Steens Wild Horses

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Two rearing mustangs face off with each other.

It was February 2010, and absolutely spitting snow and rain—typical for southeastern Oregon. My husband, Farrel, and I had driven over to the Burns Wild Horse Corrals for a mustang adoption. Arriving a day early, we stopped by the Bureau of Land Management office to ask for directions to the best viewpoint to see the wild mustangs. A kind soul wrote out detailed directions, which led us to the South Steens Herd Management Area. We didn’t make it back for the scheduled adoption time. Instead, spellbound, we spent two extra days hiking around, photographing the wild horses of Oregon.

In the two-and-a-half years since meeting them, we return to the South Steens every few weeks—walking with the mustangs, studying the hierarchical structure of the herd and learning more with each visit. Following several dozen three-day trips to the South Steens mustang herd, there are roughly 150 to 200 horses that seem to recognize us. That allows us—and them—to relax and actually feel as one with the herd. For the last two years, we have celebrated New Year’s Eve on the South Steens, not to mention anniversaries, birthdays and several long weekends. On the most recent trip to the horses, I set out to bring 1859 exclusive photos that I hope you will enjoy.

All photos by Maggie Rothauge.

20 Comments

  • Beautiful photos and a true love story between a devoted phtographer and her wild mustangs of the Steens!! Loved this!! Thank you!!

  • Such beautiful photographs. How lucky for you that the horses accepted you into their herd! Perhaps someday in the future you'll be able to do a story like "Cloud" that aired on OPB. Did you ever adopt a mustang?

  • I love your wild horse pictures! I have seen so many on facebook on the Oregon's Wild Side page… it is nest to follow the heards with you and see the new colts each year. I cant wait to get a copy of this magazine!

  • These are so fantastic!! Please never stop roaming with the Mustangs! What you share with us is something alot of us will never get to see in true life. But in your photos I can hear the mothers call their babies, hear and fill the strength of a Stallion, smell the sage and fill the wind on my face. Thank You. Mitakuye Oyasin….

  • These are so fantastic!! Please never stop roaming with the Mustangs! What you share with us is something alot of us will never get to see in true life. But in your photos I can hear the mothers call their babies, hear and fill the strength of a Stallion, smell the sage and fill the wind on my face. Thank You. Mitakuye Oyasin….

  • I appreciate all of the comments on the wild horse photography, thank you all. Someone way up there asked if we ever adopted a mustang. Yes! We have been adopters in this family for decades. At present we have six mustangs we are training for saddle horses. Three of which are out of this south steens herd. Please spread the word there are many horses needing adoption by good mustang homes at the Wild Horse Corrals in Burns. Most any color, any conformation and size can be found plus wonderful temperaments and loyal, lifetime friends can be found in the mustang. Feel free to get on Facebook and check out my Oregon's Wild Side page, hit like (if you like) and see many, many more pictures of the south steens herds. Thanks again!

  • I was able to go to the Steen's last October for the first time. Thanks to Maggie, who at the time I didn't really know.. she took the time to tell me about the horses and where to go to see them. Her great story brings life to these awesome Mustangs..for so many that do not get the chance to actually spend time with them, she brings them to us in these beautiful pictures. Thank you so much Maggie, for loving them and sharing them with us.

  • Nice job Mags! These wild ponies are an addiction! I live lots closer but YOU get out to see them more than me! Keep up the good work! Folks? If you are on Facebook, you simply MUST check out "Oregon's Wild Side"!

  • Fabulous, Maggie! What stunning photos and thank you so much for sharing these beauties with us. Some day, I drive down there and see them for myself!

  • Fabulous, Maggie! What stunning photos and thank you so much for sharing these beauties with us. Some day, I drive down there and see them for myself!

  • What great comments, thank you all so much. One trip up to these magnificent horses and you feel a closeness that nothing much can compare to. These horses have also brought many people together that may have never met otherwise, I am thankful! I am also very grateful to 1859-Oregon's Magazine for allowing these Oregon mustangs to be the gallery feature for the Sept/Oct issue!

  • Love it Maggie!!! I am so happy to have met you and been able to see all the great work you do. I have learned a lot from you and really appreciate everything that you do.

  • Great job ! Wonderful to see the fruit of your passion gaining a wider audience. And once again thank you for sharing the ride with us __ it is always a joy and an education. Keep up the high standards of your work !

  • I am doing my research because I want to go see the wild horses while I can. I'm not a photographer, just a mom with two 16 year old daughters that purely love the wild horses and want a chance to see them in person.
    I see above that Maggie told someone where to go to see them. Can you please tell me where we might be able to go see them this August in the next couple weeks?
    Thank you so much for sharing your amazingly beautiful pictures for us to see.

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