Wild Horses of Sand Wash Basin – Interactions

June 11, 2014 at 5:00 am (Colorado, Photography, Wild Horses of the Southwest) (, , , , )


To continue the story from the previous post:

As the sun lowered in the clear sky, the horses became more animated.  Smaller bands joined into a larger herd and some minor skirmishes broke out.  Since I don’t know much about horse behavior, I will just be guessing, but it looked more like play than any real challenge.





In 1971, Congress passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act to protect, manage, and control wild horses and burros on public lands. This legislation declares that “. . . wild free roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the west; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the nation and enrich the lives of the American people. . . — BLM

For information on the BLM Herd Management Areas in Colorado, check out their website.  Here is a brochure with information and a map of the area.



Jerome, the BLM horse specialist I met, told me about two organizations that are devoted to the plight of the mustangs.  GEMS – the Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary and SWAT – the Sand Wash Advocate Team.  They are teaming up on Sat. June 21 for a Rendezvous to do clean-up work, to observe the horses, and to have a social BBQ.  If I weren’t working I’d be there!


These groups help preserve specific lineages, some of which can be traced to the original Spanish horses brought to America 500 years ago, and some of which can be traced to Native American tribes.   They also help captured mustangs find adoptive homes.



As you can see, the horses are very attached to their band members.  They show affection often – leaning their heads against each other, standing close, and playing.  Stallions may skirmish for dominance, but generally the herd leader keeps the bachelors in line.  Jerome told me that the head stallion will often have the subordinates do the dirty work, such as chasing away intruders from other bands.


Stallions will often smell mares in heat, and like deer or elk, horses can detect dangerous critters, too.






Ears back mean trouble.


Here are some “just hanging around” herd photos.








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. Sharon Chapman Cribbs said,

    Love the pictures of the horses.

  2. Everette said,

    Beautiful horses! Good picrures.

  3. Alli Farkas said,

    The skirmishes are members of the bachelor band practicing for future dominance matches that will really count. It may look like play, but it’s pretty serious practice. I saw one unlucky fellow get knocked to his knees a couple of weeks ago, but his sparring partner fortunately didn’t take advantage of him while he was down.

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