Friday, November 16, 2012

"Feature Friday - Laura Leigh - Wild Horse Education -VOICES FOR THE VOICELESS"

 “Voices For The Voiceless”

How do I write this? Friends who know me, and know my style, know that I write about, "People & Horses Helping Horses & People," in an upbeat and happy way. Celebrating the good that people do. Championing the horses who heal people, change lives and give their spirit so that those who need healing can realize a new beginning. Every now and then, in order to celebrate the good people do, I must write about things as tears stream from my eyes to drip on the keyboard … This is one of those stories.

How do I write about horses chased by helicopters to the point of total exhaustion, and death? How do I write about tiny foals running in a desperate panic to keep sight of their mommas, running as fast as their tiny legs can manage, sometimes running right out of their hoofs, and left to die. How do I write about helicopter pilots ramming the slower horses repeatedly with the skids of their helicopters? How do I write about horses being hosed with water in the holding pens soaking them so completely the tiny foals freeze to death? How can I write about the crowded, sun-baked, filthy holding pens? How do I write about the truckloads of once noble and proud spiritual wild horses being trucked to slaughter? I don't think I can.

Laura Leigh
But Laura Leigh, a freelance photojournalist, founder of Wild Horse Education (WHE) is documenting in photos and videos the excessive and inhumane roundups that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is conducting against wild horses and burros. Laura was the first to bring the public daily reports of the conditions at the roundups, and continues to be the best source for information on what is happening in the field to our wild horses and burros. WHE has been essential in providing the public with documentation and investigation of the BLM practices in the roundups and long term holding of these captured wild animals, who in reality belong to the American people. The body of work is more than a collection of photos and videos. It has been used to fight in Federal Court for the welfare and well-being of wild horses and burros.

Laura has been an advocate for the rights of horses for many years. Yet her attention turned to wild horses in a daily marathon of documentation and research after looking into the eyes of an eight month old colt that was suffering from hoof slough (feet falling off) during the BLM Calico roundup of 9/10. She named that little red colt "Hope Springs Eternal." ... After being refused the opportunity to aid the colt, he subsequently died. Laura has worked every single day since then to stop the madness.

When her work began sparking public criticism, BLM sought to restrict her access to their operations and facilities. Laura, fighting for the very lives of our helpless wild horses, filed a lawsuit against BLM. The fight to document wild horses, wherever they are in the system, has been a "battlefield" in Federal Court. The case that has become known as the "First Amendment" suit won a landmark decision in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in February of 2012 and is scheduled to head back to the courtroom in February of 2013.

Her second suit against the BLM for "Humane Care," if it wins, could put an end to the cruel practices now ubiquitous in the BLM wild horse and burro program. WHE was able to halt two BLM operations through injunctions and restraining orders related to these suits. Just recently, WHE joined on as part of the investigation team into the allegations that BLM participated in the sale of mustangs from their feed lots to kill buyers. This case too is pending.

Last year Laura gained the first Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)
in the history of the BLM’s "Wild Horse and Burro Program" to inhumane conduct. Since then her documentation has gained a second TRO and an Injunction to conduct. The case against inhumane care of wild horses is still active in Federal Court. 

This September an investigation by Laura's organization was essential in helping journalist Dave Philips, a Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter, break the huge story that clearly illustrates the relationship with the BLM and kill-buyers. Currently the IG's office is investigating on a Federal level and the state of Colorado has turned over information to the DA's office for prosecution.

This group is really doing the work in the field and getting the results in the courtroom protecting the voiceless who need our voice ... These cases, investigations and documentation, are supported solely through donations to Wild Horse Education.

Please visit the Wild Horse Education site  … Spend some time viewing the videos, looking at the pictures … You may not want to believe your eyes … Also on the home page is a box that says "Educate Yourself: Myths and Facts." Here is the link to that and it is one of the best guides to what is wrong and what is going on that I have seen.

Please share this blog and their link with your friends, ask them all to tell their friends, spread the truth, and give support.  So many lives depend on our voices and our help. What's being done by the BLM is not only wrong, it's cruel. With enough public notice and outcry, we can stop the BLM and save our wild horses and burros.

God Bless and thank you. ~ Dutch

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Not Your Run Of The Mill Bad Day - Part 2
(If you missed part one please read yesterday's, Nov 14, post first)

Yesterday we left our story just about when the real fun was about to commence ... Here's how the day finished up.

It was about that time, a quarter mile from the ranch house, that I remembered how Hot-Shot hated wagons. Now this ain't just any ordinary hate, no sir. As you know horses can be funny about things they take a dislike to, only his dislike wasn't funny. The reason I happened to remember Hot Shot's wagon phobia at that moment was there, right smack in front of the big house, sat a line of three wagons. Two of them had canvas covers flapping in the breeze.

