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Valley of Horses

I’ve had the good fortune to watch free-ranging wild horses across vast stretches of the American West. On a return hike from one such photo safari a few years back a pygmy rattlesnake alerted me to its presence a couple of feet away and the “range ballet” that ensued between my leaping and somersaulting body entwined with a large camera tripod provided great comic relief for my traveling partner.

The wild horse issue is a matter of huge controversy but that doesn’t change anything for me when it comes to seeing them interact. There is little to compare. What I’d never experienced until recently was having wild horses saunter up to allow human touch. Admittedly some of the animals now on the 4,700 acre Deerwood Ranch Wild Horse Eco-Sanctuary were part of the training program at the Colorado State Penitentiary where selected inmates are given the opportunity to learn horse handling. But they are all still wild horses rounded up from ranges in Wyoming.

Deerwood is the only sanctuary of its kind in the country. The Bureau of Land Management turned down the proposal initially. After all it was only three pages long whereas the government had some offers in the 75-page range with attachments promulgated by attorneys and accountants. Someone took a second look though and gave Deerwood a positive nod. A negotiating process, environmental assessments and public comment periods followed.

Now a multi-year contract is in place and one of the provisions makes clear the wild horses are to be offered for public view. Tours are limited to four to fit in the ATV and the 90-minute outings will be staged weekends June through August at Deerwood which is on private land in the Centennial Valley 35 miles west of Laramie, WY.

Our time there last week was truly unforgettable and we invite you along for the ride:

Special thanks to cameraman extraordinaire Mike McCrimmon who made pictures with a Canon 5D Mark III on this trip. My guitar is a black acoustic/electric Ibanez.