Friday, January 23, 2009

Wild Mustangs (Horses) Adoption Events Event in Texas Draws Attention to Issue, Including Help from the Wife of Dallas Oil Tycoon T. Boone Pickens

Very sad that once again, the wild horses will be subject to slaughter due to this short sided policy.

As you’ll read below, even people like Madeleine Pickens, the wife of Dallas oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens is stepping up to help. She recently announced a plan to provide 1 million acres for a wild horse refuge. To learn more and get involved, see her website at http://madeleinepickens.com/

As stated below, “…[t]hrough the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, wild mustangs roam free on swaths of land set aside for them in 10 states.”

Sadly, and as a short sided decision, “…[g]overnment officials want to reduce the country's herd of wild mustangs from the current 33,000 to 27,000….”

From this reality alone, it is clear that many will need adoption.

Article:

Adoption events offer hope for wild mustangs, but clock is ticking

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/localnews/stories/DN-mustangs_23met.ART0.State.Edition1.4ed289c.html
12:00 AM CST on Friday, January 23, 2009

By LAURIE FOX / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News
Laurie Fox is an Arlington-based freelance writer. E-mail her at laurie-fox@sbcglobal.net.

FORT WORTH – Smoke was more stubborn, more spooked than any of the other wild mustangs that Ken Schwab had broken.

[Click image for a larger version] ROBERT W. HART/Special Contributor
ROBERT W. HART/Special Contributor
Ken Schwab, who has been training Smoke for months, says you have to take a chance on the horses. 'They're worth it,' he said.

The spirited horse had run wild for three years before he was sent to a government overflow facility – a common fate for the tens of thousands of mustangs roaming the West. Trust in man was hard to come by.

"It's just like all of the wild mustangs out there – you have to take a chance on them and not give up," said Schwab, who finally mounted Smoke after a month of patient waiting and coaxing. "They're worth it."

Conservationists and animal rights activists agree. But the clock is ticking for mustangs as the government tries to reduce the expensive – and ecologically destructive – herds through holding facilities and possibly euthanasia.

So Schwab and Smoke will ride into the John Justin Arena at the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show in Fort Worth this weekend carrying the weight of a larger issue.

Mustang Magic highlights the power and versatility of the formerly wild mustangs. After months of working with the animals, 11 trainers will show off what they've been able to accomplish with them.

At the end of Saturday's event, the horses are offered to the public for adoption.

It is part of a broader effort to get the animals to a good home and call attention to the tens of thousands of wild mustangs that still need placement.

Through the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, wild mustangs roam free on swaths of land set aside for them in 10 states.

Government officials want to reduce the country's herd of wild mustangs from the current 33,000 to 27,000 for fear that the large numbers of horses will affect the delicate ecological balance on the land they still roam.

The overflow horses are sent to longer term holding areas where they also number over 30,000. Maintaining those herds is expensive, at least $27 million per year, government officials say, and the law does allow the animals to be euthanized if it's deemed necessary.

Their plight has touched many in the horse community from trainers such as Schwab, who operates from his home near Austin, to philanthropists such as Madeleine Pickens, the wife of Dallas oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens.

Pickens has become a vocal advocate against cutting the overpopulated mustang herd, announcing a plan recently to provide 1 million acres for a wild horse refuge. She launched her own Web site about the issue.

Pickens said she wants to form a nonprofit organization to oversee the donated land and the horse population that resides in the overflow holding areas. She is shopping her idea around Washington, D.C.

"This is a labor of love," she said of her effort. "This is a kind, common-sense solution to what has become a difficult issue."

Another group, the Mustang Heritage Foundation, works to secure as many adoptions as possible.

The group seeks trainers to tame the animals through trade magazines and its Web site.

Public adoption events like the one coming to Fort Worth this weekend have proven successful around the country, said Patti Colbert, the executive director of the foundation northwest of Austin.

"People are really passionate about this issue," she said. "We want to show America how trainable these animals are."

Colbert called the overpopulation of mustangs "a large problem" that she said would take cooperation from everyone to solve.

She said the trainers are doing invaluable work with the animals, some of which have had little human contact.

"These horses are a white sheet of paper when you get them," she said.

Trainers say the process of teaching the horses to live among humans can be daunting.

It's also a bit heartbreaking.

The trainers' goal is to make sure the horses do well in their new homes. Even if they grow close to the animals while working with them, they must give them up.

"My job is to make sure that they better someone else's life," said trainer Lonnie Aragon of Colorado Springs. "They've already bettered mine."

Aragon learned how to work with the wild horses while he was in prison. He spent five of his 10 years while incarcerated with the mustangs.

"When I first started out with them, I figured I had nothing to lose," he said.

But he said earning an animal's trust changed him.

"You're taking a wild creature and making them your friend," Aragon said. "That did something to me inside. That transformation is so gratifying."

Aragon has trained several horses for adoption through the mustang foundation. He will ride a mustang called Chance in Fort Worth this weekend.

"They took a chance on me and I don't want to let them down," he said of the animals. "Today, I come into every situation and ask myself, 'How many steps will it take to do this right?' I don't just react anymore.

"They've changed the way I see the world."

Laurie Fox is an Arlington-based freelance writer. E-mail her at laurie-fox@sbcglobal.net.

No comments:

Search for More Content

Custom Search
Bookmark and Share

Past Articles