Friday, December 26, 2014

Photographing Wild Horses

Stallions scuffle in the Sand Wash Basin
I have been visiting the wild horse ranges in the west since 2006. It is impossible for anyone to really understand the scale and grandeur of these places unless they have visited, photos just don't seem to do it justice! Even more amazing to me is how healthy the horses look on such seemingly barren and dry landscapes. These horses are incredibly tough and hardy and it is truly survival of the fittest in this harsh and unforgiving environment.

A Mcculloughs Peaks stallion with wind knots
and a desert flower in his mane.
Every year when I go to Colorado I make a point to get out to the Sand Wash Basin at least once. This area is well documented by many photographers as it has fairly easy access and the roads are passable as long as it is dry and you have a high clearance vehicle. Maps of the area will keep you from getting lost! Plan to spend the day, bring plenty of water, snacks, sun screen and comfortable footwear. Because you will be many miles away from civilization a spare tire and the ability to change a flat is also useful!

A battle scarred stallion on
White Mountain
As with most HMA's (Herd Management Areas) you are never guaranteed to see horses, sometimes they may be way off in the distance, but the water holes are always a good bet. In the spring when the babies arrive and there is stallion action and lots of dynamic herd behavior is always a good bet for exciting photos. Long lenses are called for here, as well as staying a good distance away and not approaching them is critical for your safety and their survival.

In 2014 I visited the McCulloughs Peaks herd in Wyoming and spent some time on White Mountain near Rocks Springs, Wyoming. This gallery is from my visit to the Sand Wash. To get an idea of where to find the HMA's you will find the BLM website to be a good resource. If you are ever out west and love wild places then make the time for a visit, and maybe you will be lucky enough to see the wild ones, it is an experience that you will always remember.

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