You Can Make A Difference

One Lady Who Made A Difference

Don’t ever think because you are only one person that you can’t make a difference because you can, and this lady did.
Her husband, Charlie, told her to forget about it. To let it go she would only be riling up the neighbors and nobody would do anything anyway. Nobody cares.
But she couldn’t let it go. It was too horrific; all the blood. It made her shudder just thinking about it. That was two years ago and since that day, she reached out to people of all economic and social strata of society.
She adroitly cultivated many contacts, from school children to businessmen and politicians gathering information to lead the fight. It was a lot of work but it was passionate work and now…
The sun was beginning to rise over the Nevada Mountains as the diminutive woman limped with determination out her front door in Reno. The limp was leftover from a bout with childhood polio that left her crippled. Her purse hung from her left shoulder and in her right hand was a briefcase filled with all the documents she had gathered over the past two years. Her job as an executive secretary gave her the skills needed to put together the multitude of facts and evidence into the organized presentation that she hoped would right a wrong, a wrong that, for years, nothing had been done about; but she was determined to change that today.
She was scheduled to give her presentation that morning in Storey County, Nevada. She had no idea that she was about to set off a firestorm of hatred, scorn, and threats against her that would last her lifetime by the very people she was about to speak to.
As she arrived at the meeting, she was greeted by her boss, Gordon Harris, a Reno insurance executive.
“Hi, Velma, I want you to meet someone, State Senator James Slattery. Senator, this is the lady I was telling you about, Velma Johnston. She’s an incredible young woman and I think you will find what she is about to say very interesting.”
“Pleased to me you, Velma. Aren’t you one of Joseph Bronn’s kids?”
“Yessir, I’m his oldest. I have lived here all my life. He and my mother brought me out here in a covered wagon. I crossed the desert as an infant and was kept alive on mustang mare milk. Many of the horses my father used in his freighting service were mustangs.”
“Well, I’ll be. Your daddy was a good man. I look forward to hearing what you have put together.”
As Velma walked down the aisle to the podium where she would give her presentation, the men in the audience began to jeer her and finally one redneck rancher who looked like he was chewing on a golf ball, rolled his chaw of chewing tobacco to the other cheek and spit into a cup, before yelling out to his friends and fellow ranchers, “Well look it here boys, here comes Wild Horse Annie.”
Catcalls and laughter echoed throughout the hall before the county commission chairman was able to call everyone to order.
What started out as a divisive sobriquet became a rallying cry for her supporters and she wore it with pride for the rest of her life.
As it turned out, she was forceful and compelling as a public speaker and was able to charm and inspire others as she delivered her message about the indiscriminate slaughter and brutalization of America’s living legends, the mustang horse.
She fought for years to preserve the wild horses on the public lands in Western states. They and the burros were threatened by ranchers or others wanting to kill them for pet food.
It all began in 1950, as she left her office she noticed something that didn’t seem right; blood pouring out of the back of a stock trailer as it drove down the highway. She got into her car and followed it and it wasn’t long before she realized it was crammed full of wild horses destined for a pet food slaughterhouse. When they opened the trailer door to let out all the horses, she saw a yearling being trampled to death There and then she decided to expose this to the public eye.
In the mid-1900’s, massive wild horse and burro roundups were taking place on the Western public lands. These roundups involved airplanes flown by WWII pilots. They operated in conjunction with truck drivers and were aided by cowboys with lassoes and heavy truck tires. The 1961 movie, “The Misfits,” directed by John Huston and starring Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Montgomery Cliff, and Eli Wallach, who played a former World War II aviator named Guido Racanelli, depicted these brutal gatherings.
Velma Johnston led the drive in 1959 when Congress passed a bill to prohibit planes and trucks from rounding up the animals and it was through her hard work and dedication, that thousands of people of all ages became advocates for the wild horses. Congress received more letters on this issue than any other, save the Vietnam War.
Her testimony before Congress led to the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act (P.L. 92-195) which was unanimously passed and signed into law in 1971. This gave the wild horses and burros protection on BLM and Forest Service lands “where found” at the time of the passage of the Act in 303 areas.
She was president of the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros and of Wild Horse Organized Assistance Inc. She also wrote her autobiography, “Mustang—Wild Spirit of the West.”

