Tag Archives: salt river wild horses


Do you remember the Salt River Wild Horses?

They are the band of wild horses in Arizona whose lead stallion saved a filly who was in peril last year.  The story is here.  You may remember this photo.

This is Champ, saving the filly who was in the river too deep.

This is Champ, saving the filly who was in the river too deep.

Well, there are a few bands of Salt River Wild Horses who migrate around the area.

Becky Standridge spends most of her time documenting these horses and doing everything in her power to try to reach the community and keep them safe.  You will find their FB page here.  You should go to their FB page even if just to see all the incredibly beautiful candid shots posted of these wild horses.

Really beautiful.

Anyway, Becky sent this story to me.

Feel good.


Early in the morning on July 6, 2012, while kayaking up the Salt River in the Tonto National Forest, a kayaker pointed to a horse that was standing on the bank. It was a mare named Rosa. She was alone so something was wrong. Realizing the urgency of the situation, I quickly paddled as close as I could then ran towards her. My eyes caught sight of a brand new foal. It must have fallen down the steep embankment, into the river and was caught up in brush.

This photo shows the wild mare standing oddly on the bank.  Becky knew this was unnatural and that her foal was probably in the bush.

This photo shows the wild mare standing oddly on the bank. Becky knew this was unnatural and that her foal was probably in the bush.

Rosa’s family had returned by the time I reached her. With my life vest still on, I ran through the horses and into the water. The ledge dropped off steeply and the current was powerful. Despite my fear of the river, I was determined to save foal. Only a few months previously I had watched a horse drown. I was not going to let that happen on this day. Naively, I tried to grab the foal by the scruff of its neck to lift it like a puppy. Unsuccessful, I braced myself against the ledge and grabbed it with both hands. I carefully lifted it over the branches. After freeing the foal and getting it part way up the hill the other kayaker arrived to help carry the foal away from the river’s edge. We set the foal down and backed away so Rosa could see her baby. She nuzzled him. She tried to encourage her foal to stand but he remained down and shivering.

The foal, wet and shivering.

The foal, wet and shivering.

The idea came to me to get my towels from the kayak so I could dry the foal. Upon returning, I approached Rosa carefully showing her the towels. Realizing I wanted to help, she backed away slightly. Rosa watched closely as I tended to her foal. Rubbing the towels not only dried the foal but it also appeared to be stimulating it’s circulation. The foal was looking better. Encouraged by this improvement I decided to help the foal try to stand. As I lifted him, one end or the other would slip out of balance and fall. I was able to help the foal stand but it would soon collapse so I rubbed it towels and tried again. After we went through this a few times the foal was able to take a few steps. What great progress. Having accomplished this, Rosa informed me that I was to leave the rest to her so I stepped back to become an observer.

You can see the towels Becky used laying there.

You can see the towels Becky used laying there.

He rises!

He rises!

He looks towards Becky - standing a distance away.

He looks towards Becky – standing a distance away.

As I quietly watched, the new foal took a nap. His mother stood watch and nuzzled him every couple of minutes. I thought of my dear friend, Dr. Pat Haight, who had passed away just two days before. Pat was an avid supporter of the wild horses, especially of the Apache-Sitgreave Wild horses and of the Salt River wild horses. I decided to name this very special foal Patrick in her honor.

Patrick sleep beneath his mother's watchful eye.

Patrick sleep beneath his mother’s watchful eye.

When Patrick awoke, the family had again wandered some distance from Rosa. He rose to his feet and slowly followed Rosa as she led him to the rest of the group. As they paused, Patrick would try suckle. I stayed with them until Patrick had his first meal and they were safe with the rest of their family.





I kayaked back to the same area for the next two days looking for Rosa and Patrick. The first day I returned the only thing I saw were the prints of a mountain lion. Concern grew in my heart but I did not give up hope. I return the following day and eventually found them down stream and across the river. I was amazed to know that he could cross the river in the first three days of his life but most of all it was great to see him safe and beginning to grow up.

A few days later... Patrick looking healthy and no worse for the wear...

A few days later… Patrick looking healthy and no worse for the wear…

A few months later, Becky snapped this shot of Patrick.

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An Open Letter to HORSE AND MAN from Becky Standridge, one of the people fighting for Champ, the Stallion who saved the filly … YOU DECIDE.

I wrote about Champ two days ago… He is the Stallion who saved the filly from the river – and who now faces removal and potential sale for meat since they are considered ‘feral’.  If you missed it, here is the link.

WHOOOOOO BABY!  The story flew around the Internet like wildfire and the Arizona Forest Service was hopping mad!  They took the time to seek out my blogpost and comment that there was no truth to the rumor… and that this horse stuff was taking away from the important fire issues that are threatening the state.

