South Steens Wild Horses (Oregon) -Part One

May 19, 2013  •  21 Comments


South Steens Wild Horses, Part One


Of course!  It was destined…


This could be a record breaking length blog, if I let it be.  In fact, it turned out so long that I have split it into two parts.  Part One this week and Part Two next week. 


Many of you know we have been coming here for years.  As far back as 2003, we saw wild horses here.  Back then, they were pretty wild.  They certainly didn’t walk up to you!


Back then, we came on vacations and would briefly visit.  We were focused on bird, wildlife and nature photography.  The more we learned about the horses, the more hooked we became. Over time, they dominated.  Now, it’s about all we can think about.  Oh yeah.  We’ll photograph a bird if it flies into the frame.  LOL


Somewhere about 2005, we got seriously hooked and began to spend more time here. So, the South Steens feels like home to us.  When I retired in 2008, we started expanding our horizons and traveling to different HMAs (nearly 30 now) but we still spend a minimum of three weeks a year here, trying to be here is both spring and fall.


I have a lot to say!  However, I think I will try to focus on some of the major players.  I hope that’s okay with you…


I do have to start with a disclaimer.  I have never been much for wild horse names (though I can now see the value of being able to identify the major players), so don’t be surprised if I don’t get the names correct.  I will do my best, with the help of some friends who know them better than me (the names, that is) and the horse charts for the South Steens.  I may even get a relationship or two wrong, but I will do the best I can do.


So.  Let’s see…where do I start?


The Hollywood Herd


Where else?


Bo (short for Bodacious)

Bo is one of the first horses we photographed in the South Steens.  Or at least, I should say, successfully photographed.  Early on, the horses we saw were always at a distance and we didn’t know we could walk anywhere near them.


So when we saw Bo tusseling with two other stallions along the road, we were delighted.  He was with a sorrel and Sundance.  Of course, we didn’t know Sundance then.


Bo must have been a teenager.  He was goofing around with the sorrel while Sundance mostly watched.  They ran along the fence that runs parallel to the highway, biting, kicking and rearing.  We were enthralled but the light was really bad.  We watched for awhile and then decided to move on.  We were gone for several hours.  When we came back along that stretch of highway, lo and behold, there they were doing the same thing. Teenagers!



























Bo looked a lot lighter then but there is no doubt it’s him.  I’ve compared his blaze and socks with other photos from that day.













He has darkened up, but most of all he has chunked up.  He is one very large stallion now.  Not necessarily tall, but bulky.  Not many stallions want to challenge him.


He must have been “baching it” for a few years.  We didn’t see Bo again until 2009 and he was still a bachelor. 




He’s definitely getting more husky, wouldn’t you say?





















After the fall 2009 gather, he acquired a nice little harem.  In fact, one of our favorite mares (I’ll bet she’s yours too), Charm, was with him, with her daughter, Saige.  More about Charm later…












Bo was very busy that spring.


Defending his new found family...







He added a new member to his harem in 2011 - a "minime."  I know you can never know who is the sire of a foal out there, but this one leaves little doubt, I think.


By this time, Saige was off with a stallion of her own.














 Tender moments...


















I just love it when foals mimic their parents like this.  Notice the ears?  In the next photo, Bo put his ears forward and so did the foal!

















No big surprise, Bo has held onto his mares and even added Calista in 2012.














And he’s still going strong.  He now has a look alike two year old, a yearling and foal from Charm and a new foal from Calista.  We’ll take that with a grain of salt, since you never know in the wild.  I think it’s a good bet he is the sire.  I can’t imagine him letting any other stallion on his turf!



2013  Bo's family band





















Bo's band going to the waterhole...





You simply could not talk about the Hollywood Herd without talking about Charm.


She is hands down, one of the prettiest mares we’ve ever seen.  With a mane that nearly goes to her knees and eyes that are doleful, she is mesmerizing to nearly everyone who sees her.


I believe she is a dunskin pinto.  She has a dorsal stripe and leg barring, sure markings of a dun.  Where that luscious mane came from is anyone’s guess.  I know of no one who saw her as a foal; at least that was confirmed without a shadow of a doubt.


She has never been freeze branded.  This doesn’t mean she hasn’t been gathered, but likely gathered and released at the trap site.  Good decision – she throws beautiful babies!  The fact that she’s never been freeze branded means we don’t know her age, though.  Is she old?  I don’t know.  It feels that way, but oh how easy it is to be wrong about that!


We first saw Charm in 2008 with Saige, who looks like a yearling or perhaps a two year old.  From what I can tell from the photos from then, she was with Ranger.  She was also with him in 2009.  The alternative is that Ranger was Jack’s lieutenant in 2009.  Confusing enough for you?





April 2008
















September 2008
















Her 2009 colt sure looks like Ranger.  Of course…















After the 2009 gather, Charm was with Bo.  She seemed comfortable with him and as you know, she is still with him.  Charm is pretty unflappable, but I like to think she is content.





Ranger’s foal?  Jack's foal?  Who knows?



We  don’t know what happened but the foal disappeared later that summer.












Charm and Saige, Spring 2010


This is one of my favorite photos from this year.
















Spring 2011
















                                                                                 Spring 2011




Charm's 2012 foal

















One thing you can say without a doubt, Charm has beautiful babies!!



Charm's 2013 foal



Like you, I hope this gorgeous mare keeps going strong for many more years to come!





The most famous of all the South Steens stallions?  I’m not sure, but this big dun is certainly well known and very popular.


He has what I would call, “stallion presence.”  In a very big way.  He’s also a very big boy.


Honor was born in 1998, which makes him 15 this year.  He’s still going strong as a band stallion, though his band has varied in size over the years.


