Thursday, May 13, 2010


When does feral stop and wild begin?

In the west there are tens of thousands of horses out on the range and even more in long-term holding facilities in the Midwest. These animals are called wild horses or mustangs but are they really?

Feral is an animal that was once domesticated but has returned to its natural surroundings. According to most archealogists, horses were extinct on North America sometime in the last 6,000 to 25,000 years. Horses were reintroduced to the area with Columbus. Stretching common sense a bit, I would think a horse would have to be somewhat domesticated to be placed on a boat, fed and watered for several months as the boat sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, and then taken off a boat to a new country. With this theory, I would say most mustangs or wild horses are actually feral.

So, they have feral cat round-ups, feral dogs can be shot on site, but feral horses are protected by federal law and Disney. Don't get me wrong, there is something romantic about seeing horses running free on the sagebrush sea but they have become overpopulated. Overpopulation leads to reduction in the amount of feed available for everything including wildlife. Because of laws that are in effect, feral horses cannot be permanently altered for population control. You can not spay or neuter these animals until adopted. Instead, millions of taxpayer dollars are spent towards creating PZP vaccine that is only partially effective for 3 years.

Something to think about the next time you watch Spirit.


  1. With the economy in the pits of *ell right now, and well bred, domesticated, handled horses going for nothing, with horses being left to fend for themselves, with rescues being overwhelmed.....I cannot see anyone with an ounce of common sense taking a horse that has not had generations of careful breeding and handling every day to become their "pet". Some may be able to be ridden and trained but I know I'm not up to the task and most ranches breed their own horses. Make no mistake, most horses owners today have "pets" not "using horses". In the east there are precious few working ranches. So, geld the studs for crying out loud and get the population more under control. And if there are people out there who want to "preserve" the plains horse, let them buy up some land and do it themselves.

  2. Most true horse lovers that I know recognize that keeping every last one of them until they starve to death is not the way to protect them. Or any of the other animals on this earth.

    Cornerpost, from which part of rural America do you hale? I like your common sense and writing style but wish I knew a little mor about you and your background.

  3. It doesn't help when the gummint pays for ranchers to feed them on Pioneer Woman's blog. Good photo fodder for sure, but woefully unrealistic!