I woke up in sweats because I was having a nightmare. I was choking and coughing because my windpipe was being crushed, and then I fell to the ground as men with smiles on their faces roped my delicate hind legs. Oh, it hurt so badly. The sting of the rope, and the crushing weight of my rib cage as I hit the ground. I couldn't get up I was so tangled in ropes. I looked for my friends Marjorie and Johnny, but I couldn't find them, and people were laughing. They were laughing at me, Miss Abby. I did not understand. I have always been cherished and loved and although I knew that my wild cousins were cruelly treated, shot and persecuted I never thought it could happen to me.  I knew about donkey roping because Nellie Jean, Doc, and Jack shared their stories with me. But, when we heard Marjorie crying to Johnny about the Van Horn donkey roping, Jack, Doc and Nellie Jean shivered. They are the faces of donkey roping.

Jack has been a member of our family now for many years. His back legs pop when he walks, and his mind was so crazed he even thought my humans would hurt him for many years. He is still cautious even though they are always kind to him. He told me how they would strap a horn hat to his head, which is why his ears are bent, and how they would send him out with an electric prod. He said he ran, and he kicked and he fought, all to no avail. They roped him over and over and over again at each event, many, many, many times. He said his neck would blister, and sometimes he could not eat for days because his throat was swollen. He told me they would laugh at him and call him names. They would beat him if he tried to hide in a corner. Eventually, he learned that if he went to a corner tucked his head and held his back feet very closely together, they could not rope him. Instead, they beat him. He heard them say, get rid of him, he's no good to us now. Get some fresh wild donkeys, and Jack went to auction where most with his mental state end up going to slaughter.

But, Jack was lucky. He was purchased by a private person who then later died, and that is how he came here. It took five years to gain enough trust from him to be able to get him to accept walking up to his head and rubbing him between his eyes. Now, it melts him. He loves it, but he is quick to jump if he thinks people are going to trap him. I love dear Jack, he is so old, so wise, and now so forgiving.

Nellie Jean came from New Mexico where she was saved out of Denis Chavez' kill pens by concerned citizens who banned together and raised the funds to save her. She is new to my home at Todd Mission Ranch, but she is starting to get the picture of what life with kind humans is all about. Poor girl, she is so beautiful and black. Slick as a whistle now that summer is here, but her back legs were horribly deformed from donkey roping.  She was so afraid, and the pain she suffered was unbearable she said. And, she too remembers the cheering when she fell. Her heart was broken and her spirit was too. But, now she is here and the mending has begun. She does love to be groomed now, and have her head rubbed. It is amazing her forgiving nature, but she is not forgetting. She will run if she thinks she is being cornered and things must be on her terms. She will get better and better mentally as time goes by and the consistent kindness adds up. 

Nellie Jean told me her stories too, and because she was maimed she ended up coming very close to being on a dinner plate. It is a horrible fate my equine brothers and sisters suffer when they are transported for slaughter. I don't want to go there. I can't even consider it. The stories of hours and days without water and food packed tightly with strangers who hurt you for space.  Imagine being a tiny donkey packed with stallions and frightened mares. It is just beyond my heart to be able to cope with the knowledge of this suffering. Why is legal to hurt us in so many ways? What makes man think he is so superior to us? We are the ones who bore Jesus on our backs. We are the ones God chose to speak to angels, and we are the animals who represented peace when Jesus rode into Jerusalem. We are also the only thing Jesus ever said he had NEED of, the only thing. I guess that makes us darned valuable and a certainly an equal on this planet to man. 

Yes, I awoke from this nightmare even more determined to stop the event called donkey roping. The laughter, jeers and cheers still ringing in my ears, I was grateful that for me it was only a nightmare. But, I am truly angry that such a "sport" exists at all and is truly a living nightmare for my unfortunate relatives who fall into evil hands. 

Fortunately, Van Horn TX has answered to the thousands of e-mails, phone calls, faxes and letters by finally canceling THIS event. I, Miss Abby thank each and every one of you for showing that you care.  Sadly, this is going on all over the United States and will continue in Texas until the public is made aware of the suffering it causes to us. We are not cows, our windpipes are exposed unlike a cow whose windpipe is buried. Our necks are longer, and our legs are delicate. Nor do we have the tough hides of cattle, yet we are roped many more times than they at a single event.  This is what causes the blisters.

I don't like seeing calves roped like this either, but there are physical differences between us that makes the suffering they endure, one hundred times worse for equines. Our minds and hearts are naturally trusting and we desire to be with humans. The behavior of these men is a betrayal to us. Have we not always served man with honor and loyalty? This hurts our minds and hearts. We want to trust again, but it is hard once betrayed in such a horrific way and so many times..... and the laughter and cheering when we are hurt rings in my lovely long ears. I do not understand how this is fun for people to watch. I do not understand how people can laugh when we suffer so. I will pray for them. It is the donkey way, to protect, to care, to love, to cuddle. I will pray for them that one day they realize what they have done and the laughter stops. 

Many good, wonderful people stood up for my wild cousins who were about to be abused in Van Horn TX. It was not easy. It took many organizations and many letters and calls to make this cancellation a reality. So, so many kind people out there who care. I will certainly tell Jack and Nellie Jean so that they too can start to believe in the kindness of man again. It will never be the same for them as when they were innocent, Never. But, it is a start and it will go a long way toward healing the wounds of their hearts and souls. Please do write letters to the editors about the event itself and how grateful you are to the good people of Van Horn TX for taking down this event. You can reach them at Pecos Enterprise, Pecos, Texas, the Davis Mountain Dispatch and the Alpine Avalanche. These papers are distributed on Thursday in all the local towns in the Van Horn area. Also, please send a special thank you to:
                                                   P.O Box 762
                                             Van Horn, TX 79855
                                                 (432) 283-2043
                                              9:00 am to 3:00 pm
                                                Monday - Friday

Mayor Okey D. Lucas -

Mayor Pro Tem: Gilda Morales -

Alderperson: Mingo Corralez -

Alderperson: Nuny Morriss -

Alderperson: Pam Young -

City Administrator: Fran Malafronte -

These people have done the right thing and it was a tough decision for them. Please reward them by letting them know how much you appreciate their decision not to abuse donkeys in this manner. We should also thank the Culbertson County Sheriff's office for the part they played in shutting down this abusive event. In the end, it would not have presented Van Horn in a very positive light. Now, they can move on to positive activities that highlight our true value and the part we lovely long ears played in developing Van Horn. 

