I have to admit, when I first saw the “Wild Horse Photo Tour” in the itinerary as part of my Travel Nevada Press Trip, I wasn’t sure what it was. I was like, “Is this going to be a boring or interesting activity? Like, how many photos can I take photos of just horses?”. But when I was standing on the wild land watching horses from up close during the trip, I knew I was totally way wrong! I have never knew by watching the wild horses in its natural environment would be one of the highlights of this press trip. So, my bad, Travel Nevada Team knows exactly where the fun stuff are in Nevada.
So…why is watching wild horses so special? Well…I don’t know where you live, but I live right at the heart of downtown, Toronto, Canada, which means, there are no wild animals, no natural landscape whatsoever, I am surrounded by concrete jungle of high rise buildings and there are lots of traffic. Don’t get me wrong, I love Toronto and it will always be my home sweet home, but sometimes, I just want to get out and get a breather. But what are the chances to witness wild animals in its natural habitat from where I live? This is where Carson Valley came to the rescue, it can surely provide this unique and precious experience that I am sure many have never experienced in their lives.
We took 2 SUVs with us during this tour, 4 to 5 people per vehicle. But why SUVs? Coz once you entered the wild side of Carson Valley, there are basically no roads or infrastructure, it’s all off road and you are on your own. After about a 30 minute drive, we were in the wild side of Carson Valley. There were no gatekeeper, no permit needed, you don’t have to pay for entrance, you just slowly pull your vehicle into the open wild road. Roads were rough as there were rocks, bumps, slopes and wild animals.
John Humphrey, our tour guide is a wildlife guide and an expert in wildlife photographer. He comes to this wild land many times, to the point that he even have names for each horse. The first thing I learned from John is the word “band“. Horse doesn’t live alone, they live in a herd with a group and the word “band” means group. He told us that there are about 7 bands of horses living in this wild Carson Valley. We had to use binoculars as well as roaming around in our SUVs to find where these horses are.
As we drove into the wild land, I have not seen any other human beings or vehicles. John told us that some will camp out here in the wild but most likely, it’s nice and quiet and peaceful. This was amazing as it’s not like some tourist traps where hundreds or thousands of human beings making lots of noises and making it unnatural. This is why I love this wild horse tour so much, I felt like we had this land all to ourselves during this adventure.
It took us about 15 minutes of driving before we saw 3 different bands. Some band have about 10 horses. And one band only have 2 horses, so the band size varied. John told us that the wild horses usually are very alert when they spotted human beings and we should give them space.
But during this tour, I was being labelled as the “Horse Whisperer” coz John and the rest of the media saw that a few horses got very close to me when they were galloping to another spot. As I was trying to get back to rejoin my media friends, they told me two horses stopped galloping and turned back and stared at me as if “Where are you going? I thought you want to interact with us”. That was quite an interesting experience. Another time was when I got very close to a baby horse who was lying on the ground chilling. Suddenly, the baby horse heard the parents calling, the baby horse got up and galloping back to meet up with its parents. But I was super close to the baby horse without it being scared. Again, I was told these type of situations don’t happen often with humans getting that close, so I got lucky.
Anyhow, the ability to watch these wild horses running up close was an experience I will never forget. They had beautiful fur colours and they were just enjoying themselves out in the wild. This was an unforgettable experience.
To top that, John showed us a tree where owls were hanging on the tree branches. If you were driving from outside, you wouldn’t think anything special with this tree. This is where the expertise comes in by guide like John who knows this area inside out to know where to spot the horses and find owls from places that you least expected. So, I highly recommend you hire guide such as John so you can get the best experience here in the wild land of Carson Valley.
The wild horse photo tour in Carson Valley and this press trip were provided by Travel Nevada. However, as always, the opinions expressed in this post is entirely my own.
MoVernie Fun Fact: What is “DFMI” stands for? It stands for “Don’t Fence Me In”, which is the main slogan & identity for Travel Nevada.
John T. Humphrey
Wildlife Guide & Photographer