WILD HORSES OF MISSOURI
SHAWNEE CREEK HERD
Shawnee Creek has a long history dating back to the 19th century.
According to research provided by the University of Missouri, Shawnee Creek was named after an Indian tribe invited into Missouri in the early days to protect the settlers from war-like Osages.
Shawnee is an Indian word for the tribe and means "Southerners."
The Shawnee tribe were wanderers and were first known in the Cumberland basin in Tennessee.
Little Shawnee Creek flows northwest to the Jack's Fork River, and it runs right through the fields where the horses are frequently seen next to Shawnee Creek Campground, which is part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.
2022 FIELD DIARY
|SCF||11, 2 (13)||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 found the main herd of 11 with the 2 foals looking great, and the 2 old ladies were off to themselves, as is the new norm for them. It was fun to see them in the first snow of the season. We got some really good photos and videos.
|11/11/2022||SCF||11, 2 (13)||We found all 13 of the Shawnee herd today, and things are the same. The 2 old ladies were off by themselves, nowhere near the main herd as usual. The 2 foals looked healthy. No much to report today.|
|11/06/2022||SCF, V||11, 2 (13)||We found the main 11 at Two Rivers and the two old ladies in the center at Shawnee Creek. The foals looked good, but otherwise, nothing exciting to report. It was in the low 70s today, and the bugs were horrific at Two Rivers.|
|10/29/2022||SCF, V||0||We did not find any of the horses in the Shawnee Creek herd day, but we probably know why. Today was the first day of youth deer hunting season, and much to our surprise, people can actually hunt deer on the ONSR federal land where wild horses roam. Many people are out walking in the fields looking for the horses, and all it would take is one single mistake by a hunter, and someone could be killed. It is beyond my ability to understand how it is legal to hunt on the same land where the horses roam, and people frequently hike and look for the horses.|
|10/27/2022||V||11||The normal 11 horses were tucked in the upper left corner of the main field at Two Rivers. They hung there for a while and then they decided to go walk out on the highway. The two foals looked healthy. I didn't see the two old ladies today.|
|10/23/2022||SCF||11||The main herd of 11 was tucked in the woods near the creek early this morning. No sign of the two old ladies. The 2 foals looked healthy and good. Overall the herd was relaxed and looked good. Just unsure why the two old ladies are no longer part of the herd. We will continue to monitor this.|
|10/21/2022||SCF, V||0||No sign of the Shawnee Creek herd at the normal SCF or V locations when we were there today.|
Today was different than recent days with the Shawnee Creek herd. For many months, we haven't seen the entire herd together and function as one band. Effectively the "two old ladies" have been separated from the core herd. Today was the first day in a very long time that we saw the two old ladies and the core herd of 11 (at this time) in the main field at Shawnee Creek. The two old ladies stayed to themselves and did not communicate or associate with the core herd. There was no interest from either group. It is clear to me these two horses are operating as separate bands. I noticed this behavior back in the spring when the two old ladies split off from the herd and mated with the stallion at Broadfoot. Since that time, things have never been the same. Now I am curious to see if one or both of these old gals are pregnant. Also, there is still no stallion at Shawnee creek, and the only two males are the two small foals that are colts. Still no sighting of the blind mare that we saw back on 09/23, so I have to assume at this point she is either with another herd or possibly been injured or worse.
