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In the fall of 2004, we had two opportunities to travel into wild horse country.

First, we drove up to Gerlach, Nevada, "Where the pavement ends and the West begins." (and the pavement DOES end there!) I had always wanted to see the Calico Mountains, original home of my Sparky.

1. Click here for CALICO MOUNTAINS HMA


A few weeks later, we went up into Oregon, to film a mustang gentling movie with Rick and Kitty Lauman. On the way we traveled near or in Devils Garden (CA), Coyote Lakes, Paisley Desert, and Palomino Buttes HMA's. We met Kitty at the Burns BLM Wild Horse Facility, where we saw the Beaty's Butte horses that are waiting for adoption.

The video is called "From Wild To Willing" and is available in DVD format

3. Warm Springs, and Black Rock Herd areas.

In June of 2006, we had an unexpected opportunity to drive up through the Calico Mountains, Warm Springs, and Black Rock Herd areas, when we were traveling and found I-80 CLOSED, and sought an alternate route.


Leaving Gerlach, NV "Where the pavement ends and the West begins..."

We were surprised at the extent to which the Burning Man Festival has become integrated into this ranching community

Burning Man floats parked in ranch house front yards is a common sight


On the way to Calico Mtns, we passed the Granite Range with its distinct spring-fed oases. The Granite Range is known for its colorful horses, similar to the Calico Mountains horses - lots of cremes (palomino, buckskin, etc.) and duns and pintos

Looking toward the Calico Mountains, across the Black Rock Desert

Upon entering Leadville Canyon at the entrance to the Calico Mountains, we saw this colorful band high up on the ridge. At this point we're at the boundary between Granite Range and Calico Mountains HMA's

Leadville Canyon Ridgetop Band

A pinto and a buckskin

The Old Leadville Mine.

Traveling higher up, we came around a corner and found ourselves face-to-face with this handsome sooty buckskin

He was as surprised to see us as we were to see him - and off he went!

Finally he disappeared over a little hill

Over the summit to the next valley and we met this young sorrel colt

It seemed odd that one so young would be alone...

Well, he wasn't alone - his whole family was there. His Dad - WOW! Gorgeous flaxen chestnut!

Our destination: McCarty Springs on Donnelly Peak - a water hole the BLM office told us was a good spot to see wild horses

On the way we saw this family of bays

Although quite thin, they were curious about us - actually took a few steps toward us, rather than run away, like the buckskin and sorrel family had done

These adults were the only skinny horses we saw that day. I'm wondering if maybe they are quite old?

Just above McCarty Springs we saw a large band of horses

This buckskin mare and her foal seemed to be in charge

A grulla mare and her foal took off immediately, followed by a bay and a palomino yearling.

When no one else followed, the palomino and bay yearlings went back to the springs

The rest of the herd watched us from above the spring

The sentinel horse decided it was time to go

and off they went

And over the ridge to...???? no roads go there


A fence prevented the horses from entering this green spring-fed pasture - but cows had been there in droves - cow pies everywhere.


On the way out, we saw this easygoing buckskin, who turned out to be the "babysitter" for three young stud colts.

This band had something on their minds

It turned out that there was a grader on the main Leadville Road (a gravel road, but nevertheless the "main" thoroughfare for this remote area). The colts ran along side it, not scared, but seemingly frolicking

Wildflowers in bloom

We went up to see the old Leadville ruins

Spectacular rock outcroppings at Leadville

We saw an eagle high up on a rocky peak

It saw us and flew off...

and a coyote, plus many grouse, jackrabbits, and songbirds

Looking down Leadville Canyon

This is the mountain that gave the Calico Mountains their name.

On the way out of Gerlach, just a few miles South of Empire, we saw this large herd of wild donkeys grazing by the side of the road. This area is called the Selenites, and is not in an official HMA.

We could see small bands of donkeys all the way up into the hills, and every so often, one band would call to another.

Thanks to Melissa and Forest McMichael for sending me the following photos of their trip into the Calico Mountains:

Thanks for these great photos, Forest & Melissa!


This area is not part of an official HMA, but is near the Paisley Desert. We saw a number of wild horses in the sagebrush.

Palomino Buttes HMA band of wild horses

Palomino Buttes mustangs along the highway


We met Kitty Lauman at the Burns Corrals, where she picked up two newly-adopted mustangs. We followed her back to her home in Prineville, Oregon, where Michael filmed her gentling them. The new video, called 'From Wild to Willing" was released in December, 2004. Two follow-up videos, "Groundwork For Success" and "Success Under Saddle" follow these two horses all the way to becoming finished saddle horses.

 The corrals at that time had mainly horses from Beaty's Butte HMA, an area noted for good conformation and excellent minds, mainly the primary solid colors - red, black, and bay, with a few buckskins, greys, and an occasional something else. There was one appaloosa.

Kitty's two horses being herded through the chutes to the trailer.
2006 Black Rock Herd area 

We chanced upon this band in a very remote area of Northern Nevada. From the map I would guess that it was either the Warm Springs Canyon or Black Rock HMA.
Click here for Nevada BLM'S "MUSTANG COUNTRY" booklet - chock full of info for mustang buffs, including wild horse history, visitor tips and camping info. It takes a while to download but is well worth the wait!  

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