Rescuing an American Icon

July 3, 2009

I thought long and hard about writing this story. It’s been such a horrendously heartbreaking event (for many); I just didn’t think I could relive any part of it. However, it seems there is always some good that shines through a tragedy and my experience is no exception. To do the story justice, I have to start from the beginning.

In the spring of 2007, I photographed a magnificent tri-colored pinto stallion from the White Mountain Herd Management Area (HMA) near Rock Springs, Wyoming. I have photographed many, many wild horses, but this particular Mustang made more of an impression somehow. To me, he was the epitome of all the exceptional and unique qualities embodied in the wild horses. And for that reason, I vowed that if I ever found out he’d been rounded up, I’d do my best to save him.

El Mariachi in the wild - White Mountain HMA Wyoming

El Mariachi in the wild - White Mountain HMA Wyoming

El Mariachi and his band in the wild - March, 2007

El Mariachi and his band in the wild - March, 2007

El Mariachi in the wild, 2007.

El Mariachi in the wild, 2007.

In November of 2007, there was a BLM roundup of the White Mountain HMA. Six hundred horses were taken off their range and the magnificent pinto stallion I had photographed, and so admired, was one of them. He was no longer running free. Rounded up in the prime of his life, but too old for the adoption program which left him destined for – what? Long term sanctuary or possibly sold to a kill buyer under the “sale authority” provision? Now I needed to seriously think about the promise I’d made to myself…and to him.

El Mariachi at the Canon City, CO BLM holding facility

El Mariachi at the Canon City, CO BLM holding facility

El Mariachi at Canon City, CO facility in December, 2007

El Mariachi at Canon City, CO facility in December, 2007

His eyes and mine always seemed to meet.

His eyes and mine always seemed to meet.

At the BLM holding facility

At the BLM holding facility

I purchased El Mariachi (as I later learned he was named by artist Dwayne Tanner in one of his paintings) in January of 2008 and relocated him to a ranch in Nebraska where he was to live out his life running wild just as he had for all of his 11 years. That lasted just over a year before there were serious concerns and allegations made regarding the ranch and it became necessary to re-rescue my horse. If it can be called lucky, El Mariachi (and another Mustang we rescued at the same time) was one of the fortunate ones. He survived the ordeal. Since the case is currently in litigation, that’s all I’ll say about it other than I pray for justice for every horse and every person involved.

Dwayne Tanner's painting of El Mariachi

Dwayne Tanner's painting of El Mariachi

El Mariachi at 3-Strikes Ranch in June, 2008.

El Mariachi at 3-Strikes Ranch in June, 2008.

El Mariachi on 4-16-2009. These photos will always make me cry.

El Mariachi on 4-16-2009. These photos will always make me cry.

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Seeing El Mariachi in such emaciated condition took me to my knees. I was absolutely heartsick. I went back and forth between uncontrollable tears and utter rage. It was a terrible scene and what I witnessed there will haunt me forever.

Through the efforts of my ever supportive husband Tom and another gal, Amanda Davis (who helped Tom and I get the two wild horses loaded in our trailer), El Mariachi and Hope began their recovery on April 16th, 2009 under the very competent care of two veterinarians from Alliance, Nebraska. Drs. Jim and Tom Furman. I was amazed that they would even consider taking on two completely unhandled horses, but that was all part of the good stuff that was to come out of this terrible situation. These were awesome people who really went out of their way to help us through something we all viewed as incomprehensible. I’m very grateful to them.

After a week and a half at the Vet clinic, “Dr. Tom” offered his personal farm and care to continue the horse’s rehabilitation until I was able to find a suitable, permanent situation. Seems El Mariachi had worked his magic again – Dr. Tom had become quite taken with the big guy (he refers to El Mariachi as, “our boy”). With time and patience, he was actually able to touch El Mariachi gently on the nose. “It was awesome” he said. I could only imagine at first, but I got my chance later on.

El Mariachi and Hope at Dr. Tom's farm - 5-16-2009. One month into their recovery.

El Mariachi and Hope at Dr. Tom's farm - 5-16-2009. One month into their recovery.

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El Mariachi on 5-24-2009. Appx 5 weeks into recovery.

El Mariachi on 5-24-2009. Appx 5 weeks into recovery.

Me offering El Mariachi a flake of hay. 5-24-2009

Me offering El Mariachi a flake of hay. 5-24-2009

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After several hours of sitting with and feeding El Mariachi, he allowed me to touch him twice on the nose. A bittersweet moment for me. My hope for his complete freedom could never be...

After several hours of sitting with and feeding El Mariachi, he allowed me to touch him twice on the nose. A bittersweet moment for me. My hope for his complete freedom could never be...

Hope, El Mariachi and me. Taken 5-24-2009 by Dr. Jim Furman.

Hope, El Mariachi and me. Taken 5-24-2009 by Dr. Jim Furman.

Hope and El Mariachi. 5-24-2009.

Hope and El Mariachi. 5-24-2009.

Hope and El Mariachi. 5-24-2009.

Hope and El Mariachi. 5-24-2009.

El Mariachi on 5-25-2009. He has such kind eyes.

El Mariachi on 5-25-2009. He has such kind eyes.

I worried every day about where to place the horses. I was sick, sleepless – completely shell-shocked that the situation I’d placed my horse in had turned out the way it had. How was I ever going to find a safe place for these two wild horses? I had someone offer a place for them for which I was grateful, and I considered it, but my gut kept nagging at me that it wasn’t a perfect fit. I continued to pursue other options.

A friend of mine mentioned the name of a very well-known and highly respected wild horse advocate out of South Dakota. I knew the name and was certain she’d be a reliable source of information. My trust had been shattered, so having someone so well thought of to consult with was a real blessing. I contacted Karen Sussman and explained my situation. She was familiar with the case and said she thought she might know of someone who could help – she told me she’d be in touch. Those few days I spent waiting for her to get back to me were long, but, she didn’t disappoint. She had indeed found someone who could help and my new hero (how could I consider him as anything else?) took the horses sight unseen. I am forever grateful to Karen for her efforts in coordinating the horses’ placement with this big-hearted, very generous man. Michael Blake (author and screenplay writer of “Dances with Wolves”) offered to take the 2 horses and allow them to peacefully live out their lives on his very private, remote ranch at the base of the Rincon Mountains in southern Arizona. I could not believe it! What an incredible outcome for these two survivors. My gut no longer nagged at me and the decision was made. The horses would be transported to Arizona.

Loading the horses for the trip to Arizona - 5-26-2009.

Loading the horses for the trip to Arizona - 5-26-2009.

The horses arrived at Michael’s ranch on May 27th, 2009. He’s been so kind keeping me informed of their improving conditions and the entire goings on as they adjust to their new life in the safety of his care. And he was gracious enough to let me know that I could call anytime or come visit the horses whenever I wanted. So, I took him up on it! My Mom, Tom and I went down to Arizona on June 26th, 2009 to visit El Mariachi and Hope and to meet Michael so I could personally thank him for the gift he had given me and the horses.

Michael himself had rescued a BLM stallion that had been captured after running free for 20 years. He named the horse Twelve and he has a very touching memoir of their time together entitled, “Twelve The King.” He also rescued a Mustang mare named Samantha as a companion for Twelve (who lived to be almost 40 years old!) who is now in her mid 20’s. Other ranch residents are Tomas, a big, bay 3 year-old gelding that Michael rescued after Tomas had been starved and Little Boy, Michael’s retired riding horse. Rounding out the animal family are three dogs, a cat and a raven. Obviously, Michael is an animal lover. He sees himself as a caretaker, not an “owner” and I admire that. It’s the same way I feel about my relationship with El Mariachi.

Michael is just what I expected after speaking with him on the phone several times; kind, generous, interesting, passionate about his beliefs and very real. But let me tell you how surreal it felt at one point to be chatting away so comfortably and then to realize, hey, this is a man who stood at the podium at the Academy Awards – the recipient of an Oscar for his masterful creation, “Dances with Wolves.” Unbelievable. I think about just how much good stuff transpired to get the horses to this new place and person in their lives – our lives. I finally begin to believe there are better times ahead. The horses are safe and I’m no longer immobilized with fear and worry about their futures. Michael, and ALL the people who played a part along the way have given me more than they’ll ever realize. I don’t even know how to begin to thank everyone, but know that I do. I’ll never forget the kindness and generosity that was shown to me and these beautiful, beautiful horses. Never.

Mom (who is battling cancer) watches the horses eat. This is before their release. They're very comfortable in the stall and run area. The stall has a fan overhead that they seem to really appreciate.

Mom (who is battling cancer) watches the horses eat. This is before their release. They're very comfortable in the stall and run area. The stall has a fan overhead that they seem to really appreciate.

Both horses continue to fill out nicely. Michael is doing a beautiful job with their rehabilitation. They're now in the outdoor arena, just before we open the gate to the rest of the property. It was so nice of Michael to wait until we could be there to witness their first time out.

Both horses continue to fill out nicely. Michael is doing a beautiful job with their rehabilitation. They're now in the outdoor arena, just before we open the gate to the rest of the property. It was so nice of Michael to wait until we could be there to witness their first time out.

These two are so close. They've been together about a year and a half now. Hope is very skittish still while El Mariachi continues to be so solidly sensible and calm. He's an amazing boy.

These two are so close. They've been together about a year and a half now. Hope is still pretty skittish while El Mariachi continues to be sensible and calm. He's an amazing boy.

Taking care of each others itchies.

Taking care of each others itchies.

Samantha, Michael's Mustang mare is still the boss and gives young Tomas a bit of a reminder that she's still got it.

Samantha, Michael's Mustang mare is still the boss and gives young Tomas a bit of a reminder that she's still got it.

Mom toughed out the flight and the Arizona heat to see El Mariachi. She just loves that horse. I'm grateful to Mom for her support and the help she gave us covering some of the horse's medical expenses. Most of the cost of our trip to see the horses was her birthday present to me. She knew just what I wanted! We found ourselves sitting on the bench a few times (as it faces the horse's stall area) just to watch Hope and El Mariachi eat. They'll never be hungry again!

