Wild Horses of Sand Wash Basin – Foals

June 10, 2014 at 5:00 am (Photography, Wild Horses of the Southwest) (, , , , , )


I was very happy to discover that the Bureau of Land Management maintains four Herd Management Areas in Colorado to protect the feral horses – two of them fairly close to where I am currently living.  I visited the Sand Wash Basin area, which is also on the way to the Gates of Lodore entrance to Dinosaur National Monument.


I arrived mid-afternoon and picked up a very useful brochure at the kiosk describing the wild horse loop roads – all of which are gravel but well-maintained.  There are also off-road vehicle areas within the boundaries, but I was fortunate there were none of these hideous machines tearing up the hills that day.


I soon found a herd alongside the road, resting.  Occasionally there would be little skirmishes, but the horses mostly just stood around.  After awhile they began grazing, and as the sun lowered they began to move on.  This little pinto colt has strange white eyes.  His mother is a very handsome mare as you can see.  I could not figure which of the many stallions was the herd boss.


There were several pregnant mares, but not as many foals as you might expect.  The next morning I met Jerome, the horse whisperer for BLM, who was looking for one last mare to inoculate for the season.  He uses a dart gun to deliver a contraceptive to the mares.  He had a list of all the horses, and said that only certain mares received contraceptives depending on their DNA lineage.  I was very glad they were controlling the herd population this way.  While there are regular roundups to put up mustangs for adoption, there are not always enough people willing to care for a wild horse.  The law does not allow killing them, fortunately, but some cattle ranchers don’t want “their” grass eaten by horses and get militant when the BLM, which is underfunded like the other government agencies thanks to these “small government” types, can’t round them up fast enough.



Jerome also showed me the area where the unique tiger chert is found.  I had seen thousands of pieces of black chert reflecting the morning sunlight like dark glass.  The tiger chert is amazingly beautiful.  It’s usually not as waxy as regular chert, which does come in a range of colors from white, red, amber, purple, and combinations.  So perhaps it’s less strong, but it has been traded by the ancient Fremont people and the modern tribes that lived here.  Chert is easy to shape into arrowheads and cutting tools.

Tiger Chert

Tiger Chert

I later found out that there are many fans of the Sand Wash Wild Horses, and they have a very well-subscribed Facebook page.  Somehow the “horse watchers” seem to know the names of all the horses, and their lineages.  Perhaps they can tell me the names of the horses I have photographed!


I wonder if the other pinto is the little guy’s brother from the previous year?  The belly pattern is quite similar in shape.


I also hope to learn more about horse behavior and what differentiates a bay, sorrel, roan, etc.




This darling was part of another band near the pond the BLM had dug.





I will post several more photo essays on these magnificent and historic animals throughout this week, so stay tuned!


Feel free to reblog or share

Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

These prints available in Wild Horses of Sand Wash Basin online gallery

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

Original hand-painted BW photographs for sale:  Etsy

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Contact:  cindy at cindymcintyre.com




  1. Everette said,

    Those are beautiful horses and great pictures.

  2. Bella Remy Photography said,

    Your captures of these beautiful steeds leaves me breathless.

  3. mbkircus said,

    Lovely pictures. I love seeing the wild horses but then have to remember they are yet another invasive species and that they do a lot of damage to the environent. Good to hear they are controlling new births.

    • Cindy McIntyre said,

      I know they are not welcome by managers in many national parks, but after 500 years they have earned their place in the ecosystem. After all, we European descendants are an invasive species, too. Even native deer need to be controlled and are often invasive – especially in the East. The real destruction in the Sand Wash Basin is what the ORVs are doing. At least they are limited to certain areas.

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