Book Review: Cloud’s Legacy
The Wild Stallion Returns
By Ginger Kathrens
Fox Chapel Publishing, ISBN 978-1-62008-362-8, 160 pages. Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle.
Reviewed by Margaret Evans
Cloud was a wild stallion living with his little band on the slopes of the Arrowhead Mountains in southern Montana. His story might have been obscured into a forgotten piece of history if it was not for author Ginger Kathrens, who had been captivated by the almost white, hours-old foal she first encountered on May 29, 1995.
Kathrens, a seasoned backcountry rider who has devoted her life to the preservation of America’s wild horses, knew that the little colt she saw that day represented all wild horses running in the hills. She saw in the little colt she named Cloud the wild horses’ life struggles as they grow, fight for their own bands, protect their mares, and pass on their genes to future generations of wild horses.
Cloud’s Legacy: The Wild Stallion Returns is a beautifully illustrated, compelling story about Cloud’s struggles, triumphs, and interactions with other horses as they cope with the challenges of the seasons, the enemies that live among them, and the harshness and beauty of life in the rugged hills and canyons.
“Another horse was coming, a buckskin with a coal-black mane, tail and legs,” writes Kathrens. “’Chino,’ I said out loud. Cloud pranced out to meet him with his neck arched proudly. They touched noses then yanked their heads back, screaming in unison. The two stallions spun and kicked, and then they turned back to face each other. Cloud lashed out at Chino with his forelegs in his characteristic two-beat strike, much like a boxer with a lightning fast one-two punch. Snow sprayed as they spun, shoved each other, and kicked. Just that quickly, the ritualistic dual was over. Chino turned and raced back down the valley.”
Kathrens follows Cloud’s story from his early days to when he commanded the largest band on the mountain. But age and vicious fights would take their toll on him in the rituals that dictate who lives, who breeds to pass on their legacy, and who dies.
Kathrens, an Emmy award-winning wildlife filmmaker, has spent thousands of hours filming wild horses not only in Cloud’s range but throughout the western United States and on the east coast. In 2005, she formed the Cloud Foundation to bring public attention to the plight of so many wild horses and try to protect them from the massive roundups she was witnessing. She feared for their future, and the possible loss of such magnificent animals that contribute to the biodiversity of the American wilderness. This is the second of three books and NATURE documentaries about Cloud.
This beautiful book, the story it tells and the message it conveys, is an absolute must-read for every horse lover.