A herd nobody wants, part one
—CINDY KING AND PATIENCE O'DOWD, WHOA, Placitas
On June 15 the Albuquerque Journal released a story about
the Placitas wild horses entitled “A Herd That Nobody
Wants.” The Wild Horse Observers Association (WHOA)
would like to further inform folks about these horses and
at the same time clear up the myths and misquotes in the article.
Myth: “A Herd That Nobody Wants”
Fact: Many want them. The article made clear that people are
coming from Bosque Farms to Santa Fe to feed these horses.
The state legislature has passed a bill in the horses favor,
as well. WHOA has put up BLM fencing and is now putting up
open-space fencing totaling two miles of fence, largely from
local horse-friendly donations.
They have statewide support. Senate Memorial SM2 was unanimously
passed. SM2, carried by Senator Komadina, asks the state and
BLM (and forest service) to preserve and protect the wild
horses in areas such as Placitas. Governor Richardson and
his staff supported SM2, and the wild horses of this state,
and have recently donated to WHOA's efforts.
Myth: “Sorry Looking Pack Of Horses”
Fact: Sorry? The pictured horses in the article are stunningly
beautiful, shiny, and exhibit floating gaits.
Fact: Daniel Manzanares, of the livestock board, retracted
his alleged statement in the article regarding the wild horses’
condition and the statement regarding being inbred. This was
posted in the For The Record section of the Journal on Saturday,
June 17. Paul Polechla, UNM biologist and project biologist
for the New Mexico Horse Project, has recently inspected the
Placitas wild horses and stated that the horses were in good
condition and that he needed to see proof of inbreeding upon
hearing of the Livestock Boards alleged statement.
Myth: The Placitas horses are feral runaways that don't belong
on government land and which have escaped or have been released
by their owner per statements in the article by BLM's Danita
Burns and Tom Gow.
Fact: The 1971 Wild and Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act
states that horses of any breed which were present in 1971
on federal lands when the act was passed, and that were unbranded
and not claimed within a certain period of time, are defined
as legally wild.
Myth: The article states that WHOA does not support feeding
Fact: WHOA does support feeding the horses during abnormally
dry years and is accepting donations labeled “hay.”
WHOA is also working closely with the groups who are feeding.
Myth: These horses are better off rounded up and sent to
auction or slaughter rather than possible starvation.
Fact: Auctions have separate days for bidding on domestic
riding horses in good condition versus sick, untrained, or
wild horses. This means there is little chance for a good
home unless someone shows up to rescue them from slaughter.
Slaughterhouses and the haulers are designed for cattle, not
wild horses. Horses are flight animals with long necks; they
spook and move a lot more. With horses it's harder to stun
them and they are often hung, while still conscious, by one
back leg and skinned alive before their throat is slit. Wild
animals naturally die in the wild amongst their own in their
familiar surroundings everyday, not trampled underfoot during
mechanized transport and slow mechanized death.
Please see the WHOA Web site, at whoanm.org,
to volunteer, donate, or provide comment.
For the wild horses of Placitas
There are artists in Placitas
who create beauty from nothing,
and there are these horses
who have nothing but beauty
of body their ancestors gave them,
creating when they run
a changing dapple of sun
on their shiny skin.
These wild ones don’t know
their existence, their freedom,
their wildness, the natural artistry
of their lives, their hoofbeats
across the open space,
the unshod pattern of hoofprints
are a nuisance to some.
When these equine phantoms
suddenly appear among people,
you hear the comments:
What are they doing here?
Why aren’t they tamed?
Where are their owners?
How did they get out?
Why aren’t they dog food?
Why should they take up land?
They’re costing us money,
costing us time, costing us
trouble, costing us something
when they are nothing to us;
homeless of the high desert,
lost out of history, even if they
are descendants of jacas
left by Spaniards centuries ago,
they are discards of society
who refuse to stop at our stoplights.
Our fears of lack of control
have taken equine form.
After all, if horses can run wild,
what about children, what about
chaos in the universe?
We know our society traps us
to keep us in check, know
we often trap ourselves, others.
How dare these creatures
run across straight lines
we fear to cross.
These last wild horses
turn their long faces to you,
their long muzzles, large eyes,
warn their death
will kill your freedom,
after they are a memory,
a small herd of historical footnotes,
a myth that once wild steeds
roamed untamed, like the
Look again at the long faces
of these caballos desiertos,
the long muzzles, large eyes.
They have no master,
perhaps this is what bothers you?
They speak to your subconscious,
perhaps this is what frightens you?
They are not harnessed to work
as you are, perhaps this
makes you resentful?
Look again at this orphan herd,
their long faces, muzzles, large eyes.
If they run wild, remember,
they are not your children,
not from outer space
but the open space.
They didn’t cross artificial
lines in the sand
like poor immigrants
searching for survival,
they are simply here
trying to survive
in an unforgiving land.
Ask yourself: Is there no space
for them anywhere on the land,
in the mind, in our lives?
Does their equine lineage matter
more than their existence?
Bureaucrats, projecting their own nature,
say these animals must be
either “wild” or “feral,”
insist they abandon their horse trails
for a paper trail, or die.
For if they are killed,
they would at least be saved,
like Orwell’s non-persons,
from being the non-horses
they now are, on land not theirs,
with lives they shouldn’t have.
We divide, subdivide ourselves
down smaller and smaller,
drawing more and more
straight lines, artificial borders
across the horizon,
strangling on rectangles,
squaring wildness out,
fencing out free range,
cutting down old forests,
fishing out oceans,
hunting down animals
bigger than we are,
shooting down birds we don’t need,
polluting water we need,
destroying our planet-home,
with our habit of habitat destruction,
till nothing is without control unless dead,
inside or out, not even yourself,
till you have trampled everything
free and wild into the ground,
the syllables of the word “freedom”
lost like yucca blooms
in breezes over the mesas,
till these wild beings
are only gusts of wind
blowing through your mind,
whipping up the dust of Placitas,
blowing it into your eyes,
leaving you blind
in your own land.
—GARY L. BROWER, Placitas, NM 2006
Albuquerque Cat Action benefit will shimmy
to set a world record
New Mexicans are invited to set a Guinness World Record on
July 15. The goal of The Albuquerque Cat Action Team is to
assemble at least one hundred people to shimmy right into
the record books. There is a $5 entrance donation at the door.
Monies will go to the A.C.A.T. medical fund and stray/feral
cat fund to help orphaned cats and kittens.
The Raqs-a-Paw Belly Dance Event will be held at the Family
Focus Center, 411 Monroe, NE, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., with
the world-record attempt occurring at 2:00 p.m. Belly dancers
will be on hand to give a quick shimmy lesson prior to the
Further information about the Raqs-a-Paw Shimmy-a-thon is
available at www.albcat.com,
firstname.lastname@example.org, or 323-ACAT.