Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Whistleblowers Claim Abuses Run Rampant in Horse Policy

Whistleblowers Claim Abuses Run Rampant in Horse Policy

Christian Science Monitor
More than 40,000 wild mustangs roam on public lands in the West, federally protected as living symbols of American heritage. Since 1971, the Bureau of Land Management has been responsible for maintaining mustang herds and administering a popular adopt-a-horse program. But allegations of criminal activities within the BLM - including slaughter-for-profit schemes - are casting a shadow over the agency.
Former and current employees say shady dealings are customary in the BLM horse program. "The American public is being cheated out of millions of dollars a year," says Steven Sederwall, a BLM law-enforcement agent who retired last year. "In 23 years as a cop, I've never seen anything like the depth of corruption I've seen in the BLM."
Last month, Mr. Sederwall and five former colleagues sent a nine-page letter to US Attorney General Janet Reno, detailing "an ever-growing list of felony criminal violations committed by the Bureau of Land Management." Charges include BLM employees selling wild horses to slaughterhouses and rodeo circuits; falsified financial and horse inventory records; misappropriation of funds; and obstruction of justice during investigations.
Bureau officials say the accusations are unfounded. "The vast majority of these allegations are up to 15 years old. These are not things that are happening now," says Bob Johns, Washington spokesman for the BLM, a division of the Department of the Interior.
Walter Johnson, chief of law enforcement for the BLM, says he has seen no evidence to support the charges. "I am not aware of either myself or any member of my staff doing anything inappropriately, or involving any criminal action. I will not comment on anything unless it is firsthand knowledge to me."
But in a June 1993 memorandum to the Interior Department inspector general, Mr. Johnson wrote regarding a federal investigation in New Mexico: "Through the initial phase of the investigation, it is apparent that administrative actions by some BLM wranglers and program administrators have not been in compliance with the direction and guidance provided.... In many of the adoptions and group adoptions reviewed, personnel from BLM apparently promoted the adoption of horses for commercial gain."
Federal law prohibits the government from selling wild horses to slaughterhouses and other commercial operations. To keep herd size in check, the BLM is charged with rounding up 6,000 to 9,000 wild horses per year and offering them for adoption. Adopters are required to pay a $125 fee and wait one year before taking legal title to a horse. The provisions are intended to reduce the incidence of profit-motivated adoptions.
But sources inside the BLM say thousands of horses are taken illegally from rangelands each year. If money changes hands, it's strictly off the books. As for documented adoptions, sources say backdated paperwork is a common tactic to give adopters quicker title to a horse.
After one year, an adopted wild horse may be sold at will. A 1,000-pound horse will typically bring $700 to $900 on the slaughter market. An untrained riding horse, on the other hand, may sell for only $300 to $400.
BUT those accusing the BLM of wrong-doing suffered a setback last month. The Justice Department has aborted a long-running investigation in Del Rio, Texas, which involved group adoptions of hundreds of horses arranged by two BLM wranglers.
A federal grand jury was convened in 1994 to investigate allegations by unnamed neighbors that James Galloway, a BLM-contracted wrangler, had taken 36 mustangs to his father-in-law's ranch, reportedly to fatten them for slaughter. Mr. Galloway also allegedly kept untitled horses in other locations.
But no charges were filed against Galloway. John Murphy, assistant US attorney in San Antonio, says the case was dropped because it "lacked prosecutive merit."
Sederwall, who led the initial Del Rio investigation for the BLM, claims the agency is hiding something. "We've got all the evidence, but they successfully covered it up."
He contends that Galloway was ready to implicate BLM officials. "They couldn't prosecute Galloway because he was going to turn evidence against the BLM. Galloway only did what they taught him," Sederwall says.
Sederwall says he was taken off the Del Rio case after he uncovered incriminating evidence against BLM management. He and 14 other investigators were ordered not to speak to the grand jury, he says. Eventually, these agents were all reportedly transferred, fired, or pressured into early retirement.
Reed Smith, deputy state BLM director for New Mexico until he retired in 1994, maintains "BLM management fought the Del Rio investigation with everything they had."
Karen Sussman, president of the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros, says the problem is an inherent BLM conflict of interest. "The BLM manages for land and cattle. Traditionally, they're committed to ranching. Not wild horses."
Ranchers, who pay the government to graze their cattle on rangelands, consider mustangs a competitor for forage, making wild-horse rustling a longstanding and accepted tradition in the West.

