Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Why Aritst LindaLMartin Decided to Get involved with Mustang A Day Challenge

Velma Johnson
AKA Wild Horse Annie
Used by permission
The Back story: Where the concept of the Mustang A Day Challenge came from and why  Artist Linda Martin decided to get involved.
"True, growing up in the 1960s, I was a Breyer collecting, horse loving, little girl in Virginia. I had my fantasies about The Black Stallion,  Man o War and my very own Flicka. Those fantasies were closer to reality than some far fetched dream, when it came to the possibility of horses. There was always a pony to ride some place, either a friend or a friend of a friend.
 Misty, to the children where I grew up, wasn’t just a book; She lived on the Islands of Virginia.  We embraced the drama of her life in 1962, as if she was one of our own families. Many years later when, I moved to this county,  I discovered that Wesley Dennis who illustrated the books about Misty of Chincoteague,  lived  here for a while during the summers. I never met him, but I heard the stories of this larger than life artist who drank hard,  was a family man and on occasion was called  by the Sheriff  to come and get his emu when they got out.
In my teen years, I lived near the Town of Front Royal Virginia, where the rail head brought horses from the west to the Army Remount station.  There were always retired Remount men who had boxes of photos and a story for each one. I loved listening to the tales of those  retired horse contractors, about  how they just put the new  recruits on the back of a horse and handed them 10 lead lines. Each lead had horse at the end of it that had never been handled. Those new recruits had to lead  those horses from the rail head in the center of town, through town  and a mountain pass and to the intake  at  the remount training center. 
I tend to believe the storeys  were not exaggerated. I saw the photos of men leading horses like that. However, I couldn’t figure out how these young raw recruits, with no horse experience, could pony 10 half wild horses from  the range, when I could barely pony one tame one myself.
Still, what I knew about  wild Mustangs could fill a thimble.
Yet as a child, and later as a teen, I did know about Wild Horse Annie. I read her book and discovered it was about more than Mustangs. It was about how a young woman could do anything, even if she was a disabled woman from a poor family and  unprivileged background. All she needed to do was to educate herself  and preserver. 
I will never forget the picture in my head of  Velma Johnson(Wild Horse Annie) standing in front of the mirror,  having someone fix her hair so that  her hair line looked normal before she went to speak to congress.
It wasn’t until 1974, that I began to understand fully what all her sacrifices meant. It was eveident to my friends and I,  that Annie's work wasn’t finished. I know that some people disagree with me on the issue of America’s wild horses. The issue is a complex one. However, one thing I do know is that in this day and age, with so many people so far removed from their horse heritage and history, that any animal, especially the horse, that is not made memorable by a name, then becomes invisible to them. When an animal becomes invisible it is  easily forgotten, and when forgotten, it is often lost for ever."
Read more of the back story about Ms Martin’s involvement in the Mustang A Day Challenge  The Back Story:
Credit for the  Wild Horse Annie photo goes to