We donkeys do not handle this kind of abuse well at all. And, when they do it over and over and over again it compounds the damage. Due to the great drought going on in Texas many guard animals have lost their home at the same time making donkeys very available at a very cheap price. Meanwhile, the price of calves has skyrocketed, so we donkeys are the targets for these foolish men who do not appreciate our true value. To them, it is all about the dollars. Our suffering means nothing to them. Subjecting us to this abuse will cause us to go sully (we don't move) and we shut down. Sometimes, the abuse causes such great damage that we are crippled and killed. If we are not killed our next stop will be Mexico to meet our end with a patella knife. We must stop this cycle of abuse.

Keep in mind, that Jason Owens still owns these donkeys and their fate is uncertain. Please call him directly at (432) 940-9051 and ask him to relinquish these dear souls to donkey rescues that are stepping up to take them into their sanctuaries. They will most likely never be adoptable, so they will need to be in places where they can live out their lives just being donkeys. Peaceful. Please keep calling. These donkeys are not safe, and he may move on to a new venue with them, having lost this one. Hopefully, people will be vigilant about these events and post when they see one come up so that we can keep mounting these campaigns to stop it. Until it is made illegal it is what we need to do. I cannot have nightmares like the one I had too many times. I am literally still shaking from the thought. Marjorie was giving me a lot of extra hugs today, and I know why. I wish everyone knew how valuable we are. She says we are priceless! 

It is very interesting to me that these humans who consider themselves to be so intelligent would miss out on the obvious worth of my long eared cousins in SW Texas! There are so many enterprises that could be set up and themed by the existence of one wild burro herd in the state. These beautiful relatives of mine live in the Chihuahaun biosphere which encompasses Northern Mexico, and SW Texas.  What a treasure! What a history! So much could be done to highlight the hard work we did for humans. We never complained. In fact, we try so hard to please our human friends. We were with the surveyors when they first scouted this land and even helped them when they did not know how to find water. We helped to build the railroads, and even took children to school. We worked in the mercury and silver mines, and only asked to be well treated, because work doesn't scare us, but loneliness does. 

Imagine, if you will the revenue that an event like Bishop Mule Days might bring in? Or, how about someone started a business of donkey trekking? Then, there is the famous pack burro racing that brings in millions of dollars revenue to CO. Of course, there are those who will get a thrill out of a guided tour with an experienced outfitter who can take them out with mules and donkeys. What an experience that would be! There are so many possibilities for promoting our legendary attributes of loyalty and willingness to work that it seems funny that instead they chose donkey roping. Well, I am here to give them ideas for bettering the lives and the image of donkeys in Van Horn TX. This was once the stopping point for a great mail run from San Antonio TX to San Diego, CA. What a history!  It would seem they would be proud of this and promote it. Hopefully, now they will.  Check out this story about Van Horn's Well: 

Van Horn's Well 
Culberson County, Texas 

Ca. January 15, 1858; Van Horn, Texas: Stage company employees at the isolated stations dotting the overland trails had one of the most dangerous jobs in the West. During the winter of 1858, Light S. Townsend was station chief at Van Horn's Well, The twenty-three-year-old Townsend was normally a driver for George H. Giddings's company, but he had injured his arm a few weeks earlier and was given station duty until he recovered. Three other employees, all Mexicans, worked in the station with him. One of them, Jose Lopez, was an experienced Indian fighter. Another was an unnamed man from Chihuahua who was half Indian, and there was something about him that Townsend mistrusted.

That evening, Townsend secured the hayricks, which contained seventy-five tons of feed, then he shut the mules in their stalls and locked the big gate at the corral entrance. The eastern stage was overdue. Townsend suspected Indian trouble, but all he could do was keep his men alert and prepare the weapons. The men stacked rifles and ammunition near the loopholes of the two-hut station, then they played cards and waited for the stage. At midnight, the stage still missing, Townsend had his assistants douse the lanterns and prepare for bed. He had just gotten his boots off when, in the darkness, he noticed yellow light coming through the loopholes and heard a crackling noise. The hay was on fire. He shouted to Lopez to go out and drive the stock to safety. But when Lopez swung open the door, several arrows whistled past him. "Los Indiosl" yelled Lopez, slamming the door.

The four men each took a loophole and watched for one of the assailants to show himself in the darkness. Muzzle flashes lit up the night as balls slammed into the station like hail along with the flying arrows. Townsend tried to ignore the screams of the mules as flames spread from the hay to the roof of the stables. Smoke and the awful smell of burning animals filled the room.

The Indians, Mescalero Apaches, swarmed around the station. As a warrior tried to shoot through a rifle port, Townsend thrust the muzzle of his Sharps through the hole into the Indian's side and pulled the trigger. Then the station keepers heard warriors on the roof, trying to dig through the mud-and-wattle ceiling. Lopez stood beneath them with shotgun ready, A warrior poked through with a large stick, and when he put his eye to the hole, Lopez let him have a blast of buckshot, blowing him off the roof.
The story above is from this book. Click to purchase. 

Stage Stand Fight at Van Horn's Well

During January or February 1862, about fifty savages charged and stormed the Stage Stand at Van Horn's well. Wm. Hope and four Mexicans were present to defend the premises. The Stage Stand was a rock structure and the roof covered with dirt. The mules were kept in rock pens immediately behind the rock building, and the two front rooms connected by a large hall. The savages made a dash through this hallway for the mules, and two of their number killed. The warriors then broke loose the dirt roofs and fired the rafters. Hope and his four Mexican companions were forced to flee. But Hope told them not to fire until it became necessary, and to lie flat on the ground when closely crowded. When they pursued these tactics, the savages would circle and fall back, and in this manner retreated several miles before the Indians withdrew. Wm. Hope then sent the Mexicans to Fort Davis to notify the soldiers, while he himself circled around the Indians to meet the upper stage, which was coming from the west, and which he met before it struck the Indians. 