Another federal grand jury is reviewing allegations of internal fraud in the Jackson, Miss., BLM office. The US attorney there would not comment on the investigation. But a BLM employee in the Jackson office says, "What this program has done in reality is make a few people very rich.... You can talk to rangers, special agents, BLM people all over the US, who have independently come to the same conclusion," he says. "If a dozen people are hollering smoke, smoke, smoke, there has got to be fire."

Your Tax Dollars at Work!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Internal BLM Memo Recommends Killing Sick Wild Horses On Range

Straight from the Horse's Heart

Story by as published at Oregon Public Broadcasting

“Suddenly they’re going to kill off the wild horses because there’s a man-made drought caused by the BLM’s own mismanagement of our public lands…”

An internal memo has surfaced that shows the U.S. government’s wild horse program is in dire financial trouble. It also calls for “drastic changes” including the possibility of killing sick horses on the range.
In August last year, Joan Guilfoyle called for an immediate halt to all roundups.
That’s something independent scientists called for last summer. This is the first time the public has learned that someone at Bureau of Land Management agreed.
Guilfoyle is not just anybody. She’s in charge of the BLM’s wild horse division.
The halt to roundups is one of several recommendations revealed because a wild horse advocate sought documents under the Freedom of Information Act.
Debbie Coffey, Vice President of the Wild Horse Freedom Federation, says the BLM sent her two versions of the memo, one with large sections blacked out. But a duplicate titled “Internal Working Document” were completely uncensored. She thinks BLM goofed.
“I saw they had given me an un-redacted version as well,” says Coffey. “So, just for fun, I decided to post that and let the public know what’s really going on.”
Coffey is most troubled by one of Guilfoyle’s proposals.
In the memo, the division chief recommends that BLM should euthanize horses on the range “as an act of mercy if animals decline to near-death condition as a result of declining water and forage resources.”
Coffey says, “Suddenly they’re going to kill off the wild horses because there’s a man-made drought caused by the BLM’s own mismanagement of our public lands. They need to rethink how they’re managing public land if they can’t sustain wild horses they have a mandate to protect.”
Coffey blames BLM for allowing other users of public land to use up so much water, leaving little for wildlife including horses.
The BLM has said in the past it is legally required to manage public land for multiple uses.
Oregon’s BLM wild horse officials referred our questions about the memo to the Washington DC office, which did not respond.
The recommendation to halt roundups was not followed…(CONTINUED)

Click (HERE) to read the story in it’s entirety and to comment at

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Live Feed of Horse’s Birth

Habitat for Horses

There have been so many advances in reproductive sciences that this technique is no surprise to the general public – even if we do not understand how complicated the procedure is. Perhaps there is hope that this could be used in repopulating rarer breeds of horses? Just a thought. ~ HfH
Vet Foal Cam My Special Girl
My Special Girl
Animal lovers can get a lesson in the birds and the bees thanks to a camera that will capture a horse giving birth live.
The University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine has a “Foal Cam” inside the stall of a pregnant mare, My Special Girl, that starts rolling on Feb. 26.
“We hope that sharing the birth of this foal will give the world a window into New Bolton Center,” said Dr. Corinne Sweeney, associate dean of the center.
The live feed will start rolling ahead of the birth in case the foal decides to arrive early and will remain on even if there are complications during the birth, according to the doctors.
Even more fascinating than the broadcast is the manner in which My Special Girl was impregnated.
“She is just a surrogate mother carrying the baby for the donor mare, who supplied the egg, and the donor stallion, who supplied the sperm,” said Dr. Regina Turner of Penn Vet.
The school used advanced reproductive technique intracytoplasmic sperm injection, known as ICSI, which involves injecting a single sperm into a mature egg. Specialists transferred the embryo to My Special Girl in April 2013, according to a news release.
A Thoroughbred-Cleveland Bay cross mare provided the egg and a long-deceased Thoroughbred-Quarter Horse cross stallion provided the sperm, which came from frozen semen.
“We can create offspring even from a dead stallion,” Dr. Turner said.
The surrogate, My Special Girl, is an 11-year-old Thoroughbred used for teaching veterinary students.
Her pregnancy represents the first time ICSI has been completed successfully in the Delaware Valley, a procedure the doctors hope the school will replicate.
The doctors know the foal’s sex, but declined to share that information.
Whether a filly or a colt, anyone can weigh in on the new horse’s name since Penn Vet will be holding a naming contest once the foal is born.

