With more wild horses living in captivity then running “free” on public lands, subject to removal using helicopters or trucks to round up several bands at once, the term “wild horses” is more a misnomer then reality. Charged by Congress to manage wild horses and burros, the Bureau of Land Management has entirely removed them from large segments of public lands to silence concerns by vocal ranchers regarding competition for available forage. An estimated 25% of the 1971 wild horse population remains today and the numbers are dropping. Thanks to the 2005 Burns Amendment, wild horses are now sold at “kill auctions” where they are destined to be slaughtered for pet food.
Moved by their plight, Shelter Dogs and Street Dogs photographer Traer Scott has turned her talent to this controversial icon of the American west. Traveling throughout the country and Puerto Rico, Scott’s black and white images capture the spirit and essence of wild horses and burros while telling their stories of neglect or abuse. She reveals touching moments of mutual grooming, youngsters at play, small bands running free and individual portraits. As stark as the mustang’s future appears to be, Scott also highlights the hard work being done by individuals and groups committed to providing sanctuaries and safety for this over romanticized, underappreciated part of our living history. More then a lovely photography book, this should serve as a gentle wakeup call to anyone interested in preserving a vanishing breed and a vital link to our past.