Free Book-Work In Progress

This page offers the book “Wild Horse Education” as it is written in draft form, chapter by chapter. All content and photos are still covered under copyright law. Printing for distribution by written permission only, intended for free personal use. Scroll to the bottom of the page to download section by section.

copyright Laura Leigh
Antelope Complex Roundup 2011 (Leigh)




You may be wondering why this book is being distributed in a draft form, chapter by chapter, free.

This book is being written for the purpose of providing an “education” to the current state of wild horse and burro management on public land. The intent of the project is to outline the “what is” and “how” to move forward as an effective voice toward changing the problems that exist.

This issue is complex and often changes quickly. The basic process for the public  to participate remains relatively unchanged, though it may be difficult to understand.

The current programs of managing wild horses on public land are in serious need of reform. Each day that passes without significant change compounds the problems.

There are several jurisdictions that have populations of horses and burros on public land. The laws governing each section vary widely. This book will include information on each. Yet the agency that manages more horses and burros than any other is the Bureau of Land Management, or BLM.

copyright Laura Leigh
Youngster leaning against “junk” in a temporary holding pen, Callaghan roundup Christmas week 2010 (Leigh)


Many people are drawn to this issue because as Americans we still care deeply about this National Treasure. We care as deeply as we did when in 1971, Congress passed the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act, without a single dissenting vote. Yet the implementation of the Act went seriously off-track and legislation was continually gutted by measures that were hidden in other bills.

The most under-handed of all was the rider slipped in to a thousand page omnibus spending bill, pre-Thanksgiving recess in 2003, by Senator Conrad Burns. This rider created the outrage known as “sale-authority” that allowed the Federal government to sell horses “without limitation,” meaning to slaughter.

The Head of the BLM, Bob Abbey, and the current Secretary of the Department of Interior, Ken Salazar, have both said that sending horses to slaughter or mass-euthanasia are not “on the table.” Yet the Burns Rider still exists and is often a focal point that draws attention away from real reform. The statement “we will not kill all the horses” is almost used as a “stop-gap” to conversations that attempt to address the issues. Almost as if the American public should be grateful, no matter how badly the program runs, as long as the horses are not outright shoveled into mass graves.

Recently the BLM has sent a Strategy document to the public. That document basically proposes a “business as usual” approach, with a minor caveat, until a two year study is completed by the National Academy of Sciences followed by an extensive Environmental Impact Statement that will take another three years to complete. The current protocol simply continues to remove what is left on the range, even though the words in the document claim a different outcome.

At the Augusta HMA in January of 2011 the BLM proposed what was supposed to be a “trap, treat, release” roundup to illustrate the “new” protocol. That roundup occurred in an area that did not have an overpopulation of horses. Technically a roundup in violation of the Act if it were designed for removals. During the process of the roundup decisions were made that removed significant numbers of horses, almost one-third.

It is what happened. This clearly demonstrates that any proposed change in this program feels more like a placation strategy to an outraged public than one that reflects real change in protocol.

 The truth is that maintaining any viability of a wild population is already threatened. After the passage of the Act, 318 Herd Areas were identified in ten Western States. Of those areas we now have less than 180 Herd Management Areas. Within those areas less than 30% of them reflect populations that in any way, shape or form represent a viable breeding population. One of these areas that claim to still manage horses has an Appropriate Management level set at three horses! Three is not a number viable for any population, yet statistically that area is still included as managing a population.

What we have seen since the passage of the Act has been a continuation of the very same mindset that the Act was intended to stop. “Mustanging” was a brutal practice of feral livestock management by members of the public. It can be argued that the same mindset was simply transferred into Federal hands and the profiteers are now selected by the Federal government.

Nowhere in this program does the data exist that reflects any change that manages a wild population as intended by the 1971 Legislation. Sex ratios are being skewed when the average natural sex ratio on a range over time is not known. The seasonal migration patterns have not been studied, nor recognized in the original boundary lines. Removals occur without recognition of basic band structure. Basic humane issues are numerous throughout the program. The list goes on and on.

