Mustangs | Spirit of the Shrinking West, National Geographic Magazine: Wild Horse Herd Walks Through Dust to Water

Young horse walks through middle of wild horse herd in sepia-colored dust cloud.

Dust rises in dry summer heat as a herd of wild horses moves to the waterhole in northern California. The alpha mare decides when the herd will go, but social hierarchy determines the order in which groups of horses will drink. A young foal spritely walks in the center of the herd protected from predators.

In the wild, a horse can survive by filling up on water just once every other day.  A thousand pound horse, however, can consume approximately 10 gallons of water in a single day. Drought and wild land fire place pressures on the wild horse that competes for resources with wildlife and cattle in the West.

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