Are Wild Horses Dangerous

Bob Roberts
• Monday, 14 December, 2020
• 22 min read

We are taking children to visit wild horses held by the Bureau of Land Management. We instructed the children before we arrived at the facility to see the horses that they shouldn’t approach any of the mustangs.

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Many people want to approach wild horses ; however, it is best to observe them from a distance for your safety and their best interest. Here is an excellent video dealing with a mare that has attacked its owners, and bitten them multiple times.

A horse’s rear leg kicks are powerful enough to break bones and kill animals and humans. Horses that don’t have the option of fleeing or feel threatened will bite and stomp an opponent with their front legs.

When humans approach horses, their instinct is to flee but left without an option, they attack and deliver devastating punishment. However, most parks and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have separate regulations in place.

So if you anticipate contact with wild horses, confirm with the park rangers or the BLM the requirement for the location you plan to visit. And although the general rule is to give the animals a 50-foot cushion, many parks don’t want you to get closer than 100 feet.

Total wild equines on public rangeland-88,000 Wild horses account for approximately 72,000 of the animals Burros are estimated at over 16,000 Besides the horses and burros free-ranging, the BLM also houses close to 50,000 animals at government holding facilities. The Government estimates that the land has water and grazing resources for approximately 26,500 animals.

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In this same study, the BLM estimated that each wild horse kept in captivity cost $50,000 per animal over its lifetime. They calculated that it would cost one billion dollars to care and treat the animals at the current population.

They are tasked with the management of federal public lands, which includes, among other things, the responsibility to oversee the wild horse and burro program. To facilitate this, they employ a two-prong approach, first is the removal of the animals, and second is controlling their ability to reproduce.

The BLM removes horses and with the goal of placing them in a good and safe home. In conjunction with the removal program, the BLM is also actively taking steps to suppress the rate of births of wild horses.

First, the follow-up shot is only possible if the herd is tracked, and even if the horse receives the booster, the usefulness of the drug wears off after one year. The BLM is working with universities and private companies to develop a more efficient drug and permanent sterilization methods.

Not all wild horses are the same, but generally, they’ve evolved into hardy animals, with strong bones and tough feet. The population of wild horses is exploding; currently, over 88,000 mustangs are roaming public land, and at the rate they are reproducing, they could double their number in 4 to 5 years.

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The act is called Congress recognized that free-roaming horses and burros have a symbolic and historical value that warrants preservation. The act provides wild horses protection against capture, branding, harassment, and death and recognized the animals as an integral part of the natural system.

Large herds of horses can reduce the amount of dry forage, which is fuel for fires. Wildfires are best defined as prey animals and owing to this reason they might pose some danger, especially when kept in a confined and completely unfamiliar environment.

As they aren’t familiar with humans, these horses tend to perceive them as a major threat. Over the next few sections of this article, we will discuss how and why wild horses are dangerous and the things you can do if you encounter them in the wilderness.

It is also worth noting that stallions and other wild horses separated from a large herd may be aggressive even without provocation. According to an average estimate, these animals are growing by a whopping 20 percent at an annual scale.

These horses are also deemed problematic due to their grazing habits which are known to wipe out plants while also endangering additional wildlife. If these horses continue reproducing at their current scale, they might as well destroy our ecosystem in the long run.

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Wild horses primarily inhabit grasslands and if you are lucky enough you might as well encounter them during a hike or a camping tour. However, this distance may vary depending on the regulation of the park or the bureau where you spotted the horse.

If you expect spotting wild horses on a trip, it is best to consult the same with the designated park ranger. Follow the regulation of your designated park and make sure you do not distract or provoke the horses at any point.

If the situation permits, immediately move away from their path and avoid walking in the middle of a herd. In the wilderness, you will find them in smaller herds with one animal (stallion) dominating the rest.

Since wild horses are not domesticated animals, it always makes sense to exercise a safe distance from them. Obviously, since horses are animals, they are relatively predictable (they have known behavior patterns), but can be very unpredictable (they are autonomous creatures).

Even at that, in general, they are somewhat like deer; if they feel threatened, their first instinct is to evade the danger. However, they are tougher animals then deer, and they are well aware that they can defend themselves to some extent: their legs are so powerful they could kill you.

