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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Trying to save the wild mustang

Photgrapher captures spirit of the American mustang

SOUTHPORT - The photographs of imperiled wild mustangs taken by photographer Esther-Grace Simson will be shown throughout May in an exhibit in the Perkin Gallery at Pequot Library, 720 Pequot Ave.

Wild mustangs are descendants of horses Spanish Conquistadors brought to North America and living emblems of the old West, event organizers said. By the end of the 19th century, two to three million mustangs roamed the Western plains.
Starting in the early 20th century and up to the present day, the horses have been sold for pet food, glue, pony skins and shot for sport.

In 1971 a law was passed to protect mustangs on public lands. But due to pressure from cattle ranching interest groups as well as the oil, natural gas and mining industries, mustangs are again being rounded up in a violent manner, such as helicopter roundups, and herded into federal holding facilities while they await an uncertain future in an inhumane way, event organizers said in a statement.

About 24,000 of the horses are in captivity.

On a recent trip, Simson traveled with her daughter Danielle to the foothills of California’s mountains near Santa Barbara in search of the horses.

Some rescued mustangs reside on 300 acres at the Return To Freedom sanctuary. The mother-daughter team set up various base camps as they followed the grazing bands of mustangs from one spot to another, the statement said.
Simson remembers setting up base camp, and waiting quietly until the horses sent their scouts to appraise and inspect them, the statement said.
They were ultimately welcomed warmly, andeventually nudged by a young stallion, indicating that they were accepted by the various bands of mustangs. The "mission to record the proud nobility of these wild and beautiful animals and to promote an awareness of their sad plight was accomplished," the statement said.

Simson is a member of the Royal Photographic Society and the Equine Photographers Network. Her work has appeared in numerous publications. She is the designated photographer of RJ Masterbug, star of the Disney film Hidalgo, the statement said. Her photographs of RJ have appreared on the covers of Horsemen’s Yankee Pedlar and Saddle Up magazines. She has exhibited nationally and internationally.

The opening reception will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. May 8.
This exhibit is one in a series of shows of amateur and professional photographers curated by Enid Munroe. For more information, call the library at 203-259-0346.

Editor's note: the information in this post was provided by the Pequot Library, It is lightly edited here.

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