History of the wild mustang
The mountains and the lands of the West are powerfully beautiful - dignified and majestic- as are the horses that live among them.
Wild horses are born with the colors of the mountain upon them: the browns, reds and blues, the dapple and flea-speakled grays and the white of the snow-covered peaks.
They are as tough as the steep rocky hills, and when they gallop, their hoofbeats resound like distant thunder.
Horses are a nation that finds joy in living and in friendship. They play with unabashed gusto, teasing and tackling and playing catch me if you can.
Sometimes they hurt each other, but forgiveness comes swiftly. Soon they are resting side by side.
The mares watch the fillies and colts playing, standing close by like schoolmarms ready to break up mock battles if they get too rough. The words "band," "harem" and "herd" are used to describe groupings of horses, but they fail to relay the intensity of the family of young and old: fillies, colts and mares, and the stallion that guards them all. They have close bonds of friendship and stinging rivalries, but they don't have the human fault of holding a grudge. They are a nation unto themselves and in harmony with their environment.
The history of man and horse is woven into a story more than 5,000 years old. Horses have been at the heart of that tapestry, a vivid patchwork of conquest as man triumphed over his fellow humans and the good earth. The horse has brought us from humble caves and huts to the palaces of kings, tilled the land, carried produce to market, endured our weight going home and then freed our hearts as we raced over the mountains for the sheer joy of the wind in our hair.
Yet, in some communities, wild horses and burros have been classified as an over populating nuisance akin to rats in the cellar. But rats have never taken a bullet in our wars or fallen to the ground struggling to clear our lands or broken a leg racing for our entertainment.
Yes, the populations of wild horses and burros need to be adjusted to the conditions where they now live, confined by fences and government regulations. Where there are too many for the land to support, they need to be removed, for the benefit of themselves and the land.
But it is not humane to let them "naturally" starve or die of thirst in the unnatural environment we have created for them. Once we remove the "excess," for whatever reason, man has the responsibility to see that they are cared for properly, as true friends and companions.
Horses need to have enough space to run freely and to live with other horses as nature intended. They can express their true joy in being alive, so that their power and majesty can shine forth like a sunrise over the mountains.
From "The Wild Horse: An Adopter's Manual" by Barbara Eustis-Cross and Nancy Bowker. Available from the Life Foundation, 1111 So.
"...Congress finds and declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene..."
From the Wild Free-roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971
HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN MUSTANG
The American Mustang is more accurately termed the "feral horse". Feral horses (commonly known as Mustangs) are those horses whose ancestors were domestic horses that were freed or escaped from early explorers, native tribes, ranches, cavalry, etc. to become free-roaming herds all across the United States. The first domestic horses in
These numbers were provided by the Bureau of Land Management's herd statistics. Even at these low numbers the BLM's research concludes that there is an excess of 15,000 horses.
Throughout the history of the feral horse, the government devised ways to reduce the numbers of free-roaming horses to appease the cattle-ranchers vying for the grazing land, and to keep the herds from over-populating thus starving to death due to lack of grazing land. As recently as 1952 a group of concerned citizens in
"Wild Horse Annie" continued to fight for the survival of the wild horse and burro. She brought the plight of the wild horse and burro to the attention of the U.S. Congress. She lobbied against the cruel capture practices, and for management of the herd reductions so as not to wipe out the wild herds altogether. In 1971 the Wild Free-roaming Horse and Burro Act was passed by Congress which requires the protection, management, and control of wild free-roaming horses and burros on public lands.