Thursday, June 12, 2014

My MEPSA 2013 Essay

Hello everybody! This post is going to be long.....because it is my essay from the MEPSA 2013 writing contest. It was later published in the annual book.

Note: Please do not use these pictures for anything, or copy them. They were given permission to me by the Cloud Foundation. Here is the link to the website. I have entered yet another essay in this years contest, about miniature horses (one of my favorite topics) :D. This essay may be sad for a few people, I feel that we need to raise wild horse awareness, so this extinction can be stopped. Sorry that the font is a little messed up.....

My essay:

Note: I have been in interested in horses all of my life. Three months ago I became part of MEPSA. I am now showing in Novice, and it is so much fun. In my first novice show I was awarded Reserve Grand Champion. I have been collecting since I was seven. It is awesome hobby. I wrote this essay because I want the last wild horses in America to be revived.

Wild Horse Mismanagement
Manes blowing, ears pinned, hooves hardly touching the ground as the wild horses gallop through the western prairie. The mustang is America’s last wild horse. The mustang’s are descended from early Iberian horses brought from Mexico by the Spanish conquistadors. The  mustang has become an American legend. They used to
roam freely, but as time went on, they were considered pests, and the wild horses were pushed to the harshest areas in ten western states. An estimated 24,000 or fewer mustangs survive in these areas. You will now find the mustangs in these places, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and then Wyoming.  More than half of the wild horse populations are in Nevada; the next largest herd is in Wyoming, with 3300 horses in 16 Herd Management Areas. These numbers however are drastically down in the past because of meat for human consumption around the world and pet food production. Fearing extinction in 1971 the government stepped in and congress passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act stating, “Wild horses are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the west; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of American people” and that “they are fast disappearing from the western landscape.” Congress made its policy clear by stating “wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, harassment, branding or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.” but, this rule the BLM has twisted so the BLM get their way, and so the mustang does not get any protection from this idea.
To Maintain the Appropriate Management Levels (AMLs) for the wild horses on each reservation, the BLM hires helicopters to capture the “excess” wild horses. Many of the horse reservations, especially the Adobe Town herd have 450,000 acres of land which, according to experts is plenty large enough to accommodate many horses.  But the BLM captures more than half of the wild horses, leaving roughly 433. The BLM states that they will eat themselves to death, as an excuse for herding up this high number of horses.
The helicopter brings the scared horses towards camouflaged corrals. Most big herds run top speed for 15 or more miles, which is often deadly for a horse to run that fast for so long. As they get close to the hidden pens, a “Judas” horse, which has been trained to run into the corrals with the horses following, is released. The Judas horse runs into the pens, and the wild horses follow the Judas horse into the enclosed area. The helicopter flies close to the gate, keeping the horses in the corrals until the gates are closed.
Now captured, the horses are separated from their bands, and then sorted in different pens by gender and age. The hired hands use “flags” (a plastic bag at the end of a large stick) to scare the horses and get them to move into single file. Then they, one at a time, go through a squeeze chute, where their age and gender are determined. The stallions and mares that are over the age of 5 or 6 are put up for release sometimes. More often they are sent to holding facilities in Oklahoma or  All horses are marked with various colors such as blue, green and red paint are sprayed on their rears: an X for release and a number if it is are sent to a holding facility. Horses of a desirable color, such as palomino, blue roan, red roan and black or rare colors such as champagne, are marked for release in hopes of breeding the color down to other foals.
Mustangs with amazing conformation will also let free.  Many of the foals are separated from their mothers, no matter how young they are. The foals that are under the age of three months are fostered out to people who are willing to bottle feed them but if after three tries no one is able to bottle feed, the foals stay in pens and are given “special attention.” Many of the foals die.
The horses most likely to be bought are younger mares and stallions or yearlings and colts. Older horses are sometimes released, but many are gelded, (making it impossible to reproduce), and sent to already full holding facilities.  The fortunate horses over 10 years old are subject to the Burns Sale Authority and released to live their lives in freedom. But most of the time are still gelded and sent to facilities.  
At the holding sanctuaries, the now gelded stallions will be put into a pen, where they could adjust to their new home. After getting adjusted to the area, the horses will be set out to pastures with many other geldings. For now they will stay in the pasture, but they could be sold at any time, usually to the slaughter house. The released horses go and find new mares, but before they can recover their former population the BLM would be back, dropping the horses to an even lower number.

Why would the BLM take the older stallions to holding facilities? These facilities are expensive; they house many more horses than are ever adopted, and then traumatize them further to be gelded, which do kill some stallions. What happened to the Congress act in 1971? The answers lie in the politics of government land management. 
In November of 2004, Senator Conrad Burns from Montana introduced a rider to the Appropriations Bill with no opportunity for a public hearing or even an appeal. The Burns Amendment went into law silently on December 2004. The amendment is what has become the Burns Sale Authority, declaring that the BLM has been given permission to sell many of the wild horses for as little as just one dollar a head. These horses most likely ended up for meat and pet food. The Authority also declares that horses over 10 years of age or those that had been up for adoption three times unsuccessfully could be sold without limitation to people who would send the horses to slaughterhouses.  Many of these horses also end up as European dishes. 

The BLM also is responsible for issuing grazing permits to cattle ranchers on pubic lands for very little money; fewer than two dollars per cow-calf per month, while private land leases for fifteen dollars a month. To a cattle rancher, wild horses are competition for grass, and to the BLM public lands horses represent expense. The BLM also gets intense pressure from, oil drillers, and gas drillers, so wild horse AMLs have decreased rapidly. Right now, the BLM public lands support over 200 head of cattle for every single wild horse. But, with over 4 million cattle and over 6 million large game animals estimated on the BLM lands and only 24,000 or less wild horses, the wild horses use up only one percent of grazing land. Therefore, removal of the wild horses would make little to no impact even on the overgrazed lands.

The BLM says that they must keep the horses population low, because they reproduce at a high rate (20-30%) and they would eat themselves to death. But, in 1982 the National Study of Sciences showed that horses reproduce at a much lower rate (10 %.) Originally there were 303 Herd Management Areas, but as of today, there are only 179 areas and the BLM keeps the number of horses in each area low, sometimes only as little as 10 horses per area. That also threatens the genetics within the herd, and could cause interbreeding.  One area has 575,000 acres and only fifty horses. The wild horses are slowly being managed to extinction.
Solutions for the future are to permit the increase of allotment numbers of horses within the BLM’s Herd Management Areas. Another solution is to have the BLM pay cattle rancher’s who hold grazing allotments to allow the horses to stay on the ranchers leased land. It would help the rancher and the horse from the trauma of being shipped to areas, leaving their bands, and would relieve the cost of housing and feeding in holding areas. The BLM could also have tours to see the wild horses and to use the money to pay the ranchers.

 The key to making this happen is public awareness. The mustangs will be forever gone if nothing happens and the public doesn’t take time to realize that wild horses are an important part of our history and are diminishing rapidly.

~CBL (my actual name was on here, but for the sake of this being on a public blog, has been removed). 

Note: All pictures are used with permission from the cloud foundation. 

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Hello! Feel free to comment....I love to get opinions, suggestions, and compliments. I will answer any questions. If you leave a link to your blog, I will check it out! Thanks, and enjoy Bits and Spurs!

~CBL (Colorado Breyer Lover)