Wild Horse Education

Advocacy Intervention, What is an advocate?


Just a thought

In order to be an advocate you need to know what that actually is. “To speak in support of an idea or a cause of action,” is the definition by the English Cambridge dictionary. There are multiple similar definitions in various dictionaries and sources. Yet central to all of the definitions is “idea or a cause of action.”

Effective advocacy is not a random act, but an action created through an understanding of a concept and knowing the cause of action.

If you want to create any change you must have a grasp of the concept and the complete cause of action. The tools you use for the change you seek can be applied to anything from creating helmet safety laws for a public school or changes to fight world hunger. You need need an understanding of what the destination looks like and you need tools to complete the journey.

For wild horse and burro advocates you need tools to create change and you need to define the change you seek. Seriously, how can you change something for the better if you can not define the destination? How can you create change if you do not understand all of the obstacles to the change you seek?

Wild horse and burro advocacy is a very interesting, multi layered, mess. Core issues of faulty on range practices, and the primary use of only one tool (the “roundup”) to address on range  issues, has led to a crisis point. We see around 50,000 wild horses stuck in pens. We see adoptions fall off. We see wild horses in kill buyer pens on their way to slaughter on a daily basis. We see helicopter roundups and injuries.  We see horses in holding with very little shade and other issues. We see on range management practices fail and falter. We see people scrambling for a fast fix like “spaying” (absurdity) and the resumption of broad scale sale to slaughter or killing wild horses.

So what do you want to change? What upsets you the most and what do you want it to look like?

Slaughter? Then move to stop horse slaughter. Support Legislative change, because that is what will stop it. WHE sees people screaming about horse slaughter and then promoting politicians (in an election year) that have the resumption of horse slaughter as part of of their agenda. Marching in DC can create a great press release but if you vote the very politician in whose agenda you just marched against are you really an advocate against horse slaughter? (an article that outlines political agenda on this issue will follow later this week) Or you can begin to address the number of wild horses coming off range each year.

Wild horses in kill pens? (see above) Volunteer to help BLM with compliance checks on adoptions. Volunteer to create a safety net for adopters in your community. Start a support group for adopters to help trouble shoot training issues. Start a support group in your community to help people that hit hard times hang onto their horses. (Buying horses from kill buyers is a slippery slope. Each life matters and we understand the value of saving a life. Yet you must do  it with the knowledge that each horse bought creates a market for the kill buyer. They will buy more horses to get you to buy another. Each and every horse they sell to you through a broker, that is what KB “rescues” are, is done at a huge mark up. A horse they bought for $25. will fetch $600-$800 in the rescue broker market. They can buy a lot of horses and beer on your dime. We are not saying don’t save, we are saying if you do you must understand the reality. Also understand that if the SAFE Act passes, we will need euthanasia clinics).

Adoptions? Organize an adoption event in your community (you do not have to adopt to promote adoptions). Share information on available horses. Volunteer to help BLM actually promote adoptions (promotion is getting better but is still way behind the curve).Or you can begin to work on issues that stop large numbers of wild horses coming off the range.

Inhumane treatment on and off range? (That picture has changed a lot in the last 6 years and we will do a separate article on that). Know policy, protocol and address it appropriately. WHE did not just “take pictures” and complain. WHE is the only org to ever litigate and win (over and over) against inhumane treatment. A cause of action with the goal of creating a humane handling policy.

On range management and the number of wild horse removed from the range each year? Now this is the core issue that creates all the other symptoms we need to address as we advocate for the well being of the wild horse. But what do you know about this process?

What do you think “fair and equitable management” looks like? How much do you know about how things actually look today in process and on the range? What tools do you have to create change?

WHE is a tool building organization. We educate and advocate and have litigated with specific change/goals in mind.

“Wild horse advocate” has essentially become a synonymous phrase to “crazy cat lady” to the media. Almost a decade of changing that stereotype took place. The credibility of advocates rose as time and again we were successful in court and assertions were affirmed by the most recognized scientific body in the world, the National Academy of Sciences. Over the last two years we have watched in horror as that credibility has been eroded by “crazy cat ladies,” a media intent on sensationalist practices and opponents of change.

Excerpt from March 2016 WHE article (click text to read entire piece and realize that many of the quotes you have seen in news media from certain orgs were not included because they are credible, but because they are sensationalists):

“Why do you keep putting quotes from that org into articles on my court cases. They had nothing to do with it and they were never even in that HMA?” Leigh to Reporter.

“Because I need the extremist point of view and you won’t give it to me.” Reporter in 2014

“Then don’t call me anymore. You are hurting the truth, it needs no embellishment.” Leigh

“But that perspective is their truth.” Reporter

“You’re an a**.” Leigh

A reporter recently said that WHE does not sound like advocates, ranchers or the federal government. What are we? We answered that we are “wild horse pragmatists.” The reporter said “Yes, you are.” Then he added that he did not have a narrator for the piece and was going to ask us a series of questions that he could use to bridge conversations between each entity, we were a very colorful and direct bridge. (We seriously hope he finishes his piece soon as that bridge is desperately needed and constantly being burned).

The definition of a pragmatist essentially revolves around an existing problem and how to address it. “An approach to problems and situations that is based on practical solutions,” Cambridge english dictionary. Pragmatic approaches often upset numerous individuals for various reasons. Often these approaches find themselves under extreme emotionally based counter arguments that try to paint the pragmatist as emotional or extreme. Pragmatists can get frustrated. They find they need to address the emotional attacks that they see as irrelevant. You will often hear pragmatists labeled as “abrupt, emotional (in a deflective manner), cold, inconsiderate.” Oh well… “Schucky darn.”

In an article written by a new WHE volunteer this past weekend she outlined three paragraphs that define the obstacles in an extremely broad sense (that essentially cover every aspect of the challenges).

Advocates do not manage wild horses and burros, the federal government does. Advocates do manage the public perception of the reality of management through things like social media. They manage the image of their organization. They manage a perception of what advocating is.

Other uses like livestock don’t manage wild horses and burros, they manage a perception of what management is. They manage an image of what they are. Many of them want to manage all of our public resource and resume mustanging, or removing and sending horses to slaughter for profit, (what the 1971 law stopped when it gave jurisdiction to the federal government).

The federal government manages the vast majority of wild horses and burros. They also manage public perception of the issues. They also manage a public image of who they are and what (and how) they actually do.

In order to become a pragmatist intent on achieving the goal of fair and equitable practices for wild horses and burros within the current system you must understand the system and how the image of the problem creates the greatest obstacle toward achieving the goal. Articles will focus on the perception each entity brings to the mix, what that translates to in reality and the tools available for change.

Are fair and equitable practices, humane management on and off range, a fact based conversation, a lack of drama and an end to crisis management your goal?

Tomorrow we bring you some tools to become a pragmatic advocate… but you need to leave past perceptions at the door.


Main website http://WildHorseEducation.org


Young filly heads to water at Snowstorm (Owyhee). She is still free after a removal was cancelled after litigation was filed. But without a strategy for change, she WILL lose her freedom and enter into the cycle of symptoms.


Categories: Wild Horse Education