Wild Horse Education

Letter to Mom (2017)


Release of wild horses in 2017 in Nevada

At Wild Horse Education (WHE) it has become a tradition to share a “letter” from our founder to her Mom. These letters began in 2011 with a video message. These letters have become one of our holiday traditions. We wish all of you warmth, joy and peace this holiday.

Laura Leigh was fighting for access to roundups and holding, not just for herself, but for all of us. As a journalist she had been offered “red carpet access” to document a roundup in northern Nevada but had to go alone, leaving representatives from advocacy behind. She chose to fight for all, not for one.

She had also filed the first case in history against inhumane conduct at roundups. She won. She filed again and again, and she won.

But her attorney told her not to discuss the cases, but she could talk about what she felt, so she made this video. She had a broken laptop, a drug store camera, a beat up truck and her dog by her side; fighting for our wild horses. WHE has come a long way since those first days. (mini resume published in early 2017, needs update)

Since that time this work has stopped unjustified removals as it presents the truth of the range. This year it was incorporated into testimony with the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), the third time in the history of WHE, and has become part of testimony to a house investigative team. (a short resume published in late 2016;  https://wildhorseeducation.org/milestones-of-whe-our-resume/)

The work on paper represents an achievement record, but it does not reflect the human toll. These letters each year give a glimpse into the road we walk. We here at WHE thank our founder for creating a body of work we are all proud to continue.

Dear Mom,

It’s me again. I know my letter to you last year was a reflection of the moment I found myself in; a moment of recognition that we would be facing an all out assault on wild places and wild things. I know the letter made you sad.

I didn’t talk about the Historic Society painting my portrait. I didn’t talk about the legal wins and the really great skills I had learned; I just looked ahead. You know I have a habit of doing that; I don’t take time to celebrate, I just see the next task. I heard you when you said “find the good.”

I’m trying hard to find the things to celebrate, but this year is no different, “finding the good” is getting harder. The tasks ahead are monumental and I can not get my focus shifted away from them. The political games are in full swing and the public has no idea of the depths of these games. I see some understanding as our National Monument fall and important wildlife refuges face an environmental assault. But I see no true depth of understanding where wild horses are concerned.

All of our public land resources are under assault and wild horses are a resource. In a “normal” year it is really hard to get any media coverage to anything besides a big rescue or a small feature in national news that regurgitates the same old sound bites. This year it has been almost impossible. Our wild horses are caught in this resource grab.

Last year I wrote about the fears for the land and for myself. I was right, this year has been intense. I have kept my sense of humor; people covet flash and butt implants and it’s what they have gotten. My heart breaks as I see the consequences time and again. 

Each letter I have written to you at the end of the year has carried a prediction of what is coming. This year I have a sensation that it is truly a “make it or break it time” for America’s public land. Our wild places and wild things? I truly fear for them. I fear for us as a country; what we have chosen to value is simply numbers in a bank account that do not reflect any investment in our American soul. 

I think it might be time for me to visit you, hug you again. We did see some amazing progress in gaining some understanding to these issues; but once again I am not supposed to talk about it. I’ll tell you when I see you. 

I know so many “boots on the ground” fighters for the environment that have left this year. I hope they come back, they are needed. I know it’s hard when you are stolen from and minimized by those that claim to be fighting for the same goals as you. I know why they left; it’s getting harder and harder to be safe out here when you are ground “troops” without support. I hope all they needed was a break and I will see them soon, I need to know they are out there and the land needs them too. 

I end this letter not with a prediction, but a prayer. I pray that somewhere, somehow, integrity will win over greed. It’s the only hope for those that want to preserve, not exploit, this crisis.

I think of you always mom.


Until the end of the year we will continue to feature these traditional “Countdown pieces.” We hope you follow along as we head into what may be the most pivotal year in land management since the Civil War.

Through January 1, 2018, all contributions to our work will be matched up to $5K. This is the largest match we have ever been offered.


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