Happy New Year from all of us at SYALER. What a weird year it has been. Between trying to keep the rescue up and running thru a pandemic, dealing with the price of everything skyrocketing, and having more than the average number of animals coming to us in need of veterinary care it has been trying, to say the least.
In the past year, we have taken in 36 animals into the rescue.
We have placed 28 animals in wonderful new approved homes.
Two animals had to be humanely euthanized.
We currently have 17 animals waiting to find their forever family’s. ️
This past year we have incurred over $25,000. in veterinary bills.
Many of the animals we have taken in have been in need of serious veterinary work, including major dental care. One needed a trip to a large animal hospital in Vermont for a hoof surgery, and many needed blood work done to determine health issues and know what meds and supplements were needed.
All of this has been made possible due to the generosity, kindness, and compassion of our wonderful support team of donors. Hannah and I thank you so very much. We appreciate you more than words can say. So many animals truly would not be where we are today without your help. We know the donkeys and mules in our care are extremely grateful as well.
We wish you all a very Happy New Year and good health and happiness in the coming year.
We have less than 24 hours until our year-end fundraising deadline and we still have a ways to go if we want to hit our $125,000 goal.Right now we are tracking at $96,467 — $28,533 short of where we need to be to finish 2021 strong!!
BUT, we have an exciting update → Our generous donor wants to help us hit our goal and unlock their $100,000 matching gift so badly, that they’ve agreed to TRIPLE all donations that come in before midnight tonight up to $100,000.
We know we’re asking for a lot during this last week of the year. But it’s because the stakes are so high and we need the resources to keep the fight going.
At this very moment, our wild horses and burros face an existential threat: the BLM’s plan to slash wild herds across the West to the “99 percent extinction-level” that prompted Congress to protect these animals 50 years ago!
Our work in 2022 could not be more important and we need your support to make it happen. We’re just HOURS away from the opportunity to unlock $100,000 before we close the books on 2021.
In the midst of our move, 2021 is rapidly coming to a close. We’re sad we’ve not been able to share our traditional 31 stories for them month of December, so we thought we’d recap the year to show who you’ve helped in 2021.
Distressed Sanctuary Support to 9
In ongoing support to a distressed sanctuary, AAE took in seven horses (Mila, Rory, Jack, Nash, Dakota, Clay, and Duke) and two pigs over the course of the year, and the sanctuary wound down operations after animal control initially intervened. All but Jack have received much needed dental and hoof care, vaccines, and deworming. They were microchipped and DNA tested, too. Jack is a 12-ish mustang that was never touched (for years) at the sanctuary. Jack had five days of Liberty work with Patrick Sullivan when he visited AAE, then later spent some time at Monty Roberts International Learning Center with Clay and Duke. Jack participated in a mustang gentling program, while Clay and Duke participated in a starting program. Jack is slowly accepting human touch, but he’s still reactive and untrusting with humans. Mila had eye issues that were treated and resolved. Dakota had extensive heel cracks that extended into his coronary band in both hind hooves. On top of that, through his vet exam, we discovered he has no vision in one eye. Rory spent some time with a trainer and worked on a bucking issue. Nash’s needs were met with basic care updates. He’s a very handsome lady’s man. He loves his girls, and he let’s the other’s know it! Clay’s hooves were a bit of a wreck, and finally, after a few trim cycles, they seem to be unfolding like a flower blooming…everything falling in place. Mila quickly found her forever home.
Oscar and Oliver were severely overweight, so much so that fat pads covered their eyes (they could not see), and their bellies dragged on the ground. Their tusks and toes were much overgrown, as well. They were vetted. tusks and toes trimmed, and placed on a very restricted diet. It’s taken many months to melt away the fat and so they can see. Poor lil piggies, they’re still looking for a farm sanctuary or a better pig home to live out their days. Can anyone help?
The cost to vaccinate a single mare with a PZP vaccine is just $30.
But instead, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) spends millions of taxpayer dollars to brutally round up our wild horses and burros by chasing them with helicopters and confining them in pens, robbing them of all that wild horses hold dear — family and freedom.
Far too many of these beloved animals are entering the slaughter pipeline through the BLM’s disastrous Adoption Incentive Program, as exposed by our investigation earlier this year.
On Nevada’s Virginia Range, where a population of state-managed wild mustangs is threatened by extreme habitat loss, we’re operating the largest PZP fertility program in the world for wild horses.
And our work there has reduced the foaling rate by 44% while allowing these animals to remain free as nature intended. This data is incredibly useful as we prove to lawmakers and the BLM that there is a better alternative to the agency’s current approach to managing our wild horse populations.
Did you know that it costs only $30 to dart a single mare with a PZP vaccine — a scientifically-proven way to reduce population growth while keeping wild horses wild? That’s the difference your $30 contribution can make for wild horses who need our support now more than ever.
By using this method, we are showing the public and our elected officials that there is a better way to manage wild populations. PZP fertility control is a humane and cost-effective alternative to subjecting wild horses and burros to brutal helicopter roundups year after year, holding them in crowded pens, and forcing them to undergo dangerous sterilization surgeries.
