Reunited with the Lone Palomino Brumby at Sunrise: Australian Snowy Mountains, Wild Horses of the World
9th August 2018, Herd 3
The storm had died in the night and by 6.30am we were on the road, once again hoping to spot wild brumbies along the Snowy Mountain highway, since visibility was still nonexistent.
And then we saw a lone horse, with just it's rump showing in a line of snow gums about 20 meters off the road. Deep in the trees, it would be a while before sunlight filtered down onto it's dark coat, so we continued on. Rounding another bend we saw the faint shadow of about 20 brumbies and drove over the hill, stopping just out of sight near Dip Creek.
Hiking back, we followed the shallow creek bed; deep powder causing us to tire easily. Settling in the snow we waited for better light, but dawn came slowly; the sunrise muted by heavy mist.
Even from a distance I recognised the old palomino mare, thought to be the last one left in these mountains, and her roan stallion; both horses which I'd photographed in 2016 and who grace the cover of my book Saving the Snowy Brumbies. It's always a pleasure seeing old friends and it was interesting to see they still roamed in the same region. The grey mare was still with them but the stallion had also won new mares.
As we photographed, the horses moved off, following the fringes of the snow gums to a nearby hill, before making their way down into a glade that was crisscrossed by marshy creeks. Setting off after them we kept our distance, observing as the horses split into three distinct herds. The roan stallion had a herd of eight, a big bay stallion had only a couple of mares and the rest were made up of playful bachelors who caused havoc among themselves.
For over an hour we watched them. Some of the bachelors put on quite a show and came quite close, but the roan stallion and his palomino mare were far more cautious than they'd been two years earlier and kept their distance, barely appearing in any of our photos and always facing away.
When the horses moved off a second time, we didn't follow; not wanting to overstay our welcome. Turning we made the long walk back to the car, at times falling deep into snow drifts and hidden creeks. Photographing wild horses in the aftermath of a blizzard was much harder than we'd imagined, but already so worth it.
This is the third in a series of 12 blogs about the Snowy Brumbies; to read more visit www.kellywilson.nz/blog (keyword: Wild Horses of the World)