I don’t pretend to understand the full extent of the importance of the horse to the Navajo culture. What I have learned, however, is that the horse has been an integral part of the Navajo culture for centuries. Even today, the Navajo horse is important and can be seen throughout Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park.
Some are wild but my sense is that many more are maintained to accommodate toursits (mostly European and Asian) who seek the romance of the Hollywood derived great American west.
John Wayne’s spirit is alive and well in the four-corners region – for proof just check out the John Wayne section of the visitor center gift shop.
From my photographer’s point of view, there is somethingunforgettableabout a southwest landscape that includes horses in the shadow of red-rock buttes. Maybe I too am a victim of Hollywood. Regardless, this scene stopped me in my tracks. At sunset on my last evening in Mystery Valley, I came upon this mare and foal grazing near the road.
Ribs poking through their dusty hides suggest the challenges they face finding food and water in this desert landscape. There were children and a small house in the area so I presume these horses are kept by a local family. With the permission of my Navajo guide, I jumped out of the truck and spent the last 15 minutes of daylight trying to capture the spirit of these horses and the area. This was just a fleeting moment, but it makes me want to return to make a project out of photographing the Navajo horse.
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