We operate the world’s largest humane fertility control program for wild horses on Nevada’s Virginia Range. And we’re coming up on the three-year anniversary of this groundbreaking program, which has successfully reduced fertility on the range by over 40%! We were able to achieve this milestone because supporters like you chipped in $30 for every mare that we’ve vaccinated, Meredith.
The success of our PZP program has been so critical in our fight to protect wild horses because lawmakers and the public are starting to see there is a humane alternative to capturing and removing these wild animals from their homes on our public lands.
Your support helps us continue to provide the cold, hard, scientific evidence that lends legitimacy to our calls for more humane management of our wild horses and burros.
This year, more than 17,000 wild horses and burros were brutally chased by helicopters and forced into holding facilities, costing these innocent animals their families, their freedom, and in some cases — their lives. We know there’s a better way, and we can continue to fight for it with your support!
We wanted to make sure you got Suzanne’s email from earlier today. We’re using every tool at our disposal to make roundups a thing of the past.
Our trained volunteers go out into the field to document roundups when they occur — making note of animal welfare violations and bringing them to the attention of the public and authorities.
Our legal team is working with a prestigious university to make animal welfare violations at roundups enforceable by law.
Our government relations team is working with legislators on Capitol Hill and secured $11 million in funding in House and Senate legislation to redirect BLM funds away from helicopter roundups toward humane immunocontraceptive fertility control vaccines.
Our science division continues to fund initiatives that provethere is a more humane way to manage wild horse and burro populations and advance technology for implementing humane management programs in the West.
And, our advocacy work is constantly mobilizing supporters and action takers like yourself to speak up on behalf of these innocent animals, calling for much-needed reforms to the BLM’s Wild Horse & Burro Program.
This year was a hard one for our cherished wild herds. Families were broken apart, freedom and lives were lost. Over 17,000 wild horses and burros lost their homes on our public lands. As bad as it got, it only strengthened our resolve to fight harder.
The silver lining to this tragic story is that our advocacy has helped to publicize the severity of this situation, leading to growing public outrage. We’ve seen hundreds of thousands of Americans come together and demand an end to the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) costly and inhumane roundup program and Congress has joined in demanding these necessary reforms.
So, now is our moment. We must capitalize on this momentum and continue our fight to make roundups a thing of the past.
Hope your Christmas was merry and you were able to spend it with loved ones.
This was a tough season for us. We got back to NV with the horses in time to go pick up Tiny Texas. The day after we got home she had her surgery on her eye. PTL Doc was able to save her eye. We are still not sure if she has sight, but is healing well at this time. What a beautiful blessing for our 25+ year old.
Ricardo (Ricki) and Rocket were finally able to have their suffering ended the same day.
When you look at the picture, ALL the photos are taken from the same direction.That is how severely Donkey’s bones/hooves were deformed. Her x-rays should look identical to the above photo as they were standing exactly the same way.
Thankfully she is at peace and she and Rocket will never know any pain again.
2 Days later I had my surgery. Came home three days later to try & recuperate.Received a phone call about a family member who had passed, along with his beloved cats, from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. PLEASE, PLEASE, add detectors to your home and make sure you have adequate ventilation. (I only bring this up because I still cannot believe it happened. Carbon monoxide is terrifying, so please believe it can happen.)
With the winter storms the power was out. HIs generator was in his garage under the house. Apparently the storm winds blew the door shut? All I know is there was no ventilation.
So I am finally back home again. I am working on tax donation receipts and apologize for not being caught up. It has been quite the year.
On a much brighter note:
Y’all saved SO MANY LIVES it is unbelievable. We are sitting on about 30 head in NV right now. They are happy and loving the snow. Kachaka was adopted and is waiting for the passes to clear so he can go to his new home.
Of course I am still struggling with vet bills and now we have a rather large, additional one from having x-rays, euthanasia and eye surgery.
I am ever so grateful that our Chilly Pepper Family is absolutely amazing.
THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS ALL OF YOU!
Still not quite recovered from the surgery and dealing with the loss of our loved one, so please be patient if I sound scattered.
THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HAS BEEN HELPING SAVE THESE PRECIOUS LIVES!
It’s that time of year when folks start thinking about taxes. What a beautiful way to save on your taxes by helping save lives.
Please think about donating to WIN dba Chilly Pepper if you need a tax donation credit.
2021 was a year full of highs and lows — and we’re so grateful that through it all, you stood by our side in the fight to protect wild horses and burros.
One of our biggest accomplishments was our investigation into the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Adoption Incentive Program (AIP), which resulted in a front-page New York Times exposé, elevating the tragedies of the AIP to a national level.
As one of AWHC’s lead investigators into the AIP, every single day, I identify and track new BLM mustangs and burros in kill pens across the country. After months of investigation, we confirmed that the titles of the horses and burros we were rescuing matched those of animals adopted through the AIP.
Time and time again in this investigation, we’ve identified adopters who have collected the AIP cash incentives, then dumped the horses and burros they had adopted at slaughter auctions as soon as the money cleared their accounts.
