Happy birthday, Willie Nelson: the country music legend’s inspiring advocacy for horses

Happy birthday, Willie Nelson: the country music legend’s inspiring advocacy for horses

Who doesn’t love Willie Nelson? The country icon is one of the true living legends of music, and he’s still going strong in his 90s.

In addition to his decades of great music, Nelson has always used his platform to advocate for causes he believes in, including environment protection, the legalization of marijuana and support for farmers.

And one of Willie Nelson’s most inspiring causes is protecting and advocating for horses. In honor of his 91st birthday, read more about the Red Headed Stranger’s work on behalf of horses.

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Rescued over 70 horses from slaughter

Nelson is the owner of a 700-acre ranch in Briarcliff, Texas — and the music legend has used his land as a sanctuary for horses who would otherwise be slaughtered.

In a 2019 interview, he said he had 70 horses on his ranch.

“My horses are probably the luckiest horses in the world,” Nelson told KSAT. “They get hand-fed twice a day, and they were just ready to go to slaughter is probably the last thing they remembered, so they’re happy horses.”

Nelson aptly calls his ranch “Luck,” because “when you’re here, you’re in Luck, and when you’re not, you’re out of Luck.”

The property also serves as a sanctuary for Nelson, who enjoys driving around the ranch whenever he’s not on tour — a perfect home for a true cowboy.

Nelson has rescued many horses as part of his partnership with the animal rescue Habitat for Horses. He also says that his work with the Animal Welfare Institute first made him aware of the horses’ plight.

“It’s a shame horses — or any animal — be treated this way when horses are the foundation of America,” Nelson said. “Horses were a way to travel to get to where we are today, and it is our job to protect them.”

Advocated for protection of wild horses

In addition to saving horses from slaughter, Nelson is also passionate about protecting America’s wild horses.

In 2021, he penned an open letter to Congress, urging them to ensure better protection for America’s wild horses who are threatened by slaughter.

Nelson wrote that while Congress passed a law wild horses and burros, the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, back in 1971, its effectiveness was hindered by further mandates forcing the animals to “share the protected land with private livestock grazing, energy projects, and public recreation.” This caused a conflict over the use of the spaces, with the wild horses ending up “outnumbered” and squeezed out of their own protected space.

“Wild horses, like other wild animals, were meant to be wild and free. Historic family bands are broken as the horses are separated forever. Some are adopted or sold, and many thousands more end up living in crowded corrals or leased pastures, exposed to the elements. Some end up slaughtered for human consumption overseas.”

“The wild horses need us humans to come up with solutions that will end roundups, stop the stockpiling of horses, and ensure their safety.”

Nelson urges animal lovers to contact their local Congress representatives, urging them to pass all efforts to end these roundups and to promote humane fertility control, and to pass the SAFE Act to permanently end horse slaughters in the US.

Other animal advocacy

While Willie Nelson has a special place in his heart for horses, he’s a lover of animals of all kinds.

The “On the Road Again” singer is a supporter of the Best Friends Animal Society — he’s done so much work for the organization that co-founder Francis Battista calls him “Saint Willie.” His work includes advocating for legislation to close loopholes in Georgia’s dogfighting laws.

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The musician is also not shy about putting his beliefs in animal rights over his music career: in 2013, he pulled out of a concert held at SeaWorld due to disagreements about their treatment of animals.

“I don’t agree with the way they treat their animals,” Nelson told CNN. “It wasn’t that hard a deal for me.”

Happy birthday to Willie Nelson, music legend and true hero to animals. Please share this story and wish him a happy 91st! ❤️

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