We love and appreciate the beauty of the Salt River Wild Horses in Tonto National Forest here in Arizona. It is believed that these horses are descended from Spanish horses brought to Arizona by a Spanish missionary in the 1600s. It has been documented that this herd has lived in the area of the Salt River since the late 1800s and probably well before that time. They have been living freely and thriving in this desert landscape. I have enjoyed watching them over the past several years.
Several weeks ago, the US Forest Service announced that it would begin impounding all the horses because they are "unauthorized livestock" as opposed to being classified as wild horses. This prompted a public response from residents, animal activists, and our state and local politicians. Fortunately, the US Forest Service has delayed any action for now as they try to work with the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group and other animal protection groups to agree upon a comprehensive management plan. We desperately need a commitment by the US Forest Service for a humane management program to preserve these Salt River Wild Horses.
If you do make a trip to the Tonto National Forest to visit the wild horses, please follow these tips for viewing the horses in a way that is safe for both horses and visitors:
1. Observe a distance of at least 25 feet from any wild horse at any given time, even if the horse approaches.
2. Do not feed the wild horses.
3. Observe calm and quiet manners at all times around the wild horses.
4. Keep dogs leashed and away from horses.
5. Take photos, but use a zoom lens if possible and no flashes.
6. Observe the horses and their behavior, but don't interfere.
7. Observe the speed limits and watch for horses crossing roads.
8. Observe all Tonto National Forest rules such as No Littering (bad for horses) and purchase Parking Permit
Gallery of Wild Horses Dawn Richards, Inspired by Nature Photography
If you would like more information about these horses or how to support the efforts to keep them wild, please visit the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group, link below.