What that really means is the new girls have found a beau! David Glynn, who was out both Saturday and Sunday last weekend, emailed this week to say he saw the girls Sunday with “companions.” Wow! They got pushed down out of the hills by the cattle, and that’s how they came to mingle. I could tell you the name of this less famous “Bachelor” (he’ll never make it on the more famous show), but I’m going to mimic my own suspense and keep you waiting (or you could cheat and scroll all the way to the bottom).
A big snow storm (it’s supposed to last until about Thursday) is headed our way, but I wanted to get out to the ponies one last time before I head south for the winter holidays. Two weeks ago when I went out, the road was muddy enough that I parked at the corrals and hiked in – but while the ground was “soft,” it wasn’t really muddy. This time, the road was perfectly dry to drive in on, but the rest of the ground was slick, slippery, gooey … absolute mud. And snow was still in patches all over the place. The wild thing was that if you looked south, the landscape looked all white and wintry, but if you looked north, it looked the same golden brown as usual – the pattern of snowmelt.
Steeldust and his band were out southeast of the pond close to the entrance, so I parked just down the road to the old trap site and hiked out. I realized pretty soon that the quality of the basin road would deteriorate between the high ground just in from the entrance and the shady side of Filly Peak, so I decided to leave the Jeep and do another walkabout. Naturally, the bachelor-formerly-known-as … ha, thought you had me, eh? Anyway, the boy had the girls waaaaay out on the northeastish side of Round Top, and I had to wait that long to see them, so you’ll just have to wait.
In the meantime, I had a really great visit with the babies (particularly) in Steeldust’s band. Remember on my walkabout two weeks ago, muddy Ember was chasing everybody around? Turnabout’s only fair in play, and this time, it was Storm who was little Mr. Ornery.
Storm, Kestrel, Ember and Sundance
One of the funniest things about this picture is the fact that Kestrel and Sundance barely moved from these positions the whole time I was there, despite all the young energy swirling around them.
Ember was so concerned about me walking toward them that she actually laid down a few seconds after I took the the first pic.
A wider view to show the background … Note the stealthy approach of a wee baby brother …
Play with me, please?
Zoomed back in – do you see that Storm has a leg over Ember’s neck?
Mmmm, ears taste good!
By this time, Ember may have been regretting her assault on Storm a couple of weeks ago … He chewed and chewed and chewed – her ears (both), her forelock, her face, her neck …
Until she couldn’t stand it anymore! So much for taking a nap.
But of course Storm wasn’t out of potential playmates. Just to the right, Luna was napping on her feet while Steeldust grazed (Mouse was even farther right) and Pinon tried to go unnoticed.
Not having much luck with big sis, Storm tried his luck with big brother Pinon.
Tastes like colt
Notice Sundance there on the right.
Notice now that Pinon managed to get away from Storm and hid behind bigger brother Sundance, who became a protector without moving a step.
Leave me alone
But moments later, Storm was at him again.
Mama, Storm won’t leave me alone!
Might as well take advantage.
So Storm decided it was a good time to find HIS mama. But about a second after I took this shot, Butch walked up and parked himself right in front of them. Then Pinon became fair game again …
Sweet girls, but notice the drama in the background.
Ember and Luna
Have I mentioned that the babies still all seem to be nursing?
Little sisters ARE good for something … like when you have an itchy face.
Mouse seems to have given up on Piedra and slid into Hollywood’s position as Steeldust’s lieutenant. He has stayed with the band even while the other bachelors have split up recently. (And now you know it’s not Mouse who has the girls!)
Lovely Alpha is the color of snow.
Only Alpha and Mouse are missing from this “family portrait” of Steeldust’s band. (The wordpress program doesn’t like apostrophes in photo captions.)
Another zoomed in view of the youngsters – you can just see Pinon’s ears in the background.
Three of the bachelors were close, so I went to see them, thinking that Hollywood and his girls and the missing bachelors and possibly the new girls were just out of sight over the hill.
Duke, Hook (back) and Chrome maintain their bachelor status. Points to you if you know the remaining three bachelors!
