GALLOPING TO FREEDOM – SAVING THE ADOBE TOWN APPALOOSAS by Carol J. Walker.
Sitting at my keyboard contemplating this review I already know that my vocabulary is too limited so I am going to run out of adjectives to describe how AMAZING this rescue effort was and how absolutely BEAUTIFUL and STUNNING Ms. Walker’s photography is in retelling the adventure.
This book is both a tribute and a fund-raiser to help save America’s wild horses. When I requested this book it was because I wanted to enjoy the photographs included – and believe me – they are INCREDIBLE! There is no doubt as to Ms. Walker’s talent as a wildlife photographer.
More importantly she gives the reader a touching and often heart wrenching saga of the “wild and beautiful horses whose spirit and grace touched her so deeply”. Witnessing first hand through the lens of her cameras the ongoing round-ups of these horses made her wonder about the justification of “herd management”; taking these beautiful wild horses away from the habitat, often separating family groupings – was this really in their best interest? Her recollection of witnessing “Rocky” (so name because of his ability to elude capture even when helicopters were involved) as he managed to escape yet, thereby, loosing his “family” begins this book and was the catalyst in her decision to do something to try to help these horses maintain their habitat or move to a safer one rather than be rounded up, sold and often killed in the process.
The contrast in her photographs of the horses running wild and then the same horses corralled is heart stopping. Happily, some of the older horses (10+) were eligible to go to the Black Hills Sanctuary and because Ms. Walker’s scrupulously catalogues her photographs some family groups of the horses were able to stay together. A success, albeit a minor one. The first transfer of horses from the corrals to the sanctuary was a success.
The horses remaining were beginning to endure some difficult conditions including mares birthing in crowded pens, where there was not only the imminent danger of the foals being hurt but as each foal was born it meant that mother and foal needed to wait until being able to be moved. Sadly, not all the foals survived.
Of course, as the horses were set free at the sanctuary it presented Ms. Walker with so many more photo opportunities and I must say seeing these horses behave as they would in the wild through her pictures was a real treat. The pictures of the horses posturing and challenging for dominance in their new home were AMAZING!
The sanctuary consisted of hundreds of acres of wild open pasture. There the horses would be protected and yet still be “free”. As some of the horses were scheduled to be moved to the “rescue pasture” - the first step in their transition to living permanently in the sanctuary - a very happy event occurred ... a new foal was born.
As Ms. Walker describes it, “I climbed up onto to the flat part of the truck so that I could take photos without disrupting the group, and watched as the other sanctuary horses in the pasture next door came running down the hill and over to the fence to see the new arrival. They seemed fascinated by the new baby. A while later, Sid, a rescued horse with a big personality, came loping up to the fence to join the others, as if to say, ‘No one told me about the baby!’”
It seemed an apt christening and a sort of blessing for the endeavor. It was a girl.
This book is nothing short of beautiful from the story to the publication (coffee table size and format, high quality glossy pages) and of course, the photography. If you or anyone you know has a soft spot in their heart for the majesty of horses you or they will adore this book, plus it helps a good cause. Win/win as far as I’m concerned.
Although these horses were successfully moved and are now protected in their freedom many more wild horses are facing roundups. I was not aware of this issue and in Ms. Walker’s afterword she clarifies it in glaring terms. “In September and October of 2014, the Bureau of Land management removed 1263 wild horses from the Great Divide Basin, Salt Wells Creek and Adobe Town Herd Management Areas. This action was motivated by a lawsuit instigated by the influential Rock Springs Grazing Association whose goal is to eradicate wild horses from both private and public land in Wyoming. This group’s pressure on the BLM is unrelenting.”
In the back of the book is a list of organizations on the front lines of the campaigns to save wild horses and burros. To find out more about these wild horses you can visit www.wildhoofbeats.com and even show your support by putting their badge on your blog or website.
* I received this book at no charge from the author
via Wordslinger in exchange for an honest review *
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from amazon.com)
Carol's passion for photography started at an early age, with animals as her favorite subjects. She studied literature and photography as an undergraduate at Smith College, and continued her education in photography after graduating, studying portraiture and nature photography. She has traveled all over the world photographing wildlife for the past 30 years. In 2000, Carol started her business Living Images by Carol Walker, specializing in photographing horses. Carol's images illuminate the relationship between horses and their people, as well showcase the beauty of horses with her stunning images of horses at liberty. She teaches workshops for amateur photographers on equine photography. She markets her fine art prints from her Living Images website as well as in several locations on the Front Range of Colorado and has won numerous awards with her artwork.