|10/12/2022||SCF & V||13||It was an amazing afternoon and evening looking for the wild horses and ultimately finding them. We started at the Shawnee Creek fields but didn't find any of the horses. Before hiking in the woods and along the river, which takes a lot of time and effort, we decided to make a quick trip over to Two Rivers to see if they might be there. We arrived, and again, they were nowhere to be found. We hiked the perimeter of the fields and in the woods to see if we could find them. After an hour of hiking, we decided to head back over to the main Shawnee Creek fields and hike the woods and river area. When we arrived, the two old ladies were alone in the field. In just that short amount of time, the old ladies seemed to emerge out of nowhere. So, we stayed for a while and watched them and then hiked the woods, along the creek and the river looking for the main herd. No sign of them anywhere. After two hours of hiking, we decided to go back over to Two Rivers in a final attempt to find the horses before dark. When we arrived, we didn't see them, so we drove down to the lower area to turn around, and there they were all in a line walking out in the middle of the road! We followed them for quite a while until they made it back into the main field and grazed until dark. It was a relaxing and peaceful evening watching the horses, and we can't wait to go back and watch them again. Still, just the 13 horses with the two foals and still no sign of the blind mare that we last saw on 09/23/22.|
|10/09/2022||SCF & V||0||We went to every known location looking for the horses without seeing them anywhere. We hiked inside the woods and along the Two Rivers trail as well. There was a report yesterday of them at Little Shawnee Creek, so they appear to have moved from the Two Rivers area to the SCF area.|
|10/08/2022||SCF & V||13||In an attempt to hopefully find the missing blind mare, we went back out again today looking for her. We did find the same 11 horses near Two Rivers as yesterday, but today, we found them deep in the woods, which was an amazing experience. After spending a couple of hours with them, we headed back to SCF, and we did find the two old ladies but no blind mare. It isn't looking good at this point, and I am starting to lose hope and think something may have happened to her.|
|10/07/2022||SCF & V||13||We went back to SCF and found the 2 old ladies by themselves. No sign of the blind mare or the other 11 in the main herd. We stayed for quite a while, and right before the last bit of light, we took a chance and went over to Two Rivers and found 11 horses (2 foals and the other 9). No sign of the blind mare, so she is still missing. We are getting concerned because the last time we saw her was back on 9/23/22, when we found her alone at V. More to follow.|
|10/05/2022||SCF & V||0||We first went to the V location, and no horses, so we packed up and went to SCF. No sign of the horses, so we hiked down by the river and looped around the woods. No sign of the horses anywhere today. We were disappointed that we didn't find them today because we were hopeful we could confirm the two old ladies and the blind mare was safe. Hopefully, we can confirm good news soon.|
|10/04/2022||SCF & V||11||
Another interesting adventure with the Shawnee Creek herd today. I am unsure what happened, but this reliable herd changed this year and continues to surprise me. We went to V first and didn't find the herd, so we went to SCF. They were nowhere to be found, so we decided to hike in the woods and along the creek and river. After two hours and about 3 miles of hiking, we decided to call it a day and be thankful for the time in nature and the great hike. As we emerged from the woods and started into the main field at SCF, I spotted them in the location where we began our hike. We counted and verified 11 in the herd today, and while we are not 100% sure, we didn't see the blind mare we found over on V on 09/23/2022. Also, the two old ladies were not with the herd either, so the 11 makes sense based on the regular 14 that we confirmed on 08/21/2022. The two new foals look healthy and strong, and Mr. Curious (foal # 1 born at the end of March) is getting big and strong. We will follow up in the coming days and weeks to try and find the blind mare and the two old ladies.
|09/30/2022||SCF & V||0||We didn't find the horses at either location today between 4 and 530 PM. The Shawnee strangeness continues.|
|09/23/2022||SCF & V||1||We found a single mare at V, and she was the blind one. Blind in her right eye, and the left eye has some serious problems as well. She was very nervous acting and made calls out to the herd several times. She even followed us back to the truck, which was a bit concerning and nerve-wracking because she is so big. We went over to SCF, and no signs of them there.|
|08/21/2022||SCF & V||14||The two months of sweltering summer heat are finally starting to subside, so we are back out tracking the wild horses again. Another interesting and mystical day with the Shawnee Creek herd. We found the two older mares (The Old Ladies) deep in the woods along the Jacks Fork River and the other 12 with two foals (colts) near the Two Rivers confluence. It was a special treat because we got to see the second and last foal of the season for the first time.|
|07/31/2022||SCF||1||We found a lone mare in the main field today. I did not recognize this mare as one from the regular herd I had come to know. I am not sure about the origin or history of this horse at this time. She is blind in her right eye but otherwise very healthy looking. More to follow once I know more.|
|05/25/2022||SCF||2||The two old mares that were over at Broadfoot were back at the SCF fields today alone. Less than 24 hours ago, they were at Broadfoot along with 3 other fellow herd members. Broadfoot at the end of the day was back to their original herd, minus foal # 4 and its mom. It will interesting to see when the rest of the Shawnee Herd returns. We have no idea where the herd is at this time.|
||After finding 2 more of the Shawnee Herd over at Broadfoot, we tried to find the Shawnee Creek herd two different times today at all of the normal locations and had no luck either time at noon or 745PM.|
||SCF/V||0||We circled back to Shawnee Creek after finding the old mare at Broadfoot, but the herd was not at any of the normal locations today.|
There were only 12 horses with the Shawnee Creek herd today. If you look at my Broadfoot notes, we believe one of the older mares is now over at Broadfoot and the youngest foal # 4 and its mom are missing from Broadfoot. Also, one of the adult mares was nursing from another mare (clip MVI_0104.MP4). More to follow on this story as I learn more.
