Wild Horse Education (WHE) is a small organization with a dedicated volunteer base that educates the public and media and advocates for change in the way wild horses and burros are managed on public land.
The advocacy we are engaged in takes many forms. From documenting range conditions and preparing reports for inclusion in conversations dealing with government agencies, to taking the documentation into a courtroom when other avenues for discussion fail.
Wild Horse Education (WHE) goals include: gaining an enforceable humane handling policy, reform in the way wild horse and burro populations are managed on the range (minimizing removal and managing on the range), protecting resources needed for survival of wild horses on the range (forage, water), improving the adoption program, and protecting wild horses and burros from slaughter.
Founded by Laura Leigh, a journalist and equine advocate, WHE has gained an impressive resume.
- WHE is the only org in history to litigate against abuse during capture. WHE filed again and again and today we have the beginning of the first welfare policy for wild horses and burros.
- WHE’s litigation created a massive First Amendment victory opening roundups to the press and public on a daily basis. This case was used to stop brutal spaying experiments and has served as a baseline for civil rights litigation.
- Field documentation has been used to stop unjustified removals before they could begin, used in litigation and creation of management planning.
- Investigative work done by WHE has helped uncover corruption including an investigation that revealed over 1700 wild horses were sold for slaughter (for less than $5. each) to a friend of former Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, shipping paid by the tax-payer.
- Wild Horse Education remains a frontline organization in the protection of the wild and the wild horse.
Leigh herself has been engaged in equine advocate issues for almost two decades, focusing primarily on issues surrounding wild horses for more than four years. The body of work includes documentation seen in various news broadcasts and publications including KLAS-TV, NBC, ITV (BBC), CNN and Horseback Magazine. Leigh’s documentation has been used as evidence in several court actions, including a landmark case against the Bureau of Land Management BLM gaining the first Restraining Order against the Bureau of Land Management and conduct at roundups (the first against conduct in the history of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act after a pilot hit a horse with the skids of the helicopter), that action is ongoing in the courts.
There is an extraordinary amount of work that needs to be done to gain fair management on the range for wild horses and burros as intended under law. There is much work yet to do in order to ensure humane treatment during removals and during the time animals are held in government hands. Work must continue to engage BLM policies on sale to make sure our wild horses do not end up in the hands of kill buyers.
There are tools for progress, that as an advocacy we do not have and must literally build. We are building the tools and creating the language for conversations based on first hand observation. We are gaining a conversation that can lead to change, that can grow. It IS movement. A movement armed with accurate information can create positive, long term, change.
We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.
If it is “bad enough for you,” please join us! Help support our efforts and join with us to win protection for the wild horses and burros and the land they stand.