Wild horses of Butcher Jones Beach are now at the Salt River this year.
On any hot summer day at Butcher Jones Beach, it is tricky to manage your way between a thousand people, loose dogs, coolers and barbecues, if you want to reach the cool water.
Yet this small stretch of not even 800 ft of sand was also the only access point of water for the wild horses that lived there. For a few years, during the busy weekends, we tried to educate people the best we could, and manage the situation when the horses needed water, but it was very challenging and stressful to say the least.
We cleaned the beach of horse manure, and we cleaned lots of trash and the firepits as well, so that the horses wouldn’t get hurt.
On an average Saturday, there were at least a half dozen loose dogs, little kids unsupervised, people who tried to feed the horses sandwiches and watermelons, people who wanted to ride them, and one guy was witnessed picking up a brand newborn foal away from its mother, causing the death of the foal.
Of course, not every person had bad intentions, and most people enjoyed the sight of the majestic creatures on the beach, but overall, for the horses, Butcher Jones Beach was no picnic.
We purely credit the horses and their kind nature, for the lucky fact that no horse/person accident ever happened there.
The local Forest Service had had concerns about this area for years. Eventually last summer when the ATV use and the target shooting left the horses hardly any place to be, the AZDA and SRWHMG agreed that the Salt River wild horses belonged on the Salt River, where they came from. (All of the older horses in the bands were born on the Salt River.)
So in cooperation with the AZDA and Forest Service, we have been working on the humane and gradual relocation of these horses since then. We have posted a lot about how we moved 46 horses under the tunnel last year and how we moved them by method of traveling water stations.
Our way is the patient way, and while this method is time and manpower intensive, it works very well for the horses, because it prevents any stress of pushing them. We also believe it gives them a chance to gradually accept their new (but also old) habitat, so that they do not try to come back.
You can now see all of the Butcher Jones bands, (except for one), on the lower Salt River enjoying the water, mostly in the mornings and the late afternoons. They can also come back to a middle waterstation in the Salt River Valley, so that they can make full use of their 20,000 acre habitat and so that if they wanted to, they can get away from the hustle and bustle of the busy river.
The last band whom we are still in the process of moving is well on their way and the last Butcher Jones horse was reunited with his band on the riverside, this last weekend.
The Salt River has lots of public and visitors as well, and we do worry about that, but at least there are 12 miles and both sides of the river, that the horses have free access to.
The Salt River will probably never get quieter and visitor numbers are only expected rise, so we do need the public’s help, if we all want these horses to remain wild and free.
Therefore we ask sincerely, please respect these icons of the American West and the fact that they need water too.
The Salt River wild horses are protected pursuant to A.R.S. 3-1491. (The Salt River Horse Act). They are managed humanely, which includes a fertility control program and a rescue program when needed.
It is our mission to manage them responsibly and humanely for the public to enjoy. With our fertility control success, we hope that every horse born on the Salt River, gets to live out it’s life on the Salt River.
Please do not attempt to feed wild horses, please do not pursue them, please keep dogs leashed and please keep a minimum of 50 ft distance, for their safety and yours.
Keeping them wild and free,
(Pictures from last summer at Butcher Jones)