Mar 10, 2008

Wild Horses I Have Known

by Hope Ryden

In the public library the other day I started browsing, and picked up several more books on wild horses. This one caught my eye because of the great photography; it wasn't until I sat down to read it that I realized it's juvenile non-fiction. Still well-written and enjoyable; I even learned some new things.

Wild Horses I Have Known describes experiences the author had observing and photographing wild horses. Most of the brief chapters describe behavior, survival tactics and social organization of the horses. The last chapter explains that horses are not really a non-native species brought to the American continent by Spaniards, but were actually re-introduced. Horses were once native to North America, evolving "from tiny Eohippus to might Equus, the true horse" which roamed across North America for two million years before becoming extinct. I had no idea.

I also learned that bachelor stallions who don't yet have their own mares will sometimes hang around a mare who has left her herd to give birth, then make off with the mare and new foal to start his own herd. That stallions will not only rescue mares that have been appropriated by other stallions, but also go after foals which have gone astray. And the most curious incident Ryden observed was during a skirmish between a stallion and a group of young bachelors, when the stallion knocked one of the yearlings off his feet, and then instead of biting him, pulled hair out of his mane!

Rating: 3/5                         Published: 1999, pp 90


  1. Interesting--I always thought that the Spanish brought horses over as well. My sister-in-law lives in Tahoe where mustangs still roam wild--not so much here in Texas.

  2. I was surprised when I read about it, but then did some online research and found many scientific articles about ancient American horses, which apparently went extinct from being hunted.

  3. Anonymous3/11/2008

    This reminds me of a PBS series we watched in the fall about a mustang named Cloud. It was based on the experience of a photographer named Ginger Kathrens.

    My young daughter is going through a horse phase right now (and reviving my own latent horse fanaticism). This sounds like one to look for at the library.

  4. Curious about the PBS series, I looked up the photographer's name and found two books about the mustang: Cloud, Wild Stallion of the Rockies and Cloud's Legacy. Looks like they have lots of great photos. I'd check them out.

  5. I love the title of this book. How interesting that you discovered the book first and then noticed it is a book for juveniles. You have a great blog!

  6. Stacy- Thanks! When I saw the title it immediately reminded of a book I read a long time ago titled Wild Animals I Have Known. My public library has started shelving all nonfiction books together, juvenile mixed in with adult. Sometimes I find it rather annoying, but occasionally I stumble across something I wouldn't usually find, like this one.


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