House Appropriations Committee Votes To Defund USDA Inspections of Horse Slaughter Plants.
May 31, 2011

From the range, to the slaughter chute: our nation's mustangs.

Today’s good news and photographs, courtesy of: American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign

UPDATE (5/31/11, p.m.): Your calls did it, the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee voted 24 to 21 in favor of Congressman Moran’s amendment which continues the defunding of horse slaughter plant inspections.  The defunding of slaughter plant inspections is the reason horses are currently not slaughtered in the U.S.

Your calls made it happen!  This evening, Tuesday, May 31, 2011, at 6 p.m. the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee voted in favor (24-21) of Congressman Jim Moran’s amendment to the Agriculture Appropriations Bill to prohibit federal funding for USDA inspections of horse slaughter plants. The final Appropriations bill will still need to pass the full House and Senate before becoming law, but today’s Committee vote is an important first step in the fight to prevent the re-establishment of horse slaughter plants in the U.S. 

Without federal funding for USDA inspections, horse slaughter plants producing horse meat for human consumption cannot operate in the U.S.!

A BIG thank you to advocates across the country who stepped up to make calls today to voice opposition to the resumption of horse slaughter in the U.S.

As you know, the threat of commercial slaughter always looms large over the heads of the tens of thousands of mustangs who have been removed from the range and are stockpiled in government holding pens and pastures. Today’s victory is important in the battle to protect horses – both wild and domestic – from the unspeakably cruel fate of being sold for slaughter to become horsemeat to supply foreign markets.

For more information about this situation and Congressman Moran’s amendment, please click here.

Our deep appreciation goes to Congressman Moran who has been a longtime champion of wild horses and burros and who fights many tough battles for what is fair and just.

You Made The Difference!! THANK YOU FOR TAKING ACTION TO PROTECT AMERICA’S HORSES.

Thank you, American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, for all YOU do.

Horses tagged for slaughter.

Action Alert: Mustangs On The Hill.
September 28, 2009

Wild Mustangs

 

First, below is a history of the mustangs provided by (and all photos courtesy of):  National Wild Horse Adoption Day

America’s mustangs are the descendants of wild horses brought to the New World by Spanish explorers and missionaries in the 16th century. Others come from stock that were released or escaped from miners, ranchers, homesteaders and others who settled the West. Although horses evolved in North America there are many different opinions as to why no horses or burros existed on this continent at the time of European exploration. Spanish explorers reintroduced horses to North America beginning in the late fifteenth century and Native Americans helped spread horses throughout the Great Plains and the West. Until as recently as the mid-twentieth century, horses continued to be released onto public lands by the U.S. cavalry, farmers, ranchers, and miners.

The “Pencil War”

By the mid-20th century, domestic markets for pet and chicken feed and European markets for horse meat emerged, further reducing the number of wild horses and burros remaining in the West. Public concern escalated in response to the brutal methods used by mustangers to capture and transport wild horses for sale to rendering plants. Horrified by the gruesome practices, Velma Johnston spearheaded a “Pencil War”, a letter writing campaign that generated more letters to Congress than any single issue besides the Vietnam War! Thousands of letters were written by school children concerned for the horses’ welfare.

Congress passes “the Act”

As populations on western rangelands declined to fewer than 20,000 animals, the Congress of the United States deliberated over the animals’ future and passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burro Act in 1971 (Act). The Act placed America’s mustangs and burros under federal jurisdiction, and charged the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service (USFS) with preserving and protecting wild horses and burros as “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West.”

Poetry in Motion ...

 

Once again, here’s your chance to change the world and make it a more humane place for America’s wild mustangs and burros. Public outcry saved them in 1971 through The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act; I know, by joining together, we can do it again.

It’s a sad thought to imagine losing the wild mustangs and burros to extinction, let alone other outcomes such as slaughter, abuse and neglect, injury, and the terror inflicted during and after BLM round-ups. Just as sad is the thought of the world’s children and future children never having the chance to witness the grace and beauty of these animals — running free as they’re meant to be, on the land America promised them, across this great country born from their backs.

On so many levels, America wouldn’t be America without the horses and burros. The least we can do is protect instead of inflict, respect instead of betray, stand up for instead of turning away, and offer our outrage instead of our apathy. Their lives and well-being depend upon it.

Their continuing presence on this earth depends upon it. 

Peace Love and Understanding.

 

Below is an Action Alert from the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign. Please do your part, and thank you for helping save the horses.

Mustangs on the Hill

Tomorrow, Tuesday, September 29, is ‘Mustangs on the Hill’ Day: Wild horse advocates will be lobbying their Senators for the passage of S.1579, the Restore Our American Mustangs (ROAM) Act.

This critical bill, which passed before the House of Representatives last July, amends the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act by adding important new protections and provisions, such as the banning of helicopter roundups and the reclaiming of land lost by America’s wild horses over the past 30 years.

