Galloping to Freedom
“Our public lands are being overburdened with “work.” They are being exploited for cattle grazing, oil drilling, fracking, logging, and other big business interests; resource extraction and profit centers have become the watchwords of public land management. Yet our earth’s skin is fragile and these practices abuse our natural resources, stress our wildlife and further exacerbate species endangerment. Reducing natural habitat is a crimson flag warning us of the misuse of our nation’s wild lands.” – Manda Kalimian
When I wrote the artist spotlight on Carol Walker back in September, she sent me a book she authored filled with her stunning photography called Galloping to Freedom: Saving the Adobe Town Appaloosas. It took me some time to read it (no excuse), but I finally got around to reading it last week. Now that I have, I’d wished I read it earlier…and I wish that the story could be told to every single person in the United States. For the horse community the plight of Mustangs has long been on our radar (some more than others), but to save these animals…the symbol of the West…more people need to know what is happening. This is a bittersweet story about the loss of freedom and the gift of something like it to a handful of lucky horses.
This book covers a wild horse family that was rounded up and moved to holding facilities in the 2014 Wyoming Checkerboard roundup. 1,263 were rounded up over those days in public and private land. For a handful of those, a happy life at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary was a blessing. For the rest, most have uncertain futures.
The warnings of this book are dire. We risk the health of our land, the diversity of our ecosystems and the loss of our wild and wide open spaces at the expense of cheaper energy and mass market meat to fill our stomachs. Our government isn’t doing the job it should and it caters to interest groups with lobbyists. This story isn’t just the story of the Mustang. It’s the story of the West. It’s the story of overpopulation and over-development. It’s the story of modern comfort and convenience. It’s the story of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline. It’s a story that is repeated year after year…and the West keeps losing. Money and human comfort win out over all. It shouldn’t be this way, but it is. We have to find a way to save something…some part of it. I don’t know what the answer is, but the more people that are conscious of the plight of the West, the better. Maybe someone will come up with the right solution before there is nothing left to save.
There is active legal action ongoing to determine if the BLM was at fault for mismanaging this situation via inappropriate “interpretation” of legislation that should have been binding. You can follow the updates on that lawsuit here.
To support the cause of wild horses, you can purchase this book or other items from Wild Hoofbeats.