My Short Story: The Thrill of Photographing Mustangs on Oregon's High-Desert by Melissa Kunde

Mustangs have the potential to give so much to humankind. I journeyed out to find them in the back country of Oregon's high-desert. I drove for hours over highways and bumpy dirt roads to satisfy a hopeful gamble that I might find the elusive Kiger herd. Six hours later I spotted them in close distance .

I felt an overwhelming rush of excitement when I saw the herd appearing over the hill.  I felt my stomach knot with excitement. I quickly pulled over into a ditch, gathered my heavy gear, and trudged up through boulders, tall grass, and sage.

Arriving sweaty and dirty at the peak of a hill - I viewed 60 or more Kiger Mustangs grazing on the plateau. Quietly, I tiptoed over the rough rocky terrain trying to find a place to put my heavy camera gear. Among all the equipment was my "good luck backpack" ( a gift from a National Geographic photographer).  I thought, superstitiously, it was charmed and the reason I found them. I felt like this moment was a call answered to tell their story, to capture their voice in the visual narrative.  

I felt in awe of their beauty and majesty.  Was I really here?  Alone with all of them? I thought to myself -  awestruck in the moment. 

They see me now, and seem to accept my presence.  I began to feel at one with them and for a time, I am not sure how long, all my senses came alive and my camera captured our resonance and curiosity.

I stood so still that after a while a group of them approached me. My heart jumped out my chest and my camera kept on clicking.  All I could think of was an innocent spook and I would be the headline: "Sarah Waters Get Trampled by Herd of Mustangs!" Slowly backing away from their approach, I felt respect and an excitement that sent chills across my skin.

Time passed so quickly that I hardly noticed the light lower in the sky. It was late afternoon, so I took one deep thoughtful breath and decided to call it a day.  I had captured magical moments, connected with these majestic wild horses, and lived a small dream.

I packed my gear and carefully hiked back to my car, it was hard to leave I wanted to stay out there with them. Until next time.

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About Sarah Waters