Hope Ryden,
America's Last Wild Horses
(1969; Lyons, 1999)

This 1999 release of America's Last Wild Horses is the 30th anniversary edition and contains new color photographs. Buy this book and spend the first hour or so studying the photographs and reading the captions before beginning to read. Then turn to the appendices and read the Wild Free-Roaming Horse & Burro Protection Act and The Wild Horse Annie Bill. This will give you an overview of the wild horse situation through history and you will be prepared to read the book.

This book has been the leading text and authority on wild horses for the past three decades. Hope Ryden presents the absolute facts on the history of wild horses, along with hypothesis from the gathered data of the early explorers' expeditions. She goes into details about the mustang registries and how they differ, focusing on the efforts of Robert and Ferdinand Brislawn to locate, document and recover the pure Spanish horses.

America's Last Wild Horses will touch your every emotion. You will laugh out loud at the way the Cheyennes "out-foxed the fox." The government brought draft stallions to the Indians to increase the size of their small Indian ponies. Knowing that size had nothing to do with quality, the Indians castrated these fine stallions. Wonder how many decades it took the government to question why those Indian ponies were not getting any larger? And just wait until you read about Hope accidentally trespassing on one of those restricted military places while trying to get a close-up of the horses and being hauled away by the governmental goonies.

You will be outraged at the inhumane techniques used by mustangers and ranchers on wild horses. You will feel your heart rip when you look at the pictures of the dead horses crumpled in heaps in a long trench -- the product of the U.S. government's management. And your heart will warm when you read the story of the 8-year-old stallion that was almost put down as unadoptable. He was adopted by a couple that later opened a riding stable and became their most prized mount.

This book is the classic on the subject of our wild horse heritage. It includes all aspects of the range: the Native Americans, the ranchers, the gold miners and the explorers. It takes a broad look at the entire history of the West, seen through the eyes of a horse lover. Hope Ryden's writing style is conversational and friendly, but fast-paced and action-packed. She never lets up from the first page and keeps you interested. She is the best writer I have found in the equine realm ... and I have studied extensively in this area. If you want a horse book or desire to read about the history of the West from a different perspective, buy this book. You will not be disappointed in the least!

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 20 September 2003

Buy it from Amazon.com.