Montana Horses

Published on: 07:36AM Apr 29, 2011

Last weekend, with the fields of the Midwest flooded with rain – no hope of planting corn any time soon – my daughter and I went to Montana to participate in a horse round-up. Along with 35 other riders, we moved 350 horses some 35 miles from high country pasture to the ranch headquarters. The horses ran down railroad tracks, highways, and through small towns with snow and rain the first day and sun and blue skies the next 2 days. It was great fun, but tough, hard work.

Sitting around the camp fire at night, I listened to the cowboys and ranchers that helped herd the horses.
“What’s on your mind? What’s good? What’s bad?”
Ranchers and rural people of Montana are delighted with a tiny rider attached to the spending legislation that, after 2 weeks of fighting, the Congress passed and President Obama signed. The inclusion of that language, which dictates that wolves in Montana and Idaho be taken off the endangered species list, has outraged environmental groups. The ranchers are tired of watching wolves killing their calves, killing elk and moose and deer. Now no longer protected by law, the ranchers can kill the wolves. Livestock, elk, moose, and deer will be safe.
Another little rider in the bill eliminates a program to expand wilderness areas in the West. My cowboy friends like this rider also because “expanding wilderness areas” would limit development of natural resources and hunting. They are very independent and they don’t like the federal government dictating to them all the time.
Now, the bad news that they complained about.
Most of them own horses. And since the animal rights advocates pushed the government to close down all of our horse slaughter plants in the U.S., what do they do now with unwanted horses? They aren’t worth as much as they used to be. They have to be shipped to Canada to find a market – ridiculous.
Without exception, ranchers of the West think the federal government has overreached, and they are solid behind smaller government and less spending.
Sounds familiar -- same thing I hear from my farmer friends in Illinois.
In closing, I would encourage you to access my website which archives my radio commentaries dating back 10 years and will go back 20 years when complete. Check on what I said back then. Go to
Until next week, I am John Block in Washington.