Our Rescue Fund was key to this investigation as it allowed us to support our rescue partners in pulling wild horses and burros from kill pens. This not only saved these innocent animals’ lives but also gave us access to information — including titles and brand numbers — that helped us connect the dots to expose the program.
Since uncovering and exposing this slaughter pipeline, we’ve made some impressive strides! Congress has taken notice of this problem, and our Government Relations team is working with elected officials on solutions to better protect our wild horses and burros from slaughter.
After the New York Times exposé, the BLM announced a list of reforms to the Adoption Incentive Program. But, these reforms did not go far enough, so we filed a lawsuit. This week, government attorneys informed our lawyers that the BLM would be unveiling a new Adoption Incentive Program in the new year, and we will be watching closely to see if meaningful reforms are forthcoming.
Meredith: Supporters like you make these important initiatives possible — our investigative work to uncover this slaughter pipeline, our rescue fund to help save the AIP’s victims, our Government Relations work on the Hill, and even our litigation against the BLM. None of this would be possible without your help.
Just a few short weeks ago, we commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 — the foundational law passed unanimously by Congress intended to protect wild horses and burros from capture, branding, harassment, and death.But even as we marked this historic anniversary, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was conducting the largest wild horse roundup in history – with an astounding 4,000+ of these iconic animals targeted for capture in Wyoming.
The Wyoming roundup was just one of many in 2021, making this a very tough year for wild horses and burros.
The worse things get for these beloved animals, the more support we gather for ending the cruel and costly management practices that threaten their future. This leads to some crucial opportunities in 2022 to enact real, meaningful change for wild horses and burros.
But to seize these opportunities and guarantee change for these magnificent icons, we need the resources to carry on our fight on the Hill, in courts, and in the field.
2022 is our moment. The BLM has new leadership in place, with Tracy Stone Manning serving as the first confirmed director in nearly six years. AND, thanks to our Government Relations team, legislation passed in the House and Senate this year to divert $11 millionaway from roundups and toward humane fertility control programs.
With our groundbreaking fertility control program in Nevada, we’ve proven that there is a better, more humane way to manage wild horses and burros — and science is on our side.
After Spring, Summer and Fall come and go, the cold days of Winter can easily become an excuse to slow down and do less, but Winter can be just as fun and full of activities with your equine as any other season. Along with the basics—food, water and shelter—your equine needs activities to keep him fit and happy. Like any of us, he doesn’t want to be active only part of the year and then left alone during the Winter months, bored and lonely (not to mention the stress he will feel when he has to be reconditioned every Spring). Instead, it’s healthier for him, both physically and mentally, to be active and maintained year-round. This does not mean you need to ride him three or four days a week throughout the Winter. There are lots of other fun, diverse activities you can enjoy together that will adequately maintain his body condition while keeping him interested and happy.
Of course, in order to enjoy Winter games and sports, you must first be sure to dress appropriately for the weather in your area. If you live in a cool or cold climate, dress in layered clothing you can easily remove if you need to. Wear a hat to conserve your body heat and footwear that keeps your feet warm and dry. What your equine wears in cold weather is equally important. For instance, if your equine’s winter coat tends to be on the thinner side, he may need a blanket for the long Winter nights to keep his body from expending too much energy just trying to stay warm. The blanket will also serve to mat down his coat so there is less chance of it becoming entangled in his tack or harness. If you have a stall for your equine, just for Winter months, you may want to trace-clip him in the areas that do the most sweating so that when he is worked, he will cool down quickly and easily. Promoting good circulation keeps your equine warm, helps his body to stay flexible and supple, and cuts way down on his muscle and bone stiffness. Be sure to begin any and all workouts and recreational activities with consistent and appropriate warm-up exercises.
Since most inclement weather produces slippery ground surfaces, if your equine is to be used extensively, it is important that he have appropriate shoes on his feet during the slippery seasons. On strictly muddy or slippery surfaces, tapping and drilling studs into his shoes can help immensely in giving him added traction. If cared for properly, you can remove these studs when you don’t need them. If you get snow in your area, you may want to go with borium shoes and rim pads. The borium shoes supply good traction, while the rim pads prevent snow from balling up in your equine’s feet. I also suggest using splint boots on all four of his legs. This will protect against injury and give him added support and protection of his fetlock joints.
If you have a very young equine, make sure to consistently continue your routine of handling him throughout the entire winter. I do not suggest lunging a very young equine unless you have the advantage of an indoor arena, as he could slip and injure himself. But you can still take him for walks on the lead line, ground drive him through various Winter scenes and
spend plenty of time grooming him. All of this will accustom him to Winter’s unique terrain and obstacles, maintain his essential and continued imprinting and bonding with you, build his self-confidence and maintain his good manners.
