Wild Mustangs of Mono Lake~

Officially named The Montgomery Pass Wild Horses, (click to enlarge)

these mustangs have a range of 50,185 acres,

spanning the borders of California and Nevada.

Photos were taken on the south shore of Mono Lake in California.

There has been no aerial round ups, or baiting population control efforts, with this herd for the past thirty years.

They are the only feral herd in the US whose population is managed entirely by natural apex predator (mountain lion) predation.

These guys are clearly advising me not to come much closer!

There were only two other people here, in the winter, and you can see the horses seemed more interested in the people, than visa versa.

These are shy and elusive creatures, I was fortunate to spend time with them.

I didn’t have my zoom lens and was pleased they allowed me in shooting distance.

The herd is estimated to have a population of over a hundred. We saw at least that many.

Cheers to you from The Mono Lake Mustangs~

For more info on these stunning creatures see:

https://americanwildhorsecampaign.org/media/herds-across-west-montgomery-pass-mustangs

My next post will focus on Mono Lake and the strange formations you see in the photos.

224 thoughts on “Wild Mustangs of Mono Lake~

      1. Cosgrove

        Great photos! I’m curious as to where you think the best place is to photograph them? I see you were on the south side of mono lake. I’ve read to drive out 167 and go to the northeastern side. I’ll be heading up next weekend!

        1. Just go! And may the horse be with you. Mono Lake must be spectacular now with all the rain. If the horses don’t find you, I would suggest coming back mid-winter, which is difficult for humans, and is why the horses congregate on the shores. If I were you, and they don’t find you, I would return to the south shore in winter. I hope you find them. They are stunning creatures დ

    1. I have never been to the lake in winter before. There were only two other people on the south side, and the colors, reflections, with the snow and Sierras, were breathtaking. I will post more of the lake and pillars and mountains next. It was so much more beautiful than in summertime დ

  1. I have been to Chincoteaque Island off the coast in Virginia to see their wild ponies. These mustangs at Mono Lake are beautiful. How glorious to run free. The photo of the lake with ice or salt structures sticking up and the horses along the shore is my favorite. Thanks, Cindy!

  2. Thank you for the stunning shots of these most gorgeous creatures, Cindy.
    I’m glad they are being left alone by humans.
    I always think of the “Misfits” movie. It’s one of those movies I just can’t watch again. The part about/with the the Mustangs breaks my heart.

    1. Capturing or harming wild creatures who are thriving in the wild is a heartbreaking thing to see. I wouldn’t watch it either. People can be way too cruel. Thank you having caring heart Resa დ

      1. So glad you feel that way! It is one of my top 5 favorite poems and I can’t see any wild horses without envisioning them – and me – feeling like those two ponies and that poet.

  3. WOW Cindy, you took some awesome photos. You really got some very detailed shots, even without your zoom lens. These are some beautiful and majestic creatures for sure!!! 🐎🤗🐴📷

  4. The essence of freedom! Your photos reminded me of a quote from Henry V by William Shakespeare:

    “When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes.”

        1. I am not certain, but I think most their range is protected, but they also graze on privately held land. Not sure of this though…… Maybe someone who knows more will answer with more assurity დ

  5. They are so beautiful! And they look to be in excellent health. I love that their population is controlled naturally and not by humans, as it should be! Are mountain lions nocturnal? I don’t think I’d want to encounter one, though!

    1. Natural population management is the only sensible solution. Human solutions to wild animal issues change like a movie star’s clothes. Mountain lions do prefer to hunt at night. Back when I lived in the suburbs, one walked down the middle of the street in mid-day. Very sadly, I was working! I only see tracks, scats and the occasional kill sites now დ

  6. After a survey our wild brumby population in Kosciuszko National Park in Australia in 2020 is about 14,000. Would you like a few? 😂 🤣 I know if the herds get too big they can begin to destroy areas but it is so good to see them naturally in the wild. Great photo’s dear lady 😀 ❤️ 🙏🏽 🦋

    1. How fabulous that Australia allows it’s wild horse populations to thrive. The US does roundups which are a terrible thing to see. It is to much better to see healthy wild horses and mountain lions that are living naturally დ

      1. It causes a bit of uproar as they do roundups occasionally because the big numbers really begin to destroy areas too much. So I suppose there has to be a middle ground somewhere. They were introduced when the First Fleet rocked up and a few escapee’s finally bred a bit too much and built up to what they now are 😀

  7. Mustangs!! They are the only herd in the US. All are beautifully captured, love the mountains behind these magnificent horses image especially!

