The Passing Of An American Icon

July 23, 2013

 “His is a power enhanced by pride, a courage heightened by challenge. His is a swiftness intensified by strength, a majesty magnified by his grace. His is a timeless beauty touched with gentleness, a spirit that call our hearts to dream.”  Author Unknown

“His is a power enhanced by pride, a courage heightened by challenge. His is a swiftness intensified by strength, a majesty magnified by his grace. His is a timeless beauty touched with gentleness, a spirit that call our hearts to dream.” Author Unknown

With great difficulty and sadness, I share with you the passing of a most magnificent wild horse – El Mariachi. A horse that was admired, loved and an inspiration to me and so many others.

My life was forever changed the day I saw him in the White Mountain range of Wyoming. How our lives were to become connected, I could never have imagined, but I will always be grateful for the privilege.

Most of you know what El Mariachi meant to me, but I realize this is a shared heartbreak. He touched so many people. There was just something about him. He had such presence – you couldn’t help but be in awe of him. What an amazing creature. He made my heart sing.

Wild in Wyoming.

Wild in Wyoming.

In the wild - chasing another stallion down a steep hill.

In the wild – chasing another stallion down a steep hill.


To all of you that came together on El Mariachi’s behalf, I send you healing thoughts and my utmost gratitude.

(To the readers of this post, please understand that I will not be sharing any details).

Some of my favorite images…

At his new home in Arizona.

At his new home in Arizona.











El Mariachi with Hope.

El Mariachi with Hope.





“I have seen things so beautiful they have brought tears to my eyes. Yet none of them can match the gracefulness and beauty of a horse running free.” Author Unknown

Run free El Mariachi…run free…

(The original story: “Rescuing An American Icon“)

Photos are for viewing purposes only. Images by Pam Nickoles Photography, along with all site content are copyright protected and owned solely by Pam Nickoles Photography. Photos and/or text may not be used, downloaded or reproduced in any form without express written permission from Pam Nickoles Photography. Feel free to share, but please respect my copyright.

114 Responses to “The Passing Of An American Icon”

  1. Sharon Good Says:

    RIP Mariachi.
    Pam, I am so sorry.,

  2. suzy Says:

    Very sad to lose such a magnificent horse.

  3. bconner7 Says:

    So very sorry to hear this Pam, thinking of you and wishing you peace and comfort. Such a beautiful stallion, thank you for sharing him with us.

  4. Janet C Says:

    Very sorry Pam! He was amazingly beautiful and you captured his beauty and spirit in those wonderful photos that will stay forever as a tribute to his life. I hope you find some comfort every time you look at them. He was fortunate to be in your care.

  5. Lori Schmidt Says:

    So sorry to hear this news Pam. Your story and the events surrounding this beautiful boy were what set me on the course of my advocacy for our Mustangs and Burros so he has always held a very special place in my heart . I know you all and Hope are going to miss him terribly. RIP beautiful boy 😦

  6. Debbie Says:

    Pam, So very sorry to hear this horrible news. Thank you for sharing this beautiful stallion with the world. I will surely miss any new photos. Thanks to you and Michael Blake for saving this guy from the BLM.

  7. Robyn Says:

    I am saddened by this news…………although I never saw him in the Wild only in pictures.. He took my breath away!…..What a Magnificent Stallion!!………..I would love to know what happened to him?…….. R.I.P. El Mariachi…………..

  8. Robyn Says:

    Thank you for sharing this…………

  9. Chris Posey Says:

    His picture is the first of wild horses I’ve displayed along with Cloud and others from Adobetown. Mariachi’s life is a blessing to us all. We need to work so others continue to run free.

  10. Katrine Pett Says:

    Blessings & gratitude to this great wild horse for he lives on in spirit & in your timeless images…El Mariachi was a great gift & touched my heart deeply.Thankyou Pam to you & those who cared for & loved him & his mare,Katrine…

  11. Theresa Hoff Says:

    Thank you for sharing El Mariachi’s life with all of us! He will be missed, but your images will live on and continue to share his majesty!

