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Patti Mosbey: Sand Wash extremes

Patti Mosbey/For the Saturday Morning Press
A group of horses rests their heads on each other's bodies to stave off pesky insects. The horses of Sand Wash Basin animals deal with vicious bugs and extreme heat in the summertime.
Corona Band

From 60 degrees below zero to 90 degrees above… the extremes of temperatures in Sand Wash Basin can test the endurance of man and beast.

This past winter we watched as the wild horses endured extreme cold, deep snow and fierce winds, yet they survived the elements. Lots of early rains brought the grasses alive and the horses soon fattened again on the rich nutrients. Life in the basin was in full swing and beautiful. That is… until the dreaded gnats and biting bugs made their appearance. Any recent visitor to Sand Wash can spend some time describing their experience and show you their battle scars as they braved the biting “no see’ums” for photos and time with the horses. Oh, yes, bug season is here and seemingly the worst I’ve ever seen it.

Seeking shelter from the bugs you will find the horses lazing in the waterholes, on the edge of a hill seeking relief in a wind to blow the pesky flies away. Standing nose to tail in a group brings some relief. Often times they seek shelter on barren ground, no grass — no bugs. The constant bobbing of the head to thwart the biting flies until the cool of the evening brings some relief. Finding the horses resting their chins on fellow band members to prevent access to the tender jaw areas is common sight as well.

It’s still a great time of year to visit Sand Wash. I suggest you plan your day for early morning or late afternoon and early evening. Bring lots of water and snacks as a trip to Sand Wash is never a short drive. Once you encounter the bands, most can be seen from your vehicle, you’ll find yourself lingering to take in the beauty of American history played out before you. Take some good bug spray and a lightweight long sleeve shirt works well. The roads have been recently graded making them more accessible for most vehicles but the grading has exposed sharp rocks so be prepared in case of encountering a flat tire.

You can pick up a simple map at the Chamber of Commerce and I have given them a recent update on the most likely areas to view the horses now including the best waterholes at this time. There are also some good brochures provided by the BLM with information, history and etiquette for viewing the horses. If you pay close attention you will spot the burrowing owls, sage grouse chicks, badgers and fox kits and be careful where you thread, rattlesnakes are abundant in the basin.

I found myself humored by the ground squirrels and prairie dogs. Sitting atop their dens they seem to be entertained by the constant flow of traffic. I could just imagine them amused by the flow of traffic, the big moving object stopping and chattering, pointing black sticks (cameras) and moving on. Are we watching them or them watching us — who are the amusement there?

Patti Mosbey is a regular visitor to Sand Wash Basin. Photographing and documenting the daily lives of the Sand Wash herd is a passion for her. For more of her photos and adventures find her on the Facebook page Patti Mosbey is a regular visitor to Sand Wash Basin. Photographing and documenting the daily lives of the Sand Wash herd is a passion for her. For more of her photos and adventures find her on the Facebook page Sand Wash Adventures.Patti Mosbey is a regular visitor to Sand Wash Basin. Photographing and documenting the daily lives of the Sand Wash herd is a passion for her. For more of her photos and adventures find her on the Facebook page Sand Wash Adventures.


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