©2019 C. Henry Martens
Horses are great animals. Beautiful, useful, and easy to be friends with if you find the right one.
There is no such thing as a wild horse. Horses are domesticated animals, changed by human beings to work for the purposes of human beings. Because of the changes… they are not wild, and they don’t survive as well as a truly wild horse would in a natural environment.
So, what are horses if they aren’t wild?
They are feral.
But to the question about damage to the environment.
Most ungulates have bottom teeth and a thick pad of gum with no teeth on the top front of their mouth. This dental configuration doesn’t allow the animals to destroy grass as easily as a top and bottom front tooth configuration.
They have teeth top and bottom.
They use them, especially when grass is sparse, to clip vegetation right to the ground. This kills grass.
Horses are also single-toed animals. Single toes act like grass killing tools. They cut up the soil, getting right down to the roots and exposing them.
If you place all the various types of ungulates in identical pastures, same ground cover, same size… horses will destroy the vegetation turning their space into dirt where cattle or sheep or even hogs will still have something to eat.
Horses will turn acres into dirt where other animals will have green grass after the same amount of time.
Feral horses should not be allowed in the wild spaces.
But my main reason for removing horses is because feral horses live terribly harsh lives. If an owner treated a horse as animals live in the wild… they would be arrested and their animals confiscated. Half of the foals born in any year die before they are a year old. The mares bear a foal every year. They survive well enough to overpopulate, but they die lingering, prolonged deaths. The watering holes feral horses frequent are surrounded by skeletons lying in the sagebrush that tell tales of hoof, leg and teeth injuries that led to death.
Horses deserve better.
We changed them. We owe them…