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The horses of Standing Rock

The horses of Standing Rock News Article 01122016 


By Equestrian Life

Veterinarian Charmian Wright drove 900 miles (nearly 1,500 kilometres) across the US to provide veterinary assistance and advice to owners of the horses caught up in the protests at Standing Rock.

The animals have had an on-going presence at the protests since they began. When Wright - a vet with 30 years of experience - heard that horses had been hurt at Standing Rock, she wanted to help. 

On arrival, Wright found that the horses at the protest camp were well taken care of - although no other vets appeared to be on site. She treated horses for injuries that occurred through the rough and tumble of the protests that have taken place, and also worked to educate owners in terms of treating urgent injuries themselves. She discussed everything from nutrition to bandaging techniques, and put together emergency kits for owners.

In terms of instructing others, Wright had to be careful to make it clear that she was instructing individual owners to take care of their own horses - rather than teaching someone to oversee all horses. This was to avoid a potential situation where ‘managing veterinary treatment could be taken as practicing medicine without a licence’.

Although Wright has now returned to her clinic in Utah, she has continued to run a GoFundME campaign to help ensure the horses of Standing Rock continue to receive the care they need in order to sustain potentially harsh conditions. 

A number of media outlets have reported recently that a rider was shot off his horse with rubber bullets after letting buffalo out onto land near the protest. In the same incident, there are reports that his horse survived being shot with a live round - while another was sadly shot dead. 

The Sioux have an affinity with their horses and the animals are considered an essential part of their culture. The partnership between man and beast is thought to stretch back as far as the early sixteenth century when the Spanish brought horses to North America.

You have probably heard about the on-going protests at the reserve in North Dakota…

The Standing Rock Sioux are protesting against the Dakota Access Pipeline, a $3.7bn project that would transport crude oil from the Bakken oil field in North Dakota to a refinery to Patoka, Illinois, near Chicago. The 1,1720-mile pipeline, roughly 30 inches in diameter, would carry 470,000 barrels per day.

The pipeline is set to intrude on Native American land, and a leak (which protesters say is a case of when, not if) would contaminate the Missouri River - the longest river in North America and one that many people rely on for water.

The first protest camp emerged in April when members of the Standing Rock Lakota and other Native American nations rode on horseback and established a spiritual camp called Sacred Stone. Since then, a number of other camps have been set up, with the aim being to block the construction of the pipeline.





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