Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day: Horses of War

Straight from the Horse's Heart

by  and published on Horse Nation
“As a person who has enjoyed the company of many horses over the years, I thank heaven that I have never had to take one to war.” ~ General Sir Frank Kitson
The first records of horses used in warfare date to Eurasia between 4000 and 3000 BC.  This Sumerian illustration, dated from 2500 BC, depicts horses pulling wagons.

The earliest written training manual for war horses was a guide for training chariot horses written at approximately 1350 BC followed by a guide to training riding horses in 360BC, written by Greek cavalry officer Xenophon.
Muslims, Knights of the Crusades, Japanese Samurai, American Indian tribes, such as the Comanche, and Civil War soldiers all used the horse as a powerful weapon of war.
A few of the more interesting facts I discovered were “that stallions were often used as destriers due to their natural aggression.  However, there may have been some use of mares by European warriors, and mares, who were quieter and less likely to call out and betray their position to the enemy, were the preferred war horse of the Moors, who invaded various parts of Southern Europe from 700 AD through the 15th century.  Geldings were used in war by the Teutonic Knights, and known as monk horses.  One advantage was if captured by the enemy, they could not be used to improve local bloodstock, thus maintaining the Knights’ superiority in horseflesh.” – WIKIPEDIA
At the turn of the twentieth century during WWI, millions of horses were sent to the war front.
Still, horses were struggling to find their place in modern warfare.  Trenches, barbed wire, machine guns and finally tanks, introduced in 1917, would render cavalry almost useless.  No longer a glorious mount for a soldier, the horses were reduced to pack animals, hauling millions of pounds of ammunition, guns and supplies to the front.
“Horses were easier targets than men, and you could do more damage to the enemy’s supply lines if you hit the horses,” says Simon Butler, author of War Horses.  Still, without working railroads, horses were the only transport for heavy equipment, men and supplies.  8 million of these silent, tireless heroes would not survive the war.  “Of the one million horses which left Britain for the Western Front,  just 60,000 returned,” reports DailyMail UK.
Horse FlagIt was the role as pack animal that would make horses crucial in the Second World War.  The Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Japanese and American (though to a much lesser degree) forces all used horses and mules extensively as pack animals and for scouting missions.  In fact, George S. Patton wished for more on the front, saying, “Had we possessed an American cavalry division with pack artillery in Tunisia and in Sicily, not a German would have escaped.”
The German army used 2.75 million horses – more than it used in WWI.
The Soviet Union used 3.5 million.
Most if not all of these horses died on the battlefields or were abandoned after the war.
Only recently have these valiant actions begun to be memorialized.
And yet the fighting is still not over.  A small number of horses are still required for scouting missions and undercover operations even today by multiple countries.  The book, Horse Soldiers by Doug Stanton, details how American Special Forces utilized horses extensively during the recent war in Afghanistan.
Remember to honor all the veterans this Memorial Day, four legged or two.
Hug a Horse

Friday, May 15, 2015

Update: Havasupai ::::::::::Becoming::::::::::: Two souls that come together as one in destiny: Chemakoh

::::::::::Becoming::::::::::: Two souls that come together as one in destiny: Chemakoh

Two weekends ago, I went to the one place on earth- a seriously remote place- I'd always wanted to visit. Because I'm not ready, yet, to speak of this specific location, I'm going to forego details about the area... it's not a significant factor in this most amazing story.

To make a very long story short, with my camping gear in tow, and after months of preparation for the 10 mile hike that would take me to this long-awaited location, with 120 ounces of water, food, a few garments, my sleeping bag, and bandaids, I (and friends) began our journey. 

This is important: I waited decades for this trip.

Read the whole story here.

Horse slaughter Bill May Have a Chance

Straight from the Horse's Heart

by Jonathan Miller as published at The Courier Journal

“the worst case of animal cruelty I’ve seen,”

As memories from American Pharoah’s thrilling ride still resonate, it’s instructive to remember an earlier Run for the Roses nearly three decades ago. The 1986 Kentucky Derby was a sentimental, even magical affair, as the legendary 54-year-old jockey Willie Shoemaker finally captured the only major racing prize that had eluded him.

