Call me old fashioned, but I get really excited when photographers have a cause. Bonnie Briant, who works as both a photographer and designer, recently spent time documenting wild mustang farms. In her ongoing project, we are confronted with the good, bad, and ugly treatment of these animals. Photographing the gruesome conditions of mustangs would have been the easy way out. Instead, Briant makes you care about the animals and works to express each one’s unique personality.
Bonnie was kind enough to describe her project to me. Her text is below.
“I traveled to the American West to photograph the wild mustangs for the first time during the summer of 2007 and truly came face to face with both the disastrous situation they are in and all the efforts being put in to try to save them. I was able to spend time on sanctuaries and rescues, as well as traveling to mustang auctions and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) holding facilities.”
“In 1971, Congress passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act designating 47 million acres of public land to 303 herds, which were to be managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Since 1971, 111 of these herd areas have been eliminated (approx. 12.5 million acres and 200,000 horses) for slaughter and to make room for privately owned live stock and other development, and more and more herd areas are being targeted for reduction. The number of horses on this land are now a meager 28,000, up against the 6 million private livestock.”
“Even with this already extreme ratio, the BLM still plans to lower populations, through periodic helicopter roundups, which is very traumatic for the horses, often causing panic, injury and frequently separation of herd. The rounded up horses eventually make it to BLM holding facilities where they await adoption, yet these adoptions do not guarantee any sort of future for the horses, with them often going into unsure hands that can lead to slaughter for profit.”
“Even worse, in 2004 Senator C. Burns of Montana slipped a rider into a budget bill, making it legal for the BLM to “dispose” of all horses over the age of 10, or horses who have been unsuccessfully offered for adoption three times. These horses can be sold ‘without limitation’ for as little as one dollar. Slaughter of wild horses was banned in 2006 with in the United States, but not in Mexico or Canada, so the horses are still not protected.”
“There is very little attention being paid to the situation that the horses are in, with many Americans not even knowing that there are wild horses that need protection. The mustang is a symbol of national heritage, an icon of the spirit of the old west and deserves much more, considering all it has done for us.” – Bonnie Briant
Please pass on this post to anyone you think might be interested! If you’d like to contact Bonnie directly about her project, her email is: firstname.lastname@example.org