I would be willing to guess (though I don’t know), he is responsible for many, if not most, of the duns and grullos in the Hollywood Herd.  I certainly do know he’s had several red duns and rich sorrels with flaxen manes and tails come out of his band.


I believe we first saw Honor in 2008, or at least that is the time we were closest.  He was with a mare that looked startlingly like Charm.  In fact, it took me awhile to realize it *wasn’t* her.


Have you ever seen that expression before?






May 2009

















Honor's band, Spring 2010


Yes, that is Domino.  Is Honor his sire?  No one knows...














Spring 2010

This is one of my all time favorite photos, and probably my favorite of a stallion and his foal.  Ahhh, the soft side of a stallion.  Love it!




Spring 2010

















Spring 2011


Honor's band seem smaller this year.














Spring 2011

















Interestingly, Honor was not with the Hollywood Herd when we were there in June of 2012.  We did see him in the backcountry, hanging out with the silver bay.  We didn’t get a single photo of him.



Not so for 2013.  He is right in the middle of the Hollywood Herd again.



Still going strong!




I can hear you all sigh.  Oh yes.  We sigh too.  What a beauty!!


I hope you'll forgive me if I have a whole slew of photos of Shaman!  He is most photogenic- and magnetic of stallions.  It seems that every time we noticed, both our cameras were swinging his way!  LOL


Our good friend, John Whelan, has a shot of Shaman and Sox which suggests they were both born in either 2004 or 2005 and came from the same natal (birth) band.






We first saw Shaman sometime later (2008), as a young bachelor stallion, though this looks as if he is standing next to his dam.














Shaman was a very busy young stallion in 2009.  He was all over the Hollywood Meadow, stirring up trouble.  We could never identify that he was with a bachelor band.  How could we?  He never stayed still!




Spring 2009
















Spring 2009















By 2010, it certainly appeared that Shaman had taken on the role of Honor’s lieutenant.  Whether Honor intended it or not, Shaman chased absolutely every stallion in the area.  The poor guy rarely rested…




Spring 2010

On the lookout















There he goes....




One of the stallions he took a particular dislike to in the spring of 2010.  If he was anywhere in the vicinity, Shaman took chase.














There he goes again!

















Looky who!  Four Socks!


















If anything, he was even busier in 2011.







Is it that mane?

















Or is it the blue eyes?  For me, it's both!!
















There were big changes for Shaman in 2012.  He finally acquired a mare and her foal (likely not his as he did not have a mare the year before).  With his first family, came big personality changes.  Instead of being in the middle of everything and full of self confidence, he suddenly became reclusive.  We found him far away from the Hollywood Herd, hanging out pretty much by himself.  There is no doubt he was going to protect that little family with everything he had.



Shaman's new family, Spring 2012






































This year he still had his pretty grulla mare but lost his yearling to Red Vogue just last week.  There is a foal with them.  Shaman's?  That's difficult to answer...













I will end with one of my favorite photos of Shaman...


Not to worry!  There is still a video!  ;-)


I know everyone has been concerned about Jack and his band.  It'll be another two weeks before I publish my blog about Jack, so I thought I would give you a video update.






As I said, Part Two next week.  Stay tuned!


You can now purchase any photos from the blogs.  Just click on the photo you are interested in to be taken to a gallery where you can view options and purchase.  I will be slowly enabling sales on previous blog photos but in the meantime, feel free to send me a message if you would like to purchase a photo that you do not find in our Wild Horses and Burros gallery on the website.


Did you know you can subscribe to my blogs?  Just go to the bottom and click "Subscribe."  You will receive an email when each one is published.  This will work for Firefox and Internet Explorer.  If you use Google Chrome, you will need to check "Help" for instructions on how to subscribe to a RSS or a "feed".


If you would like to read my earlier blogs (there are nine), just go to the "Blog" page, scroll to the bottom and click on the one you would like to read.  That is far easier than trying to scroll up and down and find which one you want.


If you liked this blog, you will likely like our DVD on wild horses; Wild Horses: Understanding the Natural Lives of Horses by Mary Ann Simonds, Marty and I.  If you love wild horses, this is not to be missed!  Photos and text are accompanied by the beautiful Native American style music by Grammy nominated musician, Diane Arkenstone.  You can view a trailer and purchase the DVD ($14.95) at


Proceeds from DVD and photo sales help us to stay on the road, studying, documenting and photographing our country's beautiful wild horses.  We thank you for your support.


I would like to give special recognition and thanks to Mary Ann.  Through the years, she has been an invaluable resource for understanding wild horse behavior.  Without her knowledge, expertise and willingness to teach, we would only be guessing at much of what we see.  Thank you Mary Ann!


If you would like to learn more about horse behavior, both wild and domestic, visit her website at




Kay Martin(non-registered)
I always enjoy what you post and this video of Jack's band is so beautiful. Thank you so very much for sharing.
Terri Harris(non-registered)
LOVE your Blog!! Thank you for all of the hard work, time, information, stories and love you put into this blog and your pictures. You bring such joy to many people!! Many thanks!!
jackie parsons(non-registered)
wonderful blog so lovely to hear how the herds are doing thank you Barbara have a great time xx
Beverly Robb(non-registered)
Wow, what a wonderful blog page. It was obvious you put so much heart and soul into the work. I loved meeting the players and watching your films. But the film of Jack's family bad was heartbreaking in a way. It it immediately obvious how thin he is. And if I noticed correctly, he looks to be favoring his left rear leg some. But animals just seem to keep going on with no complaint, instead of moaning and groaning about it the way we sometimes do.

Once again, great job and many thanks for all of your hard work'
Gill Dixon(non-registered)
Absolutely wonderful. Thank you Barbara
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