Wild Horses in Photography and Art As Conscience

It may seem futuristic cinema to picture men in helicopters stampeding wild horses down the Western range – but rather than a hybrid of Mad Max and the Misfits, this is a description of the cyborg future that is now.

Freedom Messengers of Dignity by Beth Longanecker.

Freedom Messengers of Dignity by Beth Longanecker.

Wild horses being rounded up for holding in BLM pens are run to the point of injury or death. Estimates hold there are more wild horses being held (38,000) now by the BLM than the dwindling herd numbers estimated still left in the wild. The U.S. policy of “zeroing out” wild horse range populations can be traced in the last decades to a point in 1971 when legislation about roundups (ridding public lands of “excess” horses, mainly because of private commercial pressures for the lands use) concretized. Then there were claims that 50,000 wild horses still lived in the wild. Last year alone some 12,000 of probably less than 30,000 wild horses remaining were slated to be removed from Nevada range. This is extinction policy – and its a horrifying trend.

If youre gasping in disbelief, perhaps its time for some action.

Such is the point of view of a group of committed wild horse activists and artists who on January 7, 2011 at Collected Works Bookstore at 202 Galisteo Street  in Santa Fe will host and honor winners (including Deutsch and Longanecker), of a first-time photo competition show and fundraiser for the Cimarron Skydog Reserve, a New Mexico horse sanctuary in Cerrillos and Watrous founded by native Englishwoman Jackie Fleming. Fleming, whom I interviewed, along with one of three photographer judges of the contest, Lynne Pomeranz (the other judges were Tony Stromberg and  Gregg Albracht)  – believe the huge task now before us is public awareness. The photo show at Collected Works runs through January. A film screening  of  James Kleinerts documentary, Wild Horse and Renegades, at 7 p.m. will follow the Jan. 7 reception (from 5-7 p.m.)

Getting back to wild horse policies, notes Fleming, consider the symbol and fact of the American mustang. “The American mustang is world famous and its part of American mythology, I dont know if a lot of Americans realize that they are losing something as famous to the rest of the world as Disneyland and McDonalds.”

"Into The Wind" by Lynne Pomeranz

"Into The Wind" by Lynne Pomeranz

Wild horses are, yes, in simplistic terms, a symbol of freedom. In New Mexico on Mt. Taylor there are bloodlines (as lore has it) probably still genetically pure; its said that horses descended from Onates all are roan color. In historical terms, wild horses speak also to the real obligation that we social democrats or liberals have to heritage – to the genetic heritage of that species ineradicably implicated with human habitation on the lands of North America.

Lynne Pomeranz, a photographer based in Corrales who was one of the three judges for this show and conducts wild horse photographic workshops, notes how much decimation shes seen just in the last few years in New Mexico.

“In Jicarilla theyve have rounded up so (many) we had to switch every bit of  the (4-day) workshop around. Youd see the same horses the second day. In the meantime, new oil and gas pads go in like crazy out there.” Adds Fleming, “I think were running out of time.”

What is at risk? Fleming says, “Hundreds of years worth of history unless we can keep the wild horses that are still left out there and we can manage their herds in the wild. If there is not a moratorium put on the roundups soon where people can really stop and do the research, well lose the wild horses and the genetics from the wild.”

Today, according to Pomeranz, 30 horses await adoption in Farmington, NM BLM pens. Here is a link to the adoption schedule with BLM adoption dates in New Mexico this coming July and August. In the meantime, the show at Collected Works will raise your awareness as you peruse new horse photography deeply implicated with social conscience.

For more  links on wild horses, wild horse policy:
Planet Greens story last August.

And news about a Nevada rescuer.

For more evidence on environmental degradation as culture war. Just this week: Bird bodies fall out of the Louisiana skies by the thousands. In New Mexico, a first act by the incoming Gov. Martinezs administration on Jan. 4th was to decimate the Environmental  Improvement board and fire everybody on it, claiming the anti-emissions rules they were interested in advancing were “anti-business.” Meanwhile in Las Vegas,  a Wyoming ranchers outfit suggests that more horse slaughterhouses will create jobs (read more here).

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