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Mustang: interview with Mary Hone, photographer and wild horses advocate

Recently I have written an introductory article about the problem that is afflicting wild horses in the West. The problem, the possible solutions and the discussions on this matter. You can find the article here.

Fortunately, there are many organizations, and independent people, who are publicly exposing themselves for these horses. Taking parts in events and putting themselves at stake for a change, so more people can be more aware about the problem. That is why I am happy and proud to present you this interview with Mary Hone, which lives in the West, and have a very special bond with Mustangs.

Mary often visits areas in which these horses lives, photographing them, and subsequently organizing exhibitions to raise awareness of the public on this matter. She is also a real mustang advocate, ready to expose herself and discuss with BLM possible solutions about it.

I suggest you to visit Mary Hone Photography and her blog Tales from the back road.

Question: I know that recently (in the past months) you have participated to one of the many Onaqui horses rallies, this one in Salt Lake. I would like to talk with you about it. Especially about the discussions with the BLM (of that day and in general).

Answer: AWHC, or the American Wild Horse Campaign, organized that rally. It was specifically geared towards saving the Onaqui wild horses in Utah. They are the number one advocates for wild horses in the western United States. They are trying to get the BLM to agree to expanding the PZP program to all HMAs and the rally was specific to the Onaqui.

I know they spoke with the BLM the day of the rally, and have had follow up conversations. The day of the rally AWHC said that the Utah BLM is open to compromise on this particular HMA, and that is a step in the right direction.

When I organized the volunteer work day to remove the fence from the Onaqui, I spoke with Tami from the BLM about where we were with talks. She said they had another conference call that coming week with AWHC, but I haven’t heard anything beyond that. It’s critical that horse advocates work with the BLM, as distasteful as this is to so many of us. But BLM makes the decisions on roundups, and if we want the horses to remain we need to work with them. I am the last person who wants to see deadly roundups, and I am a huge advocate for the PZP program. I want to train to volunteer in Utah. But, somehow a middle ground needs to be reached. I don’t know how, I wish I had the answers.

Photo: Andy Barron / AP

Q: Another field that seems interesting to me is the lack of knowledge from normal people. Of course not from BLM or wild horses advocates, but to anyone else seems that this is a problem that don’t exist. Instead is fundamental for our very own heritage. So, you think that the lack of knowledge could be one the causes to the problem with the mustangs? And if so, how people, according to you, can be more connected with it?

A: It is interesting how many people have no idea about wild horses, especially those from the east. We do art shows though out the year, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Arizona. I of course have my wild horse images for sale and that always starts a conversation. Either people have no idea about them, or they do know but don’t realize the attack they are under, or they are on the same page as me. Personally for me, my art is a great way to educate and bring attention to what is going on. I wrote a little about it here.

Beyond that, social media has done a lot for the wild horses too. There are people from all over the country, or the world even who have never seen a horse but call, write and speak up for them. All of this helps. It’s interesting because I have friends from back east that are interested in helping the horses, they see all my images and posts, and they will write their reps and get back better responses than I do in the West. Of course, in the West we have the battle with the cattle people too, which all state reps are aware of. Of course social media is always a good place for bad information too, which there is plenty of that out there too.

Anything that brings the wild horse issues to the forefront is good. The more people aware, the better for the horses it will be. The more pressure on politicians, the better.

Q: What are your advices for people, in America and around the world, to be connected more with the problem? Which suggestions you have for a person who want became active in the promotion of these horses?

A: Anybody, anywhere can write to senators or congressman or the BLM. Especially if you target the congressmen on the committee who makes the decisions. Signing valid petitions also good. AWHC has great info on their website on who to write or call, or ways to be involved. Also donating to AWHC is a great way to help. They are always going to court over issues concerning the horses, and that costs money. Lots of money. They also fund PZP programs.  And if course talking about it, spreading the word is always good.

Photo: Joe Amon, The Denver Post

Q: What are your feelings when you are “close” to a wild horse? What’s going on inside of you in that moment?

A: Wow, that’s a hard one to put into words. It’s peaceful, it’s exhilarating, and it’s just such a connection. For me, it’s like visiting old friends. I’m excited to see how everyone is doing. When they run and I can feel their hoof beats all the way to my soul, it’s a feeling like no other. When it’s peaceful and some are sleeping, or I can just listen to them munching grass, it’s very calming. There are a couple of videos on my “Tales from the back road” facebook page. That gives you an idea what it’s like.

Q: As last question I would like to ask you why you love so much Mustang horses. What inspired you to start photograph them, make exhibition about it, etc…

A: This blog post probably sums it up the best. But I just love everything they stand for, the lives they lead, the sheer freedom they enjoy. Watching the family dynamics is amazing, and humans could learn a lesson from the horses. As far as my art goes, they are incredibly photogenic, and everyone loves horses. Plus, like I mentioned before, the art opens up so many conversations on them. What they are facing, how can we save them. I have so many strong feelings about them, and I feel such a connection to them. All of that comes out in my photography, and art. If you love what you create, or the subject behind the creation, your passion shows.

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