In 1973, she played herself in the Western, “Running Wild” starring alongside  Lloyd Bridges and Dina Merrill.
It was true that her efforts touched off controversy. Ranchers said that the wild horses were destroying grazing lands for domesticated animals. In 1974, she received a warning from an Idaho vigilante group, but she took the threat lightly and hung it on her wall of mementos, saying: “There aren’t too many people who have been threatened by vigilantes in the 1970’s.”
At the roundups of wild horses by the Bureau of Land Management, Wild Horse Annie was often present to assure that the horses were not harmed. And once captured, she led an adoption program to find homes for the animals.
Wild Horse Annie received a public service award in 1972 from Rogers C. B. Morton, Secretary of the Interior, for her fight on behalf of the horses. Her death was apparently caused by cancer.
So, when someone says to you, “You are only one person, you can’t make a difference.”
Just go out and show them, like little Wild Horse Annie did!

“They ran
 like they were running
 through the winds of time 
past the dry river gulch
 where the waters once 
ran swift and deep
 and many tribes camped
 along her banks
 and the children played
 and the deer and elk grazed
 they ran 
free and wild and 
with no idea that 
it would ever 
change.”
~ Michael Traveler, author of Postcards from the Past

My First And Last Ride

 

 

bucking-broncI was about to enter my first competition in the Tri-Cities Rodeo Classic in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. The announcer introduced me to the crowd of nearly 90 fans who packed the Wood County Fair Arena that night.
“Next on his maiden ride, we have David Hesse, from Brookfield, Wisconsin. He’ll be riding #12, outta’ Wheatland, Wyoming, a bronc named Peaceful, but I can assure you, that little bronc is anything but peaceful.”
A shiver ran down my spine, was I really going to do this? I looked at Juan Guitterez, my coach and noticed he was smiling.
Nearly all the spectators were either standing or perched on the edge of their seats. Suddenly, the crowd grew eerily silent as they released my bronc into the chute, but it wasn’t the bronc I had drawn the night before. It was a big black stud named Black Smoke.
“Hey, what’s this? I drew number 12, the little buckskin bronc.”
“Yeah,” the handler said, “but he kicked out the side of his stall last night and cut up his leg. We had to pull him. This here fella is his replacement. I know he looks pretty mean, but he was rode last night by Ferrell Bannister who pretty much rode the buck outta him. You’ll be fine, pardner.”
“Joo sure joo want to do this, gringo?” Juan asked. “Joo might geet hurt, reel bad.”
“No, but I’ve come this far and can’t see myself backing out now,” I replied.
Juan spent the past six months teaching me how to ride saddle broncs and now I was ready to try it out.
“The first time eez alweez dee hardest, gringo.It geets“ better, I promeese,” Juan laughed.
I stared at him and couldn’t think of anything to say, so I just shook my head.
“Joo ain’t got nothing under joo hat but hair, gringo. You see how beegs that flathead eez? Heez goin’ to keel you, gringo. If joo” die, can I have joo saddle?”
I looked over at Juan as I climbed the chute and said, “Sure, it’s your’s Juan. I appreciate your vote of confidence. Coming from my instructor it gives me a positive feeling.”
“Ha, ha, joo crazy, gringo. Thanks for jour saddle.”
As I stood on the fence, I looked down at this big flathead horse wishing I had the little bronc I had drawn the night before.
I eased down into the saddle, holding the buck rein in my riding hand and bracing myself with the other hand on the chute. I put one foot in the stirrup that was easiest to get to. Then I gently moved Black Smoke over so I could get my other foot in the stirrup. He looked up at me as I eased my feet up to the front of his neck, and I could see the whites of his eyes and knew you could hurt your eyes trying to find any compassion in that face. I was careful not to touch him with my spurs as that might have caused him to rear over backward.
I didn’t make any noise or quick jerking motions, remembering what Juan had told me, “Don’t joo speek out loud joo sceer your horse in the chute.” So I kept my mouth shut, for once.
When my feet and riding hands were in position, I leaned back and down in the saddle and tucked my chin to my chest. If Black Smoke reared out, I could still keep my balance. Juan told me if I didn’t keep my chin tucked and the horse throws his head back, I would be thrown off balance, lose his swells, and miss spurring the horse on the way out of the chute. How well you spurred your mount was part of your overall score.
When I was finally sitting on Black Smoke, I looked down on his head knowing a horse had to follow his head; if he rears, his head gives you the clue first. If he ducks you’ll be able to determine it earlier than if you aren’t looking at his head.
Finally, I was ready and nodded at Juan to open the chute gate. The big ol’ horse was watching me,
Everyone thought I was gonna get bucked, and Black Smoke wouldn’t just buck you. If you didn’t get out of the arena, he’d camp onto you something fierce. Then he’d go wipe out the barrel. Both Juan and I were scared.
Then Juan flung the chute open. The ride started out well. Black Smoke bolted from the chute with four straight high kicks and I stuck like glue. Then the bronc lunged to the left and jerked the rope out of my hands. I hung on with the tail of the rope, shifting to the left with each whipping turn.
I was doing real good, raking his neck with my rowels; then right before the whistle blew, I found myself too far to the inside. He caught me off balance and turned me a flip and while still soaring through the air, I heard the eight-second whistle. My final thought before I landed all wadded up on my back, breaking my collar bone was, “You almost made it Hesse.”

