In this edition of the Wild Horses Diary, I share updates on the four main herds of the Shannon County Missouri Wild Horses that are part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways near Eminence.
I follow the herds weekly and share the story of these majestic wild horses with you.
If you want to try and find the horses, I have a very detailed step-by-step guide on how to find the wild horses of Shannon County here on my website. I provide a lot of valuable information for you so you can have a safe and enjoyable experience and make sure you are well prepared. I keep this guide up to date and so you can set out on your adventure with confidence.
FIELD SIGHTINGS & HERD COUNTS
Over this last week, I was able to find the Shawnee Creek herd on several occasions as well as a rare sighting of the subset of the Round Spring herd over near the Grassy Creek area.
I was able to confirm 10 members of the Shawnee Creek herd this week with one very young foal. This number remained at 10 all week long. I verified 8 members of the Round Spring herd over at the Grassy Creek location, with one new foal over here as well. It is my belief these 8 horses formed a smaller band from the once larger Round Spring herd. I am not clear on when this happened or how long this may continue.
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I am starting to do Live Video Broadcasts from my new studio and darkroom while I am working and making prints and even doing live art shows too. I will be making my big 30x40 and 40x50 silver gelatin wild horse prints and also platinum and palladium too. You can connect with me live on my new YouTube Channel, and in the Darkroom Underground Facebook Group, and the Wild Horses of North America Facebook Group.
LOCATION RELATED UPDATES
The fields at Shawnee Creek were mowed and baled this week. As you can see in the photo to the left, I verified this on Friday when I stopped to see if the herd was around. The grass was over six foot tall in some places and very difficult to navigate. I fought the tall grasses since early summer, so it was a huge shock to see the freshly mowed fields.
I didn't see the horses at their usual place, so I headed over to the Highway V fields and didn't see them over there either.
It was getting dark, so I returned Saturday morning at sunrise. I didn't see them at either location Saturday morning either.
On Saturday evening at around 7 PM, I found the Shawnee herd had returned to the freshly mowed and baled fields. I was very surprised by this because the Broadfoot herd fled their fields after it was moved and baled and have only been seen one time in the last month.
In regards to Broadfoot, I verified on Saturday morning (7/20/19) that about half of the bales had been picked up and it looked like they were coming back soon to finish. This is great news because maybe things will finally settle down at this location and the herd will return to the fast growing grass and start grazing here again. It's been a lonely summer without the Broadfoot herd and I am excited to see them again soon.
Anytime something alters the horses environment, you can expect some type of chain reaction to happen. The Broadfoot herd has only been seen once in the last 5 or 6 weeks after the roundup and capture event that happened and then the fields where mowed and baled. They finally returned after the capture event a couple of weeks ago, only to leave again when the mowing started. They have been very difficult to find this summer, so I am hoping once the final bales are removed this week that things will settle down and they will return again.
On Saturday evening, I noticed one of the mares in the Shawnee Creek was limping badly and struggling to keep up with the rest of the herd. Once she met up with the group, I could tell they knew she was in pain and struggling. I stayed until dark and they remained in the same spot until that time. I returned the next morning on Sunday at sunrise and found the entire herd down by the river and under the canopy of the forest. I did not notice the mare limping because I was busy photographing the stallion while he was in the woods. It was an exciting experience to watch him interact with the group. He watched me very closely and I continued to ensure I had plenty of distance between us. Using a long telephoto lens, I was able to get some spectacular photographs of this experience. I will be developing the film in a couple of days and if they turn out as good as I expect, I will share one of the new prints with you in the next update.
I also went through the Klepzig and Rocky Creek areas several times over the last week and no sightings to report. Usually I find tracks and manure, but this week, I didn't see hardly any fresh signs of the horses. Some of these fields have also been mowed and baled, so the very elusive Rocky Creek herd hasn't been seen for a while now. Other than the new bad of horses that I saw from the Round Spring herd over near Grassy Creek, I didn't see the other members of the herd. I am starting to think the herd may have permanently split, but only time will tell.
WHY I PHOTOGRAPH THE WILD HORSES WITH B&W FILM
I know that people protect what they love and in our increasingly busy and technology-driven world, it would be easy for these wild horses to be pushed to the background and forgotten.
By conserving and protecting natural resources and wildlife, we are promoting biodiversity, and it is this biodiversity that directly contributes to the sustainability of all life on the planet. Everything is connected.
I am photographing and telling the story of the wild horses so they won't be forgotten or pushed to the background in our busy world.
To reach the secret places in our mind and souls, I believe that we need to make deliberate steps away from reality. Color photographs created with modern digital cameras recreate what you might see in nature, and while I can appreciate those images, it isn't suitable for my creative vision.
I offer Free Art Consultations to help you figure out the best size and details for any piece of artwork that I create.
You can contact me and share a couple of dates, times, and your best phone number and then I will confirm a date and time for our meeting. I can do Facetime video or Zoom meetings, if you would like to share your space with me as we work through designing your new artwork together.
HISTORY OF THE WILD HORSES OF SHANNON COUNTY MISSOURI
Shannon County is home to an extraordinary herd of wild horses that very few people know about. Hidden away in Southeast Missouri in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways on public land about 130 miles from Springfield and 150 miles from St. Louis, 4 herds of wild horses roam the beautiful and rugged landscape.
Ozark National Scenic Riverways is the first national park area to protect a river system and the only place in the state where wild horses still roam free.
It hasn't been an easy path for the wild horses over the last 100 years and it would be foolish to think current conditions couldn't change and put the horses back in danger again.
During the 1980s the National Park Service announced a plan to remove the wild horses, and people were outraged.
In 1993 the U.S. Supreme Court denied a final appeal to protect the horses and gave the National Park Service the right to remove the horses from federal land at their discretion.
The national park service started the process of removing the wild horses in a way that was profoundly upsetting to local residents and horse lovers around the country. The people of Shannon County and horse lovers around the country rallied together and the Wild Horse League of Missouri was formed.
Luckily, by 1996 the Wild Horse League of Missouri, which formed in 1992 to save the wild horses, received help from the people of Shannon County, Congressman Bill Emerson, and Senators Kit Bond and John Ashcroft.
Their tireless efforts paid off, and President Clinton signed a bill into law on October 3, 1996, to make the wild horses of Shannon County a permanent part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.
Now, people from around the world visit Shannon County Missouri in hopes of seeing these majestic wild horses.
The Missouri Wild Horse League works with the National Park Service to capture some of the horses when the herd exceeds the maximum agreed upon limit of 50 horses. The captured horses are taken into care and evaluated before being adopted by loving families for permanent homes.
It is important to remember that these horses are wild. When looking for them, be sure not to approach them or attempt to feed them. It is essential to keep these animals wild and free, and for you to be safe. The horses are big, strong, and unpredictable and for your own safety as well as theirs, keep a safe distance of 100 yards or more between you and the horses.