Indian Rock Art with Horses, Moab Utah
** Copied from my Mustang Page that was written in 2006 ***
HISTORY & TIMELINE
-The Crow Indian tribe used to refer to the Pryors as the “Arrow-head” mountains. Much flint rock is found there.
– No one is able to document how the horses were introduced to the area. It is suspected that they may have been captured and put in place by the Crow Indians as early as the 1700s. The range is on the major migration routes of the Crow and Shoshone Indian tribes. The area is very rough and inaccessible, which has kept the herd isolated and prevented interbreeding with domestic stock turned loose by the Army and ranchers.
-The Pryor Mountains were named after Sergeant Nathaniel Pryor of the Lewis and Clark Expedition which traversed through the area and nearby Yellowstone River Valley in 1806.
-Its uncertain how they arrived, some say the Crow Indians stole horses from Lewis & Clark, others say they just escaped… anyway wild horses made Pryor Mountain home.
– The late Bessie Tillett, whose family homesteaded the area, recalled seeing the horses when they arrived.
-1900 ; there was approx. 2 million wild horses roaming wild and free across the USA.
-1950’s ; only about 25,000 wild horses remained in the wild. Most were poisoned, shot (aka target practice), abused… thousands were captured and tortured only to be slaughtered for dog food. The wild horses were widely considered as ‘pests’ by ranchers in the western states.
– In the 1950′s Wild Horses began to get National attention because of Velma Johnston (1912-1977). It began one day while she was driving to work, she saw blood running from a trailer hauling horses and followed it to a slaughter (1950 Reno Nevada). Sarcastically named ‘Wild Horse Annie’ by her strongest opponent and soon BLM employee Dan Solari, she insisted that her friends call her Annie. She then affectionately became known as ‘Wild Horse Annie’. She fought (often her own life was in danger), raised awareness, and explained to Congress their conditions. Congress listened, and voted for laws to help protect the wild horses from horrible capturing methods, abuse, shooting, and to stop the poisoning of water holes ….. She was an advocate of the Wild Mustangs until her death in June 1977 from Lung Cancer.
-The Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range was established in 1968. Interested individuals and groups convinced Interior Secretary Stewart Udall to set aside approx. 32,000 acres in the Pryor Mountains as a public range for the wild horses. This was the first of its kind in the nation.
– Rev. Floyd Schwieger, who moved to Lovell in 1962 as pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church, fell in love with the area. Rev. Schwieger is known as the preeminent “lay expert” on the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Herd, but he is also an enthusiastic ambassador for not only the horses but for the Pryor Mountains, Big Horn Canyon and the Big Horn National Forest. “In the 40-plus odd years, he has probably shown more than 1,000 visitors around our area. He has made hundreds of trips with people to the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range on his own and worked as a greeter volunteer for the National Park Service at Devil’s Canyon Overlook for the last three years. He helped form the Pryor Mountain Watch Group, which helps protect the horses and the range, and provides information for visitors there in the summers.” Schwieger has helped many video and filmmakers over the years from as far away as Germany, France, England, Japan and major United States networks, the nomination points out, including an early film narrated by Chet Huntley. He also helped Bill Grunkemeier of Sheridan and Ginger Kathrens of Colorado Springs with their films about the horse range.
Schwieger served St. John’s for 16 years, then moved on to Lander in 1978 and Evanston/Ft. Bridger in 1982 to start new churches there before retiring to Cody in 1985. He moved back to Lovell in 1988 and has been here ever since. During his early years in Lovell, Schwieger began to explore the Lovell area, and as a man who had grown up with horses on his family’s Minnesota farm, he quickly fell in love with the mustangs of the Pryor Mountains, learning about the horses from people like Lloyd and Royce Tillett and Emil Doerr. “I was looking for a diversion, a hobby, and the horses became my interest,” he said. Schwieger became actively involved in the effort to protect the Pryor Mountain horses and establish a wild horse range. He soon began keeping records of the different bands and was one of the first to begin naming the horses. That practice evolved into numbering the horses according to band and naming individual members of the bands. He helped establish the Pryor Mountain Mustang Association and, later, the Pryor Mountain Breeders’ Association, which is dedicated to preserving Spanish mustangs. In 1978, the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management presented him with a plaque for his “untiring efforts to promote the welfare of the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Herd.” He has also received recognition from the BLM for his help with herd adoptions and the Watch Program, and from the National Park Service for his help at the Overlook. He is currently serving on the board of directors of the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center, and his dream is to see the center completed and in operation. “I’ve always felt this was an important part of our western history,” he said in explaining his interest, “a part of history that should be protected, just like the buffalo. The wild horse is part of the image of the west. People receive a great deal of enjoyment from seeing wild horses, and tourists enjoy them, too. “To make a long story short, I began to notice primitive markings of the Pryor horses that were different than domestic horses, and I wondered why. I did a lot of reading and research, and the Park Service provided $25,000 to do blood work, which revealed to us that the horses have a lineage that goes back to the old, European, Spanish horses.”
