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My latest book WHEN LEAVES CHANGE COLOR is about the introduction of horses to the Plains Indians in the late 17th Century. I dedicated the book to the wild horse herds in North America. When I wrote WHEN LEAVES CHANGE COLOR I wanted to portray the majesty and nobility of America's wild horse herds. Whenever I travel across the desert basins of southwestern Wyoming I always try to take a detour off the highways to see if I can capture a glimpse at the splendor and beauty of America's last wild horse herds. Even with the modern world encroaching on their environment from almost every direction, the wild horses maintain their nobility and desire to remain free. These proud creatures represent a living and breathing historical link to our country's past. When these wild horse herds are finally gone, America will lose yet another link to the country's greater past.
|Wild horses in the Washakie Basin of Wyoming.|
Photograph by John Bradford Branney.
At the beginning of the 20th Century, there were approximately one million wild horses in the western United States. Over the last one hundred years plus, poachers, mustangers, developers, ranchers, energy companies and the federal government have cut deeply into the wild horse herds. Today, there are less than twenty-five thousand wild horses left and their environment and lifestyle continues to be attacked. The cattlemen and sheep ranchers want what is left of the meager desert rangeland while the oil men and miners want what is buried under the surface of the desert. Wild horses must also compete with antelope, deer, and elk. The ironic part is when newspaper articles blame wild horses for the destruction of the desert rangelands.
|Wild horses along Powder Rim in Wyoming. Photograph by John Bradford Branney.|
What can we do about it? Write your congressman! Adopt a wild horse if you have the land! If we do nothing, within the next few decades, the wild horse herds will disappear from North America and the indomitable spirit of the wild horses will become only a memory.
|Wild horses along the Wyoming - Colorado border north of Craig, Colorado. |
Photo by John Bradford Branney.