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pioneer spirits

We might still ride horses to round up the cows, but running wild, feral horses are just a competitor for grass and water. 

Surveil. Chased, repousséd, and oxidized aluminium panel in alder frame. 2014.

Alberta has an estimated 880 feral horses (minimum, based on the annual count (1)), descended from animals brought in for mining and logging in the the early 1900’s, and turned loose when the operations folded. It isn’t surprising, therefore, that people are very attached to the horses as a symbol of the pioneer spirit.

Ironically, it seems that feral horses in the developed world are under threat, their need for a share of natural resources scrutinized precisely because we no longer use them to aid our own survival. 

Wild horses must constantly move to find grass and water to survive, and they inspire us because they survive. They need so little, even in such a harsh climate. We use other sources of energy to do our work now—because horses simply lack adequate horse-power. Out of fashion, they are transformed into a different kind of resource: feral horses can be captured and put to any use, or their lives ended. 

Next year’s feral foals are gestating: I am left asking just how inspired we are by our past, and what of their future? 


1. http://esrd.alberta.ca/lands-forests/land-management/feral-horses/feral-horse-faqs.aspx

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