Ever since I first heard that there were still wild horses running around in Shannon County, Missouri I wanted to check them out. It took me a few years to actually do it but last weekend I set out to find them.
It wasn't the best weather, rainy, overast...and it stormed a few days prior so hindsight - (Although I loved the soft light & fog) I would make sure it won't be as yucky when you go because being wet for half the day wasn't very fun. I'll touch more on that part of the story later.
There are quite a few places to check out so I used my tablet and google maps to locate the spots. I actually had cell service in Eminence so it's best to start off there!
The Shawnee Creek Herd
Highway V & Prarie Hollow Rd.
I first went to check out this spot as it's the easiest to find and you can see the clearings on your left shortly after a "wild horse" road sign. It's hard to miss once you know what you are looking for. There is no need to turn off Highway V so just drive slow until you see the pastures. Don't turn onto Prarie Hollow Rd. as it's actually someone's driveway - and it's a loooooooooong one and a pain to get into, out of, or even turn around in. I, unfortunately, I learned this the hard way. After I searched high and low and even walked the tree line and into the woods to try and find any signs that the herd moved through the area recently....I gave up after about an hour. It isn't a huge area, I was able to find some horse poop and 'disturbed grass' but other than that no horses. The grass was also waist high and a pain to walk through. It's quite the trek from the one side of the pasture to the woods, and along the treeline. So, word of advice- Bring tall boots & bug spray. The nats were horrible.
The Broadfoot Herd
County rd. 235
Take 19 north to County Rd. 205 which forks RIGHT into County Rd. 206
You will come to another fork - go LEFT and you're on County Rd. 203 and this will take you to County Rd. 235
This place is off the beaten path but I made it in my little Mitsubishi Lancer just fine. The roads are gravel but as long as you go slow, pay attention to where you are driving, as well as the condition of the roads you should be alright.
County Rd. 235 comes to an end at a giant pasture with the road around it. There is a little place for camping and trail riding. You can drive further into the park and the road circles the field so if you keep following it you can eventually drive out. Again, no horses to be seen but I did find more poop. I spent about another hour searching and circling the area but it began to rain so I threw in the towel at this location and went to try for the next one.
Rocky Creek Herd
County Road NN - 522
I'd give you directions to this place but I'm not sure I actually ended up finding it. I went running through some wet field that looked more like a swamp and I never found "Klepzig Mill". It's located off of County Rd. NN - 522 and there should be an old shed on the left after the mill and it opens to some fields on the right - but I never saw the mill or the shed. I did see fields, which I don't think were the right ones. The street signs were also missing and I also had no reception so after spending another hour and a half searching for Klepzig Mill. I decided it was just time for me to leave and cut my losses because it would be dark soon.
So, I struck out with the Rocky Creek Herd. I never found the horses or even the pasture. I did come across a really pretty creek with some little waterfalls though and had fun taking some photos there!
Yes, I drove 2 hours away from home and found no wild horses to take pictures of... after spending an entire day searching for them. Honestly, I had prepared for it but I was still a bit disappointed -- It won't stop me from trying again - but this isn't where my story ends!!
Driving home it got super foggy and I stopped to take a picture of this cool bridge I found. It was getting dark now so the entire atmosphere was just perfect for capturing the mood!
Weird fact, I actually found some horse poop at the foot of that wooden bridge. I found it really weird someone would actually want to ride their horse onto this bridge because it is sketchy. Honestly, sketchy doesn't even begin to describe it - over half the boards are dry rotted and flex when you step on them.
I stayed at the bridge for about a half-hour. Walking on it, taking photos, and admiring the overall spooky atmosphere. Once again, I got into my car and started heading home. I was about a half-hour from Eminence, somewhere around Echo Bluff State Park on Highway 19, and had just crossed over the bridge when something-s caught the corner of my eye.
HORSES. 3 Gray. Horses. On the flippin' side of the road!- I pull over.
It was now after 8pm and the light was barely holding on. I had taken off my rubber boots because the "swamp" I entered earlier completely soaked my feet and filled my shoes with water.
So here I am barefoot, trying desperately to get my boots back onto my feet and they just will NOT budge! At this point, I give up on shoes altogether and I begin haphazardly messing with my camera settings attempting to take some - any photos that I possibly can at my car before they run off spooked by some passing vehicles.
The horses trot off along the road, right back to the bridge I was just at. They climb down a rocky hill to the side of the bridge and pass underneath it. I follow along behind. Very slowly I might add as I literally still had no shoes on and the gravel was murdering my feet. Being sure to keep my distance (I have a 200mm Telephoto lens) I continue taking some photos of the herd who were kind enough to stop and let me photograph them in a small parking lot near a river entrance.
After standing and letting me take photos of them for a while they get bored and make their way to a little spot in the parking lot where they begin to chow down, still tolerating me taking their photos and even posing for me again.
The horse on the far left was the Stallion. He was quite a bit bigger than the other two. The middle horse was the mare. I just loved her long-dreaded mane and dapples.
& The third horse was much smaller than the other two definitely the youngster of the group.
I'm assuming these horses are from or are the Echo Bluff Herd.--- CORRECTION: They are the Round Springs Herd! I never even bothered to think about checking them out because I didn't see any directions or have any inkling on where I would even begin to find them! But after a day of looking and driving home without seeing any horses there...they...were. It was so dark out and humid... I'm extremely proud of how my Canon 6D and my f2.8 200mm telephoto lens handled the environment. It did struggle to focus towards the end because of how dark it was and the fog set in even heavier. I had to switch it to manual focus because AF was just wasting my time and what little light I had left. These photos hold a special place in my heart and serve as a reminder of an adventure that I will never forget!