Today was the 40th anniversary of the Wild Horse and Burro Protection Act. Then-President Nixon signed it into law December 15, 1971. The act protected the animals and their range land. All this happened through the efforts of Velma 'Wild Horse Annie' Johnston (no relation to Excy) and one of the largest letter writing campaigns ever instituted.
By the late '70s, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), had been given the job of managing the mustang and burro herds. Shortly after, large gathers, adoptions, and horses placed in holding facilities began - and herd management areas began to grow smaller or phased out altogether. I have taken to calling the BLM the Bureau of MIS-management.
In 2004, the Burns Amendment was slipped into a large omnibus bill. The Montana Senator saw to it that all wild horses and burros over the age of 10, or having been to three adoptions, were to be sold. Many being sold to killer buyers.
So today across the country, many mustang and burro advocates celebrated the Protection Act by lighting candles in commemoration, also lamenting the fact there are now only a tiny percentage of the number of free horses roaming their range lands that existed in 1971.
Excy and I put 19 luminaries along the front of the fence line - one for each of our wild ones, plus one for our burro, Pompeii, who died 2 years ago - and said a prayer for their light to illuminate the injustices occurring against so many of their brothers and sisters, and for that light to rectify those injustices perpetuated against them by humankind. I made mulled cider and cookies in anticipation of others coming out, but the weather didn't cooperate - it was cold and raining cats and dogs - so no one else came (don't blame them) - but as we stood in the rain and gazed at the candles - amazingly holding up against the rain - all the mustangs came up to the gate to watch us. RedMan, the lead stallion, commented a lot, no doubt wondering what strangeness we were up to now!!
This article is well worth the read.
What was it in Nixon, that brought about his defense of wild horses? Clearly there was much more to the story than the sweaty, paranoid guy who hated Eastern elites and didn't look good on television. .....And it wasn't just that he signed the bill and then quoted Thoreau, which would have been more than enough; as I document in my book, he actually went further, much further, and this is the rest of what Nixon said when he signed the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act in 1971: “In the past 70 years, civilization and economics have brought the wild horse to 99 percent extinction. They are a living link with the conquistadors, through the heroic times of the western Indians and pioneers to our own day. … More than that, they merit protection as a matter of ecological right—as anyone knows who has stood awed at the indomitable spirit and sheer energy of a mustang running free.”