Spring is finally here, and it is time to go visit the wild herds. In my opinion, the best time of year to photograph wild horses is in spring and early summer, since the foals and being born, the stallions are vying for mares, and the horses are very active.
When visiting wild horse areas, it is important to be respectful of the horses. In some areas where wild horses are accustomed to the presence of people, it may be easy to get close to them, but be careful to stay at least 50 feet away at all times, for your sake and for theirs. These are wild animals, and they do not act like domestic horses. If you get between a mare and foal or between a stallion and his mare, you can cause stress for the horses as well as putting yourself in a dangerous situation. Remember, this is their home, and we are visitors.
My favorite way to observe wild horses is to pick a good vantage point, with the sun behind me, falling on my subjects, far enough away so that the horses are not alarmed by my presence. I sit down and watch quietly, and wait for a good moment to take some photographs. I sometimes spend hours waiting for a band to wait up from a mid-morning nap, or waiting for horses to come to water. One of the best ways to get good photographs is to learn the behavior of the horses, and then anticipate what they might do next, and put yourself in a good position to capture the photos.
For example, Bolder, Cloud’s son in the Pryor Mountains was visiting with a group of bachelors at the waterhole. I knew that at some point he would run back to his family, so I put myself in a good position to capture that, and waited until he ran by. I had my camera set at a shutter speed of 1/1000 so I could freeze the action.
Being at a good angle is also important. If you want foal photographs, you need to get low. Here I waited for the filly to wake up, sitting on the ground, and when she stretched, I pushed the shutter.
I recommend getting out to see wild horses in the wild, while they are still there. It is the best way to appreciate them, and see why we must fight for their right to stay free.
For more information on wild horses, go to www.WildHoofbeats.com