-- -- --
Annie and Walter certainly must have rejoiced with the passage of the 1971 act, for it was a supreme achievement for both. Decades of dedication had at last resulted in a law that would provide more security for Annie's wild ones, thus safeguarding the nation's wild equine heritage. Twenty years earlier, such a law would have been unimaginable in the face of organized opposition, hostile legislators, and indifferent bureaucrats. But if Annie did rejoice, there was little evidence of it in her correspondence.
To one friend she wrote only, "We have the very best bill that could be obtained in behalf of the wild horses and burros." It had been a rewarding yet taxing journey for Annie. During the years of struggle, her beloved husband and companion, Charlie, had passed away. Annie now referred to herself as "a widow." In 1973, Walter Baring lost his reelection bid for a seat in the U.S. Congress. And Annie had one more major struggle to face, but unlike her fight to save the horses, this one she would not win. Ill with cancer, Annie passed away on June 27, 1977, and was laid to rest in Mountain View Cemetery in Washoe County, Nevada. Her marker there reads simply, "Velma B. Johnston, 'Wild Horse Annie.' "
Thus, a name first given by enemies in ridicule would serve as her enduring epitaph. Wild Horse Annie must have departed this world knowing that she had done all that she could, that she had achieved her major goal, that she, with Walter's help, had passed a law to protect her wild ones. With the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, Americans had a law to protect those historic animals of the West. The law had a deeper significance, however: it allowed the people to regain a measure of control over an even greater heritage, America's public lands. These were the legacies that Annie left for future generations, and now it was theirs to protect from the many challenges soon to be faced.
--From "Wild Horses of the West: History and Politics of America's Mustangs" by J. Edward de Steiguer © 2011 J. Edward de Steiguer. Reprinted by permission of the University of Arizona Press. www.uapress.arizona.edu/Books/bid2266.htm
Tucson Festival of Books
Edward de Steiguer will be among the hundreds of authors appearing at the 2012 Tucson Festival of Books, March 10-11.
Follow details of the 2012 festival, including the author lineup, at tucsonfestivalofbooks.org
Did You Know
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management spends about $40 million each year on its wild-horse program, which is 2 percent of its entire congressional appropriation. About half of that goes to the maintenance of horses in holding facilities. The daily per-horse cost of short-term holding facilities is $5 per horse, while long-term holding costs are $1.25 per horse.
Source: Ed de Steiguer
-- The whinny. Long in duration compared to other forms of horse communication, the whinny is high-pitched at first and then suddenly drops in pitch. Horses whinny mostly when they are distressed or trying to locate their herd.
-- The snort. A strong exhalation through the nose which horses do when they are uncertain about something and trying to establish whether there is danger.
-- The blow. Similar to a snort, but much softer. Horses do this when they are curious about something and are trying to decide, nose-to-nose, if a new horse is a friend.
-- The nicker. A vibrating sound through the nose that offers a friendly salute.
-- The squeal. A cry of resistance, this sound varies in pitch and and is often used in protest.
-- The scream. Domesticated horses rarely scream, but stallions in the wild sometimes scream when they are confronted with a challenge, such as an approaching foe.
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