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1: The Mustang/The Myth

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Ashley Ahearn, wearing a cowboy hat and jacket, takes a selfie with black mustang with a white spot on his head.
Ashley Ahearn
Ashley and her Mustang Boo.

For $125 the federal government will sell you a wild horse. So, that’s what Ashley Ahearn did – she bought a mustang from Oregon. What could go wrong? Wild horses have long roamed the open stretches of the American West and the American imagination. They are a powerful symbol that have made their mark on everything from Hollywood to the automotive industry. But now they are caught in the crosshairs of environmental and cultural controversy as their numbers increase and people fight over how to manage them. Do we round them up? Leave them out there to keep reproducing at unsustainable levels? What does the mustang mean to us, today, and what does it tell us about our history? Join Ashley as she meets her mustang for the first time, and starts to explore the complex world of wild horses in the West today.

A transcript of this episode is available.

Editor's Note: It has been brought to our attention that Terry Messmer, who was interviewed for this episode of the podcast back in early April of 2023, resigned from his position as professor at Utah State University after admitting to stealing roughly $25,000 dollars from the university. We were unaware of this development and had not been in contact with Mr. Messmer since our interview was recorded.

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