The International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros (ISPMB) recently celebrated the birthday of its first president, “Wild Horse Annie” (also known as Velma Johnston), on March 5—the perfect way to ring in Women’s History Month, according to the society.

According to the ISPMB, Johnston—who was born on March 5, 1912—was a powerful woman in the public’s eye well before any other women were. The society said it is therefore fitting that “Wild Horse Annie” was born in March, as this month is so significant to women: Not only is March Women’s History Month but also International Women’s Day is on March 8. Because of Johnston’s iconic accomplishments, the society’s goal is to have Johnston inducted into the National Women’s History Museum in Washington, D.C.

“She is a heroine and icon to all of us in the Wild Horse and Burro Movement,” the ISPMB’s president, Karen Sussman, said.

The Wild Horse and Burro Movement encompasses efforts to protect the lives of wild horses and burros. The ISPMB said that Johnston worked tirelessly to save America’s wild horses and burros in her day. In addition, she was the catalyst for many young women to embark on their journeys to save wild horses and burros as well.

Johnston’s quest began just four decades after women had achieved voting rights. However, in addition to fighting for the lives of wild horses in a world dominated by men, she worked as a bank executive secretary—again, in a male-dominated world. According to the ISPMB, through her odds-defying successes, “Wild Horse Annie” successfully demonstrated to the women of her time period that they could do anything they put their minds to. That message continues for women today, even as the ISPMB also continues to fight for the healthy management of wild horses and burros throughout the world.

Photo: Wild Horse Annie with her horse Hobo and her dog Daiquiri

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