The above story is from the book, The West Texas Frontier, by Joseph Carroll McConnell.

August 1868; Van Horn, Texas: Former Texas Ranger "Bigfoot" Wallace and eight companions were driving the mail stage between El Paso and Fort Davis when they saw dust rising in the distance. They hurried to a defensive position at Van Horn's Well as the Indians (probably Apache) became visible. The Indians charged then withdrew a short distance. Wallace killed a few horses for breastworks and waited behind them. The night passed without incident, but in the morning the Indians, thirsty, tried to get to the well. They hid among their horses as they turned the animals loose to go to the water. The ruse failed, costing them several mounts as Wallace and his men blasted away. The Indians then rode in circles around the barricade, showering the defenders with arrows and bullets, wounding three of them. That afternoon, a great thunderstorm struck, blunting the Indians' ardor for attack. They soon departed.

Three of Wallace's men were wounded; the estimated they hit 11 Indians.

The story above is from this source. Click to purchase. 

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After 500 years, why are the wild burros suddenly so unwelcome?

That's me, Miss Abby and Marjorie Farabee of Wild Burro Protection League enjoying some face (ear) time!  Ooooh I love having my ears rubbed.
Wild Burro Protection League is a division of TMR Rescue, Inc a 501 (c) 3 non-profit located in Plantersville, TX     

I have been a very busy donkey!  The Wild Burro Protection League has needed my help to consult them on how we can best save my wild cousins from losing their freedom and even their lives.  We have examined the insane behavior of the "wildlife" experts who are allowing so many species to be destroyed.  It boggled my mind and after a great deal of digging and connecting the dots it dawned on me why our "wildlife" experts have taken such a deadly turn away from protecting our people's lands (link).

Back in the 90's the mandate of the park was changed from protecting our spectacular public parks inhabitants and environment to finding funding opportunities with our public lands.  This was called the entrepreneurial budget strategy (link).  At first, there was a no compete clause, but soon this was removed so that the parks could sell the souvenirs that were already being sold by local businesses.  Texas Parks and Wildlife Department surveyed the local businesses to see what they were selling and undercut their prices.  No longer was conservation the reason for the wildlife department's existence although it is clearly stated that it is supposed to be.

[Preparation of the business plan was a formidable obstacle for many parks. Traditionally, park managers worried about maintaining their facilities, insuring visitor safety, and providing basic customer services. More recently, more emphasis on cultural and natural resource conservation was added to a manager's duties. The business plans suddenly added a wide range of brand new issues and problems, such as finances, total quality management, product review, marketing, customer targeting, and analyses of the competition. As Wayne Haley, the manager at South Llano River State Park, put it, "It's like rocket science to a cowboy."
Park managers had to learn and understand these concepts in a new environment of competition with their fellow parks. Moreover, they had to get ready to almost immediately implement their plans and ideas. To their credit, park staff not only expanded their business and financial skills but began to think more like entrepreneurs. Challenged to invest in programs that would either make money or save money and provide services that would increase visitors and revenues, park staffers were prepared to take risks and reap the benefits of their efforts.]

They now exist to find ways to make a profit for the parks and superintendents.  It is obvious that this is a conflict of interest.  Indeed, it is the reason that conservation backed by science is no longer studied or sought particularly if the predicted outcome of studies will stand in the way of profit.

So, what does a wise donkey do with this information?  Even my big brain is exploding.  How do we solve this?  Oversight by the public and outside scientific review panels would be a good place to start.  Emphasis has been placed on cultural and natural resource conservation but who evaluates the success of these programs?  Who has oversight to provide guidance for the wildlife, environment, bio-diversity, and cultural preservation?  Without question, this oversight MUST be independent of our governmental agencies, AND their recommendations MUST have teeth.  Presently, this requirement of the EBS is a sham.  Without oversight, none can argue whether the wildlife is doing better or worse.  Without scientific studies, or public oversight, the environment can be destroyed and we the people will be none the wiser.  This, I believe is the key.

In the 2013 upcoming legislative session we have an opportunity to make these requirements a reality.  We must force the parks to accept outside, independent studies of current conditions in all of OUR parks lands.  These studies MUST be multi-disciplinary.  In other words, there would need to be complete field studies of the bio-diversity, the land quality, species interactions with other species both plant and animal, as well as water and air quality.  All of this data should be shared and transparent.  If it is true that the mandate is to conserve and protect the environment, its inhabitants and the cultural resources, then these studies should be welcome with open arms by all of the parks.  My suspicion is that they will fight this tooth and nail.  Clearly, as in the case of Big Bend Ranch State Park, removal of all of the wildlife to benefit a single species will be pilloried by such a study.  Indeed,  the burros they are eradicating from the park are, by all interpretations of local history, significant to the cultural preservation of the area, and they are federally protected (link) for this very reason.  It is obvious to me that these are "words only" to the agency meant to nullify an unsuspecting population.  However, these are my wild cousins, and I am aware.  Very aware!

