Cross-posted from American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign
By SUZANNE ROY
In the early morning of Wednesday, October 6, 2010, amid the vast landscape of the Silver King Herd Management Area in southeastern Nevada, a mustang family lost everything in a BLM helicopter roundup.
I looked down from a hill above the entrance to the capture site to see a striking white mare, running at full speed, with her young foal at her heels. Galloping just ahead of the helicopter was a beautiful sorrel stallion, forehead lined with a wide white blaze. He lagged behind his family, torn between making a run for freedom and protecting his mare and foal, even if that meant following them into the jaws of the trap. The stallion, who we have named Braveheart, chose family over freedom, and it cost him his life.
Not long after his decision, Braveheart charged the bars of the trap pen, defending his mare and foal against an enemy he recognized: another horse. Though the BLM contractor clearly observed that his saddle horse was causing Braveheart’s agitation, he tied his mount just outside the stallion’s pen. To Braveheart, the saddle horse appeared to be within striking range. Braveheart didn’t know know men and their metal fences wouldn’t give way to his charge. And, slamming himself against the metal fences, he went down.
Braveheart fell down after sustaining a mortal injury, but then he struggled to his feet. Head hanging down, he searched for his family. Could he see them nearby? Could he hear or smell them as he lifted his great red-gold head one final time?
As Braveheart lay dying or dead, the BLM wranglers loaded his white mare into a trailer. Dazed by defeat, she no longer struggled. Her stallion was dead, her foal forcibly taken from her.
Next the wranglers dragged the stallion’s body, covered by a tarp, onto the same trailer, forcing the pale mare to stand over her dead mate.