There has been a number of things on my mind the last few months. Winter is often a time of reflection, debate, worry and planning for us at the herd project. A little over a year ago the Rapid City Journal ran an article entitled, " A stalwart guardian for a vanishing breed." It was wonderful recognition for the project and personally difficult because for me it was very inner personal reflection about why we do what we do. The next was my personal feelings and worry about the future of the Spanish Mustang Horse.
There has been any number of horse organizations that have risen and fallen by the wayside. Finances, fancy and often a series of bad decisions or luck affects the future of the project.
WE ALL WANT TO BE A HERO IN A DISASTER
We as human beings rise to disaster and debris with a vigorous dedication that is laudable and yet frustrating. Case in point an ongoing situation on the North Dakota border for a BLM herd project that ended up with hundreds of horses, obviously starving having reached that point by romance and in my opinion poor decisions. People rallied around and horses were moved, fed and a number ended up on the auction block headed to an uncertain future because of the humans that was responsible for them. Romance about being part of the Old West and keeping family groups together led to over population and a dire situation.
This brings me to my dissertation. There are hundreds of organizations they get clicks, likes, loves and wows. People love to see pretty ponies, pretty pets anything. It makes us feel good that recognition. Often times it is the only thing. We as people today suffer from the 140 character attention span deficit. People don't read. I don't "byte." It's a deadly combination.
Recently I had a very nice woman that wanted to "save mustangs." She wanted to change her future and her life. My response was good for you. My next response was what experience do you have, what are your goals? Taking horses and saving them was the goal. How to manage the herd, handle or feed a horse not on the list. In my reply, I said, " it will be the most heartbreaking, rewarding, exhausting thing you will ever do in your life. You will recommit to it every day, every month otherwise you won't make it. If someone had told me 20 years ago that this would have been the journey that myself and my family would be on I would have laughed. I call it the best and worst horse trade ever.
The Spanish Mustang horse is the ancestor horse of todays modern American Mustang. Quite simply if you look at a number line it was there first. The Spanish Mustang has been under preservation since the 1930's and a recognized breed since 1957 with the first breed association. Depending on who's numbers you choose to go with there are somewhere around 1000-1500 living horses on the planet and probably only 20% of those are breeding animals any year. Horses are expensive and the market is focused on what can you do. People want a breathing 4-wheeler that they can take out on a weekend not a part of their family many times. Spanish horses are not for everyone. I tell people it doesn't take someone special to own a Spanish Mustang. They don't care what you know they just want to know that you care. If you want to drop a quarter in a slot and go for a ride I know a horse in front of Kmart just for you.
FOR THE PRICE OF A LATTE
We have been blessed by some wonderful volunteers and annual donors that have definitely kept the doors open so to speak. Our summer visitors have often times become a part of what we do. We have failed though in monthly sponsorships for the herd project horses. The reality of it is for 25 cents a day you could help sponsor an endangered horse, have a free tours anytime and save something that is a piece of American History as well as do a very good thing. For the price of a latte. It's that simple. So please don't let your horse organization or animal organization of choice go to the wayside. Support your likes, loves and clicks with your time or needed dollars so that they can keep doing what they do. Too often organizations go away because we love to watch a train wrecks and spend thousands to avert disaster and fail to support the project when pennies a day would make the difference.
Our ladies of summer, Sassfras, Raffaella, Gypsy Rose Lee and Dunsmoke Morning Glory will be foaling next spring along with Walks In Promise and Gwenhyfar. Promise and Gwen will go first and the rest of the girls in late May through early July.
Gwen is our hope for an outcross stallion prospect. Sassafras will be the first LP horse that we have bred ourselves having a foal. The three maiden mares are Sassafras,Gypsy, Glory and it should be very interesting to see what they produce.
The breeding of horses is science, logical selection and most of all a knack and a little luck. Every year we sit down and work with the pedigrees of the horses. We factor inbreeding coefficients, color testing results, parentage confirmations as well as old fashioned gut feeling. The hardest thing when building this herd for me was not to focus too much on my personal favorite lines and to keep working on brooding our genetic base while still maintaining type.
As herds have dwindled and breeders have left the business, there are less and less quality specimens. We are currently looking for an outcross stallion quality colt. That is easier said than done.
At any rate we would love to share the herd project with you and yours. So stop in and see us sometime.
The Spanish Mustang is the descendant of the horse brought to the New World by the conqusitadors. It is quite properly a historically Iberian horse. It is not however a "wild mustang" and has not been so for the better part of a century. These horses are the product now of now overs 80 years of preservation.
The horses of Windcross Conservancy are registered with the American Heritage Horse Association and are eligble for the Spanish Mustang Registry Inc. They are dna banked for parentage with the University of Kentucky at Lexington, KY. The horses are also often color tested and tested for genetic anomylies.
A Windcross herd horse is selected to be part of the preservation herd because of it's value to the breed, either with the rarity of the the bloodline or the excellence of breed type and conformation. Occasionally a herd member is available for purchase. That is either because it does not add anything thing genetically to the herd, there is another full sibling available better suited to the herd or the horse is better suited to being part of a family as a valued companion.
We believe that we must be an ark for the future of these horses and our ongoing efforts are focused to this. We also provide breeding stock for other programs globally in an ongoing effort to propigate the horses in a broader global community.
In summary, it is not a feral horse, it is however a valued remnant of America's western heritage and a eminently suitable horse for the modern world too.
We began this herd with 6 horses and a dream that we could make a difference. We have an average of 32 horses now in any given year. We after almost a decade are finally beginning to see the fruits of our labors. The Windcross herd is in our estimation one of the best examples of the foundation Spanish Mustang anywhere in the world. We don't breed for manes and tails, we breed for conformation and type.