This land is God’s creation. It was given to us for our sustenance and our enjoyment including the creatures and everything else. “My natural interest is in the canyon and everything else, the scenic beauty of this country. I’ve lived in some pretty good tourist towns, and I couldn’t quite understand why the people in Lovell never got excited about the tremendous history, Indian artifacts, wildlife and everything else they have in the area.” Schwieger said he has told the National Park Service and often tells visitors that the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area and adjacent areas have “everything Yellowstone doesn’t have” – a canyon more spectacular than any in Yellowstone, authentic wild Spanish mustangs, Indian artifacts “all over the place” including the Medicine Wheel, the Bad Pass Trail, teepee rings and petroglyphs, and historic places like the M-L, Ewing-Snell and Lockhart Ranches and Hillsboro. To Floyd Schwieger, spreading the good news comes naturally, whether it be from the pulpit or while giving a tour. “It flows out of my deep conviction that this is important because it is God’s wonderful creation and man’s history. To be able to share this with people – what greater purpose can you have in life?”
-Management of the horse herd has long been a source of controversy. Some advocate more of a “hands-off” approach, and others would like to see all herds drastically reduced.
-In BLM Roundups, horses have been injured or have perished during the stressful ordeal.
-BLM’s first Wild Horse Adoption took place in Montana 1973.
-BLM’s National Adopt-a-Horse Program was implemented in 1976.
-The 1977-78 winter was so nasty and harsh on the Pryor Horses that 100% of all aged horses and foals did not survive, cutting the herd about in half. – a natural ecosystem.
-In late May 1995 Cloud (named White Cloud by BLM) the light colored Stallion was born (by Raven, out of the Palomino Mare Phoenix), a major subject of Ginger Kathrens’ documentaries on Pryor Mountain.
-Mares normally foal around May or June, giving the foal time to grow and prepare for a harsh winter. However, some mares that have been darted with the controversial birth control drug PZP (The PZP Program began in 2001), are still foaling, and their cycle is ‘unnatural’. Some of these mares are foaling in late summer, September, or October. These late foals & mares do not have a decent chance to survive the harsh winters.
-In 2004, only one spring foal on Pryor Mountain (out of 28) survived the Mountain Lion predators. Usual foal crop is 20-30. In many other years around 30% of foals are killed by Mountain Lions – a natural ecosystem.
-Its a fact, some of the captured Wild Mustangs have eventually ended up at slaughters, after they are sold again from their ‘adopters’ and out of the control of the BLM. Some recent cases sprung up more action.
-Horse meat is a delicacy overseas.
-In 2006 ; there are approx. 27,000 wild horses roaming free. There are more than that being held in long term government holding facilities and at long-term ranches, where private individuals are being paid a daily fee to pasture these horses.
-McCullough Peaks – The existing BLM Appropriate Management Level is set between 70 and 140 animals. Current scientific studies suggest a minimum benchmark herd size of at least 150 animals to maintain health and genetic diversity……www.freindsofalegacy.org
-McCullough Peaks – In the fall of 2004, about 80% of the McCullough Peaks horses were removed by the BLM. About 390 head. Many of the remaining mares are on PZP…..Billings Gazette 11/05/04.
-In 2008 there are more than 33,000 wild horses being held in ‘long-term holding facilities’ in which the BLM pays per head, to ‘pasture’. Meanwhile, the BLM claims that funding is low.
-Around 06/30/08 the BLM announced they are considering euthanizing some wild horses, or sell them ‘in bulk’ which will only allow killer buyers to buy and ship the horses to Canada or Mexico.
-Visit www.thecloudfoundation.org for the latest news.
The horses need help!
-The scientific name for the domestic horse is Equus caballus. The name of the genus, equus, is Latin for “horse”; the name of the species, caballus, is Latin for “riding horse.” The word feral comes from the Latin fera, meaning “wild animal”; mustang is from the American Spanish word mestengo, meaning “stray animal.”
-Fossil records show that horses lived in North America thousands of years ago but died out – so in reality they were just reintroduced by the Spanish. Perhaps someday they too will be classified as ‘wildlife’!
References & Resources:
The Cloud Foundation
Taurus Productions, & especially Ginger Kathrens.
BLM 2003 Survey 2003 Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Survey, Britton Springs 10-31-2003
Cody Wyoming Chamber of Commerce
Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Center, Lovell Wyoming
Lovell Wyoming, the town
Lewis & Clark journey and notes
BLM Bureau of Land Management
Black Hills Horse Sanctuary, founded in 1988 in South Dakota