WILD HORSES OF MISSOURI

ROUND SPRING HERD

Roundspring Herd 09/01/2020 by Tim LaytonRoundspring Herd 09/01/2020 by Tim Layton The post office of the Jasper Township in 1876 was named after the round spring that is about 80 feet in diameter and is now the focal point of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways campground area where the wild horses are frequently seen. 

Local legend says that a mad Indian chieftain stamped the ground until the hollowed basin from which the sprint flows was formed.

The Round Spring herd is probably the second most popular herd because it is frequently found near Echo Bluff State Park or the Round Spring Campground areas.

Sinking Creek, which is nearby, is also a great spot to find these horses.

Echo Bluff is Missouri's premier and newest state park, with beauty abound.  Echo Bluff has spectacular accommodations and campgrounds.  I frequent the grill there for lunch and dinner regularly.

The Round Spring area is home to a family campground, a picnic area, a tour cave, and the spring from which it takes its name. Round Spring was a Missouri State Park from 1924 until 1970, when the people of Missouri donated it to the National Park Service.  The wild horses are frequently seen in and around the campground area. 

The spring is about 50 to 55 feet deep, rising in a nearly circular pool of water before flowing under a natural bridge to join the Current River.  If you visit this location for the horses, it is worth seeing the spring.

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The spring produces approximately 26 million gallons of water flow that feeds the Current River on an average day.  The Round Spring area sets among two of America’s most beautiful spring-fed rivers that make up the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.

The Round Spring herd is frequently seen on Highway 19 and the surrounding areas between Round Spring and Echo Bluff, so keep your eyes open during this part of the drive.  There are very few places to stop or pull off, so be alert and avoid an accident.  

As you can see from the photographs below, I have seen them along the river, under the bridge, and even in the campground area.  

The members of each herd change over time because of several factors.  Lead stallions are known for visiting other herds and bands to steal mares.  Yes, that is correct; the stallions swoop in and steal mares from other herds.  Also, because of the monitoring and management of the herd per the law, sometimes members are gathered up to keep the size of the herds within the bounds of the legal agreement.

At this time, there are two other bands that hale from the Round Spring herd.  The bands tend to come and go over time, so I track their history here.

2022 FIELD DIARY

DATE LOCATION(S) # HORSES NOTES
November 13, 2022 EBSP, RS, SC 0 We looked at all of the normal places before we headed into the backcountry and after, but no horses were found today. 

November 12, 2022

(Article/Videos)

EBSP 6 It was the first snow of the season today, and it was a total surprise to everyone.  It wasn't forecasted, and we were excited when we got up this morning and saw the snow.  We checked all of the normal places a little before lunchtime and had no luck, so we decided to head over to the lodge and treat ourselves to a nice lunch.  After lunch, we started our same rounds, and we ended up finding them over past Painters Ridge.  I rounded the corner, and I saw the herd of 6 running.  I was able to get a few videos of them and then gently worked our way closer to the area in case they were nearby.  Sure enough, they had only moved a few hundred yards into the woods.  We spent quite a while with them and got a lot of good videos and photos.  It was an unexpected surprise to find them after the failed attempt earlier.  We discovered a new pond area that we didn't know about, so we will keep that in mind in the future. We did look for Band # 2 in their normal area, but no luck today, and we were not surprised because of the deer hunter activity. 
November 11, 2022 GC 8 We made an amazing discovery today.  Possibly one of the most fascinating since I started following the horses in 2015.  Not only did we find the missing band of 8 horses in the Round Spring herd, but we got a video of them crossing the river after 7 years of trying to get this on video. There were 2 foals, and they look like they were probably born in the springtime based on their size.  We gained some new insight into some of the possible backcountry hiding spots.  
November 11, 2022 EBSP 6
 
It was a fascinating day today.  We found 6 of the main herd by the river, and as reported by a friend yesterday, a mare was missing, making the total only 6.  There is just one foal in the herd at this time, the same one we saw back in August.  In August, there were 8 horses. I need to review the photos and videos from 8/21 before I finish my notes. 
November 06, 2022 EBSP, RS, SK 0 No luck finding the Round Spring herd today at any of the typical locations.  Someone reported they saw them yesterday late afternoon along Painters Ridge Trail. 
October 29, 2022 EBSP, RS, SK 0 No luck finding the Round Spring herd today at any of the typical locations. 
October 23, 2022 EBSP, RS, SK 0 No luck finding the Round Spring herd today.  We found fresh poo at the RSCG, and a friend saw them there yesterday.
October 16, 2022 EBSP, RS, SK 0 No luck finding the Round Spring herd today.  We went to every known location, and no sign of them other than some fresh droppings at the RS group site. 
October 09, 2022 EBSP, RS, SK, GC 0 No luck finding the Round Spring herd today.  We went to every known location, and no sign of them.  There have been a lot of sightings of them at EBSP, and we saw fresh poo in many places but no horses. GC was not mowed this year like all of the other locations, and still no sign of any activity there. 
August 21, 2022 EBSP 8 After a long dry spell since April, we finally found the Round Spring herd today.  And it was another first since 2015; we finally found the horses inside Echo Bluff State Park.  We have seen signs of them many times, just never seen them in person there until today.  The main stallion is still leading his herd, and there is a new foal.  At this moment, I can't confirm gender, but I haven't looked at all of the photos or video footage yet. Once I know for sure, I will update the field notes. Also, there were no signs of any activity at GC again.   
May 15, 2022 GC, RSC, SCC 0 Once again, there were absolutely no signs of activity at the Grassy Creek area today.  It would appear the horses have left this area for now.  I will continue to monitor the location.  There were no horses at Round Spring, Sinking Creek, or Echo Bluff areas today either.  They must have been deep in the woods somewhere during our time on site between 10:30 am and noon.  We have no idea where the 4 white horses that were previously showing up at Grassy Creek area now or the 3 dark colored bachelors.  We have not seen any of these horses since mid March and suspect that some may have joined back up with the regular Round Spring herd, but I can't confirm until we get a new headcount.  Also, there is the matter of the extra horse that appeared over at Shawnee Creek after Redbeard was captured over at Broadfoot.
April 25, 2022
 
