Who is Mustang Meg?
My name is Sonya, my name "Mustang Meg" is my alias to share and report on our wild mustangs and burros, a real life western. My focus is not about the BLM management at the state level, but rather focus on the bigger picture at the federal level, and the removals and elimination of mustang herds for special interests at the expense of our mustangs and burros and the wild public range lands they roam, rather than upholding the original intent of the 1971 Wild Free Roaming Wild Horses and Burros Act- and that focus is in Washington DC.
What's with the alias name? There's a method to my madness.... "Meg" is a concise and memorable name fluid with "mustang" I chose, as I wanted to develop a page easily remembered and easily accessible ~ where much scattered information about our wild horses can be funneled to one spot for review, education, and discussion. I try hard to bring factual information, by research and cross-referencing information first, for the education of others to help them in their own endeavors of seeking protection for our mustangs and wild burros, with confidence sharing with their own "netposse", ultimately benefiting our wild ones. Wild horse and burro advocacy has become the greatest "grassroots" effort in history... and since the government in DC has proven it is less then concerned with our wild horses entrusted in their care, this union of grassroots of wild horse enthusiasts and concerned citizens ban together and remind lawmakers the importance of wild horses to the people.
My name is Sonya Spaziani, and I am a graduate from Oregon State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. I've studied Oregon wild horses since 1994 while out in the southeast region of the state, the Steens Mountain area. While driving around a rimrock corner, about 40 or more wild horses of just about every possible color crossed the little mountain road in front of us- big ones, little ones, manes and tails flying... some walking, some trotting, and some loping. I could still hear the hoof beats on the hard packed earth, smell the sage they brushed against, and taste the dust on my lip. I've been mesmerized by them ever since, wanting to know everything I can about these soul-stirring, pure and natural wild-born creatures.
In my early history, my parents with their two young girls fled the Czech Republic (Czechoslovakia) in 1968, and all my life to this day, from my father, I've been given the lessons of freedom-- and what that truly means. Wild mustangs for me are that bridge to that ideal. Although he's gone now, his words, "Never take freedom for granted" I still hear in my head to this day.
Since 1994 every year, we travel out to the SE Oregon herd management areas searching for these wild ones, sometimes when I'm lucky, several times a year. In 2011, we've included our two little boys on our wild horse trips, to add to the love of wild horses and advocacy for them in their new generation. I keep a journal and write-ups on my excursions. I reside in the foothills of the Cascade Mountain range of the central Willamette Valley in a zone between valley and mountain where I am also fortunate to observe varied wildlife, also satiating my interest is in nature and wild animals. I live about a half day's drive to the herd management area. Besides documenting my own on-the-range findings, I also put in many hours of research time, to continue to educate myself with ongoing information for this plight.
Besides the natural lure of the wild horses, I am on this mission to 'protect to preserve' our wild horses and burros full force since I discovered an amendment to their protected Federal status. With the insult of the sneaky rider/bill introduced by Montana Senator, Conrad Burns in 2004, slipped in the appropriations bill, during the major holidays and without public knowledge or review, single-handedly and with the swift motion of a pen, deteriorated wild horse and burro protection given in 1971 known as the Free Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act. This tragic amendment was signed by President George W. Bush on December 6, removing most protection for our wild horses and burros, where a majority can be sold/ auctioned/ processed "without limitation". Currently there are roughly 50,700+ mustangs in holding (at a cost of $450 per head), awaiting an uncertain future at best, and a loss of over 111 herds, and over 19 million herd management acres. Yet more are gathered, removed, and adding to the stockpile of horses in holding. It has been my mission since 2004 to bring awareness to the public and aid, in my small way, to help to restructure even better wild horse protection and preservation.
I am often asked about "my stand". I stand for "on the range management" with the aid of wild mare remote-darting reversible fertility control, in managing herd levels- plain and simple. It is my opinion that wild mare contraception is the lesser of the man-made evils in terms of management. However, contraception in the hands of a governing entity, must be overseen, and must also be careful for maintaining natural- not 'selected for' wild horses, assuring contraception is fairly rotated among mares, along with leaving stallions intact to assure full genetic representation among each unique herd, and maintain the wild and tightly knit social orders within established bands. Permanent sterilization of healthy animals should never be an option in the wild.
In addition, realistically, careful management will always be necessary, but in cooperative efforts with a wild horse-based coalition or advocacy group overseeing care and management of our wild horses and burros. With the assistance of independent scientific analysis by range ecologists and biologists, when removal is deemed necessary, there must be a sound plan in place (ie: available programs/homes) which are pre-approved, and no longer stockpiling them in government long-term holding, or with the threat of euthanizing or sending them to auction "without limitations".
In this least invasive, more natural-based program, it is also my opinion, that lead and established stallions who have worked hard and earned their "reign" should not be removed from a herd area, but be allowed to stay to re-establish family bands, through their rightful hierarchy. There is much experience in these stallions, which also 'teach' younger animals the ways of band and herd society. Band stallions have earned their position because they are strong, determined, and intelligent... they have won through battle, and they have learned how to maintain their band. In wild horse society, these reigning stallions maintain stability and overall harmony to a herd area, until another of substance rightfully replaces them. Long-term evolution of bands among a herd, is valuable and a certain treasure to witness and observe natural design of dynamic wild horse society.
I am a firm believer, that adequately protected wild horses and burros "lock up/protect" our wild lands from being turned into anything from wind turbine farms to strip malls, homes, and lands exploited for natural resources, etc. The list is endless, and in this struggling economy, money talks loudly, unfortunately. This landgrab war has become more than just the mustangs and wild burros, and the last of our wild lands of this high desert basin, and what remains in the far reaches of our "still" wild west... the west- your and my wide open spaces, the public lands and wilderness areas.
So I learn, I write, I research, and I spend time out there among the wild ones, gathering information, videos, and photographs to share in my own small way and possibly make a difference by bringing awareness to these incredible wild horses. My work also includes an art series called "For the Mustangs" where a percentage is utilized where proceeds help the organizations dedicated also to keep our mustangs where they belong, on our western public rangelands. There are four completed, and two are in progress. I also am in the process of finishing a book, complete with my writing, quotes, and mustang photos, as well as a website for purchase of my photos. These endeavors will help me reach out to more of the public, bringing more information, research, and of course photographs to the mainstream, so that our mustangs and burros become a conscious awareness.
Who am I? I am a citizen concerned for the future welfare of our wild horses. I chose no other, but one side, the side of the wild horses and burros. It's my hope and ambition that I can reach at least one person daily, so they know that we still have these inspiring free-roaming animals on our wild lands, and how necessary they are on so many levels, but mostly our spirits.... These wild horses, an American icon symbolizing our own struggle to remain free~ A powerful icon to the citizens of the great Nation, and to so many around the world.
Together, THEY stand. And together we work to keep the WILD in our West.
Sonya, aka Mustang Meg