Lantry, South Dakota Wild Horse Rescuer Explains Why Roundups of Wild Horses Are Counterproductive and Cruel

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While the U. S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) infuriated animal advocacy groups by rounding up wild horses from the Pryor Mountains along the Montana-Wyoming state line on September 3rd, a South Dakota rescuer and the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe continue Nature's way of handling wild horse herds. Unlike the BLM's disruptive practice of chasing terrified horses with hovering helicopters, the Lantry, South Dakota methods are based on the natural harmony of wild horse herds and harems.

While the U. S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) infuriated animal advocacy groups by rounding up wild horses from the Pryor Mountains along the Montana-Wyoming state line on September 3rd, a South Dakota rescuer and the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe continue Nature's way of handling wild horse herds. Unlike the BLM's disruptive practice of chasing terrified horses with hovering helicopters, the Lantry, South Dakota methods are based on the natural harmony of wild horse herds and harems.

Karen Sussman, president of the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros (ISPMB) based in Lantry, South Dakota, preserves one of America's greatest historical treasures - - the genetically pure and rare herd of wild horses from Gila Bend, Arizona. Sussman's story is featured in the unique new book Horses with a Mission: Extraordinary True Stories of Equine Service (New World Library, September 2009) by best-selling, award-winning authors Allen and Linda Anderson. Horses with a Mission is available in bookstores nationwide and online. http://www.horseswithamission.com

"Diana: The Saga of a Wild Horse" tells how Sussman and ISPMB rescued the Gila herd. As lead mare, Diana protected her herd and taught the great lesson of forgiveness by ultimately making peace with humans. Descended from horses that were brought to America in the 1600s by Father Eusebio Kino, a missionary from Spain, Diana's ancestors survived a trip across the ocean in small sailing vessels over raging waves. They also survived the practice that began in the 1920s in which cowboys, called mustangers, captured wild horses and shipped them to slaughter.

Diana roamed the desert areas and public lands near Gila Bend where the last of her herd remained. The Gila herd was eventually brought under the protection of Public Law 92-195 that was passed through the efforts of ISPMB's first president Velma Johnson, known as Wild Horse Annie. In 1999 when the BLM threatened to remove the Gila herd at the request of ranchers, Sussman stepped in. Eventually she brought Diana and her herd to a beautiful ranch four hours north of the Badlands, on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, in Lantry, South Dakota.

Although the BLM claims that roundups of wild horses are necessary to reduce their numbers and maintain a thriving natural ecological balance, Sussman and other activists like the Colorado-based Cloud Foundation and Front Range Equine Rescue don't agree that rounding up the wild horse herds is a solution to overpopulation.

In her story in Horses with a Mission, Sussman writes with authority about wild horses based on unprecedented research of four herds she has rescued that are now free to roam and behave naturally. She claims that when the BLM does roundups, they disrupt the harem system that has been in place for over five hundred years. The wild horses never band up the same way again. Without supervision from the wiser stallions that have been removed and that typically maintain harmony in the herds, the younger stallions take charge. "It's analogous to having fifth graders running the neighborhood," Sussman says.

The young stallions breed with fillies, and the fertility rates skyrocket. Sussman writes, "The increasing fertility rate of the herds is the direct result of harem bands being destroyed as stallions are separated from their mares when captured in roundups. Because we have kept Diana's herd intact in conditions that are natural to wild horses, the herd has been able to teach us the importance of keeping harems together and of allowing the wild horses to maintain strong social bonds." The horses that the BLM captures but does not release back into the wild are put up for adoption. BLM officials admit that there are virtually no takers in this economy.

As a leading authority and advocate for the preservation of wild horses, one of Sussman's goals is to bring the conservation model she is developing on ISPMB's acreage to other areas of the country and to develop ecotourism nationally and worldwide.

The Andersons say, "Karen and Diana's story is a wakeup call that wild horses help us to remember our country's history that was built on the backs of horses, to cherish beauty for beauty's sake alone, and to preserve the type of freedom we all aspire to attain."

Joe Camp, author of The Soul of the Horse and creator of the films starring the canine superstar Benji, says, "Karen Sussman's account of rescuing and documenting a wild horse herd reminds all of us that native and indigenous horses have been here for 52 million years. With hearts and minds open, we can learn from the wild and domesticated horses in this wonderful book."

Horses with a Mission: Extraordinary True Stories of Equine Service
By Allen and Linda Anderson
September 22, 2009 ( Animals ( Trade Paper
$14.95 ( 186 pages ( B&W Photos Throughout ( ISBN: 978-1-57731-648-0

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