From Publishers Weekly
Velma Johnston (1912-1977), the daughter of a Nevada horse wrangler, was stricken by polio as a child, but she fulfilled her youthful aspirations of owning a ranch and marrying the man of her dreams; her tenacity is the emotional core of this moving-and first-biography of the animal advocate. Cruise and Griffiths (coauthors of Fleecing the Lamb) weave a story of western grit and guts, showing how Velma's indignation and early efforts-rescuing wild mustangs from pet food poachers and angry ranchers-blossomed into the passage of landmark legislation that prevented the capture or killing of herds of horses and burros. Velma's intelligence, candor, and charm are eloquently conveyed by the authors, and their rich and detailed portrait of Velma and her beloved "wild ones" becomes a paean to the American West-of cherished wildness and spirited individualism. Photos.
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If it weren’t for the efforts of one woman from Nevada, the wild mustangs of the West would have been eradicated. Velma Johnston, who later became known as “Wild Horse Annie” for her efforts, had been partially crippled by polio as a young girl. Having grown up on a ranch, she loved horses, so the sight of a livestock truck dripping with blood, in which injured and mutilated mustangs were crammed bound for a slaughterhouse, galvanized her into action. At first she and her husband resorted to releasing captured mustangs from the waterless corrals where they’d been herded, often with aircraft, after a long chase. But when they took on the Bureau of Land Management, asking the agency to refuse a permit for private mustangers to remove horses from public land, “Wild Horse Annie” was born. The story of how Velma organized support for the survival of the mustangs, and how she and her supporters pushed legislation through Congress to protect the free-ranging wild horses, is an example of how entrenched special interests can exploit publicly held resources and a testament to how much change a determined individual can foster. --Nancy Bent