FOREWORD: (Born Survivors on the Eve of Extinction)
Mustangs! Who wouldn't associate this word with wild herds
of splendid horses, with an impressive landscape for a backdrop, a touch of freedom, the
gracefulness of powerful action, and perhaps also a trace of romance? Not very many people
know, however, that mustangs vary distinctly, and some mustangs represent, as is outlined
in this book, something very special.
In regard to the development of our
culture, there is hardly another animal of greater importance than the
horse, and hardly one one more praised. And yet, we have treated him
badly and have done him great injustice: We have all but wiped out the
horse as part of Nature. We have changed him through selective breeding
to conform with our ideas and needs, and all too often we deprive him of
more of his freedom than we realize, because today, we have lost that
understanding of the horse as a creature inseparably tied to his natural
environment. Recently, this has been felt by many, and therefore, many
feel a strong and intimate attraction to the primitive horses. Mustangs
are, however, ferel horses.
At this time, we don't know for certain
how many different forms of horses existed before man started to exert
his influence. The discussions about the origin of our domestic horses
won't stop. According to one theory, there was only one single root --
the horse we know today as the Mongolian Wild Horse, often called "Przewalski
horse." Other authors see the cradle of our domestic horses
in a variety of primitive horses. Whatever the final word may be in this
discussion -- the wild horses adapted superbly to all conceivable
factors in their environment, gave to our domestic horses the genetic
basics which permitted the breeding towards diverse abilities. They were
also endowed with valuable inherent qualities which by now our domestic
horses no longer possess.
Whenever in any region remainders of a primitive race of
horses are discovered, it deserves our utmost attention, because in a time as fast-moving
as ours, it may be a matter of just a few years and something irretrievable might be lost.
This book is about such a case. As late
as the middle of the 20th century, it became known that Iberia must have
had its own form of horse -- today known as Sorraia horse. Very
few of these horses still exist today, but Hardy Oelke reports that many
of the characteristics of the Sorraia horse are found among the North
American mustangs. What's more: Many mustangs resemble the Sorraia!
This lends an extraordinary importance to
some mustangs, because they bring to our eyes a facet of the original
wealth of forms of European wild horses. As the remaining Sorraias in
Europe are so few, we must not miss out on the opportunities this
discovery holds for us. There is immediate need for action: Along with
the efforts to control the total number of mustangs, the existence of
the Sorraia mustangs is in jeopardy.
By focusing on this aspect, and describing it so vividly,
this book becomes one of the most important and especially responsible works published
about horses in recent years.
One can only wish that the book in hand
will find the broadest attentiveness and hope that Hardy Oelke's urgent
call for help will meet widely with response and recognition. May this
book inspire many people -- not just the horse enthusiast among us -- to
become instrumental in securing a future for the Sorraia mustangs.
Eve of Extinction
(1997) 8 x 10.5" Hardcover, 95 pages, over 90
spectacular full color photos. Extensive bibliography. $29.95 plus $5.05
Priority Mail to US addresses.
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