  12. Angie Says:

    Sad news….thanks for sharing his majestic beauty from the first time you two “met”. A one of a kind boy, indeed!

  13. Cathy Says:

    My heart sank hearing this horrible news…Pam I am so sorry….my hope is he did not suffer. Run free beautiful El Mariachi ~ You will forever be in Our hearts ❤

  14. Brandi Turner Says:

    Pam I am so sorry for your loss. He graced your life with beauty and you protected his. He will never be forgotten by those of us who know his story and we are all here to give you support in this time of remembering. Hugs are wrapping you in peace.

  15. Margaret Says:

    Oh God Pam. I am beyond words. He was a brilliant stunning horse and you and Michael gave him so much. Sending thoughts to Hope who must be so confused. I wish I spoke horse to help her…

  16. Vicki Freiberger Says:

    My heart breaks for you Pam. Someday I will meet this majestic being face to face. Through you Pam, he touched many, many lives.

  17. Michelle Freshteh Browm Says:

    R.I.P El Mariachi . ❤ loss of a wonderful mustang stallion. So sorry to hear Pam. Thank you for sharing his greatness with us. My prayers and hugs to you, he's a great spirit xxxx

  18. Kate Bsthurst Says:

    So sorry he was magnificent

  19. Pam York Says:

    Thank you Pam for sharing El Mariachi’s beauty with us, his legacy will live forever in our hearts

  20. Beccy Fielding Says:

    I am so sorry. I have followed his story on here from the UK for a few years now and I am really saddened to hear this. *hugs* for you, and RIP El Mariachi.. safe forever now 😦

  21. Cindy Loos Says:

    Pam, I have followed your story of this beautiful horse and when I first read about the whole journey it brought tears to my eyes… a feeling of sadness and loss….he knew what it was like to be loved.

  22. Rena Says:

    R.I.P. Mariachi. Sorry for your loss Pam. Your heart is hurting and your eyes are filled with tears. You will never forget and he will never be forgotten.

  23. Lisa LeBlanc Says:

    May your grief be of short duration, Pam. How incredibly fortunate the two of you have been, you and your El Mariachi…bless you both.

  24. Gail Pearles Says:

    He was a stunning horse, his image could take one’s breath away, thank you for sharing his life with us. Blessings, Light, and Love. Long may you run El Mariachi

  25. Fay Says:

    So very sorry for the loss of a creature of such beauty! Thank you for sharing your gorgeous pictures. They truly show his spirit!

  26. pnickoles Says:

    I am touched by your words of kindness – thank you. He will always have a place in my heart.

  27. Thanks for taking such great care of this magnificent Boy! We will miss him! Our hearts go out to you!

  28. mharmonay Says:

    I am so, so sorry, Pam. I cannot imagine your sadness, and my heart goes out to you. Thank you for honoring him, and for capturing his magnificence, his greatness, his indomitable spirit. He will run free, forever, but we are diminished by his leaving us.

  29. Jim Westin Says:

    I’m so sorry, Pam…….but you will see him again.

  30. Gary Lamontagne Says:

    So sorry to hear of his passing. I can only imagine what it would be like to see him in person. Beautiful beyond words. Thank you for sharing.

  31. Karen Schmiede Says:

    I am so very sorry to hear this. RIP most beautiful wild stallion.

  32. Kim Michels Says:


    I am so sorry for your loss. El Mariachi will forever run in our hearts thanks to you sharing him with all of us.


  33. Peace to him and all who loved him. May he forever run free now

  34. Susan Gallant Says:

    I’m so sorry. I wish I could have seen him in person. The pictures are absolutely beautiful.

  35. mustangs4us Says:

    I’m very sorry to hear this Pam- His spirit will live on!

  36. Aleta Wagner Wolf Says:


    I am so very sorry… thoughts are and have been with you.

    Run free beautiful boy…


  37. Pam.
    Im so sorry for your loss but you will be together again thank you for all the beautiful pictures of him

  38. Oh Pam, I am so sorry. El Mariachi was the torch that got me back in the fight for the Mustangs. While his life was never the same after capture, the one you and Michael provided him was as close as he could ever hope for.

