I am, of course, thrilled to be officially launching The MARE Project. But as I sit down to write this, I am more than a little sad and very distressed about the brutality to which America’s wild horses and burros are subjected.
In 1971, Congress unanimously passed the “Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act,” declaring these iconic animals to be “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West” that “enrich the lives of the American people” and are “an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.” (Only one other species has ever received this level of federal protection: the American Bald Eagle.) The Bureau of Land Management is tasked with managing the vast majority of these federally protected animals. For decades, the agency has relied on chaotic and very costly helicopter roundups to chase wild horses into trap pens using low-flying helicopters. These roundups are cruel (frequently resulting in death), expensive, and ultimately ineffective at stabilizing populations. Since fiscal year 2017, the BLM has spent more than $25 million taxpayer dollars for helicopter roundups and over $50,000 over a horse’s lifetime to warehouse them in government-funded holding facilities.
Helicopter roundup season is officially underway. Sadly for our beloved mustangs, foaling season is also. Mares are still pregnant, and foals are on the ground. On July 1 and 2, 2023, the BLM captured 133 wild horses from the Reveille Herd Management area outside of Tonopah, Nevada. Temperatures were in the upper 90s and there was one death, a 3-month foal who died due to a spinal cord injury caused by blunt force trauma to his lower neck — after an excruciating period of pain and suffering. This death could have been prevented.
In March 2023, in honor of International Women’s Day, we launched The MARE Project, designed to serve as a daily reminder of the power of collective action to drive progress. Fifteen percent (15%) of the proceeds from the sales of products launched under the auspices of The MARE Project will be donated to non-profit organizations that align with its goals.
Shortly after announcing the project, I was introduced to, and became captivated by, the work of the American Wild Horse Campaign (“AWHC”) to protect our wild horses and burros. I was struck by the organization’s thoughtful and broad-ranging strategy, which includes legislation, litigation, advocacy, and field work, and decided that the AWHC should be The MARE Project’s first non-profit partner.
The entire CALLIDAE team feels privileged to be supporting AWHC’s important work. As we became educated about wild horses, we learned that while stallions may protect the herds in which wild horses travel, the leader of the herd is usually an older mare (the “lead mare”). The lead mare has had more experiences, survived more threats than any other horse in the herd, and is very alert to changes in her environment. Her dominance is established primarily not through aggression, but through the respect of her wisdom. When she winnies, the herd listens. Where she goes, the herd follows. Her first call is always the preservation of her herd, her sisters, her foal, and she works in concert with the stallion to ensure the herd’s safety.
We were entranced by the concept of the lead mare and couldn’t imagine a better theme around which to launch The MARE Project. In addition to the products with our primary MARE logo, we are launching both sweaters and tee shirts with the “lead MARE” designation. We hope you love them as much as we do.
Follow along via #theMAREproject @callidaeUSA
"The power of a lead mare lies in her ability to communicate effectively with other horses, using a combination of body language and vocalizations to convey her intentions and maintain order. This skill is also present in many of the strong women in our lives, who possess the ability to communicate with clarity and confidence, and who are able to inspire and lead others towards positive change." Grace Kuhn, American Wild Horse Campaign