Time is of the essence here.

Normally with a book you find the “Glossary” at the end. With this book it appears at the beginning. One of the most frustrating experiences is trying to understand what should be a simple conversation. The terms and abbreviations used can turn many way in exasperation.

This book will be released in a “draft” form, chapter by chapter. Because the time it takes to “make it perfect” does not exist. The time and energy needed to find distribution need to go elsewhere.

copyright RT Fitch

Laura Leigh with photographer Terry Fitch, both representing Horseback Magazine at the Twin Peaks Roundup of 2010 (photo by RT Fitch)




Note about the Author:

Laura Leigh is a journalist/photojournalist that has been to more roundups in the last year than any government personnel or public observer. Leigh has been to HMA’s and HA’s in six different states documenting horses in the wild, in holding facilities and during roundups. Leigh has worked with  the Equine Welfare Alliance for almost two years as a Subject Matter Expert in the research department. She has worked with numerous Equine Welfare organizations over the last year. A Federal, First Amendment lawsuit has been brought by Leigh to protect the public’s “right to know” about the hands-on care of wild horses from range into holding facilities that are closed to the press and public.

To support this work, contributions to Wild Horse Education are needed. Wild Horse Education is a registered non-profit in the State of Nevada. We are in the process of filing for Federal status.

Wild Horse Education (free book)

Click the images below for printable versions of each section

copyright Laura Leigh

Forward Section

copyright Laura Leigh

Glossary Section

copyright Laura Leigh

Agency Issue Section

copyright Leigh

Roundup Reality Section

Coming Soon: What FOIA?


35 responses to “Free Book-Work In Progress

  1. Appreciate this so much. Tonight Dallas Film Festival.

    • I love these horses so much. It is amazing how much can be accomplished when you just sit and ask nothing of them… and they decide to touch you.
      Instead of you telling them to allow your touch, they decide you are worthy.

      These are the most amazing beings… a relationship like no other.

      This time of year it breaks my heart to walk those pens and know how many of these horses will be lost to long term holding.

      I met two yearlings today that allow two hands on their face and hands on legs… through the panels at PVC.

      • that is a shame they&many other have been abuzed for year’ it is in plain view for all too see,&hopefully help you help them.

  2. Monika Courtney

    Thank you for this great informative website. It is a wealth of knowledge on the truth of this issue, and I will share it widely.

    • Thank you.
      I am going to try to get at least one chapter loaded a week.
      I hope some can find it helpful.

      Talking to people I felt the glossary was needed first.
      : )
      Glad you like it Monika.

  3. Thank You So Much for all info that You are sharing with us. For me, a non american, im still learning about it all, and Im so very grateful for All you are doing. Thanks So Much!
    Marie, Sweden.

  4. Dear Laura, I cannot begin to Thank You , for all that you do for Our Wild Mustangs, and this wonderful site, for all to learn about These magnificient Horses, I have seen them many hundreds of times in Nevada….. Until the BLM removed them , they were a sight and sound that is embedded in my mind forever……Yes, just being there with them is a feeling that cannot be put into words, many of them would come very near to me, wow i will never forget that feeling they gave to me……… they would come over and look at me with those beautiful eyes, That is when I felt FREEDOM , like never before…………….. they would overwhelmme with it, one even touched me with his nose……………… i felt like he thought he new was like meeting with an old friend from the past…… he stayed only for a minute, then he was on his way……..

  5. Barbara Warner

    Many thanks, Laura. I just hope the roundups and removals can be stopped before our wild horses are extinct.

    • The Wild Horse, bred by nature not man, is much closer to the edge than people think. So many see these as “livestock” and simply putting out “new stock” would solve any problem.

      They fail to recognize that each herd has evolved unique to each landscape and is tied to our history of each place they live. That process cannot be replaced and is the literal “living symbol of the pioneer spirit of the West.”

