Tough Winter

It’s been a tough winter for me to get out to the Onaqui range. Last winter, I was able to get out at least a couple of times a month January-March. But this winter has been a different story. Between the weather and renting the gallery space at the Monarch in Ogden(more on that in my next journal), things haven’t worked out as I hoped.

I’m itching to get out there pretty bad! As I was sitting here writing this, I got a text from some friends in a group text that photograph the Onaqui too. And they told me about a friend of ours that made it out there in the last couple of days and said this winter has been hard on the horses. Some are thin, especially a couple of the older ones.

The saving grace for the horses this winter is that we had an excellent monsoonal summer and a decent fall for precipitation in 2022. And the horses were well nourished going into winter.

Horses will use any extra body fat as insulation and use extra calories to get them through winter. They grow long hair that stands up, trapping tiny air pockets between them. It’s the same effect as a down comforter with enormous insulating qualities. Oils in the horse’s hair coat help it shed moisture. Early spring is when the horses are most vulnerable for suffering in the cold. Loss of hair and wetter snow and rain soak closer into the skin. Body fat is also less before the spring grasses can start to grow and replenish what they have lost over the winter.

In my experience as a farrier, I’ve often wondered how horses could withstand the extreme cold in their hoofs. Nobody has pinned it down in the many journals I’ve read on the subject. But the closest anyone can explain is that horses have no muscle mass below their knees or hocks. Ligaments, tendons, and bones are not high-energy-requiring tissues; therefore, horses can stand in cold water or snow without affecting their core temperatures.

As of today, March 4, 2023, the ten-day forecast is keeping a winter weather pattern for the Onaqui range. Hopefully, it starts to warm up sooner than later and we can get some green grass to start growing out there and they can start replenishing what they have lost over the winter.

From The American West to Vermont

About a month ago I got a message from a girl who sent me a picture of a horse I took on the Onaqui range back in the summer of 2019. She asked me if she could buy a print of it because she adopted him after he was rounded up off the range back in the summer of 2021. I was a little taken aback. I can only imagine how many images she must have gone through to find him.

She calls him Atlas. From the looks of it, this colt couldn’t have found a better home. Amelia Peters is doing a great job of training him and giving him every opportunity to thrive!

It’s intriguing to me when I think about him being born in the wild in the high desert of the American West and finding himself in Vermont thousands of miles away living a completely different life.

But I know that some things in this life are meant to be. Whether he was destined to find her, or she was meant to find him. It makes me feel good knowing he’s in good hands. The horse/human relationship is one of the most powerful things I’ve ever witnessed.

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!