In a Land of Awe-Book Review
I recently read Chad Hansons book, In a Land of Awe. Chad and his wife Lynn have been my Instagram friends for several years, and we are connected by our mutual love of wild horses. All the images in this post, are his.
Chad starts out the book talking about how he and Lynn just stumbled onto wild horses one day. They weren’t looking for them, they didn’t even know they were in the area. But that single moment started him down a different lifepath that revolves around our wild mustangs. He writes about the feelings that seeing them evoked, and how they soon became an obsession. As I read this, I thought back to my first encounter with wild horses, and how my life changed as well. It’s easy to become enthralled, and obsessed.
Chad soon spends a lot of time looking for, looking at, and researching where to find even more wild mustangs. He mentions how he use to fish, hike, and mountain bike, but doesn’t do very much of that anymore, because, wild horses.
In Wyoming, where Chad lives, a good chunk of the BLM land that has wild horses, also has cattle. He talks quite a bit in the book about the destruction cattle reap on the land, but yet horses are constantly targeted for removal to “restore a balance on the range”, and of course to make room for more cattle. The word feral is used in conjunction with our wild horses, because as he states, feral downgrades their status in the eyes of the world. But “Wild”, that brings to mind freedom, majesty, and all the good things our wild horses actually are. Since it’s a proven fact that horses are from North America, the word feral does not apply. But cattlemen and the BLM want the horses viewed as pests, not needed, not wanted. God forbid we call them wild, majestic, and awe inspiring. Which is what they certainly are.
Chad talks in the book about the pandering to the livestock industry by the BLM, and how in a time when more and more people are seeking out wild places, this view is clearly not in line with what the rest of us want. The BLM wild and horse and burro program is tasked with managing our wild horses, but as he states, they clearly are more interested in their rancher friends from the area, then actually managing the horses.
The history of our country has brought us here, he explains. Taming the land, growing food, raising livestock, making money. Clearly we need food, but the balance in land use tends more to agribusiness, than wildlife. He points out, we need wild places, and the wildlife who live there. So many animals have already disappeared due to the greed of man.
I love the stories that Chad weaves in the book. His personal experiences with horses in the red desert, their trip to South Dakota, and North Dakota. It’s clear that he feels a heartfelt connection to our wild mustangs. He talks about the emptiness after a roundup, the unfairness of the roundup process, and how BLM makes up their own AML numbers to justify these roundups.
Bringing together all these elements, and showing us why we need wildness, and wild horses specifically is what this book is all about. Why we all deserve to experience that sense of awe when viewing our wild mustangs, and why our future generations deserve the same.
When you become passionate about something, you want to save it, and preserve it. And this is exactly what Chad does. He is co-founder of the Wyoming Mustang Institute, which works through research and advocacy to ensure healthy and stable wild horse populations and public land.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in our wild horses, or anyone wanting to learn more. It can be purchased from Amazon at this link.
Chad is also going to give away one book to a lucky reader. All you have to do is comment on this post to be entered into the random drawing. The giveaway will close Oct 12th, and a winner will be chosen.