Reward at the Top

I’m not sure when a hill becomes a mountain, so this location is either atop a high hill or a small mountain. I can say that it is a long climb to get up there, but if horses are there, it’s worth it for the view. Sometimes the horses wait for you to hike up to the top then run away, leaving you out of breath and out of luck. On this occasion the horses stayed and we spent some time together. This group is mostly two-year-olds and a couple older steeds.

wild horse photography of several horses on a mountain top
High on a mountain top, several young horses are in the company of an older herd mate.

You Can’t See Me!

These free range horses are often curious about my visits, but just as often, elusive. In this image, I can see a little of both in this horse’s face. On this day, visibility was low due to fog, and the temperature was cool after a long hot spell. This seemed to inspire mischievous behavior from That Herd members. After an extended get-away run, the herd, including this fellow, responded with curiosity when I appeared a second time.

wild horse photography of a horse shielded by sagebrush
You don’t see me, you don’t see me. A mature member of That Herd is shielded by sagebrush.

Narrowly Escaping a Bad Ending

I was surprised this meandering mare even noticed this passing tarantula. She briefly lipped the spider, and passed over it, probably narrowly avoiding a painful bite. Once cast aside, sheer luck spared the tarantula a smashing from her stepping hooves. After this hoof, then another, the spider negotiates a few other passing mares, is spared again and again, and goes about it’s charmed tarantula life.

wild horse photography of a mare investigating a tarantula
A colorful mare investigates a passing tarantula.
wild horse photography of a tarantula nearly under walking hooves
After discarding a tarantula with a flick of her lip, the spider is in grave danger from this mare’s walking hooves.
wild horse photography of a mare nearly stepping on a tarantula
Oh dear, danger, tarantula, danger! A mare nearly steps on a passing tarantula.
wild horse photography of a tarantula under the hooves of passing horses
As many mares pass, this tarantula dodges hoof after hoof.

Change How You Feel

Even in small doses, nature changes how we feel.

When was the last time you went outside and did something you remember?

wild horse photography of a paint mare in a sunny field
Soothing natural late spring beauty of a That Herd mare.


Cut off from the rest of the herd, several mares and foals took a detour to avoid passing near me. One by one, as their bravery and comfort level supported, they streaked by me, in ones and twos, down a steep hill and across a brushy side hill. Interestingly, these same horses, young and old, will allow me to walk among them while they are quietly grazing and moving about minutes later.

wild horse photography of a young colt galloping over uneven terrain
Streaking by, this colt gallops effortlessly over vegetation and steep inclines and descents.

Rapt Curiosity

Here’s a colt who is big on bravado. He leads when herd-mates hesitate. He has an endearing boldness for one so young. That being said, he is not reckless; he’s also the first one to spin and run away when things stop making sense. Here, he is caught in a moment of rapt curiosity about my presence.

wild horse photography of an independent colt
He had been an independent and intrepid colt since his first day.


The first day of life for a baby is a never-ending assault of sensory stimulus. The physiological and behavioral adaptations that come in rapid succession when presented with the (new) external environment must be exhausting. The expression on this face shows evidence of this reality for newborns. The added stresses of a free range environment only accelerate the need for a foal to interpret and master volumes of new abilities in a very short amount of time.

wild horse photography of an overwhelmed newborn foal
I cannot blame this newborn for looking overwhelmed. The barrage of sensory stimulus in the first day is an absolute assault.

As Wild and Reckless as Thunder

To tell a story from the heart of a horse, now that would be the best story ever told.

wild horse photography of a stallion looking sharp
Stallion postures are dramatic and inspire great daydreaming about the vitality of equines.

Assorted Herd Mates

An odd assortment of That Herd members, different ages, colors, and dispositions come together during a mountainside trek.

wild horse photography of a selection of horses in a late afternoon landscape
A random selection of horses move through a landscape bathed in late afternoon light.

