He Can Hold His Own

December 10, 2011

On the final day of our vacation this past September, Mom, Tom and I made a quick (and I mean just about 2 hours worth) trip into the Salt Wells HMA on our way home. I hadn’t been out there since the roundup, so I was worried about what I might not see out there. Luckily, we did find some horses. The last group of horses I went out to photograph even included a happy surprise.

In July of 2010 on another trip to Salt Wells, I came across a large band of bachelor stallions with one stallion that stood out from the rest.

Can you spot the one I'm talking about?

A closeup.

Oh my I thought. How did he manage to get around (and look so good) with that crippled leg? I stayed with this bunch for quite a while. I wanted to see how they interacted with each other since one member of this band couldn’t be as mobile as the rest.

They did scatter when a coyote appeared, but they didn’t go far. The crippled boy was able to keep up and the band even seemed to “wait” for him when he wasn’t right with them. Still, I knew there was an impending roundup and I couldn’t imagine how he’d be able to run for miles with a helicopter in pursuit. Other than that leg, he looked wonderful. He had adapted and was doing just fine. I hoped he’d get through the roundup somehow.

Back to this year – I could see that this was a large group of horses and I couldn’t wait to get over the ridge so I could get a good look at them.

And then I saw a familiar face and he began walking in my direction. I had goosebumps and I couldn’t help myself – as we got closer to each other, I just kept telling him how good it was to see him.

Fourteen months later and post roundup, he looks great! Still a bachelor, but not alone.

And then there was a ruckus. I turned my camera towards the source. Something had set off a band stallion.


And he was in pursuit of whatever/whoever had caught his attention.

And then there in the corner, I realized that he was after the crippled stallion who had apparently passed too close to his band as he had walked towards me. Oh no I thought.

But I hadn't given him enough credit. He was perfectly capable of fending for himself and took the challenge in stride.

Not only meeting the challenge - conquering. The band stallion retreated.

Off you go!

Surely not his first dance with another stallion. He is obviously able to hold his own in the wild. Once again I was shown just how strong and resilient the wild horses are and reminded that their adaptability should never be underestimated. What an absolutely perfect way to end our time away.

Hello boy.

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44 Responses to “He Can Hold His Own”

  1. Angie Says:

    Beautiful, chisled head on that boy!


  2. Beautiful Story. He reminds me of Mateo from the SWB group. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Maggie Frazier Says:

    Pam,
    How wonderful that he has adapted & survived and not just survived but having a good life with friends!
    Makes you wonder how he managed to keep from being rounded up. Because I’m sure if he had been, he would have been one of the ones “””humanely euthanized”.
    I do wonder what happened to his leg,
    A couple years ago, there was a young deer that stayed in our area – one of his front legs had apparently been injured & was useless from the knee down – but he seemed have adapted to it & we saw him for at least a full year – till hunting season!
    We wonder how an animal can live like that, but when you think about it, what choice do they have?
    Maggie

  4. Jim Westin Says:

    What a happy story….as I type through the tears. Well done! Beautiful photos. Thank you, Pam. 🙂


  5. Great story Pam. Thanks for sharing.


  6. Your dogs have already made my day and now this endearing story of a beautiful boy that is so strong inspite of a disability. How thankful you must have been to see him, a skip a heart beat moment. Thanks for sharing as you have made my birthday a happy day. Give the dogs a pet!!

  7. Katrine Pett Says:

    Hi Pam, thankyou for these wonderful photos and this wonderful horse’s story- he is truly special!

  8. Karen McLain Says:

    Such a powerful story Pam. They are strong, adaptable and resilient. I have seen similar things happen, and although it may weigh on my mind and I may want to “help”, I find out later, that they have overcome and heal. Sometimes, against all odds. Seeing that gives me strength.

  9. TJ Says:

    If that’s not completely and wonderfully inspiring, I don’t know what is. Excellent!!

  10. Mar Wargo Says:

    Pam, You found another amazing individual. I do want him to live his life always free! The moment BLM gets a horse like this; a real survivor- they will kill him. It is unbearable to think they may do this. We have the most wonderful wild horses in the world. Thanks for finding this one!! hugs, mar

  11. Cat Kindsfather Says:

    Awesome & inspiring story of this stallion!

    Just goes to show of the powerful survival strength of mustangs!

    Thank you so much for sharing your adventures & images.<3

  12. Naomi Gaitan Says:

    Absolutely beautiful photos & story. Thank God he is still wild & free. BLM would swear he could never survive. So glad to see someone showing the truth.

  13. Odakota Roberts Says:

    ahhh what a beautiful story….Thanks Pam.

  14. Mary & Dusty Says:

    Truly amazing and awesome! Thank you so much for sharing this inspiring story – these wild horses are so darn cool and Pam you are super cool to be there and show us humans!

  15. Lauryn Wachs Says:

    Pam, such a great tale for that stallion. It’s quite a wonder he wasn’t rounded up. If he was, no doubt he would have been euthanized for a “pre-existing condition,” despite doing just fine in the wild!

  16. Kim Michels Says:

    Beautiful story & gorgeous images Pam 😀

  17. arlene Says:

    Thank You Pam, he is beautiful, hoping the BLM never sees him, and he remains free…………………………..

  18. Barbara Warner Says:

    His leg looks like it has mended, maybe by growing extra muscle around the break. And he can use it. What a great horse !! He should run free forever.

  19. pnickoles Says:

    Wow – attended a company party last night and didn’t see the responses to this story until now. I knew this fellow inspired me, but it’s wonderful to see that others feel the same way about him. He’s a wild wonder.

