One of the many things that surprised me about the ranch was how clean it was. Livestock tend to smell, and even in this arid, high-altitude climate, I had expected the ranch to be fairly odorous. But it was not so. During my entire stay, I never once experienced the pungent smells I had anticipated.
The key, I was told, is simple — just keep the animals healthy, and clean up after them promptly and thoroughly. But it isn’t an easy task when you’re caring for so many animals, and I was impressed with the degree of personal attention the ranchers managed to give each one. Perhaps it was because they were treated more like family members than livestock, but I noticed the animals on the ranch always approached me with more curiosity than caution.
Here, the rancher’s way of life has been handed down for generations. It is practiced with a sense of respect for the past, and of responsibility to the future. Everyone — human and animal — plays a vital role. In the end, I think it is this unity of purpose that makes cowboys and cowgirls such enduring heroes to us all.
The lower photo, a full-resolution crop of the upper photo, reveals the astonishing level of detail the Sigma DP1 Merrill can capture. It also shows at a glance just how healthy and well cared for they are.
For both cowboys and livestock, sheepdogs are as important to ranch life as horses. When Sonny is on his feet, the dogs stand at the ready, eager to work. But as soon as he sits down, they move closer, expressing an affection he gladly returns.
Larry Morin and his horse, Buddy.
I went to visit Larry at the house where he lived with Laura, a horse trainer. He explained how they had rescued Buddy from an abusive owner, and given him a new home. After taking this picture, I watched Laura tenderly grooming Buddy and could sense the strong bond they shared.
The horse is an indisputably beautiful animal — big eyes, long eyelashes, a shiny coat, powerful musculature, and an elegantly flowing mane. And with the Sigma DP1 Merrill, you can move in close and capture them all in amazing detail.
Scott talked to RC, his 8 year-old horse, the whole time I was shooting these photos. I couldn’t make out what he was saying, but RC clearly could, and frequently nodded in what seemed to be wholehearted agreement.