Written By: Ben Cosgrove
LIFE photographer Bill Eppridge (1938 – 2013) was best-known for his coverage of the signature events of the 1960s, and especially the assassination of Robert Kennedy. Eppridge was right there snapping pictures when Sirhan Sirhan gunned down RFK in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel.
Months after RFK’s murder, in late 1968, Eppridge took an assignment that was far removed from the madness of the age. He and writer Donald Jackson spent two months chronicling the wild mustangs that still roamed the mountains, canyons and plains of Nevada, eastern Wyoming, and Montana.
“Spending months out there in those vast spaces, photographing mustangs and the people who live and work there, among the horses—that saved me,” Eppridge told LIFE.com, a few months before his death in October 2013. “Bobby Kennedy’s death shook me to the core. Getting out there with [writer] Jackson, traveling that old landscape in a four-wheel-drive pickup truck, helped to heal me, in a way, and got me back into the world.”
One irony worth noting: Eppridge’s photos appeared in a January 1969 issue of LIFE that also featured, as its cover story, an exclusive jailhouse interview with Sirhan Sirhan.
Liz Ronk edited this gallery for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.