Habitat for Horses is a 501.c.3 nonprofit equine protection organization supported solely by donations. We have around 200 donkeys and horses under our care, plus one ornery, old mule. Most of them are here because law enforcement removed them from their previous owner. Our ability to rehabilitate and rehome them comes from the financial support of people like you. Please support us by making a donation for the horses we all serve. Click HERE to donate

Hearing on Doomed NM Horse Slaughter Plant Delayed

Straight from the Horse's Heart

Update from R.T. Fitch ~ pres/co-founder of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Aspiring Horse Killer Just Can’t Catch a Break

Dreams of dead horses dashed as Rick De Los Santos, owner of Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, stands in the slaughterhouse where he thought he was going to butcher horses for the foreign meat market. (PAT VASQUEZ-CUNNINGHAM/JOURNAL)
Dreams of dead horses dashed as Rick De Los Santos stands in the slaughterhouse where he thought he was going to butcher American horses for the foreign meat market. (PAT VASQUEZ-CUNNINGHAM/JOURNAL)

Although it is a moot point, as horse slaughter is dead in the U.S. for the next two years, the beleaguered, wanna-be horse butcher Ricardo De Los Santos, owner of Valley Meats in Roswell New Mexico, will have to wait until March 21, 2014 to hear from the New Mexico Secretary of the Environment if his application for a ground water discharge permit renewal has been denied or approved.
Either way it doesn’t matter as he won’t be slaughtering companion equines without federal inspections and that funding has been halted, thank goodness.
Looks like its back to hamburgers for you Ricky, no ponies in your pens.
Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?
It’s not nice to fiddle with Karma…

Click (HERE) to download the Notice of Pending Final Order

Friday, February 21, 2014

Horses Shipped Out of U.S. for Slaughter Legally

Straight from the Horse's Heart

“They don’t really care for these animals that much. It’s just a dollar sign to them…”

Healthy horses waiting to be slaughtered back when Kaufman's Dallas Crown horse slaughterhouse was in operation ~ photo courtesy of
Healthy horses waiting to be slaughtered back when Kaufman’s Dallas Crown horse slaughterhouse was in operation ~ photo courtesy of
(KAUFMAN, Tex.) In east Texas, horses are a part of the way of life.
“My daughter barrell races, my son ropes, said Felisha Cotton, who lives with her family on a ranch in rural Henderson County, Texas, about an hour southeast of Dallas. “My husband has roped. He’s roped his entire adult life.”
For Cotton and her family, horses are almost part of the family.
“I just enjoy them,” she said. “I’d have 100 of them if I could.”
While revered by many, others value horses for different reasons. Some horses will end up on the dinner table.
“They’re trucked down to Mexico and they’ll be slaughtered for human consumption.”
Marsha (not her real name), is an undercover cruelty investigator for the Equine Welfare Alliance.
“Horse slaughter is one of the biggest cruelty to animals that there is,” she said. “From the transportation to the auctions all the way to the slaughter plant.”
Reports say as many as 170,000 are transported to Mexico and Canada each year for slaughter. The meat is then shipped to Japan and Europe for consumption.
“They don’t really care for these animals that much. It’s just a dollar sign to them, it’s a carcass weight, it’s a pound.”
We followed Marsha on an investigation of a horse buyer’s farm. After shooting some video and leaving, we saw that we were being followed closely.
The horse buyer wasn’t happy we had shot video of his operation and was suspicious of our motives.
I stopped to talk with him and explain my purpose of producing a story on the horse slaughter industry. Showing his mistrust, he called the sheriff’s office to check my credentials…(CONTINUED)

Click (HERE) to read the rest of the story and to comment

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Elko, NV To Donate $10K To Fund Wild Horse Slaughter Suit

Straight from the Horse's Heart

OpEd by R.T. Fitch ~ president/co-founder of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

“BLM wants, and has coached, the plaintiffs to sue…”

