In early April, it came across my email that the BLM Advisory Board for Wild horses and burros was holding a meeting in Columbus, OH. I felt this message was for me, and I was compelled to attend and take a chance at speaking to the board. Everything worked smoothly, the date was one in which I have no classes to teach, thus, it truly lined up in a divine manner, again a signal this was a calling to me to help provide a voice to the voiceless.
As I heard some of the meeting prior to the public opportunity to speak, I suspect I may require some dental work as I gritted my teeth relentlessly as a BLM spokesperson related to the advisory board the ‘study’ they had conducted on whether or not the mustangs in captivity actually needed shade. Yes, you read that correctly-they actually studied whether or not shade was required because the mustangs weren’t really using it…. (this ‘research’ took place in a California holding facility). The board spent a good 20-30 minutes actually discussing this ridiculousness, suggesting perhaps they could lessen a requirement for adoption if an adopter didn’t NEED to have shade for the mustang…..so at this point I suspect my teeth are a good bit shorter…. J (Fortunately most states require shelter for horses anyway—thank goodness…so nice waste of time on a moot point….)
General rule is you have 3 minutes to speak, we were first told we’d have 10, that dropped to 5, but that was better than nothing. I was toward the end of the speakers which allowed me to hear them, and change mine as we progressed. I noted that most read a prepared statement and didn’t veer from it-in spite of what anyone else had already said. Several people asked for PZP, and had very good points, all in all, it was a very calm and smooth public input opportunity.
I’d never done this before, but watching the stone faces (one woman on the end really never even cracked a smile and looked rather perturbed the whole time) but I knew I had to take a positive approach and do my utmost to engage them. Thus, I went ‘off’ my script a good bit, provided accurate figures (which I was pleased that Anna had provided me, particularly the cost of PZP per horse which no one else could quote). And, I got a few to crack a smile as I looked them in the eyes, smiled, and encouraged them to ‘partner’-several organization leaders came to speak, one in particular the Cloud foundation-and they had all offered to help BLM-thus I wanted to reinforce the concept that working together, rather than at odds, would prove to be more successful.
I additionally told them my occupation, because I felt it important they know I had no connection to any particular group (except ROTH)-which I felt equally important to mention, as that was my inspiration. So, it is my greatest hope that between myself and the other 17 people, our voices will be taken into consideration. At the conclusion of the public portion, the advisory committee acknowledged us for speaking, and indicated they heard the concept of PZP loud and clear and would indeed take that further into consideration and recommendation.
I am grateful for the opportunity to have experienced this, and hope that my voice for the horses will be helpful in some way. Thanks Anna Twinney and my ROTH ‘upbringing’ if you will….I am grateful, as always, to be a part of the ROTH team, and look forward to continuing this spectacular journey.
Dr. Laura Schumann stands up for Mustangs