Compelling Attractiveness

I just love this filly. Just look at that expression, so soft and keen.

wild horse photography of a beautiful young filly
This filly is a charmer, even with grass sticking out of her mouth.

Dog Days of Summer

These September days drag by for human and horse alike. All of us, listlessly baking in oppressive heat and humidity, coated in dust, and finding no relief from the heat in the evening are tiring. To say there is a lack of water is a gross understatement at this point, quality feed is scarce, and the mares tire of mothering their demanding offspring. This filly has taken on her mother’s suspicious ways (I rarely see her with a welcoming eye), and has grown in independence daily. Even on this hot morning, she retains a spark of defiance and energy.

wild horse photography of an independent filly
The foals grow in independence daily; this filly is unconcerned that her mother is not visible.

Last Light Illuminates ZigZag

It had been many months since I’d laid eyes on ZigZag. I was happy to find him doing something athletic, validating the reason he received his name in the first place. He is a two-year old now. I found him on the morning he was born, only hours old, and he has given me many hours of viewing pleasure ever since.

wild horse photography of a young horse moving through a wooded area
As the sun slips behind the mountain, the horses march past me, then disappear into the woods.

Friend or Foe?

Surprise encounters initiate this familiar “friend or foe?” horse face. I am a familiar visitor, so I rarely inspire a flight response. These horses are curious and because they are lightly managed, they can be approached. In this case, the horse left his wooded area and came to investigate, bringing nearby herd mates along with him.

wild horse photography of a vigilant horse
My approach has been spotted by a vigilant horse.

Wild One

“We need the tonic of wildness … At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us … We can never have enough of nature.”

– Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

wild horse photography of a young horse in the last days of summer
A late summer sighting of a two-year-old that’s giving me a wild-eyed look.






As the sun set, something unseen and unheard triggered this large group of horses to move away from their quiet grazing on an open hillside. They filed up and into the woods, traveled single-file through brush and over a tree-lined hilltop, then disappeared into the coming night.

noun |ˈinstiNGkt|
• an innate, typically fixed pattern of behavior in animals in response to certain stimuli
• a natural or intuitive way of acting or thinking

wild horse photography of a group of horses traveling in steep terrain at sunset
Sunset triggered something in a large group of horses to file up and over the mountainside and disappear.


Anything Green

At this point in the summer, anything green catches the attention of the horses. This small oak sapling is not in any real danger of being eaten by the horses, but it’s fresh green leaves are worth investigating.

wild horse photography of a foal investigating fresh leaves
Something green catches the attention of a passing foal.

Lion Tamer

I have observed this mare raising three foals, so far. She is a good mother. She is protective and seems to really enjoy the company of her foal(s). This particular colt is a few weeks old in this picture. Not long after this picture was taken, he survived what was certainly an attack by a mountain lion. He had slashes and puncture wounds, but somehow, he escaped. Though he was not a newborn foal, and had some size and speed, it is still remarkable that he evaded certain death. I have to wonder if his mother, who is always nearby, came to his aid and fought off the lion. She is a scrappy sort of horse, and it is easy to imagine her taking on a lion in defense of her baby. It’s not possible to know the circumstances of this colt’s survival but I’d bet his mother was involved.

wild horse photography of a mare standing protectively with her colt
A good mother, this mare bonds strongly with her foals and stays in close proximity to them even as they get older and more independent.

Rough Around The Edges

Here is a horse with an imposing presence. He looks like a chestnut Clydesdale. He is large and thick and handsome. There is a kind but confused look in his eye much of the time. He is, however, more often than not, disheveled looking. He’s a bit rough, like a college kid with a hangover.

wild horse photography of a large chestnut horse gazing
Keeping to himself, a big chestnut horse grazes nearby.

Fuzzy Ears

… and the award for the fuzziest foal ears goes to:

wild horse photography portrait of a foal with very fuzzy ears
This foal has extreme fuzziness of the ears.