WILD HORSES Study Guide
Research and Activities
(Find resources related to these topics at listed web sites, or from your library.)
- According to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the horse became extinct on the North American continent around 8000 BC. Spanish explorers reintroduced horses to North American in the 1500s.
- Where did the original North American horses come from?
- What may have caused their extinction?
- What has been the history of the horse in North America?
- What is the history of the horse in Native American culture?
- What is the process for adopting a wild horse? What are the requirements?
Wild horses live on lands owned and managed by the U.S. government. Who should benefit from the management of these lands?
a. Wild Horses. These living reminders of the Old West have been roaming free on these lands for more than 100 years.
b. Other wildlife. Wild horses are a fairly recent addition to the environment and other animals and plants should take precedence.
c. Ranchers, loggers and miners. People should have the right to earn a living.
d. All of the above. The government should make an effort to offer something for each group without completely shutting one out.
- What makes a horse "wild?" Many people debate the use of the term "wild" applied to the mustangs living in sanctuaries and on open ranges across the West. Is a wild horse simply an unbroken horse? Is "wild" the same as "feral" in referring to these horses?
Conquistador, feral, sanctuary
Write an essay on the use of the word "romance" in the title of the program: Wild Horses: An American Romance. What does it mean to take a "romantic" view of wild horse history and issues? Does the program depict wild horses in a "romantic" way? What would be the opposite to a "romantic" viewpoint or depiction? Tip: In this context "romance" does not refer to relationships between two people, but to an idealistic, emotional perspective.
Wild Horse Annie
Velma "Wild Horse Annie" Johnston is a role model in several ways.
- She overcame physical handicaps, and her shyness about her looks, to make a public stand about something she cared about. According to friend Dawn Lappin, Johnston had had polio and had trouble turning her head and she was sensitive about her crooked teeth.
- She proved that one person could change the law of the land. She organized a campaign using the media (newspapers, magazines, radio and TV) and encouraged thousands of schoolchildren to write to Congress.
- She didnt let name-calling bullies stop her. She took on the name "Wild Horse Annie" after a name-calling opponent called her that to make fun of her.
- What caused Velma Johnston to overcome her physical challenges to become a public spokesperson for wild horses?
- Name other people - either historical figures or people in your community - who have overcome challenges to make a stand on an issue. What characteristics and attitudes do these people have that make them role models?
- What is the "common good?" Did Wild Horse Annies efforts support the common good? What present-day ramifications related to wild horse populations and land-use issues may be a result of her successful campaign?
- Write a short essay on the role of citizen action in facilitating change. Cite examples from the history of our nation, the world, or your community. Include your opinion on the role citizens play in strengthening the "common good."
- Write a letter to the editor from the perspective of a person living in Nevada during the time Wild Horse Annie was mounting her campaign to save wild horses. Your letter may either support or oppose her efforts. Support your opinions with facts as much as possible.
Dayton Hyde and the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary
In 1988, Dayton O. Hyde founded the Institute of Range and the American Mustang (IRAM), a non-profit organization that owns the 11,000 acre Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary southwest of Hot Springs in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The Sanctuary is home to about 350 mustangs.
- According to the program, why did Dayton Hyde found the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary?
- How does Dayton Hyde fund IRAM and the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary?
- How is the work of Dayton Hyde impacting wild horse population and issues of land use?
Wild Horse Ancestors
Wild horses, like those in the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Refuge in Montana, have a unique genetic background. Blood testing has shown that the Pryor horses are primarily derived from horses with Spanish ancestry. Wild horses in other areas have different unique genetic makeups. Some common breeds are listed and described on the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Refuge web site.
- How are these breeds different? How are they similar?
- How do the traits of each breed help these horses adapt to the environment in which they live?
- Why are the breeds found in different sanctuaries or refuges around the country genetically different from each other?