Missing The Point
Many visitors are surprised at how warm and affectionate our horses are, especially those who once lived wild. What they do not understand, (and I do not blame them for missing the point), is that they are warm and affectionate because, not in spite of the fact, they were once wild.
Perhaps to best understand one should simply slowly walk across a pasture of modern milk goats. Chances are they will fall in and follow you around even if you are a complete stranger. They do so instinctively because it is a behavior that they are genetically programmed to do. Over thousands of years the goats that did not have a drive to follow human direction followed their wonder lust and ambled away from the flock. They took their hobo genes with them, leaving those who were driven to follow human direction to reproduce their genes in the domestic flock. After a few centuries, following human direction for these domestic goats became as natural as grazing.
Prey animal behavior, as demonstrated in herd animals, requires that the animal at least be sociable enough to learn how to read the signals of other herd members that could save its life in the event of a predator attack. Psychos, and obnoxious, anti-social jerks did not fit well in the herd's social structure and over the years their behavior lead to disproportionate incidences of isolation or early death through predation. Sociable animals who work to fit in and bond with each other lead longer lives, produced more off spring and passed on that genetic need to bond.
Owners of Spanish Mustang Registry horses, most of which are several generations from the wild often point to their horse's strong desire to attach themselves to humans as a special feature of the SMR horse. It is not. It is more pronounced in the SMR horse because, though he was not born in the wild, his genetics were shaped much more by the years in the wilderness that his ancestors spent than they are by the relatively few minutes his ancestors have spent in the domestication.
In fact, after one properly gentles a horse that was raised in the wild, be they BLM, Chincoteague, Corolla, Shackleford, or any other long term feral herd, one will find that that horse has a much stronger need for human contact and affection than do most modern horses.
The catch is that too few people know how to properly tame and gentle wild horses. When more people get to see the end result perhaps more people will be willing to accept the challenge of becoming a true horseman.