Two new bundles

30 04 2009

Thanks to visitors Lynn and Kathy of New Mexico, who picked the best possible timing for their vacation, we have reports of foals!

Raven appeared not only with a new baby but with Duke on Monday! The ol’ man obligingly goes wherever they go. I’m so happy to see him with a new family, and I hope he keeps them. His independent wandering paid off this spring!

In honor of the foal’s likely sire, a beautiful sooty palomino stallion from the Sand Wash Basin herd (Raven was introduced with Mona and Kootenai in October 2008 from Sand Wash Basin), the foal’s name is Corona (thanks, Amanda!). I was able to zip out there after work Tuesday and catch a quick look at baby, who is pretty big. I’m not quite sure about age, given that I haven’t seen Raven for so long, and the baby is pretty large but still new enough I think it was a couple of days old, at least, on Tuesday. Possibly a filly. Color?

Corona and Raven

Corona and Raven

Any suggestions? I’ve had my Sponenberg Equine Color Genetics book out … A black/palomino cross can produce – commonly – buckskin, bay, palomino or chestnut; occasionally – smoky black; and rarely – zebra dun, red dun, grullo, red silver, yellow silver, chocolate silver and pale silver. I like the idea of calling her some kinda “silver,” but I’ve never heard that before! We’ll just have to follow her and see how she changes! (Oh, the challenges!) If anyone wants to weigh in on a color suggestion, please leave a comment and let me know.

Last night, the report from Lynn and Kathy was that Piedra had a foal yesterday! She didn’t have the foal Tuesday evening, so she must have foaled overnight or early Wednesday morning. I asked Lynn and Kathy to name the baby. They named Raven (I solicited suggestions from blog readers several months ago), and they would have named her foal except she had a name-in-waiting! 

Houdini and Alegre are both past due – Alegre is a week past – so the next post should be all about babies!

And I want to slip in a note about how amazed I am by Lynn and Kathy’s reports. They tell me who they saw by name and by location … If you’ve been reading, you know they created a map of the basin and the horses’ movements based on my blog reports. And they know their horses! SO cool!

Horse photographer interview

30 04 2009

The Equinest has done an interview with Billie Hutchings (visit her blog by clicking her link under my blog roll), who watches over and photographs the Little Book Cliffs horses. She has been one of my inspirations as far as documenting and photographing the Spring Creek Basin horses. She’s a member of Friends of the Mustangs, the Grand Junction-based advocacy group that really is a role model for mustang advocacy groups.

Check out her interview at She says “by no means” is she a photographer, but I think you’ll politely disagree! Her photos of her gorgeous horses are excellent!

Great interview, Billie!

Border Patrol mustangs

28 04 2009


Last week and the week before, I had the absolute pleasure and honor to talk with Senior Patrol Agent Joe McCraw and Assistant Chief Patrol Agent Lealan Pinkerton with the U.S. Border Patrol’s Spokane Sector. These horsemen – and they are that – were with the Border Patrol contingent in Washington, D.C., back in January for the inauguration parade of President Barack Obama.

I wrote an article for my paper back then about Justice, our Spring Creek Basin mustang currently in service with the Border Patrol and stationed in Colville, Wash. After the chaos settled down and the agents and their steeds returned home, I wanted to do a follow-up article. I wanted to talk to the agent who rode – and rides – Justice, and I wanted to talk to the agent who started this incredible Project Noble Mustang.

Let me tell you something, I’m not sure you could find more staunch advocates of mustangs anywhere in the country!

Joe told me, “There are not too many places I would worry about taking Justice,” and for me, that about summed it all up. Justice was gathered in August 2007; the parade – the biggest of them all, as Lee said a couple of times! – was in January 2009! Justice hasn’t even been off the range two years yet!

Something else that impressed me was that Lee said he had a goal of getting his mustangs and agents to the nation’s capital for this parade. When he said at the end of our interview that he was proud of his men and of his horses, I sure as heck believed him! The most experienced mustang of the bunch has been under saddle less than three years.

Editing down my notes into what I hope was a cohesive article was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done as a reporter. These guys gave me five pages of typed notes, which I edited down to just a few lines over two pages (my page designer knows my propensity to go long). Neither one of them could stop talking about the mustangs. So cooooool!! I hope that obvious enthusiasm these two men have for mustangs – their mustangs – came through. That made the article.

So, Joe and Lee, if you’re reading this, thank you again, most sincerely. I appreciate the time you spent talking to me, and I appreciate your care of *our* mustangs (I know they’re yours, but they’re still kinda ours, too!), and I most heartily appreciate your service to our country.


I think that’s Agent McCraw on Justice at left patrolling with another agent and Zeus in the national forest near Colville, Wash.


Loading up after a day of patrolling. Neither rain nor snow … can keep the U.S. Border Patrol from its appointed rounds!


Justice at left, Kootenai (from Sand Wash Basin) is the sorrel, Ike is the black, and Roscoe may be the horse behind Ike. Don’t they look fabulous?


Justice and his buckskin buddies. When they’re not patrolling part of the northern border (308 miles between eastern Washington and western Montana) and not wowing spectators in parades, these guys may pull duty as an honor guard.

Many, many thanks to Agent Joe McCraw for use of these photos in the newspaper (the first three were used with the article) and on this blog, and to both Agent McCraw and Agent Pinkerton for speaking to a complete stranger about the mustangs you use in service to this country.

Happy birthday, Iya!

27 04 2009


Busy-ness almost made me late wishing Super Girl happy birthday. Iya was one of the biggest foals I’ve ever seen, and I’ve affectionately called her “monster” ever since. Her sire, and Two Boots’, is a grey stallion I called Junior who was removed after the 2007 roundup.

