A couple of weeks back, I posted that an equine film festival, “The Whinnies,” was coming to the Jackson Hole Center for the Arts. As much as I love horses, I don’t get to spend much time around them, and horse ownership often connotes extreme wealth. Although that kind of elite equine community exists, horses’ presence in Jackson Hole and the Intermountain West is about heritage, Indian culture, ranching, and a working, agricultural, pioneering way of life. Bonds are strong and deep. Horses are healers. As a child in California, I was around horses a lot, both at home (remember our riding teacher Égon, anyone?) and at my summer camp. Sometimes we rode Western, sometimes English, but we loved the horses, learned how to care for them—-and for me, it was a matter of learning not to be afraid. Everyone with horses in their lives is extremely lucky indeed.
I meant to make it to the film festival’s opening, an opening that featured artwork by several of our best local artists. I didn’t get to the Center that evening, but the next day, I did. I viewed the artists’ exhibit and attended the film “Wild Horses & Renegades.” I understood it would be a hard film to watch, and it was. I had to cover my eyes a few times, and I wept. However, seeing the film is a choice I’m deeply grateful to have made.
The film exposes the HORRIFIC “management” of the West’s wild horses, and the Bureau of Land Management’s blatant, ultimate destruction of these beautiful creatures. The BLM states they are putting these horses up for adoption–but that’s a white washing of what truly happens. Herding horses is executed by corralling helicopters that chase the horses, practically running them down. The horses feverishly tear across the land, in sheer terror, attempting escape. They do not escape. Their families are separated, they are held in claustrophobic holding pens, and many are ultimately shipped to processing plants where they are destroyed and sold for untold amounts of money. Their flesh becomes part of the menu in elite restaurants. The horses are considered a detriment to the BLM’s leasing agenda. Horses, being horses, just living.
The audience that afternoon was small, but there’s no doubt in my mind everyone in the audience left the auditorium dumbfounded and in shock over what we witnessed. My only critique is that celebrities featured in the film are overly identified and quoted—almost to distraction. No doubt, though, that their voices and contributions are needed. Please find out more about this issue, help the legal team working to right this wrong, and filmmakers bringing this fight to the public’s attention. It’s about the horses, and ultimately about the health our public lands——-and our souls.