Saving A Wild Mustang

Mustang Stallion
Mustang Stallion

Saving a Wild Mustang

I pulled in and drove down the driveway and into the pasture. I stopped at the corral where the Department of Agriculture Agent was waiting. She waved and undid the chain holding the gate and pushed it open.
I backed the trailer in and shut the rig down and stepped out. I walked to the back and knocked up the lever holding the trailer door shut. The door swung open. I reached in and threw a flake of hay on the ground by the back entrance to the trailer.
Then I pulled the paneling in, securing them to the sides of the trailer. This was routine. I had done it many times before in the fifteen years I had been rescuing and starting wild mustangs. I looked across the corral at the bay colored gelding. He stood off on the other side of the corral, not scared, but wary of me watching him. I didn’t like what I saw.
I ambled over and put both hands on top of the gate, placing my chin on the back of my hands and one foot on the bottom rail while I observed the mustang. The Department of AG Agent approached the corral and said, “I’m not sure this one is going to make it, what do you think?”
“I’ve seen some pretty sorry looking mustangs, but this one has to be the worst. It looks like someone stretched some horsehide over a skeleton and is trying to pass it off as a horse. This horse is close to starving to death. Look at his legs, they’re wobbling. He’s so weak he can barely stand up. He may die before I can even load him, and look at his feet. They haven’t been trimmed in at least a year and by the look of his coat, it looks like he has the mange. Where’d he come from?”
“We ain’t sure. We got a call from the guy that owns this pasture saying he found the horse wandering around down the road. He couldn’t get near it to halter it, so he coaxed it into his pasture with a bucket of oats. He sold his land and has to get the horse off and that’s why he called us. We didn’t know how bad his condition was until we came out and saw him. We noticed the neck brand and figured it’s a wild mustang from the BLM, Bureau of Land Management, so we called you. You think you can get him in that trailer? We can’t get near him.”
“Oh, I’ll get him in there; just don’t know how long it will take. I don’t want to get him worked up, it will only make the job that much harder.”
“You got a rope?”
“No, just this carrot stick.”
“No rope? How are you going to catch him, if you don’t have a rope?”
“I’m not going to catch him. Some people think they have the right to touch a new mustang, but they don’t, not without their permission.”
“You’re kidding me, right? You have to get its permission?”
“If you want to have him trust you, and believe me, you do.”
“You are going to get that horse in the trailer with just that stick? How are you going to go about doing that?”
“Well, first I’m going to observe him before entering the corral. I want to know as much as I can about him. A wild horse in a corral can be trouble, even one as weak as this one, You can make a mistake with a person, and you can explain it. With a horse, you have to live with it or start over. In my experience, there has never been a time when a mistake was made that one of these two things didn’t occur. He’ll appraise me and I’ll appraise him, I know where I want to get him, but he’s the one that knows how to get there. Every horse is different. I know for this to work I have to get this horse calm, focused and confident and to accomplish this I have to be calm, focused and confident. These mustangs can spot a faker before he even opens the gate. I have to speak confidently with him using his body language. It can’t be an act, it has to be real. I’ll need your help.”
“Okay, what do you need me to do?” She asked.
“I want you to walk slowly into the corral and go to the trailer and hold onto the trailer door handle. When the horse goes in, I need you to close it as fast as you can. He may not want to come out once he goes in, but in most cases, they come out faster than they go in and if we can’t secure him in there the first time, it may be a long afternoon.”
“But aren’t you supposed to slowly introduce the trailer to the horse and do a step by step training process when teaching them to load?”
“We ain’t training this horse to load. We are here to save its life. We’ll train it later. Once we are in the corral with him, I am going to start out by tapping the ground slowly with my carrot stick. When he moves, and he will, I will start to cut down the distance between me and him and stop tapping as long as he goes in the direction of the trailer. If he stops at the back of the trailer to eat the hay I dropped there, I will stop tapping and let him relax for a few minutes. Then I’ll start tapping the ground with the carrot stick once again. This will agitate him and he will either go into the trailer or around the corral to get away from me. He can’t and I’ll continue the tapping until he gets to the back of the trailer again. Simple, huh?”
“It sounds simple, but I doubt it is,” she said.
“We’ll see. Why don’t you go in there now and secure the trailer door and I’ll come in about five minutes later?”
