from sky to seed

On Assignment: Wild horse rehabilitation

In a couple weeks, The Big Nickel  will publish their biannual “Farm Round-Up” issue, which includes my story about wild mustang rehabilitation efforts. A nearby organization called Trinity Circle has several mustangs from out West that they’re training for therapy or eventual adoption, and I went out there for a shoot for the second time. (Last July I wrote a story called “Hooves for Healing” for Show Me the Ozarks Magazine about the organization’s work with veterans.) 0H5A9164 It violates my contract to reveal the content of The Big Nickel story before publication, but the excess pictures from the shoot are terrific and I’m pretty damn proud of them. Animal photography is always a joy to me. If I had it my way, that’s just about all I’d do. The horses are fascinating to shoot. I’ve been lucky enough to see wild horses and burros crossing roads (and sometimes wandering through towns) in Nevada and Arizona, but I didn’t really realize how hot the politics were surrounding “population control efforts” (cough, cough, **euphemism**) until I started working on this story. Google it, if you care. Horse people are a different breed, and I don’t think it’s offensive to horse people to say that. I knew a girl growing up who used to come to school and tell everyone how much she loved the way horse poop smelled. Though I don’t feel quite that passionate, I must admit to loving the way the feet of my own pets smell–like all the earthy paths they’ve walked that day. The woman who runs Trinity Circle is a horse lover herself, of course, and she took a moment to prove to me how strong the bond can be between horse and human by climbing under her tamed mustang Katana’s legs and clutching her hooves. It looked pretty damn brave to me, but I don’t doubt that this isn’t surprising to any horse lovers out there. In short, I envy the connection. 0H5A9128 The horses that are gathered by the BLM are marked with brands that explain their origins. I can’t decipher what this says, but there’s something primal about the way it looks to me. 0H5A9114 The best perk of the shoot? I got to ride bareback. And by “ride,” I mean, I wrestled aboard the back of a mustang more tame than my own cats and squealed as it plodded along toward its horse friends. 0H5A6835 But still, I get to tell people that I know how it feels to ride a wild mustang. Not everyone can do that. Most days, being a freelance writer is the best job I could have imagined for myself. 0H5A6848

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