The Force of the Horse

Summertime and the Living is Easy for Vegas and the Wild Horses

Story and Photos by Arlene Gawne

Eco-tourism Could Save the Wild Horses and Burros

Ah, July’s sizzling hot days in Las Vegas turn into mild evenings and mellow the most work-weary of us. Summer may be our desert’s harshest season of the year, but evening gentles us into peace and rest, a scarce and wonderful thing in today’s world. This past Saturday night we spent with wild horses, a BBQ by a high altitude lake, and a full moon that reminded me of all those beautiful years I spent in the African veldt (bush) when the elephants and zebra, giraffe and lion could breathe easy at summer sundown. The thirst, fatigue, and the hunt for food paused. All of us, human or 4-footed, relaxed and luxuriated in the soft, warm evening air.

For our Southern Nevada wild horses, yet unmarked for roundup by our government, this July is a most gentle one – they have cheat grass aplenty because of this spring’s plentiful rain. Now cheat grass will catch fire quickly in summer lightning strikes, but not where the wild ones graze. They love the stuff so disliked by other mammals and they make a natural fire break, not the man-made ones full of weeds and hot for fire. Their firebreak is free of charge, courtesy of their tens of thousands of years of evolution in North America.

Our herd ID volunteers, do you recognize this pinto mare and her yearling ? They dodged Nature’s bullets and are thriving this July. What a joy to watch them together. The bay stallion knew he had a prize in them and drove off a nearby stallion who had just one mare and foal. But who knows what will ensue in a month? If he doesn’t please her – and if his lead mare continues to nip at her – the pintos will be off. Now that will bugger up our band ID and his testosterone!

What a pleasure to stand near and silent watching the wild ones pick their full out of a supposedly barren desert. No wonder I am adrift in African wildlife memories – we have the same jewels here but the public just doesn’t know about them. Our silly go-for-broke government would rather round them up, break up their family bands and send them to jail at great cost. You have to laugh at this when we are just 12 days from national bankruptcy. This year, this Congress gave over $10 million dollars to round up wild horses while they cancelled programs for vets, the elderly and the foster kids of this nation.

Yes, these are the same wild horses that the US government and ranchers claim are thirsty and starving, constantly chasing wildlife from waterholes. Ah those government desk jockeys that seldom tour the range, if only they invested in wild horse study programs like American universities do in Africa. These are sleek summer horses that have shed their winter woolies, find plenty of water in springs and catchment basins, and share the water and feed with elk and deer while teaching their very young foals where to graze.

Ah the foals, so beautiful but so vulnerable. We volunteer watchers have seen few of the foals that we identified in 2010. Why?

Had to be mountain lions, broken limbs, moms dying of old age before their foals were weaned, summer lightning strikes in the high hills (as in the Pryor Mountains). Who else would have taken them? The BLM has not come with their helicopters for several years. Thank God. Yes, this is the real Nevada range – not the world of 20-25% annual incease in horses herds as constantly claimed by the BLM. If it was, wouldn’t we would see our favorite 2010 foals as yearlings? No – Nature is always pruning the numbers to preserve the strength of a species. But don’t try to sell that truth in Washington DC or Carson City Nevada.

So I invite you, if ever you find the time and the ticket to Vegas, to call me up and come see these wild beauties – come see how they protect their bands, play silly buggers in the warm evening air, and share the range with you and whoever else is blessed to be upon. Africa is in Nevada, you just need to know where to look.

14 replies »

  1. Arlene, thank you for a minitour and commentary,,,,good stuff!

    And more importantly, thank you and many of our other warriors for being the boots on the ground for our Nation’s national treasures.


  2. Dear RT , a story so well written that I must come to see, I have been to Vegas hundreds of times to see the Mustangs on the desert, stop going there about 7 years ago, always came to see them not to gamble, the real treat for me was out on that desert, till they disappeared , I have always loved the wild Mustangs , always knew they were an essential part of of everything good here…….. i have never been to the mountains to see them, now i must come to view them, How can anyone who has eyes to see them and a mind to study them ever maliciously hurt them?????? This question haunts me and i know without them we all will surely perish , those who harm them, break their bands,and imprison them ought to have their head examined , it is as clear to me they belong as the air that I breathe keeps me alive , the greedy bastards that try to eradicate them need to step back and just study them , their lessons can never be duplicated in any book…without them we are doomed………….. They are here with many countless joys to give , only good things come from them, we cannot ever let any one destroy them……The BLM has to be stopped and stopped now……………………..Never will there be another animal that is so truly perfect for our environment or our pleasure as the The Great American Mustang.. Nature understands this to a t, she keeps giving them their survival needs, her way of informing everyone these horses are here for the long haul, and we must protect them if there is to be a future for all of us……………………………She gave to them communication skills that no other animal can even begin to dupicate, it is time for the BLM to either understand this and stop all round ups or be dissolved into nothingness…..A new an agency that protects and preserves them like they are paid to do, is put into effect………………… There are many right here who have the knowledge to Head up this agency the right way……………..