But Hollywood and the others weren’t over the hill or beyond the next ridge. In fact, from the top of a hill above Spring Creek, I could see a lot of country but no other horses. Because I had seen a lot of horses recently in the Flat Top-Round Top area, I decided to walk on out there to see what I could see.
I hit the road just before the first Spring Creek crossing and walked it all the way to the base of Round Top. It was really muddy, snowy, slightly less muddy and snowier in spots, and I think my trusty hiking shoes are toast (Santa, are you reading?).
I finally spotted a group of five horses between the road and Flat Top, but I thought I was looking for a group of nine horses, and Grey/Traveler and his band were in that area last week, and though the horses were darkish, I thought that could have been because of the weak light, mud and/or a horse out of sight below a ridge. I thought it would be too easy to find Hollywood – and the new mares – that quickly. So of course it was Hollywood, Piedra and Baylee … and two bachelors. Guess who?
They were far enough off the road, and I was far enough from a good view of the area around Round Top, and the mud was such a deterrent, that I decided not to go down and take pictures of them. Onward.
Bounce and Gaia came into view next – they were near the roller-coaster ridge pond. Dark Alegre was close by. For the same reasons as above – and one other – I decided not to go down to them, either.
That “other” reason is that I had spotted – through the binocs – the dun girls up in the trees on the east side of Round Top! Just call me a horse-findin’ fool.
By this point, I knew who had the girls because of the bachelor missing from Hollywood’s group (and you all peeked, I know you did!), but oddly enough, I never actually saw him until I got almost to them.
These girls are smart. They already know me, so they weren’t worried at all when I came into view from the trail around the north side of Round Top. That makes me feel really good!
The apricot dun mare – look at her gorgeous winter coat! It was so still when I arrived in the basin that morning that I noticed it as soon as I stepped out of the Jeep. It’s always so windy out there, when it’s NOT, it’s a noticeable absence. You can HEAR the silence. But at almost 1:30 on the nose, the wind suddenly picked up out of the south-southwest. It was just above freezing when I arrived, and the Jeep showed 42 degrees when I got back, but I was plenty warm while walking. I spent enough time being still with the mares and their boy that I started to get cold, and I was envious of their thick coats!
Are you dying to know?! I know you all cheated and scrolled down, but drum roll, please ….
Knock me over with a feather. Kreacher was low man on the Bachelor 7 totem pole, but he’s the only one I know of that actually had a band previously (Molly and Roja, with Seven now), so maybe that helped him. He is not what I call an outstanding stallion, and his personality is so laid back as to be prone on the ground, but I have become fond of him this past year. He did NOT act like a stallion when I showed up, but I’m unsure whether to attribute that to him knowing me and being comfortable with me, too, or being timid. The mares still interacted with each other (black mare still kind of poopy toward the apricot dun but not quite as much as before), but although they didn’t seem to mind Kreacher’s presence, they pretty much ignored him. (I’m sure they got a lot of the “get to know you” out of their systems in the past week together.) Another un-stallion-like behavior of his is that he stayed behind them almost the whole time; he never came up front to “protect” them. Again, because he knows me or something else? The only time he was closest to me was after they had passed me on their way up to the “saddle” and I crossed behind them back toward the trail and he just happened to be in back, and thus, closest.
Peace and hope to you and yours
I wish all of you a very merry Christmas and all the best in the coming year. I hope it’s as full of joy and wild beauty for you as the past year has been for me.
Grey/Traveler and his band showed up on the northwest side of Flat Top as I made my way back to the Jeep. Steeldust and his band and hangers-on had moved to the other side of Spring Creek, so I was glad I had my earlier visit with them. It was a very long walkabout (about 5.5 hours) and well worth every minute!
The day was solidly cloudy … until the very last moments of sunset. As I was driving up the curvy-curvy road out of the Dolores River canyon, the above view stopped me in my tracks – literally. If you’ve been on that road, you know the view begs for a pullout (or five), but there aren’t really many good places to stop and get off the road. So don’t tell the authorities, but I pretty much just stopped in my lane and pointed the camera out the window.
Besides the (fading) glow, do you recognize what makes this view so significant? That’s the home of my ponies out there underneath that glowing sky. At the almost-very-far-right is that prominent, unnamed peak you can see from almost anywhere in the basin. Pretty beautiful, eh?