Wide Open Spaces!

Most people think that wild horses and wide open spaces go in figurative hand in hand. While it’s true public land is very vast, I think there’s a misconception that public land has no topography. I primarily notice this in desert regions, so the HMA I will be focusing on is White Mountain.

I think the easiest way to explain this is, deserts are surrounded by mountains. It may seem like I’m over simplifying things, but mountains + rain shadow effect = desert. Also, the closer to mountains the more topography changes, that’s what foothills are. This, for the purposes of this blog post, would make deserts foothills.

Even then, people think it’s easy to find the horses. I beg to differ. Usually, it’s more like the horses finding you. I think it’s easiest to show when they are either at the bottom or top of a hill. When they are already at the top of a hill, they can see you from a long distance and by the time you reach the bottom of the hill, the horse or horses have already heard you. They’re prey animals, so chances are that they are already leaving the area before you get there. If that happens, it is important to stop moving and be patient. The horses will either stop or get closer. If they keep walking away, then that is a sign that you are still too close and should leave the area.

From the top of a hill, a horse will see things coming from a distance.

From the top of a hill, a horse will see things coming from a distance.

The band decided to move away as we reached them.

The band decided to move away as we reached 

them.

That doesn’t mean that all wild horse viewing is poor in White Mountain. There are opportunities to see natural behaviors. One reason why horses might ignore humans is when they’re more interested in themselves. This usually has to do with mares. Also, horses near the road may be more tolerant of people. I don’t know the demographics in White Mountain well, but I think it’s safe to say if they are used to traffic, then their less likely to be wary of people. This is why it can be easier to get pictures of horses from a car window than on foot. It’s not true everywhere, but being in a car helps.

This band was more concerned with bachelors than people.

This band was more concerned with bachelors than people.

Here they are still trying to get away from the bachelors.

Here they are still trying to get away from the bachelors.

Now they're paying a bit more attention, although there are still bachelors near by.

Now they’re paying a bit more attention, although there are still bachelors near by. All this for one mare.

This says less about her proximity to a two-track than how pretty I find her, but I think this is still a good example.

This says less about her proximity to a two-track than how pretty I find her, but I think this is still a good example.

 A mare and foal near the main road.

A mare and foal near the main road.

Another misconception is that there’s nowhere for horses to seek shelter. Even in a HMA with no trees, there is tall sage everywhere. Someone could easily stumble upon a foal that’s been resting and still not see them very well. Also, I don’t think people realize how steep some of the hills are. Trust me; there are plenty of places for horses like Heaven to hang out if they don’t wish to be bothered, although it’s not as if Heaven can’t assert himself when he wants to.

If the sage is this high on a mature stallion imagine how'd it look next to a small foal.

If the sage is this high on a mature stallion imagine how it would look next to a small foal.

This gives an idea of some of the terrain.

This gives an idea of some of the terrain.

Heaven's clearly been through a lot, but if he knows where to go to make his life easier.

Heaven’s clearly been through a lot, but if he knows where to go to make his life easier.

There are, however, areas that are more open than others. When those spots are found I would recommend remembering them for later use. Those are the spots that have the potential to have very rewarding results.

Such as during sunset. Especially if horses are around to be turned into silhouettes.

Such as during sunset. Especially if horses are around to be turned into silhouettes.

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2 Comments »

  1. Joy Said:

    Girl, you did it again 🙂 Good thoughts!


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