Washington State's thick forests aren't a place you'd expect to find herds of wild horses. However, there are actually two bands roaming the woods around Silver Lake, near the town of Castle Rock. Established in the 1920s when a pioneer family turned loose their horses, they have become a special part of the community in that area. Over the years, other horses have joined them, and they've bred and divided into two herds of about fifteen horses each, with each presided over by a protective stallion.
The herds have been watched over and maintained carefully for the better part of a century now. The first 50 years, they were cared for by a man named Hank Kaut, and after his passing, Cleon Moen stepped up to become their guardian. Through the years, these men kept track of the herds and sometimes rounded up young horses to be adopted out to qualified homes. The did this in order to keep the herds' size manageable for the forest and to prevent them from becoming a nuisance that would make locals want them removed. As a tribute to their care, the horses remain healthy and loved in their area, wandering among the trees like ghosts, sometimes gracing visitors with a fleeting view before they disappear back into the sun-speckled forest again.
Kristen Bunn and her dad Jeremy (if the names are familiar, it's because they make the wonderful Horse Racks we sell) got a chance to hike through the woods near Silver Lake this spring, in search of the elusive bands. With Kristen's grandfather as their guide, they were treated to what they called an "epic visit" with Shorty's herd.
Below are Kristen's photos, shared with permission. While the horses are accustomed to people stopping to look at them, they are truly feral and will not come close to humans, so she was lucky to get these incredible photos (and an amazing memory for a lifetime!)
It is speculated that most of the horses are Morgan / Draft crosses, and this beautiful dapple grey (above) seems perfectly built for that cross. If you'd like to learn more about the Silver Lake wild horses, check out the website for Friends of Silver lake Wild Horse Herd.
Kristen and her dad hope to make another trip up to Silver Lake in the future to try to spot the horses again. If they do, we hope to see more incredible pictures of these beautiful horses!