Mary Koncel: Wild horses and public lands are intertwined

In celebration of National #PublicLandsDay, we're sharing our staffers' own most memorable wild horse experiences on public land. These are their personal accounts. We hope they’ll inspire you to get out there, explore public lands, and learn more about free-roaming horses and burros.

Eight years ago, I rehomed a beautiful BLM mustang mare who was born in Nevada.  I wanted to do my part to help the wild horses.  I feel so honored to have Rain as part of our family – she is much loved by us and everyone who meets her.  But her path to us was cruel and unnecessary – rounded up as a yearling and then sent to the Palomino Valley holding corrals.

When I visited Colorado a few years later, I saw my first wild horses on the Little Book Cliffs.  Just a few.  They had stopped to drink at a pond, grazed a little before disappearing up a steep hill and behind some pinyon pines.  This is where they belong, I thought, living with their family bands, on this rough terrain, on these public lands. 

Now I can’t think of wild horses without thinking of public lands.  They are so intertwined and such a perfect fit.  I’ve heard there are 640 million acres or so of public lands.  Whether I’m in California or Nevada, Idaho or Utah watching wild horses, I remind myself – and others – that there’s plenty of room for them.  No need to round them up.  Remove them from their homes, their federally-designated habitat.  Now I do my part to keep wild horses where they belong.

Mary Konel is the Program Specialist for the American Wild Horse Campaign. She received her M.S. in Animals and Public Policy from the Tufts/Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine where she is now the adjunct instructor at the Center for Animals and Public Policy. A long-time lover of horses, she has written extensively about various equine topics, with a special focus on wild horse adoption. At AWHC, she is responsible for researching, preparing, and presenting reports and other materials that will help facilitate the humane management of wild horses and burros.