“El Caballo: The Wild Horses of North America”
Library Journal, September 1, 2002
by Patsy Gray
The controversy over the plight of wild horses, descendants of horses released in this country by the Spanish in the 1500s is little known to most of us. Though some consider these horses to be natives of this country, others believe them to be domestic animals allowed to become feral and destroy pastureland better used for cattle and sheep. El Caballo is an award-winning beautifully videotaped documentary. Using the testimony of experts - wildlife biologists, national park Service personnel, conservation biologists, range ecologists and paleontolgists - El Caballo presents a bias in favor of the horses being native to this country and therefore worthy of more protection. It implies that the government agency created to protect the wild horse, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, actually favors cattlemen. Fences that protect the cattle do not allow the horses freedom to roam in order to prevent inbreeding and overuse of resources. Those who believe the horse to be a domesticated animal that should not be allowed to roam free are given little voice here. Allowing for this bias, the history of the horse in America that this film presents is quite valuable. There are many books on the subject, but few videos. National Geographic’s The Noble Horse (1995) and Eyewitness - Horse (1995) touch only briefly on the animal’s pre-history. Highly recommended for libraries whose patrons have an interest in American prehistory, history of the West, wildlife and horses.