In 1971, the Wild and Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act provided for the management, protection and control of all unbranded and unclaimed horses and burros on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
I live not too far from one of the areas in the US set aside specifically for the wild horses—The Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Range near Grand Junction, Colorado. For more than a century, mustangs have made their home there. This range encompasses more than 36,000 acres and is currently supporting approximately 130 horses that roam the pinion-juniper covered hills and the sagebrush parks that make up most of the area. These horses have an advocate group, Friends of the Mustangs, which helps ensure they stay safe from harm. Not all the wild horses in the west are so lucky.
In Wild Horses, Martin Castillo is obsessed with protecting the mustangs that run wild on Arizona’s Apache-Sitgreave National forest. The Bureau of Land Management has decided to round up the mustangs and send them to slaughter. Martin could care less what the government thinks, and does everything in his power to protect the proud and free horses. When two BLM agents are found murdered, and Martin disappears, his sister Castaña comes home to search, and literally runs into Jake Breton, FBI agent.
“Damn, it's hotter than the devil's backyard out here.” Castaña Castillo took one hand off the steering wheel just long enough to swipe at the trickle of sweat running down the nape of her neck and adjust the volume on the radio. One of her favorites, “Amarillo by Morning,” wafted from the speakers.
Not even George Strait's silky smooth voice helped ward off her exhaustion. Castaña’s hands felt like twisted claws wrapped around the steering wheel, and the space between her shoulders ached until she prayed it would go numb. The AC gasped out its last breath of cool air somewhere in the middle of Texas yesterday afternoon. Both windows in her old Dodge were down, blasting June air through the cab like a roar from an open furnace. An enormous red and orange sun sinking out of the Arizona sky made a blinding glare on the bug-splattered windshield.
Her eyes burned from keeping them open. She tried to rest last night, parked near the highway and huddled in her combination camper horse trailer, but worrying about her missing brother kept her awake until almost three in the morning. According to a woman who refused to identify herself, no one had seen Martin for a few days. The mystery caller implied he might be lying out in the forest hurt . . . or worse.