A Voice for the Horse
By Doree-Ann Satermo
Mustangs are truly miraculous creatures. Mustangs have the freedom we often long for. For us, it’s just a long off dream, buried somewhere in our hearts. True freedom is not just running free though, it’s about the heart, and the freedom of it. A wild horse may be caught and broke, but its heart will always be free. Freedom is having a place you love, and you know it will always be there in your heart as long as you have this power, this fight. Because that’s part of being a horse, they know true freedom.
Mustangs: a representation of the Wild West, courage, love, beauty, strength and most important, freedom. In 1971, the United States Congress recognized Mustangs as “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West, which continue to contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people. A saying of the old west is ‘With every footprint, a hoof print lay beside it. Wild mustangs truly show the beauty of the world, together, they form a herd to protect each other. The Native American tamed and rode this glorious creature, knowing of its power. They used Mustangs to hunt animals, and travel long distances
A few hundred free roaming horses survive in Alberta and British Columbia. Since the 1900’s, the Mustang population has reduced drastically. Mustangs have been caught for War use, used, or sold for slaughter. The statue, known as ‘The wild horse Annie act’ has prohibited the use of motorized vehicles for hunting Mustangs and Burros. Protection was increased by the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. Today, free roaming horses are protected under the United States but have disappeared from many states where there were once established populations. The feral mustang population in February 2010 was 33,700 horses and 4,700 burros. More than half the Mustangs are in Nevada, with other signification populations in Oregon, Wyoming and Nevada. Another 34,000 horses are in holding facilities. The only true wild horse today is The Przewalski’s Horse.
The wild horses are rounded up with a helicopter, and are forced to run down any slopes that come their way. Tragically, most of the pregnant mares lose their foal. Bureau of Land Management rounds up as many wild horses in a certain area, that they think will keep it under control, and manage the population. Five year old mustangs, are first sent to get dewormed, vaccinate, freeze branded, then are put up for adoption. The ten year olds and up, are classified as retired, and put in government-long-term holding centers, while the 5-9 year olds are sent back into the wild. The horses that are redeemed, ‘unadoptable’ are usually released back into the wild, or are put in the long term holding centers and the stallions are gelded and separated from the mares
Horses are the Wild West. They live, breath, and love the freedom of it all. Horses are something of a mystery. Sometimes, they are hard to figure out, you can’t understand the nature of them, and that scares some people, but not me.
That’s really the thrill of it all, the chance you take to be friends with this amazing creature, to really feel the connection they can offer to you, the freedom they can give you as you mount on their back, to experience something that can only be described as one of the best feelings in the world. When you mount up, that feeling over comes you and you feel like you can do anything, as long as that horse is by your side.
Mustangs have courage. Protecting each other, no matter what. When a mustang is caught and broke, he has to have courage to trust his rider to protect him, like his herd would have. When you adopt a horse into your life, that’s what you get, a herd. If a horse feels so strongly towards his rider, he will protect that person at any costs. I have heard many great stories about how in real life, a mustang did just that. He stood up for his owner against another horse who could have trampled her, he put his life at risk, risk that the other horse may kick him, to save his ‘herd’ member.
Mustangs give each other comfort and love, they look after each other, making sure no harm comes and that is incredible how much Mustangs will love each other, like any human family, the stallion will protect his family at all costs. Against predators, or humans, or to find a place to live and food to eat, they are fighting for their families to make it. A light within them, burns brightly, willing the mustangs to keep going, to keep the freedom they have.
When I saw my first mustang, I felt captured by its breathtaking beauty. I saw freedom and strength in their eyes, their black coats shining like the night sky. The stallion hung back and just stared at me. Our gazes caught, and in that moment I felt peace, I felt sad I wasn’t running off with them, but happy that I was able to see that. I still remember that stallion; I hope that all is well with him. I want other mustangs, like them, to always be free and rejoice in their strength and in the freedom they have.
Mustangs need to be protected; a history lies within them, one that might be destroyed if we don’t do something. Those foals deserve to grow up wild, the way their ancestors did. They don’t deserve to be captured so roughly and cruelly. The freedom they have showed be rejoiced, it should be recognized, because that is the true Wild West. They don’t belong in slaughterhouses, or captured for rodeo use. That is why mustangs should be heard, should be free and why we just have to take time to listen to the mustang.
They have a voice too, we just need to listen.
Age - 15 years
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