The Onaqui herd has roamed near Dugway Proving Ground for decades with little public notice. But more and more, the horses' solitude has been challenged by growing numbers of recreationists, gawkers and photo buffs. (Photo: KSL-TV)

Utah’s Onaqui herd wild horses draw crowds


TOOELE COUNTY — Wild mustangs have been embroiled in controversy across the West for decades. But in spite of all the political wrangling, there’s one thing most people would likely agree on: wild horses are beautiful.

Increasingly, they’ve become the focus for photographers and other horse-lovers who venture out into the Utah’s West Desert.

“I’m fascinated with them and how they survive out here,” said Al Perry, as he sighted a large herd of horses through the viewfinder on his camera. “They go about their business without concern about me or others in the area.”

Perry, a retiree from Indiana, was photographing the Onaqui herd that ranges across desert mountains and valleys near the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground.

“I counted them last night and we had about 155 out here,” said Jim Schnepel of the Wild Horses of America Foundation. “That’s kind of atypical of wild horse groups.”

As the unusually large group of horses clustered into one easily photographed bunch, several groups of people arrived, most carrying cameras.

Author Susan Imhoff Bird is working on a book about the living symbols of the Wild West.

“I am writing about the wild horses and the passion that it stirs within us, as humans,” she said.

Schnepel expressed similar sentiments as he gazed at the herd.

“It’s just something in me,” he said. “I just love them deep down.”

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