Wild Horses of the West

A young foal grazes near its mother on the desert prairie.

Dust rises as a helicopter drives horses from the air while wranglers work them on the ground. Wild horses are rough and tough. So are the cowboys trying to catch them.

Wild horse roundups are a costly and controversial process controlling the size of wild horse herds. Even though some wild horses can die during a roundup, government officials say roundups still benefit the herd. "The whole gather really brings a lot of mixed emotions," says Kevin Lloyd, BLM wild horse specialist. Captured wild horses stand in a corral, awaiting adoption."We really want the best for these horses. We want them to thrive in an ecologically balanced way, but to do that we have to manage them and that can sometimes be difficult."

Captured wild horses are adopted at auction. Horse gentler Marion Johnson is a regular on the wild horse adoption circuit. He's there to show not shop. "You've got to have a lot of respect for the horse or you can get hurt real easy," says Mario Johnson, horse trainer. "If you're not respectful of them, what they're doing, what's going on, you can get into a lot of trouble. Yeah, fear is something that protects me just like it protects the horse."