When staying at the Rancho, an all-day ride to the canyon Los Organos is a particular treat – and for much more than just the riding. Along the journey you will be exposed to a wonderful landscape of incredible rock formations and flora; but the best part has to be an encounter with some wonderful horses living wild on the journey.
Although these horses are living wild, they cannot actually take official ownership of the term wild horses. A truly wild horse is a species of the genus Equus, whose main subspecies include Tarpans whom are now extinct, and the Przewalski’s horse which are very endangered.
The horses living wild in the canyon are in fact correctly known as feral horses. A feral horse is actually a domestic horse that has been left to fend for itself in the wild, without being helped or managed by humans in any way. If it finds others of its own kind and reproduces, then its offspring, who also fend for themselves in the wild, are also known as part of a feral population.
This is the predominant story for most horses termed ‘wild’ in the world today. Mustangs in the USA and the Brumby in Australia for example are free-roaming herds of feral horses also.
The many horses you will find in the canyon are small Criollo ponies (a mixed breed), which were found to be untamable by local people; and in turn let out to live and roam free.
On one of the many rides out to the canyon you can be guaranteed to come across these wonderfully feral horses who have been living in the hills for the last 40 or 50 years. They prefer to keep their distance, so they will watch you ride by and retreat if they feel you are too close. But, you will be quite amazed at how close you can get to them and come back with some pretty amazing photos and experiences.
They live in small groups of as little as three to five horses commonly known as bands, harems or mobs. Different from wild horses, these small groups are usually led by a dominant mare and contain other mares with foals and young horses of both sexes. A stallion can usually be found with them, and sometimes a less dominant male is also allowed to join the party too.
These small groups of horses will share a common territory with many others, known as herds. A typical herd is made up of 150-200 animals and in the canyon Los Organos you will find around 100.
Over the last 50 years these local feral horses living wild have bred and created their own families and are now managed and termed as wildlife. Interestingly their patterns of behavior naturally revert back to those of actual wild horses, which is why they so often closely resemble their wild horse ancestors.
There are many routes to take riding in the canyon, including a picnic by the river and rock formations. And it’s so beautiful you can quite understand why so many horses living wild choose to call it home.