So, we want to help our friends in Alpine, Ft. Davis, Marathon, Marfa, Terlingua, and Ft. Stockton to embrace their historic burro culture.  As I traveled with my friends to these towns we discovered a deep love for my cousins.  Many came up and spoke with love and whimsy of the days when donkeys took their parents to school, or delivered milk to the mines.  The landmarks named after burros are many, and the people do remember.  So many love us there, yet they have been unable to stop this agency that is out of control and killing the wildlife in their backyards.  Everything from elk to bobcat are being destroyed leaving the lands imbalanced and the people devastated at the loss. (link)

We believe we can help the parks to come back into line with their mandate to protect the natural and cultural resources while also allowing them to make the money needed to keep the parks in beautiful shape with working bathrooms, and helpful guides.  Of course, the first
step is to enact and carry out the very
necessary comprehensive studies. (link)

We want the world to learn about the cultures of these regions, and at Big Bend Ranch State Park and the National Park there is a rich Indian and pioneering culture, both of which entwined with my burro ancestors.  Instead of being in opposition with the local economies, stand with them to bring more visitors to the parks. (link)  More events that are parks inclusive could be, and should be planned.   Pack burro racing (link) brings in millions of dollars revenue to Colorado every year!  If TPWD were smart they would embrace this concept.  Clearly, these revenues are a result of people coming to a major event.  Now, imagine cooperation with the townspeople to promote a visit to the park before or after the event.  Even better, what if there were burros available for them to ride or take trekking?  What if campsites were available complete with a guide who would take them on a tour by mule?  What if this tour included seeing wildlife, including the LAST herd of wild burros in Texas?  (Texas is one of only seven states who have wild burros, what a resource to waste!)  What if there were tours taken that were purely educational, that included geography, archaeology, astronomy, and fine arts? And, what about extreme mule riding?!! (link)  Now, that is fun! (link)

In Bishop California there is an event held every year called the Bishop Mule Days (link), which offers friendly but serious competition between the best of the mules (and donkeys) in the United States.  This too, brings in millions of dollars to the local economy.  Once again, drawing people to the local event will also bring them in range of these beautiful parks which they would more than likely visit while in town.  The towns people benefit, and so do the parks.  This is a win-win-win for all.  The burro culture is strong in these communities, and should not be ignored.
Donkey trekking (link) is a popular sport in Europe.  It gets families outdoors and together to enjoy nature, and exercise in a positive manner that puts them in touch with nature.  If the kids get tired of walking they are put on the backs of the trusty donkeys who accompany them.  

It is foolish for TPWD to take the stance that only the rich are able to provide funding through their misguided efforts to turn our public lands into a big game preserve.  As a result, the true value of cooperation with the locals is being ignored. If TPWD were to embrace the burro culture people will come from around the world to enjoy these beloved animals.  Embrace the public, embrace science and holistic range management (link), embrace history and embrace the burro culture!  The locals will thank you, the burros will thank you, and this globally recognized precious bio-sphere will be saved from desertification (link).
Why would Texas Parks and Wildlife engage in an activity that will anger so many millions of potential visitors to the their parks?  Burros are so beloved by Americans that a unanimous vote in Congress gave them protections in 1971.  The burro is a national heritage species who originated in North America.  They are native and belong in these eco-systems.  This is a fact.

When citizens are denied!

The Bill of Rights states in Article I "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."  and in Isaiah 10:1,2 "Woe to those who decree unjust statutes and to those who continually record unjust decisions, ...."

I am but a humble donkey, who is heart broken because I know my cousins are dying unjustly, and I know my human friends are hurting so.  It is my nature to worry about my human companions, (link) and I know my friends are mourning deeply the loss of so many innocent wild hearts, gunned down and left to rot in their desert home.  I have seen them cry, as they cried with me.

Home!  It is a place of safety for most.  But, my burro cousins who live in Big Bend Ranch State Park do not feel that safety, as helicopters fly over-head killing all the wildlife around them.  They are forced to watch as their family members are gunned down at their feet.  They watch as the aoudad, elk, and hogs are riddled with bullets coming from the helicopter.  They know, the predators whom they keep an eye on for the safety of all who share the desert with them, are being slaughtered too.  They must witness the snaring of these great cats of the desert as they struggle in the snares only to have their lives ended by a bullet when the Texas Parks and Wildlife killing personnel arrive.  It is pure carnage.  The desert is awash in the blood of the innocent who have lived peacefully together for millions of years. We evolved together here on this continent, (link) and we need each other.  Sure, the aoudad are exotic, but they are globally critically endangered unlike the bighorn the TPWD is trying to introduce to the park.  And, if one wants to be really picky, the bighorn originated in Siberia.  But, being the wise donkey that I am, I also know they have been here long enough to have a place in our ecosystem too.  It is not their fault that humans want to kill them for their beautiful crown of curly horns.  They too are victims, in the end.  And, no trophy hunter wants to blemish their trophy with a head shot, so they do suffer greatly from the body wounds that drop their regal lives to the ground.

I am a simple domestic donkey, but burned into my memory which goes back thousands of years was the time we were in our glory.  Jesus loved us.  He loved us so much that we were ordained to be with him from birth to death.  We represent peace, humility, loyalty, courage and sacrifice and we are mentioned in the Bible 444 times.  In fact, the donkey is the only animal who speaks in the Bible!(link)  We witnessed the King of Kings as he rode a white donkey foal into Jerusalem the week before he was crucified, (link) and we would have gladly given our lives in His stead, but He would not allow it.  His shadow of the cross on which He died is burned forever in our backs.  I, Miss Abby, proudly wear mine.  I thought that Governor Perry, who professes to follow the Lord, would have wanted to touch my lovely cross to be close to Christ.  I was wrong.  Instead, his office required that we send a fax requesting authorization to deliver the petition signed lovingly by over 100,000 caring souls.  He then did not reply.  This essentially denied our delivery access.

Instead of being welcome, we discovered that there is an agency in Austin that has so much power it can revoke the rights of citizens to ask for a redress of their grievances.  That agency is the State Preservation Board, (link) whose Executive Director John Sneed (1 512-463-5495) scared me so badly, I tried to run away, because I could see he scared Marjorie too.  She backed up a step because his face was contorted and his body language was very aggressive.  He was a really rude, and scary man.  More on that in a minute.  The State Preservation Board has been the topic of controversy  over numerous complaints about ethics.  They have the power to override previously authorized events, which they did to our League as we attempted to deliver the Wild Burro Protection League Ride For Life signatures which were provided by concerned citizens all over the world. People love us, and I am overjoyed with learning how much.  But, these wonderful people have been ignored.(link)  The State Preservation Board got Marjorie very upset when on the morning we were to deliver our petition as promised from a wagon pulled by Miss Abby, to the Governor's office, our approved parking was denied.  The director of the State owned parking lot, said she received a phone call that morning saying our authorization was revoked.  I watched Marjorie calling, and running around to try to straighten this out, which she did, but it took its toll on her.  Thank goodness Red Horse Nation (link) came all the way from Alpine to support us.  Rachael Waller Rondeaux (link) and her family Rod, (link) and Chey (link) were there to comfort and take on duties Marjorie was now unable to handle.  They did it without question, for we stood in solidarity with our wild hearts, all of them, together.  I am really good friends with Chey's donkey Penelope too.