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There's not a lot you can do as far as protective gear is concerned, short of carrying a weapon (I don't recommend). Pepper spray or other chemical solutions won't do a lot of good since they're coming at you.

Don't get too close to wild horses (no close-ups with a 50 prime), don't make loud noises: avoid frightening them in any way. The wild horses of the southeastern United States attract thousands of visitors each year to the few places they have survived along coastal areas of Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia.

Although at times the horses may appear to be docile, especially when standing around or resting, you must remember that they are indeed wild. From your point of view, hitting a horse can cause serious injury to you and damage to your vehicle as well.

Wear comfortable walking shoes that can get dirty and muddy and dress for the weather. Becoming overheated in the summer or too chilled in the winter can be dangerous, especially if you have a long walk ahead of you.

Also, remember to take along common sense items like bottled water, insect repellent, and sunscreen. If you want to end up with good results, take a camera that has a reasonably powerful zoom feature and avoid any temptation to move too close to the horses for that great close-up shot.

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Using common sense, maintaining a respectful distance and following the rules is the best way to have a successful and memorable experience with the wild horses. My “what-if” mentality persisted well into adulthood until I finally realized that there was a lot I could do to decrease the chances of dangerous horse experiences.

While horses can be dangerous, risks can be substantially mitigated with things like knowledge, situational awareness, and safety equipment. Yet, if you ask any seasoned equestrian about how the risks associated with horses influence their decisions to ride, the vast majority will tell you that danger and injury are a negligible part of horse riding and pale in comparison to the appeal of horse/human partnership.

Most equestrians agree they gain far more than they risk by spending time with horses. Practical preparedness includes, at minimum, a proper-fitting helmet, safe footwear, and a qualified coach or mentor.

Boots that are safe for horseback riding have at least a 1 heel that minimizes the chances of accidentally getting stuck in the stirrups during a fall and causing you to be dragged by the horse. Boots with heels also help you keep your feet securely in the stirrups, increasing your balance, while riding.

Safety gear is essential, but finding a qualified and knowledgeable equestrian guide also is critical. The emergency dismount is a method of jumping off a horse’s back quickly in case things get out of hand.

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(Source: americanwildhorsecampaign.org)

Stay Calm If you haven’t noticed already, you will soon find that horses are incredibly intuitive animals. They are also flight animals, meaning that whatever uneasiness they pick up on in their surrounding “herd” (horse or human) will affect their own mental and emotional state.

There are several things that new horse riders can learn from basic equine psychology. Another thing you need to realize is that horses can be startled easily, so don’t make big, sudden movements around them.

Likewise, don’t make loud and unprecedented noises that might scare them. A strong but peaceful presence will foster trust between you and any horse you encounter.

We get to interact with remarkable, profoundly intuitive creatures that genuinely want to be our friends. She focuses on communication between horse and rider, with an emphasis in kind training tactics.

She resides in Auburn, WA, USA, with her husband, and daylights as a non-profit administrator. During her second journey through “America’s Outback,” the experienced Long Rider made a discovery regarding equine behavior.

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Her eyewitness experiences resulted in the creation of a simple, effective and inexpensive device that could save human lives. While those who inhabit an urbanized world may be unaware of it, horses have long presented a potentially lethal threat to humans and other animals.

The image (above) shows a mustang stallion in Wyoming’s Red Desert trying to kill a dog owned by photographer Rob Palmer. The Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration explains that for the first time in history large numbers of humanity have no meaningful daily experience with the animal world.

Bullet is a professor of history at Columbia University, one of whose specialities am the influence of animals in the development of human society. Bullet contends that in our current era civilized man has undergone a sea-change in terms of his relationship with animals.

The result, Bullet cautions is, “a pronounced humanization of companion animals that shows up particularly in their becoming characters in novels, movies, and cartoons.” In the movie, The Lion King, for example, prey animals, such as a Meerut and warthog, are depicted as wise teachers who counsel the predator.

