During the infamously heartbreaking BLM 2014 Checkerboard Roundup in Wyoming, a chance encounter between a regal wild stallion and acclaimed photographer Carol Walker changes both of their lives forever. The new photo documentary book, Galloping to Freedom: Saving the Adobe Town Appaloosas, is the result of that encounter. In this, the third book for this multiple-award winning author and artist, Walker’s evocative photographs and poignant prose document the story of rescuing the stallion she named Bronze Warrior and his band of mares and offspring from different BLM holding facilities and reuniting them in a place where they could live out their lives together, safe and undisturbed. Like every satisfying animal story, the venture is not without difficulties and sorrows, but ultimately, this is a tale of triumph and joy. And even better: It is true.
Aged horses such as Bronze Warrior (22 when he is captured) usually are the last to be adopted and therefore are the most likely to spend their remaining years in cramped BLM pens without their families. Especially concerned for this gallant stallion and his band, Walker reaches out to Manda Kalimian of the Cana Projects for help; the two share Thoreau’s belief that “in wildness is the preservation of the world.” Together, these two staunch and vocal wild horse advocates win over even the BLM bureaucracy to the effort. Susan Watt, of the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, is the third “Reunion Team” member.
The story is, by turns, nerve-wracking and frustrating, thrilling and surprising, charming, heart-warming and delightful. The captivating photographs likewise offer a widely ranging emotional journey, from touching to powerful. In combination, the images and story build to a victorious resolution. By journey’s end, one is struck by the horses’ timeless elegance and dignity, whether enduring a brutal holding facility or soaring in spirited freedom. One is equally moved by the dogged perseverance of the humans in the story.
So, Reader, beware: This book might change your own life forever.