Keeping a Safe Distance

You just drove two and a half hours to your favorite HMA.  Or maybe you went for a hike on the Virginia Range.  Just to your west, barely visible, you spot a band of wild horses.

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As you’re watching, some of the horses drift closer, including a mare and foal.  A yearling steps in first for a closer look.  What should you do?

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If you’re in a remote area, where the horses have little or no contact with people, this probably won’t happen.  You’ll need a long lens.  They’ll make sure you keep a safe distance.

What if you’re in a area where the horses are familiar with people?  (Recall this example involving burros.)

Some folks say get out of there if approached by a wild horse.  Good advice?  Or bad lesson for the horse?

Look at the photo above.  No high head, no ear pinning, no tail swishing.  If you step back, if you move your feet, he wins.  You just told the horse you’re lower.

If a horse approaches you respectfully, as in the case above, don’t yield to his pressure.  Stand your ground.  Push back if you have to.  He’ll probably take a few sniffs and move on.

Backing away tells him he’s higher, which may encourage more boldness, more interactions with people.  Bad lesson for the horse.

If a horse approaches you aggressively, pick up a rock, a stick, whatever you can get your hands on, and be ready to throw it.  Raise your posture, look bigger.  Use your voice.  He’ll probably steer clear of you.  Horses are comfort-seeking animals and don’t like confrontation.

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