The Checkerboard Wild Horse Roundup Doesn’t Look Any Better from a Distance
by Carol J. Walker
Today we were placed 3 miles from the trap site above the Eversole Ranch in Salt Wells Creek. I could barely make out the little ant sized horses in the viewfinder despite my very long lens. I could only tell if the horses were dark or light colored, and make guesses about how many there were.
After a frustrating 3 hours trying to keep track of horses very far away, we were told that we had the option to go to temporary holding so we could see the horses that had been rounded up so far today before they were loaded up and trucked off to one of two long term holding facilities that would not allow visits from the public. Since we had not gotten any sort of useful view of the horses I jumped at the chance.
While we were waiting for the Cattoors to process the horses so we could be let in to see them, we watched an antelope family move to a puddle to drink.
Once we were allowed in to see the horses, we walked around looking first at the mares. All but one of the foals had been weaned and were separated from their mothers for the first time. One mare with a collar from the Adobe Town Radio collar study had been captured. I asked about the mares who had been captured last week with collars and was told they had been released back into Adobe Town.
We saw the stallions crowded together, and then the foals who now just had each other. We asked about the young stallion who we had seen several days ago who had been walking around eating hay and visiting the horses in the pens – apparently he had walked into a corral that had hay and was now a captive as well.
After seeing these horses in these pens, the only cure for those feelings was to go visit some wild horses that were still free. I picked up a friend in Rock Springs and headed into Salt Wells Creek. I saw completely different groups of horses in this area than I had seen the day before.
We were charmed by a black stallion with a white nose who protectively stood in front of his family. Then we saw a big family group who ran down the hill and peeked over the sagebrush to watch us – we had to laugh.
We saw several families, and then some rough looking bachelors. An then we saw a big group at a distance and spent some time figuring out how to get to them. We finally found a two track going in the right direction and traveled down it. Suddenly we saw the big group. We got out of my car slowly and started to walk toward them. My friend said “they might run.” Well they did – to our delight, directly toward us! There was a rowdy group of young bachelor stallions which included a colorful palomino and a blanket appaloosa and then a family.
They seemed completely unafraid, and happily entertained by our presence. It was hard to leave, but we finally walked reluctantly back to the car and made the long drive back to town.
It is a gift spending time with these horses, and I never take for granted that they are letting me spend time with them, in their world. My world is a better place for having spent time with them.