First look!

25 10 2008
Hello!

Hello!

At long last, our three new mares, introduced to increase our herd’s genetic variability, are in their new home in Spring Creek Basin.

The last three introduced mares came in 2000 or 2001, I think, but only Luna remains (Slate died over the winter; what happened to the other mare is unknown). Because our herd is too small to maintain genetic viability on its own, the BLM introduces mares from other, similar type herds every few years. These three mares, like the last three, are from Sand Wash Basin in northern Colorado. A roundup there started last Friday (Oct. 17). This introduction had been planned at least since last fall. 

Bob Ball, our BLM herd manager, went to Craig this week to select the mares, which have all been aged at 2 years old. He called me today on the way, and Jamie Sellar-Baker, associate manager of the Dolores Public Lands Office, was out patrolling and greeting hunters in the area, and had the near-perfect timing to stop in just before Bob and the mares arrived.

First steps

First steps

This apricot dun mare was the first out of the trailer, followed closely by the black pinto mare.

Apricot dun and pinto

Apricot dun and pinto

These two came out of the trailer very close to each other, so I didn’t get clear first shots of the pinto. She’s not an obvious pinto; she has just three small white “slashes” on her left side. One is on her barrel, just behind her elbow, and the other two are smaller and toward her flank. From some angles, the smaller slashes are hard or impossible to see.

Dun girl

Dun girl

This mare’s coloring is similar to Hollywood’s, maybe not quite as “orangey.” Look at that big trot! Too bad about the “unnatural background,” but you can see the big green water tank and the two drinking tanks that provide water from the catchment.

Company

Company

Bob pulled in and released the mares from the trailer right by the water catchment. Grey/Traveler was right down the hill! I was terribly excited, but as it turned out, I don’t think he ever saw the new mares. They’re pretty hard to see in this photo, but pinto bachelors Cinch and Bruiser are in the background, directly above the apricot dun (above the first group of trees, above a little ridge, below the second swath of trees). Jamie also had earlier spotted Alpha, in Steeldust’s band, in the far northwestern hills (not in this photo). Eagle eyes!

First drink

First drink

The mares started grazing pretty quickly after they got out of the trailer, but they also kept moving, and they completely bypassed the water tanks. They ended up by the small water hole by the entrance and the trap site. In the background here, you can see the canyon that rises above Spring Creek.

At the pond

At the pond

Here you can see the black mare’s biggest white marking – which is not very big at all – and you can also see the shaved spot on the apricot dun’s hip. They all have that with an “FA” brand. (I’m not sure what exactly that denotes, but they all did get the PZP-22 immunocontraceptive.)

Nice, long drink

Nice, long drink

They didn’t go right into the water, which worked well for me because I couldn’t see them very well when they first approached the pond. They walked along high ground from the water catchment almost until they got to the pond, and I took a wide-arc approach until I got to a ridge just west of their ridge. I took these photos from the end of the ridge so I wouldn’t bother them. When they left the pond, I headed back to the catchment.

First impressions: I like these girls! The apricot dun, although she was first out of the trailer, seems to be low on the totem pole, based on the black mare’s attitude toward her. At least twice, the black mare pinned her ears and warned the little mare away. The other dun mare led the way down off the ridge and right to the water, with the black mare following right behind her.

They all have blazes, but the apricot dun and black mare have very wide blazes, and the other dun mare’s is narrower. The black mare’s hooks over her left eye, and the apricot dun has a spot at the bottom of her blaze, above her right nostril. Both dun mares have dorsal stripes, and zebra stripes are obvious on the apricot dun (though not black like Hollywood’s), not so obvious on the other. The black mare has a left front stocking, the dun has a left hind pastern (and possibly some low white marking on her left front), and the apricot dun seems to have a left hind fetlock that may be distinctly visible just from the inside (see the pic of her getting out of the trailer). When they walked toward the pond, I didn’t notice any distinct markings. The dun mare and black mare both have white chins (at least partially)!

Traveler and his band were just finished drinking from the smaller water tank when I approached on my way back to my parked Jeep. Ahh … I had really hoped he’d come right up the hill, see the new girls and go “welcome” them! Alas, it was not to be. They were very calm; I don’t think they ever saw the mares.

Lookie loos

Lookie loos

From left, Houdini, Iya, Jif and Two Boots.

Good night

Good night

Jif, Twister and Traveler.

So there’s your first look at our new girls. Unfortunately, I had to return to civilization, but tomorrow will see me back in the wild. I can’t wait to see who – if anyone yet – they’ve hooked up with. Maybe one or some of the bachelors will get lucky!


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4 responses

25 10 2008
water_bearer

I’m confused. If these three mares were introduced to add to the genetic viability of the herd, why were they given PZP?

26 10 2008
TJ

This is a great question, though one perhaps better answered by our BLM herd manager. I’ll give it a shot, but keep in mind, this is my opinion and may not necessarily match the answer a BLM representative may give.
All five of our mares that were gathered and released last August were given the PZP. Originally, we were supposed to get mares from the Little Book Cliffs, which had a roundup last year about a month after ours. But because those mares get a one-year dose and ours got the 22-month dose, a compromise was reached: If another roundup in Colorado would be done in 2008, we would get mares from that herd. As it turned out, Sand Wash had a gather planned this year. (Sixty mares there were/are to be returned to the range – all treated with PZP.)
Also, these mares are just 2 years old, so the PZP means they’ll be a little older when they start having babies, which will likely increase their overall longevity.
I think this is not something to look at in the short term. *Because* these mares were introduced for their different genetics, they will likely be part of the Spring Creek Basin herd the rest of their lives. They have plenty of time to add to the gene pool, and by not immediately producing babies, our next roundup hopefull won’t come any sooner than it may have otherwise.
Again, this is just the way I see it and shouldn’t be considered an absolute answer.
TJ

28 10 2008
water_bearer

Thanks for answering. That actually makes a lot of sense… more than I usually hear coming from the BLM. Long term plans… who’da thunk? 🙂

28 10 2008
TJ

I’m often frustrated with that as well! But I think in our herd at least, we’re trying to take a long-term approach to the overall health of the herd. In addition to preparing for less stressful roundups in the future (hopefully), I hope this information will contribute to some genetic planning – keeping some of our special bloodlines, like Traveler’s! 🙂 The great folks looking after the Little Book Cliffs herd (Billie Hutchings and Marty Felix, in particular) have collected an amazing amount of data on the horses there, especially with respect to their PZP program, and that’s pretty inspiring for what we can do here.
TJ

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