Field and Stream Article
- Hi folks:
I know this is a hunting list and I consider myself and
husband "hunters". While waiting for a doctors appointment the other
day I picked up a magazine and happened to find this article. Does
anyone else find this a bit offensive? I try to keep an open mind
and remind myself that not everyone must love equines, I'll admit my
opinion may be a bit slanted since I do own, breed and train horses,
mules and donkeys, but come on. I'm sure that many of F/S
advertisers use horses, mules and even donkeys for packing in/out
hunters, gear and game. It seems pretty shortsighted of the editors
to allow such an opinionated article. Am I missing something or
This is from the November 2003 Issue of Field and Stream by Thomas
HAVE YOU EVER SMELLED A HORSE? INSTEAD OF PANTING DISCREETLY when
overheated, horses indulge in a grotesque bodily function termed
lathering. the sickening aftermath of which makes the ruttiest
buck smell like a splash of Paco Rabanne And donkeys are, if
Not that that's the real problem with horses and donkeys. Nor are
concern on ranches and farms. Privately owned horses can perform
arguably useful tasks by being saddled and ridden into places where
reliable modes of transportation, such as pickup trucks, cannot
And they can be employed to pack gear and game (and inevitably to
kick/bite/throw their riders, buck off their loads and gallop out of
sight, and step headlong off trails and plummet into bottomless
As for donkeys, outside the bleaker quarters of the Third World,
primary value is to be bred with horses to produce the only sensible
equine, the thankfully sterile mule.
No law, though, requires anybody to feed, shelter, and care for
horses and donkeys if he is not of a mind to. For "wild" horses and
donkeys, on the other hand, there is precisely such a law, making
the responsibility of all of us, whether we wish to accept it or not.
THE RANGE WAS NOT HOME Wild horses is an oxymoron. Wild equines did
evolve in the Western Hemisphere, but they also started going extinct
here millions of years ago. The last native, truly wild horses
from North America in advance of mammoths, camels, and even lumbering
giant ground sloths.
The two species of so-called wild horse and donkey at large on our
prairies, plains, and deserts today were never originally on this
continent but are the result of Spaniards' and prospectors' losing
livestock-or cutting it loose to get rid of it. These feral horses
donkeys are about as wild as stray cats and park pigeons. Like many
feral animals, they are whizzes at exploiting newfound habitats. As
anyone who has ever followed a parade can testify, they are blessed
"straight-through" digestive systems that let them flourish on a
high-fiber, low-nutrient diet. They can reproduce at an annual rate
15 percent, potentially doubling their population every five years.
predators have never represented a threat: In the early 1800's,when
was seemingly impossible to walk (rather briskly, to be sure) on the
backs of wolves and grizzly bears from the Mississippi to the
feral horses estimated to number 2 million.
As the West got won, however, those animals were caught and broken ,
shot and eaten, or just shot. During the first half of the twentieth
century, government policy was pretty much one of eradicating feral
horses and donkeys on federal land, with "mustanging" the accepted
means. Mustanging involved using trucks and aircraft to herd the
into pens, then shipping them to slaughter for pet food. (A very bad
movie, The Misfits, was made about this. Its star, Clark Gable, died
within weeks of the end of shooting, probably from acute
ENTER WILD HORSE ANNIE In the 1950s, a righteously indignant Nevada
ranch wife, Velma B. Johnston, later known as "Wild Horse Annie,"
enlisted the aid of schoolchildren to rally support to outlaw
mustanging, which Congress did in 1959. The animals otherwise
unprotected until, at the start of the '70s, perhaps as few as 10,000
inhabited the open range, with the genuine promise that they would
Then in 1971, Richard M. Nixon, adding to his other official
malfeasances, signed something stirringly titled "The Wild Free-
Horses and Burros Act," solemnly and absurdly designating such
to be "an integral part of the natural system of public lands," and
granting them the kind of protection Hindu cows could only envy. And
here the problem begins.
In short order the population exploded (the figure today stands at
50,000 and counting). Congress had to revisit and amend its own law
permit the government to use motor vehicles, including helicopters,
gather excess feral horses and donkeys. The Bureau of Land Management
now spends close to $20 million per year managing them. Every year,
7,500 horses are "adopted out" by the BLM at a cost to it of $2000
animal (those adopting pay $125).
Ironically, adoption threatens the genetic rigor of free-roaming
as the most desirable animals are removed from the range. The less
desirable ones that are rounded up but go unadopted are fated to die
captivity.) In any case, adoption is inadequate to prevent feral
from overpopulating. As for donkeys, they literally cannot be given
Today, on front yards in towns like Reno, you're likely to see more
feral horses than lawn jockeys. Feral horses and donkeys, because of
their damnably efficient digestions, can wipe out feed for actual
animals, such as big horn sheep; they can monopolize water holes; and
they carry a little something called dourine, an equine venereal
marked by inflamed genitalia, skin lesions, and paralysis. Yet
these animals are thought to symbolize, as the museum curator and
Dr. Charles R. Preslon put it, "the spirit of wildness."
THE FINAL SOLUTION? Some would have you believe that horses and
are part of our Western heritage. Far from it-these feral animals are
serious competitors with native wildlife and represent an
drain on the management resources of agencies such as the BLM.
Therefore, the use of firearms (not adoption or preposterous schemes
revolving around contraception) represents a sane method of reducing
feral herds in key habitats.
Nor would those equines have to go to waste. Back in Wild Horse
day, tiny Bullhead City, Arizona, hosted thousands of visitors at an
annual event in which a luau pit was dug in a vacant lot and 35
feral donkeys were slapped onto the barbecue. It's an idea whose time
may have come again. Maybe the best way of honoring the true spirit
wildness would be with a slab of grilled horse or donkey ribs and a
of baked beans.
If anyone else is apalled by this article, please feel free to fire
>> To send letters to the Editors of Field & Stream Online, e-mail webmaster@...
>> To send letters to the Editors of Field & Stream Magazine, e-mailfsmagazine@...
Cathy Parrish ~ False Alarm Farm ~ Bonifay, FL
Words that soak into your ears are whispered, not yelled.
- Now, this is interesting..my model horse buddies got
ahold of the online version of this story and raised
ten shades about it. They bombarded the magazine with
emails about how outrageous this story was. I think
Field and Stream listened, because the article was
removed from their website.
Glen Burnie MD
Gun Control..the thought that finding a woman beaten, raped and strangled with her own pantyhose is morally superior to the same woman being tried by a jury of her peers for blowing the SOB away.
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Thomas McIntyre is a solid conservationist. He is not an armchair
outdoor writer. I can clearly see why you are offended by what he
has written and I would not write it that way. That said his point is
that although horses originated and evolved in North America, they are
ferral and introduced species and wild horses and donkeys do not
belong on our western public lands.
They are displacing the native species and ruining the plant
communities out west. Horses are now being brought at government
expense to graze in the Kansas tall grass prairie on large ranches.
We are paying the transportation and the pasture rent and they will
ruin the native plant communities. It is going to boil down to do you
want horse welfare or native species like prairie chickens and prairie
p.s. I hope I have not offended you by this frank reply
>>>p.s. I hope I have not offended you by this frank reply<<<Certainly not! I can respect anyones opinion when it is presented in a reasonable manner. We all have the right to one. I do understand the threat to native species, plant and animal. However, Mr McIntyre dimeaner was more of a call to arms, insult (aimed at anyone that does have/admire/use equines) than anything else...in my opinion.
Cathy Parrish ~ False Alarm Farm ~ Bonifay, FL
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