GC
 
0
 
There were zero signs of any recent activity in the grassy creek area today.  We suspect that one of the four white horses joined up with the Shawnee Creek herd because we can't come up with any other logical explanation.  We have not seen the Round Spring herd since the 4th, so we need to verify if the herd is larger than 7.  If so, then we know some or all of the grassy creek band may be with them again.  The three young bachelors that we saw back on March 13th have not been seen again and I can only imagine where they are and what is happening with them. 
April 04, 2022 SCC
 
7 We found the herd at the back of SCC, and they had literally just come out of the river.  They stayed in the SCG area the entire time until we left.  I got to photograph the stallion finally, and we enjoyed watching the herd.
March 27, 2022 RSC 0 No horses were found at any location, including Grassy Creek.

March 26, 2022

(AM) (PM)

RSC 7 We found the Round Spring main herd of 7 at the regular Round Spring Campground area.  They looked in good condition, and the stallion was impressive.  We got some excellent photos and videos of them today.  We found them at two different times.  First time at 745 AM and for a second time at 630 PM.   No horses at Grassy today (9 AM).
March 25, 2022 RSC 0 No horses were found, including Grassy Creek.
March 19, 2022 GC 4 Four Horses (verified) at Grassy Creek.  This is the four white horses (new band) at Grassy Creek.  The last sighting was on Feb 13th.  I have since learned that three horses are stallions, and one is a mare.  The mare is reportedly a domesticated horse that ran off and joined this band of wild horses.  This is amazing and interesting because we found the other rouge band of 4 horses (mostly dark colors) last Sunday the 13th in the exact location.  I now believe there are four herds with six bands in Shannon County.  The two new bands that I am finding at Grassy were most likely from the Round Spring herd, to the best of my knowledge.  More to follow as I know more or get updated information.
March 13, 2022 GC 3

3 Horses (verified) at Grassy Creek.  We saw three young dark-colored bachelors in the Grassy Creek area for the first time.  Based on current knowledge, it appears these young bachelors have formed a new and probably temporary band until they have the opportunity to take over one of the existing herds, possibly at some point.  These horses were susceptible to outsiders in their environment and fled immediately upon sight crossing the river.  I ran as fast as possible and got them at the end of their river crossing before going deep into the woods.

March 05, 2022 GC 0 No horses at Grassy today (but new signs of them). 
March 02, 2022 GC 0 No horses at Grassy today (but new signs of them). 
Feb. 26, 2022 GC 0 No horses at Grassy today (but new signs of them). 
Feb. 20, 2022 GC 0 No horses at Grassy today. 
Feb. 13, 2022 GC 4

I found four white horses in a new band at Grassy today for the first time.  Other confirmed sightings of this four date back to Jan. 31.  Only seven horses were found in the regular Round Spring herd back on Jan. 29th.  I later confirmed on March 19th; there were two stallions and two mares. 

 

Feb. 06, 2022 RSC 0 No sighting of the horses today. 
Jan 02, 2022 RSC 0 No sighting of the horses today.
August 21, 2021 RSC 0 No sighting of the horses today.
April 25, 2021 RSC 0 No sighting of the horses today.
Jan. 27, 2021 RSC, GC, EB 0 No sighting of the horses today.
Jan. 24, 2021 GC 0 No sighting of the horses today.
Jan. 20, 2021 RSC, SC 0 No sighting of the horses today.
Jan. 16, 2021 SC 9 We found nine horses today at the sinking creek campground. 
Sept. 01, 2020 RSC 9 We found nine horses that included a new foal (colt). 
August 31, 2020 RSC 9 We found nine horses near the Round Spring Campground area. 
August 04, 2021 RSC 2 We found a mare and young colt near the campground area today. The rest of the herd did not appear. 
April 06, 2020 RSC, SC, EB 0 No sighting of the horses today. 
April 04, 2020 SC 8 Eight horses were found today in the Sinking Creek tree line over by the campground area. 

 

HISTORY OF THE WILD HORSES OF MISSOURI

8/1/20 - Shawnee Creek Mare - Wild Horses of Missouri by Tim Layton8/1/20 - Shawnee Creek Mare - Wild Horses of Missouri by Tim Layton 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.

05-06-2022 Broadfoot Wild Horses © Tim Layton & Associates, LLC05-06-2022 Broadfoot Wild Horses © Tim Layton & Associates, LLC Their tireless efforts paid off, and President Clinton signed a bill into law on October 3, 1996, to make the wild horses of Shannon County a permanent part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.  

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. 

RESEARCH

O'Brien, Anna. "Place Names Of Five Central Southern Counties of Missouri." M.A. thesis., University of Missouri-Columbia, 1939.