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May 16, 2020
So on my last visit to the Onaqui mountain wild mustangs, I found out that somebody had abandoned their gelding (castrated male) in early fall with shoes on (the shoes eventually fell off).
I didn't think of him at first but throughout the day, I kept thinking about that particular horse (the black one in the photograph). He was left there all alone, never having experienced the wild. Since humans have a tendency of being "herd" oriented, you know what I'm talking about, you go to a deserted parking lot and park and when you come back everybody has parked next or close to you, I started thinking about how traumatizing that must have been to this gelding, or was it? I don't really know but being human we like to anthropomorphize. How would you feel if you were surrounded by family, you have shelter, food, basically you have everything you need and suddenly it is all gone. Personally, I would be in shock and wondering what happened, what did I do. Or maybe that's just me.
This is my question to you? Is he better off there.
Here you have a domesticated horse that probably grew up surrounded by humans and if he was lucky other horses. All he knew for the first few years of his life is domestication. I got to thinking about that. Here he is, knowing only humans, humans bring food, he has shelter from the elements...life is probably ok. He may also have been a horse that lived by himself which I think must be extremely difficult since they are so social and family oriented...the humans being the only source of socialization and love.
What could have been the other alternatives to being left to fend for himself out in the wild...
1. Being sold to another human and hope they are nice
2. Being sold to another human who sends him to slaughter
3.They keep him but neglect him
I am quite torn about it, part of me thinks that being released into the wild with other wild horses is probably the best scenario but how was he accepted being that he is a gelding? It must of been difficult for him going from a sheltered life to being out on his own, having to find food/water and replacing his two legged family with 4 legged friends.
As I watched him going to watering hole where there were humans in proximity, he almost couldn't help himself, he wanted to go see them, why not, he only knew humans as a domesticated horse and not a wild horse. You could see that he was torn, getting signals from his companions that it was not ok and keeping your distance was the reasonable thing to do since a lot of wild horses have had traumatic experiences (i.e. being chased by helicopters, noisy side-by-sides, shooting guns etc.).
Overall he seemed to have integrated well with the herd and his companions but I must confess it must have been one hell of a shock to him at first but if any sentient being could do it, the horse could. They were born with resilience coursing through their veins. They understand life and what it is to survive, no matter what their beginning of life was, either in a barn or out on the wild range, they instinctively know what they need to do to survive. They accept their fate, no questions asked and adapt that's why we should observe them and learn from them.
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