Thursday, March 3, 2011

Adoption: "Chica" from Onaqui HMA, Utah- Challenge Painting #59

Chica is one of two mustangs that Bobby and Karen Strawbridge have adopted from the Onaqui HMA in Utah. At the time of the Adoption the plan was to remove the entire herd. The complete removal of the Onaqui herd was a point that Karen didn't know at the time they adopted. " Had I known I would have gotten more of the herd."

5 by 7 inch Watercolor
by LindaLMartin

The official reason for the complete removal of the herd was lack of sustaining water source and grazing forage due in part to drought.  Even after the  entire herd was thought to have been removed Karen told me  it wasn't long until  she discovered that to everyone's surprise there were still 75 wild horses roaming around on that particular range.

According to the censis in 2008 there were approximately 177 wild horses still in the Onaqui HMA. And From photos by horse watchers at the time, the BLM put out huge wooden watering troughs so the horses remaining would have a water source.

The tenacity and survivability of the Mustang never ceases to impress as they seem to thrive in the wildest places one the least amount of forage. Still many people, my self included, question the wisdom of leaving to chance the water sources needed for the horses to survive on the range. Like some eco-gerrymandering, sometimes the Federally controlled range lands are cut off from water supplies in some desert areas. The lands are often interspersed with private and state lands. Wisdom would say establish a water source on the Federally managed lands and that way in drought the horses wouldn't be invading lands where they might be seen as more than just competition for resources, but where they are more than likely seen as pests and worthy of destruction.

Alas conventional wisdom does not always apply. In this economic time it would seem a far more economical avenue to put in some sort of water source where its needed rather than to entirely remove a herd which costs thousands per horse rather than $25 or $30 a head to establish a fresh water location available to all the wildlife on the range. And pennies per horse to maintain.

When doing a bit of research on the Onaqui Mustangs I came across some very stark photography taken in 2008 and 2009 of the range. Very similar to the Sand Wash Basin in Colorado in plant life, how ever there was far less off it and the vegetation was much lower to the ground. Were that area in normal rain and water levels, one wonders how the range there would look. If you want to know more about the Onaqui Mustangs just search Onaqui Wild Horses and lots of information will appear on google and yahoo.

In their new home with lots of rain, lots of shade from the many hardwood trees, plenty of lush green grass, Chica and her herd mates had gone from complete desert to the green green forests and pastures of the East, specifically in Tennessee. The Mustangs  have more than made the adjustment, they are part of  daily life for the Strawbridges. " Chica is my love" Karen insisted in her last e-mail. In fact Karen and her family have made it their mission to act in an attitude of gentleness and love toward all of their animals. The more I go on my quest of paint a mustang a day there is one over-riding thing I have discovered: the great ability of mustangs to gently show affection once there is a bond of trust between their owners and themselves. More on getting to that point later in the series.

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