Get to know your Salt River Wild Horses

Spirit of the West

The Salt River Wild Horses Are Iconic

Located in the Tonto National Forest, the Salt River Wild Horses embody the unbridled and rugged spirit of the American South West.

Water Horses: did you even know that they even exist and in our state of Arizona? 

Unique feeding behavior passed down through generations

The Salt River Wild Horses are truly unique in that they have adapted to survive within an aquatic environment.  Eel grass which grows on the bottom of the Salt River during summer months, if left unharvested, could lead to blocked and stagnate water flow.

The horses have become an integral part in controlling the possible overgrowth, by ingesting the plant. Now to really rock your socks, this is how it is done. The adult horse submerges his/her entire head, holding their breath for 5 seconds or more to pull the eel grass up to the surface where they feast on the nutrient rich plant. Young horses watch such behavior and learn techniques to ensure only the finest aquatic culinary experience.  

 The Salt River Wild Horses are Intrinsic To a Healthy and Sustainable Forest Environment

Seed dispersal is essential to maintain an ecological balance between animal and plant life. And as luck would have it, our Salt River Wild Horses are one of the most proficient and successful seed dispersers within the lower Salt River of the Tonto National Forest.  The mesquite tree provides an excellent example: the seeds of the tree are ingested and then as the horses move on the graze are deposited within their manure. 

The horse has a digestive system that does not destroy the seed, but much more on that mesmerizing (we promise) topic at a later date.  The seeds find root at the site of deposit and if healthy enough to survive the challenges of the desert environment, will grow to provide shade, shelter, nesting sites and most important that element that makes all the above necessary, oxygen.   

Fire protection: Smokey the Bear has never had such good friends as those of the Salt River Wild Horses. As the wild horses graze on not only the dried flammable field grasses, but also work to prune the trees as they venture over vast amounts of area each day. With their varied diet and grazing, the source of fuel for a fire is exponentially reduced.

Wild horses graze dry flammable grasses

 The Salt River Wild Horses Provide a Unique Financial Stimulus for Arizona Tourism

Promoting the American Wild West spirit of the Tonto National Forest – get outdoors and explore your Arizona.

Purchase a Daily Recreation Pass, permits or yearly pass (which helps provide funding to pay for those who work within the national forest and other expenditures of maintaining our pristine and beautiful Tonto National Forest).
Where to get one:  https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/tonto/passes-permits

Local hotels, restaurants, businesses benefit from the welcomed tourists from out of town who venture into the forest to specifically view the Salt River Wild Horses.

Kayaking:  Life does not get any better than viewing all the sites along the Salt River within the comfort of a river kayak. Wild horses feasting on the eel grass or resting in the sun upon the shore, can be easily viewed while floating within the confines and comfort of a kayak.   We appreciate companies like Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch that provide the public with unique kayak opportunities on the Lower Salt River which allow you to view the wild horses while also maintaining thoughtful and responsible tourism/viewing etiquette.

Oh yeah, and the views are pretty nice too..

Click here for responsible tourism tips and help save the horses by keeping them wild. 

 

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