Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Landscape, Language, Teaching, Wildness, Beauty, Imagination

Mustangs and Music—The Wild Mustangs of San Luis Valley


Mama and foal mustangs, San Luis Valley All photos of trip ©Wynn Wink-Moran


Wynn and I headed north to Colorado to pick up Luke who was on his way back from the ranch. It was a lovely drive through the San Luis Valley. While we are very fortunate where we live to have access to the outdoors (i.e. long runs and walks), it still felt fabulous during these weeks in quarantine to get out.

A remote valley in northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado, we took the two-lane road through miles and miles of sharp stone cliffs and vast landscape. We drove through the wide-open country and I listened to Wynn sing along to her favorite musicals.

This was my first time through San Luis, CO. It’s website reads, “San Luis, the oldest town in Colorado, was established on April 5, 1851, with a present population of approximately 750. San Luis is predominately Hispanic, with strong ties to Spain’s religious, cultural, and artistic traditions. Once a part of four Spanish land grants decreed by the King of Spain, the town’s adobe architecture and classic Spanish town layout retain the texture of the historical and cultural influences which shaped the early communities of Southern Colorado. The surrounding area is mainly a farming and agriculture area.” There is a definite feel of stepping into a historic and weighty past here.


As we drove the remote two-lane road, which reminded me a lot of driving to the ranch, a car coming toward us blinked their headlights. I assumed that it was to let me know there was a patrol officer ahead and checked my speed. Several miles passed and no highway patrol anywhere. When the next car coming toward us miles later also blinked their lights, I wondered what might be happening and soon discovered.

In this part of Colorado, blinking headlights means, “Look out for wild mustangs on the road ahead.” Considering the history of the Spaniards, who brought horses to this area, this felt to be a blending of past and present.

Wynn and I slowed to a crawl and the dark swirl of shapes shifted to become a mosaic of horses and foals.

One little one particularly captured our hearts with its scampering about. Wynn took photos and we imagined the story, one the may resonate with parents in quarantine around the world.

“Come on, Mom. Let’s play. We’ve been munching grass all day. Come on, come on!”

Mama and foal

“Puh-lease let’s play! Please, please, please, please!

“Maybe if I crawl on your back, you’ll want to play!

“Wait! There’s someone over there. They’re watching us. Mommy, stand still. Let me hide. I am one with you.”

“We’re leaving? You’re not going without me! Let me walk in front of you—right under your feet.

“Well, okay. If we must. No playing? Maybe later? Huh, Mom? Maybe later? Mom? Mom? Mom?”

As Wynn and I drove away, the horses drifted south. I kept checking the rearview mirror until they were a distant dark smudge. Wynn turned on the music and again sang along.

We drove north amidst mustangs and music. I thought again of the poem:

I shall wear turquoise and diamonds,
And a straw hat that doesn’t suit me
And I shall spend my social security on
white wine and carrots,
And sit in my alleyway of my barn
And listen to my horses breathe.
I will sneak out in the middle of a summer night
And ride the old bay gelding,
Across the moonstruck meadow
If my old bones will allow
And when people come to call, I will smile and nod
As I walk past the gardens to the barn
and show instead the flowers growing
inside stalls fresh-lined with straw.
I will shovel and sweat and wear hay in my hair
as if it were a jewel
And I will be an embarrassment to ALL
Who will not yet have found the peace in being free
to have a horse as a best friend
A friend who waits at midnight hour
With muzzle and nicker and patient eyes
For the kind of woman I will be
When I am old.
-Author Patty Barnhart

Light ©Wynn Wink-Moran

Author: Dawn Wink

Dawn Wink is a writer and educator whose work explores language, landscape, wildness, beauty, and imagination.

35 thoughts on “Mustangs and Music—The Wild Mustangs of San Luis Valley

  1. Dear Dawn,
    This Dewdrops was particularly precious to me. These horses are having such a hard time in our world right now.
    But they seemed so gloriously appropriate and healthy in your photos.
    My neighbor down the dirt road “aways” has adopted three wild mustangs from the Southern Ute Tribe
    in our neighborhood. The tribal range cannot sustain the numbers of horses they have right now and they are looking for adoptive homes. They are lovely animals.
    Thank you again for your Dewdrops.
    connie (Durand)


  2. Amazing photos….what a great moment to share with your daughter!
    Love the poem

  3. Thank you for such a lovely piece. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  4. Hey there!
    Wynn’s photos are amazing! Really beautiful–please tell her.
    Sounds like it was a fun trip too and looks like you are doing well. Yay!
    Love to the family,


    • Bethany!
      I’ve been thinking about you so much! Thanks so much for connecting. Yes, aren’t Wynn’s photos just stunning? I did tell her what you said. We’re all well.
      Thinking about you and yours and sending much love!

