“In riding a horse, we borrow freedom,” I love this quote by Helen Thompson. I have this quote written in stone displayed in a special place in my house. If, like me, you are a horse lover, you might wonder why anyone would want to hurt, let alone kill wild horses? I was quite saddened to see that a bow hunter had killed a wild stallion somewhere in Australia. As I live in California, I could not track down and confirm a reliable news source to substantiate this story on the death of a wild Brumbie horse, so please keep that in mind as you read my thoughts on the topic.
I’ve had the pleasure of riding with wild horses at The Wild Horse Sanctuary in Shingletown, California and I’ve photographed wild horses in their natural environment at the Badlands of the Little Book Cliffs Area near Grand Junction, Colorado. Wild horses are beautiful to behold, but the topic is as heated as slow burning embers on a campfire when it comes to ranchers and land management organizations. In fact, the eco-resort Mustang Monument did not open for the 2016 season in Nevada due to technical difficulties pulling permits for operation of the wild horse preserve.
“In riding a horse, we borrow freedom.”
What’s behind the wild horse controversy? It typically comes down to grazing rights and protecting our environment. It’s not illegal in Australia to kill wild horses, nor is it illegal to consume horse meat in some parts of the world. The Brumby wild horse is not native to Australia and according to unnamed officials behind the draft wild horse management plan for Kosciusko National Park, the Government of Australia plans to cull (a more politically correct term for “kill”) approximately 3,000 horses over the next 10 years in the Snowy Mountain region to keep the horse population under control.
I’m not a rancher, nor am I a horse, or livestock owner at the moment, I find my cowboy boots firmly planted in defense of the wild horse. Similar to many Native Americans experiences, the wild horse herds have been pushed onto land that no one else wants. Perhaps places like Australia and Nevada will look to the success of the wild ponies of Chincoteague Island in Virginia for inspiration. Not only have the residents of Virginia found a way to keep their wild horse population in check, they have capitalized on the popularity of the ponies with their annual Chincoteague Island Pony Swim and adoption.
While I have nothing against bow hunters who utilize the meat of wild animals they hunt, I have no respect for trophy hunters looking for a cheap (or expensive) thrill kill. Let’s work together to find a manageable solution, rather than allow bow hunters to kill wild horses. Ride on cowboys and cowgirls!