  39. Arlene Says:

    Dear Pam, as you mourn for your wonderful life changing magnificent beauty, always remember , he is only missing from sight , but will;; always be close and by your side guiding you.. he impacted and changed your life for a special reason, that I am sure you know why…He cannot ever leave you…….or anyone who loved him….. he remains with you with his heavenly spirit ……. He also remains in your heart and soul…….and nothing can take that away. from you or anyone who loved him………..

  40. Melissa Maser Says:

    Hurts! He was so beautiful and close to my home…very saddened by this lost. One of the beautiful Mustangs I’ve ever seen..
    Love to have more pictures shared of him .
    Wild Horses in Wyoming.
    Please join our page to share them and other Wyoming horses.
    I’m crying. .! Run free beautiful!

  41. Lyn McCormicK Says:

    Pam, Thank you for sharing him with us.

  42. I know this horse was very special to you. He was the most beautiful horse I have laid my eyes on and have a mug with picture on it. Take comfort in knowing that you gave him a wonderful place to live out him life in freedom and will be missed by many who read your story.

  43. Laura Wilcox Says:

    So sorry for your loss. What a beautiful horse and a great tribute to him. Thanks for sharing.

  44. Denise Moyer Says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about El Mariachi. Can you tell us what happened to him? He was such a beautiful horse.

  45. Varada Says:

    So very sorry to hear this. I remember reading his whole story and was so moved. You were both lucky to have known each other. Hearts go out to you and those close who grieve for him tonight. His horse friends must be very sad tonight too.

  46. Arlyn LaBair Says:

    Your photos reflect your amazing connection with this magnificent stallion…. so sorry for your loss.

  47. still love him forever

  48. Katie Straka Says:

    I am so deeply saddened to hear of El Mariachi’s passing. Hope must be heart broken. I am so very sorry for you loss but he is free now like he was always meant to be and probably herding all the other wild horses that have gone before him. At least that is the way I’d like to picture him! 🙂 God bless you for all you did for this wonderful icon!! 🙂

  49. I love your pictures of this horse and followed him. he helped inspire me to start a horse rescue even though I rescue slaughter bound horses. Hope he is flying over the Rainbow bridge now!

  50. *HUGS* to you Pam. I’m so sorry for you and for Hope, and sorry to hear this news. Run like the wind Mariachi. Just like the old days.

  51. Kathy Says:

    I’ve read your whole story of him, so very sad to hear this. Magnificent doesn’t even come close to the presence you can feel in the photos. At least he lived out the rest of his life in peace and freedom. Thank you so much for sharing his story, it’s touched so many other lives.

  52. ~ Jan Says:

    Oh Pam…I am so sorry for your loss, for Michael’s loss, for our loss. He was magnificent. Still is, and will live forever in our memories thanks to you and to Michael. So sorry, my Friend, so very, very sorry. Sharing in your sorrow, and sending love.

    Rest in Sweet Peace, El…run with the Great Spirit and alongside those who have gone before you.

  53. Mary Says:

    So sorry for your grief. Hopefully this beautiful boy lived a happy full life in the wild. He is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your photos for those of us that would never see otherwise. ❤

  54. paulatoddking Says:

    Pam, I am so sorry for your loss. What a magnificent stallion. I remembered your story but had to go back and read it all. It is horrible that these horses are robbed of their freedom but you did your best to give him the best life possible. Thank you for sharing your pictures and your story.
    I have just started reading Twelve – I’ve had the book for a long time but just started reading it. People like you and Michael truly understand the wild ones. My heart goes out to you and am sending much loving energy your way. Take good care of yourself.

  55. Sarah FitzGerald Says:

    Such sad, sad news. Thank you for sharing your pictures of him :0(

  56. Linda M Says:

    Thanks to you Pam, he lives on through your story & photos. By sharing him with so many, he lives on in our hearts as well. Thank you for sharing!

