Mustangs highlight of lecture, exhibit |

Mustangs highlight of lecture, exhibit

by Laurie Hickey

The month of June honors Nevada’s mustangs with a lecture about these wild horses on Thursday evening, followed by the opening of a new exhibit at the Carson Valley Museum & Cultural Center later this month.

Craig Downer will be the featured speaker at a free lecture 7 p.m. Thursday at the Carson Valley Museum & Cultural Center. Downer will talk about his book “Wild Horses: Living Symbols of Freedom” and share some of his photos in a slide presentation.

“Mustang – America’s Living Legends” exhibit is finished and a grand opening is planned for June 23 from 2-8 p.m. at the museum. The afternoon and evening will include several special guests. No-host western barbecue will be served from 5-6:30 p.m., beer and wine will be available for a donation. Country-western music will be provided by Exit 22.

The mustang exhibit was made possible from funds donated to the historical society over 30 years ago. A group of area residents organized a “hay lift” in an effort to save the snow bound and starving mustangs in the Pine Nut Mountains. Pilots donated their time, planes and helicopters to drop hay to the starving horses. Roberta McConnell, a reporter for The Record-Courier wrote several articles that were picked up by the Associated Press and featured all over the country. National TV news did stories about the hay lift and donations came in from all over the country and the world. After the crisis was over, the organizers donated the remaining funds to the historical society to do something to promote, educate and tell the story of the mustangs.

After 30 years, the museum has an exhibit that tells the story of the mustang. It includes Beverly Caputo’s mustang mural, exhibits on Velma B. Johnston (Wild Horse Annie) and the first legislation she worked to get passed, (Nevada was the only state in the nation to pass a law that provided some protection for wild horses and burros). She also was instrumental in obtaining federal protection with the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971. The story of the local hay lift, the Nevada State Prison Warm Springs Mustang Training Facility and the Wild Horse Adoption Program are all part of the exhibit. Craig Downer’s photos are featured throughout the exhibit. Downer was invaluable in helping us put together the exhibit.