Wild Horses

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.

If you like wild horses, you’ll enjoy this book—a Holt Medallion finalist and winner of the 2006 Cataromance Reviewer’s Choice award.   Here’s a blurb and an Amazon Kindle purchase link.

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?

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23 thoughts on “Wild Horses”

  1. I have never seen any wild horses. Not sure how I how their future should be managed, but I do think they should be protected in some way. They should be allowed to roam free…
    Your book is going to be a great read Katie.. Can’t wait to read it.

  2. Good morning, Kathleen, Renee, and the rest of you on this cold November day.
    We have wild horses in the West Desert here in Utah. I’ve seen horses out there but not sure if they were wild or just out grazing. They do round them up every so often and some of are adopted.

  3. PBS Nature has a great film about a wild horse named Cloud and the woman who tracked and filmed him from the time he was born. Worth watching if you happen to catch a rerun.
    I think there’s even a Cloud foundation somewhere. I will check it out and get back to you.

    Wishing warmth to the storm victims and a happy day to you all.

  4. My first horse was a wild mustang I adopted. It was a great experience and the people I worked with through BLM all seemed to really care about what happened to these horses.
    It was a really neat experience.
    I know a lot of people like the mustangs because they tend to be healthy, agile and strong. I know many places cross them with quarter horses for good working/cow ponies.
    There are also prison programs where inmates train the mustangs, which are then put up for adoption.

    I understand the frustration of farmers with sharing their grazing ground…but there are also government programs that pay farmers for use of their land.
    It’s a similar situation to that of wolves.
    The ranchers and farmers have to think about their bottom line…but I think both need to be preserved in their natural environment…despite the troubles it creates.

    It would be a sad day to lose such a beautiful part of our history.

  5. Thank you for your WONDERFUL post, Tabitha. Your experience and knowledge of wild horses has added so much to our blog today. Exactly what I was hoping someone would contribute!

    I didn’t know about the prison program. That’s really nice (and could make an intriguing story…)

  6. I’m one of those young girls that wanted a pony as a child – we lived in the suburbs lol. They are magnificent animals and I hope there will be places they can always run free! Bringing horses to our shores was one of the few nice things all the foreigners did for us 🙂

  7. I have never seen the horses in the wild but had a friend who worked the wild horse ranch here in NE Nebraska where some were brought for adoptingand training. They were quite a sight to see.

    Looking forward to reading your book.

  8. We have several wild burros here in the desert area where I live in Arizona. They have a roundup for them every few years to help manage their numbers. I understand they make good pets and carry small loads of stuff for people.

  9. I wanted a horse, too, Catslady. We lived in a small town. The farm kids had horses but my folks were teachers and Dad said “no way.”
    How many young girls dream of taming a wild horse. Back in my day, at least, a lot.

  10. Wild burros are such cute, tough animals, aren’t they, Joye? I guess they still run wild in the Grand Canyon, although they have to be managed to keep their numbers under control. Having one for a pet would be fun.

  11. What a neat blog. I wish I had lots of land so I could adopt some of these wild horses. I think they are the most majestic animals God has ever made. They’re truly amazing. Congrats on the new e-release of Wyoming Wildfire. I’m going to go download it into my Kindle. Can’t wait to read it. Wishing you lots of success, dear Filly sister!

  12. In the 1970’s we worked with the BLM in our valley to help round up wild horses. We worked in the surrounding valleys and in neighboring Nevada high valleys. The BLM had a very good idea and model for housing them, after catching them. The catching them was another story. I was the camp cook on a number of these roundups.
    The adoption part was taken care of by another group of BLM people. We just rounded them up and housed them until they were adopted. They were vaccinated, their hooves were trimed, (if possible), and most were pretty scared and hard to manage.
    For me, it was exciting. My husband moved on to catch wild burros. That was a disaster! They don’t want to be caught!

  13. A very good friend of mine has made the wild horses her mission in life! She spends a lot of time seeing to their safety and health and protection! She’s amazing. I have learned a lot about them through her. Thanks for your post!

  14. I have never seen wild horses but I think they should be protected and left alone. I hate seeing wild animals penned up because in nature they are free.

  15. What an experience getting to work with the wild horses, Mary J. I can see where the vaccinations and hoof trimming would do them a lot of good, even if they were scared.
    In some places I’ve read about there’s a movment on to sterilize them so they won’t multiply so fast. Not sure what would be involved but it might not be a bad solution. What do you think?

  16. I really admire people like your friend, Valeri, who dedicate their lives to helping animals. I bet your friend would have some great stories to tell.

    I think we all agree that wild horses should be protected and free, Quilt Lady. The problems happen when there are more of them than the land can support. But we can’t afford to lose these magnificent animals.

  17. Hi Elizabeth,
    They did castrate some of the studs here. The Vet checked out the studs to see what their basic health was and if they had anything that could possibly pass on. If they found that to be true with their examination, a castration was ordered. The stud had to be put under for awhile, because they didn’t like to have their manhood ruined. Along with they were MEAN SOB’s, with teeth.
    Oh, yeah, that was another thing they did–float their teeth. i.e. (Make sure their teeth were even and they would be able to chew–otherwise they would starve.)
    I’m just a tower of information, tonight.

  18. I help out at our local horse rescue. We have Rebel right now. He was adopted through BLM by a guy who thought he’d be able to ride this beautiful gray immediately. When the fool couldn’t, of course that sweet horse endured abuse until he landed into the love of the rescue.

    The rescue sits on 12 acres, but a woman who moved nearby after it was established is now suing for “dust” and “smells.” She’s so wrong. The place is beautifully maintained with many precautions against odors. We’re sending her love, though, not negativity, but do say prayers. The rescue needs money for legal fees now, in addition to feeding out critters.

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