The Shoe steered Ferdinand, a 17-1 long shot 3-year-old, from last place through a heavy traffic jam in the stretch, to a 21/4 length victory at the wire. Ferdinand emerged as a national figure, later sealing his legend with an historic photo finish Breeders’ Classic upset over the mighty Alysheba, clinching Horse of the Year honors in 1987.
It’s also instructive to consider the retirement arc of that champion thoroughbred. After only modest success at breeding talented offspring, he was sold to Japanese interests in 1994. In 2002, at the relatively young age of 19, he was “disposed of” in a Japanese slaughterhouse. While Ferdinand might have wound up as a gourmet steak at an upscale Toyko restaurant, the most likely fateof this elite athlete was in the form of processed pet food.
No other Derby winner has met the same despicable demise. In fact, since this tragedy was exposed, many sales contracts for prized stallions now include a “Ferdinand clause,” enabling the seller to repurchase a horse after his career at stud is complete.
Every year, however, an estimated 150,000 U.S. horses are sent to Canadian or Mexican slaughterhouses to feed horse-hungry palates in Europe, South America and Asia. More than 10,000 of them are thoroughbreds.
At the center of this practice are middlemen known as “kill buyers,” whose profitable profession consists of gathering up horses for slaughter and then transporting them across the U.S. border. They purport to offer a valuable service to the industry: With the sport of racing in serious economic distress, kill buyers provide financial recompense to struggling owners, and profess to provide a more humane alternative to the abandonment and slow starvation of unwanted horses.
But mercy killing it’s not. Horses are hauled to their death in long transports to Mexico or Canada, often with only very minimal food, water or sleep. The slaughtering process can be deeply gruesome — in some reported cases, horses experience excruciating pain while partially conscious as they are bled out and then dismembered.
And in all-too-common cases when an international slaughter house deal goes bad, the kill buyers themselves will routinely abandon horses to which they’ve been entrusted. In one disheartening instance this year, described by the equine investigator as “the worst case of animal cruelty I’ve seen,” a kill buyer in Pendleton County, Ky., was charged with 15 counts of animal cruelty after examiners found 49 dead carcasses and 15 severely emaciated, barely alive horses on his property. Another kill buyer in nearby Mason County was charged last year with second-degree animal cruelty when 16 dead horses were found improperly disposed on his land.
It doesn’t take a vegan-swearing, leather-protesting PETA activist to be disturbed. Particularly here in the Bluegrass State, we have a special bond with the gallant steed — akin to that of a beloved family pet — who we name, groom, feed, nurture, ride, cherish and celebrate. That other cultures find their meat appetizing is nauseating; the brutal and macabre process that leads them to the dinner table is infuriating.
It’s also a matter of simple economics. Horse racing is responsible for more than 100,000 jobs and a $4 billion economic impact in Kentucky alone. And a 2011 report commissioned by the industry vanguard Jockey Club revealed that the recent steep decline in fan support for the sport — particularly among younger Americans — is in appreciable part due to concerns over animal safety and welfare.
Of course, declining revenues lead to more desperate owners, who view kill buyers as a financial lifeline. This vicious circle can only be interrupted if this vicious practice is prohibited.
Fortunately, the anti-slaughter movement has been buoyed by the activism of a powerful ally: the thoroughbred industry itself. Just as with the battle against the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the sport, leading breeders, owners and enthusiasts have argued that for racing to rebound from its decades-long decline, a focus on the sanctity of the horse itself is in order.
Both Churchill Downs and Keeneland have joined a growing number of national racetracks who’ve enacted stringent anti-slaughter policies that impose penalties — including race bans — on anyone who is caught selling a horse to a slaughter house or to an intermediary auction. Thoroughbred enthusiasts have developed organizations that adopt and protect unwanted horses — such as Georgetown’s nationally-lauded Old Friends home — and provide a dignified retirement to thoroughbreds after their profitable years have ended. The prestigious and influential National Thoroughbred Racing Association has instituted a variety ofhorse-protection programs that promote the rescue of horses that are in danger of cruel disposal.
Voluntary industry action, though, has its limits. Banning horse slaughter, and the practices that facilitate it, requires federal legislation. While no permanent law prohibits horse slaughter in the U.S., Congress has overwhelmingly passed a series of spending bills since 2007 that have effectively shuttered domestic slaughter houses (a rare cause embraced by both President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell).
By contrast, efforts to ban the export of horses to slaughter abroad have continually failed. Some reform advocates charge Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid withrunning interference for Nevada cattlemen who find the practice a convenient way to rid their lands of wild horses.
But with a less powerful, lame duck Reid ambling toward his own retirement, legislation introduced last week could finally extinguish the practice. TheSafeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, H.R. 1942, would prohibit the transport of American horses for human consumption abroad, while also permanently forbidding the reestablishment of slaughterhouses in the U.S. As its title reveals, the bill is shrewdly promoted as a food safety initiative: Unlike cattle and poultry, horses are not raised to be consumed — there’s no FDA oversight to prohibit the use of drugs that could be toxic to people — so the practice poses severe human health risks in the U.S. and abroad. The bill already boasts broad bi-partisan support in the House, with 41 original co-sponsors.
Of course, in our polarized and paralyzed political system, the passage of any legislation faces dark horse odds. But as the industry continues to recognize that its future is dependent on the public’s trust, popular support could ensure legislative reform. Best of all, a meaningful focus on the noble animal itself could one day reinstall horse racing to its rightful place as the sport of kings.
Jonathan Miller, the former Kentucky Treasurer, practices law at Frost Brown Todd in Lexington.
Click (HERE) to comment directly at the Courier-Journal

