Mar 17, 2008

Nobody's Horses

The Dramatic Rescue of the Wild Herd of White Sands
by Don Hoglund

In the 1940's the US Government appropriated land from ranchers in New Mexico surrounding the White Sands Missile Range, a top-secret testing site where the first atomic bomb was detonated. Most of the ranchers left their horses on the range, believing their land would be returned to them. But it never was. Eventually the horses became enclosed by the Missile Range security fences. They thrived in the severe desert, their numbers swelling until a drought pushed them towards starvation. In 1994, dozens were discovered dead near a dried-up water hole. Don Hoglund, an equine veterinarian experienced in working with wild horses, was called in to manage the complex and dangerous task of removing over 2,000 wild horses from the Range.

Nobody's Horses tells the story of that rescue operation. In addition to describing harrowing roundups and careful handling techniques, the book also tells of all the conflicts between military personnel and animal rights activists, fears of anthrax contamination, reactions to the Oklahoma City bombing. Hoglund traces the ancestry of the wild bands back to the original homesteaders who lived on the land, recounting a lot of Western history. That part of the book became rather dry reading for me, and my interest began to flag near the end. But it is a notable book, full of appreciation and respect for the magnificent wild horses.

Rating: 3/5 ........ Published: 2006, pp 251

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