Why The American Mustang Needs Our Help

The wild horses in America need our help.

54507542_1612905535890642_r.jpegA stunning stallion, running free!

These magnificent animals used to abound across the American West with numbers over 2 million. During World War I, a million horses were rounded up and used for the war effort. For years, the rest were hunted for sport- chased down by trucks and beaten or shot. People would tie tires to them and make them run until they dropped from exhaustion. Entire herds were run off cliffs, corralled, shot, left in mass graves, and captured until there were only around 17,000 left. This is when Wild Horse Annie had to take a stand. In 1959 she helped pass a law banning the use of motorized vehicles or aircraft to capture the animals.
Throughout her impactful life lobbying for wild horses, Wild Horse Annie’s pinnacle moment was when she was able to finally get government protection for the magnificent wild horses of the west- with a bill passing in 1971 stating that “It is the policy of Congress that free-roaming horses + burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death.” The Bureau of Land Management was charged with upholding this responsibility.
Wild Horse Annie was successful at making a change in her time, but unfortunately, the change was short-lived. Soon after her death, the brutal round-ups proceeded. Each year to this day the Bureau of Land Management uses helicopters to round up thousands of Mustangs- running them for miles and miles to a corral. Some don’t make it- the elderly and the young often can’t handle the run and they end up breaking their legs or passing from exhaustion.  Once corralled all together, many horses suffer from injuries due to many horses being put all together and the fear striking circumstances that trigger the horse's flight or fight responses. The frightened horses are then hauled to government facilities and separated from their herds- mothers from foals, stallions from their mares. They’re separated by age and sex, leaving families split apart and alone.

54507542_1612905456896054_r.jpegA helicopter being used by the BLM to round up mustangs.

54507542_1612905306396572_r.jpegHorses being run across miles of rough terrain.

Frightened horses being corraled into pens during a round-up and often results in injury.

Not many people realize that the BLM manages over 245 million acres of land in the United States. In Nevada alone, cattle are permitted to graze on 81% of the allotted area that is supposed to support the livelihood of the protected wild horses. “Excess” horses are rounded up, and single-handedly blamed for the deterioration of the landscape, when study after study repeatedly shows that livestock grazing is far more destructive than the mustangs! Yet cattle continue to destroy public land, and it's easy to see why since the BLM receives payment from cattle ranchers for allowing the cattle to graze- they are paid $1.35 per month per cow that is allowed to graze on public land. In 2019 alone, a whopping 1.9 million head of cattle grazed public land. Meanwhile, our beloved horses are captured & traumatized, never to live the life that they deserve.
To the cattle ranchers and BLM members alike, mustangs are ‘trash animals’. They forget that these horses once provided our ancestors with the means to hunt- to survive and thrive in the American West. Time and time again these animals have stood alongside mankind when we needed them the most- from wars to farming, from the transportation of our families and the beginning of our mail service to healing human hearts, the American mustang should be honored, not cast away, and treated like garbage. It is clear that the BLM’s interests lie in profit, and not in truly protecting our wild animals.
In 2018, as the numbers of wild horses sitting in holding were on the rise, there was a push to lift slaughter bans in the US, allowing the “excess” animals to be hauled to Mexico and slaughtered. Protesters united and thankfully this law did not pass, or thousands of wild souls would have been put to death for no reason, destined to the same fate they had endured in the past.
As of 2020, more than 36,000 mustangs sit in holding facilities. Most of these facilities are dirt corrals, where the horses have no room to run and are still separated by sex and age. They are never reunited with their wild families. For those of you that don’t know- horses are emotional beings and they form close ties with their families. They value each and every member of their herd, so living out a life separated in this way is torture and does not provide the diversity of a natural herd dynamic. Furthermore, modern horsekeeping practices recommend at least one acre per horse in order for them to have the appropriate room for a close to natural lifestyle. The horses in government holding pens have far less space than that!

54507542_1612905720301050_r.jpegA BLM Holding Facility. Dirt pens, no grazing, and not enough space for the number of horses being held.
Around 3,000 wild horses per year are lucky enough to be adopted- these lucky few are able to have the space to roam, maybe a herd of other horses, and a human to connect and grow with, but unfortunately most of the captured horses will sit out their whole lives in holding facilities. Meanwhile, each year the round-ups and holding costs rise above $64 million taxpayer dollars! Each horse in holding costs taxpayers $23,000 from the time is is captured to the end of their life.
In 2021 alone, the BLM has concrete plans to round up over 20,000 additional mustangs. This is an astronomically high number compared to previous years, and with only 3,000 being adopted per year that leaves 17,000 to be sent to holding facilities this year alone. The BLM is preventing citizens from protesting these numbers by announcing round up dates last minute so that people won’t be able to show up to express their dissatisfaction with what is going on with our Mustangs. By this point, we the American People, understand that the BLM is not taking their responsibility to protect these wild animals seriously, so we must take action.
It is my life's purpose to help as many wild horses as possible live out their days with freedom and in peace, by dedicating land for a Mustang Sanctuary. All donations will be going towards this feat. My heart is with these mustangs- As an avid horsewoman and horse trainer, I know they deserve better than to sit in dirt pens, and I am willing to spend my whole life, and all of my earnings from my jewelry business, acquiring as much land as I can to allow these beautiful creatures to run free. I am honored to be able to have the opportunity to do such an impactful thing at a young age, and I have no doubt that I will be able to provide many mustangs with a safe haven in my lifetime.
We will be opening Nirvana Mustang Sanctuary in January 2022, and every dollar helps. We will be located in Durango, Colorado on 160 acres and have big plans for expansion in order to provide a home for as many mustangs as possible. The soul of the American West deserves to be honored by humankind as a reminder of our roots and our foundation in nature. After all, we are all creatures of this earth.
“Compassion hurts. When you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything. And you cannot turn away. Your destiny is bound to the destinies of others.” – Andrew Boyd

54507542_1612905937285731_r.jpeg A happy and free mustang herd.