      A “Twin Peaks” horse is not an “Antelope Range” horse is not an “Adobe Town” horse…

      The numbers that can sustain those lines are so very few, in so very few places.

  6. Acronyms 101
    A few years ago I had a CEU class by goverment worker . He had spent 30 years in his department. He taught us acronyms for two hours. Before then end of the class were almost fluent in goverment acronym language. ” Uncle Dave ” had great sense of humor and close to retirement.
    I will volunteer to help with “goverment acronym language” as my wife says I know no languages except “horse”.

    Again appreciate all you do. Terry Farley made local news here and visiting schools and libraries. She was at Texas Rangers Stadium last night.

  7. Pingback: New Section to Free Book « Wild Horse Education

  8. Laura,
    Looks great. I’d like to suggest that, in the Glossary Chapter, you include a picture of the angle symbols used in the freeze brand. I found it easier to understand when I saw it.
    Thanks , Donna

  9. Pingback: Roundup Reality « Art and Horses (Laura Leigh's Blog)

  10. Pingback: Wild Horse Education: “Roundup Reality” « Straight from the Horse's Heart

  11. thank you for making this information available.
    i am new to the horse world and want to learn and want to help.
    thank you for helping me do that. sending much love.

  12. Laura…what can I say…you’re dedication is nothing short of monumental and so obviously driven from a deep love of, and kinship with, these animals…you are truly a Guardian Angel to our our Wild Ones. To say that I admire you, along every single soul that has, and continues to, devote their lives (and sanity!) to saving our Mustang and Burro – is an understatement.

    Thank you so much for “Wild Horse Education – The Book”, as well as your new site. ‘Newbies’ such as myself can get lost in the quagmire of terms and protocol, the hows and the whys and the ‘what the hecks’. Breaking it down is a God send.

    I would be very interested in doing some volunteer work out there, with you or others…maybe a chapter on such for those of us who need/want to do MORE??? Just a thought.

    All my very best ~ Jan

  13. Laura, I cannot thank you enough for providing this clear, concise, and easy to understand information. The debate team at the school I work for is taking on the difficult subject of “Wild Horse Gathers”. I am going to refer them to your site where they can get accurate, intelligent information. Thank you!

  14. Great job Laura!

  15. Laura, this came to me in an email and is a perfect example of the kind of “intellectual” imformation that is circulated. Apparently the writer of this article has testified before Congress. We need to be well informed enough to counter these kind of attacks:

    • It is interesting that the “experts,” (that can’t tell you what the average sex-ratio is on the range before they tell you it “scientifically” will control population) have trouble remembering that management is a mandate of Congress. That their “feral v. wild” distraction has nothing to do with the law that mandates these amazing beings get to live on a piddly 10% of BLM land and get less than 10% of the resource on that 10%.
      Their vehement need to make these animals “unworthy” must stem back to childhood? Perhaps a pony bit grandpa?

      I’ll get to the “wild v. feral” thing in a chapter… maybe bump it up? It’s one of my biggest “pet peeves.”

  16. Love the book, for a person like me just the thing to help me understand all you have seen and witnesed. Now all your knowledge will not be lost ~ but passed on even to younger generations because someday they will be asked to pick up the battle or hopefully only to keep the future horses safe. We will all continue to stand with you to stop further round-ups, get our mustangs out of short and long term holding and stop the sterilization of our mares and the gelding of our stallions. Wishing you great success with the new site and the book. You alone must feel the deep loss of their freedom ~ just as all the horses do.

  17. Super great idea. Education is key. Downloadable book, brilliant! I know nobody has to tell you this but: keep up the great work! xxx Simone.

    • It’s actually nice to hear that people are finding the information helpful.
      There will be more:
      A section on FOIA’s and basic equine physiology. A section on the “Wild v. Feral” debate…
      I am trying to find a way to load in an actual “book format” and up date as it progresses.

      Planning the next field work expedition as well as working on the legal case.

      Any help you can give me spreading the word about the work… it needs public support.

