Spirit of the Last Mustang
By Kristin Hoffmann
Once we looked with eyes of wonder
Felt the thunder of the herd
Shake the freedom deep within us
Connect us to the soul of our Mother Earth
A respect for wild beauty
Unwilling to be tamed
We lifted them to be a symbol
Of our life and liberty
Greed is out in the fields today
Rounding up the freedom of the USA
Greed is out to get his way
Killing the spirit of the last Mustang
Raise your voices, crash down your fists
And shout out in their name
‘Cause killing them is killing you…
Free Spirit of the Last Mustang
We’ve been preying from our choppers
Tasting money in our mouths
Running them into a corner
Straight to auction, and slaughterhouse
We are heeding corporations
To obey the cattle call
But Gluttony is grazing
The life out of us all
Please don’t close your eyes again…It’s not too late
Please don’t close your ears to them…
‘Cause it’s not…It’s not too late
With April being Earth Month, and Earth Day on April 22nd, I found myself thinking a lot about the environment over the past weeks and many of the issues that we face in our 21st century world. During this time I happened to read an incredible and heart wrenching article in Laika Magazine, called “No Home on the Range: How the Public’s Appetite for Range Fed Meat is Wiping Out the Legendary Mustang.” This detailed and comprehensive account of the hushed plight of the American Mustang, written by Mark Hawthorne, combined with vivid and emotionally gripping imagery taken by photographer Jennifer MaHarry, sunk deep into my being and called me to action. I soon realized, upon deeper reflection, that this particular “mustang issue” actually cuts to the core of a much wider scope of environmental challenges that we are currently facing in our country and world.
As a child born in 1978, year of the Earth Horse, I have always felt a true affinity with these beautiful and majestic creatures. As a young girl riding in the car with my parents, I remember feeling my heart almost beat out of my chest with excitement whenever we would pass pastures where horses were out roaming and grazing! I don’t think I am alone in this memory and sensation…I know so many of us have felt a sense of true unbridled freedom and wonder arise within when in the presence of our equine brothers and sisters…especially the legendary Mustang! It is no wonder that they have become a symbol of freedom and opportunity in the United States…our earthy wild side motto, alter ego to the dignified bald eagle!
Sadly, behind a hushed veil of political suppression and out of sight and ear-shot of most citizens, the American Mustang is fighting an uphill battle for his rights to roam free and graze on public U.S. land. I am reminded of the power hungry, brutal cycle of control and torment that has led to the decimation of countless indigenous tribes throughout history, continuing today.
I think it is safe to say, in most cases, whenever we see large groups of people or animals suffering and fighting for their rights to live and exist with nature, there is one core egoic seed of darkness at the root of it all…GREED.
In the case of the American Mustang, the root of Greed comes in the form of money hungry cattle ranchers amidst a hushed government subsidized grazing program (which costs tax payers in the ballpark of $123 million a year). With this sweet deal, called “Welfare Ranching,” cattle ranchers are allowed to graze their cows on public US land for about $1.69 per animal unit month (AUM) rather than the average going rate in the west, which is about $19 per AUM. This undeniable deal has been a breeding ground for corruption, made demand skyrocket, and has continuously pushed the wild mustang, who has historically grazed these same lands, into smaller and smaller territories.
By its existence alone, the wild Mustang is seen by cattle ranchers to be eating into profits and taking up public land that could be used for more cattle. The bandaid solution for this issue comes in the form of wild horse roundups conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), where horses are stampeded, using helicopters, and ultimately run into a pen trap. In total panic, families are then separated, never to see each other again. ”A lucky few will find homes through the BLM’s adopt-a-horse program.” The rest are sent to auction, where many go to bids from slaughterhouses in Canada or Mexico, where horse slaughter is more prevalent. And even though the slaughtering of horses for human consumption is technically illegal in the U.S., they are being slaughtered here as feed for other animals.
So what can we do??? When I look at the environmental challenges we are currently facing globally…the many endangered species, constant deforestation of valuable rainforest land and suffering of indigenous peoples, pollution and waste of water to grow seed for livestock, excessive release of methane gas, and constant demand for 24/7 production relying heavily on fossil fuels, it becomes increasingly evident that our greatest issue of today is overproduction and consumption of meat…namely BEEF. If you have not seen the film “Cowspiracy” it is a MUST for today’s times and really shines a bright flood light on the heavily weighted impact that the beef industry is having on our world. If every one us was to stop buying and eating beef today, lessening the demand on the cattle industry, many of our environmental challenges would begin to reverse rapidly. Even committing to decreasing beef consumption to once per week or month would create a massive shift. And with a lightened demand on precious land and recourses, we could grow truly healthy food to sustainably feed human life, rather than livestock.
I cannot believe how many environmental conferences, summits and panels I have been present to that have skirted over this issue completely. Meat consumption is the #1 factor, in addition to family size planning (another heated, but highly related topic), that must be taken into account in order to accurately calculate one’s carbon footprint. You can ride your bike everywhere you go for the rest of your natural life, but the simple choice of ending, or sharply limiting, your consumption of beef will far outweigh energy and resources saved by doing so.
The inconvenient truth behind the persecution of the Wild American Mustang is that our everyday choices as consumers have directly led to the creation of a problem that most of us never even dreamed of. It is so easy to turn our heads back to our TV sets and social media feeds and pretend that none of the environmental challenges we face are actually happening. We don’t want these beings of free spirit and historic significance to suffer, but we feel the solution is beyond our grasp or control. I am here to tell you that it is not.
True planetary healing starts with Me…and it starts with You. It is the little steps and choices that we make now, today, that create the world around us. Our vote as consumers is our most powerful way to say what we stand for…and what we do not stand for.
I felt moved to write this song and hope it will be a powerful call to action for all who listen. I am committed to taking a real look at myself, and my life, and making personal consumer choices to support my health and a sustainable planet, to the best of my knowledge, on a daily basis. I know that I am always growing and learning, and that my choices based in awareness will continue to grow more vibrant and powerful too. You are just like me…your choices are your power and freedom to create a better world!
So let’s live in Awareness. The Wild Mustang will thank you…and ultimately, so will every living and breathing being on Planet Earth.
For more information and to take action or support:
-Share this song and message!
-Sign this petition now: www.change.org/p/tell-president-obama-and-congress-to-pass-the-safe-act-s-541-h-r-1094-to-stop-the-export-of-hundreds-of-thousands-of-our-horses-per-year-to-international-slaughter-houses
-Visit the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) at www.wildhorsepreseveration.org
-Read the article “No Home on the Range” in Laika Magazine (Strength Issue…out now) www.laikamagazine.com/product/issue-five-digital/
-Visit Photographer Jennifer MaHarry’s website: www.jennifermaharry.com/american-wild-horses/
-Contact your representatives in Congress. Ask them to protect wild horses and not favor ranching interests. www.contactingthecongress.org
-Visit the group Protect Mustangs www.protectmustangs.org
CLICK HERE to learn more.