People all around the world are fascinated by wild horses; why wouldn’t they be? These majestic animals are captivating; they give us a glimpse of what the Old West looked like in the days of outlaw cowboys.
Tourists often go to great lengths to get up close to these animals, sometimes engaging in harassing behavior, and unknowingly endanger the mustangs.
The Salt River Wild Horses recently suffered the loss of one of their youngest members, in a tragic occurrence that could have been the result of harassment by an individual; the person in mention went as far as to pick the baby up, at one point by her neck.
This loss is hard for the members of the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group, which is why they released some important information to the public on what is acceptable and not acceptable behavior to engage in around mustangs.
The following information is directly from the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group Facebook page. The first seven points are applicable to all free roaming horses, while the last two points are specific to the Salt River horses.
1) Observe a distance of at least 40 feet from any wild horse at any given time. Do not attempt to tame or touch a wild horse. If a wild horse comes toward you, please move out of its way to maintain the distance. Horses may be trying to access water — please allow them to do so. They’re just as thirsty as you are.
2) Please do not feed wild horses. Feeding wild horses an inappropriate diet could kill them, and making wild horses tame can result in their loss of freedom.
3) Keep dogs leashed at all times. Dogs are naturally inclined to chase horses, which causes horses to flee. Horses, especially young ones, can break their legs when running over rugged terrain. Horses may also defend themselves and kick at a dog, which can be fatal to the dog.
4) Be a respectful observer of wild horse behavior, don’t interfere or chase or follow them when they are walking away from you.
5) Don’t interfere in their natural behavior. Horses have incredible herd dynamics and each behavior has a purpose. That includes “battling,” i.e., stallions challenging each other.
6) Take lots of pictures but remember that a pretty picture is never more important than the well-being of the subject of your picture.
7) Observe the speed limit, watch the sides of the road and heed the watch-for-horses signs. They are strategically placed at actual horse crossings.
8) Bring a garbage bag and play a role in cleaning up the Tonto National Forest. If you love wild horses, pick up someone else’s trash!
9) Call the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group hotline if you see an injured horse or any emergent situation involving a wild horse. (480) 868- 9301
If you’re interested in becoming a guardian and donating to help make a lasting difference in the lives of the Salt River horses, click here.