Heading home from seeing the eclipse in Wyoming (totality was awesome) I had a chance to spend time with the Pryor Mountain Wild Horses. It has been decades since I have seen wild horses. Ever since a chance encounter in Nevada, I have wanted to see them again.
Through the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center in Lovell, Wyoming (http://www.pryormustangs.org/) I was hooked up with Kristen who, through her contact with the Cloud Foundation, knows these horses by name. http://www.thecloudfoundation.org/
A rugged almost two hour trip by ATV to one of the high points in the horses' 38,000 acre range was worth every bump. In total I saw about 50 different horses! They were eating, running, drinking, splashing in water, mock fighting, mating, resting in the shade, and nuzzling each other. I could not have asked for more. Though I took over 2500 reference photos, I had plenty of time to sit and watch them especially at the spring-fed pond. I must admit I was expecting more mangy looking animals. Hardly. These horses looked like they had just come from a groomer - gleaming coats, toned muscles, and full of energy. I saw a colt, a gorgeous 21-year old stallion and every age in between. The horses' range is in and near the Bighorn Canyon National Recreational Area. (Note: the recreational area is in Wyoming and Montana and quite a scenic drive on route 37.) They are descended from Spanish Colonial horses which arrived in the 1500's and herds have roamed the Pryor Mountains for more than 200 years.
What to paint first? I knew I wanted to start with a large painting. The experience was too overwhelming for a miniature as my first piece. I worked up numerous compositions and then one seemed to stand out. Once I changed the setting to a more interesting section we hiked I had my idea.