“Okay,” she replied, and slowly entered the corral and walked over to the trailer while the horse cautiously watched her out of one eye while keeping the other on me. After a few minutes, I opened the gate and strolled casually to the horse, speaking softly. All I had with me was my carrot stick. I got about fifteen feet from him before he turned and bolted away on those wobbly legs. His hooves barely cut into the earth and his legs lacked power. He continued to trot back and forth along the far fence, watching me, head raised, nostrils flared, and ears pointing in my direction. He quit roaming the perimeter of the corral and settled into a side away from both me and the trailer, not agitated, just alert and ornery. I could see his sides twitching. Sweat had formed on his underbelly and on his chest. His breathing was more labored than it should have been for the short time he was running around. He was nervous and in very bad health. I thought there was a good chance this horse had a respiratory problem to go along with all his other health issues. After about fifteen minutes of this routine, I guess he decided it would be easier on him to climb into the trailer than to continue to trot around the corral.
The empty trailer clanged with the sound of the horse’s hooves as he burst in. The Agent quickly closed the door. I ran up to assist her in securing the door handle and we were ready to roll. The trailer was rocking back and forth as the horse moved around inside.
“I learned something today,” she said. “That was pretty amazing.”
“Well, if you consider the horse,” I replied, “you will find out they are pretty amazing.”
We walked around and entered the side of the trailer through the escape door and stood and watched him adjust. He stomped and turned around a few times before calming down. He looked at us and blew his breath out against my face. The grainy earth smell was intoxicating.
“That’s right, boy,” I said, “it was pretty easy, wasn’t it? You’re going to be fine. We’ll fix you up.”
At the time, I didn’t have the confidence that we could. I knew it was easier said then done.
“Come take a look at this fresh manure pile,” I called to the AG Agent after we left the inside of the trailer. “It’s filled with worms. My Lord, I have never seen so many worms in a pile of horse manure in my life. There have to be thousands of them in there.”
She looked at the pile and shook her head in amazement, “I doubt this horse has been wormed for a couple of years. You’ll have to take it slow and easy on the de-worming as well as the feeding or he will die on you sure as we are standing here.”
I nodded, “It’s a damn shame what humans do to defenseless animals. We need your agency to crack down on some of these folks.”
“I wish we could, but we don’t have any teeth. If we see something bad, we have to get the Sheriff in on it to make an arrest or a confiscation. Hell, if they are arrested, it’s a misdemeanor and they get a fine and a slap on the wrist and they are back doing the same thing a month later. It breaks your heart.”
“I know. All we can do is keep saving one horse at a time. I better head back. It will take me a couple of hours and I want to get him settled in before dark.”
“Ok, I need you to sign some papers, the government you know. It’s just saying you are legally taking custody of government property.”
When we arrived at the barn, the sun was barely peeking over the tops of the trees in the west pasture. In the distance, it looked like our horses rose out of the earth, first their ears then the shape of their heads and necks. They lifted their heads and their ears pointed in our direction. Then they took off and the earth trembled under the movement of their hooves as they ran to the fence line to meet the new member of the Mustang Rescue’s family of unwanted horses. I knew it would be a long time before this horse would be turned out with the herd. One kick that landed on this poor fellow, while they went through the ritual of determining herd hierarchy, could kill him.
I backed into the barn and opened the trailer. He tentatively stepped out on wobbly legs and headed down the aisle of the barn to the paddock we had set up for him. We had the water trough filled for him and a couple of flakes of hay waiting as well.
I stayed with him awhile that evening and at one point I reached out and he allowed me to touch him and I stroked his side. I promised him I would help him.
Softly I spoke to him,“Cages are everywhere. We all have them, don’t we boy?”
He nickered and I touched his flank and his hoof flashed up.
He just set the boundaries.
With the coordinated efforts of many of our great volunteers, three daily feedings, lots of love, and multiple vet visits to help him regain his strength his progress was nothing short of miraculous. He overcame equine lice, a bout of colic, and intestinal parasites to transform into the happy and healthy mustang.
He was adopted by a ten-year-old girl who was instrumental in nursing him to health. She is currently riding him and continuing his training in Woodstock, Georgia.

