Happy 4th of July from The Riding Instructor & Reno
4th of July
The 4th of July is America’s most significant holiday. It commemorates the adoption of our Declaration of Independence and undergirds who we are. Americans have battled for our liberty and the freedom of others, both on American soil and on foreign lands and Americans have built a strong, prosperous nation.
Personally, I’m doubtful that Americans could have achieved building a nation as well, if it were not for our silent partners and load sharers, the horse. The debate about whether or not horses are a native species to America is interesting and long fought. This article from Animal Welfare Institute offers more detail than I could in my holiday blog post.
Before we were America, Spanish horses carried conquistadors and explorers. The horses were driven off ships into the sea and had to swim to shore after spending weeks on board. Herds with DNA of the Spanish horses still exist.
As the New World was settled horses plowed fields, carried soldiers, hauled freight, and moved families west. The brought circuit ministers to town so that marriages could be performed or the doctor to a homestead during illness. They carried mail, moved herds of cattle for thousands of miles, and even facilitated train robberies.
Think, for a minute, what America would have been or would be now, without the horse.
Over time, horses broke free of their owners, or were turned loose, and wild herds formed. America’s wild horses have been persecuted for generations. They’ve been used to improve ranching stock, to supply war needs, gunned down from helicopters, herded with aircraft, run over cliffs, and they’ve been sent to slaughter to be used for fertilizer and dog food for America’s pets.
In the 1950s, a woman named Velma Johnston chose to fight against the cruel treatment of the wild horse. Later dubbed Wild Horse Annie, Velma Johnston began a campaign that covered several decades. Her efforts resulted in the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971.
The following is the first paragraph of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971:
“Congress finds and declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene. It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.”
Wild Horses Belong to ‘We The People’
America’s wild horses belong to ‘We The People’ and by law they are protected. It’s the job of the BLM to protect our horses but there has been a battle between ranchers and the horses that started decades ago. The American Wild Horse has always been in danger but in 2017 their battle has become worse and now they fight to avoid extinction because of poor management, greed, and big business.
To learn the details of their plight visit the people who are on the front lines fighting for America’s Wild Horses, particularly Laura Leigh at Wild Horse Education . Laura Leigh has devoted her life to fighting for human care and handling of the wild horse. She’s been at spent countless hours at roundups and holding stations, as well as fought through court. Or visit R.T. Fitch, another advocate for wild horses. Read his recent articles about the danger of slaughter facing America’s wild horse.
Why Do I Care?
Why am I bringing my passion for wild horses to The Riding Instructor on the 4th of July? 56 years ago today, my dad took a horse crazy kid from a beach village in New York to buy her first horse. That was me, and I’m pretty sure that the only horse in my recent family history had been a work horse belonging to my grandfather. To this day I’m the family’s sole horse lover. Since then, I’ve worked with all kinds of horses, from off-the-track TBs, mares imported from Poland, Canadian National Champions, ridden quarter horses, Arabians, Saddlebred, hunters, dressage horses… A long list. When I turned 61 we adopted a yearling that had been trapped with helicopter by the BLM during the infamous Calico round up. Now I’m 68 and I can confidently tell readers that for me, there has not been another horse in my life that I’d choose over Reno. He’s honest and trustworthy and extremely smart. And he’s beautiful.
4th of July commemorates America’s freedom and independence. How about making the 4th of July mean the same for America’s Wild Horse?
Happy 4th to everyone from The Riding Instructor and Reno’s Legacy. And thanks to AFoxPhotography for our photo.
Barbara Ellin Fox