8272-200x164-Skull_gunsLovely, little Elko, Nevada has announced, according to a recent AP story, that the county will donate $10,000 to a law suit that was brought forward in December by the Nevada Association of Counties and the Nevada Farm Bureau Federation against the BLM charging that the well-known federal grazing and special interest agency is not doing its job and should round up ALL of the federally protected wild horses and burros and send them to slaughter along with the 55,000+ captured horses forced into confinement in contracted long term holding.
Ain’t that just so darn sweet and dandy.
For the past several years the BLM has been stacking their Advisory Board and multiple committees with horse hating special interest representatives ranging from hunting, grazing and horse slaughter proponents and it has been done while our eyes have been wide open and staring in disbelief.
Likewise, the BLM has been spending millions upon millions of dollars using helicopters to terrorize and capture wild horses and burros that could be better managed on the range, at virtually no expense, but that would not help to establish the artificial emergency they want to create by stuffing captured horses into every nook and cranny of available holding while screaming; ”OH, LOOK, we have no more room and housing the horses is costing too much…let’s sell all of them, (drum roll) to SLAUGHTER!”
That’s plan “A” and the BLM has been in the rancher’s ears whispering this garbage and is willing to take a dent on this suit so that it can PROVE that the horses have to go.
Plan “B” will be to use the draught as a reason to finish off the last of the wild horses and burros in Nevada, the handwriting is already on the wall.
The dark political forces that are the engine that drives the BLM may not be the sharpest knives in the drawer but they certainly are single mindedly persistent, I will give them that; but they have missed one very large gaping hole in their plan, they have miscalculated and under-estimated the positive power and tenacity of the American public.
We are not going away nor are we going to throw up our hands and call it quits, it’s just not in our blood to allow this federal grazing agency to destroy an American icon.
In fact, these Bozos don’t realize that the more that they stir the pot with misinformation, propaganda, bad math and junk science the more (i.e. many) people it draws to the advocacy and that means more eyes on their lunacy, corruption and fraud.
In a nutshell, the BLM is going to poke that sleeping dragon just one too many times and it is going to be  more than just their eyebrows that are  singed when the dragon steps up to the plate to play ball with a vengeance…it just ain’t gonna be pretty.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Video: Still Room for Wild Horses in Wyoming’s Red Desert Part III

Straight from the Horse's Heart

Eyewitness Report by Carol Walker ~ Director of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Photos by Carol Walker music by Opus Moon’s “Wild Horse Anthology” available on iTunes
On this early morning in Adobe Town, I have one of the encounters that I always hope for.
I see a large group of horses quite a long way from the road, so I prepare to hike out to them. The wind is blowing, and the trucks are driving by, so I make sure I park well off the road.
CarolWalkerAdobeTownThe first thing I notice is a striking buckskin mare and her look alike foal.  They keep watching me closely as I approach, so I stop and pause frequently.  I keep getting closer, and they move around, but they are becoming more interested in me, and less fearful.  It is a dance between curiosity and fear, and the curiosity is winning. I finally stop and sit down, and then the whole group starts walking toward me. I am delighted, and trying to keep my fingers warm as I push the shutter button.
I see the mares and foals pause and look in another direction. I follow their gaze, and there are two stallions, coming in fast.  They are more focused on the family of horses than they are on me until they get closer.  The two stop and stare at me, and decide to run by me, running faster and faster as they get closer.  It makes me laugh and reminds me of the pronghorn antelope who love to run in front of my car, beating me as they cross the road.  After they pass by, the beautiful bay stallion comes in front of his family, watching protectively.
The next morning when I head out to the herd area it is clear that there is a storm coming in.  I see a large family with antelope running by them. By the time I turn around two hours later, they are moving into another more sheltered area with natural windbreaks, something the wild horses trapped in holding facilities cannot do. I notice how calm the wind is here, and the horses relax and graze, at ease even with the storm approaching.
Next I see the band I encountered my first evening of this trip, and the older stallion is so unconcerned about me that he turns his back.  His family is moving toward a sheltered area as well.
As I drive up the hill I see another wild family sheltered from the wind, with a gorgeous backdrop. The mare and foal stay together, but the stallion and his two year old circle around me to get a better look.
The last wild horses I see on this trip are a stallion and his mare up on the hill where the wind is howling.  They are right next to the road, and I am barely able to keep my camera steady as they approach me. Even though the temperature is falling, they appear perfectly at home.
As I drive out of the herd area, I feel very lucky that these wild horses have allowed me to spend time with them in their world. I hope that I will see all of these wild families again this coming year, and that there will continue to be wild horses in this area for many years to come despite the grazing associations and the oil and gas development.  I truly believe there is enough room for wild horses, and will continue to do all I can to make sure that there always will be.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Video: Still Room for Wild Horses in Wyoming’s Red Desert? Part II

