Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Oregon's Living Legends

A funny thing happened to me recently. There is this blog, Life at the Rough String, that I read and enjoy where the writer writes about her Eastern Oregon ranching lifestyle (with I might add great photos). She has written about wild horses before as she has been involved in the BLM work regarding them. This time she was writing about a book, Oregon's Living Legends, about where they are and who has been adopting them. It takes people like her to keep them still out there but at the same time manage their range usage. She said she was having a contest and to enter you had to write when you first knew about wild horses in Oregon.

My knowledge went back to when my children were small and we were driving on a road between Jordan Valley and Burns Junction, not sure which side of Rome it was on but there they were-- a herd of wild horses at one side of the road. It was a thrilling sight as they galloped out of our view, no time to get any photo. I had no idea what year but it was a long time back.

So I wrote my experience down and thought maybe I'd buy that book. I figured I would look for it next time I was in the bookstore. Before I got to a bookstore, I went to the blog to see with shock that it was my name that had been drawn to win the book.

Now this is a bigger deal to me than it might be to someone else on several counts. One I admire the woman who writes the blog for the way she lives the ranching lifestyle and her love and ability with horses. Plus she lives in a part of Oregon I have always considered beautiful. You can call it back of beyond. Its ranching history goes way back.

But there was another aspect that made this special to me. I know everybody has won a cake at a cakewalk or something somewhere. Not me. Although I haven't entered a lot of contests, I have never won anything even when I have. So it was a shock when this time I was and with something so neat to win.

When the book arrived, I couldn't help but think how coincidental this was that it would come right after I had written about my reluctance to take big risks and that horses had been one of those risks. It has made me think-- is it really too late?

The book, Oregon's Living Legends, by Andi Harmon is great as a combination of explaining the current world of the wild horses with paintings by Michele Severe whose work shows her love of horses. The book is full of stories about those who have adopted mustangs, how the whole idea of wild horse adoptions has come to be. It is full of facts but it's also inspiring if a little depressing that wild horses have been so abused by our culture. Well, we don't allow them to be eaten anymore but not sure if that wouldn't be kinder than what we sometimes have done.

I am not sure why wild horses aren't okay with people. I guess some is they have no natural predator except man and they can overgraze a region where humans want to put cattle. I understand the logic of that. But...

Is there anything more spiritually uplifting than the image of a wild horse herd that comes thundering across a sagebrush plain? I will tell you, I don't think there is.


Paul said...

Oregon has living legends ?? :-)

gtyyup said...

Awww...ya brought a tear to my eye. I'm so glad I picked your name out of the basket! The book is something that you'll have to bring with you the next time you're out this way...and maybe you'll get a chance to see another band or two of wild horses...it truly refreshes the spirit.

Andi said...

I'm glad you won the book and are enjoying and learning! The goal of the book was to educate as well as entertain and enlighten. I've been involved with wild horses for over 40 years, longer than the BLM! Thanks for the kind words!

Rain said...

Well I appreciate the work you all do to protect these beautiful animals and keep them out there. Without people like you, their guardian angels, they would be history rather than still a reality.

TaraDharma said...

how neat to win such a wonderful book! I know what you mean about the thrill -- I recently have won a couple of contests and I was shocked (happily).

In Hawaii a couple of months ago we were walking along a trail and came upon 5 or 6 wild horses eating in the tall vegetation. They ignored us until we got too close, they emerged onto the road and trotted away. I was so enthralled that I was slow getting out my camera and so my picture is of their retreating rumps.

20th Century Woman said...

What a beautiful thing to win. I love the cover. I did an etching once of wild horses; started the drawing while sitting beside my dying father in the hospital. Somehow wild horses seem to me like the opposite of death.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I would love to see some Wild Horses "thunderimg" across the plain or desert or anywhere...That has to be one of the "wonders" of the world!
That these Horses are not revered and protected and cared about as they should be---given the respect of their long long history--Is shameful.
I'm so happy for you Rain, that you won that Book. I have only won a very few things in my life and when I did, well....it was a really big deal to me...!

Darlene said...

I think one reason that more horses are not adopted is due to the cost of keeping them. Unless you own open range property you have to buy hay, clean the stalls and exercise them daily. You cannot go on vacation without making sure these chores are done by someone.

I grew up with horses because my Mom was a horsewoman and I rode ours until she remarried and had to give up her passion. I love the animals with a fierce intensity, but could never afford to own one myself. A city dweller would have to board them and that is an additional expense. I am, of course, not talking about wild horses, but horses that have been broken.

A wild horse should be left on large areas like parkland or a ranch to run free as nature intended. Maybe that is what the book is all about.

Rain said...

No, it's not just about leaving them be. It's about natural range areas where they can still run free but with their numbers controlled, and adoptions where they are trained to be working horses for either trail rides, working cattle or competitive events. They can live happily with the right care with owners.

Horses do not have to be left only in stalls. They must be protected from over indulging on fresh green grass as they can founder on too much of the wrong feed, but they can be on a ranch or some have bought them with enough land to let them remain wild but not to breed. They really cannot totally be let run free, with no control of their numbers as without a natural predator, they would starve eventually with overpopulation.

The book is about the horses and those who love them is the best way I can describe it. It informs others where they might still be found running free. It gives stories of the adoptions and how that has worked.

A few years ago, I saw them in northern Nevada on a preserve there but even there they do round up some of their numbers. I have also seen them at the BLM yards where they await their fate. That is the saddest to see. I see nothing wrong with good adoptions and they do try to assure the adoptions are good. Any animal though can be mistreated by some humans :(

Darlene said...

Thank you, Rain. Obviously I did not think this through.

sandra longley said...

There are many more aspects to the situation wild horses find themselves in..For example there are millions of acres that are missing from the original HAs or herd areas given..by law..in 1971 to the horses..There is much being done at the national level to try and get lands returned to the horses..they are not really over populated in the amount of land they were given but in the land that remains..in the silver king HMA for instance on 660,000 acres they are removing all but 60 horses and leaving untouched...58,000 cattle..envision it taking 10,000 acres to feed one horse..and your common sense will step in and alert you there must be something else going on here..listen to that voice