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. 


Whenever I go out to photograph the Onaqui’s in Utah’s west desert I try not to have a preconceived idea about what kind of photographs I’m going to get. I never know what story is going to present itself. I’ve had days where I spend all day out there and only get a few keeper images, and other days where all day is a productive day.

This particular day took on a life of its own and was very productive! It was the first part of October. I like going out in the fall because it’s cooler. (But I am more than happy to go out any day I can no matter the time of year!). And if I’m lucky I will get some exciting weather to go with it! Bluebird skies are by far my least favorite conditions. And the more clouds in the sky for the sunset or sunrise the better! 

When I first found the horses there wasn’t much going on. They were quietly grazing just doing what horses do most of the time. When out of the blue a lone stallion came running towards the herd whinnying and carrying on. He hit the herd like a bowling ball, scattering horses everywhere! The bachelors circled him and pretty soon he was fighting any horse that would fight him! I’m not positive where he came from, because I’ve never seen him before. And neither has my other photographer friends. There are other wild horses in other Herd Management Areas around the Onaqui’s but they are not very close. But that doesn’t mean they can’t venture off looking for other herds.

As far as the behavior he was exhibiting, I can only assume it was his way of coming into the herd and establishing himself amongst them, and putting them on notice that he intends to steal mares and create his own band. I’ve decided to call him Conner, after the MMA fighter, Conner McGregor. He’s one of the toughest horses I’ve ever seen out there!! 

I don’t always get to see things this exciting all the time. It’s unique to have something like this happen when I’m on the range. 


“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” ~ J.K. Rowling

A couple of weeks ago, I posted how I was going to start sending out a newsletter/blog again on my social media. I don’t have any good excuse for why I haven’t been sending one out the last couple of months other than I have been swamped. My aspiring photography career has to battle it out with my farrier business for the time. And at the end of the day, there is only so much! 

My goal with it is to provide you with content that will give you an out for a brief time during your day when you’re looking through emails. I have emails I get throughout the week that I am excited to read when I see them. It’s a nice respite from the daily grind. It will be a lot like my posts on social media, Images, stories, updates on what I’ve been up to. I’m sure it will evolve over time. So we’ll see where it goes.

I’m not real good with the names of the Onaqui’s. But I know the horses pretty well. The buckskin in the Image was trying to be what I like to call the Lieutenant stallion to the black horse’s band. Most wild horse bands have more than one stallion in them, but there is always a dominant stallion who is in charge and gets the right to breed the mares. 

The buckskin was helping fight off an attempt from another stallion to steal mares from the black horse’s band. Then he would come back to the band and get in a fight with the black horse. I’m not exactly certain of the dynamics of what was going on between all of them. But since then the buckskin has not been with that herd. In fact, he had gone missing for a period of time. Now when I see him he tends to be off by himself and not with the big herd.

May 2021

May started with some good friends from Colorado visiting us. The Onaqui wild horse herd will be rounded up this July and culled down to its Bureau of Land Management Herd Management level, and they wanted to see all the horses before it happened. My daughter and son in-law also went. It was a great day.

The second weekend I went to a branding to help my friend Seth Hadlock. I didn’t end up helping much. Most of the time when I go to help my friends with ranch work I want to take as many photographs as I can but I always end up working instead. He had plenty of help so I stayed behind the camera all day.

I ran into a friend I used to rodeo with back in the day, Baylor Roche. I got to talking to him about when they would be practicing so I could invite myself to come and take some photos. I had a great time watching the guys wrestle around in the dirt with an animal that doesn’t want any part of it. It brought back a lot of memories I haven’t thought about for awhile. It’s been ten years since I last threw one down. And part of me was missing it after watching them. They asked me if I wanted to throw some down for old time sake, I declined. I’m pretty sure if I did I would be in the corner of the arena throwing up for being so out of shape!

His boy had just got a new horse, and he was all business riding him around!

The next day me and my friend, Kylee went for a ride up Logan canyon, in Northern Utah. What a beautiful place! We followed a little creek up a canyon scattered with beaver ponds. When we were on our way back I talked her into letting me try and get some images of her riding her horse, Breazy around some spots I thought would make for some good compositions. There was a neat old livestock fence that bended around on top of a knoll. I asked her if she would walk along the side of it, she said that would be fine, but then she suggested that she would like to run along side the fence. I said sure, but she could tell that wasn’t what I had in my mind. She says to me something along the lines of “Get used to it if you are going to be taking pictures with girls!” I had to laugh, she was right.

The first couple passes along the fence went pretty good. But about the third time she ran down the fence her horse decided that the cool mountain air, and getting all worked up she would put her head down start bucking! It only lasted for a fraction of a second but I was able to catch it, and both me and Kylee, got a good laugh out of it.

Photography and horses are my life, but coming in not far behind is fly fishing. Just like photography it takes me to places I never would go to otherwise. Me and a buddy Bill Shore, found an afternoon to hit the river. Good times!

I finished out the month on the desert photographing the Onaqui with my photographer friend Sam Cooper. It seems like every time we meet up out there the wind is blowing fifty miles an hour! It was so dusty you could barely keep your eyes open and keep the dust out. The west desert could sure use some rain!