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Shunned Colt Fenced from his Buddy

Shunned Colt is Fenced from his Buddy.

Driving from Colorado through Nevada on Higway 50, “The Loneliest Highway” I spotted  what I first thought was a ranch horse grazing on the south side of the road. Then I saw a band of wild horses. I had to turn around. A story unfolded there, told here in pictures.

Co-incidentally, and specifically to this point, Dr. Kirkpatrick in his recent interview stated, “Public grazing isn’t the problem: only 1-3% of America’s beef cattle, for example, are grazed on public land. The problem is that we no longer have any free-roaming wild horses in this country: they are blocked by fencelines and man-made barriers. The horses cannot migrate to avoid natural challenges, like blizzards or drought.”  Case in point. For full article with Dr. Kirkpatrick on PZP immunocontraceptive, click here.


Separated Colt, NV-Photo by Kerry O'Brien

The colt is watching a band of wild horses on the right who locked onto me the minute I raised my binoculars. Skittish, the second time I glassed them, they dropped into a draw leaving only dust. This yearling stayed up near the road, next to the fence, watching them disappear into the distance.

At first I thought he was muddy. Closer inspection with binoculars revealed that he was very beaten up, unusual for such a youngster.


Separated Colt, NV-8918


Here he goes back to the fence where a good looking bachelor stallion grazes on the other side.


Shunned Colt Fenced from his Buddy


This guy was grazing in a depression that holds seasonal water, now grass.


Shunned Colt Fenced from his Buddy


Turns out all the horses are supposed to be on the side where the bay stud is.


Colt gets separated from band


The colt keeps looking off into the distance too where his band disappeared.


Colt gets separated from band


Back and forth. Back and forth.


Colt gets separated from band




Separated wild colt, Photo by Kerry O'Brien


The older bachelor moves south, still on the east side of the fence line.


Separated wild colt, Photo by Kerry O'Brien


The yearling moves off along the fence line, pacing the older stud.


Separated wild colt, Photo by Kerry O'Brien


Separated wild colt, Photo by Kerry O'Brien


Clearly known by the older stud, they continued like that, with the fence between them, until they dropped out of site.

Seems that the problems that wild horses and burros face are endless.

More to come…

Between Loveland and Spring Creek Basin

Between Loveland and Spring Creek Basin… Huh?

A quick redux is in order. What happened between Loveland and Spring Creek Basin? Lots!!! What follows is a mostly photographic retrospective of the recent whirlwind. After leaving Loveland Extreme Mustang Makeover spent a few days enjoying Ft. Collins while getting repairs (again) to my fridge. Lots of $$$ and it broke down again soon after. Grrrr… more to come on that.

Stopped in Boulder to treat my body to some Gyrotonic therapy at Gyrotonic Boulder, where I will be returning around Labor Day for Gyrotonic Applications for the Equestrian course, keeping my Gyro up!

After that, headed down to Manitou Springs, a delightful hippie town, and visited Garden of the Gods on Colorado’s Front Range.

Garden of the Gods - Kerry O'BrienGarden of the Gods - Kerry O'Brien


Garden of the Gods - Kerry O'BrienGarden of the Gods - Kerry O'Brien


Las Vegas, NM - Photography by Kerry O'Brien


Sweet long drive along the Front Range, through Colorado Springs and Pueblo along the southern edge of the Rockies. You know you’re in New Mexico when the skies get ridiculous. Headed to Las Vegas, NM to meet and visit with wild horse painter and song writer extraordinaire, Melody Perez and her husband Sip. We became Face Book friends and had so much in common we determined to meet. Spent some lovely time with them and at Melody’s fabulous Running Horses Studio right on the old central plaza in Las Vegas, an Spanish land grant frontier town as notorious as Deadwood or Tombstone, as well as the shooting location of the western detective series Longmire.

Melody Perez - Running Horses Studio

Can’t say enough about Melody and Sip’s open hearted generosity. Also had tons of fun playing music with them, even laying a few Dobro tracks on some of Melody’s songs about wild mustangs. Total respect for Melody’s decision to advocate for wild horses through art and song.  You can check out her prodigious paintings and hear her songs on the website: www.runninghorses.org


Las Vegas, NM - Photography by Kerry O'Brien

Nuestra Señora de los dolores, Las Vegas, NM town plaza


San Ignacio, NM - Las Vegas, Photography by Kerry O'Brien

Cemetary of very old parish of San Ignacio near Melody and Sip’s place.


San Ignacio, NM - Las Vegas, Photography by Kerry O'Brien


Coming back late at dusk on a Saturday night, mass was in session in the tiny church that had always been locked! I didn’t want to disturb them, but I did peak. Five elderly people. Liturgy and singing in español. Sweet.


San Ignacio, NM - Las Vegas, Photography by Kerry O'Brien



Mora, NM - Photography by Kerry O'Brien


Melody took me on a tour of Mora and the surrounding areas and was patient with my shooting.


