Last of the Wild Horses

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Here is a book to delight horse lovers, environmentalists, and all those who respond to the romance and beauty of wild horses . . . an evocative celebration of seven distinctive breeds from throughout the world. 117 full-color photos.
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Overview

Here is a book to delight horse lovers, environmentalists, and all those who respond to the romance and beauty of wild horses . . . an evocative celebration of seven distinctive breeds from throughout the world. 117 full-color photos.
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Editorial Reviews

Natural Horse Magazine
Lots of informative text among beautiful, captivating captioned photos of the wild horses of many areas of the world.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780884860266
  • Publisher: BBS Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 7/15/1991

Meet the Author

Text by Martin Harbury ; preface by Richard Adams ; photography by Ron Watts

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Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction
Origins
Behavior
The Przewalskis of Asia
The Tarpans of Poland
Ponies of the British Isles
White Horses of the Camargue
The Horses of Sable Island
The Australian Brumbies
Mustangs of the American West
Postscript
Acknowledgements
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Preface

Introduction

Not so very long ago, wild horses ran free throughout the world. Now, banished by civilization to a few remote and desolate outposts, they make a final stand against the continuing incursions of so-called progress. Their days, like their ranks, are plainly numbered. If nothing changes, they may be in danger of vanishing forever.

Why should this be so? For thousands of years, the horse offered mankind attainment of the most distant horizons; provided food, clothing and weapons; inspired countless artists; enriched our myths and legends. Today, its role in the western world is trivial or anachronistic, confined to pleasure and occasional pageantry. The savage riders who swept out of Asia rendered battle itself a nomadic pursuit, changing forever the course of human history. Indeed, the histories of horse and man are irrevocably intertwined. In peace and war, so many of our explorations and achievements were made possible by virtue of mounting a horse — a powerful leap that Jacob Bronowski, in The Ascent of Man, correctly terms "a more than human gesture, the symbolic act of dominance over the total creation."

But even the noblest beast of burden fails to inspire in us the same, almost universal fascination as does the image of a wild stallion. Sadly, that stallion is the stuff of dreams, not scientific fact. The truly wild horse (apart from the primitive Przewalski, some 400 of which exist in captivity) is possibly extinct. All the beautiful animals we think of as wild horses — the North American mustangs; the horses of Canada's Sable Island; the European Tarpans; the ponies of Britain, Iceland and Scandinavia; the Australian Brumbies; and the all-white marsh horses of the French Camargue - are more properly termed "feral."

This means simply that their domestic ancestors escaped the bonds of civilization and became wild. This designation is important to biologists — feral and wild populations may differ radically in appearance and genetic makeup. However, true wildness captures the public imagination far more than being merely feral and perhaps the image of the world's free-roaming horses has suffered in consequence. Indeed, my five years of in-depth research, consultation with numerous authorities worldwide, and examination of all documentary evidence available to date suggest that these horses are, for all intents and purposes, wild. Having established their ability to survive and reproduce, they quickly relearn or remember the behavior patterns honed to perfection by their distant forebears. But still the feral tag persists. In the worst analysis, such horses are looked upon as little better than vermin, devoid of economic value, occupying land that might be put to better use. The treatment accorded them may vary from country to country — but, in the main society's most enlightened position is one of benign neglect. If they are wild, after all, they ought to be able to fend for themselves.

We can no longer afford that lofty point of view. For centuries, we have exhibited a profoundly ambivalent attitude toward the horse — envying its freedom while seeking to harness its power, admiring its passion for survival while methodically sealing its fate. This attitude, as we shall see, remains in force today. But today, more than ever before, wild horses require our assistance. We have rendered it impossible for them to live in splendid isolation, maintaining a romanticized and somehow independent existence far apart. They have become, through our deprivations, our responsibility.

Read More Show Less

Introduction

Introduction:

Not so very long ago, wild horses ran free throughout the world. Now, banished by civilization to a few remote and desolate outposts, they make a final stand against the continuing incursions of so-called progress. Their days, like their ranks, are plainly numbered. If nothing changes, they may be in danger of vanishing forever.

Why should this be so? For thousands of years, the horse offered mankind attainment of the most distant horizons; provided food, clothing and weapons; inspired countless artists; enriched our myths and legends. Today, its role in the western world is trivial or anachronistic, confined to pleasure and occasional pageantry. We keep horses to ride, race or bet on; to recall the time when empires toppled with a cavalry charge. The savage riders who swept out of Asia rendered battle itself a nomadic pursuit, changing forever the course of human history. Indeed, the histories of horse and man are irrevocably intertwined. In peace and war, so many of our explorations and achievements were made possible by virtue of mounting a horse - a powerful leap that Jacob Bronowski, in The Ascent of Man, correctly terms "a more than human gesture, the symbolic act of dominance over the total creation."

But even the noblest beast of burden fails to inspire in us the same, almost universal fascination as does the image of a wild stallion. Sadly, that stallion is the stuff of dreams, not scientific fact. The truly wild horse (apart from the primitive Przewalski, some 400 of which exist in captivity) is possibly extinct. All the beautiful animals we think of as wild horses -the North American mustangs; the horses of Canada's Sable Island; the European Tarpans; the ponies of Britain, Iceland and Scandinavia; the Australian Brumbies; and the all-white marsh horses of the French Camargue - are more properly termed "feral."

This means simply that their domestic ancestors escaped the bonds of civilization and became wild. This designation is important to biologists - feral and wild populations may differ radically in appearance and genetic makeup. However, true wildness captures the public imagination far more than being merely feral and perhaps the image of the world's free-roaming horses has suffered in consequence. Indeed, my five years of in-depth research, consultation with numerous authorities worldwide, and examination of all documentary evidence available to date suggest that these horses are, for all intents and purposes, wild. Having established their ability to survive and reproduce, they quickly relearn or remember the behavior patterns honed to perfection by their distant forebears. But still the feral tag persists. In the worst analysis, such horses are looked upon as little better than vermin, devoid of economic value, occupying land that might be put to better use. The treatment accorded them may vary from country to country - but, in the main society's most enlightened position is one of benign neglect. If they are wild, after all, they ought to be able to fend for themselves.

We can no longer afford that lofty point of view. For centuries, we have exhibited a profoundly ambivalent attitude toward the horse -- envying its freedom while seeking to harness its power, admiring its passion for survival while methodically sealing its fate. This attitude, as we shall see, remains in force today. But today, more than ever before, wild horses require our assistance. We have rendered it impossible for them to live in splendid isolation, maintaining a romanticized and somehow independent existence far apart. They have become, through our deprivations, our responsibility.

Read More Show Less

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