mustang mare that ended up in our rescue facility. I had lost two family members to cancer, my daughter was going to college, and my father was fighting a horrible, terminal disease. I will always believe that each of us found in the other a shared sense of loss and a sense of comfort.

    I saw a lot of sad mustangs here in the East that Fall, and it made me very suspicious about how many horses this far from home could fall into so many different kinds of bad adoptions. I began to research a little and now a lot. My mustang mare who has come such a long way is my inspiration, but I want you to know this.

    Of all the poignant images you have brought to us, the pictures of these little foals whose hooves were run off during Calico is the one that is forever seared into my memory as the singular symbol of what is so wrong with this wild horse and burro program. I did not know how hard you had tried to save this foal.

    So I am here because a wild horse shares a piece of my heart, and because that little foal you call Hope has a piece of my brain.

    Thank you for all that you do for all the horses and the burros, and for all of us who care about them. You are our and their better angel.

    • Laura Leigh says:

      Thank you for sharing the story of your girl… so many people “adopt” these horses without comprehending “who” they are.
      They are amazing and deserve so much more than we give….

      Of all that I have seen… this little baby speaks more to me about the “bull headed” steadfast adherence to outdated nonsense in the agency than anything else.

  8. Jane Crosbie says:

    Hi Laura – loved reading your background and sharing your journey. You are very brave. A true warrior. I admire our compassion for horses greatly. They do not deserve to be treated in this manner do they.

  9. Lorna Helick says:

    Thank you, Laura, for all you do for the innocent wild horses and burros – they don’t deserve the cruel treatment they receive at the hands of the Bureau of Land Mis-Management. I hope more Americans will become aware of the terrible fate of these horses, and the fact that their hard-earned tax dollars are supporting the inhumane roundups and storage of these beautiful animals.

  10. Louie Cocroft says:

    Bob Seger – Like a Rock

  11. arlene says:

    Music inspires us body, mind and soul………………….. Without Music were would we be , LOST,,,,, Without our Mustangs we will be lost also…….

  12. savewildhorses says:

    Laura,
    Question for you: can you tell me if it is new in the past few years that the BLM routinely removes 85-90% of the horses in each round up? How can they justify 1300 horses, removing 1090 (85% removal) etc, etc? Seems to me this speaks volumes about this not being about management, but rather eradication. I find this very disturbing they are allowed to remove such massive numbers in each round up. Can you tell me if this percentage of removal has increased dramatically or if this is what they have always done? It seems to me that they are doing the most invasive management short of complete removal, not the least, as the law stipulates. Also, why does the BLM hate wild horses in the wild so much? Do none of them find them beautiful to see out there running free and just being stunning creatures with their family all around them? Are they not moved by their beauty? Why not? I have yet to see one photo of an actual wild horse in the wild shown on the WH&B Facebook page. They are all captured ones now owned by humans.

  13. Leslie Peeples says:

    Hey Savewildhorses, I think I can answer your question. BLM has decided to take each and every HMA (Herd Management Area) down to at or below “low AML” (Appropriate Management Level), appropriate, what a joke, just not a funny joke. Why? Because they have a target goal. They want to get the horses and burros, once and for all down to such low levels that when they cycle through with roundups every 4 to 5 years, the amount that they remove from the range will fit into the exact amount that they fell they can adopt out per year, about 3000. You see, BLM thinks, great, problem solved, no more horses will go into long term holding. 2 problems with this strategy. When they achieve this there will be approx 47,000 wild horses in holding (and god lets hope they don’t run out of money or choose to do away with them). and two, the math show us that there will be maybe 16,000 to 20,000 horses and burros left, 4 to 5,000 of these are burros, so you see, that leaves only maybe 12,000 horses on the range total.
    BLM’ strategy is like a speeding freight train to extinction and must be stopped. There are so many more creative management strategies that would cost less and preserve the wild ones!

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