When I first met Heather, I was in the park, keeping to myself as always. As soon as she introduced herself to me I knew this girl had a heart of gold. After finding her on Facebook, I noticed that she has a true passion for documenting the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and has a great knack for remembering the details, facts and history of the wild horses.
While I was a board member for North Dakota Badlands Horse, Heather was vital as eyes in the field for the organization. She was so beneficial (Her along with others) for helping us keep up to date on what the herds were doing, and what new babies had been born.
Heather's dedication to this herd is hard to ignore, as her social media is updated throughout the year with information and details regarding the wild horses.
As a fellow photographer, artist and friend, I am happy to interview Heather for Badlands Gypsy, to help bring more awareness to these wild horses and what spiritual benefits these horses can bring us.
Heather owns Memories Captured in Time Photography, and can be found on Facebook and on Instagram.
How did you learn about the horses?
My parents visited Medora and were hiking on Ridgeline trail and spotted a band of wild horses. After I learned more about the horses through North Dakota Badlands Horse, I learned that they had seen Gary’s band. I still remember how excited I was when my mom called me and told me “Heather, there really are wild horses here!”
A few days later, I traveled to the park with my mom and we saw a few bands and I was just hooked. I was so drawn to the region and the beauty that surrounded the park that I am just always happy to visit.
What is your favorite part about the Badlands?
My favorite part is the wildlife that roams in the badlands. I care deeply for animals, so when I discovered there were wild horses in the park, I was instantly drawn to it. The badlands themselves are just so unique and beautiful, they are so rugged and unique that there really isn’t anything to compare them to.
Why do you feel a connection with the wild horses?
I feel connected to the wild horses because of their herd structures. I love how they interact and grow with each other, protecting each other’s foals and building their own relationships within their herds. I am drawn to them because they just live in the moment. They don’t stress about the future or worry about what has happened, they focus on the now and I find that so peaceful and harmonious. These horses are such amazing creatures, because they are so capable of adapting to change and harsh conditions that are thrown at them. These horses are able to live through the hot summers, with temperatures reaching up to 115 degrees, and winters where the windchills can reach into -60 degrees below zero! They are so hardy and strong, fully capable of handling whatever life throws at them.
What band of horses is your favorite, and why?
It’s really hard to pick just one band of horses as my favorite, because they are all so unique, diverse and have their own personalities. Teton’s band was the first band I saw when I visited the park, and I was so amazed by them. The babies were playing while their mothers grazed and the foals would only stop playing for two things: a quick snack or to take a nap. It was just so peaceful and surreal. But the band that truly stole my heart was Copper’s band.
Copper just speaks to my soul and when I see him interacting with his herd, specifically his foal Cody in 2017, I just felt this strong pull on my heart strings, and I knew he was my favorite band stallion and band in the park. Copper really has overcome some huge setbacks between loosing his band, then having one mare for almost a year- then growing his band back up to its current size. He has over come so much, all because he refused to just give up and settle. I find that pretty motivating.
What spiritual connection do you feel with the horses and the region?
The horses just embody this peace and tranquility that helps me release negativity and stress in my own life. Just taking in the scene with the badlands, the grass, the horses, the babies, all of it gives me the best feeling of release and healing. After every visit to the park, I feel as though I can think so much more clearly and it’s like I can finally breathe again
How did you get started in photography?
Ever since I was a child with a little disposable camera, I have loved taking photos. My mom gave me a point and shoot camera and I learned so much with that little camera. When I was little, I took so many photographs of my pets it was ridiculous. After finding my passion for these wild horses, I was able to purchase my first DSLR and really dive into the technical aspects of photography. I learn more and more about photography every day.
What do you feel your soul is drawn to?
My soul is drawn to the peace and quiet of the back country. How peaceful nature is without the buzz of the cities in the background. My soul is happiest when I am with nature, just enjoying the beautiful creation that is our wilderness and the wildlife that comes with it. I just feel so at peace and balanced when I am sitting somewhere in the outdoors. No matter if it is the badlands of North Dakota, the woods of Minnesota listening to the wind blow through the trees or next to a beautiful secluded waterfall just listening to the water shower down the rocks. My soul is drawn to the outdoors, where I can be at peace with nature and just take it all in.
What is your motivation for photographing the horses?
My parents would volunteer at Triple H Miniature Horse Rescue, and that is where my love for horses really began. After I became friends with the owners I would go and volunteer myself and help clean the pens. I would also help them find homes for the horses by photographing the horses that were up for adoption and posting them on social media and other outlets. I fell in love with a horse named Hawkeye, who would follow me around and would always be getting into mischief. He was the horse that made me fall in love with photographing the horses and I will always be grateful for the relationship I had with him.