National Geographic : 1974 Jun
We watched as a mare nursed her colt. Then, suddenly, the stallion sensed our presence. He came out from under the juniper tree with powerful neck arched, and whistled a warning. One by one the mares followed, until they were lined up like a cavalry troop, all with ears cocked and nostrils flaring. When they broke, trailing out first at a trot and then in a full gallop with shaggy manes and tails streaming (pages 738-9), the air was filled with the hard clatter of unshod hooves. In an instant they had vanished, leaving only a trail of dust in their wake. But in that in stant, I knew the exultation of seeing horses that had never known the constriction of a rope or the restraint of a corral. I saw freedom of another sort in the old ghost town of Belmont in central Nevada. Belmont is cradled in a mountain pocket that Rugged silhouette of range life, Bill Gandolfo of Austin (left) disdains new mass cattle-branding methods for the old way one calf at a time, hog-tied with the help of a well-trained cow pony. As the rancher applies the branding iron, hired hands inoculate and castrate the calf. Former New York debutante Molly Knudtsen, owner of nearby Grass Valley Ranch, enjoys a hearty laugh at lunchtime (below). Respected for her buckarooing abilities, Molly overflows with energy, rancher's savvy, and a spirit of independence to match the vast Nevada landscape. She is the essence of the other Nevada, a heartland often ignored by visitors intent only on the 36th State's famed resorts.