Mom toughed out the flight and the Arizona heat to see El Mariachi. She just loves that horse. I'm grateful to Mom for her support and the help she gave us covering some of the horse's medical expenses. Most of the cost of our trip to see the horses was her birthday present to me. She knew just what I wanted! We found ourselves sitting on the bench a few times (as it faces the horse's stall area) just to watch Hope and El Mariachi eat. They'll never be hungry again!

While Mom and I enjoyed the horses, Tom did what he always does - went about helping out where he could. Poop removal is a constant chore on a horse ranch! Thanks Tommy.

While Mom and I enjoyed the horses, Tom did what he always does - went about helping out where he could. Poop removal is a constant chore on a horse ranch! Thanks Tommy.

Michael and Tomas. I really like this picture of both of them.

Michael and Tomas. I really like this picture of both of them.

The horses head out to explore the rest of the ranch for the first time with Tomas (who has a crush on Hope) following closely behind.

The horses head out to explore the rest of the ranch with Tomas (who has a crush on Hope) following closely behind.

Checking each other out - no drama. They were just fine.

Checking each other out - no drama. They were just fine.

It was strange how the horse's went right down to where Twelve is buried. El Mariachi is standing in front of the metal horse that bears the numbers 1202 (Twelve's BLM hip brand number).

It was strange how the horse's went right down to where Twelve is buried. El Mariachi is standing in front of the metal horse that bears the numbers 1202 (Twelve's BLM hip brand number).

Hope munches away at what I believe are Mesquite leaves - Twelve's gravesite.

Hope at Twelve's gravesite.

Enjoying a bite together.

Enjoying a bite together.

Hope and El Mariachi.

Hope and El Mariachi.

Hope, El Mariachi and Tomas.

Hope, El Mariachi and Tomas.

Hope watches Tomas make a spectacle of himself as he runs around the property trying to impress her. Actually, he must have because she did run off with Tomas for a bit before El Mariachi decided to go collect her.

Hope watches Tomas make a spectacle of himself as he runs around the property trying to impress her. Actually, he must have because she did run off with Tomas for a bit before El Mariachi decided to go collect her.

Well, Hope does seem to fancy the good looking boys. This is Tomas.

Well, Hope does seem to fancy the good looking boys. This is Tomas.

Heading calmly down to the creek area to collect Hope from her playtime with Tomas.

Heading calmly down to the creek area to collect Hope from her playtime with Tomas.

Looking for Hope.

Looking for Hope.

El Mariachi scolded Hope (very gently) and in this photo, she appears very apologetic for having run off.

El Mariachi scolded Hope (very gently) and in this photo, she appears very apologetic for having run off.

Michael puts the little instigator away for the day.

Michael puts the little instigator away for the day.

El Mariachi and Hope come in on their own for the comfort of the fan and something to eat.

El Mariachi and Hope come in on their own for the comfort of the fan and something to eat.

Mom enjoys a real treat by being able to get up close to El Mariachi. People have told me that El Mariachi (who was so elusive in the wild, I could never get very close to him) displays a certain amount of gratitude by allowing himself to be more approachable. He's still wary and will never be asked to more than what he is - a wild horse - but, it's good to know that there a certain few that he will learn to trust. He'll be able to relax and enjoy the rest of his days in as much carefree freedom as possible given he'll never be completely wild again. It's the best we can do when we take wild horses off their range. I believe El Mariachi and Hope will have a wonderful life in their new home.

Mom enjoys a real treat by being able to get up close to El Mariachi. People have told me that El Mariachi (who was so elusive in the wild, I could never get very close to him) displays a certain amount of gratitude by allowing himself to be more approachable. He's still wary and will never be asked to be more than what he is - a wild horse - but, it's good to know that there are a certain few that he will learn to trust. He'll be able to relax and enjoy the rest of his days in as much carefree freedom as possible given he'll never be completely wild again. It's the best we can do when we take wild horses off their range. I believe El Mariachi and Hope will have a wonderful life in their new home.

Obviously, this story doesn’t have an end, so I will be doing periodic updates as I get opportunities to visit the horses and Michael. It’s just so gratifying to know that the horses are recovering and will have a quality life despite what they’ve been through. I know that the next time I see them, they’ll be back at optimum weight.

In the meantime, I feel a certain responsibility to try to get people thinking about what happened to these two horses and why. The wild horses need to be better understood and managed as do the “sanctuaries” in which they are sometimes placed. This incident should never be forgotten and I can only hope for positive changes as a result of the many horses that suffered and died. Something just has to change.

El Mariachi is smart, strong, put together well and possesses a proud, yet gentle spirit. He has every quality I would look for in a horse companion. And there’s an added bonus that many Mustang owners enjoy of a bond of trust unmatched when the horses are handled correctly and patiently. We could learn alot from the wild horses, if we’d only give them the opportunity and time. They do require patience. I can’t think of a better trait to embrace though – it would benefit not only ourselves, but the people we encounter in our daily lives. I will just never understand why the wild horses are not used, appreciated and PROTECTED more as the gifts they truly are.

Important note: Before I purchased El Mariachi, that beautiful horse belonged to each and every one of you. All of the BLM managed Mustangs belong to you. Many people don’t even realize this, but the wild horses belong to the PUBLIC. You. Their futures are in your hands as well. If you ever have an opportunity to view a wild horse in its natural surroundings, I guarantee that you’ll be changed forever, and maybe you’ll begin to understand why many people work so hard to preserve them. Hopefully, you’ll become involved in the wild horse protection efforts yourself. There are so few wild herds remaining, it’s imperative that people act NOW. The wild horses are magical, spiritual creatures and they absolutely deserve their place on our Earth.

(Many thanks to all of you that took the time to read this story. Please feel free to share the story via the link: https://nickolesphotography.wordpress.com/2009/07/03/rescuing-an-american-icon/. The more exposure to the situation facing our wild horses, the brighter the hope for their continued survival).

Related stories and updates on El Mariachi and Hope:

https://nickolesphotography.wordpress.com/2009/08/26/el-mariachis-thunder-road/

https://nickolesphotography.wordpress.com/2009/11/08/el-mariachi-and-hope-update/

https://nickolesphotography.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/photo-of-the-week-12010/

https://nickolesphotography.wordpress.com/2010/03/05/mustang-compassion/

https://nickolesphotography.wordpress.com/2010/04/05/el-mariachi-and-hope-springtime-in-arizona/

https://nickolesphotography.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/photo-of-the-week-22311/

https://nickolesphotography.wordpress.com/2011/03/07/el-mariachi-hope-february-2011-part-1/

https://nickolesphotography.wordpress.com/2011/03/13/el-mariachi-hope-february-2011-part-2/

https://nickolesphotography.wordpress.com/2011/03/25/el-mariachi-hope-february-2011-part-3/

The Passing of an American Icon: https://nickolesphotography.wordpress.com/2013/07/23/the-passing-of-an-american-icon-2/

El Mariachi’s Gift: https://nickolesphotography.wordpress.com/2014/08/03/el-mariachis-gift/

139 Responses to “Rescuing an American Icon”

  1. Billie Says:

    Wow Pam, what a powerful story. I am glad that you were able to finally write it. It helps so much with your healing process. I too hope that people will become more aware of the plight of the wild horses. Keep up the good work and I can’t wait to hear updates on El Mariachi and Hope.
    How wonderful that your mother got to go and see him too! Hope she is feeling better these days and good luck to her.

  2. Dale Says:

    Hi Pam,

    This is a heart felt story, hopefully readers will get the severity of the plight the wild inhabitants of the west are enduring.

    Dr. Dale L. Andersson
    Montgomery, TX

  3. Sherri Halligan Says:

    Thank you for the story. I’ve so worried about El Mariachi and what had happened to him. I know you will always be heartsick over the situation in NE. It is beyond me how anyone could let animals get that way. Thank God you got him out and placed in a wonderful new home. Thank God for people that helped you help the horses.

  4. Bev Pettit Says:

    Oh Pam, your story brought tears to my eyes. But I am so very happy to know that Mariachi (and Hope) survived such an horrific ordeal. I was sure praying for him, knowing he was out there somewhere. He looks so happy now in his new home. Thank you for sharing your story. All the best to you and Mariachi. He is so lucky to have you.

  5. Carien Says:

    Pam, thanks for the update. You have often been on my thoughts. Mariachi looks happy!

  6. TJ Says:

    Tears of joy this time! I just read your post after returning from my latest visit with my own wild ones – perfect. Perfect. 🙂 Can’t wait to read all the future chapters of their lives!
    TJ

  7. Vicki Freiberger Says:

    Pam, thank you so much for the updates on El Mariachi and Hope. They are sure looking good! And Pam, your mom looks wonderful. I’m so glad you were all able to make the trip. The pictures, as usual, are phenomenal! God Bless You All.

  8. Dr. Bill and Pat Rice Says:

    O.K., Dear Heart . . . you have captured all of the moments . . . more peaks than the tragic valleys! We have been right there with you at each step, and so sorry to have missed you and Tom in mid-May. As one of our ‘daughters’, your activities are truly part of our lives – could we see it coming as you bonded with Coco around the Saddle Club’s arena at Fort Bliss? We have all been privileged to share a sizeable chunk of our lives, and we’re not done Yet! Thank you for this major work of an awaited update and know that your readers and photo-art lovers are soaking it all up and will be looking for the ‘rest of the story’! Our Love and Prayers for You and All . . . Bill and Pat

  9. Angie Rubenstein Says:

    This story, the photos….very moving (I’m teary eyed)! El Mariachi and Hope are incredibly strong willed and beautiful….and so are you with your love for the Mustangs and all you do for them!