Mora, NM - Photography by Kerry O'Brien



Liza and Mack - Photography by Kerry O'BrienNext on to Santa Fe and visit friends of good LA friends, artist, singer and guitar player Liza Williams and her drummer husband, Mack. More music, fun, food and taking in the sensory delights of Santa Fe. So much fun! Her abstract concrete angels are a trip!




Liza Williams Gallery, Santa Fe,NM - Photography by Kerry O'Brien




The Liza Williams Gallery shown here is full of whimsical stuff and fine art.







Coincidentally photographer Cat Gwynn, who I am honored to call my mentor, was in town and her brilliant photos from her series, Cry For Me was making quite a buzz at the invitational review. You can see her stunning work at www.catgwynn.com.
CO-NM 2015-2100


In spite of her hectic schedule, we managed to meet for breakfast, a walk and a tad of shopping. I got a good dose of inspiration and got tipped off about Upaya Zen Center.


Liza WiSanta Fe,NM - Photography by Kerry O'Brien

Just for fun…


Tibetan Buddhist Monk Mandala - Photography by Kerry O'Brien

The touring Tibetan Buddhist monks were in town, doing their sand painting mandala thing. Once completed the mandala is “dispersed.” Half the sand is given to the spectators and the other half carried to a water body  to rejoin the sea and intended to heal the earth.


Upaya Zen Center Santa Fe, NM - Photography by Kerry O'Brien

Even found time for sitting meditation at Upaya, a much-needed break. Here a peek over the garden fence.


What? There’s more? Of course. The magical skies followed me north through Abiquiu, the  home of  Georgia O’Keeffe and on toward more adventures in Colorado, including horse camp on the famous Colorado Trail and visit to TJ Holmes and the Spring Creek Herd of Disappointment Valley. Stay tuned!


Mexican Hat - Photography by Kerry O'Brien

Mexican Hats


Extreme Mustang Makeover in Loveland, CO

So excited to get to Loveland, CO to shoot the Mustang Heritage Foundations’s Extreme Mustang Makeover in Loveland, CO at the end of May. Several friends were competing so it was personal as well. My mustang friend Amanda Wilson’s work as ambassador for the Cañon City facility has helped many horses get adopted, in big part because of her tireless work photographing the horses in holding pens and disseminating information about individual animal’s size and personality.

Loveland Extreme Mustang Makeover - Photography by Kerry O'Brien

Amanda and Dragon showing off their stuff.

In the Extreme Mustang Makeover, each participant gets an untamed, raw mustang by luck of the draw, and then has 100 days to tame and train it.

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In this EMM all the horses were mares, since they’re tougher to adopt. Approximately twenty adults participated, and there is also a youth division for kids 12-18 who train young horses under two. In addition there were untouched BLM mustangs and burros available for adoption.

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There are required objectives, such as ground manners, leading, grooming, picking up all four feet and loading in and out of a trailer.

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For some horses things went well until they heard something new and frightening: applause!

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In the trail class horse and rider negotiate obstacles they might encounter in daily life such as removing and replacing the bridle, stepping up and over obstacles, backing into a chute, opening and closing gates and dragging an item.

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The sportsmanship was of the highest order, exceeded only by the showmanship of the youth group since the last part is a freestyle competition where certain objectives must be met, but the theme is wide open. The kids killed it.

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They were beyond adorable, whether or not their horses were perfect, their joy was contagious.

It was a great few days, full of ups and downs. Since there were also a big rodeo, BBQ cook-off and concerts going on at the same time, the horses that did best were exposed to a lot of stimulation by the trainers who were able to take them on trail rides and to competitions. There was also a fabulous Missouri mule that walks a treadmill, that drives a cam, that churns ice cream!!!

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The final night ten adult finalists competed with some theme based freestyle offerings. There definitely were some crowd favorites, including some repeat competitors.

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Fill in the audio and imagine the Pharrell Williams song Happy playing here! (Plus respect a man who would come out in yellow tights!)

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After the freestyle events all horses are up for auction. Most of the trainers try to show their horses off to their best advantage. But it’s heartbreaking for others who get extremely bonded to their horses and are determined to go home with them. Sometimes they do, sometimes the bidding goes beyond their budget. That’s the deal.

I had to be careful. I was taking photos but must have made some kind of secret bidding move and almost bought a horse!

Loveland EMM-5163 Loveland EMM-kerry obrien photographer

I could be wrong, but I think the highest bid horse went for about $7,000. Most were much less. One woman got the trained mustang of her dreams for 500 bucks! She wanted a small horse so she didn’t have much competition and was thrilled to get just what she wanted.

An Extreme Mustang Makeover is a great place to get a proven, well started horse for very little money. Plus the trainers are extremely generous with their help and support to the new adoptive owners.

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Like all mustangs, BLM retains title for one year. One has to meet certain requirements and prove up before the title can be transferred after the year is up and the horse is officially yours.

