Toiyabe National Forest – Wild Horses and Burros

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It was my birthday yesterday. I was planning on getting out of the city, and was hoping to experience some high mountain air, see some snow and wild horses. I know.. high expectations. All my wishes came true, and then some.

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I was going to take my daughter on this adventure, but mentioned my plans, and we got company. Which was absolutely wonderful, and I didn’t have to drive myself, and could enjoy the experience even more.

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I wanted to go to Toiyabe National Forest, to the Spring Mountain area, because I knew that there’s several herds of wild horses roaming there. The chances of seeing some were pretty good. It also snowed there earlier this week 🙂 Being from the mountains in northern Sweden, I LOVE snow.

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I apologize for this photo not being crystal clear, I was shooting towards a very bright sun. I was so surprised to see this unusual friendship between a young moose and a mustang foal.

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This is right outside the small off-grid community of Cold Creek (NV.)

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I’ve always been fascinated by eyes, and how loud they speak, if we are quiet enough to listen. They really are the eye of the soul. (LOVE my new telephoto zoom lens!!)

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If I can have experiences like this, only an hour from home, I can handle living in the city a little longer. I don’t have words to describe what it does to my soul. I hope you can feel it by looking at the photos.

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My daughter enjoying lunch, with a scenic view.

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Without a doubt the best birthday so far in my life. I got so much more than all my wishes come true.

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I’ve seen plenty of wild burros these past few weeks, but haven’t had the chance to actually capture them with my camera, until last night.

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This is outside Indian Springs (NV.)

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It was a magical day, filled with joy, laughter, love, photo opportunities to die for, fresh mountain air, snow, adventure, presents, and even a homemade cake and song. When I went to bed I was filled with an feeling of immense gratitude, and love in my heart. . and thank you everyone for all the birthday wishes on social media as well. I am so thankful for each and every one of you being a part of my life.

Love,

Ms Zen

 

Mirror Of The Soul

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I’ve always been fascinated by eyes. Belonging to both two, and four legged friends. They tell us so much. It’s true that some people learn to manipulate this to their advantage, but never animals. Animals live right here, right now. I love their honesty.

A few years back I started to collect my favorite close-up photos of horses, and dogs, with focus on their eyes. My intention was to publish it in a beautiful coffee table book; Mirror Of The Soul.  Well, unfortunately I lost the majority of my collection, due to some poorly protected files, and computer crashes. I could save smaller files of some of my favorites. Maybe in a few years my new photos of captivating animals eyes will be published, who knows? 🙂 For now, the photos in this post are my favorites. I think they speak a million words.

The first photo (above) is a wise, older, Arabian mare. She belonged to my friend Kate. She passed the rainbow bridge a while ago. The first time I met her, I visited my friend to take some family photos for her, and this mare told me, loud and clear, that she was part of this family. Her penetrating eyes were kind, but it was hard to meet her gaze. It was like if she was searching my soul. I had a challenging home life at the moment, I didn’t show that to any of my friends, but I couldn’t fool this mare. She was a confident alpha mare. Her eyes looked into my soul.

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These trusting, beautiful eyes belongs to my German Shepherd Gretchen. She is the most loyal dog one could ask for. When my own ayes are failing, her eyes sees for me. She is 4 years old now.

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These eyes also belongs to a German Shepherd. She never belonged to me, but I worked with her on and off for several years. If you compare her eyes, to Gretchen’s eyes, there is a big difference. This dogs eyes are insecure, and this was not a dog you could trust 100%. She was very insecure, and that means potentially dangerous, when it comes to dogs. Especially one powerful dog as a GSD. You can’t fully trust a dog like this. I come to love this girl very much, but I did not trust her. My dog Gretchen is of working bloodlines. Beautiful in her own way, but this girl came from a long line of show dogs. She was bred for her beauty. She was the most beautiful German Shepherd I ever seen. Physically she was perfect.

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This beautiful eye belongs to a gorgeous rescue horse. An extremely flighty horse. He used to jump the fence when the neighbors car pulled up in their driveway. He had a strong dislike for men in general. I started him under saddle, and I spent a long time befriending him, before I started to ride him.

