Monday, March 4, 2013

"Update On Laura Leigh and Wild Horse Education"

Howdy Folks,

“Today we have a guest blogger, Marta Williams of Wild Horse Education. You may remember we featured Laura Leigh and Wild Horse Education and their efforts to help our wild horses and her legal actions and Federal Court cases she’s brought and won against the BLM as a Feature Friday on Nov 16. I asked for an update I could share here on the Coffee Clutch.” ~ Dutch

Update on Wild Horse Education’s Legal Action Against BLM

There are currently four active lawsuits in federal court against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for the agency’s handling of wild horses and burros on public land. All four cases were filed by Wild Horse Education, the only advocate group that consistently observes and documents BLM actions at roundups and conditions in BLM wild horse and burro holding facilities. The fact that founder, Laura Leigh, has witnessed over 400 roundups (and put 200,000 miles are her aging truck!) is what gives her standing in the court’s eyes as an expert on what BLM does.

Laura Leigh on the job
Wild horses and burros are supposed to be protected by the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Wild Horses and Burros Act, passed by Congress at the will of the people. Unfortunately, since 1971, BLM has engaged in inhumane handling, propagated herd limits and population counts that cannot be supported scientifically, contributed to the loss of genetic viability and diversity in these herds, sponsored poorly managed, unsuccessful adoption events for these herds, warehoused unadoptable horses in unnatural settings, and blocked journalists from getting access to and information about the wild horses and burros.
Warehoused wild horses at Broken Arrow holding facility -Photo by Laura Leigh
Leigh has documented the abuse of wild horses sufficiently to convince several federal judges to approve restraining orders against BLM for inhumane treatment. Leigh and Wild Horse Education attorney, Gordon Cowan, were also able to convince the Ninth Circuit Court that the BLM , not liking the footage Leigh was sharing with the world, started preventing her from getting close enough to see the condition of horses following capture, and started denying her access to holding facilities previously granted to other observers acting on behalf of the public.

The Ninth Circuit court, in a ruling that has made legal history, known as the "Press Freedom Case" ruled that the case had merit and remanded it back to the federal district court where it is now awaiting judgment by Judge Hicks in Reno, Nevada.

Dragging a roped foal - Photo by Laura Leigh
The other cases, dealing with inhumane treatment of wild horses and burros, are coming up for hearing within the next 30 days. Most recently, Wild Horse Education won a Restraining Order against BLM for inhumane treatment of horses at the Owyhee Roundup in November of 2012.
Horses chased by helicopter run into barbed wire fence (see video below)
 If successful, they may signal the implementation of a court ordered and enforced humane treatment standard for America’s wild horses and burros. This will still mean we have to be in the field monitoring and observing, but now any violation of the agreed-upon standards of conduct would immediately shut down an operation.

 To learn more about Wild Horse Education and to sign up for ongoing updates on these court cases, please visit their

Thank you Marta for this update and all Wild Horse Education is doing to help those without a voice.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Video of horses run into barbed wire during Owyhee Roundup- 

Links to previous Coffee Clutch Blogs about Laura Leigh and Wild Horse Education


  1. Thank you so much for telling us about the Wild Horse Education group. I've been following other blogs about the BLM and am infuriated by their inhumane treatment of horses. I'm going over to the WHE website to sign up for future posts.

    1. Thanks Patricia. I am a WHE supporter, and will say what Marta and Laura may not. Laura and Gordon are desperate for funds to move on. Please consider making any small donation (or large, if you can) and passing this plea on to interested friends.