Tonto National Forest, Mesa, Ariz. — The public of Arizona fought hard for the protection of the iconic and beloved Salt River wild horses so that they can stay in their home where they have lived for centuries. The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group, whose volunteers are present daily to monitor and steward the wild horses, are seeing more and more incidents of people treating them badly. We offer the following ten tips for safe and enjoyable viewing of wild horses and hope that you will share them.
Please do not approach, touch, chase, tame or feed wild horses;
- Observe a distance of at least 40 feet from any wild horse at any given time. If a wild horse comes toward you, please move out of its way to maintain the distance. Horses may be trying to access water — please allow them to do so. They’re just as thirsty as you are.
- Please do not feed wild horses. Feeding wild horses an inappropriate diet can kill them.
- Do not attempt to tame or touch a wild horse. It is not good for wild horses to become habituated to people as they will then not respect our space anymore and that can result in their loss of freedom.
- Keep dogs leashed at all times and away from the horses. Dogs are naturally inclined to chase horses, which causes horses to flee. They may run towards other people who are recreating or they can injure themselves on rugged terrain. Horses may also defend themselves and kick at a dog that is trying to bite their heels and that can be fatal to dogs.
- Be a respectful observer of wild horse behavior, don’t interfere or chase or follow them when they are walking away from you. Horses have incredible herd dynamics and each behavior has a purpose. That includes “battling,” i.e., stallions challenging each other.
- Take lots of pictures but remember that a pretty picture is never more important than the well being of the subject of your picture.
- Observe the speed limit and heed the watch-for-horses signs. They are strategically placed at actual horse crossings.
- Bring a garbage bag and play a role in cleaning up the Tonto National Forest. If you love wild horses, pick up someone else’s trash!
- Call the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group hotline if you see an injured horses or any emergent situation involving a wild horse.
- Post your pictures of wild horses on the Facebook Page: “Salt River Wild Horses – Advocates” to share them with other Salt River wild horse photographers and advocates.
We hope that people have a great time viewing wild horses, while at the same time keeping the horses’ best interests at heart. Thank you!