Reub's journey

17 May 2016

Mustangs



The day we go in search of wild horses on Steens Mountain is clear and cool, a perfect morning for a hike even if we never come across anything more than hoof prints in the hard, volcanic,  high desert dirt. 


Scanning the hills, at first it looks like it might be a herd of cattle out there: little dots of slowly moving color in the distance.



Some of them are cattle, but mostly it's wild horses. Leaving our dusty car at the side of the gravel road, we walk slowly towards the group.




We pass near a mare with a very young foal. I doubt this baby is more than a day or two old.




The protective father makes sure we come no closer. At the same time he remains very alert to the movement of the herd on the hillside. It's likely that he is a banished young stallion beginning his own family, watchful of everybody. With no one to comb and bathe him, he still shines like copper.




They move near one another, hide their baby in the sage brush,  and decide we are no threat.





Meanwhile the herd on the hillside is aware of us, bands together, and heads away. It is the cattle, recently branded, who seem most fearful. The horses put the cows between us.





This band of mustangs is named after the lead stallion, Atlas. That's Atlas on the far left, with a map-shaped white patch on his side. The other horse in a leadership position is the pinto on the far right, maybe a mare. She probably has a name, but I couldn't locate it on the Facebook pages devoted to the 200-plus horses on Steens Mountain.




They stream over the ridge, Atlas the last to disappear into the 127,000 acres of high country where they roam. They were like a vivid dream, evaporating with time and distance... I won't see them again but can't forget what they were like.



34 comments:

  1. These are splendid photographs. How wonderful for you to witness the beauty of these horses. I am pleased you shared it with us – this is not the type of landscape I can see in Georgia and I miss that. Although I saw a program on TV showing the wild horses on Cumberland Island (Georgia.) There are 150 of them and they run along the beach.

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    1. Why thanks for stopping by to look, Vagabonde! Someone with a bit fancier camera could take more dramatic pictures, but I felt lucky to get anything at all.
      We used to live in Alabama, and my husband took boy scouts to Cumberland Island. Pretty sure they saw some of those horses there.

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  2. Oh, I was waiting for these. Perfect spring blog post!!

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    1. Thank you Tabor! Baby animals and spring flowers...it IS a spring post. :)

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  3. What a great opportunity to see these animals, must have felt like an honor.

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    1. Yes, Joe, that's a good way to put it. A special (kinda short-lived) honor.

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  4. How very cool to see those wild horses! I didn't realize we had such large herds in eastern Oregon.

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    1. Linda, you should go see them. These horses are part of the so-called Hollywood area, just west of the mountain on South Loop Road. They are the most visible of all the horses in that area- and there are many bands, with beautiful stallions leading each one. Check out this BLM site for other possibilities:
      http://www.blm.gov/or/districts/burns/wildhorse/herd-manage.php
      We don't have a 4 wheel drive high clearance vehicle, which is what you need for seeing the Kiger band and others.

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  5. I'm envious of your experience. I've never seen wild horses up so close. Here, you get a glimpse in the distance if you are lucky. Love the second to last shot of the two leaders - beautiful!

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    1. Gosh I didn't know NZ had wild horses at all, but I can just imagine them in that splendid landscape.

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  6. Awesome sights for any human to behold. You were blessed to not only see it but to capture the splendor in pictures.

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    1. Granny, I felt so lucky to be there at the right time.

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  7. Just beautiful. What a treat to be allowed to venture that close to these creatures. You got some fine photos from a respectful distance.

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    1. Thanks Hilary! We had to maintain that distance or they would have been gone in a flash. Wish I could've gotten a little teeny bit better look at that new baby. :)

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  8. how wonderful! we would see horses quite frequently when I was a river guide on the Rio Grande. Not wild I don't think, owned by by the Mexicans perhaps, but could have been. anyway, one year was a drought and they were numerous, hanging out by and in the river. lots of close encounters that year.

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    1. I bet some of what you saw were feral horses, ones that had been abandoned or escaped. It must be really cool to see them from the river.

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  9. What a wonderful photo narrative of magnificent animals.

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  10. parents, among wild animals, are some of the most protective parents you will ever encounter. isn't it amazing how they just know what to do and how to protect their young!!! beautiful captures!!! i have never seen wild horses so i really enjoyed these!!

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    1. Yes, there was no way we would have gone ANY closer to that baby.

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  11. how marvelous. long may they range.

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    1. They're tough enough to last it out.

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  12. Wild mustangs...what an inspiring and incredible sight...

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  13. Beautiful post and one that chimes with my childhood. Had these beauties on one of my stamps when I used to collect them. Always loved them. Thanks.

    Greetings from London.

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  14. How beautiful. Are they protected? Or are they threatened with the helicopter roundups?

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    1. There are a variety of opinions on how to control the population of mustangs. They are protected, but the herd has to be culled periodically, both for the animals' health and for environmental concerns. Some horses are rounded up, corralled and adopted out. After the round-up, some are released back. Those guys have a brand on the upper neck which shows that they are protected and must not be taken by anybody. One example of this is a stallion named "Honor" who has his own facebook page.

      https://www.facebook.com/Honor-of-the-South-Steens-102211546523801/?fref=ts&hc_location=ufi

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  15. This is so interesting. It reminds me of Assateague which I finally visited last year after having it on my bucket list forever.

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    1. Misty of Chincoteague was among my favorite childhood books! I can still see the illustrations in my mind.

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  16. wow! what an amazing experience! we saw some wild horses in the New Forest in the UK.

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    1. Really? There are wild horses in the UK? I didn't know that.

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