I was very fortunate to find the Broadfoot herd today right after sunrise in the fresh winter snow.
The three mares that you see in this photograph were very alert and highly aware of anything new in their environment.
I was probably 400+ yards away from them when I found them and they already knew that I was in their space.
I spotted the herd right after sunrise in the fresh snow. Not a single track in the snow made the fields look like a painting.
The horses as well as the setting at Broadfoot on this morning was simply magical.
I felt like a small child filled full of pure joy and happiness. I was completely relieved of all the adult stresses that we constantly manage and I felt free and fully engaged in watching the horses in their natural environment.
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.
Many people probably don't realize the majority of my time in the field involves tracking, walking, and sitting for long periods of time. I watch the horses for long periods of time with my camera at my side so that I can enjoy them without the distraction of the camera.
I often lose track of time and forget to eat when I am tracking and watching the wild horses.
I encourage people to get out and view wild horses or any type of wildlife because it is a great way to relax and be reminded of how simple life can be. Their social bonds and interactions can teach us how to be better people and remind us how important family is in life.
One of the things that I have noticed over the years about the Broadfoot herd is they seem to vary in their sensitivity to outsiders.
I have seen the herd so sensitive that they run away when the wind blows in their direction and other times they seem to be completely oblivious to external visitors in their environment. I am not sure I have a clear understanding why this varies so much, and hopefully over time I may get a better idea.
TIPS FOR VIEWING & WATCHING WILD HORSES
In order to successfully view and enjoy wild horses for more than a few seconds, it is important to approach them in a non-predatory stance and never get too close. Most guidelines encourage people to never get closer than 40 to 50 yards, even if the horses will allow it because wild horses are unpredictable and close human contact is a threat to their continued wellbeing.
Horses are prey animals with eyes on the side of their heads to help them watch for predators while grazing.
Their ears and nostrils can detect you before you ever see them. It is a good idea to keep a close eye on their ears because they can be indicators of their next actions.
If you see their ears pointed strait up, then they are relaxed and curious. If you see their ears pinned down and back, this means they are either stressed or about to take action. You can use this as a basic guideline to know when you are getting too close and also help you predict what they may do next.
Never walk briskly and directly towards wild horses because they will most certainly run.
You want to act uninterested and meander slowly and keep your eyes averted away from them because they will perceive you as less of a threat.
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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.
The sooner you can sit down or get lower to the ground the better chance you will have for watching them for longer periods of time. I love to get down on my knees to photograph the wild horses anyway because it creates a very inanimate connection between the horse and the viewer.
Herds that frequently see people are more likely to tolerate visitors. This can be a good thing or it can also be unfortunate, depending on the behavior of the visitor.
Wild horses that are used to positive interactions with people can become quite bold and this can lead to bad and undesirable outcomes for wild horses.
I have seen this first hand with yearlings. They are incredibly curious and want to explore everything new.
I’ve had to literally almost jog away from yearlings because of their curiosity and lack of fear of me.
Don't be fooled, foals and yearlings can move much faster than you realize, so you need to always have an exit plan at all times.
I will put a larger version of the photograph below this text so you can see it better and enjoy the simple and pure beauty of these majestic mares in their natural environment.
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.