Tribute to the Lost Wild Horses of Wyoming

Straight from the Horse's Heart

Report and photography by Carol Walker ~ Wild Horse Freedom Federation Advisory Board
Forward by R.T. Fitch ~ co-founder/president Wild Horse Freedom Federation
“This past week we have been following the extraordinary adventures of Wild Horse Freedom Federation‘s Carol Walker as she has endured sub-zero temperatures in an effort to capture the last images of wild horses in Salt Wells and Adobe Town where the BLM is attempting to manage the herds into total extinction.  The current operation has concluded and what Carol shares with us today are the ghostly images of 40 PZPed mares being released into another area, not their home, without their mates and without their babies…at times like these, it is difficult to say ‘Keep the Faith’.” ~ R.T.

photography by Carol Walker, soundtrack from Opus Moon “and they run” available on iTunes, produced by R.T. Fitch
In Carol’s own words:
I found myself quite emotional about the images when I was working on them, especially the poignancy of the mare stepping out first in this strange new world, and then also when the whole group moves away together, not looking back – but why should they? This Salt Wells Herd has been targeted for zeroing out by the Rock Springs Grazing Association, and even the mares and stallions who belong in this area can never go home – they have been relocated as if they are merely inconvenient objects. This has become highlighted by the fact that tomorrow the scoping document for the Great Divide Basin Herd Area comes out – they are planning to round up this herd even though it has only been 2 years since the last round up. This is another herd that is targeted for complete zeroing out.
Today on my way home I went through the Adobe Town Herd Area to the area where the mares had been released yesterday.  I did not see them – they were long gone. But a few miles away I saw a few family bands of wild horses, grazing despite the bitter below zero cold. And I also saw cattle in front of Haystack Mountain.
Please visit Carol’s website at

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Princess Anne attacks ‘inhumane’ suffering of horses as they are taken to slaughter and slams trade’s dopers, traders and breeders

Straight from the Horse's Heart

As published on the

“The greatest suffering continues to be in the inhumane transportation of horses across country borders to slaughter houses…”

Princess Anne and horse 'Stevie B' after completing the dressage events at the Windsor Horse Trials in 1980
Princess Anne and horse ‘Stevie B’ after completing the dressage events at the Windsor Horse Trials in 1980

