Doug Beezley Photography | Wild Horses, The Snowy Range & Rocky Mountain National Park - August 2013

My trip to photograph wild horses was several years in planning; I first learned about the possibility about three years ago in discussions with Mark Rasmussen of LightChase Photography Tours and was probably one of the first to sign up for the tour which also included a short enroute stop in Rocky Mountain National Park and a similarly brief visit to the Snowy Range in Medicine Bow National Forest northwest of Laramie, Wyoming at the end of the tour.

Photographing wildlife is a big challenge for me; it just doesn't come naturally because I seem to be challenged to actually get a moving object in sharp focus. So, in preparation, I practiced on moving cars, running dogs and anything that moved. The local police didn't understand why I was photographing cars at an intersection but that's another story.

Photographing the horses was more than just getting them in focus; it was first finding them then getting close, but not too close, so as not to alter their natural behaviors nor impede their travels. Or, scare them away. And, their travels are all about survival. Traveling constantly to feed and go to the few waterholes in the region, their daily journeys are survival in the purest tems. The region was the plateau just north of Green River, Wyoming. Within that huge plateau are two WMA's (Wild Horse Management Areas) named the White Mountain WMA and Little Colorado WMA. The White Mountain WMA has a population of about 265 horses and the Little Colorado has about 200. Most of our search was done in the White Mountain WMA with some small incursions into the Little Colorado. The horses are scattered in small groups over hundreds of square miles and the hunt for food is for low growing grasses (similar to "Buffalo Grass" found on the Great Plains) dispersed in a sea of sage (Wyoming has 13 species of sage!). The waterholes are few, miles apart and quite small.

Within the gallery I've tried to show small realities of the very harsh life of the wild horses of Wyoming - grazing, playing, fighting, dusting, nursing, breeding and just surviving. I'll show you new colts, old stallions, battle-scarred stallions, alpha stallions, alpha mares, "Bad Boys", outcasts and challengers and maybe even a mule deer or two as we covered hundreds of miles of dirt roads, tracks and trails in Wyoming. It was dusty, it was uncomfortable and it was tiring but it was worth it - well worth it.

There are a lot of camps about how wild horses should be handled. Certainly the BLM has a point of view, our excellent guide, Rich Nobler, has one and I'm sure ranchers and locals have one as well as do various wild horse advocacy groups. I'm not well enough informed to promote nor advocate. I just enjoyed. I hope you do, as well. Thanks for looking.
Rocky Mountain National Park & The Snowy Range

Rocky Mountain National Park & The Snowy Range

Before we headed to Green River, Wyoming in search of the wild horses, we had an overnight stay in Estes Park, Colorado and ventured into Rocky Mountain National Park in search of wildlife. We went over Trail Ridge Road to the Kawunuchee Valley where the headwaters of the Colorado River provide ideal moose habitat. And, they were there. Along the way we saw elk (at long range), a pika storing grass for the winter, and a Golden Marmot. Not exactly the Serengeti but it was fun.

Similarly, our visit to the Snowy Range in Medicine Bow National Forest was a short overnight appendage on the tail end of the wild horse tour as we worked our way back to Denver and return to our respective home cities. We were fortunate to see a large bull moose in the Snowies along with a beautiful sunrise at Lake Marie sans any clouds that would have made the sunrise perfect.

The Wyoming "Wild Ones"

The Wyoming "Wild Ones"

The "Wyoming Wild Ones" is my term for the great bunch on the wild horse trip. They were a diverse group including a retired college professor, an "honored" citizen, four nurses from the Holland - Grand Rapids, Michigan area, our tour leader, our driver and wild horse guide, and me. I had been on previous trips with three of the nurses Jenny, Chris, and Sandy), the prof (Roger) and, of course, our tour leader (Mark). We meshed famously and not only enjoyed the tour highlights - wild horses, Rocky Mountain National Park and the Snowy Range - but also each other.

The Ride From Hell
Says it All!
21st Century Cowboy
Herd on the Move
On Alert
First Year Foal
Herd Stallion
Herd Stallion
Curiosity Satisfied
Watching Us
Getting Nervous
Standing Their Ground
A Beauty
Ghost Horses
Not So Ghostly
On the Ridge
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