A press conference will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. in Room 1334 of the Longworth House Office Building in Washington, DC. If you are unable to attend the day’s events, please call your two U.S. Senators, urging them to support the ROAM Act (S.1579). More generally, please urge your Senators to address the mismanagement of our wild horse herds on public lands:

1) Denounce the aggressive wild horse removal campaign currently under way at the behest of special interest groups and at the cost of millions of our tax-dollars.

2) Tell them that our tax-dollars would be better spent on an in-the-wild management program not based on removals.

3) Call for a moratorium on roundups until actual numbers of wild horses on public lands have been independently assessed.

To locate your Senators, please visit www.senate.gov. Please also call the Senate Committee on Natural Resources at 202.224.4971 to express your support for wild horses and the ROAM Act.

Last of the Mojave Burros

The last remaining wild burro heritage herds in California’s Mojave Desert are threatened with removal this week. Please take advantage of this lobbying day to also call Senator Feinstein’s office at 202.224.3841 and ask her to intercede with BLM officials and put a stop to these roundups.

On behalf of America’s wild horses and burros, thank you for your support!

The AWHPC Team
American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign
www.wildhorsepreservation.org

Life to the Fullest.

All photos courtesy of:  National Wild Horse Adoption Day

A Prayer For More Cloudy Days.
April 1, 2009

On Cloud Nine.

Riding Cloudy.

From last week:

I’m not just a writer, today, but a very worried Mommy. My twenty-something year old Arabian horse, White Cloud, has been colicky since yesterday afternoon.

Us horse owners shudder at the spectre of colic. Statistically known to kill one out of every four horses, this sneaky malady is infamous as the leading cause of death in equines.

It was colic that took my twenty-one year old Arabian horse, Takoda, in the summer of 2007.

Often, colic can strike out of nowhere; even something as innocuous as a change in the weather can cause the symptoms of colic — pawing, nipping at the stomach or sides, restlessness and sweating, constipation, diarrhea, refusal of food and drink, rolling, or rolling violently, in the worst cases — according to wise, leathery cowboys and scientific studies, even. Outside the window, I watch the new winds blow madly. (I’d rate them a ten on the obnoxious meter. If only there were a remote for that.)

Since Cloud is fed only the best hay and is floated and wormed like clockwork, I’m left even more concerned by his gastrointestinal distress.

I await a return call from our vet. As I wait, my mind and heart race. Forget the scary query in-box — I can’t help but remember Takoda’s last night on earth, my beautiful old Arab lying on the ground with his head in my lap, his usually fresh, green breath turned dark and forboding.

There was nothing the vet could do for him except end his misery.     

UPDATE:

I stayed up with Cloudy two nights straight. It was like a throwback to the night he arrived here at Morning Star Ranch, colicky then, too, and overloaded with worms from the feedlot, where he waited to be shipped to slaughter.

The morning I first saw colic symptoms in Cloud, I’d separated him from the herd and immediately called the vet. Settled in his own corral, I could more accurately monitor his water intake and manure, which happened to be explosive diarrhea. Like a horsier version of Nancy Drew, I gathered clues to clue in the vet, who made an emergency visit to the ranch after hearing the symptoms over the phone.

(This is why, if you own horses, it’s vital to have a medical emergency fund.)  

After the vet checked his vitals, Cloud was sedated; a long, clear tube was threaded down one nostril to his stomach, delivering water, psyllium and some red stuff straight into his gut. A few hours later, we administered two tubes of Biosponge (like a miracle for equine digestive issues). We also had blood drawn; it’s something I like to do yearly, especially with elderly horses.

Tonight, (or today, since it’s after 4 in the morning), Cloud is doing much better. The diarrhea is gone; the green mounds of manure he’s yielding are actually beautiful, indicative of the normal functioning of a healthy body. I hold myself back from getting my camera.

As a horse owner, I read manure like tea leaves. 

Last night, I even bargained with the Universe, Kubler-Ross style. I said, Universe, you can take away all the agent requests I’ve received, and if Destiny has scheduled me to win the lottery, you can have that, too — as long as you pull White Cloud through this ordeal. 

There’s nothing worse than when one of your babies is sick or hurting.

Today:

Beautiful Boy.

There’s an old saying. “If there’s trouble, a horse will find it.”

Cloud is doing GREAT. Since his colicky bout, our draft horse, Mr. Bean, came down with a more mild case of colic. Cloudy’s tests came back showing the presence of creosote, a compound found in our Mesquite trees.

I’ve had the poisonous plants handbook for this area ever since we put up the horse facilities, and we’re diligent about keeping the desert trimmed back from the fenceline. The only scenarios I can think of for the poisoning are:

A) Mesquite tree branches blown into the corral due to the crazy winds, which the two horses chewed.

B) Neighborhood kids feeding the horses clippings or twigs without us knowing it.    

Such are the times I wish I could shrink the horses into Breyer models and set my horsey gentlemen on the knick-knack shelf overnight, while I’m sleeping.  

When all is said and done, I do try to remain realistic. I have a soft spot for the older geldings headed to slaughter, and often, due to a history of neglect, or the neglect horses experience on the feedlot, (horses destined for human consumption can’t be wormed or treated, as the chemicals taint the meat), they’re also not the most likely candidates to live to be thirty years or older (a horse’s general lifespan).

