Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Wild And Free And Then They're Not

I first laid eyes on them earlier this summer. There were three of them. Spanish mustangs living wild and free in the Arrowhead Mountains. There were many more that I didn't see, but I know for sure the proud stallions and mares, the bachelors and precocious colts were out there kicking up their heels or grazing in the high meadows. I was so excited taking pictures of these beauties that day and had a good feeling in my heart that they were protected and their legend lives on. I returned home and weeks passed and I couldn't stop thinking about the wild ones with the distinct coats of sorrel, dun, palomino and the gray grulla.

Then I started reading newspaper articles about the government roundup that was about to take place. They had their eye on 38 horses to bait and trap. At least they weren't using helicopters this time, to chase them down. They used salt blocks, hay and water to lure them in. Within weeks the horses were rounded up and corralled, fed and freeze branded, getting primed for their adoption.

I felt a connection to these horses and the canyons and valleys that they call home. I was sad and mad that it was going to be taken away from them. I thought about the bonds and friendships they made with the other bands of flying manes. I knew I had to be at that wild horse auction to see them one more time. I was also curious about how the whole thing worked and who would be taking home these horses with special bloodlines. I wouldn't be one of the fortunate ones because, well, one needs a pasture, and I've got a small courtyard and no barn. Not that I didn't think about bringing one home. My husband knows, it would be just like me to do just that! Anyway, I promised him I wouldn't.

The adoption took place at Britton Springs, a pretty spot just southwest of the Wild Horse Range. I wore my fancy cowboy boots and carried three cameras, a journal and a pen. I felt like Harriet the spy, taking notes and listening in on conversations and the serious chatter of who that horse is, or who his father was, what band she belonged to and all kinds of knowledgeable talk about the markings and health of a certain horse. It was obvious that a lot of folks were connected to these horses in ways I never knew. I wasn't the only one with a soft heart for the Pryor mustangs.

A couple of hours before the auction began, there was a demonstration on "gentle ing" a wild horse. This cowboy, a sort of "horse whisperer" if you will, showed a group of prospective adopters some valuable techniques on taming and handling their horse. He was calm and diligent and gentle. He spoke softly and was a patient man. It was fascinating! What a great idea to include a clinic of instruction to this program. I wondered if this was the usual procedure at other wild horse adoptions in other states? All I know is this guy was good at what he did. In two hours, that horse went from being scared and shying away from every little thing to being relaxed and somewhat accepting and letting this horseman stand beside him and stroke his neck. All done without harsh or cruel treatment, as it should be.

And the bidding begins. The minimum bid is $125. Most of the horses went for just that. Some went for between $250 and $700. There were mares and their foals, and one mama and babe went for $2,300. It surprised me that the majority of bids were so low, considering that these are famous and stunning Spanish Mustangs, afterall! They are WILD and they are disappearing from the American West.

I'm happy to announce that every one was adopted and am confident that they all went to good homes. But, I left that afternoon with mixed feelings. During my drive back home, my head was filled with images of all the horses and what they were going through. The way they stormed around the unfamiliar iron corrals, the unusual sounds of metal gates opening and closing, human voices, loudspeakers, camera crews. How confusing it must have been, what a strange and unfamiliar land they were forced into. How Madison will never see her mother again, and all the others taken from their families. I try to understand and accept that the BLM is doing their best in managing the number of wild horses in the Pryor mountain range. I was impressed with the BLM employees that I met at Britton Springs. They are kind and caring, and I know they are just doing their job. They are taking orders from our Governer, who only cares about fracking and money. Jarod is a fine horseman who cares about these animals, and took a personal concern in how to handle the roundup. Personally, I think they are removing them unnecessarily. And I'm against them sterilizing and using birth control. Congress gave them that land a long time ago, to roam free. We should let them.

In the meantime, you can be sure I will return to the place where the wild ones "drink the wind". I will continue to follow the Pryor Mountain Wild Horses and their story, keep an eye out and make sure the ones that remain are protected from harm and capture in the future. One can only hope.










12 comments:

  1. It is kind of sad though it seems necessary I suppose...I had no idea such a program existed...I would have preferred to see them wild! Happy Tuesday Prairie Girl!

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    1. I know. Seeing them wild in their freedom, you can't imagine how it makes you feel until you see it for yourself. It's truly an amazing experience. There are wild horses in many states, and they are being removed as we speak! And sometimes in inhumane ways, I might add. Ok. I'll stop. Thank you for being interested, Jeansy. Happy wednesday to you and O. an A.!

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  2. I'm with ya on the mixed feelings! What a shame to take them from their free and beautiful environment. :( I wonder.... if this breaks a horses spirit?

    I hate the bison auctions here (and deer hunts) - it's also to manage the population, etc. I think I will do like you, 'get ma boots on' and snoop into the details at the next auction!
    Good reporting and I LOVE your boots, prairie girl!

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    1. Oh Sandra...since I read that about the horses spirit being broken...I can't think about anything else! Because, you are exactly right on. The SPIRIT of the wild horse is WHO the horse is. That's basically the meaning. Im so happy you said that. I knew you would feel the same. You have a kind heart. x

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  3. Mixed emotions indeed
    i share your feelings
    why is it we feel the need to tame all that is wild?
    my hope is that they do find good homes...but I also hope that not all will be taken from their place in the wild...we need them there as much as we need them in our "tamed world"...perhaps even more

    thank you for sharing this story Miss Prairie
    a good read this Wed. morning♥

    love and light

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    1. Yes Cat, we need need need them! We need to show the children in years to come, that the wild horses are still running free! Please send them your love and light, sista. I know you will. x

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  4. Oh! You're killing me with this post! AND those BOOTS! Those are GREAT! I'm looking for a sweet pair for Monner.

    I wish I could go with on these trips ;( I feel I made a big mistake not movin to the mountains. Monner is a real animal/outdoorswoman. You should see her on a horse! ("PONE!")

    Keep sharing, I live for your blogs ;) Sadly, I've been busy with the wee one, working on her new "Gnome" room.

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    1. I'd love to take you on some of my journeys. Why don't you move up here! Uncle Chee would loooove that. Meanwhile, you can come out anytime, make our own adventures. What about getting her boots from Lou Tauberts? Yea! Thanks for sayin' all dem niiice things. Love you guys.

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  5. Another inspiring post! I love your free and wild spirit!

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    1. You're a beauty! That means a lot, friend.

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  6. Oh Girl. I'm going to be terribly rude and improper and invite myself over so we can follow the mustangs around together, snapping photos and breathing in their horsey scents.

    It's such a difficult thing to determine how to feel about this; my first roommate and I met when she purchased a wild mustang at an auction and began boarding him at a barn I worked and trained at. We were both young (19) and ALL horse-whisperish, and seriously bonded with that wild beast. And even after years of learning how to function in a modern barn, how to deal with people and trailers and even being riden, he still had a wild spirit-streak a mile wide.

    Which makes me think, when treated kindly and will respect, a wild thing might be tamed, but that doesn't mean their spirit will be broken. At least that's where I have to place my hope and faith!

    I'm glad you were there.
    xox - U

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  7. Next adoption, if there HAS to be one, meet me there. Xxxxo

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