How To View Pryor Horses

Viewing the wild horses, or any wildlife, is a great experience. However, sometimes humans take advantage of these viewing opportunities; and I see and hear about it happening with the Pryor horses a lot. I have seen and heard of people petting foals, trying to feed the horses, walking into family groups, and the like. I decided that I would stand on my pedestal and talk about this issue, which I feel is quite serious. The following is mostly my personal opinions on viewing the horses, so I am going to stray away from my usual format to speak my mind. I was inspired to do this after encountering some people getting way too close to the families of Bolder, Cloud, and Littlefoot. I think this picture explains this situation well enough.

Too close

As I mentioned, this issue of improper viewing is one that I have been very much against since I first started watching the horses. To me, this is the same as the people in certain national parks who stand next to bison and moose. It’s just not right.

Because of this interest, I like to hear about how people have viewed the Pryor horses in the past. The earliest accounts I have found come from the 1950’s and 1960’s. Back then, if you saw the Pryor horses, more than likely all you saw was them running away. This can be verified with photographs taken at the time; the horses were always running away in the ones I’ve been able to find. I’m uncertain how or why it happened, but the Pryor horses have become a lot more tame than they once were. There are still a number of families that do not like humans too much; but generally speaking, it isn’t often when a family will run away when they catch sight of a human.

To return to my opening statement, this has allowed many to take advantage of the distance they can get to the horses. It has caused some visitors to basically disrespect the Pryor horses. I do hate to generalize this as the majority of visitors do seem to respect the horses and keep their distance. The minority really sticks out, though.

So how should one properly view the Pryor horses?

Well, it is best to start with the distance factor. I have heard BLM officials tell people to stay 50 – 100 feet away from the horses. I think this is a great guideline, and being further away isn’t such a bad idea either. This is the distance I take most of my photographs at. I do have a fairly nice camera, but I have seen small point and shoots take excellent photographs from the proper distance. Knowing how to take large, high resolution photographs and then crop them down can give great results. Oftentimes, the horses will just keep moving away as you move towards them; and as I mention below, this is not a good thing to cause the horses to do.

I mentioned that I take most of my photographs at that distance. Sometimes when you are at that proper distance, families may come in from elsewhere and travel fairly close to you. This brings up my second recommendation for viewing the horses: Be invisible to the horses. This sounds silly, yes, as they always know you are there (watch and you will see they have very good tracking vision and are always watching). What I mean is, don’t do anything that changes their behavior. If a family is resting on a hillside, don’t crash up to them and stir them from the rest. If a family is grazing, let them graze. Talk softly and quietly around them, don’t raise a ruckus trying to get their attention, don’t try to feed them, don’t try to pet them, don’t reach your hand out in hopes that they will come, etc. I.E. give the Pryor horses some proper respect. In my experience, patience will yield the best photographs and viewing opportunities of natural behavior; and so it is only to the benefit of both you and the horses to treat them with respect. This patience will also allow future visitors in future years to have the same opportunities.

Lastly, there is something on the horse range I haven’t talked about here; but it also figures into viewing the horses. During last year’s round up, a new removal method was used. It involved baiting the horses into corrals and then trailers with some sort of mineral blocks. It was not expected, but many of the horses seemed to develop an addiction to this. Thus, they have continued to come into the trapping area to dig at the ground, I guess in hopes of finding more treats. (This is also the area Phoenix was trapped at.) Though it seems to be fortunately happening less and less, there are times when there can be four or five families clustered together in the area. This provides for quick and easy access to the horses. If you are looking for an authentic experience watching the horses behave naturally, this is not the place to go. Hike into the woods or into the meadows and find the horses, it is there that you will see them behave naturally. If you do see a horse in the area that you want to view or photograph, just remember to follow the guidelines for properly viewing the horses. There is a small stand of trees with limestone boulders nearby that provides for an excellent area to view the horses from. Here I want to again emphasize not to try feeding the horses in this area anything, that includes everything from carrots to Morton table salt.

It isn’t my intention at all to scare people from coming to view the Pryor horses. In fact, it is just the opposite, my intention is to keep the horses in a condition where people will want to visit them in the future and be able to see what we see today. It is hard to hold it in – I usually just keep my mouth shut and photograph “offenders” as I don’t want to ruin their trip to see these great horses. I’m again hoping that by spreading some of this information, I can help all visitors now and in the future to be able to properly enjoy the Pryor horses in their natural state.

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Published in: on September 5, 2007 at 10:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

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