    1. Aren’t they wonderful creatures! Iconic symbols of the American West, so worthy of our love and protection. The lake and mountains were so lovely in winter. I will be posting more photos of them. I have never visited in winter, so it was eye opening დ

  8. Pingback: The Wild Mustangs of Mono Lake~ — (from the fabulous Cindy…WILD HORSES) | Rethinking Life

  9. Ahhh….Mustangs! What a great opportunity for you Cindy! Gorgeous creatures! I hope humans do not interfere with them!
    I went to Mono lake in 2010 (south shore as well) We never heard about a herd of wild horses being around!
    Mono lake is very acidic. That guy in the boat is destroying his engine.
    Excellent shots, too bad you didn’t have your long lens.

  10. Sehr schön Fotos die du in diesem Beitrag zeigst. Das Pferd auf dem zweiten und dritten Foto, sieht den polnischen Koniks sehr ähnlich. Ich konnte sie in Masuren im Nationalpark beobachten. Heute werden diese Pferde in vielen Naturschutzgebieten ausgesetzt. Ich weiß aber nicht, ob zwischen den von dir gezeigten Mustungs und den polnischen Koniks eine Verwandtschaft besteht.

  11. Wow, Cindy, I can’t believe all the times we’ve been to Mono Lake I’ve never seen the mustangs. Stunning, aren’t they? The shots of them against the lake with the tufa towers is amazing! Thanks for sharing!

    1. It was just so much Fun! The lake in winter was a shock to me because the muted pastels were so ethereal. I went off trail to get closer to it, and then the mustangs showed up. It was a thank you God experience დ

    1. I noticed how healthy they seemed too. It made me happy. No evidence of external parasites, ticks and such, which I often see in wild animals. Some had healed scars, but don’t we all! Thanks for noticing this Ann დ

    1. You are most welcome Debbie. It was really very cold. I have never been to Mono Lake in winter. The colors were like the most delicate pastels, bleeding into each other. It was so still, serene, beautiful, and empty, except for the wild mustangs დ

    1. I still haven’t gotten over it. It was just an amazing experience. They eyes were so different than domestic horses. They were wild eyes, with really clear irises, and they looked directly at you. Not submissive at all დ

  12. The horses are gorgeous, Cindy, thank you for sharing them. It’s interesting to learn that this herd isn’t managed by humans at all. The wild horse herds in Colorado have to be subjected to human management as there aren’t enough natural predators. That causes a lot of challenges.

    1. Human management, generally, in my experience “causes lot of challenges.” Not only with human introduced species who escape into the wild, and thrive. There seems to be almost resentment of them. They “bait” wild horses and burros, in addition to roundups, as human management, because they damage the environment, which is ironic since this argument is coming from humans. It is just sad. დ

  13. I wrote about wild horses (mustangs) in Nov 2013. The post may be found here:

    https://hiddenlens.wordpress.com/2013/11/14/saving-wild-horses/

    The purpose of removing wild horses from the open range has never been fully explained, largely because the federal government is involved. And, when they are involved, they are not terribly forthcoming. The Bush 43 administration tried to resolve the range issues but there was a reluctance by those special interests regarding public land.

    The special interests are often competing interests, from ranching to utilities to anti-government types. In Nevada, for example to graze one beef cow, it requires 200 acres because of the scarcity of proper range grasses. They compete directly with the mustang herds. However, the mustangs will move on. Cattle don’t; they need to be herded to the next location. Also, the utility companies in Nevada want the land to expand their solar panel farms. We already know the entire state of Nevada can be paneled but still not have enough electric power to light the Strip (LV). Not only is it true in Nevada, but much of everywhere else. Solar is far from being renewable, but that’s a separate issue.