The better trained your equine is, the more possibilities there are for Winter sports and games. If the idea of taking lessons at a riding stable that has an indoor arena appeals to you, Winter tends to be a less hectic, more peaceful time of year in which to learn and practice without the added stress and anxiety of showing and other warm weather activities. But even if you want to forego the lessons, there are numerous stables that will rent the use of their indoor arenas for a nominal fee and there are places to trail ride through beautiful Winter scenes. People and equines alike seem to derive great pleasure from these Winter get-togethers when they are carefully and responsibly planned.
Another great way to have fun with your equine is participating in Winter games and holiday parades. Christmas is always a joyous time to bring your equine out of the barn. Consider decorating your equine, dressing up yourself and then riding or driving in your local Christmas parade. This can be loads of fun! Caroling aboard your equine throughout your neighborhood is also a wonderful way for you, your equine and your neighbors to get into the holiday spirit. Oftentimes when my equines and I have gone out caroling after a Christmas parade, the neighborhood children have come out to sing and dance behind our caroling caravan! This kind of pure joy is contagious and always reminds me of the true meaning of the Christmas season.
There are lots of different Winter games that you can play with your equine and if you have a friend who wants to participate too, there are even more possibilities. With proper shoes on your equine and good, flat ground, and if the weather permits, there are so many gymkhana games that you can play. Or how would you like a brisk cross-country gallop on your equine with a few fences to jump? Or you and a friend can take an exciting ride on a tire or sled, taking turns with one person riding the equine while the other rides the sled or tire. If you have more friends with equines, you can even have Winter races. You are limited only by your own imagination! Remember that any game or sport requires that you consider safety first for both you and your equine: What are your abilities? What are your limitations? What is your level of physical conditioning and that of your equine? Whatever activities the two of you do to keep busy, happy and healthy during the Winter months, the name of the game should always be—FUN!
I did not know a horse could bring people into your life that end up meaning the most to you.
I did not know a horse could make the hardest days of your life bearable.
I did not know a horse could teach you to put others first.
I did not know a horse could remind you time and time again that your gut is always right.
I did not know a horse could break your heart.
I did not know a horse could pick you up when you have fallen apart.
I did not know a horse could teach you to dream again, after you thought it was not possible.
I did not know a horse could make you believe in yourself.
I did not know a horse could teach responsibility, work ethic, and dedication.
I did not know a horse could make you believe in something when no one else does.
I did not know a horse could make you learn to forgive and forget.
I did not know a horse could humble you faster than you can say humble.
I did not know a horse could make you a winner.
I did not know a horse could also teach you how to lose gracefully.
I did not know a horse could instill patience in you.
I did not know a horse could make you listen better.
I did not know a horse could give you their heart.
I did not know a horse could change your life.
I did not know a horse could do all these things…
…..but now I know.
A Christmas Story
In years past, today would be story 25 of our 31 stories for 2021. Well, suffice it to say, we’ve been really busy with The Big Move to Pilot Hill. We’ll have more on that coming soon; until then, we have the most heartwarming story to share. Many of you know how much we love our oldies, and AAE just had the good fortune to make a Christmas miracle come true for one ol’ guy.
AAE was asked to help with an old donkey. We were really hoping to find a new buddy for our lil’ Sammy, but because we’re smack dab in the midst of our transition to our new property, there was no way we could provide the type of care and housing this ol’ guy needed. That said, we knew there must be a way we could help.
Because who can resist these old ears, “the way” came to us. It was kismet. It didn’t take long for the answer to come to light. We got a call from one of our AAE families with an ol’ mare in urgent need of a companion, and it was an ideal situation. There was no question, it was meant to be.
Meet the newest member of AAE’s class of ’21, his name is Figgy Puddin’. When we were told it was old donkey that was all alone, we had no idea they meant really old…and really special. Would you believe, he’s 45. He’s quite arthritic, but he’s an incredibly sweet old man (really, really!).
He perked up when we told him we’d figure it out. We learned what we could, but there wasn’t much history available, but our best guess was that this guy hadn’t spent much time in a trailer, so we thought we were in for a long afternoon, especially considering his arthritis. Much to our surprise, when he hobbled to the trailer with us, Mr. Figgy tried to load. His ol’ joints were pretty stiff, and the step up was quite a reach for him. We helped him….one leg up, then another leg up. He looked like he was on top o’ the world. With a little ass-istance with his behind, he was up and in, and headed for the corner feeder. There was no resistance, no fight, no struggle….just an obliging ol’ guy ready to hit the road. (He got a little medical support to help him with the trip, too). Before we knew it, we were on the road.
We had a slow, easy ride, and when we arrived, this ol’, arthritic guy leapt out of the trailer like a spry guy that had done it a million times. He let out a big bray, and we can only hope he was saying, “It’s about time you got me outta there (the trailer)”.
He glanced around, and their eyes met. First the goats.
Then the girl!
We don’t think it was love at first sight, right?
His new mom took one look at his as he was exiting the trailer, and she said she loved him already. She assured him it was going to be ok.
We think he understood and enjoyed the loving hug and wanted another!
Before long, the two mosied off for a little grub. We were all relieved with how quickly Figgy settled in. He’s eating well, and so far, seems very content. It’s a lot of change for an old donk, but we’re hopeful he’ll transition ok. He’ll be spoiled with lots of love and kindness ’til the end. Once he’s settled in in a few days, he’ll get an eval so he can get some much needed hoof and dental care. He’s getting a new blanket, and whatever else he needs.
