In southern Montana, just across the Wyoming border lies the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range. The 38,000 acre range was established in 1968 by the US federal government to provide protection for mustangs – wild horses if you prefer. Free roaming horses have been in this area for over a century, perhaps dating back to the 1700’s. Genetics and markings provide evidence that these horse are descendents of Spanish horses. Currently there are about 175 wild horses on the range.
As a result of a PBS documentary, Cloud: The Wild Stallion of the Rockies, many people have heard of Cloud and he has become an icon in the world of mustangs. I have photographed Cloud and many other mustangs each time I have been on the mountain.
Each summer for the past four years I have visited the area to photograph the mustangs. The bulk of the mustangs are found in a remote area at about 8,500 feet in elevation. The road up the mountain is very rocky. A high-clearance vehicle with good tires is a must unless you have access to an ATV. It takes me about three hours on the rough roads to get to the horses. Given the difficulty of getting there, I like to camp on the mountain for two nights. There is no formal campground, just places in the trees that work for me. This year I saw no campers other than the few friends who were with me and we saw only a few other people who passed through – simply wonderful!
Although the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) uses fertility treatment on mares to control the numbers, I have seen numerous foals on each trip. The BLM also periodically gathers horses to be put up for adoption. This year the plan is to remove 30 to 40 horses. Much has been written about this controversial practice, but I won’t get into it here.
Although it varies from year to year, mid-July is generally when the wildflowers are at their peak. Mustangs in a field of wildflowers is a great sight.
If you liked these photos, for many more from Pryor Mountainplease go to http://dongettywildlifephotography.com/p386597977
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