So, You Want To Become A Corrupt Professional? You Can Get Your Training At The DOI

 

 

BLM Toole1

The Department of Interior and its current Secretary, Sally Jewell, is in charge of more than 71,000 employees with a budget in excess of 90 billion dollars and one of its divisions, the Bureau of Land Management, the BLM, oversees more than 500 million acres of public land, which is about one-fifth the land area of the United States and this department is and has always been, awash in scandal.
Established on March 3, 1849, by the Department of the Interior Act, the Department of Interior became the fourth cabinet in the federal government. It didn’t take long before the first scandal struck this Cabinet.
In 1873, a year after Yellowstone National Park was established, Secretary of Interior Columbus Delano made the following remarks:
“The civilization of the Indian is impossible while the buffalo remains upon the plains. I would not seriously regret the total disappearance of the buffalo from our western prairies, in its effect upon the Indians, regarding it as a means of hastening their sense of dependence upon the products of the soil and their own labors.”
Delano’s attitude was shared by most Americans around this time as people began to move westward. As Delano stated, the buffalo and the wild horse were viewed as a means of perpetuating Native Americans way of life. General Phil Sheridan made clear his strategy in dealing with the Indians when he said the way to defeat the enemy is to destroy their commissary and destroy their means of transportation and our government did. In the mid to late 1800’s millions upon millions of buffalo and wild horses were killed by, or with the blessing, of the federal government.

Two years later, in 1875, Delano’s department was in serious disrepair due to his corruption and incompetence. He paid money to fictitious clerks while other clerks had been paid without performing any services. He was convicted of taking bribes for fraudulent land grants  and was forced to resign from office. Delano had also given lucrative cartographical contracts to his son John Delano.
Then there was the infamous Teapot Dome bribery scandal of 1922. The Teapot Dome is a federal oil reserve in Wyoming. Investigations revealed that Interior Secretary Albert Fall had secretly leased the Teapot Dome reserve and California’s Elk Hills reserve to oil executives and received a $409,000 payoff in return. Fall was convicted and sentenced to a year in prison. Wow, a whole year.

