More Wild Horses Including Curlies Lose Their Freedom in Salt Wells Creek by Carol J. Walker
Yesterday I went out to see wild horses that were still free after the horrible morning watching 167 get captured. It usually serves as a balm and helps combat the feelings of helplessness generated by watching large groups of wild horses that should never be captured rounded u with helicopters. But this time I knew that freedom was fleeting for these horses. I had heard that the BLM was going to round up horses the next day who were near the 191 highway in Salt Wells Creek because some horses had been killed on the highway and it was a hazard for public safety. We passed a game warden who told us that there was a big group at the top of the hill.
Sure enough, once we wound our way up the hill we saw a large group of wild horses grazing behind a fence on a flat area. I parked and we walked out toward them. The horses were completely unconcerned by our approach.
Many foals were lying down napping, and I spotted a bald faced sorrel mare who had a tiny foal nursing. He or she looked to be less than a week old. I was concerned about the little one’s ability to run from the helicopter the next day and decided to let them know about this foal so they would hopefully look out for it. As we were watching I realized that many of these horses were Curlies, with curly coats and manes. Here is a link for information on them: www.curlyhorses.com
There was an impressive bay stallion with a very wavy curly mane and there was a gorgeous pinto stallion red and white, who really seemed to be the big boss, who I learned was named Maestro.
We got to see Goliath breed the little foal’s mom, so I am pretty sure my guess of less than a week old was correct – the mares come into “foal heat” within a week of giving birth. It was so peaceful standing there watching the horses get up from their nap and move along and I was saddened thinking that that peace would not last for long.
This morning when we stopped 2 miles south of where I had seen the horses I knew I was right – they were the target today. I was glad I had had an opportunity to see them still wild and free.
We drove down to Maggie Springs, then followed the BLM to the site they had picked out for us to observe from on top of this hill, going up a rocky and rough two track. The wind was blasting us and we all bundled up as well as we could and held onto our cameras for dear life. We were quite a long way from the trap, but I hoped we would be able to see the horses coming toward us along the road first. I let the BLM know about the little black foal being so young.
Leaping onto the road
Suddenly someone yelled over the wind that the horses were coming. There was a huge group that met a smaller group, and the helicopter was pushing them along. There were too many directions to look. Maestro was leading one group – his distinctive markings made him stand out easily. Then I finally spotted the bald faced mare and little foal. He was keeping up! There were many other foals but he was the littlest. In all the confusion of the horses turning, jumping onto the road, then turning again I lost sight of him then saw him again and he was falling behind his mother. I began to worry a bit.
The little black foal is falling behind
Heading to the trap
The whole group was getting closer and closer to the trap. I watched one of the helicopters get down and right up behind the horses while the other hung back. They all went in, and I cannot imagine that they would have captured less than the 60 more they planned to catch in Salt Wells Creek. We waited quite a while before we heard that that was it for the day.
This evening, Jason Lutterman from the BLM who had been out there with us sent me a photo of the bald face mare and the little black foal who had been reunited at the temporary corrals. I was extremely relieved and grateful that he sent me this photo. I was told that they captured 66 wild horses today, which was 6 more than their number, so they are releasing 6 wild horses. They are keeping 46 adults and 14 foals.
I have to wonder how many Curlies are left in Salt Wells Creek? I hope that some of these beautiful and unique horses remain.