Learn About The Bands

Written by Kimerlee Curyl

Freedom Fighter

Freedom FighterOnaqui HMA - Utah - 2009

Every trip, there is a muse, a horse that I find myself drawn to. It was Spring when I first saw him. He was powerful, strong and the most respected in this large herd. He seemed to be keeping a close eye on me, the intruder. But by the end of my 5-day trip documenting him and his family, I got the sense that I had been accepted and that the gallant stallion was actually watching over me.

In the Fall of the same year, he disappeared during a last-minute Bureau of Land Management (BLM) roundup of 350 horses from this area, leaving only 40 horses to remain on more than 44,000 acres.

I revisited the area he called home numerous times and searched for his face in various government holding facilities, only to leave feeling heartbroken. It pains me to think that he could be wasting away in a pen, his freedom lost forever on the other side of a fence.

Rebel Without a Cause

Rebel Without a CauseSteens Mountain HMA Oregon 2010

This grand stallion wears a badge of honor. I found him to be the strongest of the herd, an amazing leader and fierce protector of his family.

When a battle ensued, it ended quickly. With barely a scratch on him, you could tell he did not lose many fights. He seemed to know just how and when to use his energy and strength and he made no false attempts or assumptions when a challenger appeared.

He was rounded up in 2009, but in a rare instance was released back to the range due to his mature age, beautiful coloring, and outstanding conformation. Thankfully, he is one of the lucky ones who stands a good chance of living out his life on the range as nature intended.

Wild Comrades

Wild ComradesPine Nut HMA, NV, 2016

Have you ever been around wild horses? There is something that reaches into your soul when you’re in their presence. Witnessing their quiet lives, so connected to each other in their family bands, inspires awe in their ability to survive and thrive in even the harshest elements of the wild.

They live and breathe their truth every moment of every day and inspire you to re-create that freedom, strength, and passion in your own life.

The Pine Nut Horses near the Fish Springs area are fiercely protected by a dedicated group of advocates, the Pine Nut Wild Horse Advocates who are fighting daily to keep these amazing horses wild and free.

Legacy Leaders

Legacy LeadersGreat Divide Basin, WY, 2013

Bachelors -- the young, up-and-coming rock stars in the wild… who play, spar for dominance, and teach the young to learn the ropes and rules of the wild.

Fall, 2011. 1,132 horses were gathered by helicopter, chased for miles from their home territory. Only 139 were returned back to this vast landscape of 779,000 acres in southern Wyoming. The continuing inequality of the horse-to-land ratio saga grows, while tax payers’ dollars are spent at approximately $100,000 per day for stockpiling these now vanquished majestic icons.

I returned to the roundup area 18 months later, not sure what to expect. The sex ratio numbers had been greatly skewed, leaving more stallions than mares on the land -- causing extreme disharmony and discord among the herds as stallions had to work much harder and longer to win and keep the mares they have. With fewer mares available, many stallions who would have had families of their own were forced to form bachelor bands with other “homeless” stallions to improve their odds of survival. This disjointed aftermath only worsened as additional roundups were performed in 2013 and 2014.

It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment. ~ Ansel Adams

Mother’s Touch

Mother’s TouchOnaqui HMA Utah, 2016

Every mustang has a story to tell … some subtle, some extreme. And, every mustang has a mother, a father and a band of brothers and sisters, who raised them well and raised them wild. Until one day man decides it’s time for them be removed from their homes, ripped apart from their families, sorted, and then sentenced to their final fates. A lucky few get released back to the range, some are awarded possible adoption rights, some get stuck in holding for life, and some get lost in the shuffle or are hauled off on a truck to a destination “unknown”…

Watching a mustang mare protect her baby is seeing Mother Nature in her finest form. Her nurturing strength, and her determination and sheer will to defend her baby against any and every threat are no different from our own human feelings when it comes to protecting our young. Thus, returning our senses back to a primitive awareness, and to the simple appreciation of the basics in Iife -- family, freedom and love .

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.~ Edmund Burke

Wyoming Renegades

Wyoming RenegadesGreat Divide, Wyoming, 2013

Watching two stallions charging up to a watering hole is a heart pounding experience. The energy intense, the ground shaking, and the sound of thundering hooves - intoxicating.

Just short of the water’s edge, a scene you will most likely witness if two different bands are heading for water simultaneously. The stallions will face off , determining who is the more dominant and whose family will drink first. Often times the families keep their distance from the water until the stallions have made their decisions as to whom controls the water rights. On occasion, you will see a strong mare take the family in to drink while the boys carry on with their discussions. Either way, the roles that each mustang plays within the family unit is always apparent at the watering hole when tensions run high. And, like most areas these creatures still call home in Wyoming, it is even more apparent. Wyoming, of all the herd areas I have visited, is the wildest of the wild. Untouched territory keeps their innate and primitive instincts intact in order for their survival. This is by far my most favorite and cherished place. Like the land, the horses are wild and raw.