If you haven’t seen the film Wild Horse, Wild Ride, it does a terrific job of profiling the challenges faced by a half-dozen or so of the hundred participants in the big Ft. Worth EMM a few years back. You’ll be rooting for each one of them.

I saw this film about a year before I set out from LA. It moved me to tears, re-awakening my deep connection with horses. At the time I had no idea the path my life would take by deviating 15 minutes on my way to Jackson to visit the wild horses in Green River, WY.

Rotten Tomatoes actually gave this film a 4-1/2 star rating! It’s available on Netflix and you can see the trailer here: Wild Horse Wild Ride. If it doesn’t move you, have your pulse checked.

By the way, my friend Amanda was able to keep Dragon, the horse of her heart!

Telluride Mountain Film Festival

Intense week at the Telluride Mountain Film Festival!

Wow, I feel like have to apologize for taking such a long time off from the blog! Unlike last year which afforded me lots of time by myself in the wilderness, this year I have been going from one event and/or visit to another. So over the next couple of weeks, I’ll try and get you caught up.

Telluride Mountain Film - Photo by Kerry O'Brien

After only 1 day to decompress, camped north of Flagstaff I hit Telluride ground running as a volunteer for the Mountain Film Festival. Intense week of friends, films and LOTS of input. My head exploded. The highlight for me definitely was meeting Ben Masters, the guy behind Unbranded. Unbranded is the true story of four friends and sixteen mustangs who make an epic trip, horse packing from Mexico to Canada. Visually stunning, with lots of laughs, it also manages to convey some shocking facts about America’s wild horses and their overpopulation issues.

Kerry O'Brien and Ben Masters, Unbranded

Thank dog I made Ben’s acquaintance before the film showed. In a six hundred seat theater I was still about two hundred from getting a seat. Ben showed his big heart and enormous generosity by coming out to collect me and seat me in the front row with the crew. This gave me a unique opportunity for a great talk with producer Dennis Aig, Director of the School of Film and Photography at Montana State University and its MFA in Science and Natural History Filmmaking.

Not surprisingly, Unbranded won the Audience Favorite Award (at Hot Docs as well) and was shown again the following week, so I got to see it again, taking in all the stuff I missed the first time. Boy, there was a lot going on! It also showed again July 5th.

As far as I know it has not got distribution yet, which is a bummer since it’s a stunning film that can inspire the whole family. There is also a beautiful companion book by the same name. You can decide for yourself by viewing the trailer here: Unbranded

Telluride Mountain Film Festival-Kerry O'Brien

Though I got to see all the films I “worked” checking tickets and passes, while also enjoying my omnificent power (Urban Dictionary: having unlimited awesomeness, being all-awesome), there were dozens of great films I did not get to see. Sigh. Here’s a few of the favorites I actually did see. (Yes, cold and rainy was the order of the week.)

Racing Extinction a film by Oscar®-winner Louie Psihoyos (who also directed The Cove), is a life changer. The ominous title and shocking undercover footage is offset by hope in the things we can do to alter our course, along with amazing art and technology. Mind-blowing and encompassing, you won’t look at our world the same way. Racing Extinction was picked up by Discovery Channel who plans a theatrical run in the United States and video-on-demand release. In the Q&A, Phihoyos said it will be available to screen for free in schools. If you have kids in school, I highly recommend looking into getting a screening for your school. View the trailer here: Racing Extinction

Rolling Papers was a humorous look at the Denver Post’s award winning coverage of Colorado’s first year of legalized marijuana. Lots of laughs, but also raising questions that are mostly unanswered as Colorado (and Washington) find their way through the maze of this ground breaking legislation. Which by the way, has put to rest the hysteria about increased crime and drug addiction. DUI and criminal arrests for drug use are down. A lot. I don’t have hard stats, but I’m sure it’s put a dent in the Cartel biz as well. In addition it showed how an award winning but declining newspaper has adapted to new readership and media outlets. Did I mention funny? View the trailer here: Rolling Papers

In Afghanistan under the Taliban photography was a crime until 2001. Frame by Frame was a difficult, inspiring film about four Afghani photojournalists, three men and a woman, Farzana Wahidy, who risk their lives working to rebuild a free press in Afghanistan. Farzana has won numerous humanitarian awards for her work for women’s rights and immolation victims. I had the honor of meeting her and the other journalists. Really puts things in perspective when you meet people who are doing such difficult, heartbreaking and important work. I strongly recommend seeking out this courageous film. The trailer and screening schedule are here: Frame by Frame

There were so many fantastic films. I expect Academy Award nominations for Unbranded, Racing Extinction and Frame by Frame so see them if you can.

After the Telluride marathon the next stop is the Extreme Mustang Makeover in Loveland, CO. Stay tuned! The rig made it over Vail Pass, elevation 10,662′.

Vail Pass-Photography by Kerry O'Brien