This article was taken from the monthly Virginia Range newsletter The Pinto Post. Click here to sign up to receive the latest happenings from the boots-on-the-ground work on behalf of this historic herd!
This month’s volunteer highlight is Margaret Dziolek. She has a beautiful story, and tells it best. Take it away Margaret!
I am a mother of three grown children, Mimi to one precious little girl, and have twin grandbaby girls arriving in July. I was born in Las Vegas but, at the age of three, my family moved back to a very rural area of Michigan. I grew up with four siblings and acres and acres of land to explore. A neighbor had a small horse ranch, and I rode (never a riding lesson) and helped with the horses for a few years. That was the extent of my experience with horses, but I never lost my love for them. I am the owner and center director for a large preschool in northwest Reno, which keeps me extremely busy. I love having a special bond with all of the children and being able to give them a happy and healthy place to learn and grow.
My passion for the wild horses began 6 years ago when I went exploring a new area to hike. I spotted a band of horses, and my heart leapt. It was at a point in my life where I needed to find that extra purpose, a rhyme and a reason. From that day forward, almost every single day, I would make time to walk with the wild ones. I would photograph their majestic beauty and raw innocence and strength. I took time to study the wild ones' behavior; I learned their unspoken language. I would sit on a boulder or log away from the band and quietly watch the interactions between the horses. I have seen them birth, I have watched them grieve. I have watched stallions brutally battle other stallions and return to the band and gently nudge a sleeping foal. I have watched foals bound and leap with the pure joy of living. I have found my peace with them, and through them. I have found my strength, as well.
A few years after "discovering" the wild horses and spending time with them, I was blessed to run into Corenna Vance and Karen Ballard on the Virginia Range. Corenna and Karen were the founding members of Wild Horse Connection (WHC), with Corenna now being president of the Virginia Range management team. The connection was immediate and Corenna took me under her wing and introduced me to many other areas of the range that I had not explored and many volunteer opportunities that I was not aware of. I immediately jumped on board, literally. I am on the board of WHC, help facilitate the Facebook and Instagram pages, and am a documenter for American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC). Being a documenter and Herd Lead in several areas of the Virginia Range has given me an even more valid excuse for spending time with the wild ones. I am able to follow the history of the different bands and their unique members.
It's been a joy to watch newborn colts grow into band leaders with families of their own; newborn fillies grow into mares with foals at their side. Although it is exciting each spring to watch the foals make their appearance, I will feel relief next year when most of the mares will not be giving birth due to the success of the fertility control darting program. I fully support AWHC fertility control program because I have seen the growth of our local communities into what was once grazing areas for our wild horses and the impact it has had on their reliable food and water sources. The Virginia Range wild horses would be fully sustainable on their own if not for the encroachment of humans and our greed. Thus, we as volunteers and advocates are necessary for their survival. Some of the kindest people I have ever met in my life, I have met on the Virginia Range.
I believe wholeheartedly that I have found my true place in this world...this wild, beautiful world