The Wild Bunch

It was the coldest day of the season; we had just had a snowstorm the night before. I had been wanting to photograph the wild horses that live out in the western Utah desert for quite some time, but I wasn’t even sure I could get out to the Onaqui herd. For that matter, I wasn’t sure I would find them. The last time I had made a serious effort to photograph the herd, I was still using my old film camera, a Nikon N80. I really needed an adventure for so many reasons, so off I went.

These two horses started heading right for me as soon as I had set up and taken a couple of shots. They actually kept coming toward me until I put my head down, and backed away about 30 feet (10 meters).

By the time I got out to the west desert and located the herd, it was around 1 pm and really cold, about 18°F (-8°C). The wild was blowing pretty hard as well, so I was really glad I had brought all my winter gear.

I am not going to disclose the exact location of the Onaqui herd, but you can find some information on Google. Too many people harass the horses, and as you’ll see in a minute, they have a tough life.

The cold weather was helping keep the younger horses frisky.

After a little while of staying quiet, the sentries decided that I was cool, and allowed me to move in closer. The herd gradually became more accepting of my presence, and I was able to gradually keep moving in a little closer for better photographs.

These two were playing around with one another, keeping me amused.

The longer I was with the horses, the more comfortable they became with me. I got some curious looks, but was always being watched by at least a couple of the mares.

This one walked towards me very casually as if to just say “hello”.

I was finally able to get quite close and just sort of blend in with the group, and as you will see, the photograph opportunities got better too.

Hopefully you will enjoy these photos of our wild horses. And, if you do decide to venture out to find them, please respect these majestic icons of the American West. Remember that this is their turf, and you are entering with their permission.

On watch wp
Being prey animals, the herd has sentries always at watch.
The Chase wp
I am not sure what happened here, but someone is in some deep doo-doo.
A Kiss wp
Someone needed a kiss.
Battleworn wp
These horses lead a very tough life.  You can see the numerous battle scars.  This is a harsh environment — hot in the summer, brutally cold in the winters.  Competition for food and water can be fierce.
Frosty wp
This mare looks pregnant.  As harsh as things are, there is always quiet time too.
With Mom wp
This young one and her Mom seem pretty contented now, but Mom is ever watchful.
Junior 1 wp
This little one allowed me to get fairly close.  She looks so peaceful and thankful for the sunshine.
Nap Time wp
I knew I was fully accepted when this girl came closer and laid down for a little nap in the sun.

 

The tustle wp
Teenagers!  Obviously, this little tussle wasn’t taken too seriously by the elders.

I really hope you have enjoyed my New Year’s Eve adventure with the horses of the Onaqui.  Happy New Year to you all!

 

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