Excited about my new adventure, I set out in hopes of finding a hidden treasure. The radio playing a familiar song, the dirt roads kicking up dust and my gear sitting on the seat next to me is validation that this journey is indeed real.

The stallion of the herd is preparing for a spar with another stallion.  (Nikki Dorber / The Signpost)
The stallion of the herd is preparing for a spar with another stallion. (Nikki Dorber / The Signpost)

The location is vast, beautiful and dust ridden. I am going to give my dream of seeing a wild horse my best effort.

I reach an area that is especially desolate. As I look out across the desert, I see a large plume of dust, like clouds, in the sky. It looks different than the dirt devils that have been showing up here and there. I decide to get out of the truck to investigate. I grab my gear, place a bottle of water in my backpack and head for the cloud of dust. It is hot and windy, but I am determined.

I feel a sense of euphoria wash over me as I quietly approach the location. Dust fills the air alongside the sounds of horses neighing and galloping.

The main stallion in the herd is showing his dominance to another stallion.  (Nikki Dorber / The Signpost)
The main stallion in the herd is showing his dominance to another stallion. (Nikki Dorber / The Signpost)

To my amazement, there, in front of me, is a herd of approximately 150 horses. I am moved to tears as I remind myself to grab my gear and set up. There are many rules to keep in mind when photographing these creatures and my mind is reeling with reminders to myself. Keep a safe distance being the main goal.

I snap a few photos, and all the while, I feel my hands shake with excitement. And that is when I notice the two stallions sparring. I am overcome with emotion; this is the ultimate dream!

Stallions spare for the attention of the mares in the herd.  (Nikki Dorber / The Signpost)
Stallions spar for the attention of the mares in the herd. (Nikki Dorber / The Signpost)

Shortly after arriving to my spot, I find a flat rock to sit on. My goal is to respect their space. I do not want to intrude. I want to take in this sight. I notice one of the darker horses running and bellowing out, as if speaking to the rest of the herd.

Twin Appaloosa mares enjoy the warmth of the hot sun.  (Nikki Dorber / The Signpost)
Twin Appaloosa mares enjoy the warmth of the hot sun. (Nikki Dorber / The Signpost)

Suddenly, the entire herd of horses turns toward me; some playfully running with a partner while others walk at a fast pace.

Mares stand in clusters while stallions spar for their attention.  (Nikki Dorber / The Signpost)
Mares stand in clusters while stallions spar for their attention. (Nikki Dorber / The Signpost)
A baby foal enjoys the warmth of the sun. (Nikki Dorber / The Signpost)
A baby foal enjoys the warmth of the sun. (Nikki Dorber / The Signpost)

I sit as still as I possibly can. In a bit of a panic, I ask myself two questions. Do I simply sit and wait to see what these wild animals are going to do? Do I attempt to leave? They are quickly approaching, and I do not want to turn my back on a wild animal. So, without options, I simply wait.

The mares are watching the stallions as they spar to get their attention.  (Nikki Dorber / The Signpost)
The mares are watching the stallions as they spar to get their attention. (Nikki Dorber / The Signpost)
A Spanish Grey wild horse takes a break from grazing, curious about what she is seeing.  (Nikki Dorber / The Signpost)
A Spanish Grey wild horse takes a break from grazing, curious about what she is seeing. (Nikki Dorber / The Signpost)

I feel a strange sense of calmness wash over me. I can do nothing about my situation. So, I do what I would normally do, I began capturing images.

Much to my surprise the horses approach me, each one taking what seems to be their assigned place. They circle around me. They are calm. They begin eating the grass under their feet and my feet! I am elated! I feel a sense of peace, admiration and wonder. I am honored that they somehow know that I am trustworthy. We maintain our positions for a long time, me in the center of their circle, the horses mere feet away. I know that this is a moment in my life that I will cherish forever. I have a profound sense that this going to change my career path and my life for the rest of time.

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