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Maria Scheller / Her Campus
Life > Experiences

Mustang Mismanagement

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at NCSU chapter.

The modern American Mustang is in trouble and I’m calling on every girl who once loved a horse to rescue them.

I can trace my love of horses back to the first moment I saw one in my childhood picture books. truly, it goes back that far. I rode horses for a few years when my parents could afford it, and volunteered at rescues the rest of my childhood to get my fix. My childhood room was a mix of pink and horses; my light switch cover was an obnoxiously in the way plastic horseshoe with an image of a mustang in the middle and even though it made turning my lights on and off that much harder, I refused to part with it. Much like my light switch, I was obnoxiously horsey. I wrote them into every story, every game I played I had to be an animal, especially a horse. I bought every horse book I could find and those I couldn’t purchase I roamed the library in search of.

As I grew older, I had less time for the books and relied on social media for my horses. Everywhere I looked there was some account of a girl training her new saddlebred, a team of Belgian’s pulling an impressive cart in a competition, or a photographer taking the most amazing photos of wild mustangs. The last one is my favorite and I follow close to a hundred horse photography accounts; That’s how I heard about the mismanagement at McCullough peaks.

The McCullough Peak wild horse band and one of their stallions, Thor, are an often photographed herd. Numerous accounts across instagram, twitter and facebook have gorgeous photos of these horses and with that we can trace their lines and lives across decades. Thor has a daughter, Thora, who is nearly a perfect copy of his black-and-white painted figure. She is his first child and I’ve watched their bond through photos in the six months since she was born. In February 2024, Thora was rounded up with her family by a Bureau of Land Management helicopter before being separated and stuck in a pipe-fenced holding pen with other foals our government has decided are old enough to be on their own.

The Bureau purports to be rounding them up in the name of “ensure(ing) rangeland health, in accordance with land-use plans that are developed in an open, public process.” To me, that sounds like a fancy way of saying they want to make money off of the land instead of having the horses there. The Bureau’s adoption programs for these horses boasts inconsistent waiting times, unfavorable housing conditions and a truly deplorable vetting process, and because of this, in 2022, 1,020 wild horses paid the ultimate price after they were shipped to Mexico.

They’ve recently announced their final numbers for the McCullough Peak roundup -40 horses including a filly who passed away due to her treatment while in the care of the Bureau. These are American horses, they live here and they’ve built families on this land and they deserve better treatment than what they receive at the hands of the Bureau of Land Management.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve read the stories and seen the movies about the wild American Mustangs. From Spirit:Stallion of The Cimarron to the Phantom Stallion series and every episode of a horse show where the girl tames the wild mustang and earns a fierce new best friend, the American Mustang has left hoofbeats on our world and hearts. I wished, as a girl, for my own mustang moment, to see beauty and freedom in the shape of a horse with my own eyes. For that young girl, I’m fighting to keep these horses where they belong, freely running across American soil.

There are many different way’s that I fight for these horses and organizations I support, including but not limited to All Seated in A Barn, a wonderful rescue saving our horses from being sent to slaughter in other countries, Skydog Ranch, another amazing rescue providing a safe landing for rounded up wild Mustangs to reunite with their bands, and finally the SAFE act. These rounded up horse and thousand of other American horses are sent every year to Canada and Mexico to be slaughtered for food or hide and this bill would put an end to their exploitation.

These horses represent the most beautiful and free parts of our country and they deserve our protection.

She/Her Creative Writing major at NC State University graduating spring of '24. I love talking about the latest TV shows and movies and playing with every stray cat I can find. My goal is to become a high school teacher and positively impact the next generation. I love talking to people and extensively researching niche things like service animals and the history of the color pink because learning things is at least 70% of my personality.