Wild Horse Education

2021 (A letter home, tradition)

One of our holiday traditions at Wild Horse Education is “the letter” written by our founder, Laura Leigh, “to Mom.”

These letters began in 2010 with a video message while 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 (after filing litigation) 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 she won again, yet she had another active case. Those were days she calls “Mach 5, hair on fire.”

She was told not to discuss the cases, that it was not appropriate, but she could talk about what she was feeling. So she discussed what this journey “felt like” in that first video (above).

Technology and WHE have come a long way since those early days! The tradition of a “letter home” has been a part of our end of year wrap ever since.

“Blue eyes” in the alley for treatment with PZP at Surprise. This is one of the faces of 2021 I will remember forever.

Dear Mom,

As I sit to type this note to you about this crazy year, snow is falling. White flakes, bigger than a quarter, are silently blanketing the landscape. Desperately needed moisture is falling in the thirsty valleys and mountains and brings momentary relief. I know drought will revisit the West again in 2022 and, once again, the agencies tasked with protecting the wild will create excuses and delays to suit their industrial buddies and politics; the wild will suffer again.

I still hold hope that we can kick the system and gain some actual protections, big and small, that halt abuses of power that lead to abuses of the living. We have done it before, we can do it again. 

What weighs the most are the conversations the public is not having, covering up the deeper problems. We need to stop giving the land and water away (as we now claim we are doing it for the sake of the environment). We need to stop and think and then, if trading out one industry for another is the right thing, the one industry must cease before the load on the land reaches the point of no return. In your words, “First, clean your room and then we can talk about what we need to make it better.”

Drought is still an issue. But as soon as they remove wild horses, they start digging wells, putting in pipelines and creating water hauls so the cows can slam the fragile range harder, further and longer.

Removal and fertility control are still being called “management.” “Stop shoving things under the bed so you can just keep messing up the room, trying to fit in more stuff.” I know mom. There is no management plan and the mess still exists. BLM and their “preferred partners” are wordsmithing in public affairs to make people think they are cleaning up, but just pushing the real problems under the bed. 

In so many ways I think we all learn lessons about being honest and accountable as children. As we grow and call ourselves “adults” we just learn ways to discount those lessons and couch it all in bureaucratic language and expensive offices to pretend we are “grown.” I think too many people forget that the root system is the most important part of growth and not the plastic flower you can stick in the ground. I know, bad analogy but it is the best I have after a year of running…

We took on a huge expansion of legal action. We have more cases in active briefing than I can count on one hand. We stopped a brutal spay experiment through review and have kept our litigation active to try to impact the process that got us there in the first place. We have taken on livestock and mining again. We are fighting against a lack of planning for 3 different herds before they are decimated in the “Path Forward” and we lose one of the last big herds left.

I did not have time to do a video for you, but we will do one for the end-of-year for the org as New Year’s Eve moves closer. There have been so many critical deadlines this season. We have expanded, challenged and won some victories this year. There is still so much to do. 

In a big paradigm shift, a lot of people are starting to understand that when we say “Wild horses are being removed simply to suit industry, not managed,” that the statement actually plays out in the paperwork. There is a site-specific plan for everything under the sun, but none for each HMA.

Today, however, I am going to take a moment and enjoy the silence the snow brings. I am going to head out and pray for change, the strength to survive and the wisdom to choose my words carefully to try to spark the discussions that are being avoided. In the silence of the snow I can feel the “me” that I have become inside and not the “me” I have to be to deal with in this world where reality is created by an online social media platform or a big public relations firm. I have never liked that reality; it creates a lousy real world. When I sit in the peace and quiet the snow provides, my cathedral, I hear my soul echo that voice.

May 2022 bring us all a kinder community that is not afraid to clean under the bed.

I love you Mom.

You can see some of what WHE has accomplished in 2021 HERE and more info on our end-of-year matching contributions.

The “Public Top Ten” posts from WHE in 2021. 

Ways to support WHE

Categories: Wild Horse Education