The next thing that happened was that the police were ordered to tell us (they were wonderful to us, and did Austin proud with their respectful, and kind treatment ) (link) that we could not enter the State Capitol grounds with our wagon, because it would not fit through the bollards.  HOWEVER, the bollard was down on the right as attested to by the posted photograph.  They blocked it with a car, keeping us out with the wagon.  It is interesting to note that horses, donkeys and mules are frequent visitors to the Capitol.  Check out last years' photo of a Christmas tree delivery!!!

Melinda Eppler, who is with the State Preservation Board, had stated in her e-mail, that they could not lower the bollards to accommodate the wagon.  However, the bollard was down, so we should have been allowed to enter.  Here is the correspondence from Melinda Eppler of the State Preservation Board:
From: Melinda Eppler 
Sent: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 8:46 AM
To: ''
Subject: January 18 Capitol Visit

Good morning,

We spoke last Friday about your January 18 visit to the Capitol. I was looking over your website and after seeing the photos, I have a few concerns.

The primary concern, is that the donkey/wagon will not fit through our security bollards and therefore, it will not be able to come onto the Capitol grounds. 

I would suggest you consider pulling the wagon up to Brazos - outside the Capitol's east gate, in the bus unloading area. 

Here is a map indicating the location of the bus unloading area:

Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Thank you!
Mindy Eppler
State Preservation Board

Miss Abby
Jan 17 (3 days ago)

to Stephanie, Karen, Melinda 
It will fit, it is very narrow, and much smaller than appears in the photo. What is the distance between the bollards? This is a wagon reduced in scale to replicate a buckboard. It is miniture. I fit through a 4' wide opening at the Artwalk in Alpine. 

Marjorie Farabee

Miss Abby
Jan 17 (3 days ago)

to Johnny, Melinda, Karen, Stephanie 
I just went to the ranch and measured. It is exactly 4' 1" between the wheels.

Melinda Eppler
Jan 17 (2 days ago)

to me 
Good afternoon,

Thanks for the information on the measurement. If it will not fit through the bollards, please keep in mind that we cannot lower them to accommodate access. 

Also, as we discussed, please be sure the animals stay on the asphalt and do not venture on to the grass or limestone walkways.

Thank you!
Mindy Eppler
State Preservation Board

As you can see, the bollard WAS down, and did not have to be lowered. They blocked my access with the police car.

Marjorie had to make a choice then.  She asked volunteers who were unprepared to make a statement to Dewhurst or Perry to take the petition to his (Dewhurst's) office.  Amazingly, Gayle-Suzanne Barron and Tammie Hillis winged it well!  Way to go League!  (link)

Marjorie and I had to drive our wagon back 3 blocks, unhitch, and return which kept us from the media and making our prepared statement to Lt. Governor David Dewhurst.  I, Miss Abby, helped her with this delivery statement that we unfortunately were kept from making, but we learned for our up coming protest, that we cannot trust Austin.  We wanted to tell him that we have a dream.  We have a dream that wildlife will be protected and that burros will be respected and left un-harassed in Big Bend Ranch State Park.  We have a dream that studies will be conducted, and the people who live in the area will be able to at last promote their wild burros. We dream that the local people's wishes will be respected.  People love them, and if they are allowed to promote the wild burro the people will come.  We have a dream that if Texas Parks and Wildlife will accept that the burros belong, and they start to practice holistic range practices,(link) the ecosystem will flourish.  We will all benefit from the health established by using science.  We dream of the day when observation stations are constructed, and the people's wishes to see these remarkable animals living wild were they have always lived, will be respected.  We are not giving up on that dream.  Donkeys can do.

We were required by Perry's office to provide a fax of our request to deliver the petitions to his office, which we did.  His office ignored the request, thereby denying our ability to deliver to his office.  This letter asked for mercy for our burros.  We asked him to work with us, and we got no response.  The State Preservation Board who is directly in touch with the Governor stood in opposition to our efforts to save this magnificent, rare herd of wild burros for future generations.  The governor continues to defer to the "wisdom" of TPWD to make the "right" decisions, when we have demonstrated that they are making a mockery of land stewardship. No scientist worth his salt would approve the removal of any species, much less half a dozen, without conducting comprehensive studies.  Yet, TPWD is doing exactly that which means they are playing Russian roulette with our lives.  This is too important to ignore, and the good people of Texas, our Country and around the world are asking you to put a stop to it.  Governor Perry, it is a coward who leaves controversial decisions to be made by others.  The buck stops with you, sir.  We are not going away, because our planet is ultimately at risk by the loss of this ecosystem that encompasses 5 million acres.  The burros are complementing these lands on which they have traveled for millions of years.  They belong, they are needed for the health of these precious lands.  It is time to take selfish out of government, and start looking at governance for the people, not for the few.

Our treatment by your government appointed personnel was appalling, and culminated when John Sneed who heads the State Preservation Board, came out of the building and verbally attacked my friend Marjorie.  He frightened me, and I wanted to flee.  But, he told Marjorie that if she could not control her animal she would have to leave.  He was so mean, but when he said that, I knew I had to be brave and stand by her side.  She was so scared she backed up a step from him.  His face was contorted, and his body language was aggressive, as he told us to clean up the poop.  He, he, he, he I had to laugh when Marjorie said "Well, sir, the poop bucket was on the wagon you would not let in!  Ha!  He got more ugly, and Marjorie then said, "Hey, this man is harassing me, is anyone getting this on film?"  When the cameras turned on him, he turned and left, what a coward.  But, of course, cowards attack women and donkeys, don't they?
Showdown at the Capitol~NPR
(When you listen to this clip you will hear a remark about Nancy, who they stated was "being stubborn".  The fact was, that she was waiting for Marjorie, and when we both returned she moved right along, after remaining stuck in place for 30 minutes.  Loyalty is often overlooked when people discuss our marvelous traits.)