Til then, he wishes everyone a very Merry Christmas!
From every single one of us here at the American Wild Horse Campaign, we wish you and your family a very happy and joyous holiday season.
Your support and dedication have helped us to make great strides this year, and for that wethank you. The perseverance of our amazing herd of AWHC supporters is emblematic of the same strength we see from the majestic wild horses and burros we continue our fight to protect.
As we all begin our holiday celebrations with the ones we cherish most and look to the year ahead, I wanted to share a story with you today about one of our beloved family bands on Nevada’s Virginia Range.
Leeto was seen back in 2020 by one of our observers as a bachelor stallion. But when he was spotted most recently, Leeto was leading a band of 4 mares and 4 foals!
One day, the youngest colt in Leeto’s band, Rover, got stuck behind a fence. The youngster was scared and cried out as he couldn’t figure out how to get past it. When his mother noticed Rover was stuck, she also cried out for help. Leeto and another mustang in the band, Hiker, ran to their aid.
Hiker brilliantly showed Rover the opening of the fence. When he was just about to go around it, Leeto and the mare called out to the foal, and he instead found the lowest point of the fence and jumped over it, running to meet his family once again.
Once the band was reunited, they stopped for a moment of relief and then soon headed back up the mountain.
It’s stories and moments like these that empower us to keep up the fight. These inspiring animals show us how to persevere in even the toughest of situations. We are taking the lessons from the wild with us into the new year and in our continued fight to preserve the freedom of these beloved icons.
On behalf of everyone at AWHC, we are grateful to you for being part of our herd. Our very best wishes to you and your loved ones, the happiest of holidays — and a healthy and joyous New Year!
As we enter the holiday season and 2021 comes to an end, we wanted to tell you just how grateful we are for all that American Wild Horse Campaign supporters have helped us to accomplish this year.
Whether you sent messages to your legislators on behalf of our cherished wild horses and burros or donated to one of our life-saving programs like our Rescue Fund — we are so grateful for your continued support.
Today, I wanted to share with you some of the most impressive victories that amazing supporters like yourself helped us to accomplish this year:
As 2021 comes to a close, we hope you join in celebrating these victories with us.
We are so grateful for your advocacy, financial support, passion, and dedication to protecting the wild horses and burros we all love. Many battles lie before us in the new year as we work toward a better future for these magnificent animals, but with you on our side, we know we will prevail.
All of us at the American Wild Horse Campaign wish you and your loved ones (human and non-human) a very happy and restful holiday season.
Suzanne Roy Executive Director American Wild Horse Campaign
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 — the foundational law passed unanimously by Congress to protect wild horses and burros from slaughter, harassment, or capture on the public lands they call home.
But the promise of this law that conveyed on our magnificent wild horses and burros the very same level of protection as the American bald eagle remains unfulfilled.
As I write this, over 3,100 newly-captured wild horses are standing in holding pens after being rounded up from lands across the Wyoming Checkerboard — as part of the largest roundup in U.S. history. When it’s over in February of next year, half of Wyoming’s wild horses will be gone from our public lands — forever.
That’s why, in the lead-up to the 50th anniversary of what should be a celebration of historic and lifesaving protections for our cherished wild horses and burros — we are still fighting for their future. This week, our team joined with our friends at the Animal Welfare Institute and other wild horse advocates at the U.S. Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. to rally and present the signatures of 70,000 Americans who oppose the devastating Wyoming roundup.
Advocacy efforts like these are so critical in our fight to protect America’s wild horses and burros. When we come together and make our voices heard — our federal officials listen. With your help, we’re sending the message loud and clear that American taxpayers want their dollars to go toward humanely protecting our iconic wild mustangs and burros — not brutally rounding them up, separating them from their families, and robbing them of their freedom.
Your voices propelled our Government Relations team to success in securing House and Senate legislation redirecting $11 million in funding in the Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriations bill away from cruel roundups toward humane in-the-wild management of wild horses and burros.
Important advancements like these are only possible thanks to the support of donors like you.
The fight to protect these cherished icons never stops — so long as the helicopters continue to fly, our fight to end these cruel tactics will continue. We’re thankful that dedicated supporters like you are in this fight with us.
Thank you for your continued support,
Suzanne Roy Executive Director
American Wild Horse Campaign
The contributions being made by mules and donkeys today are more numerous than they have ever been before and we should give thanks that we still have these Longears touching our lives and making them full!
When the age of automation arrived, many mules, donkeys, and horses were put out of work. Mechanical alternatives were taking their places in the fields, in the coal mines, along the canals and even in the mountains. Horses made a somewhat smooth conversion of use to modern day recreation, but it was not as easy for the mules and donkeys. The history of mules and donkeys was never that well documented. Literally thousands of books have been written revering the horse for his contribution to the building of great societies and cultures. However, a lot of the things attributed to the horse were actually done by mules and donkeys! It does not surprise me that by 1966, mules and donkeys were on the decline. Their uses were no longer critical to development and growth of society.
