At Wild Horse Education our readers/supporters live all over the world and have a range of interests from technical management process to adoption and sale. Some of our supporters spend time in the wild; many looking to learn more about a wild horse that they have adopted.
In 2021 we will try to work through some of backlog of guest blog submissions. If we have not gotten to you yet, we are simply swamped with work and you will hear from us as fast as we can get to you!
Guest Blog: A Visit to the Range with Mikolaj Prybylski
It was a cold early morning and I was hiking up a small hill that overlooked a valley in the Monte Cristo WHT of the Pancake HMA, Nevada. The sun was slowly coming up from behind the hills on the other side of the valley. We got lost in the vast area of the Pancake HMA the night before because of outdated maps provided by the Bureau of Land Management. When we thought we could go a certain way there was a fence blocking the road with a no trespassing sign on it. It was getting late, probably 11pm and we have been driving for about 10 hours from Southern California. We decided to just find a place to camp out for the night. We got to an area and saw a old abandoned cabin which was an eerie sight in the middle of the night, in the middle of no where. Driving passed it I found an area that was pretty flat to camp and we dug in for the night.
So here I sit on a rock on top of the hill glassing over to see if I could spot any sign of Wild Horses. Nothing…. Its cold and I thought to myself “there can’t be Wild Horses out here. Its not the place I originally wanted to camp at”. I sat up on that hill for about thirty minutes. All of a sudden, about a mile and half away I saw movement.
I grabbed my camera that has a 600mm lens and zoomed in. There they were, a small band of Wild Horses. Black and Grey’s. I was so excited to see them and they were walking towards us. So I grabbed my gear and headed down the hill. I got down to the narrow road and headed up the small crest to see if I was on a intercept course. As I got over the crest there they were, maybe a 100 yards away. I was in awe. We just starred at each other. I started snapping pictures and they looked really healthy going into December.
There was a lead mare who was grey, her foal, and her yearling filly. Also with them was another mare (a black) and her foal. I saw no stallion, which was odd. They eventually got bored of looking at me and just disappeared in a cloud of dust.
Come to find out getting lost was the best thing we did and camped about 100 yards away from a spring that three bands use in this area. At night you could hear the horses walking through the camp sniffing and snorting at our tents. I felt protected with them being there all around us. We stayed and camped for about four days and saw the same bands come in and out of the spring always keeping a eye on us.
Pancake HMA (Herd Management Area) is a very special place for me because my Mustang comes from here (Sand Springs East). My Mustang still looks up in the sky when she hears a particular helicopter flying by and we do have a lot of air traffic in Southern California with World War Two aircraft, Police Helicopters, Fire Helicopters, Medical Helicopters, jetliners going by. I cherish my mustang, all she is and her birthplace, very much.
So many different colors of Wild Horses reside within the HMA. Its 1.1 million acres of public land holds one of the last truly large herds in the US. BLM is set to decimate this area giving away the sources to livestock and mining. Over 2000 healthy wild hoses call this area home. BLM wants to slash the population to 361.
Not far away is also an area where Project Faultless was conducted in 1968 where a one megaton nuclear device was set off at a depth of 3200 feet below ground. The blast was devastating causing the ground in a radius of several miles to cave in and created several deep fault lines. They are still visible today. The blast also created a huge cylindrical underground cavity. It is approximately 820 feet in diameter, and 2,460 feet in height. At its bottom lies over 500,000 metric tons of highly radioactive rubble, with radiation levels similar to the core of a nuclear reactor. The area underground is now contaminated and will be for thousands of years. Further underground Nuclear detonation projects were canceled as a result.
As a amateur horse photographer I like to show the beauty of horses. Their grace and elegance is just fun to watch and capture on film. But when it comes to Wild Horses there is just heightened degree which I think is due to their wild nature and herd dynamics.
Its fun to watch a family of Wild Horses and you start picking out who is who group. Band Stallion, lead mare, lieutenant stallion and all the rest of the mares, foals, fillies, colts. Most of the Wild Horses in the Pancake HMA don’t see humans at all or hardly. Capturing them on camera is hard and most of the time it is all about being in the right place at the right time.
But yet there is a dark side to Wild Horses that people don’t see or just look the other way. I love showing the beautiful pictures I take of Wild Horses running wild and free but what about the other side of the story. So as a photographer, what do I show? How do I get people involved to say enough is enough?
How do I get even just one person to say “ya thats not right”. And yet here we are having to fight our own government with court battles/protests to save our wild horses. Its hard to watch what helicopter round ups do to our Wild Horses on camera. Its brutal and sad to see them loose their freedom by the government that is sworn to protect them.
I’ve visited dozens and dozens of HMA’s over the years, from California, Oregon, Montana, Colorado and of course Nevada. The AML’s (appropriate management levels) set by the BLM are just to low for the HMA’s. Every HMA I have been to our Wild horses have been healthy and happy. Yet I’ve visited a HMA that has issues. But the BLM didn’t do anything to fix the issues and are most often making them worse.
Big industrial special Interests run the west. If money is to be made, our public lands get destroyed by cattle ranchers that claim they are supposed to be stewards of the land, to protect it. Yet these riparian areas get trampled and destroyed. Of course the blame in the destruction of public lands is Wild Horses so they need to be removed for (im)proper AML.
Wild Horses are a symbol of freedom along side our Bald Eagle. They are both protected, but yet I see branded Mustangs at auctions being purchased by Kill Buyers.
This never-ending merry go round story continues with zero changes. So our fight continues for future generations to hopefully see Wild Horses 5 years, 10 years, 50 years, 100 years down the road.
The fight continues so our photographs of these majestic animals is not the only thing that remains.
As a citizen I am committed to learning all I can to become a better advocate of the wild horses that enrich my world and spirit.
Miki is sharing his “wild horse education” hoping to inspire others to learn more and speak out for the protection of our wild ones. Miki wants to assist WHE it in taking action for some of the herds he has grown to love in the future.
If you want to begin your journey into your own “wild horse education” you can begin by learning some of the basics about actions items and how to make your voice more effective in the coming year HERE.
To get ready for the fight ahead take the time to read the “look at 2020 Through the Roundup Window.” This 4 part series can give you a baseline to become the voice our wild ones need you to become.