Ryden's newest nature book is a delightnot just for horse fanciers, but for anyone interested in animal behavior. Years spent studying the wild mustangs of the Pryor Mountains have given her insight into how the animals interact, and her ability to get close to the horses provided opportunities for shooting dozens of spectacular color photographs. Writing in a conversational (though never flippant) tone, she conveys the fascination of being able to closely observe individual animals, such as Old Nellie, the cagey head female of one stallion's "harem." She also gives readers plenty of actionclose encounters with skittish horses and stallions battling for dominance. Her final chapter covers the sad history of the over-hunted creatures. The pictures, which are separated from the main text, are a nice large size, and smaller captioned photos at the back show different types of coat and mane coloration. Sources appended.
A carefully crafted book that features abundant use of strikingly beautiful photographs, simply framed and captioned, of western U.S. mustangs presently living as wild horses. In a clean, succinct introduction, the author traces the history of wild horses and explains the controversy over assigning mustangs to the "wild" category since they were once domesticated and later returned to a wild state. The following sections of text become more conversational as the author relates her personal observations and encounters with the mustangs on the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range in Wyoming. Much of the text is drawn from Ryden's thirty-plus years of mustang study, although other sources are cited. A nice combination of elegance and sound information about this distinct group of horses that includes their habits, evolution of the breed, and the history of its presence in North America.
Ryden (Wild Horse Summer, 1997, etc.) photographs the wild horses of the Pryor Mountains and chronicles their ancient origins, how they live, their colors and markings, and how she and others have fought to get the federal legislation that protects such horses from those who would hunt them down or take away their habitat. In passing she describes some of the mustangs she came to know, if from a distance: Lonesome, The Black King, Buck, Old Nellie, and others. The complex structure of their male-female relationships are described in detail as part of the larger social formation that ensures food and space for all, improving the chances of the animals' survival in an extraordinarily harsh environment. Stunning full-color photographs show the mustangs running free, one of the last species that does; Ryden makes a convincing case for guaranteeing that they always will.