Photography : Wild Horse Series

“Blame it or praise it, there is no denying the wild horse in us.” ― Virginia Woolf, Jacob's Room

Triumphant
Triumphant

A wild stallion stands victor, taking the moment to survey his domain's beautiful landscape. Two horses were pounding hooves, about to fight, but then the other decided to just give up and walk away, leaving this one triumphant. The winning horse was a bit surprised, and exhibited the rare behavior of just gazing around at the landscape. To get these striking silhouettes I came up with a technique of manually focusing on the horse yet exposing for the sun. | Sony A7 rIV.

Son Rise at Sunset
Son Rise at Sunset

A wild pony playfully rises in front of his mother, a gesture signifying dominance that will become more important as this horse ages into a fighting stallion. Getting this was near impossible and I've been chasing it for years; you have to align perfectly with where the sun just set or its too dark, and have a five minute window of ambient light. Too dark to autofocus, entirely manual. As I reposition, prickly chaparral continuously scratches. This is one of the hardest shots I have ever taken.

Two Bodies, One Spirit ~ Beast & Man
Two Bodies, One Spirit ~ Beast & Man

This wild pony approached me and wanted head snuggles for about 40 amazing minutes, what a moment. After camping out with the Onaqui herd for a week, I was photographing them at sunset when this one came up and took a liking to me. Holding a heavy DSLR out backwards on an extended arm and guessing for the best focus was a challenge. Best selfie I've ever taken.

The Scuffle
The Scuffle

Two wild stallions battle for hierarchy, sending ponies scattering in the foreground. Taken during golden hour for lighting.

The Protector
The Protector

A wild stallion protects its family from a challenger. Spring through summer is breeding season for mustangs, prompting the younger males to confront their rivals in these dramatic stand-offs. I refer to the act as ‘rearing up’, where they take on a boxing stance, often kicking and biting their opponent. To get these shots, I lived amongst the wild Onaqui herd for a week, camping out in a dusty desert. Taken from about a mile away, I used a gimbal and my palm counteracted the shutter press.

Endurance
Endurance

A wild stallion stands head-first into a dust storm, an unusual behavior demonstrating the ruggedness these animals endure. To bear this desert weather myself, I bought a shemagh to wrap around my head and my body shields the tripod from wind. The dust is so fine here it gets into your vehicle even with the windows completely up. After my photo drive was stolen months later, this image was recovered from a print gallery. I placed this one at the top of my stairs to remind me to never give up.

Into the Storm
Into the Storm

A band of wild stallions walk unafraid towards a looming dust storm. They are accustomed to their harsh desert environment and face whatever challenges nature throws their way. It reminds me of “dust to dust” and invokes the challenges they face from humans… the Bureau of Land Management has been rounding up America’s wild horses, citing a lack of water and food despite opening the same lands up to cattle ranchers. I had only seconds to drive into position, jump out, and snapped this hand-held.

“You know that expression, 'wild horses couldn't drag me away'? Well, let me tell you, that was obviously made by someone who's never been on the other side of a lead rope when a wild horse starts running.” ― Terri Farley, Firefly

"When God wanted to create the horse, he said to the South Wind, 'I want to make a creature of you.  Condense.' And the Wind condensed." – Emir Abd-el-Kader

"A horse loves freedom, and the weariest old work horse will roll on the ground and break into a lumbering gallop when he is turned loose into the open." – Gerald Raferty