  10. pnickoles Says:

    To all of you with your wonderful comments – thank you. I’m grateful the story has moved you. It was emotionally draining to write, but as mentioned above, probably very therapeutic for me. I was lucky to be led by people, to people that were willing and able to help. It restored my faith to see how it all came together. It’s been an amazing journey so far…

  11. Deborah Williams Says:

    Pam, My sister Cathy works for your Mom and has kept me updated on this incredible story. My husband and I lived in Alliance for 7 years and have recently moved back to Colorado. Dr. Tom and Jim were our vets for our beloved dachsunds, Molly and Willy. They are truly loving and caring people, and I am so touched to see them involved in this tremendous effort. And to you, your Mom, and everyone else involved….God Bless you and your tenacity in saving these wonderful animals. Please keep me in the “loop” on future updates. This has touched my heart and soul!!

  12. pnickoles Says:

    Deborah – nice to hear from you. Your sister has been a wonderful part of our lives since I was a little girl. She’s a great person. Well, and the Dr’s Furman – they’re terrific as well. Thanks for your nice comments and I’ll be sure to keep you informed on future updates.


  13. […] El Mariachi’s story […]

  14. Mary & Dusty Says:

    Fantastic job Pam! Thank you so much for sharing – it was YOUR story to tell and though it had to be so difficult, you found the strength. So important on so many levels for the wild horses for us to hear El Mariachi’s story. Continued joy in his and Hope’s recovery and happiness in the many years to follow with your handsome boy!

  15. water_bearer Says:

    Thank you for the update on El Mariachi and Hope. I’m so relieved to see them out of harm’s way and recovering nicely. To many more years of health and happiness for you, your mother, and the horses.

  16. Michelle Says:

    Dear Pam,

    Thank you so very much for writing this story and sharing the updates on El Mariachi and Hope. I followed the horrific nightmare in NE, and when I saw the pictures you took of these two horses when they first arrived at the ranch and then compared them with how they were found, my heart was broken…

    I have been wondering how they were doing, and it does my heart a LOT of good to know they are now in the loving and capable hands of someone who cares…

    All the Best…God Bless you and your mother too.

  17. pnickoles Says:

    Water_Bearer – Thank you for your kind comments and wishes. I appreciate them very much.

    Michelle – so many hearts were broken over the ordeal in Nebraska. I’m glad this story can give you a bit of relief from the pain and thank you for your comments.

  18. pnickoles Says:

    Mary and Dusty – thanks for writing. There were many good people this ordeal brought into my life. You were so gracious – you allowed a basic stranger to cry on your shoulder as I tried to deal with this unthinkable situation. Thank you for that. I’m even more grateful that we’re strangers no more! 🙂

  19. Lynn Bauer Says:

    Pam –
    We’ve been waiting and hoping for some good news to finally arrive for El Mariachi! We hope only the best for you and your family (and a special prayer for your Mom!) May only good things come your way and for all the people who helped out: you are VERY, VERY special!! Thanks for everything you did, are doing and will continue to do for these incredible, beautiful souls!

  20. pnickoles Says:

    Hi Lynn,

    Thank you for the prayers (especially for Mom) and your good thoughts. I certainly couldn’t have done for these horses what I was able to if there hadn’t been the people that stepped up to help me. So many people to thank – such an incredible collective effort on behalf of all of the horses involved. And, for the folks so persistent in getting the situation exposed and the rescuers that followed – bless them as well. I’m just so grateful that it’s good news I can share with you and everyone else about El Mariachi and Hope.

  21. Anne & Jack Chism Says:

    Pam,
    When we were out walking the dogs the other day, we saw Tom and asked him about E.M. and the situation. Tom said that you were in at that moment blogging and I’m so happy to see that things have turned out happily. We’re so lucky to have you to chronicle in beautiful words and pictures the story of both “your” horses and all the other Mustangs that “belong” to us, the public. They deserve a lot better than what they get in a lot of cases, but it’s surely a happy ending for E.M. and Hope. Thanks for sharing!


  22. Dear Pam and family,
    Everyday i look at the magnificent photograph i got from you, facing my bed, I see and feel the majesty in El Mariachi’s spirit. This country in its greed took that away, and you twice now, have given it back to him.
    For a while it saddened me to look at him. Once again i can sigh, adore his beauty and know that he is free in a safe place. There is nothing like the dignity when you first saw him in his HOME, but you saved his life. If we can only stop this travesty from continuing.
    Pam, you are the Hero in El Mariachi’s life, and a beautiful example to all of us. Know that. Sincerely, Mary Ann

  23. Jodi Says:

    Thanks Pam, beautiful story. We have 10 horses from the Nebraska equine concentration camp, All of which are recovering quite nicely as well. Thanks for the contact to Michael Blake, we are so looking forward to meeting him at our Open House on July 24th in Littleton Colorado. Michael seems to be a kind, gentle man, I am anxious to read his book Twelve The King. Continued success with your horses, writings and photography, you are a talented artist.

  24. Barb Beck Says:

    This is heart wrenching and heart warming at the same time, and wonderful. Thank you. Asking permission to post to my blog.

  25. Careen Cain Says:

    Pam, I am so thankful for this marvelous update on El Mariachi and Hope. I was very aware of their horrible ordeal early on and am thankful you were able to locate a wonderful life long placement for them. I know you have been living in a nightmare over this. Bless you for doing all you could for these two horses to insure their safety. They are so deserving.

    Careen Cain
    Shooting Star Stables and Equine Rescue, Inc ‘
    KS


  26. A beautiful story with a happy outcome. Is El Mariachi still a stallion or has he been gelded? So many of the genes have been lost that the gene pool is very low for our wild horses now.
    For lots of excellent information please vsit http://www.americanherds.blogspot.com/ Our wild horses are being wiped out. Less than 75% are no longer genetically viable and sustainable and only about 13,000 are still running free. Now ALL returned mares are going to be given 2 year PZP. This is the new policy as of July 1.

  27. Roni Says:

    Dear Pam,

    I have so often wondered how your horses were doing at the 3 Strikes Ranch in NE. I had a nagging feeling for some reason which I now understand, in retrospect, of course. I’m so happy to hear the EM and Hope were left among the survivors, and that they have a forever home in gorgeous Arizona with a wonderful caretaker! Please keep us posted. My very best wishes to your Mom, also. Derek just sold his “best” mountain/trail mustang and I pray often he found a great home. We are hoping to go to the BLM sale in Riverton this summer. Best Regards, Roni Kelley

  28. pnickoles Says:

    Anne – dogs? (plural). A new addition then. Congratulations. Another lucky dog. Thanks for your nice comments about the horses.

    Mary Ann – you’ve always been so supportive. I know how much you admire El Mariachi. I’m so glad that he and Hope will recover and have such a great place to live. Thanks for all your wonderful efforts on behalf of the horses as well with your incredible musical talents. (http://www.maryannkennedy.com)

    Jodi – I’ll be visiting your facility soon to meet your Mustang survivors and Amanda’s. I can’t wait for the the event on the 24th. I’m so glad it all worked out. Thanks for your nice comments.

    Barb, Careen and Barb – I know I e-mailed you all directly, but I also want to thank you here for all the work you do for the horses.

    Roni – I will keep you posted. Thanks for writing, the wishes for Mom and I hope you’re doing well. Please let me know how the Riverton sale goes. I hope many horses find wonderful homes.

  29. Toni Sinka-Weimer Says:

    Hi Pam, My heart fell to the floor with the sight of EM’s ribs…I still am in horrific awe of how anyone could allow that to happen. Your beautiful captive photo’s of him exude the magic and spirit of freedom! I think he is the most magnificant horse I have ever laid eyes on! I am so glad you have this blog and continue to update me and all the other EM followers! Blessings to you and all who DO make a difference! Your neighbor down the way…T

  30. R.T. Fitch Says:

    Thanks Pam…that is a well documented, true, real life drama that all should read.

    Keep us informed with updates.

    R.T.

  31. pnickoles Says:

    Hi Toni – thanks for you comments. I share your feelings upon seeing El Mariachi in that condition. He gets healthier by the day though – they both do. I can’t wait to share my next update with even more positive changes. 🙂

  32. pnickoles Says:

    R.T. – thank you for your comments. I see you’re on the board at HfH. Please give Jerry my best. And I also noticed that you have a book of your own – “Straight from the Horse’s Heart.” I will have to order a copy. I will keep you updated. I hope to get back to see the horses this Fall.


  33. Just arrived back into Atlanta from Wyoming and Montana visits with the Pryor and McCullough herds. I had an amazing, life changing time with my first introductions to wild horses. I am so thankful that your story has had a good ending. I wish it could be so for all of these majestic horses. I am so glad I found you from your wonderful photography. Hopefully the photos I have taken will inspire paintings that will bring more public notice and action for the benefit of our wild horses. Your story is moving and will serve as motivation to others. Thank you for sharing this story and yourself. HUGS, laurie

  34. pnickoles Says:

    Hi Laurie – I’m so glad you had a good experience. Matt told me you’d made it to the Pryors. I warned you the wild horses would change you…I wish more people would go see them for themselves. We need more folks working on their behalf. At least we now have one more. 🙂 Thanks so much Laurie. I look forward to seeing your paintings!

  35. Lynn Bauer Says:

    Pam –
    I’d like to find out more info. on the post earlier by Barbara Warner (post #26); specifically, anything on the source of her statement about …”all returned mares are going to be given 2-year PZP. This is the new policy as of July 1.” Can you help? I haven’t been able to find anythin. I’m only trying to back-check so I can locate the exact document(s) that say this. A mutual friend is VERY interested…

    Many thanks and prayers (as always) for your family, E.M. and Hope!
    Lynn Bauer

  36. Sonya Says:

    I’m so glad you wrote it Pam. I’m so sorry, I can feel what you must have felt… but I’m so happy and relieved there is a happy ending. Thank you for sharing!

    I wish you could keep him with YOU! Is that a possibility?

    I found a steel-grey mustang mare I want to adopt, with a sorrel foal by her side. I’m calling about her today. I tell you what, I almost jumped on her bareback and rode her right out of the holding corral!!!

