Simply Nahala

Writer. Photographer. Soul Traveler.

Sunday, February 8, 2015


The wild mustang enters my dreams frequently. These dreams have been occurring for many years now. I live in Central Oregon where mustangs run free. I've spent some time in the Steens Mountains hoping to spot a glimpse of the Kiger Mustangs that reside in this area. Most wild horses are of mixed breeds, while the Kiger Mustang has retained many characteristics from the original Spanish Mustang. The lineage makes no difference to me, but find the historical aspect of the horse fascinating.

The Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971 mandated a portion of public lands in the United States for wild horses and burros to live wild and free. Congress declared that "wild horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West." The law was also implemented to protect "from capture, branding, harassment, or death" because ranchers and hunters were ruthlessly harvesting wild mustangs for economic gain such as selling them to slaughter houses. Velma B. Johnston, also known as Wild Horse Annie led a grassroots campaign to expose how wild horses and burros were being treated.

The act was later amended and allowed the use of helicopters and motorized vehicles for the purpose of "rounding up" and managing wild horses and burros on public lands. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) purports that it is necessary to manage wild horse herds in order to protect the rangelands that support them. The facts are that these round ups break up families, cause death and serious injuries each year. Therefore, wild horse advocates believe that we should allow the wild horse to self-regulate on public lands. If you are interested in this topic, I suggest that you do some research.

A few weeks ago, I felt compelled to visit Oregon's Wild Horse Corral Facility. I'm going to be honest and say that my first impression or feeling was 'concentration camp.' Two of my daughters were with me and felt the same way. Matter of fact, upon entering the facility, we all said at the same time, "This feels like a concentration camp." Freaky! The facility appeared clean except for the piles and piles of horse manure. There was plenty of dried alfalfa for the horses to eat, but the vibration from the horses was that of defeat, entrapment, and hopelessness. My lesson that day was when things appear ok on the outside but feel strange on the inside, there is a reason. Trust your instincts!

Wild horses are highly intelligent and intuitive. They are herd animals, able to adapt to harsh conditions and are led by a female horse, or mare and one stallion. They help each other survive and will blend herds when in extreme danger. The herd also takes care of their young, sick, injured, and disabled family members. They are a curious animal, playful, and love to run free. From my perspective, everything carries power and wisdom. To me, the horse teaches us about unconditional love, friendship, resilience, endurance, harmony, playfulness, cooperation, loyalty, bravery, and freedom.

This is not a political post to influence you one way or the other on the Wild Mustang Debate. Nor am I trying to rat out the BLM because most of my sources come from them. They encourage the public to attend round ups and come to their facilities. Their tactics and agenda is public for everyone to see. This is what concerns me. We often become so complacent in our lives that we become disillusioned and immune to what is really going on around us. I simply want to share my observation and convey a message from the wild mustangs.

As a child, my family moved from the vineyards of Northern California to Sparks, Nevada. We took our horses with us, and it was in Nevada where I fell in love with the desert. I will never forget the time when my father and I were riding in the Nevada foothills and came across a herd of wild mustangs. We had been riding down in a lush canyon for most of the day, then zig zagged our way up the steep canyon wall where we popped out on a high ridge.

Before we saw them, we heard a thunderous sound, and felt the ground shake beneath us. Then out of no where, these majestic beings roared past us with their manes flowing in the wind, creating a dust storm in their wake. While on this ridge, it appeared as though the herd vanished right off the edge of the earth. "No fear," I thought as I sat on my horse witnessing such POWER and FREEDOM. Tears rolled down my cheeks.

The horse is a strong, powerful, and spiritual animal that encourages us to listen to our intuition in order to find our true essence. The Spirit of Horse reminds us to let the winds of change cleanse us from the past so we can have the courage to move forward and head in new directions. Horse teaches us how to run like the wind, soaring through the air, allowing the soul to fly free. I had forgotten this message from horse and have been running away from my authentic self most of my life. Always trying to be something I'm not because it is more socially acceptable.

Seeing these wild mustangs locked up, tagged, and separated from their herd, with spirits broken triggered sadness within me. After the visit, I started asking myself some questions. I invite you to do the same. Where do I feel constrained or trapped in my life? What limitations are holding me back? Where can I be brave in my life and face my fears? How can I be more compassionate? How can I make a difference on this planet?

From my journey, I am learning to become an active observer. Rather than getting all worked up about something and reacting, I'm learning to surrender to what is. Taking things in. Contemplating. Allowing space to experience all of my emotions good or bad. It does not serve me to deny any aspect of myself. This keeps me in the present moment. A place of awareness. Once I face whatever I'm trying to hide, it no longer has control over me. 

Then I start to think about how I can change myself. Change my life. Be a better person. These captured mustangs are a reflection of us. If not adopted, these horses and burros will remain in captivity for the rest of their lives. If we were at peace with ourselves, living from a place of love rather than fear, we would not feel the desire to harm or entrap others, including ourselves. So let's start with ourselves and cultivate self-love for freedom comes from within. 

Set Yourself Free!


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