Twelve the King


Michael Blake

In 1990 while doing research on mustang horses for a story he was working on, Michael Blake encountered a wild lead stallion 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 mountains 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 subdue, and took pride in the special gift of being the wild stallion’s custodian. It is a pleasure for us to offer this moving portrait from the author of Indian Yell, Marching To Valhalla and Dances With Wolves.


Twelve the King

Photographs and writing by Michael Blake

Softcover, ISBN 978-09819747-2-9, 36 pages

Additional information

Weight 12 oz
Dimensions 6.25 × 9.25 × .5 in