The Horses of the Pryor Mountains

While traveling out west for nearly two weeks, one of the places we visited was the Pryor Mountains of Montana and Wyoming where wild horses roam free. Established in 1968, the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range was the nation’s first public wild horse range. When the Bureau of Land Management announced the intention to round up the entire herd in the 1960s, a local group brought a lawsuit against the BLM, fought the round-up and won. The area was declared a Wild Horse Refuge.

Today, over 100 mustangs live on approximately 38,000 acres, still managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Genetic testing has shown the horses are descended from Colonial Spanish horses, brought here in the 1600 to 1700s. While some of the horses may have escaped from local ranches or Indian herds, the true Pryor Mountain mustangs have lived for hundreds of years in these rugged mountains. Those with markings of dorsal stripes running the length of their backs and zebra stripes on their legs are most distinctive and appear more primitive, and are more directly related to the Spanish mustangs.

If you visit the Pryor Mountain horses, a stop at the Wild Mustang Center in Lovell, Wyoming, is a must. They will tell you where the herds have been seen and identify the horses in any photos you take. Two of the horse we saw were Chief Joseph, a beautiful black, and Fool’s Crow, a blue roan, whose name was originally Crow, because he was also black. But when his coat changed out to a beautiful blue, he became Fool’s Crow.  The folks at the Mustang Center will also let you know the proper behavior for viewing the horses. The rule is to stay 100 feet away at all times, but we were able to view them quite close up just from the road.

Deciding to stay on the paved highway rather than go up into the very high country, where there are only dirt roads, we saw a number of the members of the lower herd, but perhaps next trip out we’ll decide to make the journey up to the more wild and desolate areas. While round-ups do occur in the Pryors (and there is talk of one being eminent), it seems the BLM does take more into  consideration the genetics of the horses living in the mountains, because of their very old bloodlines. Watching wild horses is always truly awesome and inspiring, and it’s my hope the Pryor Mountain herd will always be allowed to roam free. If you would like to know more about this very special group of mustangs, visit the website: www.pryormustangs.org.

Our local Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan has stepped up to help the many homeless animals impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Pet shelters in the disaster area asked for help, and Pilots N Paws, a group of volunteer pilots, flew many of those pets from Texas to Michigan. They are not taking pets that have been displaced by the storm and whose owners may be searching for them, but those who were already in shelters. Thirty-three dogs have been welcomed at our shelter this month. For a list of the shelter’s needs and to help with the care of these newest arrivals, please visit the website, http://www.humanesocietyswm.org.

 

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5 Comments on “The Horses of the Pryor Mountains”

  1. lilli530 Says:

    Lucy, how thrilled you must’ve been to visit the Pryor Mountains and see some of the wild horses there. You mentioned one horse you saw was named Chief Joseph. That reminded of a photograph I have (in a box somewhere) of an Indian Chief and his wife who were friends of my father. His name was Chief Joseph Standing Horse. The photo may have been taken in Oklahoma, but I’m not sure. This was taken many, many years ago. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Chief’s horse’s bloodline was one of the old ones still being passed down?
    Thanks for sharing such an interesting post.


    • There was also a Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Indians, so not sure which one this horse is named after, but who knows? It was truly exciting to see the horses on this trip. Thanks for stopping by!


  2. Absolutely breathtaking pictures. Nothing better than watching animals in the wild, especially horses. I didn’t realize there was such a history attached to the herd. Thanks, too, for sharing the rescue information and needs. Always good to get the word out.


  3. The horses do have an amazing heritage, and I hope that will always be appreciated. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Diane O'Brien Says:

    Luce, wonderful article and so informative. Really enjoyed all of the trip pictures you shared. Thank you!!


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