Wild Kiger Mustangs ~ Steens Mountains, Oregon / by sarah waters

Traveling solo has become my therapy. For the last 7 years life has been a roller coaster ride of events, trials, and you name it...I endured it. Finding healing thru immersing myself in my craft and combining it with my equine love and the want to discover light-ness is what helped me move forward and start climbing back up. "Onward and upward" my dear old dad used to say, and he was right. 

So I headed to Sisters, then Diamond Oregon. A 5+ hour trek from my home this was a commitment and I didn't have a lot of time to waste. I wanted to see the Kiger herd.  Many said they are difficult to find and I'd be lucky if I did. They are an elusive band, but I was so sure and so determined...heading out with very vague directions and missed turn-offs I eventually found the correct narrow, bumpy dirt road.

Right place at the right time...

As I looked up on the ridge and I saw them...if I had been a second or two later I would have missed them over the hill, a wasted trip.  Thank God I looked up at that moment. And oh wow were they amazing...

Follow, Wild Kiger Mustangs, Steens Mountains, Oregon

Follow, Wild Kiger Mustangs, Steens Mountains, Oregon

It's rather intimidating when I am alone, in my cowboy boots, giant backpack with my film camera 'cuz I might need it, the new giant lens with extender, tripod, sweat dripping, climbing over boulders and rocks and sneaking around trees...because there are over 50 of them and ONE of me.  I really have to be careful and keep a certain amount of distance at least at first. They are used to seeing people but it just takes one of them to be set off for an unpredictable reason.  Look out and get out of their way! So these images are after several hours of patiently waiting and creeping closer, behind this bush and that tree...up and down hills and finally letting them see me, slowly, staying calm because they really do sense my energy, and really just being in tune.

Kiger Bond, Steens Mountains, Oregon

Kiger Bond, Steens Mountains, Oregon

Wild Kiger Mustangs, Steens Mountains, Oregon

Wild Kiger Mustangs, Steens Mountains, Oregon

This is my favorite. I love their symmetry yet this is just another day in their natural environment. This image was also well liked by a New York Gallery, Umbrella Arts, my first showing recently in the Big Apple.  

Many of the Kigers I saw that day have been gathered off the range.  Every 4 years the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) does a gather to manage the herd. The Kigers do adopt out because they are highly desired. Wild Horse Mountain Ranch in Sherwood is one such place who adopts Kigers and trains them for Equine therapy. 

So my journey has really come full circle...as a child my therapy was the horse I rode, Sugar, after my mother passed away at the tender age of 11. And now, I find solace in both the journey out to Eastern Oregon and in finding and photographing these beauties. 

I would love to hear if any of this resonates with you...and if you haven't ever taken a solo road trip, I say give it a whirl.  You might surprise yourself.

As ever,

Sarah

P.S. Fine Art prints of these images and more are available HERE.

P.P.S. A portion of the proceeds from the sales of these images goes directly to non-profit organizations who further the cause of rescuing and training Wild Mustangs for use in Equine Therapy.