Yet thanks to a variety of recent cultural misconceptions, horses are now commonly depicted as being peaceful herbivores that lack any defense except flight. Advocates of his theory have forgotten about the “Sultan Stallions” who were observed utterly destroying wolves on the Central Asian steppes.

horses wild horse stallion mustang trail notes continents different
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Nor was this equine aggression restricted to one sex, as was proved by Rosette the French army mare who gleefully disemboweled enemy soldiers during Napoleon’s invasion of Russia. For example, because of Josef Stalin’s ruthless agricultural policies, 47 % of all Russian horses, fifteen million animals, were lost in the two-year period of 1928 to 1930.

As a result of the overall demise of horses in farming, military and travel in the last century, the groundwork was laid for the unforeseen formation of an intellectual equestrian vacuum. Adding to this collective human amnesia is the contributing fact that the vast majority of people who are still involved with horses primarily limit their dealings to mares and geldings.

Thus, despite thousands of years of evidence indicating how dangerous equines can be, millions of people have become largely out of touch with the natural world of horses. The horse is an agile athlete who can run, jump, rear and turn round in less than the length of his body.

His supple neck sways like a rearing cobra, ready to strike with a mouthful of dangerous teeth. Scientists have established that receiving a horse kick is similar to being struck by a bowling ball travelling at 80 mph.

When horses use their front hooves aggressively, a blow is struck by the sharp edge of the hoof which smashes their enemy into jelly. This used to be such a common occurrence that Charles Dickens’s killed off a prominent character in Great Expectations by having the man die in this manner.

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By matching their agility to their ability to deliver crippling blows, horses can strike left, right and backwards with incredible precision. Victims of such an attack, be they harmless humans or dangerous predators, have had their skulls shattered, bones fractured and internal organs severely injured by such heavy blows.

To understand what destructive and powerful weapon’s a horse’s teeth can be, we need only recall the description of one of the many victims of the “Man Eater of Lucknow.” According to nineteenth-century English authors, Great Britain’s King George IV presented a beautiful bay thoroughbred to his fellow monarch, the Maharajah of Rude.

This occurred when Knight on chanced upon a trampled bloody mass which bore a faint resemblance to a human figure. When he stopped the buggy to satisfy his curiosity, the journalist discovered it was the corpse of a native woman who had been terribly disfigured by the horse which was terrorizing the city of Lucknow.

“The body was bruised and lacerated in all directions, the scanty drapery torn from the form; the face had been crushed by teeth into a shapeless mass; the long matted hair, which fell in bundles over the road, was all clotted with blood. The attack, which occurred in Sunderland, England in 2012, left Steven with bite marks, bruising and swelling on his chest.

The combination of agility, strength, speed, deadly kicks and meat-ripping teeth allows a horse to inflict terrible wounds or kill his opponent with relative ease should he feel the need to defend himself. Many people lump horses in with cows; believing them to be non-violent herbivores who use their teeth to nibble succulent greenery.

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Though he is well known today for having created Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a devoted student of history and a keen observer of deadly horses. In his book, Sir Nigel, Conan Doyle not only provided a lengthy account of the Hundred Years War, he described the actions of a stallion who had slain many men.

The infuriated horse catches the victim in his teeth, shakes him viciously, throws him into the air and then stomps him to death. In 1886, he killed his last victim, a Canadian groom named Brady, by shaking the man to death.

The combination of agility, strength, speed, deadly kicks and meat-ripping teeth allows a horse to inflict terrible wounds or kill his opponent with relative ease should he feel threatened or the need to defend himself. For example, English Long Rider James Wentworth Day wrote, “Anyone who has been chased by a stallion, as I once was, will not forget the nightmare of those bared teeth, flashing eyes and blood-curdling screams.

This seldom understood part of the horse’s nature hasn’t disappeared and Long Riders have encountered aggressive equines in a variety of countries. Bill Holt in France, Jane Dot chin in England, Temple Abernathy in America, Memo Phillips in Spain, Henry Savage Lander in Tibet and Bonnie Folk ins in Mongolia, all endured aggressive attacks by equines.

Nor are many miles any guarantee of success, as one of the world’s most well-travelled Long Riders was nearly killed by a horse. American Long Rider Bernice End has ridden more than 25,000 miles during the eight journeys she has made in the United States and Canada.