Princess Anne has attacked the suffering of horses being transported to slaughter houses.
In a foreword of a new book, the Princess Royal said the ‘inhumane’ transportation of horses as the ‘greatest suffering’ the animals can face
The royal, the sister of Prince Charles, is the president of theWorld Horse Welfare organisation and previously sparked controversy when she said horse welfare could be improved if horse meat was sold in British supermarkets.
She has reignited the issue in a new book. ‘Horse Welfare: Use not Abuse’, written by Christopher Hall, where she said the care of horses is getting worse because of ‘over-breeding, doping and indiscriminate horse trading.’
‘The greatest suffering continues to be in the inhumane transportation of horses across country borders to slaughter houses, matched only by the thousands of horses, donkeys and mules working long hours in the developing world’, the 64-year-old wrote. 
‘In these countries, the wellbeing of the horse may be just as significant as that of a child because, without a horse to fetch and carry, the very viability of family life can suffer. And yet it is still difficult for some to recognise the value of working animals in these situations.
‘While those struggling for survival may be forgiven for their failure to care adequately for their animals through ignorance or poverty, in equestrian ownership in more developed countries there is surely no excuse for inadequate care.’
The Princess Royal, however, stopped short of suggesting developing and better regulating the horse meat market.
In 2013 the discovery that processed meals advertised as containing beef was found to have horse meat rocked the food industry market and shook consumer confidence.
That year Princess Anne urged a debate on the issue, asking: ‘Should we be considering a real market for horse meat and would that reduce the number of welfare cases, if there was a real value in the horse meat sector?’
Former top jockey A P McCoy also wrote in his foreword to the book: ‘Welfare is vital to all who love horses this book goes to the heart of the matter.’

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Please Tell Congress to Pass the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act to End the Slaughter of American Horses


Animal Welfare Insititute

What You Can Do:
Please email, call or write your US representative and both US senators today and urge them to cosponsor H.R. 1942/S. 1214, the SAFE Act. Send an email via the form below or find your legislators' contact information here. For more information on horse slaughter and how you can help, visit AWI's website.

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Dear Humanitarian,

The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act has been reintroduced in the Senate by Sens. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and in the House of Representatives by Reps. Frank Guinta (R-NH), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Vern Buchanan (R-FL), and Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM). This bill would ban horse slaughter in the United States, while ensuring American horses are not exported out of the US for the same purpose.

AWI has long exposed the rampant cruelty and dishonesty of this industry—from what goes on inside the slaughterhouse to the backroom dealings of killer buyers misleading horse owners. Undercover footage from former US horse slaughter plants revealed horrific suffering: employees whipping horses in the face, horses who flipped over backward and were injured due to rough and abusive handling, and horses remaining conscious while shackled and hoisted by a rear leg to have their throats cut. Documents and photos from these slaughterhouses show horses with broken bones protruding from their bodies, eyeballs hanging by a thread of skin, and open wounds.

In addition to the terrible abuses, there is another side to this industry that is gaining attention. Horses are not raised for human consumption in the United States and are regularly administered drugs that are expressly prohibited by federal regulations for use in food animals. A June 2014 New York Timesarticle highlighted the plethora of drugs used on race horses—including cobra venom and cocaine—and the resulting food safety threats. In fact, as of January 15, 2015, the European Union (EU) banned imports of horse meat from Mexico to the EU after an audit of EU-certified Mexican horse slaughter plants found widespread animal welfare and food safety problems. The report noted that 87 percent of the horses slaughtered for human consumption in Mexico for export to the EU come from the United States.

Please be sure to share our "Dear Humanitarian" eAlert with family, friends and co-workers, and encourage them to send a message also. As always, thank you very much for your help!


Chris Heyde
Deputy Director
Government and Legal Affairs

P.S. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates on the action above and other important animal protection news.

Friday, May 1, 2015

11th Hour for Arizona’s Wild Burros

Straight from the Horse's Heart

OpEd by Marjorie Farabee ~Director of Wild Burro Affairs at Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Time is short; comments must be received by 5pm May 2, 2015 at or