    Happy Birthday Patricia. Happy to have been a part of it and yes, I gave the dogs a pat on the head for you. 🙂

    Thank you all for sharing your thoughts and comments. 🙂


  20. What a truly amazing horse!!! Thank you first, for noticing him and second, for following him to document his abilities. What a real treat to see that he was not rounded up, or as Maggie Frazier said, he most definitely would have been one of those “humanely euthanized”…In REAL TERMS….MURDERED, since none at the BLM are smart enough to see that what THEY consider “flawed” FAR SURPASSES THEIR GENETICS, and UNLIKE THEM, CAN survive in the wild, and DO…. He is truly a beauty, and worthy of passing his genes on…I am sure his right leg was injured at some time in his young life and it is not genetics that caused it to be crooked. Hopefully you will be able to see him again, and maybe he will be fortunate enough to have a family of his own!!!! Thank you for your dedication and beautiful photos!!!


  21. Your story about him was magificent!!!!! he is magificent! Pray he stays free to roam & live his life to the fullest…Thank you, one more time for all you do.

  22. Margaret Says:

    I hope you know who doesn’t get ahold of this horse in any way! He has shown he has the skills to survive out in the wild. What more do we have to ask of any horse than to show his adaptability?

  23. arlene Says:

    Dear Pam , It is true Nature handles the Balance, she wants him to survive , because he has a special purpose……………..He is more special than we know………..Nature never makes a mistake…………… She is precise in all her dealing … wow Wonder what his special purpose is ?????? We only now know he has one moe special then the others…………………………..

  24. Barbara Warner Says:

    Arlene, Wonder would be a great name for him , don’t you all think ?

  25. arlene Says:

    Dear Barbara,That is the perfect name for him!!!!! We all know how fragile they are physically, so this boy is a wonder !!!!! Awesome Barbara !!!!!

  26. arlene Says:

    How about a post card with his Photo for Christmas delivery to the President,There is a horse prayer made by Vivian Grant from tuesdayshorse made, it should be written on and included the card,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,This would represent Americas love for all the horses , it could be depicting Wonders amazing recovery from a injury that should have made him unable to run………………………….

  27. Barbara Warner Says:

    Arlene , you named him –not me–when you said”,wow Wonder what his special purpose is???” .

  28. arlene Says:

    Dear Barbara , it was you that made it real !!!!His recovery from an injury that should have left him unable to even walk much less run with the herd is a miracle in itself………And represents something very special…………………… A WONDER.and his special purpose to show that they will prevail and survive because they are meant to be ……………….HERE


  29. How did he injure his leg? It wasn’t some congenital defect was it? And if it was broken…good lord, how in the heck did he make it those first few days, weeks….

    Amazing horse.

  30. Laura Says:

    Truly amazing, thanks for sharing the story!

  31. eponaspirit Says:

    Very moving and so very glad to see that they are happy and free. Thanks for being our virtual eyes, I do so appreciate the glimpse.

  32. polopaula Says:

    Thank you so much… sometimes it is such a great thing just to read a nice story and see wonderful pictures… no stress… no emails to send or letters to write or urgent calls to make. a very nice Christmas gift.. Thanks!

  33. Justine Says:

    Thank you for sharing this story – so uplifting and inspiring. More proof that humans need to let nature handle her own.

  34. Lair McCloud Says:

    He is Magnificent. OMG how beautiful. Thank you so much for the fabulous photos. I just wish we could do something to make sure they are left alone.

  35. Diane Wagner Says:

    This is fabulous! He could survive without surgery, bute, and stall rest! Such powerful lessons these wild horses teach 🙂


  36. […] Such a cute youngster. He/she is a Curly from the Salt Wells HMA in Wyoming. See the swirls in the coat? The mane is made of up of tight curls too. We’ve seen quite a few Curlies while visiting the horses in Wyoming. Love the long wind knot on the horse on the left, the wide blazes and the inquisitive looks on both horses. I didn’t get many pictures of these two since a stallion confrontation erupted nearby that took my attention (that story here: https://nickolesphotography.wordpress.com/2011/12/10/he-can-hold-his-own/) […]

  37. Maggie Frazier Says:

    Pam – this was almost 3 years ago – Has anyone seen him since then? Is it possible he is still there?

  38. Maggie Frazier Says:

    I’m speaking about the stallion with the crooked leg – sorry didn’t stop to think the current picture was of the mare & foal.

  39. puller9 Says:

    I don’t know how I missed this? Maybe I didn’t discover your photos until 2012. I hope “Wonder’ is still alive and doing well. Has anyone seen him since these photos were taken in 2011?

  40. pnickoles Says:

    I have not heard anyone else mention anything about the stallion with the crooked leg and I haven’t been out in a while…


  41. Ahhh I am hoping beautiful boy Wonder, is Free ???? Did he actually come this close for you to Photo him??????

  42. pnickoles Says:

    No Arlene – most of my images are cropped. I don’t get too close to the horses or them to me. Some HMA’s have horses that are more habituated to people, but I didn’t see much of that at Salt Wells.


  43. Pam, doesnt matter thay boy and most all the mustangs you Photo look directly at you, now that is whats amazing,to see that from a distance,,,,,, They appear to see inside of you,,I know you are very special to them…….. If you havent seen the Movie Winters Tale it is a must see…………………….. There is a white horse in the movie ,he is spectacular……………

  44. pnickoles Says:

    You are too sweet Arlene. Thank you. I will look for that movie. Thank you for the recommendation. 🙂


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