My spring 2016 Advisory Board presentation

Hors-sens for

Free Ranging Horses

In the late 60’s Wild Horse Annie’s message reached a rural one room School.  It shook me up to hear how the mustangers were treating horses.  After school I told dad about it.  He didn’t like the horses being abused, but it was Wild Horse Annie that made him mad.  Dad was a cowman and a horseman.  He knew the horses on the range needed managed.  He knew how to get the job done. He also realized Annie’s plan would make it next to impossible to manage the horses.  But what may have bothered him the most, was her use of children’s emotions to get her way.  I fell for Annie’s absurd plan for wild horses and burros, but I quickly realized my error.  I have two excuses.  One: Wild Horse Annie was good at manipulating children. Two:` I forgot to take my hors-sens to school that day.

In the Great Basin horses were scarce before the cattlemen arrived.  Just look in the Journals of the early explorers and military records.  Horses were brought in with cattle by the early settlers of the Great Basin.  A base for what was to come.  Horses were in great demand by the military.  There was a market, open range and horses took less care than cattle.  Soon large horse ranches came into being.  Bill Brown, headquartered at Buck Creek was among the largest.  It is said that he owned over 10,000 head of horses, and shipped at least that many to the military during World War I.  Then mechanization began replacing the horse and the horse market disappeared.  In the following years horse runners, ranchers and communities kept the horse populations in check and reduced the numbers as the markets allowed.  The free ranging horses in the Great Basin have been managed since they were introduced. 

Wild Horse Annie created a myth with strong emotional pull and convinced congress to put their stamp of approval on it.  The Wild Horse & Burro Act of 1971 was designed to manage a myth, not deal with reality.  And the myths just keep growing.  Emotion, not science, not logic, not hors-sens continues to drive the wild horse program and wild horse enthusiasts.  To solve the issues, we need to accept reality and work with nature, not illusions.  Since Wild Horse Annie took the horse sense out of managing the free ranging horses, costs have shot up and the horse population is out of control.

The Dept. of the Interior is mandated by congressional action to keep and care for wild horses while maintaining healthy ecosystems.  Sadly, they are not given the tools or the funding needed to get the job done.  With a healthy ecosystem, horse populations will double every four years until the land will no longer support them.  This is happening in Australia, the Netherlands and with some HMA’s in the U.S. 

The Dept. of the Interior needs the tools and funding to properly manage the so called wild horse population.  But they will be managed horses, not wild, just as they have been since the Spanish reintroduced them to the Americas. 




1.      Allow the Dept. of the Interior to sell excess horse.  If they are not adopted, sell them.  This will increase the funding available to manage the horses on the range.  Ranchers sell excess cattle.  Large and small game animals are controlled by hunting.  Bounties have been used it the past as well.  All the WH&B Program is able to do is adopt some out and warehouse the rest.   As a last resort, we could euthanize the excess horses.  More efficient than warehousing.

2.      Allow horse processing plants to operate in the U.S.  At the present time large numbers of horses are being shipped to Mexico and Canada for slaughter. We are exporting jobs and making it less humane for the horses.

3.      Create wild horse reserves in the southern plains states.  That is where they thrived, and they evolved on similar grasslands, not the arid deserts and forests of the west.  Well designed, they would be more cost effective and humane.

4.      Then all free ranging horses could be removed from the Great Basin and surrounding Hi Desert.  The horses would be placed in their natural habitat, the grasslands.  Managing the wild horses would be less stressful and more economical.   A true win win situation!

These four simple steps make good Horse Sense for wild horses.  We would have healthy wild horses.  The ecosystem they live in would remain healthy.  More people would be able to view the wild horses.  The cost of the program would be reduced.  It is a viable solution for the free roaming horses in the Great Basin.

Forty-five years ago dad claimed the free ranging horses on his allotments.  He saw the writing on the wall.  Either gather the horses himself or prepare for years of chaos.  We gathered the horses.  Forty-five years later, The WH&B Program is still fighting nature to make myths and delusions reality.  It is time to start working with nature and solutions that will work in the real world.  It is that simple.

The Great Basin, mustang free by twenty-three!



Copyright © 2016-2019 Gerald Miller. All Rights Reserved.

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