Blue Zeus is the story of the wild horses of the Red Desert of Wyoming, illustrated with photographs of the horses in their native environment.
The author, a professional photographer, begins visiting the 700,000-acre herd management area known as the Red Desert Complex in 2016. There, she discovers “the most beautiful stallion I have ever seen!”— a proud blue roan with “four white matching stockings.” She learns that others have been captivated by the horse that has been named Blue Zeus. As Walker regularly visits the area, she learns more about Blue Zeus and the other wild horse families, their personalities and habits.
But Walker is haunted by the knowledge that the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) goal is to remove 2,670 horses from the area; so far, it has removed only 1,442. In previous roundups, ten horses were killed, including four foals. The BLM halted the roundup after running out of room in its holding facility, but the roundups are sure to restart soon.
Walker tries to find homes for the horses, and when BLM helicopters arrive, she’s there with her camera and her compassion. “It’s hard to describe what observing at a wild horse roundup is like to someone who has not been to one before. The hardest part is the…harsh reality of seeing wild horses that you know and love running for their lives from helicopters…”
This is a compelling and poignant story enhanced by its many moving photographs, both large and small, of horses nuzzling one another, running wild, and, by contrast, caged in chutes. Those of Blue Zeus, with his defiant stare and dark marks on his fur—“scars from battles with other stallions”—are particularly haunting. A mix of memoir and journalism, the story is well written, frank and honest about the author’s feelings regarding the government roundups.
Blue Zeus will likely captivate animal lovers and others, both as a story and as a coffee table book.