The wild horse, roaming free, has long been a symbol of the American West. But unlike the buffalo, wolves, bears and other majestic animals, wild horses, or Mustangs, by scientific definition, are neither American nor wild.
Until about 500 years ago there were no known horses on the American continents. Then, in 1519, Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés landed on the shore of Mexico with a ragtag army of fortune hunters. They brought guns, armor, some horrific diseases, and something that would change America forever—horses. The native Indians were terrified of the huge beasts. At first they thought mounted man and horse were one creature. Only as the conquest progressed did they discover that horses were separate animals, and that they could be killed.
As the Spaniards settled Mexico and moved northward, horses escaped, multiplied and found a new home on the vast North American grasslands. This was where our Native American tribes found them.
Imagine what those first encounters must have been like—the discovery that a human could climb onto a horse and ride like the wind, hunting, raiding and defeating enemies. Had someone seen Spaniards riding horses, or did the Indians figure this out for themselves? The answer is lost to history. But horses became valuable possessions and the measure of a man’s wealth. The tribes with horses—the Cheyenne, the Sioux and others, became the lords of the plains. Only the arrival of European settlers put an end to their power.
These settlers from the East also discovered the wild Mustangs. They put them to use, running them into corrals to rope, brand and break. Horses too spirited to ride became bucking broncos. These captives made possible the settlement of the West and the great cattle drives. They helped create the legendary figure of the American cowboy.
Still, some wild herds remained free, as they do today. Pushed from the prairie, they survive in the harsh mountains and deserts of the West, enduring drought, fierce winters, and the mountain lions that prey on their foals. But their main enemy is man. In the spirit of keeping down their numbers for the sake of the environment, wild horses are chased by planes and helicopters into corrals, where they’re put up for sale or adoption. The lucky ones are set free to roam until the next roundup. But their future is uncertain. Some people want to protect them, others to eliminate them from the land. Whatever their fate, the wild horse will remain a symbol of the free American spirit.
Was she only guilty of stealing his heart? When his young prisoner dies during a botched escape attempt, U.S. Deputy Marshal Matthew Tolliver Langtry knows he’s in for trouble—in the form of Jessie Hammond, the young man’s fiery sister. Even as he finds himself falling for her, Matt must deal with his growing suspicion that Jessie, not her brother Frank, was the one who
should have been arrested for murder.
Jessie Hammond will do anything to prove her brother’s innocence, That includes joining forces with Marshal Matt Langtry, the man she blames for Frank’s death. But how far can she trust Matt when his own reputation is on the line? And how can she find peace in the arms of a man she has every reason to hate?
Have you ever seen wild horses? Do you know anyone who’s adopted them? How do you think their future should be managed?