Obituary: Uncle Sam

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Obituary: Uncle Sam

Obituary: Uncle Sam

October 9th


Run forever free, Uncle Sam.

He died- but, more importantly, he lived… really lived.

He woke up every day in his home where he knew every corner, every horse and every tree.

He was powerful, respected and dignified, but oh so gentle and kind to his foals. He loved every horse in his large band deeply. He watched over them without a break, and protected them with no regard for himself.

He was fierce, he was tough and self proficient. He knew hardship, he overcame heartache, and also overcame severe bodily injury. He knew freedom every day of his life and knew how to enjoy it. He rolled in every sandbank, splashed in every whirlpool and reached for the highest mesquite bean that he could.

He was never chased by a helicopter or separated from his family. He never knew the pain of a whip or the un-kindness that can come from humans.

His ways were the ways of the wild, and he taught it well to all of his 22 offspring. He left his legacy on the Salt River and he left his hoofprints on many hearts.

He died- but, more importantly, he lived… really lived.



Sad, but amazing.. The Funeral of Uncle Sam. Wild horses are deeply emotional and highly intelligent animals. If you know someone who doesn’t get it, please show them this. It is sad, but also amazing.

Several different bands took turns saying their goodbyes. How did they all know there was a death? How did they process and understand it? We have no idea. But, we see this same behavior each time there is a horse death. They are highly social, caring and truly amazing animals.



This week, we found the old but powerful Uncle Sam without his band, all by himself, in pitiful shape. While it was only a week and a half ago that we saw him still with his band, he was now skin and bones, and could barely put weight on either one of his front legs. In addition, he lost an eye and it looked like he had given up on himself.

We immediately fed Uncle Sam, which he was thankful for. It was truly sad to find him so declined from his former glory. We gave him some time, and conferred and assessed him carefully with our wonderful Salt River Ag Liason Makenzie, and with the State veterinarian who made a full assessment and report on him.

Last year, the same Uncle Sam made an amazing recovery from a broken front fetlock/pastern bone. With a little help from us and from his band who stayed loyal to him, he recovered. So we had seen him in bad shape before, and we’ve also seen miracles.

But now it was clearly different. His formerly broken but healed leg was in bad shape right above the old injury, and his good leg had an abscess, so he literally did not have a leg to stand on anymore. In light of his old age, the severity of the injuries, his pain level, and the fact that he had seemingly given up himself, we made the decision to give him a dignified merciful ending.

We are so thankful for the great working partnership with the Arizona Department of Agriculture (AZDA) and Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO).

Humane management includes knowing when to let them go. RIP, Uncle Sam.

These pictures are of Uncle Sam in his glory days, taken by SRWHMG photographer Paul Martin.

Help us celebrate a long wild and free life, SRWHMG.

To support our work in preserving them, please donate towards their humane management.