I remind myself that when it’s Cloudy’s turn to gallop across the Rainbow Bridge, he’ll do so as a valued, cherished being. Many of his kind aren’t as fortunate.

Of course, the time is never right to say goodbye to the animals we love. Or at least, I haven’t come close to mastering this ability. It’s quite a dichotomy —  everything contains its opposite, and for life, that’s death. We can’t have the love and joy we receive from our four-legged family members without one day facing that dreaded goodbye.

As a writer and in a spiritual sense, you might say I’m fascinated with death. All writers, including the greats, have a handful of themes that run through their work. Mine is death. It’s another dichotomy when you consider the fact that:

A) I’m the opposite of dark.

B) Having fun with or exploring the death theme in my writing is night-and-day different from facing it in real life. 

Every evening, after I bleach-mop the sanctuary room before bringing the dogs in for the night, I put down layers of newspaper in the corner in case anyone can’t hold it. And in the Universe’s strange way, often I end up stopping in my tracks because the sheet in front of me happens to be the Obituaries. I’m jolted by the faces of children and teenagers, regularly present, but even more so, I’m jolted by the view of life’s great fragility. 

There’s some luck in it: those newspaper pages make it impossible to forget how lucky I am for another day, another sun, even another fake-out air-nip from a grumpy old horse. I’ve been thrilled this week to have Cloudy pin his ears at me and snake his neck per usual; good old Mr. Grumpy-Pants, back to his old, ornery self.

There’s also a gift: appreciate what you have right now — it’s all you have for certain, if even that.

But, enough lessons already.

Life’s a-waiting.

Arabian Cloud and Mustang Peanut. 

Cloud and Peanut, saved from slaughter.

(P.S.  Thank you, Universe! I did mean what I said last week, and Cloud is still doing great. But, if you could see it clear, can I keep the agents, too? I’d be much obliged.)

Wearing: NaNoWriMo 2008 WINNER t shirt

Listening to: Praise You, by Fatboy Slim

Mood: Happy, pure and simple.

Photos by Emily Murdoch (except for the one I’m in, of course).

The Little Things.
October 10, 2008

Elizardbeth (one of the resident “little things”.)

One of the things I love about being a writer is the intensity that comes with the writing mind. Always ticking, turning, whirring, we deconstruct life in order to recreate life in our work. You could say we study life itself, and then report back to the page. We tell the things we need to tell, most likely always aware of a need to tell, to capture, to record, bending time and space to create our new worlds of words.

I find this writing and creative life, on the flip side, also requires a lot of alone time, time thinking and reflecting, daydreaming, even. That’s when the little things really come into focus, the small details that add joy and texture to our days (and our writing), along with the people, places and things that make life sweet and worthwhile.

It’s especially why I love the weekends. The weekends are all about the little things — not so much writing, unless inspiration strikes, but the little moments in life, in my life, that happen off the page.

Like how, last weekend, when I began the usual afternoon ritual of hoof-picking Cloud, he unexpectedly lifted his foot for me and held it in the air. He then proceeded to do the same with the remaining three.

Coming from Cloud, a slaughter-bound horse who came to the ranch underweight, grumpy, and distrustful after so many broken bonds, I was floored.

I can’t quite put the feeling into words; I’ve been trying all morning, yet I come up woefully short. It’s the feeling of a wary, distrustful animal handing over its heart for safekeeping. You almost expect to hear a sigh of relief follow, as the horse’s muscles visibly relax. After almost a year of patient reassurances, good old Cloudy was finally home.

I get a lot of dog play-time in on weekends, which means I’ll do a lot of laughing. On weekend mornings, the sun is peach-colored and slow to rise, and often a cool breeze blows through the desert like an apology for summer.

The songbirds are beginning to arrive in flocks from places grown colder, singing into the evening. Also, the butterflies are back, as they are every year, and I stand still next to where they land, willing them to land on me. Supposedly, when you’re still enough inside, they will.

Saturday and Sunday mornings are the only days I don’t need to jump out of bed immediately, hurrying off to feed hungry horses and dogs, each a hair-covered alarm clock set for early breakfast. Therefore, my favorite part of the weekend has to be the carefree, lazy mornings sipping coffee in bed and reading blogs in my pajamas.

I hope your weekend is filled with all the little things that make you laugh and smile. Sometimes it can be hard to shift gears after whirring through the work week, and other times things are tough in so many ways that it’s hard to let go and enjoy the moment. Yet when we don’t, especially during the tough times, we end up feeling worse.

So, slow down. Do something fun. Laugh hard, and make it a weekend to remember. 

 

Cloud and Mr. Bean

(Two horses saved from slaughter.)

Photos by Emily Murdoch

A Happy Day.
September 18, 2008

With a sunset like this,

 

 

And like this,

 

 

A cooling rain, and then a good roll

 

 

A loving scratch

 

 

A scratch back,

 

 

And never underestimate a good meal.

 

 

TGIF fellow writers! May the weekend muse be kind to you.

(photos by Emily Murdoch)