As living history of the old west, Utah is blessed with an abundance of wild horses, or as referred to by the BLM free roaming horses. In fact the BLM has 24 wild horse herd management areas (HMAs) in Utah.
About 70 miles to the west of us along the old Pony Express Road near Simpson Springs is one of the largest herds in the state. This wild horse herd, known to the BLM as the Onaqui Herd, has an estimated 200 horses that have occupied the area since the late 1800s.
These horses are descendants of horses brought west by the early pioneers and the U.S. Cavalry. In Utah raising horses to sell to the U.S. Cavalry was big business for the ranchers. These once domesticated horses escaped from captivity or were abandoned, and that is why we see brown, black, buckskin, palomino and pinto horses.
The horses can sometimes be seen beside the edge of the Pony Express Road near Simpson Springs and other times they are distant and require binoculars to see them. The horses can be seen in small groups of three to six animals or larger herds of 50 to 70 horses. These are wild horses that are shy and spook easily.
It should also be noted that Federal Law prohibits harassing wild horses. These horses have been grazing on this rangeland for over a century, and they are a marvelous sight to see right here in our own backyard.
The horses in the accompanying photo were part of an estimated 70-horse herd. The picture was taken with a 600mm lens at a considerable distance from the horses.
It is a breathtaking sight to see that many horses running across the open landscape, an example of the natural beauty that we are blessed with when we make a little effort to go find it. Take a drive and see what you can find. Just remember it is a long and remote gravel road, but it has its rewards.