Thursday, September 6, 2012

Wild Mustangs And BLM Sunset

Eventually the wild mustangs that we had been peacefully watching (for in total about 90 minutes) began to slowly wander up the hill on the opposite side of the dirt trail where we were parked and where they had been grazing, and began to head away from us.
LC and I had stood at the back of the truck watching these animals, and greatly enjoying listening to them eat and chatter among themselves.
Everyone had been quiet and calm with each other during our visit, except for a few raised horse-voices and brief periods of jostling amongst themselves.
I missed a few periods of jostling and posturing.  I always seemed to be taking pictures of other horses and by the time I focused in on the animated ones their shoving and jostling was over.
I did manage to catch this one very brief interaction.
It was over barely before it had even begun..............
Horses all playing king and queen of the castle, while visually following the rest of the herd as it began the short climb to the top of the rise on our left...............
Two stragglers rushing to catch up with the rest of the herd.
If you click on the picture it will enlarge.  They are barely visible in this picture, but in between the two dark brown horses, and further away in the distance is the female LC and I had been watching and the light brown horse who was with her and did not want to leave her...............
The sun was rapidly beginning to set and we were a mile and a half away from the Greybull Highway.
It was time to go.
One more last look in front of the truck, looking out over the mountains to the west.............
Handing LC my camera as we slowly turned the truck around and headed back the way we had come, he snapped these pictures from inside the vehicle as the horses continue to graze their way up and over the hill.
What an astonishing experience. 
Beautiful and peaceful and exciting all at the same time..............
All pictures taken on the way back to the highway................
I received an email this morning from the woman at the Cody BLM office.
She told me in email that they were going to take the female out of the herd and have her inspected by a vet, and then she asked me if I knew anyone who would be interested in taking her.
She also told me that the light brown horse (I called her a buckskin in one of my previous blog entries but now know that she is a palomino) was 24 or 25 years old and had produced many foals.
RE: the adult female LC and I would have loved to take this horse.  We would have loved it.  But we do not own the house here, do not own the land here, and we are not certain that we could really afford at this stage to properly care for her.
And truthfully I do not want the responsibility of caring for a horse.  Not now.  Not yet.
We called the owner of the property that we rent and he said that he was definitely interested in having her.
RE:  the palomino.  LC and I did not believe that she was that old.  We believed that she was young and that the BLM woman had mistaken another palomino for the one we were talking about.
He and I drove back out to BLM this morning to check on the female. 
It took some searching but we found the herd and found the female.  After watching her for 30 minutes she appeared to be fine.  She did not sit or lay down, did not paw at the ground and we saw her grazing. 
The palomino and the small black stallion were still close to her.
The palomino?  She looked different than we both remembered her.  Bigger today that she had looked the other evening.  She was further away today but...........maybe she WAS old.
Regardless, satisfied that the female was looking and acting in normal ways we headed back the way we had come.
The plan was to call the BLM woman when we got home and tell her that we knew someone (who already had horses and a piece of land) that would willingly accept the domestic horse.
As we approached the dirt parking area on BLM land (that is located immediately off the highway) we saw a government truck.
Parked in the lot and empty, but we pulled into the lot as well.
LC and I spent a few minutes watching antelope through binoculars (that with the naked eye were completely invisible because they were so far away from us and blended in completely with the terrain), and as we waited someone climbed out of a vehicle and headed directly towards the government truck. 
It was her.  The BLM woman that I had been exchanging phone calls and emails with.
After a long conversation with her, LC and I found out many very interesting things:
1.  She had already known about the female horse before I contacted her
2.  There were a total of 8 domestic horses out with the herds that people have dumped off on BLM land over the past year
3.  There were 7 domestic horses dumped off on BLM last year.  Some of them had foals.
4.  Unthinking people harass the mustangs in many different ways.  Last year three pregnant mares miscarried when they were terrorized by a helicopter.  People in private planes fly low over BLM land and scare them.  One person  (from Tennessee at it turns out) ran over a mustang on BLM land last year.  LC and I (only a week or so after we arrived back in Wyoming) were surprised to see a large herd running at full speed across the plains.  A minute later we saw them - two people driving fast on four wheelers and scaring the horses.
5.  She does not think that BLM will be able to get the female out of the herd at least until January.
A lot of the information was unsettling and disconcerting.
Idiot people doing destructive and idiot things.
Domestic horses - who are ill-prepared to survive on land as harsh as BLM land - are regularly being dumped into the herds.
Domestic horses are breeding with mustangs and consequently diluting the breed.
Domestic horses such as our female are being beaten up by unwelcoming female mustangs.
LC is going to talk with the owner of the property where we live.  Maybe they can work directly with BLM folks to get her out of there earlier than January.....................
Poem by Emily Marton
Their Hoof beats hit the dirt,
With Soft clouds of air puffing from their nostrils,
Grace exceeding their Beauty,
their strides long yet powerful,
With long tangled manes and wiry dense tails flowing,
they have their minds set on the day to come,
to survive the harsh plains,
so beautiful,
yet so cruel.
The young stay close,
minds buzzing
with fluffy tails and high pitched whinnies,
their short strides quicken to keep up with the rush
of yet another move,
never knowing what the day may bring.
but in the soft beating of their hooves,
their Wild spirit will always be pure.
because They are Wild Horses.

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