My Weekend with Idaho’s Wild Horses

idaho wild horses mustangsHorses have always been one of my favorite animals, plus the ancient horse originated here in Idaho over 3.5 million years ago and is the American icon of the west. So, when I got an invitation to spend a weekend in search of wild horses in the remote mountains of central Idaho, I jumped at the chance!

It was Memorial weekend, but the snow flurries and wind chill made it feel more like March. My friends and I bundled up, packed our cameras, and spotting scopes and drove for miles up steep terrain and dirt roads to find the infamous wild horse herd near the East Fork of the Salmon River (click to enlarge the map). We hiked for more than an hour before catching a glimpse of the wild horses. We were enough lucky to find a small herd of mustangs with a precious new foal, grazing on the side of a sage covered hill.

Much to our surprise, on our drive home, we found another small herd of three wild horses and had an amazing encounter! These horses were off in the distance, out in the middle of the open praire along with some pronghorn antelope…

My friend, Buck Wilde, the famous nature photographer had coached me about approaching the wild horses a few weeks prior to this trip.  (For more info, please see this article, Alaskan Grizzly Bear Adventures of Nature Photographer, Buck Wilde ) So, my friend and I decided to use Buck’s ‘tried and true’ wildlife viewing tips…we parked our truck and walked out halfway to meet the horses, in plane view. Then we stopped and just stood still.


Sure enough, this sparked the curiosity of the little herd. They watched us walk toward them, but when we stopped they became curious and didn’t feel threatened. Within minutes the beautiful stallion ran right up to us with his mares following from behind. What a magical experience that I even captured on video! They seemed like mythological unicorns…not horses. (please see my 2.32 minute video below).

I felt honored by this wildlife experience, but I left those wild horses feeling bitter sweet…

Idaho’s wild horses, are harder to find nowadays. During the summer 2009, a herd of 364 wild horses from Challis, Idaho were inhumanly chased by helicopters and run for more than 10 miles in 100 degree heat, then captured as part of a Bureau of Land Management round up.  America’s wild horses are being managed to extinction by the BLM.

In the course of this wild horse round up, family bands were broken apart forever, foals weaned too early, mares and their stallions separated, countless horses injured and many fatalities occurred. These majestic and dignified animals were “sorted” by age & sex, starved, abused and sold for adoption or to Mexican slaughterhouses for human consumption or destinations unknown.

(The pictures of the stallion below are a before and after the round up photo). 🙁


Please support the new stunning documentary by James Kleinert’s,Wild Horses & Renegades, a call-to-action short film hosted by Viggo Mortensen, Sheryl Crow, and Peter Coyote, with music by Bono. The filmmaker examines the politics behind the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) controversial policies on public lands and questions the fate of America’s wild horses and burros, whose very existence is in jeopardy (

Wild Horses & Renegades from Moving Cloud on Vimeo.

With dramatic footage, the new film Wild Horses & Renegades exposes abusive taxpayer-funded roundups of the few remaining American wild horses, which are then starved, abused and sold for adoption or to Mexican slaughterhouses for human consumption. Shot in HD, Wild Horses & Renegades captures the pure and stunning beauty of horses in the wild in contrast with the mismanagement of our last wild public lands.

Please visit the ASPCA, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Silent Voices Equine Rescue, a proactive group of wild horse advocates – The Wild Horse Project – were able to successfully secure twenty wild mares and one gelding. Many of the mares were pregnant, consequently, the herd increased by ten; six fillies and four colts were born in the spring of 2010. In search of a permanent sanctuary, the perfect place has yet to be found. Meanwhile, we vow to keep them together, safe and secure until they can once again run with the wind. Please visit their site to financially support this project, tax deductible donations can be made to Silent Voices Equine Rescue, a non-profit 501C3.

Thank you for reading this article! ~Lori
PS. If you want to see my art please visit my art blog and let’s meet on Twitter and my Facebook Fan page!


  1. Matteo Grilli June 11, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    Thank you Lori for this article, it is a very important thing to share…

    • Lori McNee June 11, 2011 at 4:24 pm

      Thank you Matteo…and thank you for helping our planet’s wildlife through your beautiful art!

      Lori 🙂

  2. Tracey June 11, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    I love horses and dogs. Thanks for the information on how to help.

    • Lori McNee June 11, 2011 at 7:34 pm

      Me too, Tracey. Thanks for reading the post and taking time to comment.

      My best-

  3. KIM JONES June 12, 2011 at 9:38 am


  4. Dottie Leatherwood June 12, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    That was amazing…what a cool experience! Horse lover from age 8…I would love to help with this cause…will definitely check this out. Thanks!

    • Lori McNee June 13, 2011 at 2:57 pm

      It really was an amazing experience. I am glad you enjoyed the video Dottie.

      Thanks for your comment-

  5. Celia June 13, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Thank you Lori for sharing this information with us, I had no idea up to now. I will look into helping in any way I can.

    • Lori McNee June 13, 2011 at 3:05 pm

      Celia, it is amazing how many people are not aware of this. I am glad to bring it to my readers who love animals. Thanks for helping 🙂


  6. Karen Brenner June 14, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    Thank you for sharing your personal adventure with wild horses.

    • Lori McNee June 16, 2011 at 3:27 pm

      Karen, as you can see and hear in the video, I had a wonderful time!

      Thanks for stopping by for a comment.

  7. Mark June 15, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    Thanks Lori, for this post. As a native Idahoan and horse lover this struck home. I remember as a child visiting BLM corrals following roundups of wild horses that were then up for adoption. My family hoped to adopt one but it never happened. The condition & treatment of the horses saddened me. I plan on getting involved armed with the information you have provided. Thanks again!

    • Lori McNee June 16, 2011 at 3:30 pm

      Hi Mark,

      Thank you for this comment! I am so glad this post and video motivated you. I have friends who have adopted some of the horses, and I wish I had the acreage to help in that way myself. At least I am able to help spread the word and donate my time at the charity events.

      I am happy you stopped by this blog! Hope to see you again-
      Lori 🙂

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