The Sulphur Herd
Home of the Original Colonial Spanish Horse http://www.nmautah.org/sulpher.htm
The Sulphur Herd roams a vast, unpopulated region of alternating high desert basins and expansive mountain ranges in South West Utah. Their home, the Needle Range, is a starkly beautiful mountain block that lies about 45 miles west of Milford along the Nevada State line. In some spots the range rises to nearly 10,000 feet in elevation. The Sulphur Herd is a nationally recognized herd of wild horses with a Utah heritage much older than most of ours. These horses draw their bloodlines from the old Spanish Type, the first horses brought to America by the Spanish explorers in the late 1500's. Through time, the Sulphur Herd has bred with escaped ranch livestock, but most still hold many of the Spanish Barb traits. There are only three other wild horse herd areas in the United States which exhibit a high concentration of Spanish characteristics.
The original Colonial Spanish Type horse displayed some characteristics of the extinct wild tarpan horse. Horses of the Sulphur herd exhibit many of those early traits.
Dominant colors include dun, buckskin, and grulla (a grey or mouse color). Other colors found throughout the region include bay, black, sorrel, palomino, and various roan's (blue, red, strawberry, etc.).
Physical characteristics include:
Ears that curve in like a bird's beak
Bi-colored mane & tail
Occasional chest barring
Additional features might include:
A sloping croup
Broad forehead, but narrow face and muzzle from a frontal view.
National Wild Horse and Burro Program http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/whbprogram.html
We unsuccessfully tried to find the Onaqui Herd outside of Salt Lake City in May of 2012. We didn't have a good map or enough location details to go on. On this trip in October 2012, we stopped at the Cedar City Bureau of Land Management office http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/cedar_city.html
where they mapped out two herd locations for us. We were determined to see wild horses, and wild horses we saw! After a two plus hour drive from Parowan to the area outside of Milford where the Sulphur Herd is usually located, we started to see a few members of the herd way off in the distance, far too far for us to photograph. This herd is 60 strong, we saw maybe 20 horses about a mile or two away, up on a hill. At least we knew we were in the right place. :-)
We kept driving and sure enough... approximately a half mile away from the road... were about six horses that we could actually consider approaching. Carl and Dave walked off to the right, I went left. We kept walking out to get closer, the horses were absolutely aware of our presence, watching our every move, but curious enough to stay in the area and not run off. We were told the Sulphur Herd is not as used to people as the other herds, we should expect them to run as soon as they see our vehicle. We were very pleasantly surprised that they were not spooked by the truck or by us walking out to them.
We ended up making a visual triangle, with the horses at the top point, Dave and Carl out to the right point, and myself on the left point. I actually crawled on my hands and knees, missing deer droppings with my hands, body hidden by the sage brush, so I could get as close as possible without spooking them. I would pop up to get my bearings and to snap a few shots, then back down on all fours to get a little closer. We didn't realize when we set out that our positions would keep the horses between us. They would look at me when I stood up, then turn to walk toward Dave and Carl, who would in turn move closer to them causing the horses to turn back in my direction. This back and forth went on for about 45 minutes. They were very curious about us, and apparently not afraid, which gave us a wonderful opportunity to share their world for a brief time one beautiful afternoon in Southern Utah.