“Wild horses, with swiftness, strength, and freedom, have always had the power to evoke passion. From Lascaux’s cave artists in southwestern France fifteen thousand years ago to modern America, the image of the wild horse running free on an open plain has inspired the human spirit and captured the soul like few other things in nature.” — J. Edward de Steiguer
Their origins can be traced to the prehistoric savannas of North America, but by the time of the Spanish conquistadors, no horse had galloped across America’s landscape for over 18,000 years. With the Spanish’s unwitting “re-introduction” of horses, the modern era of the American horse began. In short order, the horse became central to both Native American culture and the ongoing history of the American West.
The University of Arizona has just published a thought-provoking and wide-ranging history of this great icon of the West — J. Edward de Steiguer’s Wild Horses of the West: History and Politics of America’s Mustangs. De Steiguer traces the horse’s deep evolutionary past, along with its natural history and behavior; all leading up to an detailed look at the mustang’s current tenuous hold on our western lands. How far should management of our public lands go, and do we still have room for wild horses to roam?
Wild Horses of the West tackles these tough questions, and along the way we meet many remarkable characters, including Velma Johnstone, better known as Wild Horse Annie, a wild horse advocate whose life-long passion finally found voice in the halls of Congress:
Velma Johnstone was recently the subject of a first full-length biography: Wild Horse Annie and the Last of the Mustangs by David Cruise & Alison Griffiths. One of the Land Library’s favorite books on wild horses is Deanne Stillman’s Mustang: The Saga of the Wild Horse in the American West. (We were fortunate enough to have Deanne Stillman read from Mustang at a memorable Rocky Mountain Land Series program).
Here’s a few more excellent titles from the Land Library’s shelves!
The American Mustang Guidebook: History, Behavior, and State-by-State Directions on Where to Best View America’s Wild Horses by Lisa Dines, Honest Horses: Wild Horses in the Great Basin by Paula Morin, Nobody’s Horses: The Dramatic Rescue of the Wild Herd of White Sands by Don Hoglund.
And here’s a beautiful photographed book on the wild horses from the Little Big Horn region of Montana:
Among Wild Horses: A Portrait of the Pryor Mountain Mustangs by Lynne Pomeranz