Horses are synonymous with most of the world’s perceptions about the American West. When Spanish explorers reintroduced them in North America in the 1500s, horses had not been on the continent for thousands of years. But once reintroduced, they quickly became highly prized and admired for their strength, speed, and innate intelligence, not to mention their natural beauty. They changed Native American cultures, played an important role in the opening of the West to immigrant settlers, and, since those days, they have often served as iconic images in film and fiction. The presence of horses that still run wild and free in some pockets of the West fires imaginations and animal rights advocates even today.
Celebrated equine photographer JOHN S. HOCKENSMITH’s new book, Spanish Mustangs in the Great American West: Return of the Horse to America (University of Oklahoma Press 2009) features stunning, full-color photographs of modern horses that “carry the distinctive traits of their Spanish, Arab, and Barb forebears.” Hockensmith captures these moving, dramatic images in the Rocky Mountain region and on the rolling grassy plains of the West, and focuses a spotlight on their magnificence and continued presence even as many oppose the wild horse herds and others fight to maintain them.
Not only is Kentuckian John Hockensmith an inspiring photographer, but he paints and sculpts, writes both prose and poetry. He’s garnered significant recognition in all categories. His co-writer, Michele MacDonald is a professional journalist and media relations consultant who has been devoted to horses all her life and international racing is her best known venue. This is her second collaboration with Hockensmith. I have to say, they are a winning team!
This is a must-have holiday gift for any horse lover, or for anyone who feels strongly about preserving wild life.
For more on John S. Hockensmith