In 1967, concerned Paul and Betsy Hutchins founded the American Donkey & Mule Society, designed to spark the fires of interest in these longeared animals. The A.D.M.S. quarterly journal continues to remind the American public of all the extraordinary things that had been accomplished in history by donkeys and mules. They plowed the fields, pulled the covered wagons and worked in the coal mines. They pulled barges on the canals and packed munitions for the military. They built the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Wild Bill Cody rode a mule named Mouse that put General Custer’s fancy Thoroughbred to shame over long distances and rough terrain. The crowned heads of Europe rode mules as a statement of class and Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a small and humble donkey! Although the horse was revered and given the credit, mules and donkeys were always right there, too – strong, steady and humble!
Thanks to Paul and Betsy Hutchins, we have been reminded of Longears’ great legacy and there are those, including myself, who would find a way to appreciate their efforts and would help to make donkeys and mules an important part of modern-day society.
The American Donkey & Mule Society today offers a wide variety of programs that include Longears of all sizes, breeds, types and uses. The A.D.M.S. journal is still published quarterly and is growing with the industry, keeping folks abreast of new and innovative uses for the Longears of the future. It serves as a record of accomplishment. The A.D.M.S. registry ensures a more traceable ancestry than has ever before been possible. Many different A.D.M.S. award programs insure that outstanding individuals are recognized for their diverse accomplishments, and books and literature have been compiled and made available to anyone who wants to know more about these unusual animals. A.D.M.S. has inspired the formation of local clubs and groups that share in this interest and the result is evident in art, jewelry and other Longears products and events. The A.D.M.S. has given our children an alternative in equestrian sport that is interesting, challenging and unique in spirit.
Mules and donkeys are becoming the equine of choice in many areas today. The California Sierra Nevada Pack Stations are populated with mules trained to take tourists on pack trips through the scenic mountain areas. The only equines safe enough to carry tourists down the steep rocky trails at the Grand Canyon and at Molokai are mules! Hunters are using mules as riding and pack animals due to their incredible strength, endurance and intelligent nature. They can handle rougher terrain and adverse weather conditions better than can the horse. Donkeys are finding new uses in guarding sheep from unwanted predators. Mules and donkeys are used in handicapped riding and driving programs, and molly mules are being used for embryo transplant. Third world countries are being educated in the care and feeding of their donkeys and mules to enhance economic growth. Mules and donkeys have even become viable 4-H projects for young people who enjoy the challenge. We are finding that there are actually very few things these longeared equines can’t do!
Skeptic that I am I have always attempted to find the limitations of these incredible individuals. Here at the Lucky Three Ranch, we continually challenge our mules and donkeys with new and innovative tasks. They have continually met these challenges with success! With each new success, our mules and donkeys have brought many new and wonderful friends into our lives, making life full and very rewarding. To this day, I am still amazed when an animal has met his challenge and accomplished what I have asked. I suppose part of me would still like to believe that if they could have done all these things, then they would have already been done. But I can see now that that isn’t necessarily so. Need has a lot to do with it. No one ever NEEDED an upper level Dressage mule before! But I did!
Lucky Three Sundowner worked at Third Level Dressage after winning the World Championship in Reining at Bishop Mule Days in 1984. He exhibited play patterns that evolved from his training that would undoubtedly contribute to his success as he moved into Fourth level Dressage. His crazy play patterns looked very much like the Spanish Riding School of Vienna’s, “Airs Above the Ground!” Lucky Three Mae Bea C.T. clearly showed that you can do a variety of things well on a mule – whether it was against horses or other mules and with, or without the bridle!
Mules give new meaning to the word VERSATILE! That is not to mention that they can be a loyal friend and companion as well when trained correctly. Then there was Little Jack Horner who defied all the laws of “Donkeyhood!” He was accomplished in Western Performance classes including Reining and Gymkhana, Driving and Obstacle Driving, Second Level Dressage and he jumped in formal hunter style over four feet in exhibition at Bishop Mule Days and got a Specialty Award for his effort. He was the sire of some of the most athletic mules in the world today.
Since we have yet to find any serious limitations in these Longears’ ability, at the Lucky Three Ranch we concerned ourselves with documenting these three unique successes. Training Mules and Donkeys: A Logical Approach to Longears is a book documenting the training techniques we have used that led to the ultimate success of our mules and donkeys. It will was first released in May 1993 and was revised in 2013. As far as I know, it is the only book of its kind with training from foal to adulthood and has subsequently been supported by more books, DVDs and television shows and our extensive and comprehensive website at www.luckythreeranch.com. The intent is always to help mule and donkey enthusiasts to get the best from their animals and to avoid the common pitfalls that would sour an otherwise stimulating and rewarding experience with Longears. It just goes to show that MULES CAN DO, AND DONKEYS, TOO! Seeing IS believing and dreams really CAN come true!
To everyone who acted on behalf of wild horses and burros yesterday and sent messages to Director Stone-Manning and Secretary Haaland to enact further protections for these innocent animals: Thank you.
