Wild Love Preserve founder Andrea Maki recounts the story of meeting her first “wild”, as Challis wild horse Apache captures her heart.
Apache and I have had a special connection since the time of her adoption in December 2012 when she was being run in a round pen at the BLM wild horse facilities.
With each lap she would lift her head just enough to look past the person in front of me and intently into my eyes. I was confused by her intensity because I thought she had been adopted, until an elderly horsewoman, sensing my concern, walked up and informed me otherwise.
Instantly I understood and went running to the BLM trailer to adopt her, zipping right back to the round pen, before completing adoption paperwork, to stop her repetitious run on that cold December morning.
As a contemporary visual artist, the “concept of one” has been cornerstone to my work over the last 30 years: the fact that we are all of the same energy, simply in different packages. Directly related, in 2010 I founded non-profit Wild Love Preserve with a mission to protect and preserve wild horses in their native habitat and nurture the legacy of respective indigenous ecosystems as an interconnected whole, with regional engagement and benefit.
Located in central Idaho, Wild Love Preserve engages public and private lands to address all facets of regional wild horse conservation in central Idaho, from the 130 Challis, Idaho wild horses we adopted following the 2012 Challis BLM Helicopter Roundup, to collaborative work on the range and our creation of a permanently protected wild expanse in the heart of Idaho wild horse country.
Apache will forever be my very first wild horse, and the first to be adopted as part of the Wild Love Preserve Adoption Project. Like people, wild horses have their own distinct personalities and Apache is a very sensitive girl. While some seem more adaptable to change, she was deeply impacted by the roundup and being separated from her family bonds on the range.
At the time, I also adopted a wild paint I named Kodiak, so they would have each other as Wild Love Preserve went about its newly designed process of buying and adopting all of the other Challis wilds made available by the Challis BLM, ensuring their lasting wildness together in their indigenous habitat. Apache was a yearling, Kodiak a little older, and they bonded very well.
For young Apache, Kodiak was also her protector in a older brother fashion and she relied on him for security. Consequently, when we released our 130 rescued wilds out together in 2014, Apache was at loss when Kodiak took interest in other ladies, leaving her behind. Clearly bewildered and heartbroken by Kodiak’s actions and another family separation, she wandered, not seeming to bond with other horses. My heart ached for her, I worried and lost sleep, wishing there was something I could do to help her bond with others versus wander on the outside, close in proximity for protection, but not in heart.
It has taken time for shy Apache to recover and blossom into her own confident self, but she has arrived and it is a beautiful sight. She beams with love and shares her love, and my heart sings to see her happy and fully engaged in her family band. Forever and always, we are one.
Many wonderful wilds have since followed, all respected, treasured and loved, but this is where it started.
Andrea Maki is the founder of Wild Love Preserve.