I think most of you received the same exact email.  Exact.

Many of you wrote to me and asked if the story was true or false.

I wrote to Becky and told her that I had stuck my neck out (happily) and would continue to do so, but I would appreciate her personal story so that my readers could feel better about standing up for Champ and his herd.


But first, I gotta tell you…  I’ve sat in many BLM meetings here in the State Capitol of California (Sacramento) and to be frank, I wanted to throw spitballs, they were so ineffectual.  I’ve seen second graders divide up their lunches in a more diplomatic and conscientious manner…  The BLM consistently showed no true interest in the pleas from educated and informed Mustang supporters who were there to present different methods of management.

I left every meeting frustrated and muttering.

Flash forward to yesterday… receiving that pat email from the Forest Service (after they took the time to find me) resounded in my mind as the same sort of jibberjabber nonspeak that I heard in those BLM meetings.


To quote Howard Beale, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

I don’t like this issue with Champ and I really don’t like how we, the people, are being treated when ‘we the people’ actually own all of the State Parks and all of the land.

No, I’m not going to be intimidated and let this issue slip away.  No, I’m not going to sit back and believe the nonspeak.  No, Forest Service, don’t tell me and everyone else the same pat answer…


Deal with me.

I’m taking a stand and I’m going to print Becky’s open letter.

You can decide for yourselves.


This is Becky’s information and the information for her group CERAP:

The Conquistador Equine Rescue and Advocacy Program (CERAP), a 501c3 equine rescue and advocacy charity.

Contact:Patricia Haight, Ph.D. (480) 593-4491
Becky Standridge: (480) 620-4490,

Salt River Wild Horses FB Page:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Salt-River-Wild-Horses/338636552850689



Here is her story.  You can decide if you’d like to support her and her altruistic crusade for Champ’s herd:

Dawn, I have heard the same feedback but what the forest service is saying is not true. Here are two statements I put on my Facebook fan page for the Salt River Wild Horses. I think it should be helpful in information your readers that you are stating the truth.

The Forest Service is actually the one who is spreading untrue allegations. We have had several people inform us that Congressman Flake’s office has stated the removal of the horses IS on the table. The Forest Service is still labeling these horses incorrectly as “feral” and “trespass.” Any estray or trespass horses on Forest Service land can be removed legally under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976. It is possible some horses have already been removed and it is possible they are temporarily stopping their efforts until public pressure fades. I do not believe it is possible Congressman Flake’s office started this story for the fun of it or to distract the Forest Service from their current most challenging issue: wildfires in Arizona. Please contact your Congressman and Senators regarding this issue.

The primary reason I signed up to be a Forest Service volunteer was because I was told by the Range and Wildlife manager that they have a multiple agency effort going to determine what they are going to do with the horses, and one of their options was to use PZP on the mares.

To eliminate the many reasons this option might not be selected, I offered to pay may way so I could become certified for delivering PZP, I offered to purchase the dart gun, I offered to buy all the PZP to be used on the mares, I offered to dart the mares myself and to track the progress in a database that I would create. I offered to create a non-profit organization that would manage the wild horses and would raise funds through the sale of related products, request for donations, membership fees and grant money. I described an entire campaign to improve the road safety condition and offered to contribute some of the money the organization would raise into making this happen. But with every enthusiastic step I was ready to take, I was asked to hold back.

One day I came into the Forest Service office prepared to work with the Volunteer Coordinator on the Volunteer database when I was given surprise notification that I would be having a very big day because I was to do an interview with a News Reporter. They fitted me with a uniform and within two hours I was on camera doing my best. That interview turned into two news stories. For weeks after the stories aired, I was repeatedly instructed I should not have called the horses wild because they are feral. Finally, the District Ranger came to speak with me regarding this verbiage. I agreed to call them “horses” when I was in uniform and he offered I could say and do what I want when I was not in uniform. At this time, the District Ranger also told me I should know one option they are considering with the horses is rounding them up.

Soon after this conversation, and on one bright day, I met Jim Ripley who wrote what I consider the most wonderful article on the wild horses. There was no mention of the Forest Service in this article, but a few days after it was published I received a phone call from the Forest Service relieving me of my position as a volunteer because my reference to the horses as wild in Jim’s article was too politically charged.

On May 24, I had a phone conversation with Dave Stewart, Range Director from the Forest Service Regional Office, and asked why had the Range and Wildlife Director told me they were considering humanely managing the horses using PZP when their only goal is to get rid of the horses? Dave replied, they should be telling you what I’m telling you, “they need to take assertive measures to remove them if the Indians don’t claim them.”

If there is anything else I can do to assist you then please let me know.


Oh, and Forest Service, come get me… game on.


Live long and prosper

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!