Spiritual renewal – March 24, 2008

25 03 2008

I spent the Easter weekend worshipping in the church of the great outdoors, surrounded by a few dozen of the most spiritual beings I know. And I know I keep saying (writing) this, but it was truly a magnificent weekend.

Saturday, I arrived in the basin around 11:30 a.m. and didn’t head out until about 7:30 p.m. The desert environment of the basin is, at first glance, a fairly uniform taupe color, dotted here and there with the green of pinon and juniper trees, and, of course and most interestingly, grey and bay and sorrel and buckskin and dun and pinto. But at sunrise and sunset, that dull taupe blooms into soft gold. It’s enough to make even the most devout athiest believe in a higher power.

Sunday, after two rewarding trips into the basin (north and south), I ended up on a hilltop in the golden light, surrounded by air and thousands of acres owned by you and me, the American public. How perfect was the world in those moments? In the hour before I arrived on that hill, I found the pintos and Shadow, still in the same area where I had seen them from the county road two and a half hours before I hiked in, and I saw Corazon, just on the edge of a hill, and Kreacher, down below, seeming to petition to be part of the gang.

The world moves on, and I had to get up and leave that perfect moment. Maybe I should be embarrassed by the riches I’ve found in the basin in recent months. I can’t possibly take it for granted. On a holy weekend, I feel blessed beyond belief.

This morning, up early, I found Grey and his family (I still can hardly believe THAT!) close to the first water hole just east of the herd area entrance. My beautiful boy, that golden light? My pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! I walked across a fairly barren flat (given that the cattle were in that particular area from December through February, I attribute the relative lack of vegetation to them) south of Grey, Houdini and the foals to get to a low, long mound east of them to take advantage of the light.

Irony is taking photos of him with the very canyon in the background that was the route to his capture last August.

Grey at canyon

Way down in that canyon was the route to the trap back in August.

Two Boots is growing. She ought to have her first birthday in another couple of weeks. In that light, she looked more tending to bayish, and I wonder if she’s going to fade into that brown-grey color like Piedra, Mouse and Comanche. Twister’s knee is still wonky – a birth defect or an injury that just won’t heal? I’d like to show some photos to a veterinarian friend and hear what she has to say. Houdini is carrying the next generation, and based on how old Two Boots was when I first saw her last spring, I’d say mama has another two to three weeks before she foals.

And Grey. The old man doesn’t seem to have lost any of his swagger, just to have gained some calm. He’s so worried about me he takes it as an excuse to snooze. Usually I delete pix when the horses’ eyes are closed (blinking), but I had so many of him with his eyes closed – literally snoozing – I had to keep one.

Grey snoozin’

But the ears … the ears are always working. That’s Twister at right; you can see his wonky knee even from this angle.

After I took the pix of the horses with the cliff behind them, I was walking back across the flat (about as flat as any area I’ve come across out there) when Houdini and the foals walked into position behind Grey, creating a neat little “family” portrait.

Grey’s family portrait

From right, Grey/Traveler, Twister, Two Boots and Houdini.

And then, something amazing happened, something I’m still running through my mind: He started walking toward me. What to do? He wasn’t puffed up or blowing or snorting or acting alarmed. He wasn’t giving any sign he was spooked or that he was going to suddenly charge. We think we know what to do if approached by a predator such as a bear or a mountain lion, but – and I chuckle as I type this – what do we do if a wild horse approaches us? I stood my ground, and I kept my finger on the shutter button, one eye on the viewfinder, the other on him.

He did stop, of course. Seconds? An eternity? Then Houdini walked on to the east, and he turned and followed them. I kept walking back toward the Jeep, and before I was even out of sight, they were grazing again.


My favorite photo from the day, the weekend … one of my favorites ever.

What could he have been thinking? Simple curiosity?

Oddly enough, the photos from this morning were among the most difficult to edit from any of my trips.

University of Missouri students are in the herd area this week slashing and spraying tamarisk, scourge of the West’s waterways, and repairing fences. I got to meet some of them today, and their story will be on Page 1 of my little paper this week. It’s a great way to keep the horses in front of the public. Here’s the short version: These kids, rather than partying at Fort Lauderdale or South Padre Island, decided to do something worthwhile during their spring break, dubbed “alternative spring break.” Two of the 10 kids here this year were here last year. Half a continent away, our horses inspire people to do what they can to make the basin a better place in which to live! How cool is that? Thanks, guys and gals, and I hope you have a terrific week!

And with that tease of an update, while it has been a glorious weekend, it also has been long. So I’ll update the blog as I have time this week. I won’t be making the journey to the basin next weekend because I’m going on another journey, first stop, home of two former Spring Creek Basin residents: Breeze and Sage.



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