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Patagonia’s Last Wild Horses

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Since 1540, horses have adapted to the raw and arid lands of Patagonia, an extensive and empty region increasingly affected by human intervention. Now, there are few locations sufficiently ‘wild’ for these horses.

To find them, on horse or on foot, is a challenging task, but to see them — to observe the behaviour of a horse as a wild animal — is an incredible experience, completely different to visiting horses in a ranch or on a farm.

Characteristic of Patagonia is rough weather conditions: strong winds and very low temperatures. Despite this, the horses are able to survive with scarce food and water. One can see how the stallion protects the herd, and how the matriarch drives and guides the others.

The horses search for a shelter to protect them from a strong storm.
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The horses search for a shelter to protect them from a strong storm.

The horses mane flutters, a sign of the strong Patagonian winds.
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The horses mane flutters, a sign of the strong Patagonian winds.

Food is not plentiful: sometimes tough bushes are the only option.
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Food is not plentiful: sometimes tough bushes are the only option.

Once a year there is a native community that comes out to gather the wild herds and get some of them for meat.
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Once a year there is a native community that comes out to gather the wild herds and get some of them for meat.

Patagonian gaucho trying to drive a herd of wild horses to the ranch, El Calafate, Santa Cruz province, Argentina.
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Patagonian gaucho trying to drive a herd of wild horses to the ranch, El Calafate, Santa Cruz province, Argentina.

In possibly one of his earliest interactions with a human, the stallion sends the mares back to safety, and approaches to assess the risk.
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In possibly one of his earliest interactions with a human, the stallion sends the mares back to safety, and approaches to assess the risk.

To understand the lives of the horses, it is necessary to follow them for days, even at night.
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To understand the lives of the horses, it is necessary to follow them for days, even at night.

Published on September 6, 2016
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