Wild Horse Education

It Made a Difference… to that one. (2020)

As the year 2020 draws to a close we visit tradition, old and new. In 2019 we did an end of year feature “it made a difference.” Many of our readers truly appreciated the sentiment of the piece during hard times; a holiday message. We have added that feature to our end of year line up in 2020.

Many of you have heard the “Starfish” parable. The message in this poem is well known and very simple: tasks before you may seem daunting, but each step can create a change. If you only choose to take that step you can create change that has an impact for individual lives. Each life matters. 

One day, an old man was walking along a beach that was littered with thousands of starfish that had been washed ashore by the high tide. As he walked he came upon a young boy who was eagerly throwing the starfish back into the ocean, one by one.

Puzzled, the man looked at the boy and asked what he was doing. Without looking up from his task, the boy simply replied, “I’m saving these starfish, Sir”.

The old man chuckled aloud, “Son, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you make?”

The boy picked up a starfish, gently tossed it into the water and turning to the man, said, “I made a difference to that one!”

You may not see each change, ripple of change, the end result of the change your action began, but you can create it if you take that first step.

When things get really hard, complicated and disheartening, it can help to focus on single events that created change. Some of the change, that may appear as if we threw “one starfish” back into the sea, is tangible and very real. “I made a difference for that one!” 

Just a handful of the “starfish” moments you helped create in 2020. (We will do the “year in review” soon that covers all of the work of WHE in 2020. But the “starfish moments” matter.)

ATV use at roundup

Before WHE team members began going to roundups the public might become aware of one or two operations a year. After 2009, when our team took to the road, the relentless reality of just how many days a chopper flies became real as images surfaced day after day. The media covered the relentless litigation WHE filed to push the creation of a policy that would effect the big picture and begin a road to greater accountability (a long way to go). But big media is not interested in the day to day.

At a roundup this year our team caught contractors using ATVs. This outrageous practice is one not approved, and perhaps it was thought no one would pay attention to things that happen far from view.  

This incident, and action following the incident, created change. Perhaps it does not seem like much, but it made a difference to the individual wild horses captured in 2020. 

Water is life. In the west at the core of almost every dispute lies a “water war.” The war over water in the West is a battle that has has raged for over 100 years and one that will continue to increase, particularly with the effects of climate change, for the next 100 years. This battle frustrates advocates for all species, not just wild horse advocates. Every time you can ease the suffering caused by greed of indifference, just for one life, you have created a very real change in the life of a very real being.

In 2020 you helped open up panels for wild horses that were being scared off of their main water source during a roundup. We watched wild horses come in to drink and run away without drinking. For hours each day in intense heat, even mares with tiny foals did not drink. With your help that suffering was eased. It made a difference to those horses. A very real difference.

Day after day, week after week, our teams were out this summer notifying various BLM offices of dry water haul tanks, broken tanks, water sources shut off that should have been on. The water games of the last few years have been intense! Backdoor deals with livestock operators, BLM failing to utilize their water permits for wild horses, deals with livestock operators selling water to mines, and more, created a living hell for dozens of herds in 2020.

This water game is perhaps  the cruelest, and the most twisted, of  all the games on public lands.  We will have some in-depth stories on “water wars” in the days ahead. 

With your help we were able to keep our teams out and get BLM to fill some, repair some and get a few turned back on. It makes a difference for each wild horse, pronghorn, elk, bird and coyote that was able to get a drink.

Many of you remember all of the “water emergencies” BLM used to remove wild horses this year. They claimed emergency as they were approving massive mining projects that would draw down water tables, in the exact areas they claimed there was not enough water for wild horses. In many of these areas the approvals of these mines contained species on the edge of being completely wiped off the planet! “Not enough water” for living things does not appear to be a stumbling block for an agency that caters to the mining industry!

With your help, we joined a coalition and stopped one of those projects, sent them back to the drawing board. The project was in an area BLM repeatedly states wild horses have no water. It made a difference for that herd.

Click to watch film

In 2020 we were participants in multiple films that were released. “When the Dust Settles” is a beautiful film about the work of Sue Anne Wells and the Mustang Leadership team that pairs inner city young women with mustangs. We have heard that the program has now expanded to include young men.

Filming of When the Dust Settles in 2017. After the film was released in 2020 for public view, it had already become an award winner.

Our founder, Laura Leigh, said she was honored to be a part of a project of healing that spoke directly to her and her own life.

If you need a “Starfish moment” of gentle empowerment and priority, click this link and watch.https://filmfreeway.com/1325030

Each and every life is important. Big change, and little change, that can ease suffering or lay a foundation for long term preservation matters.

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2021 is just around the corner. The battle for public lands, and our wild horses and burros, will continue. Do not get discouraged. You are needed more than ever. 

If you need inspiration to take another step? sometimes it is the “starfish moments” in life that can help you move one foot in front of the other.

Happy Holidays from all of us at Wild Horse Education.

Our year end match is here. Your donation will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $5K. Year end funding is vital to keep our teams working in the field, educating Congress and in the courts.

If you are shopping online you can help Wild Horse Education by choosing us as your charity of choice on IGive or Amazonsmile.com 


Categories: Wild Horse Education