The burros have never had it easy with our government agencies. The fox is guarding the hen house when it comes to protections for this nation’s icons of our pioneering past. They are symbols of our culture and living natural icons of our pioneering history. Yet, our own governmental agency which is tasked with protecting our wild burros and horses, because of this important connection to our past, is cavalierly managing them to extinction without remorse.
photo by Marjorie Farabee of Wild Horse Freedom Federation
photo by Marjorie Farabee of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The Black Mountain HMA is presently 1.1 million acres, but if developers of wind, gas, and agriculture have their way this HMA will soon be reduced and all the wildlife living on it will suffer. In the BLM count of 2013 the burro population came to just over 700 animals, yet they would have us believe that the population has grown to a whopping 1600-1800 burros in one short year and a half. This means even the jacks are having twins and they are all immortal.
Recently, Simone Netherlands, representing Respect4Horses (R4H), and myself, representing Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF), joined up to attend both scoping meetings being held by the BLM in Kingman and Bullhead City, AZ.  The BLM’s presentation of damage caused by wild burros was lacking in scientific data or actual observation from reputable studies.  They simply showed a photo zeroed in on a small area that would have some plants which were grazed or damaged.  This was their “proof” that wild burros were damaging the desert.  When the HMA was set up in 1974 there were over 2000 burros living easily on this land. Now, the number allowed has been reduced to a mere 478 burros for this vast HMA. Meanwhile cattle are grazed with well over 5000 acknowledged as grazing on the land. At the scoping meetings held by the BLM at both Bullhead City and Kingman the public was told the entire HMA was degraded by burros. Of course, no cattle were mentioned as being detrimental. In fact, I had to pry an acknowledgement that cattle were even present on the HMA out of the BLM representative.  Roger Oyler then answered questions I had about the mapping.  He confirmed that the ruling in WY concerning wild horses on checkerboard land gave them the right to remove the checker boarded areas from the Black Mountain HMA.  He further explained the yellow area west of Kingman, called Golden Valley, will also be taken from the HMA. Neither he nor Chad Benson would give us the targeted number of burros in their sites for removal from the Black Mountain HMA.
At these meetings the public was not allowed to ask questions in an open forum.  We were asked to walk up to individual representatives of the BLM and ask our questions privately thus denying the attending public access to the concerns raised by the question, or the answers provided.  The public would have been saddened to learn that the BLM is planning to not only reduce the number of wild burros by an unspecified amount, they are planning to reduce the size of the HMA as well.  Another issue brought up was the burros crossing 95 in Bullhead City.  The area where they are crossing is still legally a part of the Black Mountain HA and provides direct access to the Colorado River which is an important water source for the burros and all other wildlife in the area. (That 10-mile strip is STILL legally designated (by 1971 Congress) for wild horses and burro. It is still HA (Herd Area) land. “Wild horses and burros are supposed to be treated as “components of the public lands”. 16 U.S.C. § 1333(a) The law is clear that “wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death” and entitled to roam free on public lands where they were living at the time the Act was passed in 1971. 16 U.S.C. § 1331 These legally protected areas are known as “herd areas,” and are defined as “the geographic area identified as having been used by a herd as its habitat in 1971.” 43 C.F.R. § 4700.0-5(d).”  – Animal Law Coalition (available online) Rather than provide passage over or under the HWY they have decided to zero out the burros in the area.  These provisions could have been made when the roadways were under construction.  Now, resulting collisions with burros are providing an excuse for their removal from the area.  Moreover,“There is no authority for BLM’s “herd management areas” under WFRHBA.The BLM has authorized itself to divide herd areas into “herd management areas“, something not authorized by WFRHBA. 43 CFR 4710.3-1. In this way, with no statutory authority at all, BLM has limited wild horses and burros’ access to thousands of acres that were historically their herd areas. This is done without thought about the horses’ seasonal migration patterns or available resources. The BLM then removes wild horses and burros from the artificially created “herd management areas” on the basis there is insufficient forage, water or habitat! BLM also targets them for removal if they cross the artificial boundaries into their original herd areas.”- Animal Law Coalition (available online)
As we delve deeper into the reasons for the inflated new burro numbers and safety accusations toward the burros we are finding reports about wind development with several projects in the works and others moving through the approval process.  Other contributors are proposed agricultural development which along with wind development will further deplete already depleted water resources.  It is important to note, that the Black Mountain HMA boasts the largest population of bighorn sheep in the nation.  In fact, it is well documented that the hunting clubs have long wanted burros removed from habitat where bighorn sheep reside, citing resource conflicts as their reason for wanting them removed.
As we traveled hundreds of miles through the Black Mountain HMA exploring, what we saw was a beautiful desert full of life and forage. Burros were scarce, but friends in the area will continue to dig into the fitness of the range for me while WHFF continues its investigation into the real reason large sections of the HMA are about to be stripped away from these mountain canaries. What a lovely song I heard as I stayed during the night listening to the burros call each other through the mountains. Each voice was different and ethereal as the sound echoed through the mountain.  It was magical. It saddens me to know that their song may soon be quiet and never heard again if special interests get their way. My history and culture are worth fighting for, and these burros deserve to be considered as a part of these lands now and forever more. They earned it.
Thank you for helping the burros stay free!
Comments must be received by 5pm May 2, 2015 at or
For additional information you can contact:
Marjorie Farabee at 281-235-5288