That's also about the time I noticed all the men resting on the bunkhouse porch. If Hot-Shot put on a show, I'd never live it down. And it was a sure bet once the show started they'd be cheering for Hot-Shot! ... I decided right then I'd have been better off riding up to the house on a quiet mule.

I could see Molly standing on the porch of the big house waving to me. Even a quarter mile away she was the most beautiful girl in the world! Well, I set myself deep in the saddle and talked to Hot-Shot, trying to convince him those wagons were nothing to worry about. He must've been in a hurry to get to the house because he sure picked up the pace. And I think I would have done a fine job of convincing him to forget about those wagons – If one of those big ol' black clouds I'd never noticed hadn't sent down a thunderclap that shook the ground like an earthquake, setting the terrifying wagons to rocking.

About that time the second bolt hit! Hot-Shot spun and kicked the closest wagon with both hind feet. I reckon I could have ridden that out, but above Molly's screams, and the boy's hoots and cheers the clouds sent down another thunderous crack. Suddenly it was dark as night, and the skies dumped buckets of rain along with lightning bolts and thunder so violent it seemed God wanted to tear apart the world. Hot-Shot was certain it was the wagons making all the fuss and he bucked and kicked and spun in a fashion that no man could sit out ... And I didn't.

On about Hot-Shot's tenth launch I went airborne and landed in a heap straddled across the first wagon tongue. Hot-Shot headed for home, Chester hid under a wagon, the boys danced, hooted, and yelled, "Thanks for the show!" Molly ran through the rain and fell down beside me, her pretty blue calico dress getting all soaked and muddy. With a tender kiss and soft words she gently helped me gather myself up.

I didn't suffer any broken bones in the incident but was pretty banged up. Molly steadied my legs and guided me up the steps onto the porch. We spent the day right there, Molly tending to my cuts and bruises, me dining on the finest fried chicken. Along about dark I asked that sweet gal to marry me.

That was a number of years back. Chester's been gone awhile, ol' Hot-Shot's been put out to pasture after giving us a few good sons and daughters. Molly and me, well we've raised a few sons and daughters too ... Yes Sir, I reckon you could say that sometimes when a day starts out going all wrong, it ends up going just fine.

God Bless and here's hoping you have a day as good as this!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Not Your Run Of The Mill Bad Day - Part 1
(be sure to come back tomorrow for part 2)

It was one of those days when everything seemed to go wrong. But looking back at it now, maybe things went pretty darn right. In fact if I had the day to live over I'd most likely only change a thing or three.

There were a few early hints that it was shaping up to be a long day, like the mouse that had spent the night in my boot and bit my big toe when I kicked him in the noggin. Who'd of thought a little bitty critter like that could tear out such a big chunk of flesh? Of course the coffee boiled over by the time I got the bleeding stopped and fed the varmint to my dog Chester.

We'd planned this day for weeks, and if I'd have been paying attention to the sky when I limped to the barn to saddle up, I might've noticed this might not be such a great day for a picnic. But I didn't look up because I was trying to figure out what the heck was wrong with my horse Alamo. I'd spent the evening grooming and brushing him, so he'd shine for the festivities you understand. Not only did it appear he'd spent the night rolling and romping in the only mud hole for thirty miles around, he was lame on his left front. He stood looking at me all long faced holding that bad foot up with a twisted grimace painted on his muddy face.

Now a wiser man may have reasoned by now that this was shaping up to be a day when decisions should be made carefully. But I've never been accused of being a wise man. I had to make a choice between my old trustworthy mule, Frank, or a flashy young upstart paint stud I hadn't gotten around to hanging a moniker on yet and was just calling, Hot-Shot. After taking a close look at Alamo and finding no reason for his being lame, other than he wanted the day off, I decided to give ol' Hot-Shot a try. This too was done after disregarding what might've been another hint. Frank was as clean and shiny as new born foal, and I could've saddled up and been on my way in a minute. But who the heck wants to ride a mule to a picnic with his Gal? Especially when you've got to ride up to the boss's porch, in front of all the other hands to pick up your date. Thinking back I've considered it must have been Hot-Shot's idea for the mud bath. It took an entire half hour to make him presentable. Why he had more mud caked on his black-and-white hide than the walls of a two room adobe hut!

We set out only an hour later than planned and I was confident ol' Hot-Shot would settle down after a few miles of running, tossing, pitching and squealing. I do recall thinking it was a good thing Molly was fixing the picnic basket because I don't believe it would have survived the first hundred yards of Hot-Shot's fine tuning. But by the time the ranch headquarters came into to view he'd calmed right down to a nice ground-covering trot that Chester had no trouble keeping up with.

