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More on Wild Horses


Building upon yesterday’s discussion, Jaymi Heimbuch provides a really good roundup of the complexities of wild horses on the western range.

For as legitimate as the reasons to want to control their population, I have to say that I saw a herd of wild horses running through the badlands of North Dakota when I was 11 years ago and that sight is burned into my brain to the present. It was amazingly cool.

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  • burnt

    It hasn’t been updated in a while but lots of cool photos and stories about the wild horses in Teddy Roosevelt National Park:


  • The Dark Avenger

    Here’s a cool story from my home state:

    Some of those wild horses can be cantankerous when you run across them out in the wild lands.

    I was hunting Mule Deer up by Susanville in the Skedaddle Mountains back in 1991. As I was crossing a saddle at about 7000 ft at dawn I ran right into a herd of feral horses. They were coming up one side of the saddle and I was coming up the other. We met at the top of the ridgeline but couldnt see each other until we were about 20 feet apart. There were about 15 of them and they were not happy to see me so close. The lead stallion stomped the ground and snorted at me. I drew up a bead on him as I wasn’t sure if he was gonna break. It seemed like five minutes that we stood there in a mexican standoff. Probably more like ten seconds. I started to walk backwards, he backed off an took his herd back down the side of the saddle they were coming up. I gave them a berth then watched them for about five minutes as they crossed ridge after ridge putting about a mile between us before I lost sight of them.

  • Eric

    I really understand the emotional attraction of the mustang, I think. But in all honesty I’d rather see herds of pronghorn, bison, elk, wolf packs, and bears — all the megafauna we wiped out in the last several hundred years. And that’s made more difficult by the wild horses. Just about every major conservation group supports drastic controls on the horse population, and outright removal from many areas due to negative impacts on other species.

    It’s a smokescreen to blame the control efforts on ranchers. I hold no brief for ranchers, and remember Ed Abbey’s epithet: “cowburnt”. But there are plenty of groups that are no friends of ranchers who also think wild horses are a problem.

  • Stag Party Palin

    I saw a herd of wild horses running through the badlands of North Dakota when I was 11 years ago and that sight is burned into my brain to the present. It was amazingly cool.

    Hmmm. Kind of like my seeing an Air Force missing man flyover at the Rose Bowl in 1971. Very cool and environmentally surprisingly alike.

  • dilbert dogbert

    “Return to Freedom”
    Interesting name when they are confined to 300 ac. They are dependent on humans feeding them 2 twice a day.
    How is this place organized? Does it have a foundation with money in perpetuity to care for the horses? Good intentions don’t necessarily result in good results. Well cared for horses can live into their 30’s and even into their 40’s. That takes very long term commitment.
    There are sad stories of people taking on this responsibility and then getting old and unable to keep up the effort and having to scatter their herd. Sometimes the herd is not cared for or fertility controlled and the result is horses so bad off they have to be put down.
    We love horses but there are more issues than about wild horses on Public Lands than discussed in the article. There are issues about domesticated horses on private lands too.
    Full disclosure: We own two horses that we ride frequently. We can pay the freight for tack, feed, a shoer and vet care. The wife’s horse is a Kiger Mustang Arab cross mare. Mine is a Spotted Saddle Horse.

  • mch

    Not just horses. I suppose it could be a herd of lots of animals. (I’ve been faced down by a herd of dairy cows — even they can be intimidating, you know.)

    But horses. Ever been to a track in rural Virginia where the races are things like “three-year-olds who have never won a race”? Even so. At such tracks, you get to stand right at the track, and as they pound by — the whole earth shakes as their feet and manes fly. A wonder to behold.

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