Patti Mosbey: Drama, heartache and joy in Sand Wash |

Patti Mosbey: Drama, heartache and joy in Sand Wash

Patti Mosbey/For the Saturday Morning Press
Stallions fight for a band at Sand Wash Basin, where nearly 400 horses roam wild.
Courtesy Photo

It’s a cool summer evening, the air is fresh and we can see for miles. Banking up in the western sky is a beautiful sunset primed to shout with color as the sun moves behind the backlit clouds.

I have spent the past couple hours photographing peaceful, calm horses as they make their way up the mountainside to pastures of their choice for the evening. They are drawn to the higher hills this time of year for the cooler temperatures and breezes that will give them relief from the biting flies and gnats.

And you ask, “Why do want to go to Sand Wash all the time?”

Whether it’s a day out with friends, comparing notes to which horses have been seen or maybe the thrill of being the first to take a photo of that new foal seeking it’s mothers milk on wobbly legs, or just the fun to venture down a new two track to discover unknown territory — Sand Wash Basin holds many reasons for me to want to be there again and again.

I used to think I was a mountain view sort of gal. Though I love the mountains and all they hold for their own beauty, I find I really enjoy looking out across miles and relishing in the amazing colors that are presented as light changes through the day.

Each trip is a new adventure. This week, I met with firsttime visitors to Sand Wash. They arrived using the Sand Wash map that’s free and available at various locations. It’s a good starter map, but this time of year a little knowledge of where to find the horses can be very helpful.

Unfortunately, they had ventured an hour already and had not seen a single horse, and at this point the ones they had just missed leaving the waterhole were too far out to really get a good look at them.

I gave them some pointers on their map to where I knew horses were active and then had them follow me back down the road. Luck was with us as we caught sight of a few bands that had just left another waterhole and would be crossing the road soon. While I was giving them names, genders and who’s who in the three bands, there from the distant came thundering horses, which is a beautiful sight for anyone but an exceptional sight for newbies to the basin.

In this past week, there was quite an upset when a longtime-settled band, named Eagle’s band, was disrupted by younger stallions that managed to steal a mare and her two foals. There was the mare, Lark, with her newest foal and yearling filly making a run to distance herself from the new stallion. Lark was not happy about the change. As the young stallion, Diego, was chasing around, trying to defend his new group, Lark attempted to merge into a settled band of horses but with no avail. The young stallion snaked her out and away again with River hot on his trail.

Needless to say, the new visitors were awe struck to see the wild side of Sand Wash unfold right before their eyes.

It was an amazing ordeal to watch as the young stallions would run, stop and challenge and take off again. This is the natural order as these horses, wild and free, live out their daily lives. Though breathtaking to watch, there often are losses in these events. A few days ago a newborn foal in Eagle’s band was lost, most likely left behind as the band would be chased for miles and in the chaos the tiny foals get left behind.

The basin is filled with drama, heartache, joy and raw beauty, plan a trip of your own and discover for yourself life at Sand Wash Basin.

Patti Mosbey has been involved with the wild horses at Sand Wash Basin for more than 15 years. You can enjoy daily updates of Sand Wash on her Facebook page: Sand Wash Adventures. She has authored a three volume set of books on Sand Wash which are available at Downtown Books in Craig and the Maybell General Store in Maybell.

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