International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros (ISPMB)

If anyone follows wild horses, or horse in general they’ve probably been hearing about what’s been going on at ISPMB. There is a lot of information out there, and a lot of interpretations on what has been going on, which is why I have been avoiding writing anything about it. Slowly, though, I think I’m wading through some of the more subjective sources and finding more facts. Since there has been conflicting perspectives, I thought I would try to list the facts as I know them. Like I said, some of the way things are being reported makes it challenging, so if I get something a little mixed up, please let me know.

The sanctuary started with 200 horses. Now there’s 800+ horses.

The sanctuary was trying to mimic natural selection, but not at sustainable levels.

The sanctuary was offered help by the HSUS, but only if there was population control.

The sanctuary chose not to agree to population control, resulting in neglected horses.

A former employee of the sanctuary, and now the horses are in possession of the county.

There was an opportunity to adopt horses, but many potential adopters felt the sanctuary was hindering efforts.

The adoption was a way to prove the county that the sanctuary can care for a certain amount of horses for a year.

Since they did not provide adequate funds, the horses will be offered for auction. There’s concern that some will go to kill buyers.

Due to weather, the auction has been canceled. It will happen, but it has yet to be rescheduled.

The sanctuaries board members quit. It’s executive director Karen Sussman making all the decisions.

Looking at things from an objective perspective, those are the facts as I know them, but if I am missing any, please let me know. I intentionally kept them brief so people can form their own opinions, but I thought I’d also like to share my perspective.

If you’ll forgive my strong language, this entire experience is a cluster. I’m going to take a moment to be very frank: if anything is going to get better for mustangs advocates have to stop being subjective. I put that last sentence in bold for emphasis, but a stereotype of advocates is that they are unable to put emotions aside in order to make creditable management decisions, ergo any advice they give is discounted. Stereotype # 2: advocates are unable to compromise.

How do these stereotypes have to do with ISPMB, you ask? 1. I’ve heard anything between ISPMB should no longer be an organization to HSUS is bullying Sussman! Those are a big range in subjectivity, and make it difficult to see exactly how to respond to what’s going on. 2. Even horses in the wild have some form of management control. There were several opportunities for ISPMB, HSUS, and the sheriff’s office to compromise during this entire process.  ISPMB chose not to make those recommendations, and now the horses are suffering.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to see ISPMB’s side of things, but right now we need to do what is best for the horses. Part of me wishes the auction would have taken place so we can put this horrific experience behind us, and learn from it, but I think this will give people an opportunity to become more informed. I personally don’t feel well-informed enough to know what the best course of action is, but I hope if people have time to process what’s going on, they will view it more objectively. This is a sad situation for the horses, so I know it’s hard, but I think this is a unique opportunity for advocates from different organizations, and backgrounds to shift some of the stereotypes and brainstorm ideas for the horses.

If anyone's feeling overwhelmed or stressed out by what's been going on here's a picture from the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary to make it better. I've visited twice, and they seem to have a fairly good idea about management, and ways to to what's best for the horses.

If anyone’s feeling overwhelmed or stressed out by what’s been going on here’s a picture from the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary to make it better. I’ve visited twice, and they seem to have a fairly good idea about management, and ways to do what’s best for the horses.


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