HERE’S TO 2023!

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope you all enjoyed yourself! My New Year’s was pretty laid back. My wife and I made a little dinner and watched movies all night. And to be honest, it’s just what we needed. Christmas time was hectic for both of us, and we needed a couple of days to unwind. She has a commercial embroidery business leading up to the days right before Christmas; she is busting her tail to get orders done by the deadlines her customers need. And my moving into a studio/gallery space this fall made the last month crazy busy for me too. So by the time, it was all over, our capacity to socialize was not really high. Plus, as I have aged, maybe even some would say matured a little bit. Punishing myself drinking all night isn’t as appealing as it used to be. I’m turning into such a wimp these days! The next thing you know I’ll need readers and start going out to dinner before 5:00 because I’m too grumpy to deal with waiting in line to get a table. Wait, I have reader’s on right now writing this, and whenever I go out to eat there are a lot of people with gray hair eating at other tables! Shit, I refuse to admit it or accept it, but I’m getting older. 

The good thing about it is that I feel pretty good today. Nursing hangovers are not worth it anymore. I think I’m still a lot of fun, but my window is a lot shorter, 3:00-8:00 in the afternoon is about it! After that, I’m looking for a shower and my bed. Haha 

This is supposed to be a wild horse photography page so I will get back on track. I want to thank you all for your support the last year! Every year gets better and better for me. This year moving into the studio/gallery was a great experience! I got to meet people face-to-face and make connections I would never have otherwise. I’m excited to see where it goes for the foreseeable future. I’ll be sure to make sure I post when I will be there so if you are in the area you can stop by and say hi!

I have big plans for 2023. I plan on getting to as many different Herd Management Area’s that I can. And spending as much time with the Onaqui’s as possible. I’m slowly coming around to video. I still prefer still photography, but I’ve had a good time doing some Reels lately, so we’ll see where that goes. I’m always behind the curve when it comes to things like that. As long as I can bring wild horses and the American West into people’s lives that may or may not see it for their own eyes, I will feel good about it, regardless of the medium.

I can’t express enough gratitude towards all of you that support me and my photography! Social Media wouldn’t change what I do, I would still enjoy getting lost in the high deserts of the West with my camera whether I posted anything or not. But it sure adds fuel to the fire to have a community of people who enjoy what I do as much as I do!

Here’s to 2023!!!

And a few of my favorite images from 2022

A Day With The Onaqui wild Horses

I never know what I’m going to see when I go out to the horses. Sometimes it’s pretty exciting and adventurous, and sometimes it’s quiet, and not much to talk about. Last time I was with the Onaqui’s I would say it was somewhere in the middle. The weather was cool, but not I couldn’t feel my fingers cold. But when the breeze blew, I was glad to have the five layers of clothing I had on. 

For the most part, the horses were quiet. Not a lot of studs challenge each other as they do in the spring when It’s breeding season. I still haven’t decided if there really is a set breeding season for wild horses. The gestation period for horses is 11-12 months. And for the most part, babies hit the ground in the spring. So I think most breeding happens in the spring. But from lots of personal observation, a stallion will try and breed a mare if she barely winks at him any time of the year, whether she meant it or not.    

But I did have one unique thing happen that day that I hadn’t seen before. Most of the time, the horses are all grouped together. There may be a few bands broke off from the main herd here and there. However this day was different. The main herd was broken off into two different herds. The herd I spotted initially and started taking pictures of was on the bottom of a sloping hill. I didn’t notice it at first, but after a period of time, I spotted the other part of the herd was way up the hill about a mile and a half away.

I stayed with the first bunch and photographed them for a while. As it got later in the day, the horses started drifting towards the waterhole, I have seen this part before. They slowly start drifting toward water, and before you know it, they are all on a dead run. I was anticipating that part, so I got in my side-by-side to get in front of them and get set up before they got there. 

Once they arrived and started drinking, you could see the other group of horses running into the waterhole way out there! Within a few minutes, they arrived, and it was pure chaos! The horses that were drinking stopped and ran over to meet them, and they all started running around each other, and before I knew it, they were all off and running again! 

I jumped in my side-by-side and took off to follow them! I couldn’t believe how far they kept running and how hard and fast! They ran right past the next waterhole and halfway to the next before they finally slowed down to a walk. All in all, it was probably three or four miles from where I started photographing for the day. Eventually, they made it to another water trough, they all drank and quietly meandered off to the grazing grounds for the night. 

