Four Days in Northeastern Nevada


This beautiful bachelor stallion was very accepting of our wish to photograph him. He was one of the most beautiful movers I've ever seen in horsedom. His trot was gorgeous.


The mission was to photograph horses in the snow. The mission was accomplished. What I wasn't prepared for was the absolute beauty of of this part of Utah. This is the Steptoe Valley. This valley, bookended by the Schell Creek, the Cherry Creek, and  Egan mountain ranges, is high desert. The colors of the its glorious wintry landscape turned every vista into an epic painting.

This area is remote. I was with two other photographers. One lives in the valley. The nearest place to stay was in Ely, Nevada, and even that is an hour from the horse range. Ely is equidistant from Salt Lake City or Las Vegas. We came in through Salt Lake City, driving past the Bonneville Salt Flats and then through Wendover and up into heights shrouded in fog. Driving south down Route 93, as soon as the fog cleared, there were horses. Three horses. A family band. The stallion missing part of his tail. I dubbed him Short Tail. Locals probably have a different name for him but Short Tail he shall always be in my mind.


Looking south down route 93


The sky here is too beautiful.


We would spend four days photographing the horses of the Antelope/Antelope Valley and the Triple B Complexes (Bureau of Land Management, BLM, Horse Management Areas or HMAs). These were hardy and healthy horses with plenty of forage. And they were wild. So very wild. A friend says that if you get a good photograph of these horses you really have earned it. That is the absolute truth.

It was amazing to watch herd and band dynamics. And also listen to them. You could hear stallions snorting warnings to their bands, their calls echoing across the valley. You could hear the thunder of hooves through snow. You could hear the quiet munching and ripping of bunch grass.



The colors of the winter landscape and a stallion that fits it ever so perfectly.


I learned something fundamental about my photography here. It was the first time the my love of painting, which predates my photography by many years, finally incorporated itself into my photography. This was because of the incredible landscape. The colors were just astounding and I started playing with them as much as I could in my camera. I can't wait to see what evolution happens as this fusion progresses within my brain. And I strongly suggest anyone working in one medium of art, take up an other medium. Amazing things can happen. You'll start to see differently and manipulate that medium differently and that is a good thing.



Horses aren't the only large groups of animals you will encounter in the Steptoe Valley. We would see several groups of pronghorn over the course of four days.


The other thing I learned is how to deal with condensation. If you go from 15 degrees Fahrenheit and covered in snow into a warm vehicle, guess what happens to your lens? It's going to fog up. I knew this was going to happen one day.  Thankfully your dashboard heater will fix this issue fairly quickly.



Cherry Creek, Nevada. This is a historic mining town is mostly abandoned, though a very people are still eking out a living here.


I wish that these horses were safe. But they are not. I worry about them. There had been a round up just a week before we were there. These horses live under the ever present threat of being rounded up and removed from this beautiful land to make room for sheep, cattle, oil, and mining. But the sad fact is that the horses on public lands barely make an impact on the land compared to domestic animals, oil and mining. Yet, they will lose their freedom due to misinformation spewed by corporate and government interests, through greed, and through willful ignorance. That a primary symbol of American freedom is having its freedom taken away is a crime. To learn more watch this. We can do better. There are reasonable solutions for all. If only the various factions threatening the lives of these horses would listen.



The bachelor band that we would dub "The Band of Brothers" strolling down into the valley.


I think of these three as Snip, Little Snip, and Blaze. Snip, I think, at some point decided we were supposed to be part of the band. He seemed to let the other boys know the paparazzi were okay.


More members of the boy band.



The colors were just perfect.


A bit of a conversation.


Snip.


The watchers being watched.


In the storm.



I think there must have been a wild horse meeting called in the hills because that's where they all decided to head all at once.

Heading into the hills.



Lead Mare White. In the storm again.





Comments

  1. I enjoyed reading the amazing story of your journey into wild horse country of the rugged high desert country of Northeastern, Nevada. You are a gifted photographer . Thank you for sharing your incredible journey with everyone. I was blessed to have been there with you and Lara . I am so glad you came all the way out here to the Big High Lonesome Country to photograph these rare wild beauties that call this place home. I enjoyed our epic four days of photographing the wild ones even in zero degrees.

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    Replies
    1. Jeanne, it was amazing spending four day with you out in this incredible place with these incredible horses. I'm sure I'll be back through the area. It's too beautiful not to return to.

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