They are a symbol of the Wild American West: free, passionate, violent and relentless in their beauty. They are also called pests. Diseased. Nuisances. Worthless.
Wild mustangs often find themselves caught in between the battles of ranchers and conservationists, horse lovers and land managers. They graze on land that cattle companies want for themselves; they destroy precious wetlands in the high deserts of Wyoming and Nevada.
Almost 33,000 of these animals roams the plains of the American West, with another 34,000 of them in Bureau of Land Management holding facilities, awaiting news of their fate.
These horses, descendants of Iberian breeds brought from Europe, are hardy and rough around the edges.
Many horse enthusiasts consider them mongrels, mutts, impure. Others consider them to be indestructible in their physical prowess and unwavering in their loyalty, should one be lucky enough to earn it.
But there are few animals that can inspire such feelings of joy and freedom as the mustang.
More so than the bison or pronghorn or golden eagles, horses take full advantage of the endless grasslands and sloping hills and brief, fierce rain showers of the Wyoming desert.
They play and fight and run and roll through the mud and leave nothing left undone, just in case.
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