Photos by Carol Walker music by Opus Moon’s “Wild Horse Anthology” available on iTunes
On this early morning in Adobe Town, I have one of the encounters that I always hope for.
I see a large group of horses quite a long way from the road, so I prepare to hike out to them. The wind is blowing, and the trucks are driving by, so I make sure I park well off the road.
The first thing I notice is a striking buckskin mare and her look alike foal. They keep watching me closely as I approach, so I stop and pause frequently. I keep getting closer, and they move around, but they are becoming more interested in me, and less fearful. It is a dance between curiosity and fear, and the curiosity is winning. I finally stop and sit down, and then the whole group starts walking toward me. I am delighted, and trying to keep my fingers warm as I push the shutter button.
I see the mares and foals pause and look in another direction. I follow their gaze, and there are two stallions, coming in fast. They are more focused on the family of horses than they are on me until they get closer. The two stop and stare at me, and decide to run by me, running faster and faster as they get closer. It makes me laugh and reminds me of the pronghorn antelope who love to run in front of my car, beating me as they cross the road. After they pass by, the beautiful bay stallion comes in front of his family, watching protectively.
The next morning when I head out to the herd area it is clear that there is a storm coming in. I see a large family with antelope running by them. By the time I turn around two hours later, they are moving into another more sheltered area with natural windbreaks, something the wild horses trapped in holding facilities cannot do. I notice how calm the wind is here, and the horses relax and graze, at ease even with the storm approaching.
Next I see the band I encountered my first evening of this trip, and the older stallion is so unconcerned about me that he turns his back. His family is moving toward a sheltered area as well.
As I drive up the hill I see another wild family sheltered from the wind, with a gorgeous backdrop. The mare and foal stay together, but the stallion and his two year old circle around me to get a better look.
The last wild horses I see on this trip are a stallion and his mare up on the hill where the wind is howling. They are right next to the road, and I am barely able to keep my camera steady as they approach me. Even though the temperature is falling, they appear perfectly at home.
As I drive out of the herd area, I feel very lucky that these wild horses have allowed me to spend time with them in their world. I hope that I will see all of these wild families again this coming year, and that there will continue to be wild horses in this area for many years to come despite the grazing associations and the oil and gas development. I truly believe there is enough room for wild horses, and will continue to do all I can to make sure that there always will be.
IN THE HANDS OF KILL BUYERS! When horses are purchased at auction by buyers intending to kill them, they're hauled away in double- decker tractor trailers where they are beaten and often blinded with baseball bats to mollify them. After crossing the border into Mexico, the animals are stabbed on each side-an act to tenderize their meat-and immobilized. Workers, then saw the horses legs off, at the knee and hang them to bleed out-all while the horses are ALIVE! (This is an excerpt, from an article written by Missy Diaz, crediting Victoria Mc Cullough and Sen. Joe Abruzzo for bringing awareness of horse slaughter, to Florida. In 2010 Florida Legislation unanimously passed the Horse Protection Bill, making it a felony to slaughter horses for personal or commercial use.)