The debate over what some call wild horses and others call feral horses gets heated pretty quickly. Emotions run high on both sides, but the fact remains that their populations need to be controlled. Unfortunately, any conversation about doing the right thing for these horses and the land they run on often gets nowhere, because neither side wants to give any ground. I can understand that, to some degree.
Horses are amazing creatures. And out there on the plains, they are a living, breathing symbol of freedom. Yet at the same time, they take a devastating toll on their landscape. They eat a lot, they drink a lot, and they’re out there all year long. They reproduce at about a 25% rate, which means their populations can grow pretty quickly, in relation to other wildlife.
However, most of the horses out there on the plains are not wild – they’re feral. They’re horses that have escaped or been turned loose, or they’re a generation or two down the trail from one that was originally a domestic horse. They’re not native to our land, and the land isn’t able to recover at the same rate these horses damage it.
The founder of the Muley Fanatic Foundation, Joshua Coursey, recently did a podcast about the problems created by feral horses and the challenges surrounding managing their populations. His guest, Joe Hickey, does a marvelous job of explaining why managing the horses is good not just for wildlife, ranchers, hunters and the land, but also for the horses themselves. No matter which side of the fence you’re on in this debate, it’s good information to know, and maybe if everyone listens to this podcast, we can reach some agreement about the management of these horses.