Guess who!

20 10 2008
Roach and Poco

Roach and Poco

Although I hadn’t seen this little band for several weeks, it was worth the wait. Poco, Bones and Roach all look great. After the past year of getting to know my ponies, I’m close to a guarantee: The harder I look for particular horses, the more likely it will be that when I find them they’ll be right out in the open.

Last weekend, I hiked to the top of Round Top – always enjoyable to get a unique, almost “from-the-air” perspective of the basin – and still didn’t spot Roach’s distinctive red coat (he’s one of only two sorrels in the basin). This weekend, I hiked out between Flat Top and Round Top (and saw horses, but you’ll have to read on to find out who) and down to the south side of Round Top. Then I hiked south from the “twin ponds” and walked a narrow spiny ridge. Nada. Then north of the ponds. Nichts. Fun hiking, but where on Earth were those crazy equines? (You know the saying “God only knows”? Every time I ask myself where the horses are, I remind myself that THEY know where they are!)

A little after those hikes, in the Jeep, on the road, sun inching closer to the horizon hills, badda-bing: Through the binoculars, I saw a dark spot that turned out to be Poco’s back. Very close: Bones. They were in that little valley between Knife Edge and Lizard Mesa. I drove on and scanned; drove on, stopped to scan … Hello! Steeldust’s band just a short distance off the road in a grove of pinons. I interrupted the hunt for Poco’s band to take some pix of Steeldust’s group.

But before I get to them, here are a couple more of the “found” girl and boys:

Rear view

Rear view

Here’s a pic of Bones’ healed fractured pelvis that probably shows it better than any other pic I’ve taken. But don’t just look at that – look at her little belly! She’s not what I’d call a fat girl, but she looks WAY better than she did at this time last year, and I’m encouraged to see her going into this winter with some fat on her, err, bones.

Poco and Bones

Poco and Bones

Poco was all shy and spent most of his time napping at the far edge of the little “island” they were on. I shot from various points on the other side of the not-so-deep, fairly broad arroyo that curved around their little island/oxbow. Bones was closest to Roach when I approached, then she wandered over to Poco to feast on that greasewood bush.

Bye-bye

Bye-bye

One last look from Bones before I left these wanderers to their grazing and naps.

So where was I? Before I get back to Steeldust’s band, let me go back to Round Top. It’s hunting season, of course, and it’s Colorado, and we have a high percentage of out-of-state plates in the areas with drivers and passengers sporting blaze orange. So far, like last year, I’ve seen plenty of traffic along the Dolores-Norwood Road and the Disappointment Road but not too much in the basin. Based on tire-track evidence, a few vehicles have been through since I was there last. I did pass a pickup Sunday with a man and woman, but I think they might have been looking for horses more than deer or elk.

I drove the loop counter-clockwise again, and from the road, I spotted a shiny spot and a horse shape that eventually moved right between Flat Top and Round Top. During the tour with Kathe and Bob a couple of weeks ago, we saw Seven’s band there. So I thought it might be him again, with Molly or Roja as the “horse shape,” and the other one in the trees. And another surprise: Cinch and Bruiser farther west.

I parked at Round Top’s base and took the trail around the west side. There were some faint signs of horse traffic and a few coyote prints – and one sadly deflated and worse-for-wear “Happy Birthday” balloon (which made its way into my ever-present trash bag back in the Jeep) – but it didn’t look like it has seen much use lately.

When I got farther around the hill on the trail, I could see that there were a couple of horses toward Flat Top, but they were blocked by trees and I couldn’t make an ID. Then, what to my wondering eyes should appear but Grey/Traveler! He was following Jif and the yearlings toward the horses in the trees. Whoa. So the tree horses were Houdini and Iya, but it was still a slight mystery why they were separated by such a distance … Until I saw through the binocs that Jif’s entire right side was dark glistening, and wait, had Grey suddenly gone pinto?? Now I know you moms out there are thinking it should have been mama Houdini taking advantage of the mud spa, but in this case, she was spending some alone time with baby Iya while Daddy took the youngsters to play in the, ahem, mud bath. 🙂

Iya and Houdini

Iya and Houdini

Looks like Iya had done a little splashing in the mud. They were waiting for the other horses to reach them.

Daddy and the gang

Daddy and the gang

Clearing the coast before returning to Mama. Disclaimer: Houdini is Two Boots’ and Iya’s dam, but Grey/Traveler is not the actual sire of any of these horses.

Once they reunited, they walked closer to Flat Top, where they drank from a pretty yucky, white-salty, muddy little puddle.

Have thirst, will drink

Have thirst, will drink

Grey got there first, and he left last. I guess the boy was thirsty. This pic doesn’t show them well, but notice the black splotch on his shoulder. He had another one on his chest.

Yucky!

Yucky!

Houdini shows what she thinks of the water puddle.

"Pinto phase"

Somebody’s been playing with the finger (hoof?) paints! Notice the little streak on his face.

Tender touch

Tender touch

Iya and Houdini

The next time I saw the band, I was on the spiny ridge and the horses were on the road heading toward the water catchment for some rainwater-pure, fresh H2O.

