Utah Wild Horses: The Onaqui Herd
Last week I took a drive out to Utah’s west desert area not far from Dugway to look for and hopefully photograph the wild horses of the Onaqui Herd which is managed by the BLM. There’s plenty of discussion and opinions regarding the wild horse population, here in Utah and throughout the west, and I’m not informed enough to have a strong opinion of my own. I’m a photographer, love experiencing and photographing wildlife and animals in general. Landscapes as well and when compositions and opportunities come along to capture both then all the better.
I visited the Onaqui Herd Management Area a couple of times just recently. The first time, images seen here, produced some wonderful photos especially as the sun began to set. The next time out, which was several days later, there was not a horse to be seen and I spent most of 2 days searching. Upon my return home I happened to see a number of social media post by a friend that had captured some excellent images taken the day before I was there. She, along with a few other friends, commented on how the water to drinking troughs had been turned off and that they were upset about this and would be contacting the BLM to find out why this had happened. I was a bit puzzled about why there would be drinking troughs out there for them anyway and after seeing some of the photos posted by my friends I started to ask myself, are these really “wild horses” if they’ve become dependent on humans to supply them with water? I also noticed how they were interacting with the people around them which increased my questioning of the term “wild”. So be it.
For now I’ll just continue looking for the chance to photograph them again, not worrying a great deal as to if they are truly wild. Certainly the area where the Onaqui Herd is located is wild indeed, even if it is “managed”. I hope you enjoy these few photos.
David. I miss visiting your Park City gallery and the stellar images that you have rendered.
The wild horses in Utah’s West Desert have become a very popular thing over the past four to five years. It is hard to go out and not see at least two or three photographers near the herds. There is even a photo tour offered to those who have been unable to find or need help shooting the mustang.
After 10 years of photographing and filming the horses, I limit my visits to the coldest part of winter for the fantastic light and always go early in the morning to locate the herd(s), and then shoot at sunset and after spending the night shooting night scenes, sleep a few hours and then go find the horses for the morning light. It works much better and most the the photographers come in the late morning and usually only stay until late afternoon. Filming in 4k the action between the stallions has become very satisfying in the last few years.