No One is Truly Free

In Admiration of The Free Horse

Why is it that we admire wild and free horses the way we do? They are the focal point of so much of our art, photography, and history. They are untouched by the human hand, for the most part. I mean, one of the Rolling Stones’ most famous songs was titled Wild Horses for a reason. The truth is, we all wish to be as wild and free as our horses. But sadly enough, America’s wild horses don’t even have their own freedom anymore. We’ll get into that a little later.

The point is, though, that these supposed wild and free horses are a source of our admiration and aspirations for a reason. We long to taste that freedom, be that freedom,  that carefree life where only you can control the outcome. A life where we are not fenced in by our own self inflicted boundaries or social norms and mores that society dictates. Our wild horses are the most powerful sentient beings because they carry that sense of peace and freedom that we long to have and search for.

Free Horses Belong To The Land

Let’s be clear here, these free horses don’t just roam the land with no purpose. They do a lot for our planet and there is a reason for their roaming. Not many people know this, but horses feeding off of the land is the healthiest way to preserve our lands. Wild horses possess an amazing instinct giving them adaptive abilities to harmoniously fit into a variety of ecosystems, which they enhance. (1)They greatly enrich the soils and disperse the intact seeds of a great variety of plants. Wild horses are restorers and healers of ecosystems.

Before horses became captivated animals, they would roam the land freely. They would graze and run with their friends, they had no limitations. They belonged to the land and the land belonged to them. Of course, humans like to strip all things of their freedoms and believe we own everything. The domestication of horses soon would lead them to be trapped installs, limited to specific feeding times and given grains instead of feeding off of the land. I want to highlight the fact that the horses initially don’t need our help, they don’t need our grains and our medicines to make them better. They can rely solely on the land and the land will flourish because of them. But what have we done to the land?

Government Round-Ups

These wild horses are a vital part of our ecosystem. Horses in America used to roam free across our lands without fear. But these times are long gone. The land no longer belongs to these horses because humans have chosen to claim it as their own displacing the wild horses and all living beings that call the land their home. “Wild horse” management has come to be coined with the term “roundups”. The baseline meaning of this term involves the permanent removal of wild horses and burros from their home ranges. The government sends in helicopters that will chase these wild horses and their families into being rounded up into traps.

These helicopter roundups can go on for miles and push the horses across miles and miles of land. Mercilessly chasing them across dangerous and sometimes frozen terrain oftentimes causing injuries and death, especially for young foals who can’t keep up.  Horses in America are losing their homes because of our selfish and inexplicable greed. The government wants to use all this land to which the free horses roam and the American people, in essence, own, for corporate agricultural farming, oil fracking, and drilling.

Horses running out West in Wyoming

The Holding Pen

 As always, human nature tends to center its actions around making money. The government would much rather disrupt our critically important ecosystems and the loss of millions of animal species for profit and gains that do not serve all of the  American people’s best interests.

 After these Wild horses are removed from their homes, they are put in government holding pens. Families are separated and never to be together again. Babies misplaced from their mothers, and often killed and injured from the larger horses in the very small and overcrowded holding areas. These horses, who were used to living their lives on open land are now confined to a small space where they must stand on top of one another. It is through this process that a majority of these horses will end up being sent to slaughter.

The ultimate cruelty to our wild horses that built our country, heal our veterans and our handicapped and made us who we are today. (2) “The government’s betrayal of the American peoples trust in their improper management our Wild  horses and our public rangelands, is to serve a handful of lawmakers and their constituents.” 

Now you may not think these round-ups affect you directly, but believe me, they do. A good amount of your federal tax dollars is going into these low-flying helicopter round-ups the pens that hold these horses are held in and the food and salaries to maintain them. This fiscal year is anticipated to cost $80 million for the federal wild horse program alone. Taxpayers are paying around $153,900 every day just to feed the horses that are stockpiled in these pens.[2]Horses in America have been our very symbol of freedom and here we are stripping them of their very essence and then having to pay for it.

The Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act

The Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 were put in place to protect horses from this very issue. The act was put in place by congress and signed by President Richard Nixon at the time on December 18, 1971.[3]The act itself covered the management, protection, and study of unclaimed horses and burros on public lands in the United States. Let’s just give a quick backstory as to how this act came to be put in place.

In the early 1900s, there was a concern that horses were destroying the land and resources. Which, in my opinion, isn’t true in its entirety.  There is a symbiotic relationship between the horse and the land in which both parties uphold their responsibilities to create a healthy and sustainable life. Understanding that balance is key to everything, the government wanted the use of all the lands so they took extreme measures.

A horse making strides in the great outdoors

The History Behind The 1971 Act

By the 1950s, a few animal advocates had noticed the extreme measures in which were being taken to remove these horses and they didn’t like it. A woman by the name of Velma Bronn Johnston, also known as “Wild Horse Annie”, took activism into her own hands which her life’s work lead to the Hunting Wild Horses and Burros on Public Lands Act in 1959.[4]This wasn’t enough for the advocates who still had a lot of concerns. This lead to the creation of the  “Wild and Free-Roaming Act of 1971”.

The Bureau of Land Management ( BLM) is in charge of managing these specific areas where the horses are supposed to live. Capturing and managing Wild horses while finding homes for them through adoption and relocation. The situation has been so deliberately mismanaged that, this is not the case anymore. The Bureau of Land Management is not looking out for these horses at all, and there is no regard for the act that was put in place a short fifty years ago.

Like The Wild Horse and Mustangs, We Are Not Free

America’s wild horses have been here for 35,000 years and evolved in North America as a species. The mustang horse breed brought over by the conquistadors in the 15th century has become a part of the free-roaming horses found predominantly in the west. The mustang horses along with our wild horses are being rounded up. Whether you want to call them mustangs or wild horses, they are the same. A horse is a horse and they are one native species to North America.

Horses were meant to be coveted in this country as a symbol of the freedom we preach to be found here. This is not the case. As much as we like to think we are the “land of the free”, I beg to differ. No one in this country is really free. People are living in fear of the hardships that follow the rash inequality that can be found in this country. They live within the guidelines they believe they must follow. Guidelines that are given to them by an unknown sender. Why is it that we have these societal norms we believe should be followed yet we don’t know who created them?

Let’s Find Freedom Together

In order to restore peace in this country, we must release the symbol of freedom that we have chosen to capture. These wild horses are sacred to this country, a symbol of what we aspire to be, which is free. These animals look after the land because they know how to work the land, it is their environmental niche. There is a reason for all things. Wild Horses deserve respect and regard, we have forgotten this.  We, as humans, must take a step back and look at the consequences of our actions. We too are looking for freedom and should be relinquished from the pens that are holding us. 

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(1) canafoundation.org\//

(2) canafoundation.org\//

[3] Wikipedia Wild Horses

[4] Wikipedia Horses & Burros Act

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