  37. Jill Fleming Says:

    I’m so glad that things have worked out for El Mariachi and Hope!

    You’ve been in my thoughts & prayers since I heard about the ordeal in Nebraska! It looks like they are recovering nicely and have a very loving home in AZ.

    Thank you for sharing your story – those horses are so lucky to have you as their guardian!
    ~Jill

  38. pnickoles Says:

    Sonya – thanks for your note. Let me know if you end up taking some Mustangs home! I know they’d have a great life with you! Oh, and send pictures too. 🙂

    Hi Jill – nice to hear from you. Thanks so much for your comments. I’m so relieved things worked out for those two horses. They’ve both been through alot. I’m hoping it just gets better for them from here on out – which I’m sure it will. Hope you’re doing well.


  39. July 15th, 2009

    Victoria Barr, Field Manager
    Caliente Field Office, P.O. Box 237, Caliente, NV 89008-0237
    Re: 4720 (NVL03000) Attn: Ben Noyes, WH & B Spec. Schell F.O. T. (775) 289-1836
    & Re: DOI-BLM-NV-L030-2009-0037-EA

    Dear Ms. Barr:
    Thank you for sending your letter and E.A. on June 11 in which you inform of BLM’s plan to eliminate all of the so-called overpopulated 270 wild horses remaining in the 9 herd areas of the Caliente Complex. I have gone over this document and recognize that it is targeting wild horses for elimination in a very bias manner, all the while abrogating BLM’s duty to fend for the legal and natural rights of these returned North American native species in their 1971 legal herd areas. I had sent an earlier letter of protest on this and including the Seaman and White River HAs’ planned wild horse eliminations to Mr. Ruhs at the Ely BLM Office. Though your team concludes that there is an overpopu-lation of wild horses in these 9 herd areas, this is not at all objective due to the fact that the 270 remaining wild horses have a legal right to live here on 911,892 acres. This translates to 3,377 legal acres for every remaining wild horse! On the face of it, this claim clearly represents a bias view and reveals BLM’s negative predisposition toward these horses and their freedom. I implore you to reconsider this very unjust decision to eliminate these very under-populated herds of wild horses and to leave them alone and let them fill their niche as the Wild Horse Act requires you do, rather than continuing to be in cahoots with the wild horses’ worst enemies.

    The following are my specific comments to the Caliente Complex Gather Preliminary E.A., a very tendentious document that ignores so much that is positive about the wild horses (I give the section number to which each comment applies):
    1.0: Though you ignore this, eliminating the wild horse herds itself constitutes a significant negative action affecting both the wild horse containing ecosystem and the wild horse appreciate public – the majority of Americans!
    1.1: 1st Parag.: Arbitrary definition of “excess”; 2nd Par.: Extremely unfair and arbitrary! What about cattle present? Map 1: What good is this map going to be to me now that it appears there will be absolutely no wild horses left in it?! Table 1 listing AMLs of Zero (0) for all 9 herds. This zeroing out is brazenly contrary to several national laws.
    3rd Par.: How do you define “nuisance”? This seems discriminatory and reveals your inherently negative attitude. 4th Para.: Arbitrary statements designed to build a case against the wild horses. 5th Para.: Zeroing out reveals your extreme bias against the horses and their freedom. In other words, you already have your agenda, your target, and you ignore all that is positive about them.
    1.2: 1st Par.: Bias arbitrary statement. 2nd Par.: Fails to address domestic livestock and their effects upon the ecosystem. This is a coverup and a scapegoating of the wild horses!
    1.3: Ely ROD and RMP to remove all wild horses is extreme and must be cancelled. It is based on bias and totally unfair to the wild horses!
    1.4: Clearly there is a contradiction here as far as “Conformance with BLM Land Use Plan(s)”. Your decision to zero out a really under-populated wild horse population is entirely contrary to both the stated Goal and also Objective, i.e. “maintain wild horse herds …” It is clear you are totally abandoning your duty to provide for and defend these horses’ rights to live here as the “principal” presences as states the Wild Horse Act.
    Action WH-5: This reveals your extreme bias to totally do away with the free roaming horses!
    1.5: re: 43 CFR 4710.3-1; 43 CFR 4720.1; & 43 CFR 4710.4: This is a clear ploy of yours designed to eliminate the wild horses that abandons the true intent of the Wild Horse Act and several other acts, including the Multiple Use Act, the Heritage Act and NEPA. It represents a very twisted interpretation of these statutes.
    1.6: Environmental Justice is clearly an issue here, though you claim it is not, for you are being very unfair toward both the wild horses and their many public supporters. We, the latter, are being entirely ignored, our rights crumpled.
    Re: Grazing Uses/Forage: You say forage conditions will be improved for livestock. This clearly shows the main reason you are zeroing out the wild horses: you are caving in to the clamoring demands of the public lands livestock grazers, traditional enemies of the wild horses and their freedom and the main reason for the passage of the Wild Horse Act.
    Where is your integrity and your fair representation of all values, presences, uses?!
    Re: Wetlands/Riparian Zones: Look at livestock not wild horses, if you want to find the true reason for the decline of these zones; and be sure to look at the fences illegally impeding the free-roaming lifestyle of the wild horses within their original legal herd areas. Vegetative Resources: Your statement that removing wild horses would improve the vegetation is unfair. You obviously have your own idea of what vegetation should or should not be allowed to live. For a legal wild horse herd area this would be a different combination of species than for an area for livestock or one for big game animals. It is clear you are favoring the latter over the wild horses and — all this – contrary to the law and oblivious of the fact that livestock and/or big game already monopolize the public lands. It is clear you are shirking your duty as wild horse protectors and not being at all objective and fair minded. This is a disgrace to America! … You overlook how wild horses complement many native species and help build humus-rich soils, widely disperse the seeds of many native plants, aid other animals’ access to food and water both in winter & summer, and, in general, when not overly fenced (as the law requires) disperse their grazing pressure over vast areas so as not to overgraze any one area (part of horses’ natural herding instinct). … You overlook horses’ custom not to linger on riparian zones, unlike cattle, which make a holy mess of these areas. Very dishonorable and dishonest is your continuing to scapegoat the wild horses!
    2.3 Alternative B – No Action: This alternative should be adopted since there is a clear under-population of wild horses in these 9 herd areas. Your claims of 18-22% growth rate appear to be exaggeration. Are you accounting for all mortality factors? And to limit your analysis of the situation just to what you have presented ignores what you could and should be doing to allow the wild horse populations to self stabilize as through the conscientious employment of Reserve Design incorporating both natural and artificial barriers, restoration of natural horse predators, such as puma and wolf, and the allowance of natural band social structure by which elder horses inhibit reproduction in younger horses. This stabilizing tendency is entirely destroyed by your frequent draconian helicopter roundups. You are not letting the wild horses adapt and come to terms with their ecosystem, but rather you are victimizing them!
    2.0: It is very wrong that you are not considering any other alternatives, for there are many possible ways that do exist that would allow you to have fair viable numbers of wild horses, self stabilizing and in harmony with the wild-horse-containing ecosystem. But because of your negative predisposition, you are obstinately ignoring these! If persisting, this should be subject to legal denouncement and rectification.
    3.2.1.1: The Ely RMP (8/2008) takes a very non-objective, bias view of the wild horses. You terse comments concerning habitat requirements shows how you are going out of your way to eliminate the wild horses rather than doing your duty to see that they have adequate resources for long-term viability. … 270 is in reality a very low under-population of wild horses; and this number should be allowed to make a comeback within its vast and largely empty horse niche here.
    3.2.1.2: I see here your clever strategy to make it seem like the truly legal Wild Horse Herd Areas musts be empty of wild horses, places of cancelled-out status for these animals. This is all very perverse and contrary to the Wild Horse Act’s true intent! … Again your claim of “current overpopulation” is false! This is an arbitrary designation of yours. Objectively, the wild horses are very under-populated for the vast legal area here, where they have legal and natural right to live!
    Your discussion of Rangeland Health Standards and monitoring are all very convenient to your anti-wild horse agenda. I discern that you are setting up the wild horses. Throughout your entire assessment I detect a bias tone toward the wild horses and their legal and natural place on the public lands. You do not address the possibilities of exercising your right of Closure to Livestock in order to protect the wild horses in the wild. This is in CFR 4710.5 & .6. Also you fail to consider the need to deconstruct fences that are hampering the natural movement patterns of the wild horses and depriving them of access to water. Another major point is that you are not using your position as federal authorities to negotiate for fair provision of and access to water for viable populations of wild horses on the public lands. This you could do because livestock grazing is a cancelable privilege on the public lands whereas the wild horses have a legal right to occupy their 1971 Herd Areas (see CFR 4710.5 & .6 as above). If ranchers insist on denying the wild horses water where it is imperative for their survival, then you the federal authorities could cancel their grazing privileges. The key point here is the difference between privilege and right, and you are entirely failing to use this to the wild horses’ advantage and for the sake of fair proportions of resource usage among a greater variety of species, including this returned North American native: the horse!
    Impacts of Alternative B—No Action Alternative: I favor this alternative: No Action. 1st Para: You are now claiming 20-25% rates of increase for the wild horses whereas in section 2.3 you stated 18-22%. Your tendency to exaggerate and over-magnify all aspects of the wild horses’ impacts have become clear. Also, what do you expect when the population has been brought unnaturally low for its vacant niche by the wholesale helicopter roundups you authorize. These draconian roundups break up the family units thus destabilizing intrinsic population controls, of which the wild horses as an ecological climax species are entirely capable. 2nd Para: You fail to recognize how stable wild horse bands repress reproduction in young horses. Bottom page: You fail to recognize how the horse is a native to North America and persist in an antiquated view that ignores so many fossil and genetic findings and studies (see Wild Horses as Native North American Wildlife by Jay F. Kirkpatrick, Ph.D. & Patricia M. Fazio, Ph.D. statement presented before Congress in 2009 in support of ROAM bill HR 1018). … The whole scenario you paint is all very tendentious and designed to skewer the wild horses, again revealing your negative predisposition toward them.
    3.2.2.2: Proposed Action: No, by removing the wild horses you will impede the naturally harmonizing process by which the wilderness life community here is realizing a balanced and thriving relationship between and among all the species, including the returned native wild horses. No Action Alternative: Again your very negative view discounts natural stabilization of wild horse numbers that could occur with proper Reserve Design, natural and artificial barriers, and a complete ecosystem, including reestablished predators. In your exaggerated claims about wild horse impacts you ignore how the wild horses enhance the ecosystem, contributing in many positive ways through soil building, seeding, and that they do not camp on riparian areas as do livestock. What a misleading and negatively tainted view of the wild horses you are presenting!
    3.2.3.1 (bottom): You fail to recognize how the horse seeks out very widespread water sources through olfaction and how they help develop these water sources through pawing and through their wallows especially in clay-containing areas. You ignore how they do not linger at water sources as do cattle. Again, you distort the true picture! Last paragraph is very tendentious and unfair!
    3.2.3.2 Environmental Effects, 1st para: This is a distortion of the true situation, clearly aimed at justifying wild horse elimination. This entirely fails to mention the effects of livestock, both past and present. And it is clear from the documents you have recently sent me that you are planning on handing over the resources of these legal wild horse herd areas to the livestock grazers. This is blatant defiance of the Wild Horse Act!
    No Action Alternative: This is an extremely lopsided and exaggerated projection that fails to recognize how with proper Reserve Design and adequate space, a self-stabilizing wild horse population could be achieved. The main problem is that you do not care to realize this because you fail to value the wild horses in the wild. …Last Para: This is totally wrong, since horses help enrich the soils by building their humus content through their droppings. What a blind and misleading statement of yours, negatively motivated!
    3.2.4.2: Proposed Action: Removal of wild horses will set back the benign natural process by which the entire ecosystem, including the returned native wild horses are achieving harmony in their interrelationships and stabilized populations. Obviously you are going out of your way to target the wild horses for discrediting and elimination. This is all contrary to your duty under the law. Last Para: All very rosy. Aren’t you just perfect?! No Action Alternative: Here you just view wild horses as negative – period! This reveals your extreme prejudice and blindness toward them, particularly when living as millions of years of evolution upon North America has prepared them, not as slaves!
    3.2.5.2: Here you mention that certain wild horse Herd Areas such as Meadow Valley Wash and Clover Creek are relatively weed free. This is contrary to your earlier statement that wild horses cause weeds! Again your prejudice and tendentiousness is proven! … No Action Alternative: A negative view, discounts wild horses’ positive contribution to the ecosystem.
    4.1: What are the cumulative impacts of total wild horse removal and the destruction of all the positive symbiotic relationships between the horses and all components of the ecosystem they occupy?! Clearly you ignore this!
    4.2.1, Past Actions: So after greatly reducing wild horse occupied areas, that is the original 1971 Herd Areas, to establish the Herd Management Areas, now you plan to proceed with the total elimination of the wild horses in these 9 legal wild horse HMAs! How grossly unfair and unjust, to the extreme! Clearly your abrogation is revealed!
    4.2.2, Present Actions: 1st Para: 270 wild horses is a tiny population for such a vast legal areas. This is no overpopulation, as you state, but an under-population. You are being entirely non-objective. 2nd Para: I see you first plan to eliminate the wild horses before you have even finished your “assessment for conformance with Rangeland Health Standards … for the Caliente Complex associated livestock grazing allotments”. This is proof you are accommodating livestock interests to an extreme degree even on the legal wild horse Herd Areas by this planned wild horses elimination. I suspect you are also doing the same in many areas for certain big game species. Again, you are abrogating your responsibility toward the wild horses!
    The Caliente Complex of wild horse Herd Area is very under-populated with wild horses, no matter how many times you mislead the public on this point. Don’t you realize that the 9 Herd Areas you propose to zero out contain 911,892 legal acres and that this translates into 3,377 legal acres for every presently remaining wild horse?! It is obvious you are negatively targeting the wild horses for elimination and ignoring all that is positive about them (see my letter to John F. Ruhs, BLM Ely District Manager, 6/27/09).
    4.3: 1st para: What an ignorant and bias statement that ignores wild horses as returned native wildlife along with their many positive contributions to the ecosystem. You do not give them a chance because you fail to value or appreciate them!
    2nd Para: All very rosy this appears for you and your plan. You ignore horses’ very positive contribution to the watershed by their building of soils that retain moisture.
    3rd para: Your claim that wild horses are overpopulated is entirely subjective. There is no current overpopulation. You are setting them up. You present a totally negative view of the wild horses and distort the true case with them. How dishonest!