Oh look what I will be doing with all of my friends on Wednesday! I am so excited that I finally get to work and help my cousins! I wanted to cry when my friends told me how many humans had signed a petition showing their love. Truly, tears creased the fur on my face. I keep whispering to my friends that there are lots of jobs we donkeys can do, and do better than any horse in the desert! Sorry Windy, but it is true. I still love my ear-challenged horse friends, but when it comes to rough, deserts we rule. Period.

Dear Wild Burro Supporters:

The Wild Burro Protection League Ride For Life is taking place on January 18th in Austin TX, at the Capitol. We are delivering the 103,000 signatures and comments to Governor Rick Perry and Lt. Governor David Dewhurst at 1:00 PM. At noon we will head out with the petition signatures and comments loaded on the back of a small buckboard wagon which will be pulled by a donkey named Miss Abby (thats me!). Our staging area is at the Day Care Center (Rosewood Oaks, 1507 Lavaca Street, Austin, TX 78701-1610 which is next to the Capitol Grounds Complex. We will travel up Lavaca Street turn left on 16th and right on Congress. We will then go to the South side of the Capitol bldg. At that time, Marjorie Farabee will disembark from our buckboard, and go to the north entrance up to the offices and make the delivery.

In the meantime, our members and supporters will be speaking to those interested about what is happening to the last herd of wild burros in Texas, as well as other wildlife located in Big Bend Ranch State Park. In an effort to restore bighorn sheep who are not threatened globally, TPWD is killing all the aoudad (who are threatened globally), elk (native) wild burro (native) and any bobcat or cougar found near bighorn habitat. It is a recipe for a complete ecosystem collapse. What is equally alarming, this important region is a globally recognized precious biosphere, and uniquely blessed with water in a desert region. In fact, there are over 250 springs, and the Rio Grande river blessing this desert region with water. Also of interest is the role played by Mexico and the International Peace Park which is visited by our wild burros who migrate to their locations across the Rio Grande River.

We will be accompanied on our Ride For Life by several other people with equine, including Rod and Rachael Waller Rondeaux and their daughter Chey. They represent both Red Horse Nation and the local people who live where the burros are being shot. Rod, who is also a well known stunt horse rider, will be riding a mustang named Windy, and nine-year-old Chey will ride a mammoth donkey named Hannah. We also have the support of Christopher Gill who owns Circle Ranch which is 32,000 acres next to Sierra Diablo Wildlife Management Area near Van Horn, and also has a blog. He says he will have an article coming out soon which talks only about the burro. We initially met because he was outraged that TPWD started shooting all the elk next door to his ranch on the WMA and on all state-managed property in far-West Texas.

He is a holistic rancher who believes the burros (and horses) fill an important niche in the ecosystem (in fact, a 10,050 year old horse tooth was found in a cave on his ranch in 2011 and is also documented on his blog) We feel very fortunate that he is supporting our cause. He has proven through his holistic methods that timed grazing HELPS the ecosystem, and he can prove it by comparing his ranch to all the holdings of TPWD. Not surprisingly, they refuse to share data with him, even though he shares all of his with them. This is because they know their method results are dismal compared to his. Look at their land and look at Mr. Gill's. None compare, and he has huge numbers grazing his land.

We made attempts to work with TPWD. We offered to help manage the burros live in the park, and offered to procure the grants needed to do the job correctly. We met with directors and attended and commented at Commissioners meetings. We have reached out to ASPCA and HSUS, hoping they would work with us to find a legal stop to the killing. We have worked on this full time for almost two years now, and have amassed an enormous amount of information during the process. We can define the burro as native, and we can prove their place in this globally recognized precious ecosystem to be an important one. In fact, we believe (and have the science to back our claims) that the burros (and horses) are helping to stave off the desertification which is rampant throughout the west. To rescue them is extremely short sighted as it does not serve the ecosystem well, nor does it address the burros who will refill the place of those rescued. Obviously, TPWD will simply start shooting them again. In addition, it is important to address the concerns of the people who live there. They want the burro to remain. The burro is a part of their cultural history, from mining, to taking the children to school to building the Pacific Southern Railroad, the burro is deeply woven into the fabric of who they are as a people. It is important to note that they have a history that goes back further than the established towns. It was the burro who was hardy enough to make the first journeys with exploration expeditions. In fact, it was burro trails that first led to roads and then later to towns. Without question, the people of these border towns respect the burro who is indeed a part of their history.

We are excited that so many reached out with love for the burros. At the town hall meeting in Alpine, it was clear the residents see them as part of their cultural history, an avenue for tourism, and want them to remain where they have been for 500 years. They have come home to the place of their origination 53 million years ago. They were only gone (and this complete die out is oft disputed) from our continent for a brief period of time 6,500 to 10,000 years ago. There are some who believe equus never really completely died out, others who believe they were reintroduced by the Asians and Vikings before the Spaniards. What is clear is that there is a gap in the history which is unfairly being used by TPWD to justify destroying all of these rightfully belonging native species who are wrongly tagged as "exotic".

Miss Abby feels the love from all the people who signed their petition.  She wants to thank all who care. 
Of interest too, is the fact that federal dollars are being used to kill this federally protected species. I wonder about the legality of these Draconian measures? It is clear that we need funding to mount a legal campaign to stop the killing of so many species at this park, and we need to prepare for legislation for the 2013 Texas Legislature to support. This is the first step toward that goal.