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With several thousand miles under her saddle, the experienced traveler left the paved road, opened a gate, entered a large fenced area, rode a quarter of a mile into the open countryside and made camp as the sun set. She had no tent, so after placing her mare, Honor, on a 25-foot picket line, the weary Long Rider got into her sleeping bag.

In addition to camping close to a water hole, unbeknownst to Bernice, a large drum of shelled corn had been put out as bait for wild pigs. Even though many years had passed, describing the event to the reporter caused Bernice distress.

To protect herself and Honor, Bernice tried to drive the stallion off by swinging and hitting the aggressive animal with a rope. In keeping with the tradition of an attacking equine, he came at Bernice with a lowered head and with his ears laid back.

After she managed to saddle Honor, Bernice tried to escape but became lost in the dark and couldn’t find her way back to the gate. Having been overcome with fear, the seasoned traveler sat on the frost covered ground and wept with relief.

She has had other close calls, Bernice told the reporter, including encounters with grizzly bears, but that nighttime attack was the worst experience she has ever endured. Though he is more often remembered as the “father of evolution,” English Long Rider Charles Darwin was an avid equestrian traveler who rode in South America, Africa and Australia.

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“ Horses when savage,” Darwin wrote, “draw their ears closely back, protrude their heads, and partially uncover their incisor teeth, ready for biting…. Every one recognizes the vicious appearance which the drawing back of the ears gives to a horse. And luckily Samantha Szesciorka realized that a common household item could be turned into a potent weapon for self-defense.

In the summer of 2016, Samantha completed her second extensive journey through the wild horse country of northern Nevada. “The weather,” she explained, “ranged from oppressive heat to snow to rain to dust storms.

In stark contrast, Samantha and Sage found themselves either being inspected by curious mustangs or fending off attacks by aggressive wild stallions. But one notable exception occurred when a herd of fifty wild horses boldly galloped up and entered the Long Rider’s camp.

Having endured multiple encounters with wild horses, Samantha gave serious thought to how she might protect herself and Sage from curious or aggressive equines. The Long Rider’s ingenious solution, which I have taken the liberty of describing as a wild horse protection stick,” could be a lifesaver.

“My 100% effective method to scare off wild horse attacks (no matter the size of the herd) is... a plastic bag! I tied an ordinary plastic bag (like you get in a grocery store) to the end of a short English riding crop.

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Multiple tests, done in the field, with varying numbers of wild horses, proved the effectiveness of Samantha’s device. So when they charged, I simply pulled out the crop and gave it a few shakes (this inflates the bag and makes that distinctive crinkly sound).

And in recalling how Bernice End endured a nighttime attack, Samantha learned that the device works equally well in the dark. “Unfortunately, the attacks often came in the middle of the night when I was fast asleep, so I took to keeping the crop/plastic bag contraption in my tent with me, so I could rush out to defend Sage.

This mustang stallion and his band of wild horses kept their distance thanks to the noise created by Samantha’s wild horse protection stick. Given the aggressive behavior demonstrated by some Nevada mustangs, a person might be forgiven for thinking that all wild horses are potentially dangerous.

In fact another Long Rider, making a journey at the exact same time, on a different continent, proves otherwise. Kimberley Delivered is a young Long Rider who is making a 3,500-mile solo ride along Australia's tough Bicentennial National Trail.

A lot of people (illegally) feed the wild horses that come in the neighborhoods, so the horses have no cause to be wary or aggressive. Yet Samantha’s journeys into the sparsely populated and remote regions of Nevada confirm that horses which have little or no interaction with humans can present a potential threat.

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The well-known Australian explorer, Mr. Stuart, recorded a striking account of stupefied amazement together with terror which resulted when an Aborigine native witnessed a mounted man for the first time. He stood incapable of moving a limb, riveted to the spot, mouth open and eyes staring.

He could not speak, and answered not a word to my inquiries, but trembling from head to foot, waved with his hand for me to be off.” That might seem to be a quaint episode from the colonial past, except for the fact that as fewer people journey on horseback the sense of amazement has returned when pedestrians witness the unexpected arrival of a Long Rider.

Case in point happened in 2011 when Long Riders Billy Benchley and Christine Hence arrived in Uganda. Regardless of whether the horses encountered are wild or domestic, a Long Rider would be wise to remember the hard lessons of the past.

