On March 26, I had the incredible luck of photographing the iconic Salt River wild horses outside of Phoenix. My photography instructor and friend, Pearl Racette, told me not to get my hopes up, as she’d been out looking for them in five past attempts with no luck. Remember: click to enlarge each photo so you can see the detail better.
Imagine my delight when we saw about 12 horses with lots of youngsters in tow! (I give Pearl all the credit; when we learned from a hiker that two horses were nearby, Pearl’s sixth sense kicked in. Instead of following the hiker’s path, without hesitation, Pearl said, “Let’s head to the road that runs parallel!”) She was right! And we saw this:
If you Google Salt River wild horses, you will see they’ve made quite a splash in the news, especially when they were slated for roundup and removal in July of 2015, which – thank goodness – didn’t happen. If it had, a piece of history would have been lost forever (It is believed that the herd is descended from the Spanish horses brought to Arizona by Spanish missionary Father Eusebio Kino in the 1600s).
Though I did not photograph it, another incredible event occurred no more than 15 to 20 feet away. Two stallions, without warning, ran toward us from a stand of mesquite and cat’s claw acacia, then rose majestically on their back legs, nostril-to-nostril, front legs kicking, whinnying and snorting. Talk about an adrenaline-producing moment. They were so close, I felt the deep thud of hooves ricochet along my spine as the two muscled stallions came back down to the ground. Then they flicked their manes, acted like nothing had happened, and trotted away.
I should note that this shoot was in preparation for a wildlife photography class the next day that we both were taking with award-winning wildlife photographer Kathleen Reeder. Stay tuned for photos from that wonderful trip next week!
And if you want to learn more about The Salt River horses (sadly, they are not out of the woods regarding protection), the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group has some interesting FAQs on their site.
For Readers, For Writers, For Everyone: Even if you don’t love horses in the fiction you read – or are admittedly in awe of them (and a little scared) due to their incredible strength and sass – you have to admit they symbolize the free spirit. And here, in Arizona, they conjure the wild west like few other things can. It’s nearly impossible – even if you’re not a creative type – not to get caught up in the creative aura that seems to cling to their shiny backs and whisper through their windblown manes. So, yes, I feel creatively inspired by nature – and photography. Again. What about you? Do you have a thing for horses? For horses in the fiction you read (If so, tell us of some good books that place equines front and center)? For writing about or photographing horses?