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wild horses blaze print

Wild in the Sage unveiled by Deb Lee Carson.

Anticipation and Energy

wild horse blaze medora

Basecamp for the wild horse lovers in Medora, the Western Edge Bookstore. Owner Doug Ellison is a featured writer for Beautiful Badlands. 

A low-key, friendly group kept the sound of the house humming. Hosts Doug and Mary Ellison buzzed about greeting newcomers, serving up coffee and bottles of water.

wild horses medora

At least three states gathered to photograph and share experiences of wild horses

The dozen or so people from Minnesota, North Dakota and Montana introduced themselves to one another, chatted a bit about their background: ranching, farming, photography, real estate.

However, that was not why they were gathered.  They were excited to get out into the nearby South Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  The entrance was just a few blocks away, on the other side of the small town Medora.

“We’ll take our time,” Deb announced to the group.  “If we see something along the way, we’ll stop and photograph it.”

Blaze a wild horse from the Badlands

The group headed out to the park in a half-dozen pickups and utility vehicles.  “It’s going to be windy out there on Buck Hill, so be prepared,” she said.

Their mission: memorialize a familiar and never-forgotten resident: Blaze, a 15-year-old wild stallion, one of the wild horses at the National Park.  He died one year earlier on about March 19, 2017.

Though Blaze was the star attraction of the Saturday afternoon event, the lead character was Deb Lee Carson, an internationally famous photographer and chronicler of America’s Wild Horses – a lover of Blaze. 

There is no more passionate lover of horses than Deb. Though someone may choose to dispute that characterization, it would be a challenge to find anyone who has worked for more than three decades with colleges and universities, national animal groups, biologists, parks, and ranchers to study and promote horses – especially America’s wild horses.

From her website she says, “I am committed to capturing the life of horses and their timeless and compelling stories. My work focuses on the freedom a horse represents to the human spirit, the strength and symbolism the horse brings to the viewer, and the ability of the horse to heal those who are broken.”

Click here to get bowled over by Deb Lee Carson’s body of work.

My photographs have been about exploring the vastness of the natural landscape and capturing the essence of the life of horses. On a formal level, these images are about light, space, form, movement, and scale. On an informal level, my work is about seeing the everyday beauty in nature……about exploring time, place, memory and change. My genuine admiration and respect for the horse in relation to their environment and place in time are expressed in the final work of art. Deb Lee Carson

To Buck Hill

On this cold, slightly damp March weekend, the caravan straggled through the entry to the park. It was not long before they bunched up again to photograph a couple of spry bison scampering across the hills. 

 

wild horses blaze medora buck hill

Headed to the top of Buck Hill.

 

Then, it was off to Buck Hill, one of the key landmarks where Deb and Blaze carried on their relationship.  The group climbed the hill, Doug Ellison carrying a special photographic print to be unveiled. 

The group gathered at the top of the hill, discussing their encounters with bands of wild horses in the Park.   The focus of the moment, though, was Blaze.

What is your experience with the wild horses? Find out why Blaze is key to the wild horse lovers of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Find out more about North Dakota’s Badlands horses here

Stay tuned for Part 2, “My spirit horse” coming next week. Add your email address in the upper right of this page to get a notice when Part 2 is ready to read.

The wild horses, or feral horses who call the South Unit home, are a favorite attraction of visitors. 

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