    Closing Statement: Again, I appreciate this opportunity to express my views and to point out some of the major discrepancies in your document that purports to justify the entire elimination of wild horses from their vast and legal herd areas complex. I implore you to carefully consider the information and perspectives I have presented but even more to reflect, to look within and ask yourself: Is this the right plan for the horses and their freedom? Is this fair to horse kind, to an animal who has done so much for mankind but whose true place lies in freedom? And can we not learn to share some relatively minor portion of America’s least productive lands for wild horses, providing a place where they can live and continue to evolve naturally as they have over the vast majority of their time on Earth? And does this not in a higher sense preserve the true vigor of horse kind, of the life community, and even of we humans, and make life worth the living for with quality?
    Sincerely,

    Craig C. Downer, Wildlife Ecologist
    Author: Wild Horses: Living Symbols of Freedom. Nominated to Wild H & B Advis. Bd.
    P.O. Box 456, Minden, NV 89423. ccdowner@aol.com

  40. Vicki Freiberger Says:

    Pam, I will always be in awe of your photography. God has given you a wonderful gift, and you have taken it and perfected it to His delight, I’m sure! I will always watch for updates of El Mariachi. I think he will always be in my heart also. God bless your mom, she looks good in the photos. Look forward to all your updates in the world of the mustangs!! Vic

  41. Lucille Matte Says:

    I am so happy to read this and see the pictures of these 2 horses at their dream come true new home!!! I have often thought of them but was hesitant to contact you in respect for your privacy.

    This is an absolutely amazing story and the horses look so much better now. It broke my heart to see El Mariachi starved. I had admired him in the pictures you had posted on your website and just drooled at his beauty. He is looking good and all though he will never be the wild horse with his band again he is far better off then he would have been without you in his life. Please never blame yourself for anything. You SAVED him TWICE.

  42. pnickoles Says:

    Vicki – as always, thanks. Thanks for everything you did and continue to do. Know I’m forever grateful to you and your family.

    Lucille – I can’t tell you how hard it’s been to tell this story – to live it. I appreciate that you were thoughtful enough to give me the privacy I needed to deal with it. Thank you for that, and for your comments. I’m still amazed by how it all worked out.

  43. Laura Houston Says:

    Great Update! Bless you, Michael Blake for providing a wonderful home for these mustangs and for your love of all mustangs!

    and damn you BLM for all the mustang killings and round-ups – you have done for way to many years!! and you 3strikeranch person that starved 100s of mustangs-you’re worse than the BLM if that’s at all possible!

  44. Kelly Says:

    So glad to read the happy news for El Mariachi and Hope. Your photography is beautiful. Prayers for a long and happy life for EM and his lady with Michael.

  45. April Says:

    Thank you for updating us all on E.M.’s & Hope’s recovery. Your words were deeply moving, but they pale in comparison to your photos. You capture an essence in your subjects that makes them real, known, tangible…. The horse photos were wonderful. But I believe the picture of your Mom through the stall door was the most beautiful of them all. That photo shows a woman well and truly loved, a woman with courage, and a woman who believes in you, and the horses. Thank you again and all my best to you and yours.
    -April

  46. Cheryl Jones Says:

    Hi, Pam

    Thank you so much for sharing your amazing photographs and for the news of El Mariachi’s and Hope’s progress. I was absolutely horrified when I saw photos of him after being rounded up in Alliance. The horror of his conditon and all the others who suffered so needlessly will never leave me. He looks absolutely splendid now, and I’m so happy that he and Hope are in such a great place where they will never lack for food or care.

    Viva, El Mariachi!

  47. pnickoles Says:

    Laura – I completely understand your frustration and anger. I’m trying to focus my roller-coaster emotions into as much positive action as possible. With the support of so many who have been moved by the story of these 2 horses, it’s been possible for me to start moving forward. And, I agree with you – the horse’s couldn’t be in a better place than with Michael. I’m just so grateful for this happy outcome.

    Kelly – thank you for your comments and prayers. They mean alot to me – truly they do.

    April – you brought tears to my eyes with your comment on Mom’s “stall” photo. She is strong, I never doubt that she believes in and supports me, she loves the wild horses (El Mariachi in particular) and of course, she’s loved by her friends and family. Just everything you said. Thank you for the comments on the photos too. 🙂

  48. pnickoles Says:

    Hi Cheryl – thanks for your comments. I will never get over my first reaction to seeing El Mariachi (and Hope) in that condition either. I can’t look at those photos from April without going through heartache and rage. I’m glad that you think they look better and happy in their new environment. It is my hope that Michael’s will be their forever home.

  49. Mikey Says:

    What a totally amazing story. Kudos to all of you who came together to help this magnificent stallion and his girl. Absolutely made me cry reading this. Can’t wait to read more updates in the future.


  50. Wow I just stopped here by way of The Horseshoeing Housewife’s blog…She was right, I did need a tissue.. I cannot believe that those people did that to him!!! And obviously that and more to others, hopefully justice will be served there! He sure is looking great now!! Wonderful pictures, he and Hope are gorgeous and very blessed to have found you…

  51. Cheryl Ann Says:

    What a beautiful and moving story! I never would have thought of Arizona! We have two little BLM fillies ourselves, from Salt Wells Creek, in Wyoming. Come on over to my blog and take a look!http://deserthorses.blogspot.com/ They are Cali and Scout. I’m so glad this story has a happy ending! Can’t wait to read more updates! Thank you for your care and concern for these two horses’ lives. They are both gorgeous!

  52. Sydney Says:

    El Mariachi is possibly the most gorgeous horse I have ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot of horses, every day. I have always loved mustangs. You have a wonderful gift in photography and a big bout of luck to save this horse.

  53. Breathe Says:

    I’m glad you were able to save El Mariachi and Hope. It’s hard to believe what can happen at “sanctuaries” and terrifying to think what some people will do to horses.

    It’s hard not to get discouraged when you see how BLM treats our inheritance. I hope more people get up in arms and fight to secure the legacy of the wild horse – cattle should not dictate the use of our lands at the expense of wild horses…

  54. Leah Fry Says:

    What an amazing post about a magical adventure. Incredible photos. I really like the one of your mother. Her face speaks volumes about her strength.

  55. Kathy Morson Says:

    Pam,
    I certainly have been hearing about El Mariachi from your mom, your biggest and his biggest fan. I love your story. I hope it helps to heal you as you have worked with love and effort to heal Mariachi. I hope the public realizes what it has and what it is losing because it lets the BLM decide what happens to horses. You have such a good eye when you photograph anything. And speaking of healing, I know we both want that for your mom.

  56. Clw Says:

    Thanks for publishing a complete history, and for updates when you can, he does come alive in your photos.. and sad to say your ‘thin’ photos are really very flattering, I saw some other photos of him and I COULD NOT believe it was the same horse, and had to go back and forth between your pictures and the pictures of the skin and bones horse I saw in those pictures to verify it was him… unbelievable!!!! I hope justice is served for what happened to him, and every other horse that lost the battle out there in the struck out ranch of nebraska- mustang graveyard.


  57. *sniff* Made me cry. Such a beautiful story about a regal and handsome horse…and his beautiful lady, too.

    I was so thrilled to read that it was Michael Blake that offered his ranch for your horses. I met him many years ago, not long after Dances with Wolves was produced.
    Michael did a speaking engagement at the University of New Mexico and I was so excited to hear him speak about how his book was snubbed over and over and noone would even consider making it into a movie….all except Kevin Costner.

    Michael Blake understands the plight of the wild horses because he understands what it means to go through challenges and have to fight every step of the way. He understands perserverance and hope…and freedom. Because he has had to follow his dreams until they came true. And he never gave up. If there was anyone to come through for these beautiful horses…it was him.

    And you, too. Bless you for making such a huge difference.

    ~Lisa
    New Mexico

  58. Heather DeLong Says:

    Words can’t describe how glad I am to see El Mariachi and Hope recovering. It was the pictures of the black mare who died at 3X, that caused me to watch in revulsion and facination- what transpired at that “ranch” from April until now. I first saw her on the Fugly board, after she had died… : ( The rescue from the “sanctuary” remains an incredibly poignant story…

    Thank you for writing their story, and for your incredible photographs. Thank you also to Michael for giving El Mariachi and Hope a safe place to live out their days, as freely as possible. They are healing, in mind and body and it’s a wonderful thing…
    Keep the faith, and never forget that this is a shameful story that NEEDS to be told! For all the other lives lost!
    Heather, Nova Scotia, Canada

  59. pnickoles Says:

    To every one of you who have written – thank you very much. It’s a bit overwhelming to realize how this story has touched so many of you. I hope more people will think about what the Mustangs and wild horses go through at the hands of the current BLM management system by reading the story of these two horses. Additionally, the lack of regulation regarding “sanctuaries.” We need changes to take place now to prevent this kind of story from repeating itself and to offer much better protection to these magnificent living legends and all animals everywhere. I appreciate the kind words and the time you all took to let me know what the story meant to you. Thank you.


  60. Another Human Angel..


  61. Thank you so much for sharing this story. I had no idea….


  62. […] ranch in southern Arizona. He’s a very generous and kind man. You can read about that story HERE). Me with Michael […]

  63. RJ Daum RPLS Says:

    Please contact Michael Blake about Pryor Mountain Mustangs.
    There is Sage Creek Ride the 28th with the Lakota and Northern Cheyenne. Ginger at Cloud Foundation has information.
    Maybe Michael can get attention of people he knows.
    My daughter Megan in Santa Fe knows alot also.
    I sent message to Russell Means and Don at WhiteBison.org. Also Cloud Foudation’s attorney filing paperwork in Billings. I did all I can to contact Secretary Salazar.


  64. […] story: “Rescuing An American Icon“ Posted in Wild Horses | Leave a Comment »Tags: El Mariachi, Hope, Michael Blake, Pam […]


  65. First, Pam, I’m so thankful for the web. How else might we have found each other? I know I’ve found a new friend in you. I’ll be writing you personally, yet wanted to comment here. Michael is a TRUE man…everything he does and says speaks truth in beauty. We talked about me coming out to follow his horses and photograph them. When I do, I’ll be making sure to show images of El Mariachi to you and the world. On my website, http://www.photographybyfaith.com, in the slideshows, there is a Mustang gallery. The horses there are from the ISPMB…Karen Sussman’s.
    The 3 Strikes ordeal ripped my heart out. There was a picture of a mare who had died, struggling for so long she dug a trench in a circle around her…with a foal by her side. It tore me up and I’ve not cried like that over a “web image” for some time. I would like to not cry like that again, but conditions for the Mustangs are so dire that I fear I will.

  66. Terri Farley Says:

    Dear Pam,
    Thanks for telling this story. When you wrote how you were captured by El Mariachi’s wild beauty, then how his sad condition brought you to your knees, I was with you.
    Though we haven’t met, I did meet Michael in mid-June in Reno. We talked wild horses, books and most of all, what’s important during this life. I know your horses have the next best thing to freedom.
    Thanks for having a heart for horses.
    After all the broken promises of this weekend — of this decade, really — your story was an oasis.

    Terri

  67. Nevada Sunshine Says:

    Wow, that is some magnificent photography!

  68. Natasha DeMatto Says:

    Dear Pam,
    Your story was so beautiful and so important to those of us who love and value these magnificent beings! As all the sorrow mounts surrounding the Pryor Mountain mustangs and the BLM’s practice of rounding-up and holding these wild creatures, I am hoping there could be some newly-created, receptive outlets for your story and images? Once in publicity, I understand how important it is to get the right message out at the right time… I don’t know if you have submitted any essays for reprint in any periodicals or contacted local or national media. While I don’t mean to overstep the boundaries here, I wholly am devoted to the passage of S. 1579 and the protection of wild horses and burros. And it is the time to get the word out, and such an inspiring story is what will help our movement. Any help I can give–just please ask! For now, thank you for the wonderful and hope-filled gift. And long live the horses!

  69. Sandy Elmore Says:

    Thank you Pam. What a beautiful story. I now remember you telling me a bit of that when we had breakfast in Lovell that morning. I guess my mind was on something else that day and did not remember it until now.

    I look forward to seeing more photo’s of those two and to hear how they are doing.

    Thanks again for sharing such a touching and beautiful story.


  70. Pam, Thank you for pointing your story out and that of El Mariachi and Hope. You were fortunate to get them out of that place. To have committed yourself and to have them starved, it is too much. They are so lucky they have you and Tom, and Michael with his horse family. These are such beautiful horses. For them to be treated that way and for you to see that place. Maybe someday you can tell me what it was like. I am ever haunted by those in holding. They are why I want all this ended. The roundups are too cruel and senseless. It has all gone too far. To think of all those lost, their wildness and sense of family and place, gone. It can bring your spirit low. But these horses have won life back. They are desert horses now. Mar

  71. Nicole Vinson Says:

    How are El Mariachi and Hope doing?? I live in Durango Co. and am involved with the Spring Creek horse herds. I do the count each year and have a mare from there and am training a gelding now. I came across your blog and love it. I was just wondering how that amazing man was doing??

  72. pnickoles Says:

    Again – thank you to everyone who wrote that this story touched you in some way. The more folks understand, the better for the horses.

    Nicole – Tom and I just returned from Arizona yesterday (seeing both of the horses and Michael), so there will be an update very soon about our visit. Thanks for your note.

  73. Nancy Roberts Says:

    That was a very powerful story. Thank You. All done to those amazing photos! Really neat. I’m glad your in mine and Odakota’s life ( cyberly ), Hope to meet you in the Red Desert!


  74. Nancy Roberts, If you are going to the Red Desert, can you post some updates about what you see at The Cloud Foundation Blog or with RT Fitch blog? So many of us cannot get there. I will try but it gets less likely everyday. Many really want news and hope that the presence of people will save horses lives. Marilyn Wargo

  75. nicole vinson Says:

    i am waiting to hear about your last visit!!!!! i just cant get on the internet without coming to this blog and looking at the pictures of this amazing horse.

  76. pnickoles Says:

    Hi Nicole – I am working on the El Mariachi and Hope update right now. I’m hoping to have it up over the weekend. You’re the second person who has asked me about it, so I’m going as fast as I can. 🙂 Thanks for your interest. The horses and I very much appreciate the people that care.

  77. nicole Says:

    YAY!!! They look so good!! Thats pretty funny but also kinda relieving that he has gained a little to much weight. Its better to be over than under for them though. They both look so happy. Its awesome that they are with a few other horses as well. I am sure that they really appreciate all you have done for them. I know i do!! Hope all is well with all the other critters.!!!

  78. Heather Bruen Says:

    Pam, That was a beautiful, I really enjoyed reading this about these beautiful mustangs. It was so sad to see that these horses were getting so thin from the hands of the BLM…. it must stop. The pictures of him and his mare and her bay “admirer” was so cute! Thank you

  79. Lori Schmidt Says:

    Well it took me a long time to read this because I had tears streaming down my face for most of it from the time I saw those first shocking photos! I am so sorry you had to go through this and that they did and countless others too. I dont know what else to say that everyone else hasn’t already said. I knew there was something special about this horse from the first time I saw your avatar, he is awesome. I will be in contact privately when I stop crying!

  80. Cheryl Palmour Says:

    Dear Pam,

    My sister is a great horse lover. She sent me the video of the roundup and I immediately wrote my congressman, my senator, and Nancy Pelosi about my outrage at this. These horses are beautiful and should be allowed to run free on the land set aside for them. We are supposed to be God’s shepherds for animals. It is too bad that greed and politics have to get in the way.

  81. pnickoles Says:

    Many thanks to all of you that took the time to read, comment and share this story. The more exposure to the situation facing our wild horses, the brighter the hope for their continued survival.

  82. Jeannie Parisi Says:

    Phew~Well where do I begin~Wait I have to wipe my eyes and face~When I saw the profile pic~I sincerely felt a pulling toward’s this horse~Now I know why~The same feeling I had when I saw the horse I would eventually buy and save from being slaughtered~I love ALL horse’s~It was so good to hear a happy ending with all that is going on now with The Wild Horse’s and the abused horse’s in the rodeo’s and on and on. This is the 2nd good happening I have read about today~I so needed it~There is so much Good in the world and it also need’s to be heard. I will be sharing this story and I thank you for what you did for all of us~You are so right, they are all of our horse’s and a gift from God. What a creation God made~For us to love and enjoy~
    With Respect and Great Admiration
    Love
    Jeannie

  83. Roni Kelley Says:

    Are you kidding? Abused horses in rodeo? You evidently don’t know any of the rodeo stock contractors I know. You need to do some research. Please don’t mess up Pam’s trying to help with WILD MUSTANGS by by-lining it with some PETA based crap about rodeo horses. I rodeoed most of my life, I’d like to stay on the Pam side of the Wild Horse issue; but, alas, I cannnot if it gets combined with rodeo stock and/or slaughter.

  84. Vicki Nighohossian Says:

    what a wonderful story and what grand animals. Please tell us more about them. They are just beautiful.

  85. pnickoles Says:

    Hi Vicki and thanks for your note. There are update links at the end of the story (“Related Stories”) that continue the horse’s stories as I have opportunities to visit them. Both are still doing very well. I will be going down to visit them again next month (so there will be yet another update). 🙂

  86. pnickoles Says:

    Jeannie – I understand the tears for sure. I’m so glad you were able to find two stories with happy endings! Thanks so much for your comments.


  87. […] story: “Rescuing An American Icon“ Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Giving BackUrgent – Neglected […]

  88. KandiG Says:

    Pam,

    What can I say. I cried reading your story. I live in California and have had a love affair with the wild mustang for many many years. Just this weekend I was at the BLM holding facility in Sparks, NV holding my breath at all the numbers that are too old for the adoption program. Thank you for rescuing this American Icon. Hopefully one day soon I will have the property to rescue another “too old for adoption” horse and allow him to live out his days in peace. Thank you for caring!

  89. pnickoles Says:

    Hi Kandi – thanks for writing. I admire your desire to help the older, captive wild horses. Their futures are so uncertain once removed from their range. My thanks to you for caring.

  90. theresa Hill Says:

    What a beautiful story! How awesome that you did find the perfect place for them. I love horses and wish I could do some rescue with them but I have 5 and we don’t have the room. I have rescued several dogs and cats. There are many angels out there that do rescue animals and I thank all of you who do from the bottom of my heart.

  91. Robin Burton Says:

    As a horse lover myself it breaks my heart to see those amazing & majestic creatures in such dire straights. So much of this countries history is falling to the way side…

  92. Monica Cast Says:

    FIRST OF ALL:::: I absolutely LOVE your pics that you have posted!! All of them! They are very beautiful and very very intriguing!!!
    Your wonderful story about El-Mariachi, and Hope was very moving for me. Horses are very majestic and beautiful andimals. Needless to say, I was fighting the temptations of my tears as I started from the first sentence all the way to the end of your story. It sounds like it was a very emotional experience for you and very emotional to write as well. I just wanted to thank you for sharing your wonderful experience with me, as I am a horse lover myself, whether big or extra small. I was a long journey and it warms my heart to know that there actually are people out there like you who care so much about these intriging and majestic animals, and have the same love and respect for them as i do. Eversince I was a young child, I always had a passion for horses and always imagined myself on a million acres and owning this huge sanctuary for horses that didnt have a home or were in dire need of help. Like I said, Big or Small: it never mattered to me. Since things didnt exactly go as planned, I managed to get dogs instead! lol. I bought an Old English Mastiff and named her Mag-E-Moe. People call me moe so i had to put my name in there as well! : )… She passed on about 2 years ago and now I am without any animals because I live in Carlin, NV. now. I am following up with the mustangs here now though. Oh Gosh What i would do to start training again!!!! Horses are my life!!! I just wanted to thank you for your page suggestion. It was very wonderful to read something so beautiful. I couldnt have started my day off doing anything better than reading your story about El-Mariachi and Hope. I am very blessed to have ran into you on facebook, and to now call you as my friend……With Hope and Love, Monica Cast.

  93. pnickoles Says:

    Theresa – thanks for writing and for what you’ve done for the animals in your care.

    Robin – it breaks my heart as well. Let’s hope people realize what they may lose before it’s gone.

  94. pnickoles Says:

    Hi Monica – thank you for your kind words. I’m very happy to hear that the Nevada Mustangs have you working on their behalf! And, it’s nice to meet a fellow animal lover. 🙂

  95. Susan Emory Says:

    Oh Pam, thank God you went and got Mariachi and Hope when you did! I can speak no more of that. I have nothing nice nor decent that I can say right now.

    For these two American Mustangs, I truly thank God for you, your mother, Karen and Michael! I truly love you for what y’all did for those poor babies.

    This world is rapidly becoming a place, that I am not familiar with … void of human “ethics,” common civility and decency, conscience and compassion. Cruelty human to human is rampant, human to animal is unspeakable, even acceptable. Good is bad … bad is good … criminals and deviates are protected and victims have no rights.

    I don’t have as many years left on this planet as many of you do. But we all had better wake up and stand up and fight for what is right. And we had better do it quick! AS it goes with the animals, SO it will surely go with us!

    I only have a little over an acre, not enough to give a wild horse a decent home … but I WILL work toward changing that situation. In the meantime, I CAN write, I CAN email, and I CAN phone! I WILL do whatever I can to defend these magnificent creatures that cannot speak for themselves.

    I am so thankful for y’all keeping us informed and sharing your resources.

    I know that that jerk at 3 strikes ranch was convicted. Well, they wouldn’t dare carry out the sentence I would give him …anything THEY will give him, is NOT enough.

    Pam, I pray that seeing your horses healthy and happy now, will help to heal what you have seen and experienced.

    Know that your story IS getting out and many ARE hearing and (as a result) many more WILL join the fight to help save our Wild Horses!

    Thank you again, Susan

  96. Jeannie Jacobs Parisi Says:

    Well, this story NEVER gets old and have read it atleast 8 times since I came upon it, no kidding Pam..I read it each time knowing about it but each time it feels new and so inspires me of the GOOD…Ofcourse my tears flow atleast once or twice a week for all the horses that are, well you know..I pray about many things and the horses are one of my biggest requests to the Lord, to please help this madness stop..I will continue to do what I can and then I have to leave the rest in the Lords arms…it is the only way I get through this madness, oh and happenings like this…Thanks Pam, again…

  97. TJ CLIBBORN Says:

    Ihave a mare who was rescued from that same place she was staved and in foal. Her name is riojo and im training her now for mn hooved animal rescue she will be available for someone on august 14th you can see her on my web.I also own choke who i trained she will lay down sit as well as ride she is 3yrs old and is my life.I loved the story of your horse having wanted him since i first seen your picture he is so beautiful.Iwould like to say thanks for the story dont ever be sorry for writing it. TJ

  98. Sharon Starr Says:

    You are FRIKKIN AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!♥♥

  99. Michelle Strawbridge Says:

    So captivating!!!! You have captured their beauty and grace co completely and truly. Thank you for your sharing, kindness and dedication.

  100. sandra longley Says:

    the light is back in his eyes and the spring in his step, It is the Heart that makes the mustang what he is…while the phrase…its the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of the man..I believe it is the inside, that heart-that is good for the soul of the person.


  101. […] (and difficult) project entitled, “Horses in Need.” Last year I contributed “Rescuing An American Icon,” the story of El Mariachi and Hope and the horrific ordeal they managed to survive at the […]


  102. […] Mariachi, Forever the King of Wild Stallions August 28, 2010 by Stacey Photo copyright Pam Nickoles Photography From Rescuing an American Icon […]

  103. suzanne o'meara Says:

    hope they can go back to the wild one day in the future somehow.

  104. Connie E Says:

    Pam, so happy you were able to re-rescue Hope and El Mariachi. Thanks to Michael Blake for offering them the next closest thing to being free, for life. It makes my heart sick knowing (guessing) the horrors they as well as you, experienced. Keep on fighting the good fight, as hopefully we can keep many of our horses free.

  105. Jim Westin Says:

    It was so wonderful to read the story of El Mariachi. Bittersweet, but as someone else commented, you chose to deal more with the sweet than the bitter. The horse seems so aware. If El Mariachi could tell his own story, I bet he would express his everlasting gratitude for the woman who wouldn’t let go and wouldn’t give up and that he owes his life to the courage and dedication of that very special woman. There are bonds that transcend our ability to capture them in words. The best things can’t be told and each of those photographs is truly worth more than any words. The tragedy and the triumph.

  106. Vickey Mullett Says:

    Very, very powerful story and I had tears in my eye for him looking the way he did. I can only imagine what he had to endure with whom ever he was with the first time. But with your love and devotion he is getting well taken care of and you are the cause of him being where he is today. you should have an award for what you have done to make sure of his safty. God only know that this beautiful stallion El Mariachi is grateful also. Thanks so much for your story it helps a lot of people understand what these wild horses are and with all the help of the photographers, we can see that the wild horse needs to be free. If ever i get a real chance to be able to go and see the horse in the wild I too can feel their plight and know that they should be free. Thanks Pam for your story and i am so happy that you got a sculpture of El Mariachi. you are very blessed in so many ways. ;0)

  107. Judy Kennedy Says:

    What a beautiful story and great photos as well. Thank God for people like you and your family and especially Michael Blake. It must be wonderful to provide a loving home with open spaces for these beautiful creatures!


  108. Dear Pam,
    Your story about your rescued horse was amazing. You covered so much about the struggles that horses follow. I mentioned to someone the other day that you are an amzing sensitive photogographer who finds the heart of the wild ones when you shoot. Your work is wonderful and your story inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing and giving us a look at what many of us will never have the opportunity to see. I look forward to seeing more. ~Linda

  109. Denise Griffith Says:

    God is good!!!..Pam it is so rare to find people like you that actually live by the “Golden Rule”:”Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”… as we all know, God gives each one of us a purpose for being here in this world,as this is definitley your purpose in life..I am glad God gave “you” to these majestic/beautiful works of God!!..my prayer:God continue to give Pam the strength to be the Voice of these Angels,,give all of us the power to help her in her fight to save them all..Amen..

  110. Jan Says:

    You, and those hoofed creatures so dear to you, have indeed inspired me! Awakend the fire!

    Horses were my first love, from days as a youngster standing on the gate of a neighbors fence…for hours talking to her two horses, admiring them, dreaming of galloping across the field, just praying they would come over so I could touch them, smell them. My neighbor let me sit on one once – it was Big Red! I’ll never forget it – I was hooked! Never would I view this animal the same again, they were now in my blood! It took some 20 odd years from that day before that circle was complete, and I had a horse of my own. And tho I no longer ride, the Horse will always and forever hold a very special place in my heart. That my Horse’s distant relatives are being corraled, mistreated and destroyed wounds me to my very soul. I almost wish I didn’t know…

    Thank you for saving El Mariachi from a fate nearly worse than death – being holed up in deplorable conditions – and for telling his story. Thanks to everyone that helped him, and you, see him to safety.

    I look forward to updates on his progress…and am ready to do whatever I can to see the Mustang remain Wild and Free and Treasured, as they were meant to be.

    My best ~ Jan

  111. Deb Says:

    Thank you for all you do to help these horses. I’m not a horse person, but I do appreciate beauty, and I am so glad this story has a happy ending.

  112. Debbie W Says:

    Dear Pam, thank you for sharing your wonderful wild horse rescue story and the beautiful, all-telling photos. I wish the wild horse rescues all had happy endings. I’m curious, will El Mariachi ever have offspring? That would be the best ending to this story. 🙂 ~ Debbie


  113. God has a special place in His Kingdom for people such as you. Bless you and your loved ones during Christmas and throughout the year.

  114. bev Says:

    Tears for both the Mustangs and you!!! Glad to hear of the amazing two time save. Keep us posted not only on how they are doing but more of your wonderful photographs!!!

  115. Lynn Says:

    Thank you for this very moving story and for rescuing these beauties. As much as I love and been a former owner of horses,sadly, I can’t adopt any now. So, I have become an advocate of the wild horses and campaign wherever I go, making people aware of the plight of the Mustangs and urging everyone to become involved. Please keep us updated on Mariachi and Hope.


  116. […] For those that don’t yet know the story of these two horses, here is the link: “Rescuing An American Icon.” […]

  117. Barbara Joseph Says:

    Dear Pam, I feel your pain for these horses more than you will ever know when it comes down to the starvation of them & distrust of bad people. I also feel the pain of the Mustangs on the range.
    I want to let you know that I’ve joined the fight. I send stuff & letters to the President via snail mail nearly every month.
    Thank you so much for this heart braking yet beautiful story. I cryed all the way through it.

  118. Barbara Joseph Says:

    Dear Pam,
    Thank you ever so much for sharing this heart breaking yet beautiful story. Tears all the way to the end.
    I know your pain of starvation & distrust as some of my horses have been there under someone elses care when I didn’t have a place of my own to keep them.
    I would also like to know how your mother is? I lost mine to soon to cancer. Please give her a hug for me.
    I want to let you know that I joined the fight for our Mustangs last summer. I’ve sent alot of stuff to the President via snail mail. Yesterday a huge 9×11 homemade post card went to him, in a few days another packet will be sent. I am in this for the long hual.
    Thank you for all you do, have done, continue to do & for all the beautiful pictures.
    Barbara

  119. redmm97 Says:

    What a wonderful story!

    A must read for all those who love our Mustangs!

  120. Donna Duckworth Says:

    Pam, It’s funny how life’s tragedies can twist and turn and become something good and beautiful. I am now photographing a group of horses in the same area that El Mariachi once roamed. Once again BLM has planned a round up of almost 700 horses. You might be interested to know there is a stallion out there with very similar markings as on El Mariachi but with a white main and parts of his tail. I’ve watched him and photographed him and I can tell you he is as magnificent as your El Mariachi. Someday I hope none of these horses have to go through a roundup. It’s so brutal and heartbreaking to watch their family units being broken up and seeing them penned up, instead of roaming this high mountain desert free and proud.

    It’s with sadness in my heart now as I go out and photograph the horses. I know I soon I will not see them roaming as they should be. I know I am powerless to stop this roundup.

  121. Lethie Says:

    What a wonderful story. I also think this is a unique horse. Can’t believe you found that home for him. I loved the movie Dances with Wolfs. Incredible how things somehow work out. You do a great job as story telling. Maybe you can even have your own movie about your story. Wouldn’t that be something. Keep up the good work. Always a joy to see your posts.


  122. There is seldom a “Happy Ending” to anything the government has its hands into. I hope this all works out to benefit the horses.

  123. Lethie Says:

    This was a wonderful story and after reading it, I decided that I needed to go see the wild horses. I accomplished this goal in Sept-Oct, 2011. I went to see the Sand Wash Basin Wild Horses. It was a trip of a lifetime for me and I will never forget it. I encourage each and every one that reads this story to do the same thing. I am very involved with doing everything within my power to help save these wild horses before it is to late. Please get involved with this mission.

  124. Robbin Yarbrough Says:

    Pam, thank you for taking time to share this story. I admire your tenacity and devotion. Your photography is stunning. How fortunate for Hope and El Marachi that you took time to fight this battle for them. Thank you also to Michael Blake.
    We have had a Mustang filly at our clinic several weeks and it took a while before she exhibited trust. My husband worked very patiently with her and was able to touch areas of her body without causing her stress but the nose/lower face area was off limits. They are wild and their fear is inate. What an honor that you and your mom were able to get so close.

  125. Ioana Says:

    Wow, thank you for sharing his and your story! I think many people don’t ever realize the fates of mustangs, both in the wild or after they are captured. You make these stories real. Your pictures also bring a whole new dimension to the story. As hard as this must have been for you, I am grateful you got to be there for El Mariachi.
    I became more aware just recently and these stories still bring tears to my eyes. I hope one day I can be more involved and make a difference as you did.
    I agree with Lethie and your other fans: you should make a story or even a movie out of it!!!! El Mariachi’s story and your/our mission would reach even farther! Thank you again for sharing!

  126. Robyn Gipp Says:

    I really enjoyed your story and can sympathize your love and caring for these magnificent Wild HOrses. Thank you for your story and your heart for them.

  127. Anja Hooymans Says:

    Thank you for sharing this story.
    I’m not from The US, I’m from Holland and I don’t understand one thing.
    If these wild horses belong to the US public, who has the right to capture them and even sell them to slaughter.
    That’s a part I don’t understand.


  128. […] (The original story: “Rescuing An American Icon“) […]

  129. Katie Straka Says:

    What a powerful and moving story. The site of El Mariachi after you rescued him for the 2nd time broke my heart. How could a sanctuary do that? It’s horrendous! My heart weeps for those poor horses that did not make it out of that place. Your story is so inspiring and I hope that many others read it and understand that the wild horses belong to the public and it’s time the public stepped up to the plate and rein in the terror of the BLM! Thank you for sharing this awesome story of this awesome stallion!

  130. Kaaren Sayers Says:

    What an amazing story, reminds me of the wild horses running many years ago when I was a small child in a place called Taupo in New Zealand. It was so lovely to hear them running down the sandy roads at night or early hours of the morning. But what a beautiful thing u did in making sure that stallion & at least one mare got to be looked after for the rest of their days! You are to be commended for that as it’s the sign of a true person who loves horses as I do! I’ve had a connection with horses all my life & adore them apart from my little dog they always will be the love of my life!! Kaaren Sayers from Australia!!

  131. yoshigirl28 Says:

    Reblogged this on Wonder and Whimsy, Beauty and Soul.

  132. sistaelle Says:

    Great story. Years ago Mr Blake had talked about wanting to make a mustang movie. I wish he would.

  133. irene gentile Says:

    Speechless! What a beautiful story of such magnificent animals n kind hearted people. Look forward to future updates.

  134. Chaleen hill Says:

    Facebook account..heavenly horses in Thompson falls mt.I’m a rescue in mt. I jus wanta say what a wonder full article you wrote..that stallion had no business being cut from the sale horses.I’m sure at least a thousand homes would have tried to save him..he is absolutely beautiful..we are trying to get i 501c3 soon then I’m gunna try to start taking in some mustangs..we do train and adopt though so its not the same but at least it can help save their lives..its sad what’s going on with these majesticle icons. Good article..thank u for writing it.

  135. Suzanne J Says:

    Thank you for caring. These beautiful horse’s are fortunate to have you. I have dreamed of seeing wild horses since I was a child, it has not worked out , but so very happy their are people like you to care. God Bless You.

  136. pnickoles Says:

    Thank you so much Suzanne. I hope someday, you’ll get that chance to see the wild horses.


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