Why the Checkerboard Wild Horse Roundup is Personal by Carol J. Walker
*Reminder* Please call your Senators this week to save our wild horses – more at the end of this blog post.
This roundup is personal. I have been following, photographing, documenting and observing the Adobe Town Herd since 2004 and have a very special connection to these horses, who live in the wildest and emptiest of lands. This roundup is personal because horses I know and have cared about for many years are being removed from their homes and are losing their families forever. Worst of all, with the vote on the 2018 Budget in the Senate looming, all of these horses that are removed could soon be facing mass killing and slaughter along with the 46,000 wild horses and burros in holding facilities.
After one of the long days of this interminable roundup, I drove in the afternoon into the area with the horses I know best because they had not yet been removed. I saw family after family, and the horses were on edge, perhaps they had heard the helicopters in the distance earlier, but i would not be surprised if they knew something was up. The horses in adobe Town tend to be more alert anyway – they are not like many herds that are used to human visitors. I will be lucky if I get to be close enough to photograph and sit for a while with any of these families.
First I saw a very colorful family, and on the other side of a fence, a sorrel stallion with a flaxen mane.
Then as I drove on, another grey stallion caught my eye. The Adobe Town Herd has a lot of Spanish blood, and grey is a dominant color among Spanish horses, so there are a lot of greys.
As I drove on, I was hoping I would see my mustang Mica’s father and his family. I had seen them a month ago after not having seen them for two years, and I was really worried that they might be rounded up and separated. I did find them coming up the hill, and surprised them, so they ran off a bit, then turned to look at me at a comfortable (for them) distance. I spent a while with them, then reluctantly made my way toward the highway. After leaving them I saw another family with a stallion who was very alert, but they were not concerned about my presence and only moved off when a gas truck roared by.
The next morning we went to a trap site unfamiliar to me, with a huge dramatic rock formation. We were very far away from the trap, so the horses looked very small even with my long lens. I was hoping we might get lucky and have some horses run by close to us so we could get a good look at them.
I want to explain why I care about getting a good observation spot where I can actually see the horses properly and photograph them. It is not because I want pretty pictures. No I want to see the condition of the horses, if there are any having trouble, if foals get separated. And I also want to take photographs that convey who these horses are – their personalities, their families, their character. These are not anonymous things being rounded up but sentient beings with families, with lives, with feelings and with souls. This may be the last time anyone gets to see these horses. So forgive me if I argue to get a better spot and am upset when I get placed three miles away and the horses appear to be little ants.
We did have two very small foals come in, one with a distinctive light grey face, the other a dark brown. Both appeared to be keeping up with their families.
This time I got my wish and a whole group came down the road close enough to see well. Suddenly I realized that they were from the area where Mica’s dad and his family were – I had seen them just yesterday. These horses were not outside the HMA – the helicopters were flying a long way away.
As soon as they finished for the day I went in search of that little family so dear to my heart. As I drove through the area that yesterday was so full of wild horses, I was dismayed to see no horses. I was getting more and more concerned as I drove. When I reached the area I normally find this family, all I found was a lone old grey stallion who appeared to have been left behind, a lonely testament to all the families that once lived here and were now gone.
I drove as quickly as I could to the temporary holding corrals. When I arrived they let us in almost right away, and I was incredibly relieved when Ben Smith told me he had looked for the stallion but had not found him among the captured horses from today. Since it was very difficult for me to get a good look at the stallions through the snow fence around the pens, it was essential to have his help in looking for one special sorrel stallion. I did see the two small foals who had come in today with their mothers in the mare pen so that was a relief as well.
Every wild horse life is valuable. They are individuals, and deserve to live and die free, at home on our public lands. Even if I never see each family or each horse, because they are here on these lands that belong to all of us, they enrich my life and the lives of other Americans.
Please call your Senators this week. Our wild horses are depending upon you to be their voice and save them from senseless slaughter and killing.
Call Your Senators and the Senate Appropriations Committee now -this week is it! Keep calling and faxing all members of the Senate Appropriations Committee –and particularly the members of the Subcommittee on the Interior- asking them to oppose any language allowing BLM to sell without restrictions wild horses in holding or authorizing the killing of healthy wild horses in holding or on the range as “management option”.
Senators on Appropriations Committee:
(CHAIR) Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) 202-224-5054 202-224-5321
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) 202-224-5744 202-224-3416
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) 202-224-6665 202-224-5301
Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) 202-224-4843 202-228-1371
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) 202-224-3841 202-228-3954
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) 202-224-4041 202-224-9750
Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) 202-224-5042 202-228-3075
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) 202-224-3041 202-228-0285
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HW) 202-224-3934 202-228-1153
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) 202-224-2152 202-228-0400
Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) 202-224-6521 202-228-6966
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) 202-224-2541 202-224-2499
Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) 202-224-4623 202-228-0447
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) 202-224-2523 202-224-2693
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) 202-224-4654 202-228-0629
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) 202-224-5721 202-224-8149 (Pro-slaughter shill, Don’t bother with him)
Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) 202-224-2644 202-224-8594 (Don’t bother with him)
Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) 202-224-2651 202-228-1236 (Don’t bother with him)
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) 202-224-2841 202-228-3194
Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) 202-224-6621 202-228-3261 (He is our sponsor, no need to contact)
Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) 202-224-2551 202-224-7999
Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) 202-224-5754 202-228-1015
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) 202-224-3753 202-228-3997
Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) 202-224-4642 202-224-4680
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) 202-224-5972 202-224-3808 (He is also our sponsor, no need to contact)
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) 202-224-4944 202-228-3398 (Pro-slaughter shill, Don’t bother with him)
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) 202-224-0238 202-224-3479
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) 202-224-2621 202-224-0238
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) 202-224-5653 202-224-9787
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) 202-224-6472 202-224-7665
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) 202-224-3954 202-228-0002
LINK TO FACTSHEET
To find out more about Wild Horse Freedom Federation and our work to keep America’s wild horses wild and free on our public lands, please visit www.WildHorseFreedomFederation.org