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I think you can see that these curious eyes belongs to a young horse. In fact a wild mustang. This was the 5th day working with him, and we were able to take a walk outside the ranch he was stabled at. This is how focused he was on me, during our first walk. He was an incredible horse. A master of reading my slightest intent. During this walk, our very first one. I wouldn’t consider him halter broke, since it only was our 5th day together, I had no idea how he would act to things. Maybe it was stupid to take him out on a walk, but I could swear he begged me to. I had him in a rope halter, and a long lead rope, (for more control if I needed.) Halfway into the walk we meet a man. I can see from a distance that this is a man that I don’t particularly like. He lived in a house nearby, and he was always a little too friendly.  This mustang felt that. This early in our relationship. He was walking on my right side, but as we came closer he switched sides, to my left side, placing himself in between me and this man. He reared up when the man came to a distance of around 5 ft from us. Telling him to not approach. I encourage the horse to get down from his hind legs, and I took him over to the other side of the road. The man turns around, and gets back into his house. We continue our walk without further incidents.

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Naturally I have to finish with my favorite horse Trigger. This was after our very first trail ride together. A moment to remember.

I hope you enjoy these Close-Ups. They are a part of this week’s Sunday Stills. Feel free to make your own entry. I would love to see it!

Love,

Ms Zen

Virginia Range Mustangs

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The Virginia Range is just East of Reno, and if you grew up watching Bonanza  you’ve seen it “with your own eyes.” 50% of all the wild mustangs that lives on our continent lives in Nevada.

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The mustangs that roams the hills of the Virginia Range are among the easiest to see, if you would like to see a wild horse. The city of Reno, Carson City, and the surrounding suburban areas are constantly growing, for the wild horses that means that the hills that they’ve been roaming are somewhat taken from them. The water sources are scarce in the desert, and they are forced to use the water sources that are available, even if they now are in populated areas. The debate of the right to the land is not a simple one. It’s sad to see horses get killed by traffic while they are trying to get a ”snack” from someones lawn. The desert is mostly sage brush, very lean grass, and rocks, when the horses see all the green lawns in the neighborhoods it’s challenging to resist them. I’ve also seen people feed them treats from their cars on many occasions. It is illegal to feed wild horses. I’m sure people mean well, simply not understanding the damage they cause by doing it, (causing horses to colic, founder, and get killed in traffic.)

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These horses are not on BLM land, and therefor not protected in the same way as mustangs on BLM land. The Virginia Range Horses are classified as stray/feral livestock, when they cause nuisance (gets into neighborhood, highways etc) they get rounded up, and loose their freedom. They are sometimes sold at auctions. When any horse is sold at an auction it’s a really bad thing, they are often bought by kill-buyers, that transport the horses under cruel circumstances, to a cruel end in Mexico. If you do want to know the fate of these horses, look it up on Youtube, (don’t do it if you want to sleep at night.) Those videos are very graphic.

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All these horrible facts aside, the Virginia Range Horses are beautiful. I enjoy watching them through my telephoto lens higher up in the foothills, away from the the cities. Up there the horses are wild. (Near the cities these horses occasionally walk right up to people, since they are used to be given treats.) The Virginia Range Mustangs are on the shorter side, usually around 13-14hh. They are believed to be the mixed offspring off early pioneer’s horses, with a touch of Shetland pony (sometimes used for working the mines.) I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know a few of them, that lost their freedom, and been sold at auctions. The ones that I’ve met had all the potential in the world to go in any direction as a riding horse; brave, surefooted, lots of endurance, and extremely loyal to their person. Wild horses that lost their freedom are used to being dependent on their herd (their family) for safety, they bond very closely to one person, that becomes their herd. If you gain the trust of a mustang you have a faithful partner that will do anything for you. My humble experience is that if you dedicate enough time to a mustang, the bond gets stronger than with most domesticated horses. In the wild their life depends on being close to their family, not only physically, but also mentally. They are masters of body language. Using body language as much as possible is recommended in any, and all interaction with a wild horse.

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Mustangs are extremely intelligent, and I often feel that they’ve read my thoughts before I even was aware of them myself. I hope you enjoyed this visit to the Virginia Range. These horses taught me so much, and will always own a part of my heart.

Love,

Ms Zen

PS. Prints of the photos of the wild horses in today’s post are available. Click on a photo you are interested in to see available art prints. I’m using Fine Art America‘s high quality prints, and safe online payment service. Order soon to receive your prints before Christmas. World wide delivery. Gift options available at checkout!

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge; Cheeky