Where to Find The Missouri Wild Horses in Eminence
Today was quite the adventure. I jokingly told my husband a few months back that after completing my 365 Days of Horses project, and photographing 365 Horses in 2017, that I wanted to set out to photograph all of the different wild horse groups in the United States in 2018. Well, of course that would be awesome, but I didn’t think that photographing wild horses was is something that would actually happen this year due to my crazy travel schedule that will take me literally around the world this year. Come to find out, there is a small group of Wild Horses that roam in a small town called Eminence,MO which is just a few hours away from where we are currently living. Yesterday, I decided to start researching these horses and Austin and I set out this morning to find them. From what I have read they can be quite elusive and hard to find, I have read stories from people saying that it took them years to finally see the horses.
It sounds like there are four separate herds that roam outside of Eminence,MO. I looked up every piece of information I could, and we set out blindly with random names of “pastures” which these horses tend to spend their time, and road names. Luckily the first group of horses we came up on was super easy to find and they were right off of the main Highway V. The morning started out a warm 42 degrees, and I immediately jumped out of the truck and set off along a tree line to get a better look at this first group. We started out around 9:00 in the morning and spent until about 4:00 that afternoon when the temperature dropped down to 14 degrees, and the snow started blowing, all while exploring all of the many back roads surrounding Eminence, and searching for these “pastures.”
Just a few tips before you go out searching for the Missouri Wild Horses
Cell Phone service is spotty, or non existent. I didn’t have service for about 45 minutes before we got into town and didn’t have service the entire time we were out looking. I have Verizon and my husband has AT&T, he has slightly better service but it wasn’t much help.
I recommend using Google Maps (as opposed to the iPhone maps) the satellite images seemed a little better when figuring out where the fields were. You will want to use the satellite option on your maps, and you can spot the open “fields” that they manage specifically for these horses fairly easily. Make sure you research where you are going and have a plan of attack before you get to the area, because Google will not be able to help you. We dropped pins in the locations we thought looked like pastures, and used those to help us search for the horses.
Wear boots, but seriously. There is a lot of grass, leaves, and I’m sure snakes and other critters around all of these creeks that the horses frequent. So save yourself some pain and just wear some tall boots.
Be respectful and leave the area as you found it, we found trash and even a strap from a camera bag left sitting around. So, just don’t leave anything, and if you see anything that doesn’t belong pick it up so that we can continue to enjoy and explore this area for many years to come.
Most importantly, give the horses their space. They are wild animals, and should stay that way. Although a few of them, especially the younger ones may seem friendly or curious, it is best to stay away from them and if they start to wonder up to you, do not try to touch them or feed them. If you plan on photographing them make sure you have a lens that will allow you to stay far enough away and safely capture their beauty…but above all else, just sit and watch them, and take in their beauty. One of my favorite movies is The Secret Life of Water Mitty, and the most powerful scene is at the end when Sean O’Connell finally sees the rare snow leopard, and instead of taking pictures, he simply sits back and enjoys getting to see it in all of its beauty. When Walter Mitty asks why he didn’t photograph this rare animal, Sean explains that he doesn’t always take photo because sometimes, he sees something that moves him so profoundly; he’d rather admire and savor the beauty of the moment than interrupt it.
I am going to challenge you to do the same, and truly just admire and savor the moments you get to spend with the Wild Horses of Missouri.
Shawnee Creek Herd
The first group we went searching for was the Shawnee Creek Herd. I had read that they tend to stay around the pasture located on Highway V, so we looked on our google maps GPS and found the clearing and headed that direction. The clearing is located at State Highway V and Prairie Hollow Rd, as you are driving North you will see a big open field on the left through a clearing. We arrived around 9:00am and were fortunate enough to find them right in the middle of the field. This herd had 11, including a brand new baby that was about a week old. I was very surprised that most of the horses in this group were white, except for the one loan dappled mare and the group of 3 youngsters. Of the youngsters there was a grey, an appaloosa colt with blanket markings, and of course the youngest that was nearly black with white eyeliner. This group of horses seemed very used to people, to my surprise, and you could tell they are used to having visitors. I would make my way down the tree line and sit for a while until they seemed to be ok with my presence, a few of the mares even started to march right up to me and see what I was doing and I quickly moved so that I didn’t get too close.