  18. Laura,
    This is just great!
    Thank you for ALL you do for our Wild Ones.. Education is definitely key. This puts it in understandable ‘terms’ for those who are brand new to the ‘fight’ and, gives a little re-education and reminders to us who’ve been at it for a little while.
    I know I was sort of hesitant in the beginning contacting Congressmen & Senators, maybe a small section on where folks can get info on who their ‘people’ are and where to find them?
    (I have my Congress/Senators on speed-dial now!) 😉
    Thank you, again and always, Laura..
    Hopefully you’re getting caught up on a little rest..
    Take care..

  19. Thank you so much Laura for writing this. I know it will help me alot in my letter writting to President, Congress people & BLM.
    God Bess you, Barbara

  20. Need something to give to people besides our words….

    Please, something inexpensive to duplicate, something that will give direction for concerned new people, who were not aware of this atrocity.

    The horses need more public support and more public awareness of their plight!

    Something small, inexpensive and informative!


  21. Very nice Annie, will pass the link around for ya. Its another great resource for everyone to read for we all have more to learn about the program, the BLM, and inner workings of the Dept. of the Interior.

  22. Laura, what can I Do to help you? I am a a
    Avid lover of the horse as well as a horse rescuer…first against the roundups and slaughters, can volunteer to post, photograph, video, help stop the roundups! Volunteer in Elko to help Madeline with Spruce Ranch.

    Wonderful book draft…get the people educated and understand the facts and to know WE CAN MAKE A CHANGE WHEN WE STAND UP FOR OUR HORSES!

  23. any one observe the round up of horses in cold springs oregon in the middle of july 2010 asm i adopted a gelding from there and id like to know anything about him as i9 can find out

  24. Thank you so very much for all that you do! This needs to be heard and as you said, TIME is not on our side. I have saved what you have so far to read and pass along to others interested. Ihave learned so much about the horses social structure and society. They have adapted well to life where they live and know where to go and when. As soon as we zero our a herd there will be none there again. There has to be a humane solution to this all without stressing out all the families/bands/herds out there. Thanks again for all the things you do to help get the information out to US.

  25. Judith L. Chase, Santa Fe NM

    Thank you so very much, Laura, for all that you are doing! Yes, it is MORE than bad enough! I will mention both of your websites in my book, “MUSTANGS OF PLACITAS;” Saving the Wild Horses and Burros of Our Country,” to be published later this year. It has become obvious that the only way to stop BLM madness is to fight the battle in the courtrooms of our country. I am a member of the Wild Horse Observers Association (WHOA) in New Mexico. Your websites and your work is sorely needed. I am very grateful and feel fortunate that I have found your websites. Thank you again.

  26. thank you for not only care,for getting up and fixing it.and careing when most go with the out of site out of mind now of day’s.Thank you.

  27. If you want to understand the people who adopt and the horses that come from the range then go to Happy Mustang on Facebook, or any of the other Mustang pages, there are many. People have many views on the wild horse issue. I have been working with wild horses for over 35 years and have respect for the people here in Oregon at the corrals at Burns. The attitude and goals of this group of people is so oriented toward the good of the horses and trying to find loving homes for them. No matter how much anyone would like to leave them all out there it you tried it there would soon be dead horses lying over many of the ranges from starvation and lack of water. The idea that if you take off all of the cattle and leave the horses is not a viable solution since they don’t prefer the same grass though they do compete for water. If you remove all cattle you would also loose the rancher who fixes the water troughs even though his cattle are not out at that time. Cuts his own fences during a range fire so that the horses can cross to his land and hopefully be safe from burning. There is a lot more that takes place on the HMAs that is brought to the general public’s attentions. If you want to see more of what is happening in Oregon come and visit Sisters of the Steens, a group of photographers and wild horse lovers who document the herds in the Steens Mountains of Oregon

  28. Thank you, Laura. What would we do without a role model like you? You are a real heroine to so many of us. When I win the lottery, you can expect a huge donation!

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