During a late afternoon in April, we floated downriver in kayaks, searching for the wild horses. We were on assignment to photograph the wild horses for Visit Phoenix, the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau. For years, the wild horses and river recreation have lured visitors to the Lower Salt River. Along the shores, visitors barbecue, camp and swim while the wild horses freely roam.
Almost immediately, we spot our first herd of wild horses. The horses are casually grazing by the Salt River’s edge. The wild horses looked up from their grazing, acknowledging us, and then continued their feeding. Slightly expecting a stampede after seeing us, I was surprised by their calmness. They must be accustomed to visitors, and since we were on the water, and they were on land, we probably posed a little threat to their security.
We, the photographers, had crews paddling our three kayaks, so we waited for positioning and then began to photograph.
Click, click, click – our field of cameras sounded as if the paparazzi had landed on a red carpet full of celebrities.
The wild horses graciously allowed us to approach and to photograph their every move – what a welcomed freedom for photographers wanting to tell their story!
After about 15-20 minutes, we continued down the river and witnessed another herd on a bank. We beached our kayaks and hiked into the grassland, cautiously approaching the horses, so we wouldn’t startle them. When we got too close for their comfort, they aroused each other, as if sending a memo among each other that it was time to go, and in a single file line, crossed the river for safer, unoccupied ground on the river’s opposite bank.
As I watched them regroup on the other side, I marveled at the serenity they bring to this land. Romantic and a vision reminiscent of the Wild West.
As the sun goes down, the beverage coolers and the river rafters and tubers go home, but the wild horses remain. This is their home, and we are the visitors, admiring what the wild horses have in their home and grateful for what we’ve been given on this land – freedom.