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« The Sawmill Branch Trail | Main | The dangers of texting while driving »

The Wild Mustang

In Montana near the Wyoming state line, lives one of the most genetically pure herds of Spanish colonial wild horses in the USA.

The Bureau of Land Management, which operates the 38,000 acre Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range, decided in their wisdom to round up the entire 190 strong herd, corral them and then remove 70 horses.

Wild horse advocacy groups are opposed to the operation, saying it is unnecessary as the animals are well fed, healthy and are not in need of thinning out. In fact they have plenty of expert opinion to back their protest, saying the move will actually harm the herd.

All wildlife, left to its own natural way of things, will usually control its own population given a certain amount of habitat and food supply.

However, in this case we have a government agency, the Bureau of Land Management and by golly they are going to manage these horses, whether they need it or not.

This is the problem with government agencies; they have to constantly justify their own existence. If the wild horses are doing just fine on their own, someone might suggest we thin out the herd of unnecessary bureaucrats.

Actually, that wouldn’t be a bad idea; save the tax payer some money. These horses are to be rounded up with helicopters and on the ground horse wranglers. I wonder how many thousands of dollars this operation is going to cost.

The reason this story touched me is because when I lived in Southern California in 1990, there were wild mustangs living in the California desert.

Many of these horses were descendants of animals brought there during the migration of people in the 1800s and then abandoned when the automobile came along.

There was a similar move then to thin out the herd, only this time the horses were shot with high power rifles. The carcasses were lifted by helicopter, loaded onto trucks, and the meat and skins were sold down in Mexico.

I had a friend who owned a recording studio, and he was approached by someone who was making a documentary movie on the killing of these wild mustangs. He wanted a song written for the movie soundtrack.

My friend asked me to assist another songwriter to produce this song. I wrote the lyrics, and for whatever reason the movie never got made. However, a good song came out of it. Here it is, called simply

The Wild Mustang

Hoof beats sound like thunder,
Like the broad sky he’s under,
His beauty is a wonder of creation.
In the land of the free
He’s a page in history,
His forebears helped us build this great nation.

Heroes on his saddle,
Charged bravely into battle,
While Old Glory waved on high he was there.
The marshal or the outlaw
His master was whoever called,
Who needs him now, does anybody care.

He’s a Wild Mustang running free,
Hear his silent cry for help, just let him be
He should live and let my children see,
A Wild Mustang running free.

Westward with the wagon train
‘Cross mountains and the open plains
His strong back helped to make this country great.
When they were through, abandoned him,
Now kill him for his flesh and skin
One so brave, deserves a better fate.

Head held high, tall and proud
A shot rings out, clear and loud,
A bullet tears deep into his side.
There’s no one there to shed a tear,
Because there’s no one there to hear,
His cry for help as he lies down to die.

He’s a Wild Mustang running free,
Hear his silent cry for help, just let him be
He should live and let my children see,
A Wild Mustang running free.


Reader Comments (6)

Beautiful, Dave!

Here's one by Fred Eaglesmith. I don't think it's on any of his CDs (I have them all), but I have it on a live recording somewhere. A real tear jerker.

Last Wild Mustang
CAPO 4th Fret

C,Em,F,C Slow Melodic finger pickin' (put pinky on high E string's G in intro and also at the end)

Well the old man just stared
Never once did he lift
His eyes to look into mine

They were starvin' in Montana
The government tried to feed em
But they ran out of money and time

We could take them for free
If we paid the shipping
And promised to let them go wild

So take a good look son
This's the last mustang pony
You'll probably see in your life

They shipped em from the prairies
But they wound up in Wisconsin
Somebody mixed up the boxcars

And two days without water
And they went half crazy
Before somebody figured out
where they'd gone

And a quarantine order
At the border for six weeks
And all but this single one died

So take a good look son
cause this's the Last Wild Mustang
You'll probably see in your life

And the old man crouched down
And he took out a syringe
And slowly he measured the dose

And while he gave it the shot
Never once did he stop
Talking quietly to that young horse

And he picked up his head
And he put in his lap
And he stroked it's mane til it died

And the old man just stared
Never once did he lift
His eyes... to look in...to mine

September 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJohn B


Is there anything we the people might be able to do to correct this poor decision by a government agency? Being such, I'd expect action would still be a little ways off. I've got a little experience in fighting The Man in my own state, I'd be willing to stir up resistance for this.

September 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRob

This is a battle of the farmers not wanting to share land with the horses. Bureau of Land Management is a mustache to the real problem.

September 8, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteralex

Although the Wild Mustang is a majestic creature, it is also an alien species that is not native the the ecosystem, not unlike the Sea Lamprey or the Zebra Mussel in the Great Lakes.

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTireux de Roche

The wild mustangs roam free and wild here in Nevada. Lots of people forget that these animals are "wild" and not simply horses. These mustangs have been known to be very aggressive and even launch attacks. Ranchers get mad and try to get rid of these animals. Abuses run rampant. Some captured mustangs get dragged several miles behind a truck until they die. Others get brutally beaten. It is a sad story indeed. The ranchers shouldn't be so cruel. No excuse for that. But what is the solution here? Is there one?

September 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBoris

Thank you for this important information that the taxpayer needs to know about and become outraged enough to take action to stop this atrocity! I have had two radio shows on this subject matter.

My latest show was with Ginger Kathrens of The Cloud Foundation located in Colorado Springs. The horses are being rounded up ILLEGALLY and in flagrant disregard to the unanimous Congressional Act passed in 1971 to PROTECT these Wild Mustangs who ARE, indeed, indigenous to the entire North American Continent!

The Mustang has been dated back to more than 25,000 years! They are, in fact, a native species.

The horses that were brought by the Conquistadors arrived more than 300 years ago.... long before the European settler even dreamt of finding such a rich land as the United States!

Let us get mad enough to take action against this misguided, rogue Bureau of Land Management [overseen by Bob Abbey, who is a RANCHER himself].

Everyone, EVERYONE who cares about the balance of the eco-system should be a voice to save these majestic, sentient, intelligent beings immediately.

You can listen to the Podcast version of my show on my website: www.consciouslifestylesradio.com

The dates for both shows on this urgent topic:

January 11, 2010
and January 25, 2010

Thank you for being a voice for the environment. If we sit back and do nothing, then the "special interests" will have their way with polluting, and permanently damaging our world.

Thanks to all who care and please write your Congress people, and send support to The Cloud Foundation and to In Defense of Animals-- these are two of several organizations that are rightfully fighting for the saving of our Wild Mustangs.

January 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGinger Leilani Chapin
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