Wilderness Causes

The free roaming mustang population is managed and protected by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) There is a lot of controversy surrounding the methods the federal government uses to manage the wild population numbers. We recently watched the powerful movie titled “Unbranded”. It really is an eye-opening movie and addresses the fact that while the Mustang population is increasing there isn’t enough resources and land to support them. There are people who will argue that point.  The BLM has put many of the wild horses up for adoption  to help compensate for the land shortage. However, many horses are now living in temporary holding areas awaiting adoption. As we continue to get this blog up and running we would really like to begin doing some fundraisers for the wild horses.  Wild horses have been a passion of Maggie’s since she was a small child!

Riding with the wild horses was an amazing experience. We rode on BLM land near Challis, Idaho.


Wild horses generally gather in groups of 3 to 20 animals. A stallion leads the group which consists of mares and young foals. When the young males become colts they are driven away by the stallions. The colts then roam with the other young males until they can gather their own group of females. Searching for these herds while on horseback is quite the adventure. All of our pictures are taken with the Olympus Tough camera. We also have some videos on our Facebook page using the Go Pro.


Challis is about a two and a half hour drive from where we live. To make the most out of our experience we camp at the trailhead and spend two days searching for and riding with the wild horses. Since this area is all owned by the BLM there aren’t actual trail signs or a specific plan we have for riding. We saddle up and just ride. We have been fortunate enough to visit this area a few times. However, our very first visit to this place was the most memorable.


You know its going to be a good ride when you see herds of wild horses on the drive in to the trailhead. We arrived later in the evening and after setting up camp we took a short evening ride. We saw several small herds of wild horses out grazing. Most of them were off in the distance. However there was one herd that ran out right in front of us on the trail and we rode along side them for a short while. It was so cool to get that close to a herd. The next day we did a lot more exploring and rode up high. The scenery here is beautiful as you get an overlook of the land. We saw herds of horses in the distance and also some deer and lots of antelope. There was one part of this adventure that will be forever branded into our memories.DSCN7069

As we were riding along, we noticed a dark mass off in the far distance. It was way up high and really stood out.  We decided to ride towards it to figure out what it was. It was a climb!  We stopped at one point and pulled out the binoculars. Through the binoculars we could tell it was a black horse standing alone. We thought this was odd since horses usually travel in groups. He was standing there very still, so we decided we needed to continue to investigate. As we approached the black mustang, we quickly discovered why he was alone and why he was standing so still. The poor horse had gotten his leg caught in the fence wire.    He had obviously been there for a while because his ribs were showing and there was definite signs of dehydration with his sides being sucked in. It really was a devastating site. While it’s amazing to ride with horses that are solely on their own, taking care of themselves, and living a free life, it is sad when you come to a horse that is in this condition. We knew we couldn’t leave him in this state. One of the riders we were with jumped off his horse with a pair of wire cutters and attempted to approach the black mustang. Since this  was a wild horse, this was a very difficult task. He immediately started rearing up, bearing his teeth and striking which was only getting him more tangled and hurt in the  wire. After several attempts, the rider we were with, got close enough to cut the wire. He only went in for a quick cut before the mustang started to rear and strike again. Unfortunately the wire cut wasn’t enough to free the horse, so he had to go back in for another cut.  He couldn’t get to the other side of the T-post to cut the wire there because the horse was crazy with fear .  He did manage to free the horse, however the wire, with a t-post still connected to his front left foot, was dragging about 10 feet or more behind this horse.   The horse took off with the t-post in tote.   DSCN7078 He stopped to graze and off he went!  It was heartbreaking to know he still had that wire and T-post on his foot, but at least he could get to water and food.   As soon as we got home from this trip we contacted the BLM and let them know about the situation, hoping that they would be able to find this poor horse before he got stuck again or something worse happened.  It has haunted us since!   We never did hear back from the BLM about this stallion.  Praying that the BLM went to help this horse!

Getting to the Trailhead

From Arco, Idaho: Travel North on Hwy 93 for approximately 60 miles. Turn left onto Spar Canyon Road and travel for approximately 15 miles to E. Fork Road. Turn left and travel about 3 miles. Make another left on Road Creek Rd. and travel 6 miles to Horse Basin Creek.

From Challis, Idaho: Travel approximately 18 miles on Hwy 75 and turn left on E. Fork Road. Travel about 6 miles and turn left onto Road Creek Rd. Follow this road for 6 miles to Horse Basin Creek.

