Person of Interest: Craig C. Downer


Craig Downer speaking in March 2013 to an audience in Steamboat Springs, CO. Craig spoke in defense of wild horses and burros and telling why they truly belong and contribute positively to the West. The talk was well received and garnered media coverage, but almost a decade later the work goes on.

Horse & Rider Living is honored to introduce Craig C. Downer – an ecologist, environmentalist, activist, author, musician…and genuinely impressive human being.  He is an advocate not only for the wild horses of America, but also Tapirs, which are native to South America. He has studied both interests extensively and is dedicated to the survival of the animals and their native environments.

His academic background is vast, with a…

  • Bachelors in Biology, Plan Ecology, University of California Berkeley (where he was also on the Honor Roll)

  • Masters in Science, University of Nevada

  • PhD studies, Dept of Systematics & Ecology, University of Kansas

  • PhD Biology, University of Durham, U.K. 

…and more.  And I mean more – he studied Piano at Western Nevada College, and produced an original CD, Wild Horse Rhapsody, on piano along with Joanne Grauer. He also was awarded the Albert Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award.

But it’s not just Craig’s academics that are extensive. He has completed major studies in the field and produced publications that exemplify his work, which you can see at The Wild Horse Conspiracy and Andean Tapir Fund

A 4th generation Nevada native, Downer’s ancestors helped pioneer America.  He received the Daughters of American Revolution Award for Excellence in American History when he attended Douglas County High School. He grew up on a horse named Poco, a chestnut stallion “mustanger” used to chase down wild horses that eventually became a show horse.  

The beauty of the wild horse herds and their animation inspired him to become an advocate. He noticed how they seemed more “alive” compared to horses in captivity; that simple observation contributed to his remarkable achievements in his continuing support of keeping wild horses wild and on their native land.

So if Craig Downer’s professional opinion as an ecologist and advocate that horses aid the environment rather than destroy it – I believe him.  

Who and what are Ecologists?  Ecologists are scientists who study the relationships between plants, animals and the environment, their habitat, how they affect the environment surrounding them, and the roles they play in the ecosystem.

Downer has published many reports regarding our native wild horses, presenting his findings to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and other organization with a willingness to share his expertise and educate. 

He lends credibility to the role America’s wild horses play in supporting our environment – and sadly, so far his expertise has been ignored by those in our government.

He was recently a keynote speaker at the wild horse rescue rally held in Reno, Nevada. Craig also offers guided horseback tours into wild horse lands outside Carson City.

He is the author of The Wild Horse Conspiracy which was released in 2012 (and will be updated later this year):

The Wild Horse Conspiracy is available to purchase on Amazon.

“This stirring book fully justifies America's magnificent wild horses and burros while countering the biased machinations against them. Written by an ecologist who grew up observing these animals in the West, it presents new evidence concerning their history and evolution in North America then describes their many positive contributions to soils, plants, animals and people. Though true restorers of this continent's ecosystem, they have been unfairly targeted for elimination. Over the centuries, they have borne our burdens and helped us along life's way – which makes it doubly unfair that they should be blamed for what we humans have done. As always, they stand ready to help us do the hard work now so desperately needed to restore our shared home. Many of the author's personal experiences with these animals, their diverse herd areas, and the multicolored people involved with them are herein vividly shared. Urgently required now at the 40th anniversary of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act is a strategy to reverse the negative schemes that are causing their demise in the wild. As described, Reserve Design provides a way for establishing self-stabilizing populations through intelligent and caring programs executed with enthusiasm. Their lesson for humanity concerns how to share freedom and the land with such paragons of nature. Soaring beyond mundane pettiness and with an inspired vision for the future of all life, the elevated perspective and compassionate spirit of this book will prove key to accomplishing its critical goal. In the wild the vigor of any kind is preserved. And the entire horse family – as the Earth itself – needs America's wild horses and burros to continue at vital levels into the future here in their evolutionary cradle and worldwide.”

HRL is dedicated to the environment and those who depend on it for their survival, including us!  Wild horses are native and need to be protected from the big money interest who have forced their way into and onto our public lands, our government, and who  are sacrificing the future of our environment and the mustang.

Craig has spent countless hours, days and years striving to educate the public regarding the necessity of saving our wild horse herds!  Unfortunately, no matter how dedicated you are to a cause, money is necessary to continue the work. There is no paycheck at the end of the week.

Please help assist Craig Downer in his quest to save America’s wild horses by contributing to his GoFundMe page. You can also purchase his book The Wild Horse Conspiracy on Amazon, and follow him on Facebook to stay in the know about how to support keeping wild horses wild.

We also recommend this amazing video if you really want to learn about our wild horses and his work.

Barb currently resides in Central Florida with her three horses; when she’s not writing or riding for HRL, she loves to read and travel.