My friend, April, forwarded an interesting article to me this weekend. It was about a camp program in her area where campers help gentle mustangs that will be rehomed. What an amazing camp program for teenagers!
Unfortunately, what struck me the most about the article was some of the statistics that the reporter quoted: 88,000 mustangs in the wild on land that can only sustain 22,000. There are 46,000 in holding pens awaiting adoption. Only 5,000 mustangs were adopted out last year but 11,000 brought in.
I’d love to know where this reporter obtained her information. Asking “how many mustangs are in holding vs. the wild” will produce any number of different answers. The fact is that no one really knows how many are in the wild or even in holding or how many can be sustained on the public lands. But I can state, without any uncertainty, one fact:
The number of mustangs in trouble is going to increase exponentially.
I totally understand how the focus of these organizations managing mustangs–both public, private, and non-profit–is to get mustangs adopted. Unfortunately, try as the programs might, it’s impossible to properly screen adopters. People can lie on the application. People can deceive the organizations. Let’s face it…not everyone cares about following the rules.
Recently, I learned of a HORRIBLE abuse case. Inexperienced people got their hands on a horse and did unthinkable things to it. They couldn’t “break” it so they dart-tranquilized it, leaving the darts in the horse’s rump to get infected. Somehow, it managed to scalp its forehead. And, of course, you can see that it was starved.
Fortunately, the BLM learned about the abuse and rescued it right away and managed to rehome it in a situation where kind, loving horse owners managed to gentle the traumatized horse in just FIVE days. You can see the difference in the horse in the third photo above–from forlorn and starving and battered on May 24th to looking as if hope has returned to its eyes on June 30th.
Additionally, known trainers who have abused, starved, injured, and killed mustangs are still being listed in various places as approved and/or recommended “trainers.” Some of these trainers might not have gone to the extremes as the above example, they are still not worthy of tending to these animals.
Earlier this month, Cat drove three hours to rescue another mustang. As I understand the story, it’s an unbranded mustang, born after the mother was adopted from the BLM. No one touched it (or barely touched it) since it was born. Seven. Years. Ago. There was a story floating around about the son or husband wanting to shoot it. So the woman reached out to Cat to rescue it. Now it’s here.
A beautiful horse with inquisitive eyes. Cat says it’s a handful (but she does well with spicy ones). While I’m looking forward to seeing the transformation, it makes me sad to think of the wasted time that this horse lived in a field, basically doing nothing. How many more mustangs will come to the same fate? Even worse, how many will wind up looking like the one above?
I fear we are at the tip of the iceberg. Animal abuse is nothing new. Some people just don’t look at horses (or dogs or cats or birds or…) as worthy of proper care, love, respect. Others think they are doing the right thing because they simply do not know better. And still others just don’t care. There is only so much that Cat and I can do. Fortunately we are in good company with many other mustang loving friends across the country who are doing what they can to educate the public as well as to rescue and rehabilitate mustangs in bad situations.
I truly encourage all of you to support those rescues and individuals who are rescuing these mustangs. It’s only the beginning and no one wants to see any animal suffer from abuse, neglect, and hostile situations. But we cannot do it without the support of the public.