I am impatient for Marjorie to return from England.  I have missed her, and her fingers in my fuzzy ears.  There is a rumor going around the ranch that soon we will ride to Austin!  I am ready.  I am a brave donkey on a mission, and Hannah has said she is joining me.  She has made a special friend in young Chey, and she cannot wait to see her again.  Soon.  Very soon we go.  I hope it is not raining, but it won't matter, we will ride still for my cousins.  I heard from Marjorie who spoke with Rob Nichols at the Donkey Sanctuary in Devon UK.  She said he kept a poker face while she made her case before him.  Finally, she had to come out and say, "Well...?"  He answered finally that he is convinced that they need to make a formal statement against the killings, but needs the approval of all on the team, to do so.  They will return this coming week, and we will know soon.  We are ever so hopeful.  This along with the Circle Ranch, and Red Horse Nation and others is really growing in size.  Never doubt what one curvy, smart donkey girl can do when she sets her mind to it!  I have been most persuasive with my friends, Johnny, Marjorie and Karen.  And, they have been the best of friends to me.

The next big hurdle is trying to get an interview with BBC before returning from England.  I would call BBC for Marjorie but somehow don't think they will quite understand me as my friends do.  If only people could learn to slow down, to listen, to feel.  If they could learn to step back from the rush of their contemporary lives.  It is this rush that overwhelms their senses and causes their loss.  They need to walk with donkeys for a while to make the world right.  The birds are chirping and the hay smells so sweet.  I love my moments with my friends, and I know we have so much we can share with humans if they would just slow down long enough to learn the power of time.  Time slows down when you walk with us.  We like for things to happen quietly and methodically.  Calm instillS calm and allows for dreams.  It is good to daydream, for when you do while with us, you are in the present.  They are dreams of your making.  My dreams these days are of a successful ride with many people cheering us on as we hand these signatures written by beautiful loving people who love us.  My dreams are of seeing my wild cousins running free, in the desert that is their home.   Free from bullets, free from harm, free to dream.  FREE TO LIVE.

Wild Burros, Wild State, Wild Directions

It's me, Miss Abby

I don't understand humans sometimes.  There are so many different types of humans, and a lot of them really are smart,and good. But I am becoming convinced that donkeys could manage the Big Bend Ranch State Park better than the short eared small brained officials in Austin, TX. They refuse to quit killing my cousins even though we have 100,000 signatures now.  Why?

It was wonderful to hear my friends sticking up for my family on Marfa Public Radio too.  (to listen click this link)  Marfa Public Radio Interview 11/16/2011  They really did a great job, and then that evening at the Granada Theatre, I felt the love!  Little Liberty stood outside the theatre and got pictures taken of her all night. It was like a strobe light outside!!  The good will of the people flowed everywhere! Meanwhile inside the theatre people spoke up and made it clear they want their cultural history protected, and that absolutely includes the burro. In fact, one kind lady said she was very angry that they were taking away her livelihood, as an artist. And, native Americans have a say in this too. The burros played a part in their history as well, and the area, including the Rio Grande has achieved Historical Preservation status.  

Yes, my dear friends are digging up the facts, and the truth will set us all free. There is nobody better at this than Karen Van Atta, who uses her environmental sciences degree to great advantage in her research. Why won't those people in Austin listen to the people who really care about the entire environment?  The Chihuahuan biosphere is recognized as precious globally, so it seems to me that they would put science to use and conduct the studies that are required to save these precious lands, and all the wildlife that calls it home.  My smart friends tell me this independent study would take at least five years to measure all the impacts and interactions of species within the ecosystem.  To do this the parks officials need to stop the shooting.  Governor Perry YOU can make them stop.  Why haven't you stepped up for your constituents who want this madness to end? Why are you so stubborn about real land stewardship, Governor?  Yes, humans can be unpredictable, and either be as mean as Rick Perry or as kind as dear Chey Rondeaux.  I love her and her family, Rachael and Rod.

Chey is the most amazing child advocate I have ever met.  And boy did she give my friend Hannah a workout; my good friend Hannah complained about it all the way home. Chey rode her back and forth in the crowd during the parade, and threw out candy.  It was really fun to watch her, even though she stepped on my toes a few times.  And those butterfly wings on those bicycles took me a little while to figure out.  Yes, humans can be silly too.  Complicated creatures, humans.  

Later, poor Hannah gave rides to kids all day
because Chey wanted to earn money for our cousins.  This little girl really has it together.  Poor Hannah!  Even our new friend TMR Master Alpine, a one-eyed white mule saved by Rachael Waller Rondeaux's awesome vet, Dr. "B", thought Hannah whined too much, and told her she should be happy she had not gone through what he had.  He is going to live forever at TMR Rescue, so I better get to know the big white half-ass. I think he has a troubled past, he is afraid of every human he sees with his one eye now. But, I am a donkey, and donkeys heal.  I will help him, I know I can.  Soon he will understand he is safe, and that no one hurts long ears at TMR Rescue.  Lucky guy, he'll be surrounded by donkeys!

I have found people who know a thing or two about land stewardship, why is it so hard to convince people it is the right thing to do? Holistic land stewardship (click link) These techniques of land management are inclusive of all species as they exist, and a careful use of land by a variety of species is healthy rather than trying to keep everybody off of it.  That is not natural, and it does not work.  Recently, Marjorie and I were able to discuss land stewardship with Christopher Gill who owns Circle Ranch in Southwest TX.  In fact, its boundary is 1000 feet from Big Bend Ranch State Park.  There he has all kinds of animals sharing the land and thriving.  Circle Ranch (click link).  Mr. Gill believes the burros have a place too.  And says so on his blog.  

In fact, we talked to so many people when we were in Alpine TX and they overwhelmingly believe the burros belong.  We heard stories about burros in the lives of the people who live there. The real history, not the history TPWD is trying to important to spread. Yes, I was proud to be with my friends on Saturday when the Wild Burro Protection League marched in the Art walk parade.  I pulled a wagon that had a cover on it, and I even had to jump over rail road tracks, which really made me nervous. Marjorie was sure proud of me.  And, Chey rode my big friend Hannah, while Zachary led little baby Liberty.  So many people shouted out at our group in solidarity with my wild cousins.  I was so proud to know these humans, and felt much better when we left Alpine TX.  Marjorie said she needed to know how committed the people were to keeping the burros.  Now that she knows we are planning our next step.  Soon, we will be back in Alpine to share with everybody what we can do to save the few of my cousins that remain.  We are making an action plan.
It is becoming really critical too.  We got eye-witness accounts of the parks people using helicopters to chase my dear cousins.  These neanderthals can't seem to comprehend that these native burros have families too, and that they are not harming anyone.  They cannot seem to understand that my cousins are falsely accused, and instead of causing damage we actually enrich the desert, helping to stave off desertification.   

