Premieres February 6 at 8:30 p.m. on OPB TV

New episodes of Oregon Field Guide return in February, beginning with a half-hour special dedicated entirely to mustangs in Oregon. The program premieres February 6 at 8:30 p.m. on OPB TV, and is accompanied by a dynamic multimedia website at OPB online.

Oregon is home to nearly seven percent of the nation’s wild horses, which are among the most photographed in the U.S. In 1971, Congress declared wild horses “living symbols of the pioneer spirit” and passed a law to protect them from “capture, branding, harassment or death.”

However, wild horses in captivity now outnumber those living free on the range. The nation faces a crisis in managing wild horses that costs $76 million a year.

In this special, “Mustangs of Oregon,” Field Guide examines why a large number of horses are removed from the wild to live out their lives in permanent holding. The federal government’s own horse managers call the current program “unsustainable”—a view shared by critics and independent scientists.

“We first began this simply as a story about teenagers who train wild horses to make them more adoptable. The story ballooned, opening a door to a larger controversy with many facets,” said Field Guide Producer Vince Patton. “The program presents audiences with a variety of perspectives on the treatment of these mustangs—from government horse managers, wild horse advocates, ranchers and horse lovers.”

Segments in “Mustangs of Oregon” include:

  • A rare encounter captured on camera as a band of wild horses drives one of their own away forever. It’s a piece of natural herd behavior seldom witnessed by humans.
  • Yamhill teenager Alex Russell, who at the age of 12, gentles a wild horse and trains it for a competition in just 98 days.
  • An examination of why 49,000 horses have been forcibly captured and will not be allowed to return to their wild homes.
  • Never-reported-before information about how many horses die in the Oregon Bureau of Land Management (BLM) corrals and roundups.

Oregon Field Guide’s “Mustangs of Oregon” will air February 6 at 8:30 p.m. on OPB TV. For more information, please visit

Photos related to “Mustangs of Oregon” are available for download at the OPB Pressroom.

The multimedia website includes additional videos, images and stories about wild horses, including the tale of how an Oregon fourth grader traveled to Washington DC and testified to Congress to help pass the Wild Horse & Burro Act of 1971. There will also be a series of OPB Radio stories and short web videos and photos posted on the Oregon Field Guide Facebook page leading up to the special.


About Oregon Field Guide 

In its 25th season, Oregon Field Guide remains a valuable source of information about outdoor recreation, ecological issues, natural resources and travel destinations across the Northwest region. Oregon Field Guide airs Thursday evenings at 8:30 p.m. on the television stations of Oregon Public Broadcasting and repeats on Sundays at 1:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. In the Mountain Time zone of Eastern Oregon, the program airs at 8:30 p.m. Thursdays, and at 6:30 p.m. Sundays. Major support for Oregon Field Guide is provided by Dorothy D. Gage and Dan Stanton. Additional support is provided by Kay Kitagawa and Andy Johnson-Laird, Christine and David Vernier, Barbara Coit Yeager and the Coit Family Foundation, the Greenfield/Hartline Conservation Fund, Lois E. Jones and Bonnie and Peter Reagan.


Press Images

(to download image, click on image, right-click and select “Save Image As”)

Vince Patton/OPB

Vince Patton/OPB

Vince Patton/OPB

Vince Patton/OPB

Vince Patton/OPB