We'd been going along for a little better than an hour by then and Hot-Shot was moving so smooth and graceful I lost myself in a jolly tune I was whistling, and thoughts of sweet Molly and her fried chicken. She'd asked what my favorite picnic lunch was, but I never ate anything since I was a little tike that wasn't of my own fixing or out the back of a chuck wagon, and remembering my mama's fried chicken, I'd said, "Fried Chicken."

It was about that time, a quarter mile from the ranch house, that I remembered how Hot-Shot hated wagons ....
--- Check in tomorrow to find out about Molly, the picnic and those wagons ...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

"Rainy Mornings"

Howdy Folks,

Rainy mornings bring a different feel of togetherness to the Coffee Clutch. Especially chilly raining mornings like today. With a steaming cup in hand, I settled into my chair next to Kessy, who with matted, dripping hair was eagerly tugging at her hay, Tigger jumped into my lap almost before I was down, and immediately began rubbing her wet hair on my coveralls. Saturday burrowed deep in the straw piled in the corner of Kessy's stall for occasions just like this. He snuggles so far down all that can be seen is the tip top of his back.

It's fun to watch the chickens on rainy mornings. One or two at a time, they fly from the chicken house, waddle about, keeping a lower profile than normal, then drift in single file, complaining little groups past Kessy and me into the barn. I have two areas, one under the picnic table which serves as my, "place to pile things I need often," and at the far end of the dirt floor aisle, where I scatter a bit of scratch each day. These inside feeding stations are the preferred dining halls on inclement days, and often the waiting line for tables is three to four chickens deep.

Wet chickens waiting for their tables, strut about the barn annoying or entraining, depending on the opinion of those being annoyed or entertained. Kessy for instance, keeps an eye on the hens who are certain the seeds in her hay are put there just for them. Almost no rainy morning is complete without a head shake, snort and foot stomp from Kessy establishing the parameters around her hay, beyond which no hen, or rooster is allowed. Funny thing, that parameter always shrinks and shrinks as the persistent chickens persist, and eventually Kessy and a chicken will be, beak to nose!

Saturday enjoys scratch too and will, from his warm nest in the straw, keep an eye on the band of chickens under the table, and when he sees an opening, sneak in and grab a bit of grain. His delight usually lasts about 20 seconds. That's about how long it takes for a feisty hen to decide he should go back to bed. So he does.

Tigger never moves, curled deep in my lap. Actually for her the Coffee Clutch routine is the same every day, snow rain or shine. She hops in my lap as I settle down, curls up tight. And never moves. Unless it is below 30 degrees. Then she stays in the house and forgoes Coffee Clutch altogether.

I hope you have as wonderful a morning, and day as Kessy, the Coffee Clutch gang and I did today … Of course you ARE part of the Coffee Clutch gang … So let us know what you love about a rainy morning … And God Bless!!

Gitty Up,

Monday, November 12, 2012

"Campfires, Candyland & Marshmellows"

Howdy Folks,

The morning air was bathed in yellow. The trees all seemed to shimmer, even dance in the flaxen hue, as if a giant spotlight shown down upon them muted with a golden lens. Which of course it was as it tried to build up enough power to burn its way through the morning haze. A Cardinal sat proudly on a high branch surveying what he claimed his domain, then grudgingly surrendered that branch to a trespassing batch of Juncos.

Today promises to be a warm one, like yesterday here in VA. Kessy, Saturday and I had a delightful romp through the woods yesterday. What fun we had, lots of gaiting and a fair amount of cantering. It was easy to see Kessy just wanted to move out. I suppose she loved the pleasant weather, too, so I indulged her and let her rip. We covered a lot of territory and saw plenty of birds on our travels and even a few butterflies, the small yellow ones whose names I can never remember. At the big stream we even saw a dragon fly! Ravishin' Robbie says yesterday was truly an Indian Summer day, and by golly it looks like we'll have one today too.

Before we'd headed out yesterday Kessy gave our grandbabies a few rides around the yard. It's pretty easy to see she enjoys that as much as they ... Sadly we must take them home today, but boy howdy we had lots of fun. Played about a dozen games of Candyland. Robbie led us all in arts and craft projects. Ben and I had guy time together getting the campfire roaring while Robbie and Hannah went to town for a tea party. And then of course the campfire last night during which many a perfectly roasted marshmallow was devoured.

We'll be heading out today to take them home. It's an all day road trip … Isn't it simply lovely how busy, and loud, the house can become under the rule of two little ones … Perhaps we should keep them?

Well you all have a perfect day!!

Gitty Up

Dutch Henry