Sunday, September 30, 2018
Wild Horses of Alberta by Nancy M Bell
My latest novel Wild Horse Rescue released On September 21, 2018. You can click on the cover to learn more about it.
The inspiration for this story came from the wild horses of Alberta who mind their own business and struggle to survive like any wild animal. Unlike a 'wild' animal, the horses are considered 'feral' by the powers that be and therefore have no protection. In fact the Alberta government has a committee that decides when they decree there are too many. They can decide to initiate a 'cull' which means the horses are rounded up indiscriminately regardless of age or gender and sent to auction where most end up in the hands of the meat buyer. Some of the members on this supposedly impartial committee are the very people who will participate in the cull and benefit financially from the sale of the horses. Fences have been left unrepaired and gates open so the horses wander unto 'private' land, often lured by feed or salt block, although of course this is denied vehemently by the perpetrators.
Those horses are on crown land, land the people of Alberta supposedly have rights and access to. However during one cull a few years ago, the rancher with the cull permit locked access gates and refused entry to Alberta citizens. To make matters even more convoluted five people who were doing nothing more than observing were arrested and held for a number of hours and had to go to court to be proven blameless. The official stance is that the horses have no natural predators which of course if untrue and has been rebutted by advocacy groups. Help Alberta Wildies is a group of concerned citizens who advocate for the horses and bring their interests to the public forum. You can follow them on Facebook at Help Alberta Wildies. There are a number of photographers who routinely go out and take photos while watching over the horses. There have been recorded instances of foals being caught in deep snow and floundering, left by the herd. Young horses so covered in ticks they are anemic, attacks by cougars, wolves and coyotes on young, sick or older horses.
The wild horses in the western United States face similar challenges and their round up methods include chasing the horses (including young foals) by helicopter, insisting this is the best and most humane method. I can only IDIOTS! You can follow their story on Facebook at WIld in North Dakota and The Cloud Foundation.
I am not a bleeding heart city girl, I'm a horsewoman with many years of experience and I can say with no reserve that most of the official babble from both sides of the border is HOGWASH. That's the nicest word I could think of.
In Wild Horse Rescue, Laurel Rowan who fans of mine will remember from Laurel's Quest and the other books in the Cornwall Adventures, is back home in southern Alberta. Her Cornish friend Coll Tinne is visiting for the summer. The wild horses are under a cull order and Laurel refuses to allow the horses she so loves and admires to be denied their freedom and their very lives. So she sets out to find a way to help them. The stallion in the story is Coal, but he is inspired by the stallion known as White Spirit who lives with his band near Sundre, ALberta. I have moved the horses in my story from Sundre down to near Pincher Creek, Alberta. Although I don't believe there are any wild horses left in that area. There used to be wildies on the Suffield Military Base living quite in harmony with their surrounding. However the Alberta government in their infinite wisdom decided to remove them all, a lot of them went to slaughter, but some were bought by concerned citizens who fought to keep the bloodlines alive. There is a Suffield Mustang Association where they keep track of the horses and the breeding lines. When the horses were removed the government introduced elk to the area, now twenty years later they find the elk (who aren't indigenous to the area) are destroying the riparian areas by the water holes and the grazing. Now, they are talking about 'managing' the elk. Again, I say IDIOTS. Bureaucrats who don't understand the animals or the land listen to special interest groups who have their own agenda which has more to do with money than the environment or the animals well being.
The wildies are born wild, they live wild, they survive as they can, the weak fall and the fittest survive. They are as wild as any deer or moose. Hanging the 'feral' tag on them just makes the wildies easy pickings for the unscrupulous. I encourage you to take a look at the Help Alberta Wildies facebook page. There is another group called Wild Horses of Alberta Society, however they support the cull and also birth control for the mares, which I do not. Many of the ranchers would be very happy if the horses disappeared altogether and that will be a sad day for Alberta and the world.
Duane Starr is one of the photographers who follows the horses. The photos below are his work. PLease realize most of the images are taken with telescopic lens, the photographer is not near the horses. You can also see the damage logging has done as the horses graze in the mess of the clear cuts. And yet the government and ranchers claim the horses are destroying the landscape.
Darrel Glover also took some of the pictures and the black stallion in the snow is by Rick Price
Clear cut mess
This little guy is Kai when he was found, he was snowbound and freezing. Some riders found him and rescued him. He was severely under weight and covered in ticks. He survived but sadly before he was two he succumbed to colic. However, he was loved and cared for during his short life, so fie on the ones who said he should have been left to die, 'as nature intended'. I believe if he was 'meant to die' the riders wouldn't have found him. Perhaps little Kai was test of our compassion, courage and greatness of heart. In which case some people would have failed miserably. I bless Help Alberta Wildies for taking care of Kai and loving him.
Some of the wildies doing what they do to survive.