Wild Hoofbeats: America's Vanishing Wild Horses
by Carol Walker
Painted Hills Publishing

"Winter brings snow and freezing rain to the area, and the horses struggle to survive."

What is more legendary than the horse? Its history is intertwined with man and lore. In the U.S. Southwest, its status is mythical. Unfortunately, its status is also endangered.

In Wild Hoofbeats, photographer Carol Walker has assembled an exceptional photographic narrative that focuses on the wild horses of Adobe Town in Wyoming's Red Desert. Although a significant essay supports the visual sequence, the pictures do the talking, bringing to life the herds along the forever winterish scrub of the desert prairie. Here, the balance of life is as fragile as the environment, and the wild horses' existence becomes a testament to beauty and survival.

This is in some respect a journal of Walker's encounters with not only the breed, but specific horses within the herd. Entire chapters are dedicated to horses such as the mighty  "Gray Stallion" and the battle-worn "Red Roan Stallion"—brilliant warriors of the rough terrain. However, the landscape is the least of their problems. Land management bureaus and overwhelming pressure from man, such as the ranchers who use public lands to graze commercial herds, force cruel and aggressive roundups by helicopter and cull the wild horse population to absurd numbers. As a result, the herds stand at approximately half the numbers the public lands will support, thus driving them toward extinction.

The irresponsible management of a public resource is not unusual. It should already be obvious that much of public policy borders on the ridiculous and makes waste a matter of course. The wild horses of the west become another tragic example of our derelict, absent-minded stewardship. It takes voices such as Walker's to elevate these issues to public awareness. She spent four years documenting the herd—capturing the pulse and personality of this majestic animal—so that we could understand. A foreword by Ginger Kathrens, of the International Fund for Horses, completes the discussion. A portion of sales goes to The Cloud Foundation, dedicated to preserving the wild horse.

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