Straight from the Horse's Heart

Range Observation by Carol Walker ~ Director of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation
Photos by Carol Walker music by Opus Moon (available on iTunes)
CarolWalker025The next cold morning I head into Adobe Town before dawn.  The light is starting to color the sky pink in amongst the blue, and it is silent and still. I pass a wooden ramp used to load cattle and sheep into big trucks, and it is a reminder of the fiercely dominant livestock interests in this area.
It is Sunday, and I see only a few other vehicles today in the area.
I continue driving, looking for wild horses. I pull over and pull out my binoculars as I see a flash of white over a ridge. I see several horses, but have to hike out to them to get a closer look.  My boots crunch on the snow, and I am grateful that the wind is still for now.  As I get closer, even though I am hidden from their view by a small hill, the horses know I am coming.  It is a familiar band which I saw in the summer just after the little sorrel colt was born.  He looks healthy and very fuzzy, and his red roan mother who had been thin after his birth has filled back out.  This band has two stallions which is uncommon, the older grey stallion, and a younger bay who seems to be his lieutenant, staying alert for intruders.  The two stallions get along surprisingly well.  They look up as I slowly approach, but go back to grazing as they realize I am not coming any closer.
I walk back to my car and keep driving. Next, I see another familiar face – a gorgeous sorrel stallion with a flashy splash of a blaze on his face.  I had watching him dogging a grey stallion’s large family in the summer, and here he is still waiting for an opportunity to steal a mare or two.  The grey stallion is unconcerned by his presence, and moves his family across the road and up the hill as I watch and enjoy the sight of them moving out in the early morning light. There are several greys in this family, which is a common sight in Adobe Town. The two stallions peek over the hill at me as I drive away.
When I drive to another area of the range, I see fresh sheep droppings all along the road and on the sides, and I also notice that the ground has been stripped bare by the sheep.  The hundreds of sheep I had seen a day ago must have been moved out of the area. All they leave behind is their droppings.
The landscape in this area is incredibly dramatic, especially with a fresh coating of snow.
As I turn and pass the reservoir, I see a group of horses, and the stallion is a sorrel. Can it be? I have not seen the gorgeous sorrel stallion with the distinctive markings for over a year and half.  This is the area I used to see him in, and the area where I first encountered his family and his son Mica, the weanling colt that I adopted after he was rounded up in 2010. It is indeed Mica’s father, and his new family.  His gorgeous grey mare has a long flowing mane, and she wants nothing to do with me. He also has a sorrel mare and foal, and an older black colt.  The group stares at me before running into the sagebrush.  I actually get a second look at them the next morning, and Mica’s father moves protectively between me and the mars and foals, and after they move away, he wheels around and stares at me, bringing up the rear, before following them over the hill.
I am thrilled by the sight of them, by the proof that they are still wild and free in Adobe Town, after the 2010 roundup as well as after the roundup of two months ago.  They are healthy and strong and beautiful, uniquely suited to their home in the Red Desert.
As I leave the area, I see more antelope, and two bachelor stallions standing together in the wind.  One is white, clearly older, his hide littered with scars from many past fights.  The other stallion is much younger, his coat is still a dark grey, not yet lightened with age.  I wonder if they are father and son, or simply two bachelors keeping each other company. I drive away knowing I will be back tomorrow.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Horse Slaughter, Facebook, Love and Autism; a Potent Combination for Connection

Straight from the Horse's Heart

by R.T. Fitch ~ president/co-founder of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

“Feel Good Sunday” at it’s Finest

“It’s rare that subject matter or a relevant topic to write about comes unsolicited and without notice but that is exactly what happened to me last Thursday; an email from a horse loving, autistic, young lady landed right in my personal email inbox.
The email’s author was Megan Dixon, a fellow Texan who was diagnosed withAsperger Syndrome at a very early age.  She reached out to me as a fellow horse lover to let me know that it has been through the power, spirit and the Force of the Horse® that she has found her way into young adulthood.  Spurned by others, throughout her childhood, she turned to the horse for connection, fulfillment and actual achievement.
Megan wrote to me to tell her story and in doing so I have acquired her permission to share her story with you as a very special “Feel Good Sunday” installment.
Below is a story she wrote which was subsequently published on EquiSearch for public consumption. Likewise, Horse Country U.S.A. highlighted Megan in one of their broadcasts and we have included that segment in this report for your enjoyment and edification.
Megan, like all of us, wants to put an end to horse slaughter be it across the border or in your hometown.  Let us take her message to heart and propel us to successfully ensure that the S.A.F.E. Act is passed and the future safety and well being of our American equines, both domestic and wild, is forever secured; a quest well worth seeing to a successful conclusion. Keep the Faith!” ~ R.T.
Meghan with Cass Oles Beau, a grandson of the horse that starred in the movie The Black Stallion. Horses have helped the Rio Vista, Texas, teen deal with her autism.  Photo courtesy of Meghan Dixon
Meghan with Cass Oles Beau, a grandson of the horse that starred in the movie The Black Stallion. Horses have helped the Rio Vista, Texas, teen deal with her autism.
Photo courtesy of Meghan Dixon