I’ve seen them take off and run like that, but never that far. And let me tell you, there is nothing better than watching two hundred wild horses run wild! They almost went from one side of the Herd Management area to another. I don’t think I will ever fully understand equine behavior and why wild horses do what they do. And that’s ok, it’s what keeps me coming back! 

Wyoming 5-13-22

It had been a long day of looking for horses with no luck. The high deserts of southwest Wyoming can sometimes feel like endless road after road after road. Rolling hills and sagebrush for miles. The occasional oil rig, hillsides covered with junipers. There are so many canyons and hiding places for horses it can sometimes feel hopeless to even try. But I do anyway because I love it! And I love being out in the middle of nowhere.

Me and my buddy Dustin, who I invited to go with me on this trip, were eating a late lunch of chips and queso and washing it down with a beer. When I go on these trips, the accommodations are not that great. Most of the time, I sleep under a truck shell in the back of my truck. I throw a piece of foam out and a sleeping bag and call it good. I don’t need much now, but I have long-term goals of getting more creature comforts. Maybe a camper and a side-by-side with heat. That would be amazing! The food situation is hit-and-miss at best. I would just much rather be taking pictures than worrying about cooking and eating. I eat a lot of beef jerky.

Part of the fun for me is looking for horses. Especially when I’m in new territory, which I’ve never been before. I like the excitement of not knowing what you’re going to see. For example, I had never been to the Salt Well’s Herd Management Area before, and I follow other photographers on social media who take images of the horses there. They are neat-looking horses; I had to go!

The downside of exploring new territory is I have no idea where to look for horses. When we pulled off the highway into the HMA we found a place to camp, which just happened to be next to a big water hole. We had a few hours of daylight, so we decided to see what we could find. I unloaded the side by side and headed east. No horses. The following day we got up and decided to go in the same direction but to take a different road and see where it took us. We must have driven around for seventy miles by the time we got back to camp. We saw some neat country, but no horses.

Back to eating chips and dip on the tailgate of my truck, I was hungry and focused on what I was doing when Dustin said to me, “Hover, look to your left.” So I looked left, and I couldn’t believe what I saw. We had driven all those miles the last few days looking for horses, and here they were, a massive band of them running into camp and the waterhole to get a drink.

It took me a half second to compute what was going on. Then I dropped the chips in my hand and ran for my camera! While they were watering for the next fifteen minutes, I took as many images as possible before they wandered back off to the range.

Winter On the Onaqui Range

I hope everyone is doing well. I am always happy to be through the holidays and past the year’s shortest day. There might still be a lot of winter left, but at least it’s staying lighter longer! Winters are good and bad for me. On the one hand, I like them for the extra time I get in my office editing images learning new techniques in Lightroom and Photoshop. I read a little more and catch up on movies I’ve wanted to see. Drink a lot of coffee; The downside is I’m not much of a fan of cold weather. I think the biggest reason I’m not a fan is I don”t have anything I like to do in the winter. Winter sports aren’t my thing. I don’t have much interest if it doesn’t have something to do with a horse or a trout.
Even though I’m not as active in the outdoors this time of year, the one thing I can still do is visit the Onaqui wild horses in Utah’s West Desert. 

It’s a beautiful place in the winter I’ve been out a couple of times this month. I went out on the 2nd and the 17th. When I went out on the 2nd, Northern Utah had gotten some consistent moisture for a couple of weeks before. I’ve been going out there for the last five or six years in the winter and have not ever seen that much snow. I think it topped out at 10 degrees for a high. The horses were hard to find, I never did see the north herd. And it took me most of the day to find a little band of bachelors on the south end of the herd management area. As cold as the day was I had a good time. I love being in the middle of nowhere all by myself. 

When I went out on the 17th it was still cold but it managed to get up into the 30’s and low 40’s. I was surprised that ninety percent of the snow that was out there two weeks before had melted. I was lucky enough to find the main herd early enough in the day I was able to spend a lot of time with them. They are still doing well. All the moisture the range got last summer and fall has sure helped them stay in good flesh this winter. 

My goal this year is to go to some new herd management areas across the west. There is a significant advantage to sticking to photographing the Onaqui’s. I know where to look for them, know their tendencies, and know the horses as individuals better. And they will always be my go-to’s and the horses I photograph the most. But I want to explore and see as much of the American west as I can, chasing and photographing wild horses. I always want to see what’s around the next bend or over the next ridge. Hunting for cool-looking horses gets my blood pumping! I also plan to tell the stories from those adventures for content for these newsletters/emails.