In 1971, Congress passes the  Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Actintended to protect America’s living legends, the mustang horse and its cousin, the burro. Ironically, they put the BLM, a division of the same department, the Department of Interior, that originally tried to eradicate these animals and who has been under the thumb of the special interest group, the Cattlemen’s Association, since its inception, in charge of executing this act. Needless to say, this has been a disaster.
Then in 1973 Congress passes the Endangered Species Act, which expands federal power over private lands. The law’s basic approach is to put most of the cost of endangered species recovery onto the owners of the land the animals happen to live on. As such, it creates perverse incentives for landowners to destroy wildlife on their lands before the government effectively expropriates it.The law was administered by Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service.
Then we have former Department of Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, accused of doing nothing about the Bureau of Land Management’s mismanagement of wild horses. The BLM allowed a notorious livestock hauler named Tom Davis, acquire nearly 1,800 wild horses and burros over a four-year period. Davis claimed he sold about 1700 to a rescue in the southeast. When the Denver Post was doing their expose on this, they called our organization to see if we had them or knew of anyone in our area who could have taken this many horses. There is nobody and if 1800 wild horses were introduced into the southeast, we would have known about it because, at the time, we were one of only two mustang rescues in the entire southeast. Livestock hauler Tom Davis is accused of handing them over to kill buyers who sent them to Mexico to slaughter for human consumption and in the process was breaking numerous Colorado state and federal laws. According to the IG report, the hauler, Tom Davis, allegedly “had farming and trucking connections” with Salazar. The Office of the Inspector General report notes that Davis began gathering horses from the BLM after Salazar took office as Interior Secretary (the BLM program is part of the Department of the Interior and therefore was under Salazar’s control).
Making matters even worse for the Department of Interior in the year 2006 as word of scandals at the Department of Interior’s Denver office surface, the department’s Inspector General, Earl Devaney, declared that it suffers from “a culture of managerial irresponsibility,” including cronyism and widespread ethical failures. Devaney charged that “short of a crime, anything goes at the highest levels of the Department of Interior.” Well, it sure appears that even crime is more than a possibility with these people.
At the Interior’s Minerals Management Service in Denver, various conflicts of interest were cited. The Interior’s Inspector General reported that MMS employees had close relationships with, and had received gifts, including sex for hire (crime), from, employees of the energy firms they were supposed to be regulating.
The former head of the Denver Royalty-in-Kind office, Gregory W. Smith, used illegal drugs (crime) and had sex with subordinates. The report said Smith also steered government contracts to a consulting business that was employing him part-time.
Recently, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that the former director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management “stood to benefit personally” in 2012 when he tried to fast-track the sale of federal land in Henderson, Nevada, to a stadium developer, according to a government investigation report.
The joint investigation by the FBI and the Office of the Inspector General showed then-BLM director Bob Abbey was “personally and substantially involved” in the review process for the land sale, despite his connections to the transaction.
The deal was being pushed by former BLM employee Mike Ford, Abbey’s friend and onetime partner in a private consulting firm where Abbey worked both before and after his three-year stint as head of the federal agency. The firm stood to receive a $528,000 “success fee” after the land sale went through.
Ford was working as a consultant for the City of Henderson and controversial Texas developer Chris Milam, who was floating plans for a $650 million professional sports arena that would never be built.
When Abbey was nominated by President Obama to head the BLM, he signed what’s known as a “recusal form” stating that he had resigned his position as a private consultant but “expected to rejoin the firm as a member” after his government service. In the same form, he pledged not to “participate personally and substantially in any particular matter that had a direct and predictable effect on the financial interests of the firm.”
Investigators said Abbey’s relationship with Ford, gave the consultant unusual access to the BLM and its staff during the review process for the land sale, and at the prompting of both Ford and Abbey, key documents were processed far faster than usual.
Abbey retired as BLM director on May 31, 2012, and now he is listed as a partner in the firm Abbey Stubbs & Ford. Now isn’t that convenient?
The report says he told investigators he never received any payment from the consulting firm or anyone else as a result of the land sale in Henderson. I suppose because he is a public official we should believe him?
This goes to show you that, with these government officials, the recusal forms they sign aren’t worth the paper they are written on.

It makes one wonder if there is any sort of corruption and self-serving activity that is too debased for these government officials become involved in next. I personally doubt it.