The weather is so nice right now, and the trees are starting to show fall colors.
The photo to the left is a view looking south along the Jack's Fork river.
We started our afternoon at the main Shawnee Creek fields, and we didn't see the horses anywhere. Before starting a long hiking process in the woods and along the river, we thought it would be smart to see if the horses may be over near the Two Rivers area.
So, we headed over, and the horses were nowhere to be found. Since we couldn't find the horses in any of the obvious places, we hiked the perimeter of the main fields to see if they might be in the understory of the woods that adjoin the fields.
With no luck, we started hiking in the woods towards the river for about an hour. No sign of the horses, so we decided to hike back to the truck and head back over to Shawnee Creek and check the fields again and hike the woods and along the river if needed.
When we arrived back at the Shawnee Creek fields, the two old ladies were in the middle of the field grazing! In just that short amount of time, they went from nowhere to be found to being in the middle of the main field.
We spent time just relaxing and watching them enjoy the late afternoon cool breeze while they grazed.
In their typical fashion, they never allowed too much space between them, and they took turns monitoring the area for signs of danger while the others ate. I am so happy they have each other, but I will also be deeply saddened when one of them dies.
They continue to be left behind by the main herd, but they stick together. I am guessing the reason why the main herd leaves them behind is they can't keep up. The main herd this year is more active than I have ever seen since 2015. The dynamic with the Shawnee Creek herd has changed, and while I thought they would return to their normal ways, I am starting to think the new Shawnee Creek herd is here to stay. Meaning they are much more active and difficult to find, like the other herds.
We hiked in the woods, along the creek, and down by the river, looking for the main herd, but no sign of them anywhere.
However, the hike was very relaxing, and the fall colors are really starting to show. It was just beautiful and peaceful, as shown by the photos directly below.
Before the light was gone for the day, we made one last attempt to find the main herd. We headed back over to the Two Rivers area and hiked in the woods a little more.
As you can see from the photo above, the forest's understory is beautiful and glowing with fall colors.
We continued to hike, and just about the time we thought we should head back towards the truck before dark, the horses appeared out of nowhere, right before dark, as shown in the video below. It was an amazing day filled with joy, peaceful hikes, and time with the wild horses.
As I have said many times, the wild horses are my personal therapists. I lose track of time and never worry about anything when I am with them. I am so engrossed and engaged in the experience that I forget about all of my aches and pains and life's demands and challenges.
Here are a few of my favorite photos of the horses from today.
Follow along on YouTube with Tim and Lesa behind the scenes as they track, find, and try and photograph the wild horses of Shannon County, Missouri.
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HISTORY OF THE WILD HORSES OF MISSOURI
Shannon County is home to a beautiful herd of wild horses located in Southeast Missouri in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways on public land about 130 miles from Springfield and 150 miles from St. Louis.
Ozark National Scenic Riverways is the first national park area to protect a river system and the only state where wild horses still roam free. It hasn't been an easy path for the wild horses over the last 100 years, and it would be foolish to think current conditions couldn't change and put the horses back in danger again.
During the 1980s, the National Park Service announced a plan to remove the wild horses, and people were outraged.
In 1993 the U.S. Supreme Court denied a final appeal to protect the horses and gave the National Park Service the right to remove the horses from federal land.
The national park service started removing the wild horses in a profoundly upsetting way to residents and horse lovers around the country. The people of Shannon County and horse lovers around the country rallied together, and the Wild Horse League of Missouri was formed.
Luckily, by 1996 the Wild Horse League of Missouri, which formed in 1992 to save the wild horses, received help from the people of Shannon County, Congressman Bill Emerson, Senators Kit Bond, and John Ashcroft.
People worldwide visit Shannon County in hopes of seeing these majestic wild horses.
The Missouri Wild Horse League works with the National Park Service to capture some horses when the herd exceeds 50. The captured horses are taken into care and evaluated before being adopted by loving families for permanent homes.
It is important to remember that these horses are wild. When looking for them, be sure not to approach them or feed them. It is essential to keep these animals wild and free and for you to be safe. The horses are big, strong, and unpredictable and for your safety, keep a safe distance of 100 yards or more between you and the horses.