Wilderness Journeys

All photos taken with Olympus Tough Camera

Massacre Rocks is a state park located in American Falls, Idaho. It is a state park with a lot of history. Massacre Rocks is a famous spot along the Oregon Trail. Wagons in route of the Oregon Trail travelled over twelve-hundred miles from Missouri. It is said that many considered their trek through the Idaho desert as one of the most difficult parts of the journey. Unfortunately today, the interstate cuts through part of the Massacre Rocks State Park.  Massacre Rocks was given its names because there are large boulders in the area that created narrow passage ways through the rocks. Emigrants feared a possible ambush by Native Americans through these passageways because only one wagon could fit through at a time. These passageways were termed “Gate of Death” or “Devil’s Gate”. In 1862, five wagons clashed with Native Americans and ten emigrants died in the fight. If you want more of a historical background on Massacre Rocks State Park you may visit Pathways of Pioneers or Legends of America.

Given the historical significance of the area and the fact that we were looking for a new area to get our horses in shape for the riding season, we decided that riding Massacre Rocks State Park would be an interesting adventure. We did our research, found a park map that outlined the trails that were “horse accessible”, and we mapped out a route using the Suunto Watch. We traveled the hour and a half to the state park, paid our visitor fee and parked the horse trailer at a boat ramp. Yes it was a weird spot to park a horse trailer and the freeway was buzzing to our left. It wasn’t quite what we had in mind and definitely was too populated for our taste. We decided to make the best of it, saddled up and carried on our way. At about a mile into our trek we were stopped by a park ranger who told us that Massacre Rocks State Park does not allow horses in the park. There were no signs stating horses weren’t allowed. We pleaded our case, stating we found a state park map that reinforced we had every right to ride these trails. The park ranger reiterated that horses have been banned from the area for some time because they ruin the trails. We reluctantly obliged, turned around and headed back to the truck. It was our first time ever being kicked of a trail. We ate lunch at the boat ramp, knowing we needed to squeeze in a ride that day.

Maggie had fortunately ridden the area a while back and we ended up finding the place she had ridden. It was located on the other side of the Snake River that runs through Massacre Rocks State Park. It was a section of land not owned by the state park. This area offered many trails and services horses and unfortunately dirt bikes. We got back on our horses and picked a trail and just rode. There are many trails that wind through the desert and it is a sandy, hilly area. Be careful though because there are large sections of the land that are fenced in. Even though our day hadn’t gone as planned it was still an adventure and we got to do some exploring which is always fun. We actually went back to this spot the next weekend and explored even further. With the sand and hill climbing it is a good spot to get your horses in shape and surprisingly we didn’t come across any dirt bikers while we were on the trail. We only met them in the parking lot.

Directions to Massacre Rocks State Park (NO HORSES ALLOWED)

From Idaho Falls  head south on I-15 towards Pocatello, follow I-15 for about 45 miles. Take exit 72 for I-86 west toward Twin Falls.  Continue on I-86 W for 33 miles. Take exit 28 towards Massacre Rocks State Park. Turn right toward Park Ln. There is visitor station when you enter the park and the park fee is $5.

Directions to Horse Approved Riding Area


From Idaho Falls  head south on I-15 towards Pocatello, follow I-15 for about 45 miles. Take exit 72 for I-86 west toward Twin Falls.  Continue on I-86 W for 22 miles. Take exit 40 for ID-39 toward American Falls/Aberdeen. Turn right onto ID-39 N stay on this road for about 3 miles. Then turn left onto W Lamb Weston Road, turn left onto Borah Rd, then turn left onto S. Lake Channel Rd. Follow this road for about 3 miles you will see two big turn outs on either side of the road. In these turnouts you will see some dirt bike trailers. We parked on the turnout to the left of the road and explored the trails on that side.

Trail Maps

1st Trip

2nd Trip

Products We Use

The weather throughout our whole summer in Idaho and Wyoming can often be very unpredictable. We can start out a riding day being very sunny with blue skies and in a flash the weather can change to a downpour thunderstorm. We have been caught in many rainstorms, but we don’t let them keep us from riding. Rain or shine, we are out on the trail searching for those amazing views.

We’ve even been known to saddle up right in the middle of  big rainstorms.

One of our most memorable downpours was a ride through Yellowstone Park. We were taking an out-of-town friend on a tour of our trails when the storm hit. As we were sitting having our lunch, we had a flash flood actually carry our food away. The storm hit so hard and  fast we didn’t have time to take cover or grab our things.  We got pelted with hail and some serious downpour all the way back to the truck for 9 miles.

So how do we keep dry during these downpours? One of the major lifesavers is our Outback Rain Slickers. This is a full length waterproof, unisex duster. It has a detachable cape, rear saddle gusset, adjustable leg straps, dual snap closure, and an adjustable drawstring waistband. Because of these features it keeps us and our saddle dry. The only downside to this coat is that it is a larger coat and can take up room in your saddlebag. Even on the bluest of days we always pack this coat along for the ride. The Outback Rain Slicker has the slick oil exterior and after going through many downpours this tends to wear off. You can buy a Duck Back Dressing through Outback and follow the instructions to help keep your rain slicker waterproof.