  57. singlewolf Says:

    Pam, I am truly sorry….your grief is beyond words, because of your connection you have with El Mariachi…but because you shared him with us, we also grew to love and enjoy seeing your magnificent photos of him and his love…. You have given him a life that will endure long after all of us have left this earth. Time will pass but his memory will go on….you book and photos will make him a forever icon to all who read his story and see your beautiful photos of him. Thank you for your generosity in sharing him…please know your heart does not grieve alone… am sending healing white light and prayers for your heart to heal… even tho it will take time……………..know you aren’t alone. ❤

  58. KAREN WANNER Says:

    So sorry for your loss. I adopted 2 mustangs and know they are awesome horses.

  59. Mary Duke and Dusty Healey Says:

    Pam, I am so sorry for your loss. Know that El Mariachi lives in so many hearts because of your love and courage to share him with us. And know that we all surround you at this time. “What we have once enjoyed deeply we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” – Helen Keller
    With a heavy heart, we send our regrets.

  60. I am just crushed! I loved this horse- just seeing him through your eyes made my life better!

  61. Kitty Says:

    I’m sorry for your loss-he was beautiful.

  62. dearest beloved Mariarchi
    miss you so terribly much – you are the best in the worlds forever & all time . you have made such a difference in ones life & been an enlightened inspiration & figure of dignity & honour & i wish you a good rest & never change your beautiful special ways .

  63. Maggie Frazier Says:

    So sorry to hear of your loss – and really feel for “his” mare, Hope. I’m sure she wonders where he is. Many thanks for sharing his story with all of us – When I think about the picture of him in the corrals before you adopted him – there’s a world of difference in how he appeared then & the good life you & Michael gave him. It was a good life. He was a beautiful creature – as all of the wild ones are.

  64. Cathy Spiller Says:

    and his band plays on, now he runs and plays with others of his kind. His memory goes on in every foal in his band.

  65. Terry Hardey Says:

    Pam, I am so sorry to hear about El Mariachi!
    You say he made your heart sing. This is because he is a Soul Mate. Soul Mates come into each other’s lives when needed. El Mariachi needed to have his story told, you are a story teller, telling his story. Together, you have made a difference in the lives of both horses and people. What an amazing legacy!
    I have been blessed to watch your photography skills grow, now you must continue to tell the story of this magnificent being. I expect he will continue to watch over you!

  66. pnickoles Says:

    I am overwhelmed by all of your thoughts and kindness. El Mariachi was certainly loved and it’s amazing to hear what he meant to some of you. What an incredible, incredible boy.

  67. Carmel Says:

    What a terrible shock to hear of El Mariachi’s passing! We always said he was my daughter’s mare’s dream hunk because she is the same color and looks a lot like him (only not so masculine!) So sorry for you Pam, I don’t know what might have happened but I am sure you did all you could do for him. God bless you for doing all you have done.

  68. Diane Wagner Says:

    I’m so sorry, Pam 😦 Thank you for the wonderful photos you shared here. I feel like I know him, looking through your lens. I’m sure he is enjoying his freedom in spirit now – what could be better than that?

  69. Catherine Jeffries (from Australia) Says:

    Sorry to hear about losing an old friend Pam. May his legacy live on.

  70. Leilani Says:

    What a magnificent Horse. RIP dear, sweet boy.

  71. bernecho Says:

    So sorry for your loss, actually all our loss. A spirit horse now. Forever in your heart.

  72. bevkins77 Says:

    Rest in Peace great one, never forgotten and a symbol of our fight to keep Mustangs free.

  73. You met your destiny, you were meant to save him and then save him again, then set him free, and set him free again..we all share your sorrow

  74. Eve R. Mead Says:

    So sad to Hear “Your Boy” has passed on@is NOW Running Free Forever. What wonderful,beautiful Memories He has left for You to remember Him by. Your Love for Him set Him free….Blessings@Big Hugs given to You……..PEACE…..

  75. Nancy Harless Says:

    Sorry for your loss.

  76. Melissa Says:

    Unusually marked and a beautiful presence as you describe. One can also see the Spanish influence in his movement. Thank you for capturing his images, and for sharing them.

  77. ellieroo Says:

    Could not even finds words yesterday his passing hurt so much. I never got to touch his nose or share breath but have loved him / followed him since day one. Nothing can be said to lessen your pain at his loss but thru your story and pictures we All received the beautiful gift of El Mariachi Thank you !!