In Megan’s words:
At age 9, I was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, a form of autism. I was in the fourth grade and having terrible trouble making and keeping friends. It was as if I were living on an alien planet, only I was the alien. Just when I thought I’d made a friend, that person would suddenly refuse to have anything to do with me.
I seemed to be every bully’s favorite target. They would tease and laugh at me. They called me names like “freak” and “retard,” and told me I was worthless. When I’d cry or become upset and have a meltdown, they’d just laugh.
It’s hard for people to realize what life can be like for someone like me. I’ve never been asked to a sleepover
at a friend’s house, or had anyone spend the night at my place. I don’t have classmates I can text or call, like other girls my age. I’ve often felt that the world just doesn’t want me, and have sometimes felt suicidal as a result. I struggle to live up to people’s expectations, but it seems I inevitably fail.
A Turning Point
Shortly after my Asperger syndrome diagnosis, my mom discovered the Wings of Hope equine therapy stable near Burleson, Texas, not too far from where we live. I began taking riding lessons there, and helping to care for the horses, some of which had been abused by their previous owners.
his turned out to be a pivotal point in my life.
I discovered that when I got up on a horse’s back, all the troubles I had melted away. I’d never before felt so free and happy. I soon graduated from being led at a walk to loping a horse on my own, with no assistance. I even got to compete in shows, which began to rebuild my battered self-esteem.
I was riding at the therapy stable once a week, but that wasn’t enough for me, so my family started looking for a horse I could own. That’s when I met The King Elvis, a gentle older gelding that a friend of my dad’s had rescued. He had a drooping lower lip—the inspiration for his name, I learned. He also had a scar on his face and appeared to be missing some of his cheekbone. Life hadn’t always been good to The King, and I realized he was a lot like me. My scars didn’t show, but they were there, on the inside.
That horse became my best friend. When I had a bad day at school, I would go and ride him or just lay my head on his withers and cry my eyes out. He was always there for me. That’s the wonderful thing about horses—they accept you just as you are. They don’t care if you’re pretty or ugly, fat or thin, normal or burdened with problems. They never mock or tease or hurt you for the fun of it. The King became my “safe place.”
Horses Lost…and Found
Then, one terrible day, The King became sick and died. I couldn’t believe it; it felt as if a part of my soul had died as well. I fell into a deep depression. Nothing seemed to matter anymore. That’s when I met a wonderful lady, Elaine Nash, online. I belonged to an anti-slaughter group on Facebook; Elaine saw my posts and became concerned about me. We struck up a correspondence by phone, and before long she’d become a good friend.
Then Elaine did something amazing: She made it possible for me to acquire another horse. With my mother’s permission, she arranged for me to become the owner of a 2-year-old Arabian gelding, plus got me connected to a Parelli Natural Horsemanship professional to help me learn how to train him.
This wasn’t just any Arabian, however. Before Elaine introduced me to him, she asked that my mom and me watch the classic movie The Black Stallion. We did, and imagine my shock when Elaine told me the horse I would own was a grandson of Cass Ole, the stallion that played the Black in the movie! Cass Oles Beau is kind and gentle, and looks a lot like his famous grandsire.
That’s not all Elaine did for me, though. She knew I’d need an older horse to ride while Beau was being trained. So she posted about it on Facebook, and a Canadian teenager who saw the post set up a page called “A Horse for Meghan.” It took a few months, but one day Elaine called my mom and said the horse for me had been found. A woman who lived near us in Texas had a 17-year-old Tennessee Walking Horse mare that was a good fit for me. The woman had owned Ebony for over 14 years and wanted her to have a special home. My story had moved her to give Ebony to me as a gift.
Now I have two wonderful horses, each of which brings me a different kind of joy. And I still have my good friend Elaine, who’s helped me to realize that I can trust people again.
The horses that have graced my life so far have blessed me with hope, happiness, and self-esteem. They’ve given me a sense of purpose and the courage to face the world.
In the truest sense imaginable, I feel that I owe them my life.
Meghan Dixon, 19, lives with her parents, David and Luci, in Rio Vista, Texas. She’s busy training Beau and riding Ebony, and plans one day to write a book about her experiences.