During the past decade, the number of free-roaming horses in the small New Mexico community of Placitas increased significantly. It peaked in 2013 at about 200 horses. When the land became too overgrazed to support the horses, some residents and a local wild horse group started feeding horses and dumping hay in neighborhoods. Though the residents were well-meaning, their actions encouraged horses to stay in residential areas. The well-fed horse bands reproduced at a prodigious rate, compounding an already serious overpopulation problem.
The impact on the Placitas environment has been devastating. Creek basins have been trampled, vegetation eaten to the ground, the soil on large tracts of land eroded, and soil crusts –so crucial to healthy desert ecosystems– pummelled into powder. At the peak of the horse explosion, residents might awake to find 3 or 6 or 12 horses on their back porch, looking for handouts. Horses wandering roads endangered public safety and resulted in horse-vehicle collisions. Aggressive behavior by horses towards hikers in the Placitas Open Space recreational area was a regular occurrence.
Now, in 2017, the horse population has been decreased through removal and relocation of horses by concerned landowners, but is still far higher than the land can support.
This website was created in 2014 to bring to light some of these issues. We accept that there are differing views among local residents about the harms and benefits of having free-roaming horses in our community. Some people think that the pleasure they derive from seeing horses on the landscape outweighs the harm to land and wildlife health. Others, including the editors of this blog, believe this is too high a price to pay, and that land health and wildlife habitat are a priority.
This blog has two editors who write a lot of the posts; other contributors represent the diversity of Placitas residents: horse owners, builders, lawyers, naturalists, educators, and more. The posts themselves range from informative and factual to conversational and anecdotal. You’ll find a lightness of spirit in many of the posts, along with the occasional tongue-in-cheek. Humor can be part of the solution, too.
We hope this website will provide Placitas residents with a fact-based perspective on horse issues and help us all move forward in sustaining our local lands, wildlife and community.
© 2014-2015, Let Our Land Rest, all rights reserved. No content may be copied or reproduced without permission.