Sonny Boys Tours gives you a chance for a unique experience to get a rare glimpse of the distinctive wild horses of the West! OR Explore the magnificent sights of the Great Basin, the Paiute Tribe at Pyramid Lake and more! Four different tours offer a one-of-a-kind encounter that will leave you with a long-lasting memory!
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Horses capture the imagination for many of us. Exactly why… or what it is exactly that fascinates us and compels us stop and absorb their essence… it’s hard to put into words. When you’re lucky enough to spot a horse in the wild! …well the feeling is indescribable! Take that moment today – the opportunity is now to capture a loss for words.
These words bring an image of horses running across the open horizon, manes streaming with the wind, muscles defined with each movement of their stretched-out delicate legs, the sound of thunder as their hooves cascade upon the ground. It is an image that we see in our mind, a vision we connect with in our soul…
TOUR ONE DESCRIPTION
In the early 1970’s, Federal legislation was passed that established the preservation of wild horses: “wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West…” The Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management or BLM became tasked with the job of managing the wild herds.
Horses are routinely rounded up from public lands when they determine the animals cannot be sustained in the ‘wild’. The mustangs are brought to facilities such as Palomino Valley. Wild horses just off the range are vaccinated, freeze-branded, provided medical treatment and given ample supply of food and water. Volunteers work to socialize young mustangs to get them ready for adoption.
The subject of managing the mustangs comes under heated debate. Scores of horse enthusiasts have adopted mustangs over the years, and many mustangs are transformed into sociable, functional equine. Yet, many thousands of horses wait at adoption centers when advocates believe the horses should remain on public lands. Other groups argue that horses left on the range would starve from lack of water and food to forage. The argument continues on whether or not to ‘let em run’ or to take them off public lands.
At the Palomino Valley Center, you will see a variety of majestic mares, feisty foals, stately stallions and brilliant burros. While their appearance seems shaggy and ragged, keep in mind wild horses regularly bite, kick and fight with each other as part of their social behavior.
TOUR TWO DESCRIPTION
Pyramid Lake has been home to the tribe of Paiute’s, who called themselves Kuyuidokado or fish eaters, for thousands of years. There were circumstances when the native Indians fought ruthlessly in trying to keep their land. They battled against the Spanish settlers up until the 1700s, when the Spaniards eventually gave up their quest for gold and returned to their homeland.
The horses left behind by the Spanish soldiers had a strong influence on Native American culture. The Indians saw how the Spaniards took advantage of the speed and agility of the horse, the Indians began to ride on their backs. Horses were adorned with painted symbols to honor the spirits of nature and their ancestors. The Paiute, the Washoe, and the Shoshone tribes in the region fought over the resources of land, water and horses.
Expeditions lead by John C. Freemont and Kit Carson, traversed along north western Nevada with the goal of mapping out trails in 1843. The natives were friendly, peaceful and extended hospitality to the explorers. Pyramid Lake, as you will see from the shape of the limestone formations that protrude from the water’s surface, was named by the French explorer, Freemont. The Kuyuidokado inhabited the area around the pre-historic lake until the European settlers began to desecrate their sources of food and land.
By 1860, as more pioneers ventured west, the way of life for the Indians was jeopardized. The Paiute fought against the soldiers at the Pyramid Lake War to avenge the injustices done to them by white traders. The U. S. Cavalry was deployed to ease tensions and protect white settlers from the ‘savage wild Indians’.
After the ‘west was won’, many soldier horses that were European breeds of large stature were abandon and set free on the open range. Domesticated breeds mixed with the little Spanish horses and Indian ponies to produce a diverse variety of colors and sizes that you see in the wild horses today. Pyramid Lake and the land around it was set aside as a reservation for the Paiute and remains their land.
TOUR THREE DESCRIPTION
Life on the range is not easy. Horses rely on each other for emotional and physical support. They need to band together and form groups, or herds, which is critical in the wild for existence. You will observe the herd behavior and communication between them.
The largest number of wild herds can be found in Nevada. Herds seen on public ranges may have only two or three horses and some travel in groups of ten to twelve. Horses are very prolific — a mare usually gives birth each year to a foal. The male colt at the age of two or three will be outcast by the lead stallion and will form his own herd. Stallions will fight to the death and will not accept competition from other males in the herd.
Out West, the public lands are shared by many wild animals such as mule deer, big-horn sheep, fox, mustang, as well as domestic cattle. The mustangs compete not only with other wild animals but also with the domestic cattle. Ranchers pay a minimal amount to lease grazing rights for their beef. So, the perception is that there is little value to the mustang. Unfortunately, even today, wild horses are illegally shot, poisoned and rustled for slaughter.
The horses throughout the open ranges compete with housing developments and dwindling public lands. Still the wild horse prevails and maintains the fortitude of their ancestors from centuries ago.
TOUR FOUR DESCRIPTION
Mining towns throughout the state of Nevada found free transportation for the taking. Those searching for gold or silver went out on the Comstock, chased down a couple of wild horses or burros, and break them into use for mining.
Remote, desolate deserts became the hub of towns that sprung up throughout the west with people looking to strike it rich! Prospectors and mine owners in the 1800’s used burros, mules and horses to cart, pull, and serve in mining operations. They were essential in all aspects of life and instrumental in the success of the mining business. Nevada mining towns used burros deep in the mine’s caverns. Their small size and agility made them useful deep in the caverns. Their calm nature and even temperament made them better prepared for work in the mines. Some burros never saw the day of light. They were lowered into the mines and spent their life excavating and serving the miners. Of course, today, mining operations in the state rely on technology, but you can only imagine how dangerous life for man and horse was a hundred and fifty years ago!
Imagine the West as it was hundreds of years ago. Enjoy the narrated audio tour that describes the origin of the mustang and discover how the wild horse remains the living symbol of American Heritage.