I am a horse lover. I got the fever when I was a very young child, when I went on a trail ride with my family – I think I was four. The fever just got worse when my parents asked if I wanted to go to Pony Camp. A whole week of riding – for 3 hours a day!
So, when I heard there are wild horses in Mesa Verde National Park, I knew I wanted to see them. However, the 100-150 horses there are persona non-grata, according to the Park Service. They have resided in the area for over a hundred years, thought to be escapees from the nearby Ute tribal lands, but they can be very destructive. They have trampled fragile archeological sites, destroyed water lines near the visitor areas in search of water, and been aggressive towards both employees and visitors. Plus, they compete with the native deer and elk for water and food sources.
I wanted to see them anyway. There has to be a way to manage them so they can coexist…
We had been at Mesa Verde all day. We had seen Cliff Palace and Hemenway House from the overlooks, we had toured Balcony House and Spruce Tree House, and we had visited the Chapin Mesa Archaeological Museum. We were just wrapping up our day, cold from the chilly temperatures and the biting wind, but happy.
As we drove along the flat top of the mesa, heading back towards the entrance, Jon saw them. A flea-bitten grulla and a black. Just two. The grulla ran away immediately, but I was able to get a few photos of the black horse. Just two horses. But that was enough.