This is a photo of the beloved senior stallion known as Washakie and foal Klondike, taken recently by Sandy Sisti of Wild at Heart Images.
Washakie was born beneath the rolling foothills, colorful badlands, and desert mountains that make up the 109,000-acre habitat area of the McCullough Peaks Herd Management Area (HMA) outside of Cody, Wyoming. He is estimated to be around 30 years old. In his younger years, he was the toughest stallion on the range, but as he has gotten older, he has lost his family in battles and has been traveling with bachelors -- young stallions who have been kicked out of their bands to find and fight for families of their own.
That was until a few months ago when Washakie was seen with a young mare known as Kenai, her foal Klondike, and his devoted friend Chaco. Advocates watched Washakie look after his new small family with pride. Locals who have documented this incredible stallion for years relayed that caring for and protecting Kenai and Klondike meant everything to Washakie -- and that's the most important thing during this last chapter of his life.
More recently, Washakie was becoming frail and thin. He was no longer seen with his new family but was spotted alone and far from the other horses. It's likely his time.
We tell this story because the lives of wild horses are rich. They are complex, exciting, dramatic, and devastating -- much like our own. Stories like Washakies, are what will be lost if the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proceeds with its plan to reduce the McCullough Peaks population by half. Kenai and Klondike could lose their freedom and spend the rest of their lives in government holding facilities.
Adding insult to injury is that these horses have a humane fertility control program in place. Two-thirds of the horses are over the age of 15. The removal does not need to happen.