The free roaming mustang population is managed and protected by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) There is a lot of controversy surrounding the methods the federal government uses to manage the wild population numbers. We recently watched the powerful movie titled “Unbranded”. It really is an eye-opening movie and addresses the fact that while the Mustang population is increasing there isn’t enough resources and land to support them. There are people who will argue that point. The BLM has put many of the wild horses up for adoption to help compensate for the land shortage. However, many horses are now living in temporary holding areas awaiting adoption. As we continue to get this blog up and running we would really like to begin doing some fundraisers for the wild horses. Wild horses have been a passion of Maggie’s since she was a small child!
Riding with the wild horses was an amazing experience. We rode on BLM land near Challis, Idaho.
Wild horses generally gather in groups of 3 to 20 animals. A stallion leads the group which consists of mares and young foals. When the young males become colts they are driven away by the stallions. The colts then roam with the other young males until they can gather their own group of females. Searching for these herds while on horseback is quite the adventure. All of our pictures are taken with the Olympus Tough camera. We also have some videos on our Facebook page using the Go Pro.
Challis is about a two and a half hour drive from where we live. To make the most out of our experience we camp at the trailhead and spend two days searching for and riding with the wild horses. Since this area is all owned by the BLM there aren’t actual trail signs or a specific plan we have for riding. We saddle up and just ride. We have been fortunate enough to visit this area a few times. However, our very first visit to this place was the most memorable.
You know its going to be a good ride when you see herds of wild horses on the drive in to the trailhead. We arrived later in the evening and after setting up camp we took a short evening ride. We saw several small herds of wild horses out grazing. Most of them were off in the distance. However there was one herd that ran out right in front of us on the trail and we rode along side them for a short while. It was so cool to get that close to a herd. The next day we did a lot more exploring and rode up high. The scenery here is beautiful as you get an overlook of the land. We saw herds of horses in the distance and also some deer and lots of antelope. There was one part of this adventure that will be forever branded into our memories.
As we were riding along, we noticed a dark mass off in the far distance. It was way up high and really stood out. We decided to ride towards it to figure out what it was. It was a climb! We stopped at one point and pulled out the binoculars. Through the binoculars we could tell it was a black horse standing alone. We thought this was odd since horses usually travel in groups. He was standing there very still, so we decided we needed to continue to investigate. As we approached the black mustang, we quickly discovered why he was alone and why he was standing so still. The poor horse had gotten his leg caught in the fence wire. He had obviously been there for a while because his ribs were showing and there was definite signs of dehydration with his sides being sucked in. It really was a devastating site. While it’s amazing to ride with horses that are solely on their own, taking care of themselves, and living a free life, it is sad when you come to a horse that is in this condition. We knew we couldn’t leave him in this state. One of the riders we were with jumped off his horse with a pair of wire cutters and attempted to approach the black mustang. Since this was a wild horse, this was a very difficult task. He immediately started rearing up, bearing his teeth and striking which was only getting him more tangled and hurt in the wire. After several attempts, the rider we were with, got close enough to cut the wire. He only went in for a quick cut before the mustang started to rear and strike again. Unfortunately the wire cut wasn’t enough to free the horse, so he had to go back in for another cut. He couldn’t get to the other side of the T-post to cut the wire there because the horse was crazy with fear . He did manage to free the horse, however the wire, with a t-post still connected to his front left foot, was dragging about 10 feet or more behind this horse. The horse took off with the t-post in tote. He stopped to graze and off he went! It was heartbreaking to know he still had that wire and T-post on his foot, but at least he could get to water and food. As soon as we got home from this trip we contacted the BLM and let them know about the situation, hoping that they would be able to find this poor horse before he got stuck again or something worse happened. It has haunted us since! We never did hear back from the BLM about this stallion. Praying that the BLM went to help this horse!
Getting to the Trailhead
From Arco, Idaho: Travel North on Hwy 93 for approximately 60 miles. Turn left onto Spar Canyon Road and travel for approximately 15 miles to E. Fork Road. Turn left and travel about 3 miles. Make another left on Road Creek Rd. and travel 6 miles to Horse Basin Creek.
From Challis, Idaho: Travel approximately 18 miles on Hwy 75 and turn left on E. Fork Road. Travel about 6 miles and turn left onto Road Creek Rd. Follow this road for 6 miles to Horse Basin Creek.