Sunday, July 1, 2012

Death in the Wild

Life with Tristan continues apace. Dressage school last night in the back field, working on keeping a good forward rhythm no matter what, and controlling the shoulders in the canter.

Today I'm thinking about another horse-related project that has been brewing in the back of my mind for a long time. In my day job, I'm an historian and museum worker, and just completed a Master's degree in history and museum studies. I study military history, and made the switch to nineteenth-century American when I did my graduate work. My thesis was about the early days of the First Dragoons, and in doing that I became fascinated by the patterns and intricacies of life in the American West.

My next project - to begin in earnest in the fall, after giving myself a summer of from school work for the first time in years - will be about perceptions of the mustang through history. I'll be documenting that blog at my other history/professional blog, Amblering.

In that vein, I read a blog post today that fascinated and touched me and reminded me that there is so much more going on inside my little mustang's head than I will ever really know about. He was four when he came off the range; he'd lived a rich and varied and intense life. Someday I'll post a picture of the scar above his right hock, perfect teeth marks on either side of the big tendon there.

Barbara Wheeler is an equine photographer who specializes in mustangs; I've loved her Facebook updates for months now, and she wrote this detailed account of the death (euthanizing, more properly) of a herd stallion, and the social dynamics among the herds that accompanied his fall.

I'm not sure I agree with the actions she and others took to humanely euthanize this stallion - life in the wild is cruel, and painful, and I have never been one to cry over the plight of mustangs living a perfectly natural, if violent and short, lives. What's done is done, however, and I appreciate the keen observation she brought to the situation.

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