“Some of the Utes did not agree with the roundup of the horses…”
One spring a few years ago, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) set up a wild horse roundup in Eastern Utah. I was doing some title search work and found myself one morning riding out with the wranglers who would be catching and rounding up the horses for the BLM adoption program.
There has been much argument about the horses. Some people believe that these wild horses needed to be removed from the land because of overgrazing and inbreeding. Others believe that they should stay where they are and run free. “I am not sure about the debate but I guess someone should ask the horses,” I heard one person say.
We headed to a place known as Moon Water Point, way out in the middle of nowhere with undulating hills that dropped into the valleys and canyons surrounding the Green River some 50 miles north of Green River, Utah on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation.
Some of the wranglers were private contractors and some were employees of the BLM. The rest were from the Ute Tribe Fish & Game Department, easy to tell from the BLM guys because they were Indians. Everyone was anticipating the round up. I had heard that a helicopter was out early that morning gathering the horses. We had been on the road for about two and a half hours over a long windy dirt road when we got to Moon Water Point.
The wranglers’ trucks and trailers were off the hill out of sight. We parked there in the brush and walked up the hill to the top of the bench. On top there was a brush line, set up in a V, to funnel the horses into a makeshift corral that had three sides dropping off the bench like a cliff dropping off steeply and the brush hid a portable fence set up to hold the horses.
The guys had been there for a few days gathering the horses and were set to catch them. The Ute cowboys were a hardy stock, rough and ready. I have heard they pride themselves as horsemen, those Utes. I did not hear anyone say it, but they seemed to know the animals and this area was Ute land.
Some of the Utes did not agree with the roundup of the horses. These were the last remaining part of the herd that represented their former life as the People of the Shining Mountains who were born on horses and roamed all over these lands from Denver to Salt Lake. I could sense their feeling but they were there to do a job.
Everyone mounted up and headed out, moving off the bench to the north and in the distance you could hear the herd of wild horses coming. You could see them off in the distance, kicking up the dust and running through the sagebrush in groups of two and three with others of four and five running alongside.
The horses usually travel and live in small groups to be able to forage the high and low areas for food. There were groups of 4- and 5-year-old stallions eager to make a place with the herd but they cannot live together and so they break off in small groups, each having his own band, but the helicopter was chasing them from behind and so they were all running together.
They were of assorted colors, magnificent animals, their legs flying and moving with a grace of years of running through sagebrush and these lands. This was their place and we were the interlopers. Their nostrils were flaring, their manes and tails blowing in the wind. There must have been 35 or 40 of them coming…(CONTINUED)
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