If you are looking for more of a lightweight portable duster, we also pack the Outback Park-A-Roo Duster. It is a very convenient duster that has the ability to roll into its own built-in pack. This coat will protect you from the cooler temperatures, wind, and light rain showers. They come in short and long and a variety of colors.

There are also a few other items you may want to consider packing along for the ride in case you get caught in a storm. These are a hat cover, cowboy hats can often get ruined in the rain or lose their shape, waterproof pants, or rain ponchos. No matter what the weather is like, Maggie is always taking pictures. The Olympus Tough Camera is waterproof and has gone through many of our torrential downpours and is still taking its amazing photos. This camera really does stand up to its “Tough” name. In some of our rain pictures, you will see water spots from the rain, which would ruin most cameras. The Tough camera keeps on kicking and after drying out it’s like brand new.

Horse Health & Fitness, Products We Use


Scratches has been a chronic problem for Maggie’s horse Gracie. Scratches can also go by the name of pastern dermatitis, mud fever, or greasy heal. It is a problem that is a bacterial or fungal infection that is found on the horse’s lower limbs. Scratches is more commonly found on lighter colored horses. It is caused by a constant moisture penetrating delicate skin. In Gracie’s case, she often gets scratches when she has a cut on her lower leg. Moisture and bacteria then penetrates the wound. Our weather in Idaho usually leads to a lot of rain during the early summer months which can turn parts of her corral to mud. The mud contains the bacteria or fungus, which is a factor in your horse contracting scratches. Scratches can also be extremely contagious so if another one of your horses has an open wound you might end up with more than one horse having scratches at a time.

Scratches can be very painful for your horse. As the condition progresses, hair is lost, the area becomes thickened and crusted over, and scabs of a yellow watery serum form. This condition is painful to the touch and can often result in it being difficult to treat your horse as your horse may try to kick. So exactly how do you treat your horse if they develop scratches? Like we mentioned Gracie has been a repeated offender of scratches. We have tried many methods to  rid her of this skin condition when it arises. Some of the methods were reasonably priced while others can be quite spendy. People have tried many kinds of remedies to get rid of this such as cellophane encased with sauerkraut or athletes foot cream. Even veterinarians have their own concoction of medications they use. If any of you would like to share what methods you find most helpful please do.

One of the main things to keep in mind when treating a horse with scratches is to keep the area as clean and dry as possible. Any added moisture can result in keeping the area from healing. One of the first things we tried when Gracie would get scratches was cleaning the affected area first with Povidone-Iodine Surgical Scrub and patting the area dry. We would then cover the area in Shapley’s M-T-G and follow up by covering it with Corona. Sometimes this process would be affective in curing the scratches, but it took a lot of dedication. One of the problems with this method was the Corona, because it is a major dirt collector. The more dirt drawn to this area the harder it is to cure. Also getting the area clear of the scabs is a big step in curing this condition. By using these products it didn’t soften the scabs enough, which caused us to do a lot of picking which can make the infection worse. We have also tried using just Vetericyn on the area which can soften the scabs but still wasn’t getting rid of them like we had hoped.

While the two methods above can get rid of the scratches with little cost on your end, Gracie ended up getting a case of scratches at one point that we could not get rid of with the above methods. So Maggie tried the more expensive route since it seemed like the condition was getting out of hand. Maggie decided it was time for her to take a trip to the vet. Gracie ended up spending two weeks at the vet. During this time they shaved the hair surrounding the infected area. She got intravenous steroids, was scrubbed and cleaned daily, and then vet wrapped to keep any dirt or moisture out. While this was an extreme case, it was also a very expensive solution costing over a thousand dollars.

Since then Gracie suffered from scratches again. We took all the things we have learned over her past cases and found a new product that worked really well and was also way less expensive then a trip to the vet. The product is called Fungasol, which is made with tea tree oil. It comes in three different products, a shampoo, ointment, and spray. We have only tried the shampoo and ointment, but have had such success with those two products we are sure the spray wouldn’t disappoint. Fungasol can also be known to treat other skin conditions such as rain rot, girth itch, or ringworm. When treating scratches, shaving the affected area is something that isn’t a must but it really can help in speeding up the healing. The first thing we did with this product was clean the area with the Fungasol Shampoo. We let that sit and soak into the area for about 5-10 minutes before we washed it off. We then patted the area dry or let it air dry before slathering it with the Fungasol Ointment. This ointment is better than Corona in the fact that it doesn’t attract as much dirt and it really helps to soften the scabs which makes for a less painful and much easier removal. We repeated this process once a day. After cleaning the area we found that this was the best time to remove any of the scabs that are now not attached after being treated with the ointment. After removing any of the scabs that we no longer attached we again covered her in the ointment. We repeated this process until she was cured. I believe it took Gracie about a week to completely heal.