Once Again, Wild Horses Near Hovenweep!
When traveling from the direction of Cortez, Colorado, County Road G is the pathway to Canyons Of The Ancients National Monument Sand Canyon Pueblo Trailhead and the neighboring Hovenweep National Monument. County Road G continues southwest to Utah State Road 162, which goes west to Bears Ears National Monument or east to the Four Corners. In this area the San Juan River also heads west toward Mexican Hat and the life giving water does attract wildlife, especially wild horses. In fact, the wild horses never seem to stray too far away from the water source, so on any given day a visitor can see wild horses in this seemingly lifeless desert expanse!
Between Utah SR 162 and the South access point for Hovenweep is where the canyons of the high mesa territory meet the desert floor. This area is where wild horses can be seen just about any day of the year. My first two trips to tour Hovenweep actually were cancelled, because I ended up just watching and photographing the wild horses for most of both afternoons. My third trip almost ended with the same result and those wild horse photos were published too. A visitor has to be careful in this area, because the wild horses will definitely steal the show!
People genuinely like to see photos of wild horses, because they are a symbol of freedom and they are part of western heritage. Horses have not been native to the Americas since shortly after the age of the dinosaurs came to an end and back in that period of ancient history the horses were about the size of a large dog. Migrations, continental drift and mass extinctions that occurred eons ago eventually caused the horse to evolve just about everywhere but the Americas, which once was the original home of the horse.
The wild horses that are seen in the west in this modern age are descendants of the tiny horses from ancient times that originally inhabited the Americas, but over eons of time they basically went on vacation in Asia, Europe, Arabia and Africa for a millennia of time. European explorers unwittingly reintroduced the horse to the Americas back in the 1500s and 1600s when their livestock escaped into the wild. Many imported horses were cut loose back in those days too, especially in places where the Europeans abandoned their cause, which usually was in the harsh environmental areas of the west.
The wild horses that are seen out west in modern times may have a bloodline that can be traced to horses brought here by Spanish explorers and pioneers. Sometimes the traits of a wild horse can be identified as an older breed, but this usually only occurs in isolated wilderness areas where the bloodstock was not diluted, like in the forests near Mt Charleston, Nevada. In the Four Corners region, the wild horse bloodstock heritage is more like a melting pot, because so many escaped ranch horses have joined the wild horse herds, which are composed of various bloodlines from the historic ages of explorers and pioneers. For this reason, the Four Corners wild horses look more like Pintos and Mustangs, rather than short stocky long hair Spanish stallions that can be seen on Mt Charleston, which actually were an ancient Arabian breed.
The mixed breed wild horses in the Four Corners region certainly come in all shapes and sizes. The colors also vary greatly too. I have photographed everything from solid white stallions to escaped old gray mare farm horses in the region where Hovenweep borders upon the Navajo Nation in the Four Corners during the last three years, as can be seen in previous wild horse articles. Many times the wild horses here interfered with travel plans, simply because they are so captivating to watch and because there is such a wide variety of wild horse breeds in the mix.
The Four Corners region wild horses that roam the desert near Hovenweep always seem to be there waiting for the next visitor to stop and take a look! During late spring and early summer is when the foals are in tow and there is nothing that compares to viewing a baby wild horse when it comes to creating pleasant memories that last a lifetime. The wild horses are almost always plodding along in this region near Hovenweep, so be sure to bring a good camera along for the ride when jaunting off to this majestic National Monument!