  5. Thank you for sharing those wonderful photographs Dawn. I often travel through the San Luis Valley and never realized that wild Mustangs resided there. I once lived in Nevada, back in the day when mustangs were a common sight. James Anhalt


    • Jim, thanks so very much for connecting. How we were fortunate enough to experience this amazes me. Such a blessing. Nevada with wild mustangs – I instantly visualized them running across the landscape. Thanks so much for sharing this.
      Take good care,

  6. Dearest Dawn, Wynn has captured scenes ready for next year’s calendar, just amazing shots! Before I turned 12, 1968, the family made a trip to Denver and the Air Force Academy then crossing over to the San Luis Valley and camped at the Great Sand Dunes Natl Monument. Imagine being from Texas and waking up to snow visible on the mountains in August, what a concept! So we must have traveled the same road along the Sangre de Cristos, soaking in the ancient magic, then on down to buy a jar of famous Questa Honey, Taos, Sante Fe. I’ve been since marked forever with the wonder and enchantment of southern CO and northern NM. What a trip that was! Thank you for sharing, Love and Hugs, Dan

    • Dearest Dan, thank you ever so much for your beyond-beautiful card! I will write back. Just please know what a difference it made. I agree about Wynn’s photography! What a perfect age for such a magical trip for you. Questa! That was my first time through there and I’ve hear the name so often. Absolutely loved getting to experience the place itself. Thank you so very much for sharing this trip and memories. Beautiful, all!
      Love and hugs,

  7. Love it! I had no idea there were wild mustangs wandering around the valley!

  8. Thank you for sharing your beautiful journey…it opened up my heart and I felt the air rush in.

  9. Thank you, dear Dawn, for sharing this amazing experience and the wonderful poem. I just wish I had been able to also hear Wynn’s singing! XOXOXO

    • Dear Liz, oh, so glad that you enjoyed and thanks so much for sharing the trip with us! I just love that poem, too. Life goals. Wynn has a gorgeous singing voice and I believe she knows the lyrics to every song in every musical ever. Wish you could, too! XOXO

  10. What a beautiful drive Dawn!

  11. How simply beautiful, Dawn! What an amazing experience to take a road trip and soak-in the natural beauty of a town with such rich history. Absolutely amazing wild Mustangs conjured images for me that provoke a reason to travel more to small towns in New Mexico and Colorado, Wyoming and South or North Dakota. My husband and I were just talking about a drive we took with our children to South Dakota when they were in elementary school, and out son attended a discus throwing camp in Custer. We immediately felt relaxed and were in awe of the clean air and welcoming landscape around South Dakota. We have always planned to buy a small cabin around Custer since that trip. These images really foster some magnificent memories for me of spending time with family and exploring a state we had not ventured into before. During the planning of that trip, our funds were extremely tight yet we made it work for our son to take part in his athletic the opportunity. I took our daughters to a lake everyday, and we went swimming. They met new friends on the lake and we picnicked, while father and son practiced throwing discus in the heat of the July summer sun and worked on techniques. Our three now grown children, ask us every summer, “When are we going to take another trip back to South Dakota, and when are you and dad buying a cabin around Custer?” Thanks for your consistent wisdom and insight into the world, Dawn, your kindness and lived experiences are always inspiring and make me have hope for the world!

    Be well and safe,


    • Tara,
      What a beautiful time and memories to share! Thank you so very much for sharing all here. We drive right by the Custer exit on our way to the ranch. Such a gorgeous place! I loved learning of your time there with your family. Bravo to you for making it happen even amidst tight funds. That takes so much to do. And look at the wonderful memories created! Oh, does this make my heart smile and glow. Thank you so very much for sharing the beauty of you and your family!
      Love and hugs,

  12. Dear Dawn and Wynn, I love the pictures and words of the little one. You two are the best traveling companions. And I love the words of the song/poem. 💕💕Diane

  13. Love love love to you and WynnLove,Cathy Yaap

  14. Beautiful post. Love the photos. Aren’t we lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the world.

  15. Love this so much. We’re you running with two dogs this morning ?

  16. I’ve always enjoyed driving the back roads of Colorado. Thanks for the amazing photos & the wonderful commentary. Hugs to you & all of your extended family. Happy everyone is staying healthy.

  17. WOW !! You and Wynn had a magnificent “viewing” on your trip. Unbelievable to have been there at the right time to see the horses. Loved your story!! Sometimes I watch old westerns just to watch horses!! (:) Powerful and beautiful creatures…
    Stay safe…stay well…stay sane !

    • Barb, love this! I can’t count the number of movies I’ve watched where I tear up watching the horses. Literally. Even the thought sometimes does it… True.
      Thanks so much for writing – GREAT to talk today!

  18. DAWN! i love this!!


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