    The Obama administration was kind of disinterested in resolving the range issues contrary to their public rhetoric. They more than doubled the number of wild horses in federal custody without increasing the funding for proper feed and water. The Trump administration, well, they didn’t give a fuck. In a matter of fact, they tried to reduce/eliminate the funding from the federal budget without success. The Biden administration, there hasn’t been a policy change from the Trump administration. The BLM administration of wild horses in federal custody remains at the FY 2009 budget level submitted by Bush 43.

    It’s pathetic, but this is total truth. Say what you want to say about GWB, but he was the only one interested. They resolved the water issues with regard to the Colorado River compact, but when the Obama administration decided to void the federal consent decree, now you have water issues arising from the prolonged drought.

    1. There are reasons why we understand each other David, and this is yet another. Our country’s treatment of wild horse and burros is nothing short of shameful. Australians have told me they have upwards of 400,000 wild horses. The US has approx. 46,000, and yet we bait them, and feed them to coyotes, we round them up by helicopter, terrorize them, experiment with birth control. Our wild horse and burro “management” policies switch and swing like our elections. No rhyme or reason. In Death Valley, experts say the burros are hurting the desert, in Mono Lake they say horses are hurting the geology. Really? Human beings blaming animals we introduced for destroying the planet? That is of course so ironic, on so many levels, and so sad. Seeing these creatures who escaped us thrive under such hostile conditions is a testament to the beauty and power of nature, which we just seem bent on destroying.

    1. The lake is saltier than the ocean, and these formations are formed when fresh water combines with calcium in the water. I am doing my next post on the lake and the formations so stay tuned დ

    1. I am going to post on those formations and the lake next, so stay tuned. The lake is salty than the ocean and the these towers are formed when fresh water combines with calcium. დ

  14. I’m a horse-lover and rider, so I sure loved these pictures! It’s interesting that this herd is the only naturally managed herd in the U.S. I’m familiar with the BLM and its wild horse and donkey programs and used to drive by a big herd now living on a large ranch in southern Oklahoma. Thanks for the link to more info.

  15. Here you are, Cuz, out horsin’ around in the desert !!! As a confirmed conservationist, I am apalled by our “government’s” policies. Loved the pics of the ponies. )o(

    1. It is so good to hear from you cuz! How are you? I completely agree with you about our government. These mustangs deserve much better. I hope all is well with you cuz. I miss chatting with you!! Take good care დ

  16. Hallo Cindy, es gibt 2 fantastische Bücher von Stefan Schomann über Pferde. “Auf der Suche nach den wilden Pferden” beschreibt die letzten lebenden ‘Urwildpferde’, die Przewalski-Pferde. “Das Glück auf Erden: Reisen zu Pferd” beschreibt Anekdoten aus der ganzen Welt. Wirklich absolut lesenswert (und ich bin kein Pferdenarr). And, as per usual, beautiful photos!

  17. I have always wanted to visit one of the many ranges that home wild mustangs and horses as there is a wonderful free and wild beauty to them! I am glad to have visited in your photos. 🙂

    1. No one looks out for them. They do try to count them. They graze in a totally wild place. They survive on their own. The are only herd in the US that is not human “population managed,” meaning helicopter herded, baited, and often killed, to control populations. The US wild horse population stands at around 44,000. Australia’s is around 400,000. Go figure დ

      1. But I have to admit our Australian herds make a bit of a mess in the National Parks which affect the other animals. They do need to ‘thin them out’ but it has been argued backward and forward for so long and the herds have become so big that whatever they do it is going to have to be a ‘big’ hit to make it workable or it will just get worse. Maybe they need what we just got…isn’t our vaccine to sterilize us all and thin us out a bit? 😂 🤣 😀 ❤️ 🙏🏽 🦋

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