While our team was on the ground in Washington, D.C. rallying against the tragic roundup happening now in Wyoming that is expected to cut the state’s wild horse population by half, supporters like you made your voices heard loud and clear as we called for further protections for our beloved equines. Thank you, for being their voice.
But, on the eve of the 50th Anniversary of the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 — the foundational law protecting wild horses and burros on our public lands — we must keep the momentum going and demand further federal action to protect them.
We’ve seen — over the last year especially — that the protections currently in place for wild horses and burros are not enough. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) continues to brutally round up and remove these animals from the lands they call home, costing them their freedom and separating them from their families forever.
And as we discovered through our investigation into the BLM’s Adoption Incentive Program earlier this year: Many of these animals will be sent to kill pens where they will meet a grim fate — a byproduct of the disastrous Adoption Incentive Program that has funneled “truckloads” of wild horses and burros into the slaughter pipeline.
But with the new year comes new BLM leadership, new opportunities to implement humane management, and the same unwavering perseverance from our team here at AWHC in our fight to preserve the freedom of America’s wild horses and burros.
Did you know December 13th marks the National Day of the Horse?
This very special day was designated by Congress in 2004 as a day to commemorate the contribution horses have made to the economy, history, and character of the United States.
AND, in just two short days, it will be the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 — the original law that is supposed to protect wild horses and burros from slaughter, harassment, or capture on the public lands they call home.
On this year’s Day of the Horse and in the lead up to this historic anniversary, we’re taking action to protect and preserve the freedom of our beloved wild horses and burros:
This morning, our team joined with our friends at the Animal Welfare Institute and wild horse advocates at the U.S. Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. to present the signatures of 70,000 Americans in opposition to the devastating roundup happening right now of nearly 4,000 wild horses from Wyoming’s Checkerboard region.
Tracy Stone-Manning, the first confirmed Bureau of Land Management (BLM) director in nearly six years, is now at the helm of the mismanaged agency. She has a formidable task ahead to reform the cruel and costly Wild Horse and Burro Management Program.
Now is the time to let Director Stone-Manning and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland know how many Americans are counting on their leadership to provide the protections our wild horses and burros so badly need. We must make our voices heard — loud and clear — now!
“Imprinting” is a natural process by which an animal (most typically, when young) comes to recognize another animal or a person as a parent or other object of habitual trust. Imprinting is also the way any equine is touched when he is a foal and handled throughout his entire life. It is never too late to use imprinting with your equine, and the way you do it will determine whether or not he develops a lifelong confidence and trust in you. NOTE: Imprinting should not be utilized only when your equine is a newborn, and then never utilized again. Imprinting should continue throughout his entire life.
Equine foals must be allowed to play—running, kicking and rolling. This is how they exercise so they can grow up to be healthy adults. Like any baby or toddler, a foal cannot be expected to have perfect manners, so keep lessons short (10-20 minutes every other day at the most) and use good judgment when you are with him to avoid being kicked or bitten. If he does kick or bite while you are doing things with him, use the flat of your hand and give him a quick thump on the rump for kicking or on the side of his mouth for biting, accompanied by a loud “No!” He will probably run off, but should be able to be coaxed back verbally and fairly easily with soothing language and an offer of crimped oats. When he finally does come back to you, reward him with a nice pat on the neck, and then leave him to play. By doing this, you are letting him know that it is okay to play, but not to kick or bite. He has learned that bad behavior will elicit an unpleasant touch while his good behavior will illicit kind touch and soothing words. You can resume more serious corrective lessons later.
The most important thing to learn when training your equine is to dispense the crimped oats reward promptly and generously in the beginning of training, and only when your equine is complying (do not use anything but crimped oats for rewards). This will solidify the connection between the two of you and begin to establish a strong and mutually satisfying relationship. If, when haltered, your equine tries to pull away from you, just let go of the rope, reach in your fanny pack and offer the crimped oats to coax him to return to you. Remember not to try to progress through lessons too quickly, as this is usually what causes disobedience. Never chase your equine! Whenever at all possible, allow him to come to you of his own free will.
Before you begin your equine’s leading lessons—and during “tying” lessons—your equine should be rewarded frequently and whenever he is not pulling against the rope. This will help him to understand that he will be rewarded when the rope is loose so he is more likely to follow you when you do untie him and try to lead him. This concept is the same for each new task in each new lesson. Each time he easily complies, he should be rewarded. At this point you can move on to new lessons, but, in order to set him up for success, be sure to break down each process into small steps. Remember to always be generous with the rewards. An equine that learns to take the oats reward politely from your hand is less likely to bite you than one who has not had enough practice getting rewarded with the oats from your hand. When the correction for biting is done properly, your equine will learn not to be aggressive toward the reward and will learn to take them more delicately and gently from your hand.