I had read online that the Rock Creek herd was one of the most elusive groups to find. I think this is because it looks like they have a fairly vast system of pastures that connect and are not easily accessible especially if the creek is up. We started our search by heading back to the Klepzig Mill. The Mill is located off of County Road NN-522 which is off of State Highway NN. You can take the County Road NN-522 back, and you will see some open fields on the right on your way back in there, eventually you will reach the Mill on your right. Keep driving and you will hit an old shed on the left hand side. This is the field where we started our search. We walked back past another tree line and didn’t see any traces of the horses being there recently, so we continued down the road and passed through the creek (yes we drove through it, the water was low and we were in a truck). That road winds back around to an entire chain of pastures, which we got out and walked around in, we did see a few piles of fresh manure which led us to believe the horses had just moved through there recently. It looked like they had moved along the tree line (as it was starting to get windy as the front blew in). We ended up taking that same road and wrapping it back around to State Highway NN which involved quite a few creek crossing we had to drive through. I would not advice driving back in that area in something smaller than a truck, as there were some pretty good rocks in the creek we drove over, and it defiantly would not be safe if the water was high. The Rock Creek Herd eluded yet another person yesterday, but I can promise you I will be back searching for them again soon.
This group took a little more venturing off of the beaten path to find, although the path was fairly straightforward. We headed out on 19 North of Eminence and turned down County Road 19-205, which forked to the right into County Road 206, we split again and followed County Road 19-203 to the left, and eventually hit Country Road 235. This took us down into an area that is used for camping by the river and trail riding, which opens into a large field in the middle. As soon as we got down there into the opening I spotted the group of white mares, and we started driving further down into the park area. The horses was immediately aware that a truck was driving back in their area and were very alert. Initially they started to run towards the road to show that we had entered their space. They were on high alert from the moment we drove up and were extra rowdy as the cold front was blowing in, they were running and fighting with each other almost the entire time we were down there and put on quite the show. There was a group of 5 white mares, as well as an appaloosa, and the gorgeous dappled grey stallion. I had to work really hard to get good pictures and stay within range since they kept running and fighting. These mares seemed larger than the mares at the Shawnee Creek Herd, but it was hard to tell since they were so much further away. I think one of my favorite images of the day was of the stallion trotting across the field as the haze started to roll in with the weather. It was so interesting to watch the way they moved, especially the stallion. The stallion reminded me of an Andalusian especially the way he moved, I was so shocked when I saw him move. All I could think was, ohh, he would be a pretty dressage pony and I would love to have one of his babies. I fell in love.
Round Springs Herd
We spent the most time driving around aimlessly searching for this group, only to find them right off of Highway 19. We started out down County Road 19-225, and wondered back into what seemed like the middle of nowhere. There were quite a few forks off and we weren’t exactly sure which way to go. We ended up getting to a spot where we could see a field off to the left, however it was way down the hill and we weren’t sure how to get down there. We were down by a Bill Charles Road (which is a private road that forks off back to the left), when we noticed the field. We kept on driving past that road and down a ways, only to discover we couldn’t get down to the fields we were looking at. This would be a good spot to look out from to see if the horses were down, there, however we could never figure out exactly how to get to the area we were looking at. We ended up going back down County Road 19-225 and taking a turn that went off in the opposite direction, this road was less like an actual road, and more like something you would drive a 4-wheeler down, but I thought that it may be our ticket to get to the bottom. After venturing way back in there, the road kept getting more and more narrow, and about this time the snow started falling. We ended up having to back up quite a ways to get off of that road. I decided that with the blowing snow that was quickly coming in, that we would venture up Highway 19 just a little ways further to the Round Springs State Park area and the Echo Bluff State Park because I had seen posts about the horses being in that area. We got to the Round Spring State Park area, and made a loop around the campgrounds and around the bridge and didn’t see anything, so we went on past, and just on the other side of the bridge the largest herd of horses were grazing on the right side of the highway. There were 17 total horses in this last group. About this time, the snow really started coming down. Not in a million years did I think that when we set out yesterday to find the Wild Horses of Missouri that I would get to sit out in a field with the snow coming down and photograph these magnificent creatures. This group was the most diverse group of horses by far, with the most young horses and the most color. There were a few of the white mares that closely resembled the mares in the other two herds, however there were also a few mature bay horses. One of the most unique horses was one of the white mares, that still had her grey mane. She was strikingly different than some of the other horses we saw that day, and just drew me in. At one point in time I was sitting there and had a group of 5 horses line up right in front of me, and it was absolute perfection. At that moment I was just sitting there thinking to myself, “how on earth am I so lucky to be sitting here with the snow falling, and have these 5 gorgeous horses line up perfectly..” and simultaneously freaking out because I really needed to be a few more feet away from them to get the perfect picture, because they had been steadily creeping closer! This group of horses seemed a little more used to the presence of people than the Broadfoot herd, however there was a group of older mares that defiantly wanted nothing to do with people being around. The younger horse of the group were certainly the more curious of the bunch.
PS. I am launching a Fine Art Print gallery soon, so you can own your very own fine art prints from my collection! If you want to be the first to know when it goes LIVE leave a comment on this post.