Two other horses were beyond Traveler’s band, but from the distance and light glare, although one looked like pinto bachelor Cinch and the other one was very dark, and I wondered if Cinch had stolen yearling filly Shadow from David and ditched Bruiser for family life. It was a good lesson in what our BLM guy, Bob Ball, has to deal with in terms of identifying horses. The other horse was, in fact, Bruiser. See for yourself:

Bruiser and Cinch

Bruiser and Cinch

Cinch is at right, and Bruiser is the dark mudball on the left, demonstrating the wild horse version of “look! what’s that over there?!” Too bad for the ponies, I have eyes only for them.

Compare that photo of Bruiser with this one (taken last fall) from the “Find a horse” page:

Bruiser

Bruiser

Yes! I promise that’s the same horse! Apparently he found the same tar-baby pit Grey/Traveler and the youngsters were playing in.

After the boys went back to grazing, I went around the south side of Round Top a short distance to check on the still-dry water hole. No more horses.

So now we’re back to the point where I “found” Steeldust’s band, “hiding” in the trees right by the road.

Peek-a-boo

Peek-a-boo

This photo was taken right from the driver’s seat. Look at my long-legged little Storm-boy at right, with the light turning his spiky mane to gold. Can you believe he’s just a few days shy of three months in our Spring Creek Basin on this beautiful planet? And over on the left, his head just sticking out of the trees is Mouse, standing just in front of Hollywood’s girls, Piedra and Baylee. They and Hollywood seem to have reached a comfortable balance of friendship lately, and Holls doesn’t seem too worried about keeping them apart.

Bachelor boys

Bachelor boys

The wayward boys are all “home.” Duke, Hook, Kreacher and Chrome had split away from the band for a few weeks. Last weekend, Duke was back with the band, and now all the boys are back. From bottom to top: Duke, Kreacher, Chrome, Hook and Aspen. Am I alone in being glad that the boys are back? Ha! I spent all summer wondering when they were going to strike out on their own – again – and now I like seeing them with the family. A side note to this photo: The boys were working their way up to the band (I was out of the Jeep by this point), but curious Kreacher was either determined to get another last bite or was so focused on me that he didn’t notice when all the other boys disappeared over the top of the hill. He finally did when I walked back toward the Jeep, then trotted away after his pals. Wait for me!

I drove on a short way, through another arroyo, then got out again and walked out to Poco, Bones and Roach’s “island” and took pix of them. Boy was I glad to see them! Not worried about them, particularly, but I miss them when too many weeks go by without seeing any of the horses.

When I got back to the Jeep, I looked over toward the water hole that sits back to the east off the unmarked doubletrack, wondering if Bounce and his girls were still back in the east “pocket,” where they were last Sunday. When I was beside Lizard Mesa, I stopped and looked again – bingo! Bounce, Alegre and Gaia had just walked up on the edge of the pond! They started walking farther east on the doubletrack, so I sat in the Jeep and watched them through the binoculars. I hadn’t been close to them since the tour, but it was getting late, and I didn’t want to pursue them. But while I was watching them, guess who was walking out of the trees and making their way toward the water hole? While I was googling over Poco, Bones and Roach, Alpha marched her company around toward the pond. See the progression? Nap time, chow time, pub time! I have to say, the pond “pub” has a wonderful ambiance.

Steeldust’s band has become pretty used to me over the months, do I decided to park and walk down to the pond (which is in the wilderness study area, I think?) and wait for the horses to come drink. If the horses walking toward the water had been Bounce’s band, say, I might not have risked being at the water when they came to drink. Bounce is pretty tolerant, and young Alegre takes cues from him pretty well, but I wouldn’t want to risk them not drinking because I was there. Steeldust’s band, on the other hand, would drink even if I was there, I figured, and I was right.

Thirst abatement

Thirst abatement

I sat on the end of the pond opposite the way the horses approached and was glad the light was from behind me. I sat in full view, and they knew I was there. They waded right in, and drank and drank. I was glad of the opportunity to see them wade into the water because it gave me an idea how deep the pond is – almost up to their elbows! This pond dried up over the summer and refilled a couple of months ago after at least two intense cloudbursts in that eastern area. From left: Piedra, Baylee, Hollywood, Aspen and Chrome. Another couple of bachelors were to the right (including Duke), but the two young stallions, Luna, Alpha, Mahogany, Ember, Kestrel and Steeldust were around to the left and closer to me.

Wind drinker?

Wind drinker?

Steeldust drinking alone while his band spread along the banks of the pond to the right.

Play time

Play time

In the “progression” I wrote about earlier, I forgot one very important element: play time! Storm doesn’t seem to be drinking water much yet, but the older foals are drinking water as well as their mothers’ milk.

Three musketeers

Three musketeers

Don’t these boys make ya smile? From left: Aspen, Mouse and Comanche.

By then it was about 6:15 p.m., and the sun was below the far-west ridge, a reminder of the quickly changing seasons. It was a gorgeous day – a light-jacket morning but a short-sleeve afternoon. Just after the sun had gilded the clouds in the western sky, I was driving past Filly Peak and Grey’s band. Most of the band was on the mesa side of the road, but Houdini was below the road, so I waited for her to cross the road – because Iya was there! – then headed out and home.

“If you’re lucky enough” to spend the day in Spring Creek Basin … you’re (I’m) lucky enough. Eh? For sure.


Actions

Information

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: