Cloud – the documentary

That most have touched a lot of people..

 

The first Cloud film was a sensation. People had never seen anything like this. I remember I went to a couple of equine events Columbus and in New England where we have over a 100,000 people attend, and people just couldn’t believe that what they were seeing.

 

They had never seen it before?

 

No, and they thought it was so interesting and beautiful – violent but intriguing, gentle and sad. There’s sad moments in all the films. It was the story of a natural animal as he goes through his life. And Cloud now is 18 years old and his days are probably numbered as a major band stallion in the Pryor Mountains.

 

What will then happen to him? What will his life be like?

 

We don’t know. And that is part of the adventure. A true adventure is not predictable. You’re not in control of it and you don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. I just hope I might be there to witness it when something does happen. Not just find that Cloud is missing.

 

How often do you go and see them? Is it every week?

 

Oh no, Cloud lives 600 miles from my offices. Now I’m just going for just three days and it’s possible I won’t even see him. A lot depends on the weather. If it’s nice they’ll be out in the open spaces. If its cold and windy they’ll be in the trees, in the leeside of the hills.

 

Could you tell me about their genetics? Are the horses different from area to area or is it this huge melting pot?

 

The wild horses are very diverse. The Pryor wild horse herds are one of the oldest, if not the oldest wild horse herd in the West. They’re what’s called a Spanish colonial herd. That has been determined by Gus Cothran, an equine geneticist at Texas University. Their colours are strongly Spanish colonial and they typically look a little different. Within 60 miles there’s another wild herd at the McCollough Peaks. It’s a much more contemporary herd with beautiful, coloured pinto horses. They’re bigger than the Pryor horses.

Spanish mustangs tend to be smaller. They have shorter backs and the herd is known for its primitive colours. The fact that they’ve been in the mountains for hundreds of years means that they’ve developed characteristics that would allow them to survive. They’re sturdy and their feet tend to be big. Their bones tend to be a little bigger than some of the desert horses that are more lightly built horses.

In the desert, there’s no reason to be a big boned animal. But if you have small bones in the mountains where the land is so rugged, you could have more broken bones.

The Pryor horses are medium boned, sturdy. When they are removed, it makes them exceptional riding horses in the mountain environments.

 

How many are removed each year?

 

42 last year which is a lot for a small heard. We found great homes for half of them. Nine went back to Virginia to Legacy Mustang Preservation where they’re a show case herd. One gave birth in front of a live web camera and thousands of people were watching even as far away as in Sweden. As far as we know, no Pryor horses have gone to slaughter for the past 15 years.


“The Pryor wild horse herds are among the oldest, if not the oldest wild horse herd in the West. They’re what’s called a Spanish colonial herd.”

 

The Australians look to America for ways to handle their wild horses.

 

They gun them down from helicopters – insanely inhumane.

But their numbers are much higher. We have very few wild horses compared to the number of brumbies in Australia. The estimates are between 250,000-300,000 wild horses and we have perhaps 30,000 wild horses in all the ten western states.

72 per cent of our herds are not genetically viable and that included Cloud’s herd. It means that they are below 150 horses in that entire herd.

The last genetic report that Gus Cothran did in August concluded that the herd needed to be larger if the range could support it.

We have a lawsuit against the Forest Service to re-open areas that they have excluded the horses from. Now we’re seing some behavioural changes in the way they use the range, foraging in  dangerous places where a missstep would cause a hundred foot drop down the cliff.

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