|05/15/2022||SCF||13||The new normal herd of 13 was accounted for and present today between 12:30 and 2:30 when the thunderstorms rolled in from the east. Upon arrival, the majority of the herd was huddled very tightly together. The new foal and mare, along with two other mares, were originally off to the side of the tightly huddled group and then joined them after about 30 minutes. I noticed one of the older mares has an eye that is completely swollen shut. I could not determine if the eye was missing or if was infected and swollen shut. Based on what I saw, I think it may be missing. Also, we noticed the horses would step outside of the tightly huddled group to go to the bathroom and then step back in. This area was the place last summer that they beat down into a circle in the center of the field. There is something about this spot they like.|
All 13 of the current herd were accounted for and present this evening at sunset. The foal is really growing, and no more foals as of today. Redbeard is still at Cross Country, waiting on adoption. He has been there since March 26th. The other three from Broadfoot are still there as well. They have lost a lot of weight and looked much stronger and better in the wild. I have to assume the stress of being held in a small pen for many weeks (nearly two months) and lack of fresh grass to eat is the primary causes of the weight loss. The young filly has rubbed her neck raw trying to get to fresh grass through the fencing. I could clearly see her ribs and hips and the same for Redbeard as well.
|05/07/2022||SCF||13||All 13 of the current herd were accounted for and present this evening. We still have not been able to figure out where the extra member came from since Redbeard was captured over at Broadfoot last month. We witnessed older horses nursing or trying to nurse from other mares. We have seen this several times over the years. We also watched mares other than the mother groom the foal today. We got both of these events on video. The grass is really growing in the main fields and it will likely be waist-high within the next week or so. At the end of the day, the herd worked their way from the woods along the river bank to the mud pit where they all were eating the mud again. We noticed a pattern where the mares are very protective of this mud and dish out corrections, bites, and kicks for no apparent reason.|
|05/06/2022||SCF||13||It was an overcast Friday evening and all 13 horses in the herd were present. The foal and all of the horses look great. With the grass growing greener and taller every day, the horses have plenty to eat now after a long winter. We noticed they have been eating dirt up by the main entrance to the fields. It is clear that based on track and the condition of the landscape, they spend a considerable time here. This seems to have started within the last two weeks. Dirt can be a normal part of a horse's diet because it is a good source of various minerals. If horses are dehydrated, they will eat dirt that has a high salt content to help quench their thirst, but these horses have an endless supply of fresh and clean water.|
||13||It was an overcast morning, so we thought it would be a good day to go try and create some videos of the horses. All 13 in the current herd were there and accounted for. We still have not figured out where the 13th came from. The only idea we have at this point is one of the horses that were in the temporary grassy band possibly because there has been no sign of any recent activity at the grassy creek area. No more new foals yet, but we expect some in the near future.|
||All 13 in the current herd were present and accounted for. The new foal looks in great shape and it looks like a couple more mares should be having foals soon, so this is exciting.|
|04/21/2022||SCF||13||It was a beautiful day. It was overcast and had excellent lighting for filming and photography. We verified 13 in the herd today, which is strange because Red Beard got rounded up, so the herd went down to 12 with the new foal. We counted several times and reviewed our video footage and there is definitely 13 in the herd now. This means the herd picked up a new member. There has not been a stallion with this herd for a while, so we are wondering if there is a new stallion now. The mystery of why and how there is a new member in the herd is alive and well.|
|04/14/2022||SCF||12||The herd (minus Red Beard) plus the new foal was at the SCF this afternoon. They looked healthy. It was a good time and we got to see two of the mares walk across the main field and get a drink from the creek. We anticipated this happening, so we made our way over there and got into position. Our hard work paid off and we got to see them. I got some good photos and video of all this.|
|04/05/2022||SCF, V||0||We did not find the herd today at either of their normal locations.|
|04/04/2022||SCF||12||The herd (minus Red Beard) was at the SCF and the new foal was there as well. There were 12 horses in the herd today. We had an awesome visit with the herd and got to see them and the new foal cross Little Shawnee Creek too. Also confirmed there is no stallion in the herd at this time.|
