An Interview with Volunteer Dorothy Nylen

(February 2, 2021) Meet Dorothy Nylen, a devoted and passionate Virginia Range Volunteer. We sat down with her virtually to talk about being bitten by the horse crazy bug as a young girl, the majesty of the wild horse, and living with her own rescues! 


AWHC:  How did you learn about wild horses?

Dorothy:  One morning in 1998, my husband and I were commuting to work in Carson City after moving to Dayton.  We were in the thick of rush hour traffic coming into Mound House from the east when suddenly everyone slammed on their brakes.  Twenty-eight wild horses thundered through, passing directly behind our vehicle.  I was awestruck!

Not long after, I met Bonnie Matton, a founder of the Wild Horse Preservation League, at a craft fair at Dayton High School.  I would like to say “and the rest is history,” but I continued working full time as an artist for the Nevada State Museum exhibits department for another ten years.  Around 2002, my son took me up into the Pine Nut Mountains above Dayton where I saw hundreds of wild horses of every color imaginable. Tragically, a BLM roundup soon removed most of those horses, and for a long period of time following the color range of these animals there, was very limited.   

AWHC: When did you really get involved working to protect the Virginia Range horses?

Dorothy: I did not become really active in helping horses until I retired at the end of 2008.  But at this point, I can say I have never looked back.

Once I did get involved  I participated in rallies for horses at the capitol and attended legislative hearings.  As time progressed I became increasingly active.  

Over the years I have had the opportunity to proudly serve as a member of Dayton's Wild Horse Preservation League (WHPL)’s board of directors, and briefly as president on two occasions.  I am presently also on the board. 

WHPL has continued to grow and expand its role in the community and beyond, and is a firm partner with AWHC’s birth control program.  Many members are also active with other hands-on local organizations, involved in emergency rescue, field treatment of injuries, as well as with long term care and placement of animals that had to be removed from the range.  WHPL’s involvement in diversionary feeding to help keep horses away from US 50 has been key in helping to prevent deaths there.  I am honored to contribute when possible with these kinds of activities. I was also involved with the first birth control agreement with NDA. 

PROPERTY OF AWHCAWHC: What’s your favorite part of being involved in wild horse protection?

Dorothy:  I love nature and have always found horses to be exciting and beautiful, they touch my “artist’s eye.”  Wild horse behavior is miraculous.  They are such social animals,  I never tire of watching them and following the changes in band makeup and the connections between groups and individuals.  I was literally “crazy” about horses as a child and read everything I could find about them, and rode every one I could.  I lived in the country, but my mom was afraid of horses, so there was never a chance that I could have my own.  My father grew up on ranches and was too young to remember the first time he was on a horse’s back.  There is such a difference between individual domestic horses and those charismatic free-flowing beings.  I would come to realize I did not know what a horse truly was until I was in my fifties.

My favorite thing is documenting horses, although I will do whatever the horses need me to do. 

AWHC: Is there anything else you’d like us to know?

Dorothy: While monitoring trucks coming in from the Antelope roundup on the Nevada/Utah border into BLM’s Palomino holding facility in January of 2011, I impulsively adopted several wild dun-colored Spanish mustangs.  The carrier that unloaded contained animals not yet sorted from their mothers.  I was still living in suburbia and had no place to put them, and it was such a surprise to my husband.  Today we live in the country with 5 rescue horses.  Our most recent and our last is a local boy whose mother was killed in Dayton on US 50.