Wild Horse Education


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Wild horse in the dust of Broken Arrow, 2016

As human beings we use language to describe, define and create the reality that we live in. At Wild Horse Education (WHE) we use the language of words and pictures to take you into the world our wild ones live in. We attempt to explain and guide you through process, to engage conversations to create change. We have also used language through litigation to further define and create a better reality. Each step requires that words are chosen carefully to address each task.

1.having been fractured or damaged and no longer in one piece or in working order.
“a broken arm”
synonyms: smashed, shattered, fragmented, splintered, crushed, snapped; More
(of an agreement or promise) not observed by one of the parties involved.
synonyms: flouted, violated, infringed, contravened, disregarded, ignored, unkept
“broken promises”
2. (of a person) having given up all hope; despairing.
“he went to his grave a broken man”
synonyms: defeated, beaten, subdued; demoralized, dispirited, discouraged, crushed, humbled; dishonored, ruined
“he was left a broken man”


PEER map showing failures of the livestock industry to maintain rangeland health. Without a healthy range, nothing heals.

When we address issues of the program perhaps we should keep the definition of this word clearly in mind? The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wild horse and burro program is broken. Some argue that the entire agency is broken. We read that line in press releases quoting Congressmen, advocates, livestock interests and even BLM personnel. We read attacks and propaganda that aggravate the symptoms of the physical and political reality. Do we ever hear much use of the word that we should use to address something broken? The word is heal. We take steps to mend and set breaks in medicine and psychology, but in public land management we seem to simply continue to use the tactics that break things.

Everything needs to heal; the landscape, our herds on the range, the wild ones in holding, the politics and perhaps our own souls?

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Big Red with his band, free on the range

1. (of a person or treatment) cause (a wound, injury, or person) to become sound or healthy again.
“his concern is to heal sick people”
synonyms: get better, get well, be cured, recover, mend, improve
“his knee had healed”
2. alleviate (a person’s distress or anguish).
“time can heal the pain of grief”

A disease left untreated creates multiple symptoms. In some cases the symptoms can turn fatal before the disease kills the patient. Sometimes we must address symptoms and at some point, we must address this disease.

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Broken Arrow, 2016

Healing the Pain of Broken Arrow

WHE often find ourselves like a triage physician on the front line of a battlefield as we advocate for our wild ones. As we work we try to find the most urgent need in a sea of urgent needs. Often we must address the needs before us with a purely clinical eye to serve the cause we have chosen. Sometimes we must forget how it feels to walk the line for the first time. (WHE has witnessed, documented and fought in court to bring the reality our wild horses and burros face during capture and holding into the public sphere. We have won important victories that have gained greater access and were instrumental in gaining the first humane handling policy during captures).

At the recent tour of Broken Arrow WHE founder Laura Leigh was accompanied by three people that have never been to the facility and a colleague that has gone on these tours since they began.

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A moment to heal

Healing requires recognizing the wound, but also the possible cure and what “healthy” looks like.

WHE took another observer out to “nowhere Nevada” so she could experience the wild horse as it should be and to discuss the disease and possible treatments. The following is from our passenger, Clare Staples:

“It was painfully difficult to see once wild horses in the environment of the holding facility. It seemed so un-natural and bleak – no stimulus, nothing to inspire normal horse behavior. They stood in lines, butts turned to the harsh wind and dust storm as they endured their surroundings.

The next day I was invited to go see horses in the wilds of Nevada. We spent the day searching for mustangs and hiked for miles to get to them. I sat there in the sunshine watching the family bands – newly born foals nursing, mares grazing, as their stallions sparred and protectively watched the hills to keep them safe. It actually took my breath away. My heart felt as though it was going to burst through my chest at the raw natural beauty of this scene and the dramatic contrast to the previous day.

I don’t know what the answer is but there must be a better way to manage our wild horses. I want to be part of the solution but we have to first recognize that there is a huge problem here. I hope and pray things change sooner rather than later. They are running out of time.”

The program is broken. It is time to heal it.

If we continue to ignore the reality of all the flaws, human and otherwise, the breaks won’t heal.

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Small herd of 4 family bands in Nowhere Nevada


click HERE to support the work of Wild Horse Education (WHE) as we continue to triage each issue and engage to find a cure.




Categories: Wild Horse Education