Michael Blake
Academy Award Winner
Best-selling Author
Dances With Wolves


In 1990 while doing research on mustang horses for a story he was working on, Michael Blake encountered a wild lead stalling captured and held by the Bureau of Land Management near Reno, Nevada. Recalling his first encounter with "Twelve" at a holding pen, Blake writes...
"There seemed to be an invisible barrier surrounding him, and none of the other horses, whether alone or in gangs, ever sniffed or touched or whinnied at him. The director recalled that on one occasion the entire population came together and circled their king in a massive surround that lasted several minutes".
Blake conveys the undying spirit of the mustang stallion and their journey together from Nevada to California, and to his final home in Arizona, where the writer and this unique horse spent many good years in each other's company.
"It often crossed my mind that if Twelve reached the moun-
tains he would be lost to us forever, and that being lost forever might not be so bad -- let the old stallion go into the mountains and spend his last few days in freedom".
Twelve, The King is a memoir that reads like a love poem not only to a particular animal, but to all wild things, to what is wild in us. This story is equal parts an unsentimental recounting of one person's relationship to an untamable animal and a cautionary tale as to what we stand to lose if we take the existence of these magnificent symbols of North American independence and resourcefulness for granted. Michael understood that "Twelve" was not his to own or sub-due, and took pride in the special gift of being the wild stallion's custodian.

For more than thirty years, Michael was actively involved in the fight for the rights of what remains of America's wild horses, and supported various organizations and shelters fighting for the same.

Michael was particularly supportive of The International Society for the Protection on Mustangs and Burros and The Cloud Foundation.

To learn more about America's wild horses visit the International Society for the Protection on Mustangs and Burros.


The Cloud Foundation

Horse Number 1202 and Michael Blake
Photograph by Lori Grinker
Twenty years on the open range
Twenty years of running
Twenty years a stallion
Answering to no one
Now he is horse number 1202
Prowling a circular pen of steel
Moving lightly over the soft earth
And moving again
He is forced to acknowledge
The man and the woman
Inside the pen
Avoiding them perfectly
As he travels
Around and around
He looks through
The people crowded in the stands
The children pushing toy trucks on the packed ground
The square, white lunch truck standing in the back
He care nothing for the flying flags
Or the video cameras
Or questions from the audience
Or from what's missing
From between his legs
It is the horizon
That is what holds his attention
The meeting place of sky and earth
Is the only destiny
He has ever known
A gate opens
And he swings his magnificent, black body
Around to face it
Now he treads carefully out
Dancing on air
His wise head
Low for danger
His flowing tail arched
His monstrous neck
Rippling with power
In city traffic
I remember his eyes
So dark and wet
So full of God

Published by Perceval Press, 2009
36 pages

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