Today was a special day because I watched and experienced the stallion in the Round Spring herd at a level I have never been able to in the past eight years.
I was able to photograph his lead mare as she emerged from the woods, looked at me for a brief moment, and ran off into the woods. It felt like the experience played out in slow motion, but in reality, it probably lasted a few seconds.
The stallion was more tolerant of me today, and I was able to get some of the best photos of him that I have taken to date.
This herd has undergone significant change in the last several months. On this day, there were only 5 horses in the group, but a couple of weeks ago, I found 8. I have seen members of the Round Spring herd in the Grassy Creek area with other horses that I have never seen before. I am absolutely sure there are herds of wild horses in the area that we don’t know about because they are deep in the backcountry, away from people. I have ventured into the backcountry on several occasions, and it is rugged, remote, and unforgiving for people. It is exactly where I would be if I were a wild horse.
The best way to stay up to date on everything happening with our wild horses is to be part of the Wild Horses of Missouri Facebook Group, where I post my latest photos, videos, tips, and news.
If you would like to know about simple ways that you can help me ensure our horses remain free, take action today and make a difference.
Click on any images in the gallery below to view them in the lightbox.
Wild Horses of Missouri History
Shannon County is home to a beautiful herd of wild horses in Southeast Missouri in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways on public land about 130 miles from Springfield and 150 miles from St. Louis.
Ozark National Scenic Riverways is the first national park area to protect a river system and the only state where wild horses still roam free. It hasn’t been an easy path for the wild horses over the last 100 years, and it would be foolish to think current conditions couldn’t change and put them back in danger again.
During the 1980s, the National Park Service announced a plan to remove Shannon Counties’ wild horses, and people were outraged.
In 1993 the U.S. Supreme Court denied a final appeal to protect the horses and gave the National Park Service the right to remove the horses from federal land. The national park service started removing the wild horses in a profoundly upsetting way to residents and horse lovers around the country. The people of Shannon County and horse lovers around the country rallied together, and the Wild Horse League of Missouri was formed.
Luckily, by 1996 the Wild Horse League of Missouri, which was formed in 1992 to save the wild horses, received help from the people of Shannon County, congressman Bill Emerson, Senators Kit Bond, and John Ashcroft.
Their tireless efforts paid off, and President Clinton signed a bill into law on October 3, 1996, to make the wild horses of Shannon County a permanent part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, with conditions. You can read more about the law.
Reading and understanding the law referenced above is essential because these wild horses’ freedom relies on compliance with the law. The national park service or any entity at any time could claim the horses are causing harm or being a nuisance, and the removal process could start again.
People worldwide visit Shannon County in hopes of seeing these majestic wild horses.
In accordance with the Ozark Wild Horse Protection Act, the Missouri Wild Horse League works with the National Park Service to capture some horses when the herd exceeds 50. The captured horses are taken into care and evaluated before being adopted by loving families for permanent homes.
If you want to support and protect the wild horses of Shannon County, Missouri, the best thing you can do is donate to the non-profit Missouri Wild Horse League. Your gift will be tax deductible and go a long way to helping ensure we have resources to protect the horses in the future.