Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday- Gifting the herd that keeps on giving



This GIVING TUESDAY is a reminder of just how critically important your sustaining support is for the continued conservation of this most incredible wild horse herd, our Gila herd. 

Here is why…


As succinctly as we can say, this herd has proven that when family bands are kept intact without constant roundups, they limit their own growth. ISPMB has also noted that this herd worked together for the good of the entire herd! Both are extraordinary observations.

The Gila herd was free from roundups for approximately 50 years before ISPMB adopted them and brought them into our Conservation program in 2000, which gave us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to observe their pristine behaviors.

This information ISPMB gained from our Gila herd led ISPMB to request that the Secretary of Agriculture, the honorable Tom Vilsack, declare the Heber herd in Northern Arizona a “study herd.” The Heber wild horses have not been rounded up in nearly 20 years, thanks to a lawsuit in 2006 in which ISPMB participated. The Heber herd is the last untouched herd on public lands. It is the only herd left that can show evidence that growth is limited because of the wise family band structures that have been kept intact and free from roundups.

On this GIVING TUESDAY, ISPMB is asking everyone who receives this e-mail to consider a donation of any size to HONOR ISPMB’s magnificent Gila herd whose data quite literally could save all the horses on public lands. This herd is phenomenal and deserves to be honored and recognized.

This Giving Tuesday, I am honoring the Gila herd with a thank-you gift


For your kindness and gentle spirit



Donation of any size


For your intelligence in surviving mass exterminations up until 1936

$50.00 donation


For your unrelenting stamina, beauty, and endurance   

$75.00 donation


For sharing your ancient behavioral wisdom with humanity

$100.00 donation


For showing herd survival is best when working together as a community

Priceless donation

A brief history of the Gila herd:

The Gila herd represents the last of more than 20,000 wild horses that once roamed southern Arizona.  From the early 1900s until 1936, a mustanger rounded up all the wild horses, save for the Gila herd, and shipped them to California to slaughter for chicken food.  

These horses originated from Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, a Jesuit priest who was noted for bringing horses from Spain in the late 1600s. The horses were small in size, often not more than 14 hands.

The last of these wild horses were going to be rounded up by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and shipped to slaughter in 1996. This piqued the interest of Karen Sussman, ISPMB’s president, who then began researching the history of the horses for the next three months, well in advance of their purported removal. The horses were on public lands now but existed there for hundreds of years and were never identified as wild and free-roaming under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.

After hours and hours of interviewing and taping ranchers and months of research in the area regarding the history of these horses, ISPMB made an appeal to then Secretary of the Interior, the honorable Bruce Babbitt, asking to recognize this unique herd under the 1971 Act.

Our data was faxed to the Secretary’s office on a Sunday night and the next day the Secretary’s office called the Arizona BLM and said they were to manage these horses.  The Secretary had declared them wild and free-roaming under the Act as he had the authority to do so.

It was a tremendous victory for the horses. Their roundup and sale for slaughter was HALTED.

There is so much more to this story but briefly, after the horses were protected under the Act, a rancher complained that the horses were eating his alfalfa on irrigated desert fields and requested the removal of the horses, estimated at 75.

In 1999, the BLM removed 36 wild horses.  During the roundup, four horses were killed, one stallion was adopted, and ISPMB adopted the remaining 31 wild horses. Despite the rancher’s claim that there were 75 horses, a census during the following year revealed that no horses remained.

Genetic testing conducted on the horses by Dr. E Gus Cothran determined the horses were pure Spanish.

Thus began ISPMB’s journey in observing some of the purest natural behaviors of any wild herds on earth. They truly were a gift from the “spirit of the ancients!”

We hope you will honor their presence on Mother Earth and help us continue their conservation this Giving Tuesday.

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