This weekend I have been spending time with the horses in the McCullough Peaks Herd near Cody in northern Wyoming. Last October almost half of the herd was removed in a roundup because the BLM contended that 225 horses were too many for 110,000 acres. I have found most of my favorite horses that were left on the range, but both Washakie and Indigo now have 2 mares each in their bands. Before the roundup there were over 30 horses in those 2 bands. I was delighted to see the young pinto stallion Tecumseh who had just won a family band this year back with his mares. But two gorgeous palomino mares, probably mother and daughter, and favorites of people in the area who come to see the horses, have been split up, in bands in very different areas.
And two of my favorite horses, two lovely creamy colored two year old colts in Indigo’s band, Crispy Creme and White Lightning were removed, never to play together again, never to grow to their full strength and vie for mares.
But there are many horses left and soon there will be new foals.
When I go out with the horses, I usually go alone. It is quiet, peaceful, and I often sit and just watch for hours. It is the most peaceful time I get to spend. Spring is here, and this morning there was sparring going on between stallions. When I first arrived near several bands, the horses took off running and bucking in the cold morning air, just for the joy of being alive and free. This afternoon, it is warmer, and the horses have spread out grazing, some are snoozing, and they look up briefly as I take my camera out of my car, but do not move.
One stallion looks up periodically to check if I have moved (I haven’t). I see a band a long way off making its way toward the other horses. A striking grey stallion, a ridiculously beautiful black and white pinto foal, the latest foal of last year, and a pinto mare with a blue eye and very long ears are slowly moving this way. I relax and wait. The magnificent Bighorn Mountains, still capped with snow form a wonderful backdrop.
As the band gets closer, the grey stallion snorts at me, a long abrupt breath. He lifts his head. We are not familiar with each other. I am absolutely delighted as he moves toward me at a stiff legged, alert trot. He is so beautiful. He stops again, then starts to move at a trot then a gallop as he runs past me, mare and foal following behind him. It is the most gorgeous stirring sight, and my heart is full of joy. As he reaches the other bands of horses, he stops and snorts again, looking at me. I say “thank you” quietly and consider myself the luckiest of people. The horses touch something in my soul. Their joy in life, their beauty, their sense of family, their strength, their wildness – these qualities are unique to wild horses. And it is one of the very best parts of my life to be able to witness this and to share it.
We need wild horses. They speak to the very best part of all of us and preserving their right to roam free is essential.
The wild horses normally don’t need anything from us – except now they need our help so that they can remain free.
In Defense of Animals has an online form that you can end comments on the proposed Adobe Town and Salt Wells roundups where the BLM plans to remove 1000 horses from 1.5 million acres. Comments are due by April 2: http://bit.ly/chE8Ko