I can’t ever begin to count how many times over the years I’ve heard the saying “choose your battles wisely.” I think as we all get older and more seasoned at life you realize this is a critical lesson to learn. But in the meantime we all dive headfirst into choices that in hindsight probably weren’t best fork in the road to take.

Last week was brutally cold on the range and I’m not even saying that as a girl who’s spent the last 14 years in the tropics and up to this point have been nearly hypothermic when it got down to 68 degrees. It was just bone chilling, biter cold. I’ll go out on a limb and give it credit for being in the upper 30’s which in and of itself isn’t a big deal until you factor in the whipping winds that tear through the valley and assault everything in it. Including me. Including the horses.

It was another long drive out to the very southern borders of the Onaqui range where the drifts of snow are still prominent and make it look like a crafty way of abstract painting the sandy desert white. The roads were clear and the skies were filled with valley haze and brooding clouds sat on top of the surrounding mountains. The low-lying sage was rustling and small dust devils occasionally blew by.

I had a long walk of nearly a mile out into the middle of nowhere desert before I finally found the whole herd together milling about and unsettled. The winds always seem to get the horses aggravated and they stampede and spar in a haphazard and relatively disorganized fashion compared to their normal behavior. This day they were all split up in bands like usual, but staying in relatively close proximity. The soft light provided for stunning backdrop shooting in any direction and I tried to take advantage of it as long as I could keep feelings in my fingers.

The image above is a part of a much a larger set which is a great example of choices. Even horses have them.

The bay stallion on the left of the frame was resting seemingly peacefully in the middle of his band as was Dash, the roan stallion on the right of the frame (OQ220brS). I didn’t notice anything except that the bay all of the sudden became very alert with a slight tilt of his head and his ears perked forward. I was distracted by a younger stallion in the group so I wasn’t too focused on his band stallion but noticed the younger stallion shift his attention. The bay took all of two or three steps and then bolted right in front of me where the Dash came out to accept the challenge.

To his credit, Dash could have ended the fight a lot worse than he did. Although the photos look dramatic, he only gave his challenger a meaningful nip on the cheek and when the bay stallion faltered and fell at his feet he didn’t push, Dash simply waited for him to get back up where they had one final head shaking exchange before each returned to their families.

In hindsight I’m sure the bay stallion realized his poor choices as he was laying at Dash’s feet and maybe in the future he will think a little longer before he tries to pick that battle again.

Photos below are some of the highlights from the rest of the sequence – beginning to end. Enjoy!

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