We honor our veteran long ears today and we ask your support to stop the killing in Big Bend Ranch State Park.

Dear Wild Burro Supporter,

I wanted to update you on the tragic killings of my cousins the wild burros that is on-going in Texas.  To date, we have heard nothing from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Texas Commission or Governor Perry.  In a few weeks time the petition will be delivered by my friend Marjorie Farabee on the Back of a mammoth burro named Miss Hannah.  Of course, I will be there too, pulling a covered wagon.  So, please share this petition to save my families lives.  Keep it going, share it, speak about it. Make it real to your human friends.  WE ARE DYING DAILY.

The Wild Burro Protection League is ready with contingency plans which includes their rescue out of the park if it is absolutely necessary.  We are ready to address the worst possible outcome-accelerated killing of wild burros.  My friends, Marjorie and Karen Luce have discovered through freedom of information requests that the park has moved in five more killers to go after my dear cousins.  It is a blood bath.  Worse, in this case, we don't panic and run like other wild animals, because we have it in our DNA to be careful not to jump without looking first.  It saves our lives in the terrain we call home.  But, this trait makes us sitting ducks for sharp shooters.  We just stand trying to figure out why our family is dropping down in agony around us.  Why our babies are bloody and in a heap at our feet.  We think.  In this case, it is not a good thing.  This video that was taken in Australia is not being shown here to shock any body.  It is to learn.  It is being shown to offer all of you a glimpse into how terrible this killing is for us.  WE DON'T MOVE.  No real hunter would do this!!!  No real hunter would proudly stand up and say they are a part of this.  No real hunter would stand behind the complete eradication of elk, aoudad, burros, cougar, and bobcat.  And, to make it even more unfair, they are using helicopters too.  This is not ethical.  Real hunters honor what they kill, and respect wildlife.  They become a part of the truer nature of life and death in the wild.  They follow the code.  The TPWD is on a killing spree that is so out of control, nature will bite them for it.  She will speak when the park collapses around them and nature responds with death everywhere.  It is the law of unintended consequences.  Obviously, they have not heard the expression "Do not mess with Mother Nature".  We donkeys, are stroked by her kind hand, we carry the wisdom of the ages in our DNA, and she loves us. We are kindred spirits and old souls.  We respect our place in her house, humans do not, and they are quickly becoming unwanted guests.

Please watch this video so that you can understand why they are able to gun down so many at once.  Look at this and ask yourself if you support this.  Do you?  And, be warned it will hurt your heart, and make your children cry.  Please don't let those innocent angels watch it.  But, you must force yourself.  You must see how unfair this is.  My beloved cousins don't have a chance against these cruel humans.
We are holding a town hall meeting in beautiful Alpine, Texas at the historic Granada Theatre-November 16th at 7 pm.  The Alpine Art Walk Parade will include my wonderful burro friends and me Miss Abby!!! We will proudly carry riders marching in a demonstration of the amazing contributions of my cousins the wild burros to the local, regional and state heritage and culture.

Texas Parks and Wildlife is obligated to protect the cultural heritage of Texas, but they have refused to recognize the living history embodied in my family the wild burros roaming free on their public lands.  Along with Alpine, there are several historic and cultural designations that recognize the incredible and unique blend of Mexican, native American, and Texan heritage along this stretch of the Rio Grande River (Rio del Norte). The Rio Grande has similarly been recognized as a National Heritage River because of the outstanding cultural and historical significance of the public lands, natural resources, and communities of this area.

If Texas Parks and Wildlife refuses to do their duty to protect my family, the wild burros as an integral part of the American people's natural and cultural heritage, there is another agency that is even more strictly bound to protect the culture and heritage of Texas.  The Texas Historical Commission.  Please write or e-mail them today, and request that they stand up for the wild burros and protect them as a living legacy, a living part of the cultural history of West Texas .  Will every agency fail to protect the Public Trust and the history and culture of this region and America?  They will if no one speaks up!

What are your feelings about the historical and cultural presence of my cousins the wild burros?  Are they part of the American people's heritage and deserving of real protection?  Contact them and let them know how you feel:

Texas Historical Commission
Chairman Jon Hansen, Call the Commission at: (512) 463-6100
Vice-Chairman David A. Gravelle, e-mail them at:
Executive Director, Mark Wolfe
Deputy Director Terry Colley

Write a letter:
P.O. Box 12276
Austin, TX 78711-2276

Fax a letter to: (512) 475-4872

Congress finds and declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneering spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American peoplel; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene.  It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.

And, despite this Texas is killing us with total disregard for our contributions to the local culture to history, to tourism, to wildlife, to our people who love us.  It hurts them.  I have seen Marjorie cry, I have heard Johnny declare how this hurts his heart.  I know Karen, and the rest of Wild Burro Protection League is mourning the loss of my beautiful, peaceful cousins, the wild burro. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is content to see we burros, who are living symbols of the American people's historic and pioneering spirit, disappear forever.  Is that what you want?

Marjorie, Johnny, Karen and all of the Wild Burro Protection League have fought so hard to save us, and raise awareness.  This has been a years long battle that I hope we win.  If we cannot and must accept a permanent loss of our freedom for no good reason, Johnny will buy land near the park to save us. The League is unwavering in its desire to keep us free, but will save us if they must.  Oh my dear cousins, I hope we can keep you free.  We will try, the locals love you, they send their honor to you.  They stand for you.  They are not shooting you, they respect you.  On the wings of the angel Charles our hope rests.