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26 August 2008 @ 07:49 pm
I had heard about the presence of free horses on the Eastern border of Death Valley but the two visits I made earlier during the year yielded no sightings. After the long trip through Utah, Arizona and then Nevada, coming into California and to Death Valley was almost like coming home. I wasn't expecting to see anything but fabulous sunset in Death Valley that day and I had just ignored charging my camera battery and had not realized there was no space left on my flash cards for any more photographs.

As we drove along the highway, I notice movement in a bush by the roadside and as I slowed down and pulled over I noticed a mustang! And then another one showed up on the other side and then a few more! I pulled out my camera from its lazy slumber and began to focus and all I see is a big red battery sign! While I continued to kick myself for the blunder, I had enough sense (just that little bit that I seem to have... sometimes) to put the battery to charge. Every second was like a minute and every minute was like the lifetime of earth. The horses moved about, eating, looking at us, communicating amongst themselves and doing all of it in the most beautiful light there could ever be.

We drove up the road to see if there were other herds but turned back after a mile and came back to the herd we had seen. After about fifteen minutes, the stallion of the herd started moving towards the Nevada side and walked away calmly into the distance. It was only a matter of time before the rest of the herd moved and I pulled out my battery from the charger and my camera came to life - just about. I had space for about twenty photographs and I knew I had to be less trigger happy than I usually am.

Like they say, All is well when...

A Stallion in the making! For now, he's one of the cutest things roaming the emptiness of Death Valley!

The top female in the herd...

... and she knows how to keep the younger ones in their place!

The younger one walks away.

The Stallion!

I love the color of this one. It's the same one that got chased away by the older horse

Another mare and the young stallion! The building in the background is the Amaragosa Opera House!

Everything stops when a mustang is on the road. I fear for them though since the speed limit at that stretch is 70 mph. :-(

And the sun goes down in mustang country

purely_narcoticpurely_narcotic on August 27th, 2008 03:42 am (UTC)
The horses>>>Majestic!
yellareddyyellareddy on August 27th, 2008 04:22 am (UTC)
Another feather to the cap...
kejnkejn on August 27th, 2008 04:31 am (UTC)
awwww! beautiful foal!

are the mustangs managed in any way?

i've only seen semi-wild horses. that was the banker ponies on shackleford banks outside beaufort, nc. they're supposed to be descendants of spanish horses that swam ashore from sinking ships 400 years ago! seeing them in their harsh but stunningly beautiful sand bank environment was a huge experience.
Yathinyathin on August 27th, 2008 05:28 am (UTC)
I think they are free, but could be subjected to culls since the resources are so limited?

I did not know about Banker ponies and was just reading about them after your comment. That's amazing!
IdahoSwedeidahoswede on August 27th, 2008 04:43 am (UTC)
Sad to think that these horses are often hunted down as a way of population control and if they are not sold at auction to potential owners, they can end up in that tin of doggie yummies all too easily.
Yathinyathin on August 27th, 2008 05:28 am (UTC)
Yeah, it's sad that they could be culled for the better of their species. :(
Kathy Walkerkatbyte on August 27th, 2008 12:45 pm (UTC)
Top Mare is due to have a foal any minute it looks like.

Great pics, thanks again for sharing with us!!!
Aparna: Smileinspirethoughts on August 27th, 2008 03:07 pm (UTC)
Beautiful! Very beautiful!

I loved the "The Stallion" picture most of all, the black/brown one.

How did you get the last picture taken? It looks like a view from a concave mirror. How did you do it?
Yathinyathin on August 27th, 2008 03:29 pm (UTC)
Aparna: Smileinspirethoughts on August 27th, 2008 03:45 pm (UTC)
Aah I C. I dont have that camera or that kind of lens. Good shot!
depontideponti on August 27th, 2008 06:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you. The photographs, and the subjects, are both lovely. I can't believe that this is your idea of shoot-from-the-hip photography! You really know your equipment well.
ashbirderashbirder on August 28th, 2008 06:44 am (UTC)
thanks for these, beautiful as always..

I remember seeing feral horses in Point calimere, though the habitat (wetlands) made me wonder how they survived..

Sajith T Ssajith on August 28th, 2008 01:01 pm (UTC)
I love that they all look really healthy. Quite unlike a lot of the domesticated ones you get to see around here.
88greenthumb88greenthumb on August 28th, 2008 01:46 pm (UTC)
Great shots, as usual!
Ruth: Birdlaruth on August 28th, 2008 09:47 pm (UTC)
Gorgeous shots as usual.
sunithreddysunithreddy on September 3rd, 2008 07:23 am (UTC)
i dint know wild horses still survive :)
Yathinyathin on September 3rd, 2008 03:20 pm (UTC)
Feral. Their ancestors were war/domesticated horses...
sunithreddysunithreddy on September 4th, 2008 08:12 am (UTC)
why do the horses look fat/pregnant?
is this how horses are supposed to be? ... i am so used to seeing them at the race course.. that these ones seem kinda wierd.
Yathinyathin on September 4th, 2008 08:18 am (UTC)
i don't know. i haven't seen horses in the race course and i'm not sure if the horses were pregnant!
summer_jackelsummer_jackel on March 25th, 2009 09:06 pm (UTC)
The gray lead mare is pregnant and looks close to foaling. (You can tell by how big she is, and her udder). The rest just look really healthy, which is a delight to see in mustangs (sometimes, you see very underfed looking herds in the desert).

Racehorses on the track are usually very young and are all peaked athletes; they are to most domestic horses as professional athletes are to the average human population. < G > They're also bred to be tall, slinky and wicked fast...the average TB would die in about 2 weeks of freedom in Death Valley. Mustangs are hardy little survivors, while TBs are the ultimate equine hothouse flower.
summer_jackelsummer_jackel on March 25th, 2009 09:08 pm (UTC)
(oh, sorry, terminology bad. TB=Thoroughbred, the breed which is most frequently raced).
Yathinyathin on March 25th, 2009 09:20 pm (UTC)
Thanks for that piece of information. It was truly delight looking at these hardy fellas in the middle of nowhere! The stallion was such a delight, but he was always so far away that we couldn't get a picture justifying his gorgeousness!
sunithreddysunithreddy on September 4th, 2008 08:30 am (UTC)
esp the one in 'the top female in the herd'
summer_jackelsummer_jackel on March 25th, 2009 08:58 pm (UTC)
Oh, my heart. So beautiful, it hurts. Thank you for sharing...and man, what a time to have camera issues!

That buckskin mare (the gold one) is just stunning. And the gray lead mare is very very pregs.