When their numbers increase to the point where their land can’t support them, they are rounded up and adopted out to people all over the country. Wolves and mountain lions (also known as cougars or pumas) pose the biggest threat, but packs of coyotes, feral dogs, or even alligators have been known to attack young or injured horses.

Still, if you live in an area where large predators are present, take precautions to protect your horses and other pets. Plenty of predators will seize the opportunity to snack on a young domestic horse, especially one that is alone in a paddock.

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A healthy newborn horse can stand and run in just a few short hours after birth. Their eyes are located on the sides of their heads, which gives them a wide view of the landscape for any sneaky predators.

Even though most large predators don’t waste their time with wild horses, they still pose a threat to the American Mustang. Size : 80 to 100 pounds Territory : Wolves prefer the dense forests and mountain regions of the Northern Hemisphere, but can survive in a variety of habitats.

As settlers moved westward, wolves were almost completely eradicated due to conflicts with cattle ranchers. Size : 130 to 185 pounds Territory : “The cougar thrives in montane, coniferous forests, lowland tropical forests, swamps, grassland, dry brush country, or any other area with adequate cover and prey.” (source) Characteristics : These predators are athletic solo hunters.

They stalk their prey and rely on the element of surprise, but they can run and leap great distances. Wolves and mountain lions pose the biggest threat to wild horses, but there are other large predators that horses will avoid.

They generally prefer to hunt smaller game, like fish, birds, or small mammals. Coyotes are clever pack hunters, and they rarely start a fight that they might not win.

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Horses are too large, and they pose too big of a threat to a coyote’s health for him to bother. Still, if a pack of hungry coyotes stumbles across a young or injured horse, they may seize the opportunity.

In Florida, the Payne's Prairie Reserve is home to alligators, bison, black bears, and wild horses. Alligators mostly eat fish, birds, and small mammals, but will occasionally attack horses and cows.

While they mostly cause trouble for cattle and other domestic livestock, dogs tend to be bolder and more aggressive than wolves or coyotes. Wolves and coyotes occasionally mate with domesticated dogs, creating new hybrids.

Venomous Snakes North America is home to several species of deadly snakes, such as rattlesnakes, copperheads, and water moccasins. A significant bite from one of these species carries enough poison to cause swelling, shock, or even death.

BisonBoth bison and horses are herd animals, and generally, have neutral interactions when their paths cross. West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis have deadly results in both horses and humans.

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DiseaseBacterial infections from wounds, communicable viruses, and fungus all pose threats to wild horses. Several wild horses on Chincoteague island succumbed to a “swamp cancer” caused by a fungus in stagnant water.

When wild horse populations reach critical levels, they are rounded up and either adopted to willing families or housed on private farms and feedlots. But because they have few natural predators, the Bureau of Land Management and other agencies are trying to curb their numbers in other ways.

Horses compete for resources with cattle, and they can cause significant damage to the land. Even though humans seek to prevent harm from wild horses, once a mustang is rounded up and sent to a new home, he’s no longer living freely.

A wolf does have the ability to kill and then eat a horse, however, due to their low numbers, attacks are not common. Though the horse isn’t native to North America, there are still wild free-roaming animals on the range.

I've talked to a few cattle ranchers over the years, and they all reckon brumbys are crazy as hell, they're very territorial and will attack you and keep on going until you're dead, especially if they have babies. Rubies aren't dangerous to anybody except for the idiots who try to train or tame them, or who round them up for dog food.

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I've never heard of a case in which a wild horse actually attacked a human, unless that human was stupid enough to corner the animal or to approach a mare who had a foal. I think you need to go back and review your “gender studies” a little more, pal.

I reckon they want to diminish the romance of the wild horse by making them seem dangerous to human life, so more people will support their cause. Like a horse was being attacked by a mountain lion, and he fought and killed it to survive.

Rubies, who are most likely scared of humans will run away once they here something coming. However, if you walk up to a stallion and attack it, it will probably fight back.

We don't like competition, will do what is necessary to protect what we feel is ours, and if that means death of an animal so be it (mind set a lot of ranchers (not all) seem to have). Venomous snakes are hands down the most dangerous critters in the Aussie bush.

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