  78. Judy Lane Says:

    Thank you Pam for sharing the love of a friendship with your El Mariachi and his Hope. He lives on in your heart and you can see and be with him in the mountains in your dreams. Thank you for sharing your story. Your photos captured his presence.

  79. Pam, my heart goes out to you with the loss of your dear friend and love El Mariachi. i am so terribly sorry.

  80. Garnet Says:

    I am sorry about your loss of El Mariachi.

  81. Ohhh Pam… I am so, so very sorry to hear about your Boy… I pray that he went peacefully… I’ll never forget reading ‘His’ story for the first time. I was amazed and mesmerized. I still am. I hope it doesn’t sound silly, but I started to just weep when I saw your post. I think, because I know how much your heart has to be hurting… Thank you for sharing El with us all. In sharing him, you lead so many to want to save our Wild Ones. Perhaps that is partly why he came to you. We both know the other reason.. To hear your heart sing back to him… He will be forever with you and Michael in your hearts. Sending prayers of love and comfort to you, Dear Friend.. God Speed El Mariachi..

  82. janwindsong Says:

    It iS truly excruciating to lose a loved one. He was a beauty, inside and out, as they all are. I hope you find comfort and some peace knowing that we all know he knew who you were and what you did for him.

  83. Mar Wargo Says:

    I will never forget his story and yours. hugs, mar

  84. I am so sorry Pam. He has joined the other spirit horses. I bet he and Lakota will make quite a pair running side by side.

  85. sharon tupper Says:

    What a beautiful stallion El Mariachi is. I am so sorry to hear about his passing. I know he lives on through his sons and daughters. RIP El Mariachi. You are running free now.

  86. Karen McLain Says:

    My deepest sympathy with the loss of this beautiful horse that touched so many hearts.

  87. Roxy Says:

    You gave him a wonderfull life and made all of our lives more wonderfull for sharing him with us all these years – my deepest condolences to you Pam

  88. Jeje Says:

    Pam, I am sorry for you loss he was a Beautiful Horse and he will be missed. RIP MARIACHI

  89. Theresa Says:

    Tears! Dearest Pam, you have had such loss. Your dear dog & El Mariachi. He was prominent in my FB album of wild horses, before & after BLM. His magnificence portrays the glory of all our wild horses. I know he R.I.P. Bless you Pam <3.

  90. pnickoles Says:

    Again, thank you all for your kind words of support and love. Sometimes when I’m thinking about El Mariachi and the tears flow, (such as today) I come back to read these entries. They offer me some comfort and I appreciate them very much.

  91. Lynda Says:

    Don’t give up the fight for your wonderful wild horses! Here in Germany we cannot understand what people are doing to “The American Icon”. I deeply admire what you did for El Mariachi and for others.

  92. cookie ormand Says:

    Pam I have just read the story of El Mariachi I am so sorry for your loss. I to have lost a wonderful horse his name was Shannedoa it is a loss that is unbearable, he was not wild but also my baby I will always miss him as I know you to will miss El Mariachi please know that you are in my prayers and Michael and your mom and husband. Peace be with you. The horses of the wild do need protection I have sent emails to different states asking that they vote for protection of the wild mustangs and continue to do so when ever one pops up in my email. I hope that Hope continues to be free I also want to thank Michael for being there . I have not stopped crying over your loss.. ♡♡ I live in N.C. where the wild horses roam the coast of Carolina ♡

  93. Amy McClure Says:

    Oh, Pam…I have been to this page and until now was unable to comment. I followed the story of your beautiful friendship with El Mariachi and I cried for your loss. (Still get weepy) I have mentioned before how your work speaks to me and, as you point out, his eyes always seem to find yours, you and he had a kind of connection that transcends this reality. That may sound “kooky”, but I think you know what I mean. Love isn’t a Human condition. I believe that not only did he understand what you did for him, he returned your love and respect. What a beautiful story and what a beautiful thing you do by sharing your love and your loss. Hugs to you, my friend. ♡

  94. connie anderson Says:


    I can barely see to write this. I obviously did not know this at the time you sent this out. Ironically, at the time, I and many others were going through recovery from the Black Forest fire. (June, 2013) We, along with 14 equines from our property were evacuated twice within one night. We were fortunate not to lose any of our animals nor the house we were living in at the time. I believe it was that summer or maybe the fall before when I met you and took a picture with you at the photo/wine galery evening…..and, I can’t even remember where that was. It’s been a life changing year. All I know is I purchased several of your wonderful prints, and before that I had purchased El Mariachi’s photo cards to send out during the Holidays. I wanted as many of my friends and relatives to see how beautiful and magnificent he is. If I would’ve come across this email at that time, I don’t know if I could have beared it. It was seeing him and how you rescued him that inspired me to your work and to contributing to saving all our wild horses. I know you said you weren’t going to share any details, but if you could please just let me know that he went peacefully, I would forever be greatful. However delayed this is, I cannot express the sadness I feel in this moment. May you be able to share your wonderful work for many years to come. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing El Mariachi with us. God rest his beautiful soul.


    Connie Anderson

    Date: Tue, 23 Jul 2013 21:31:55 +0000 To:

  95. Barbara Says:

    My God Dear. I am so sorry for your lose of this handsome man. To many tears to go on. God has blessed you…

  96. pnickoles Says:

    Thank you so much Barbara. He was magnificent.

  97. chris1055 Says:

    He lives in your heart forever.

  98. pnickoles Says:

    Yes, he does. And in the son he left with me.

  99. Diane Says:


  100. What a magnificent animal & such a tremendous loss. So very sorry, I would have loved seeing him up close. Thank you for sharing.

  101. pnickoles Says:

    Hi Vicki – yes, he was something very special. Thank you for your comments.

  102. Myrlene Frady Says:

    I’ve followed your post on this beautiful horse for years. Bought the t- shirts and tried to find where he was, as my son has moved to Tucson .
    I can fully understand to loss and heartbreak you feel. Lost 2 of my horse loves in 2017. It never will heal. You’ll see him everywhere. Talk to him and welcome him home
    God Bless

  103. Diane crisp Says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and pictures of wild horses. You were blessed with knowing him in his glory. I had a mother horse who had a filly and I had her until she passed. Had her filly and a colt from that filly. All in the family. But it was extremely hard when the gelding passed at 23. To young for me as his grandmother was 31 and her dad was 36. It hurts no matter how long you have them. Thank god for memories and pictures.

  104. Tammy Rogers Says:

    Beautiful creature.i could only imagine in his presence.Rest Easy

  105. pnickoles Says:

    Thank you so much Myrlene.

  106. pnickoles Says:

    Thank you Tammy.

  107. Deb Says:

    This is the 1st read I am hearing of this gorgeous wild stallion. I follow many wild horse pages so I don’t know why I have never heard of him before?
    I have no idea what happened to him but what a tragic loss.
    Would it be all right with you if I try to draw a picture of him? I’ve been teaching myself to draw The last 2 years and I mostly draw Mustangs and other wild animals.
    So sorry for this loss 😦
    Deb Sanders of Oregon

  108. Sandy Says:

    What a majestic beauty, he brings tears to my eyes, thank you for sharing the beautiful pictures, So sorry to hear that he passed, I can only imagine how close you got to him 💔

  109. tracy McPherson Says:

    Run forever Free

  110. Bette VanEckhoutte Says:

    Breathtaking animal…. superior photos and I thank you kindly for them

  111. Kathy Koehler Says:

    What a fortunate girl you have been to find such a magnificent subject for your portraits. He lives on in them. Having lost my dog this past week, I understand the grief you are feeling and wish you Peace.


  113. Barbara Rach Says:

    5-1-2019, 11:43am, est, thank you for sharing about your beloved horse friend-Animals only know unconditional love, & they who “good people are”! I’m a lover of animals, especially, horses, dogs, birds-the Parrots & Birds Of prey! God makes beauty in His domain! For our admiration/respect, which glorify Him. Respectfully, Barbara Rach, MI, USA

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