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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Kade

Majestic Arizona Wild Horses

"What kind/breed of horses are in the Salt River Valley?

Also known as mustangs, from the Spanish word mustango, which means, "wild, stray, or feral animal," they are thought to be descendants of Spanish Colonial or Iberian horses brought to the Southwest by explorers in the 16th century, like Father Eusebio Keno who came through this area in 1691 and founded 21 missions in Arizona."

"There are as many as 300 of these magnificent animals, and they roam in families called bands. Their habitat consists of 20,000 acres of Forest Service land, which includes 12 miles of the lower Salt River. Along the waters of the Tonto National Forest and into the adjacent Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Reservation, visitors have a pretty good chance at catching a glimpse of Arizona’s wild horse population."

The horses are used to the sound of vehicles zooming by on the Bush Highway.

Two women from the The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group stopped by to admire the horses, too. The group manages the Salt River wild horses under State Law ARS 3-1491 under contract with the Arizona Department of Agriculture. Some horses were also given names.

This is Moon Shadow.

This black stallion with the white bobby socks is Garrett.

It is quite a sight to see so many horses together in one place.

The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group states the wild horses have a positive and beneficial impact on the area.

"The large mesquite trees are shade trees with great importance to all wildlife, these trees rely almost 100% on their seeds being spread through horse manure, which also provides the bed for fertilization.

  1. Horse manure improves overall fertility of the soil which promotes all green growth in the area.

  2. Wild horses significantly reduce the fire danger by keeping dry flammable grasses and underbrush from growing too tall and becoming a fire hazard.

  3. Overabundant eel grass in the river can become a problem in the summer months when it clogs the river, the wild horses are the only species reducing the river eel grass, in doing so they keep the river from becoming stagnant.

  4. Wild horses provide a diet for predators and scavengers; such has mountain lions and bob cats as well as coyotes, foxes and vultures.

  5. The impact of wild horse hooves may help improve aeration of the humus and keep fungi down."

I photographed the wild horses, on two different occasions, just after turning onto the Bush Highway from the Beeline Highway, Arizona State Route 87.

Amazing how still they can stand.

There were many people photographing the horses. Having the wild horses so close to the Phoenix Metro Area translates into positive economic value for many artists who sell their art and photographs of the wild horses as their means of living.

It was the wrong time of day to be photographing the horses, but they aren't this close to the road most of the time.

Are you sticking out your tongue at us?

Yes, I am!

Are you sleeping or just resting your eyes?

Trying to get in the shade.

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