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.

Mustangs in the wild, 1968.

Mustangs in the wild, 1968.

Bill Eppridge The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Mustangs race across the Nevada sage, 1968.

Mustangs raced across the Nevada sage, 1968.

Bill Eppridge The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Wild mustang thrown to the ground for branding, 1968.

A wild mustang was thrown to the ground for branding, 1968.

Bill Eppridge The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Ellen Williams, Nevada, 1968.

Ellen Williams, Nevada, 1968.

Bill Eppridge The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Mustang, American West, 1968.

Mustang, American West, 1968.

Bill Eppridge The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Wild mustang, 1968.

Wild mustang, 1968.

Bill Eppridge The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Mustang and ranch hand, 1968.

Mustang and ranch hand, 1968.

Bill Eppridge The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Mustang, 1968.

Mustang, 1968.

Bill Eppridge The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Mustang breeder Bob Brislawn, eastern Wyoming, 1968.

Mustang breeder Bob Brislawn, eastern Wyoming, 1968.

Bill Eppridge The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Mustang in the wild, 1968.

Mustangs of the American West

Bill Eppridge The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Roping a mustang, 1968.

Roping a mustang, 1968.

Bill Eppridge The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Mustangs in the snow, 1968.

Mustangs in the snow, 1968.

Bill Eppridge The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Mustangs on a ranch being lassoed for branding, 1968.

Mustangs on a ranch being lassoed for branding, 1968.

Bill Eppridge The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Rounding up mustangs, 1968.

Rounding up mustangs, 1968.

Bill Eppridge The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

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