If, as an adult, your equine gets too close or pushy, slap him on the side of the mouth with an open hand and a very loud “No!” Then put your hand up like a stop sign in front of his face. He should then step back or fling his head back, at which point you immediately step toward him and say, “Good Boy (or Girl),” and give him a reward for giving you your space. The next time he gets too close or pushy, simply put your hand up like a stop sign with a loud and abrupt “No!” This should be sufficient. Your equine should then be willing to back up and wait for the reward. You still need to be very consistent about when the rewards are given and when the correction is truly needed. “No” is the only negative verbal command you should ever give and should be the only word that ever denotes your displeasure so there is never any confusion (do not use any other negative verbal words or noises).
NOTE: Never leave a halter on an unsupervised equine. This is very dangerous! The halter can easily become snagged on something and can result in severe injury, a broken neck, or even death.
When thinking about the way horses, and particularly mules and donkeys learn, consider the way human children learn: They cannot accomplish many different tasks all at the same time. When tasks are not taught one by one and in a natural and logical order, confusion and failure are almost certainly guaranteed. If you want to have good results, you need to be working in a natural and logical order, with small enough steps that make sense to your equine. When training your mule or donkey, use a fanny pack filled with crimped oats, but do not offer a bucket of oats.
You should not even try to put on a halter and lead until your equine lets you touch him all over. Then you can approach with the halter. For instance, before you even halter your equine, ask him to come to you and then reward him with crimped oats when he does come. When he is consistently coming to you, the next step is to carry the halter with you without put it on him. Reward his approach toward you and his acceptance of the halter being present. Let him sniff and investigate the halter as much as he wants. Once he shows no sign of being at all bothered by the presence of the halter, you can then put the halter on him. When doing so, remember to always be polite and gentle. Reward your equine for the acceptance of the halter, and then try to loop your arm over his neck while feeding the crown strap of the halter from your left hand (from under his neck) to your right hand that is looped over his neck. This way, even if he starts to slowly move away, you can pull him back towards you with the loop around his neck and finish the process by putting his nose through the noseband of the halter. However, if he quickly jerks away, just let go of the rope. Then show him the oats and encourage him to return and try again, but do not give him any oats until he comes all the way back to your hand. Anytime he moves away, just ask him to return, but never chase him. Always make sure he comes all the way to you for his reward.
If you find that you are having difficulty during leading training, your own body may be out of good posture, causing you to take too many steps before stopping to square up. First, make sure you are in good posture. Then give the verbal command to “walk on.” Walk a straight line, pointing to where you are going with your right hand and keeping the left hand securely on your left hip. Make sure your steps mirror his front legs. Then stop, face your equine, reward him for stopping, make him stand squarely, make sure you are still in good posture and reward him for squaring up. Now just stand still for a few minutes, giving your equine time to settle and process what has just happened. Then reward him for standing quietly for a few minutes.
Next, turn and face the next direction in which you will be going, point with your right hand, give the command to “walk on,” and repeat the exercise. If done correctly, there will be many chances to hesitate a bit or stop between actions. All of these hesitations and stops will force your equine to pay attention and be ready for your next move. If you are performing each task in these smaller increments, he will be less likely to forge ahead. It will also give you the opportunity to do things slowly enough to get it exactly “right” and through repetition, your equine will be able to transform learned behaviors into automatic behaviors. If you try to hold a move too long or, on the other hand, do things too fast, your animal may not have time to properly comply, causing him to get confused, lose interest and engage in avoidance behavior.
You should not need to tug, pull or push. Just stand still in good posture when you stop and immediately stick your hand into the fanny pack and offer the reward. If you are doing all of this correctly, your equine might turn his head into your hand and swing his hindquarters around so that he faces you instead of stopping in his tracks. Not staying straight in his tracks is a temporary problem that you can fix by simply squaring him up after he has stopped and been rewarded. If he is forging ahead, one or more things are going on; either you are not doing things in small enough steps, not rewarding promptly enough to make him turn into you, or you are not using the fanny pack. These problems can be fixed by being more attentive to your own good posture and your movements, and to the times when he does cooperate. Keep lessons in small enough steps so he can be rewarded. This is called “setting up for success.”
You need to lead your equine with your left hand and shorten the lead rope, so he carries his head next to your right shoulder and cannot slip his head behind your back. He may try to walk ahead of you, at which point you can use your right hand to push his nose back into position. This will be very awkward at first and it will take time for you both to learn to do it properly. If he knows you are carrying a fanny pack of oats, he will be more apt to go in front of you than to follow you from behind or pass you, because he will be looking for the fanny pack. Again, use your free right hand to push him back into the correct position.
Without the reward, there is no incentive for him to do a task correctly, so always remember to dispense the reward promptly and appropriately, accompanied by a verbal “Good Boy!” whenever he correctly does what you ask. Do not spend more than 15 to 20 minutes every other day on lessons, as your animal can get bored and frustrated if you drill. At first, just practice “walk” and “halt.” When he has learned to stay at your shoulder, you can progress to the next step of halting and setting him up to stand squarely. Once he does this correctly, you can move on to trotting and turns. Remember—breaking the lessons into small steps, maintaining good posture and quickly rewarding will help your equine to achieve small victories because you are setting him up for success!