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Mustang

  • As the Mustang series comes to an end, host Ashley Ahearn looks at the complicated relationship between ranchers and wild horses and meets an indigenous woman working to save reservation horses from being sold for slaughter.
  • Dr. Yvette Running Horse Collin is a Lakota scientist who studies the history of Native Americans and horses. Through her research, she is challenging the dominant narrative that horses went extinct on this continent in the last ice age and did not reappear until European explorers came to the New World. Ashley joins Dr. Running Horse Collin on her ancestral lands in the Black Hills of South Dakota during the time of the Sundance Ceremony. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Boo and Ashley nap in the sun and reflect on trust and love and adventures to come.
  • Mustang genes are like those of our country: mixed and mingled, influenced by wave after wave of immigration. Mainstream science tells us the modern-day mustang is descended from horses brought over by the Conquistadors, who used them to subjugate the Indigenous peoples of Central America. But what if the horse wasn’t introduced by newcomers, but was here all along, living alongside the Indigenous peoples of North America? Meanwhile, back at the ranch, while Boo eats his breakfast one morning, Ashley plucks some of his mane to send off to a genetics lab to find out what Boo’s genes can tell us about the history of wild horses.
  • The West has tens of thousands of wild horses. And sometimes it seems there are almost as many opinions on what to do with them.
  • Stefanie Skidmore runs Wild Horse Outreach and Advocacy, a nonprofit where she trains and rehomes troubled mustangs. She believes even the toughest mustangs can have productive, good lives in captivity, but we have to approach them with the same patience and empathy we strive to show our fellow humans. Stefanie is on the autism spectrum and says her unique brain gives her a special connection with wild horses who are learning to navigate the world of humans. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Ashley has her own training struggles with Boo when he bites her and drags her during a session.
  • Journalist Ashley Ahearn gave up the city life when she and her husband moved to the rural sagebrush country of Washington state. And things took a significant turn when she opted to adopt a wild mustang named Boo.
  • For some ranchers, mustangs are seen as trash horses that litter the range, taking much-needed grass from cattle and destroying expensive fencing and water infrastructure. Ashley heads to Winnemucca, Nevada to talk to a fifth-generation rancher who runs his cows in wild horse country. But unlike many ranchers, Will DeLong doesn’t want the wild horses gone – they’re entwined with his family’s history – he just wants them better managed. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Boo bucks Ashley off and she gets teased about it by the cowboys at the local bar.
  • Native American Nations across the West have long revered the horse as a cultural symbol as well as a weapon of resistance to conquest by European settlers. Today, thousands of wild horses live on Reservations and are managed by Tribal Nations. Ashley travels to the Spokane Reservation in Washington to meet a woman who is finding a new path for the horses rounded up there. The Spokane have long been a horse people, and today the tribe is managing wild horses on their reservation in ways that keep horses in balance with other animals, plants and medicines the tribe values. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Boo experiences his first trip in a horse trailer.
  • The BLM often uses helicopters to round up wild horses and get them off the open range. The images and videos are hard to watch: groups of horses racing through the sagebrush trying to escape, foals separated from their mothers. Some get caught in barbed wire or are injured and have to be euthanized. Activist groups say the roundups are cruel and should be stopped. Ashley visits with activists in Reno who claim fertility control (read: mustang birth control shots) are the solution to keeping wild horse numbers in check. Perhaps easier said than done. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Ashley keeps fattening Boo up and wonders if he had a choice, would choose the easy life or the wild life?
  • Just as her new podcast “Mustang” is dropping its premiere episode, Ahearn visits with Morning Edition host George Prentice to talk about her very personal … and now, quite professional, passion.