Horses have always been one of my favorite animals, plus the ancient horse originated here in Idaho over 3.5 million years ago and is the American icon of the west. So, when I got an invitation to spend a weekend in search of wild horses in the remote mountains of central Idaho, I jumped at the chance!
It was Memorial weekend, but the snow flurries and wind chill made it feel more like March. My friends and I bundled up, packed our cameras, and spotting scopes and drove for miles up steep terrain and dirt roads to find the infamous wild horse herd near the East Fork of the Salmon River (click to enlarge the map). We hiked for more than an hour before catching a glimpse of the wild horses. We were enough lucky to find a small herd of mustangs with a precious new foal, grazing on the side of a sage covered hill.
Much to our surprise, on our drive home, we found another small herd of three wild horses and had an amazing encounter! These horses were off in the distance, out in the middle of the open praire along with some pronghorn antelope…
My friend, Buck Wilde, the famous nature photographer had coached me about approaching the wild horses a few weeks prior to this trip. (For more info, please see this article, Alaskan Grizzly Bear Adventures of Nature Photographer, Buck Wilde ) So, my friend and I decided to use Buck’s ‘tried and true’ wildlife viewing tips…we parked our truck and walked out halfway to meet the horses, in plane view. Then we stopped and just stood still.
Sure enough, this sparked the curiosity of the little herd. They watched us walk toward them, but when we stopped they became curious and didn’t feel threatened. Within minutes the beautiful stallion ran right up to us with his mares following from behind. What a magical experience that I even captured on video! They seemed like mythological unicorns…not horses. (please see my 2.32 minute video below).
I felt honored by this wildlife experience, but I left those wild horses feeling bitter sweet…
Idaho’s wild horses, are harder to find nowadays. During the summer 2009, a herd of 364 wild horses from Challis, Idaho were inhumanly chased by helicopters and run for more than 10 miles in 100 degree heat, then captured as part of a Bureau of Land Management round up. America’s wild horses are being managed to extinction by the BLM.
In the course of this wild horse round up, family bands were broken apart forever, foals weaned too early, mares and their stallions separated, countless horses injured and many fatalities occurred. These majestic and dignified animals were “sorted” by age & sex, starved, abused and sold for adoption or to Mexican slaughterhouses for human consumption or destinations unknown.
(The pictures of the stallion below are a before and after the round up photo). 🙁
THERE ARE WAYS YOU CAN HELP SAVE THE WILD HORSE!
Please support the new stunning documentary by James Kleinert’s,Wild Horses & Renegades, a call-to-action short film hosted by Viggo Mortensen, Sheryl Crow, and Peter Coyote, with music by Bono. The filmmaker examines the politics behind the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) controversial policies on public lands and questions the fate of America’s wild horses and burros, whose very existence is in jeopardy (www.theamericanwildhorse.com).
With dramatic footage, the new film Wild Horses & Renegades exposes abusive taxpayer-funded roundups of the few remaining American wild horses, which are then starved, abused and sold for adoption or to Mexican slaughterhouses for human consumption. Shot in HD, Wild Horses & Renegades captures the pure and stunning beauty of horses in the wild in contrast with the mismanagement of our last wild public lands.
Please visit the ASPCA, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Silent Voices Equine Rescue, a proactive group of wild horse advocates – The Wild Horse Project – were able to successfully secure twenty wild mares and one gelding. Many of the mares were pregnant, consequently, the herd increased by ten; six fillies and four colts were born in the spring of 2010. In search of a permanent sanctuary, the perfect place has yet to be found. Meanwhile, we vow to keep them together, safe and secure until they can once again run with the wind. Please visit their site to financially support this project, tax deductible donations can be made to Silent Voices Equine Rescue, a non-profit 501C3. http://www.silentvoicesrescue.org/Wild_Horses.html