|03/26/2022||SCF, V||2||We found the two older mares at SCF but could not locate the remaining ten horses today (230PM). We hiked deep in the woods and along the river and looked in all of their normal hiding places, but no luck. We looked at V today two times (2 PM and 530 PM), but no luck. Maybe they are morning the loss of Redbeard? I confirmed today that Redbeard was caught in the latest roundup, and he is currently being held over at Cross Country Stables until he is adopted.|
|03/25/2022||SCF||12||The young two 1/2-year-old brown colts (Redbeard) is missing and not with the herd today. He was reported as being seen over in the Broadfoot fields alone just a few days ago. I went over to the Broadfoot fields today and did not see any of the horses. More to follow on this. Also, one of the mares has a severe and profound cut on her right hind leg that runs about 12 inches from below her knee joint and hoof. I took photos and videos of the injury.|
|03/19/2022||SCF||13||The herd of 13 all looked well at SCF. Nothing in particular to report today.|
|03/13/2022||SCF||13||The herd of 13 were all together at SCF today before something spooked them, and they ran into the wood crossing the creek. I got some video of them running across the main field and through the stream. The herd looked good, and no foals yet.|
|03/05/2022||SCF||13||The herd of 13 was altogether at SCF today. Today, we had a once-in-a-lifetime experience with the horses running full speed and leaping across Little Shawnee Creek. Two horseback riders entered the field, taking off running full speed. We anticipated something would happen and had already worked ourselves into position in the creek area. I thought I was recording them with video, but it did not start! I was heartbroken over this, but we were still grateful for seeing them be full-on wild today. We hiked the creek trail and ended up in a field above the NPS work area.|
|03/02/2022||SCF||13||The herd of 13 was altogether at SCF today. The horses came very close to the parking area, and we thought they would go into the camping area. The first time we have seen them do this during the day. The herd looks good, and the pregnant mares are still pregnant.|
|02/26/2022||SCF||13||The herd of 13 was all back together again today after the separation of the two older mares that I detected on the 19th. It was good to see the gang all back together again, and we had a wonderful time watching them today.|
|02/20/2022||SCF & V||13||The herd was still separated like yesterday (11 at V and two at SCF). After a closer look at the two mares at SCF, I noticed the older mare had an injured right leg. Her joint at the knee is massively swollen. I took some photos, but I could not determine if the knee area was damaged or cut because she was dirty. I think she also looks pregnant. The second mare is also one of the oldest mares in the herd. I strongly suspect the injury to the older mare is why she didn't go to V with the rest of the pack. It is more fascinating than the other older mare stayed behind with her. I believe the second mare showed empathy and wanted to stay behind and look after the injured mare. I will continue to watch this situation closely.|
|02/19/2022||SCF & V||13||Something exciting has happened today that I have never seen since I started following the horses in 2015. Two horses, 1 of the older mares and another older mare, were at SCF and the other 11 were at V. I have never seen them separate like this before. Also, the second mare at SCF with the older mare was unusually aggressive. They knew they were separated from the rest of the herd, and the younger mare was protecting her. Fascinating... More to unfold with this story.|
||13||It was a fantastic day with the Shawnee 13. After all these years, we finally got video and photos of the herd in the water! The pack looked good overall and was very relaxed.|
|02/13/2022||SCF, V||0||We did not find the herd today at the normal SCF or V locations.|
|02/11/2022||SCF||13||The herd generally looks healthy. Two older mares look a little rough, but they seem in good spirits. No foals. We did verify at least one mare is pregnant. We confirmed 13 in the herd today.|
|02/07/2022||SCF||13||Saw the herd in the late afternoon and until sunset. They were heads down eating the entire time, probably because of the recent snow. A horse trail rider rode right through the middle of the herd with a small dog. The horses fled in fear and never returned until the next day. We confirmed 13 in the pack today.|
|Feb 06, 2022||SCF||13||We found the herd of 13 this winter morning. There was a slight amount of snow on the ground still from the snow a couple of days ago. The herd was all accounted for and looked in good condition.|
|January 28, 2022||V||11||The older two mares were not with the herd today. They have been known to stay back over at the Shawnee Creek area. We did not see them there, but that doesn't mean they were not in the woods or along the river somewhere we couldn't find them.|
|January 2, 2022||V||13||All 13 of the herd was near the Two Rivers area. They were very alert and sensitive today, which is unlike them. They ran off towards the Two Rivers campground area and went deep into the woods when they saw me.|
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.
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.
"Place Names Of Five Central Southern Counties of Missouri." M.A. thesis., University of Missouri-Columbia, 1939.