    • Arlene – your words are prophetic as well as just sucking us right into the picture you painted (as well as photos! LOL). You gave us all a breath of fresh air combined with awesome pictures that I’m sure gave everyone a much needed break and boost! WE CAN DO THIS! Blessed Be!


  3. Thank you for sharing your experience. I only wish that these were the only kinds of stories that we had to share – the good ones. I hope you are able to continue.


  4. Arlene, in reading your article, a person can almost feel the night air and smell the Earth. Thank you for this. This battle to save America’s Wild Horses and Burros appears to be the same battle that has been fought to save the Elephants in Africa. These battles are raging across the Planet, as we speak. The Earth seems to be divided into two, very different groups of people. A David and Goliath battle it is….We know who won than one.


  5. Beautiful. This what people should go to Nevada to see. I know I’d like to. Not gambling casinos, fancy slot machines and people addicted to gambling, but nature. Where instead of diving into stress, people can relax and enjoy.


  6. This is what I would go to Nevada to see. Not slot machines, flashing lights and people addicted to gambling who probably can’t afford it. I’d go to enjoy nature and the wild horses and to relax.


  7. In my daily calls to the White House, I’ve discovered just how many people DON’T EVEN KNOW that we have Wild Horses in the West


  8. Your story made me cry…… heart is broken for all of the poor souls getting rounded up in Northern Nevada, families broken apart, wee little ones perishing…..I am so thankful the BLM is not focused on the bands in Las Vegas….but they will take notice eventually after all the wild ones are gone from up here (yes, I live right in the heart of it all)….and that time is not far off 😦


  9. Such a beautiful article!
    As with others here, I weep my way through articles, news clips, videos, photos, and anything pertaining to the life and well being of the wild horses and burros.
    I weep with JOY for the remaining free roaming wild horses and burros, and pray they will always be blessed with their natural lifestyle in the wild; and I weep with grief for all those who have suffered the merciless capture, ill-treatment and imprisonment at the hands of brutal two-legged – they who claim to be of advanced intelligence over the four-legged, but they use their power to cause harm to the innocent.
    On a recent trip to the East Coast (from Washington State) my son and his family visited an area in Maryland where Wild Horses live and roam free. He sent pictures, and said the horses are protected and have an entire island to themselves. Any fences seen in the photos, he said, “are to keep the idiots (people) from interfering with them”. 🙂
    We must NEVER give up the fight for the freedom and protection of innocent and defenseless living beings, for they cannot speak in their own behalf or fight the battle for themselves.
    Keep on keeping on, my friends! It will all be worth it when we save the wild horses and burros, and assure that they will be safe from threat of humankind.


  10. To Louie and all of you who suffer from the ridiculous destruction of life across this planet, I have another story to share.
    In the mid 1990’s, I sat at a waterhole literally for months where Hwange Park met the highway and a small railroad service village. People were starving and jobless in that part of Zimbabwe, so they set cruel snares near the water. All too often we watched helpless as giraffe, zebra, and buffalo stumbled in with snares tearing into their necks, noses and legs. Sometimes domestic dogs would be set on them, but we cursed these people and their dogs and they slunk away into the underbrush knowing they could catch the animals later without being identified or captured themselves.
    We didn’t carry guns. I could not shoot greedy or desperate humans, but I could curse them with a vehemance that scared them into leaving this waterhole for other parts of Hwange. The Park staff did not pursue them, the corruption of staff spirit or pocketbook was nearly complete thanks to the actions of Zimbabwe’s dictator, Mugabe, and his evil henchmen.
    Finally one day, I cursed the Creator for allowing such devils, such poverty, and such desperation to exist. I received a soft whoosh in my gut immediately, felt a phenomenal presence there and then saw images of magnificent wild dogs, kudu, zebra, elephants all leaving the Earth and moving out into space. Electrified, I sensed that each species has a planet perfect for it’s survival where it could go after this harsh existence. Only one species on its own planet meant it could play, eat, and interact in all its glory, peacefully.
    But one thing was missing on those peaceful planets. Diversity. And I sensed that was why we all chose to come here to Earth – to learn to live gently and peacefully in Diversity. Some are far behind other beings in learning how to do that. They are the Other that we must stand up to and educate. It takes time and our sweet/sad passage here is only like the brush of a feather in human evolution. But if we continue to stand up, we will change them until the Other is Us and we can all revel in and protect the Earth’s Diversity. Namaste.


  11. Arlene, I think you are right. This seems to be a place for learning and testing, to see what we have learned. Something much bigger is going on here, and I have this feeling that we are being judged by how we handle it.


  12. RT, I am going to take you up on your offer. The last time I was in Las Vegas, I was so disappointed I didn’t get to see them. So if your phone rings or you receive an email from me…I hope to see all those beautiful horses..Great post…


  13. Louie – I agree that we are being judged by how we handle it. So persistantly and peacefully, we must stand for rights of all creatures.

    Gail – it is Arlene Gawne you must contact to see the Vegas horses. Poor RT lives in Texas, a state that believes it has everything but it ain’t got the wild horses.


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