Pryor Mountain Wild Mustangs
When Mary asked me if I wanted to go and shoot some of the Pryor Mountain wild mustangs down in Wyoming, I of course was all about that. Being from the east coast I have seen the wild ponies on the outer banks but for some reason this was different. I owned a mustang for several years from a reserve out in Nevada. My sister and I did a lot of research about his brand and about where he came from. He lived to be 30 and never missed a beat up until the last few weeks of his life. He was one of the best horses i had ever owned.
We hopped in the car and headed about 2 hours south west of Billings to where the mustangs were located in Lovell, Wy. We stopped at the gas station and bought some chicken tenders, potato wedges, and some drinks to have to snack on because we weren’t sure how long we would be out there. Once we arrived at the Pryor Mountain Mustang Preserve to get some information on the best places to view the mustangs.
We arrived later in the afternoon hoping to catch the best light, well it takes two and a half hours to get to the top and it was already about 330PM. At the top of the mountain they have a herd of about 100 mustangs and you are guaranteed to see one. The other option is they have a smaller heard of about 30 that run off of a main road down on the Mustang Flats. We opted for that option (not really knowing if we would see anything) and headed off on our adventure.
Chasing Wild Mustangs
When we first headed out we first came across Horseshoe Lake. It was absolutely beautiful and then it leads into the canyon. As we drove on up the mountain we came to Devils Overlook. We stopped there for a little bit, snapped a few shots of some wild goats and headed back out. At this point we still hadn’t seen much, and weren’t to hopeful to see a whole lot. Then we came around the corner and saw the guy in the first shot. I got so excited, my heart started racing and Mary was like, “Sarah, calm down”. It was my first wild mustang that I had seen in real life and to say I was a little excited was an understatement.
So we pulled over and started shooting. I started spraying and praying (a photographers term lol) because I didn’t want to miss a minute of this opportunity. We hung out by the truck as he got closer and he soon walked on past up up the hill. So we decided to follow him…
The mustang was heading out through this open ridge so we followed and followed. It was probably a good 15 minute walk until we reached the end of the ridge and the overlook was breathtaking. Guess what he did next, he freaking posed. He stood there for over an hour letting us shoot him from all directions. I wasn’t believing this. Mary and I kept switching out lenses so we could get different shots. She was shooting with an extender on her 70-200 to get some awesome detail shots and I was shooting with just my 70-200 f2.8. I mean look at this view.
Hidden Wild Mustangs
After about an hour of shooting we decided to head on down the road to see what else we could find. Out of the corner of her eye, Mary saw two stallions down in a ravine just hanging out. So we pulled over and started hiking down into the ravine to see if we could get a little closer. We snuck around the rocks and we were spotted.
They were really curious to see what we were doing but never moved. They did walk on up the ridge a little ways but didn’t move to much. At this point the sun was starting to drop down in the sky and the lighting was perfect and of course we were getting anxious.
As I was walking around below them through the sage, I remember smelling the sage and how sweet it smelled and then looking up and seeing these mustangs on the side of this mountain. It was a moment of realization of how lucky I was to be in this place, with an amazing human, and these amazing horses. Mary pushed me this week to step out of my comfort zone and to really experience things I never thought I would have gotten the chance to ever do.
We still had a few more miles on this road to see and we wanted to see what was left before we ran out of light. As we were driving we saw a herd of three hanging out on the Mustang Flats. They were a pretty good hike out there but it was worth it. They were curious of us but didn’t pay to much attention to what we were doing. They were being silly and goofing off and cracking us up.
All at one time they decided to take off running and playing. We say a few more off in the distance and we decided to walk a little further to see if we could get closer. Well being form North Carolina most things are pretty flat and we have a few mountains. Well out there they have plateaus that look like flat land and there here is a huge valley in between.
We figured they were on the next flat over. So we headed on out, scaled down the side of the flat, up the next and they were not there. They were two more over. Well we were also at about 8,000 feet elevation and the air is a lot thinner than I am used to so catching your breath is a lot harder at that altitude. We decided to just head back to the truck since it was getting late and we were running out of day light. Mary went on and I took my time heading back.
On the way back up the last climb I stopped and sat down to enjoy the view and take in this moment. As I was sitting there I had a moment that I will never forget. I swear I felt my grandfather sitting right beside of me. I literally got cold chills. As I looked down there was a concrete marker that had the number 18 written on it. 18 is the day of mine and my grandfathers birthday. We were born on the same day.
As many of you might not know my grandfather and I were really close and he is the reason that I love horses so much. Grandpa loved going out west and always love the cowboy lifestyle. So to be sitting there looking at the wild mustangs and feeling him there. He has been gone for 7 years but it still feels like it was just yesterday.
We hopped back in the car and decided to drive on out to the end of the road to see where it ended. We turned around and were heading back out and the two mustangs we saw down in the ravine were walking on the road heading to the watering troughs they have set up for the horses to drink out of. So we stopped and snapped a few more pictures of them walking up the road.
The wild mustangs of Pryor Mountain were a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am so thankful for the chance to do something I’ve never done before!