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.

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