Big baby

Big baby

As you’ll see in her baby pic, Iya was born sorrel with curled little ears. Now her color is much different! Iya was named by David Glynn, a frequent visitor to the basin who saw her the day she was born, and her name means “a fabulous creature” in Lakota.

Baby Iya and mama Houdini

Baby Iya and mama Houdini

This was taken just two days after she was born. Look how huge she was!

Iya, Houdini and Two Boots

Iya, Houdini and Two Boots

I’ll sneak in a pic of Two Boots, Iya’s big sister. I happen to have a guesstimated birthday of around April 21 for her because I saw her with Houdini and her band shortly after she was born in 2007 – jet black! Houdini got her name because although Junior’s band was gathered, Houdini managed to escape.

Happy birthdays, monster girl and pretty girl!

Farmington adoption

27 04 2009

For folks who are in the area (Four Corners?) and willing/able to adopt a mustang from the Carson National Forest, the following information might be helpful. This was sent to me by our Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area manager, Bob Ball, based at the Dolores Public Lands Office.

Carson National Forest 

 208 Cruz Alta Road, Taos, NM 87571 


 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE     CONTACT:  Kathy DeLucas, (575) 758-6303 

Wild horses available for adoption 

 Taos, N.M., April 23, 2009—For people who want  to own a living piece of the wild west, 

the Jicarilla Ranger District has 40 wild mustangs available for adoption.  Horses can be seen at the 

Browning Ranch at 333 Browning Parkway in Farmington on Friday, May 1 from 12:00 to 5:00 pm.  

An adoption day will be held on Saturday, May 2 from 10:00 am to 4 pm.  Horses are also available 

for viewing by appointment.  There are three package deals that include a mare and foal, with a fourth 

mare expecting to foal any day. 

 A 2004 environmental assessment determined that the wild horse territory could support only 

between 50 to 105 horses depending on environmental conditions. The current population estimate is 

428 horses.  

For the first time in Forest Service history, Forest Service wild horse experts, in collaboration 

with the U.S. Animal Humane Association have used a birth control injection on four of the captured 

mares and released them back into the wild, in an effort to control the herd.  

The Carson National Forest adopted out all 32 horses in the first gathering last fall.  Mt. 

Taylor Mustangs is the gathering contractor and is using a low-stress baiting method.   

The horses have been “gentled” with well-known horse whisperers so that the animals have no bad 

encounters with human beings. Bob Browning, a well-known Farmington-based horse trainer, has been 

volunteering his time to work with the horses and get them used to people.  

Horses are available for adoption on a first-come, first-served basis. Qualified individuals can 

select a horse and complete an adoption application. The Forest Service will review the adoption 

materials with potential adopters and verify adopters meet requirements, including facilities needed to 

care for a horse. Upon application approval, adopters will be able to take their horse home. The adoption 

fee for each wild horse is $125.  

In order to adopt a horse, prospective owners must be at least 18 years of age. Parents or 

guardians may adopt a wild horse and allow younger family members to care for the animal. Potential 

adopters must have no prior conviction for inhumane treatment of animals or violations of the Wild 

Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, demonstrate that there are facilities for adequate food and 

water; provide proof that humane care does exist for the number of horses requested; and indicate that 

the property is in the United States.  

To see pictures of the horses and for more information on adoption requirements and adoption 

applications please check the Carson National Forest Web site at or call the 

Jicarilla Ranger District office on US 64 in Bloomfield at 505-632-2956 extension 207 or email 

Anthony Madrid at    


Nebraska updates

27 04 2009

Some articles about the situation in Nebraska:

Finding Bones

26 04 2009

The wind and dust and threat of rain and press of people conspired to send me home yesterday. While I’m glad for an actual day of rest, where do I most want to be right now??

But that’s beside the point of this post. It was so hard to go through the photos I took of Poco and Roach leading up to finding Bones and her foal that I realized this needed to be a single post. No rhyme or reason to it, but that’s the way of it.

Poco and Roach were on a ridge not far off the road basically southwest of the double ponds when I saw them last Saturday. I couldn’t see Bones, but that’s not unusual given the terrain. However, knowing how close she was to foaling and because of her injury, I had to check.



Poco on the ridge as I walked up; Roach was to the right. McKenna Peak looming large in the background with the unnamed promontory at left. (Secret message: That’s NOT timothy in his mouth!)



Big red ‘n handsome.

Pyramid peak

Pyramid peak

Roach’s McKenna Peak glamour shot.

Standing steady

Standing steady

There was no room to go past them on the ridge itself, so I dropped down below them. You can see the curious tilt of Roach’s head and cock of his ear, but he never moved until I was farther up the ridge behind him. Then he turned around to face me.

Postcard perfect

Postcard perfect

But before I turned around to take this picture, I looked over the edge of the ridge … and did not find Bones. Thank goodness for image stabilization lenses because the hands that took this were not terribly steady.

Pointing the way

Pointing the way

This picture of Poco now haunts me because I seem to see by his body language that he was already grieving. When I was there, I tried to look for any sign of that, but I just couldn’t comprehend. It turns out that he was pointing the way.

I left Poco and Roach and ended up walking most of the length of the ridge, which, though considerably lower than Knife Edge, is about as blade-narrow as they come. When I was about three-quarters of the way back to the stallions, they were lower on the east side of the ridge, then ran down into the little valley below. I sat down to see what they would do, having already had the idea to stick with them for a while to see if Bones appeared or if they would lead me to her. They disappeared down in an arroyo, and just as I was thinking they had been down there an awfully long time, they climbed up the other side, where they turned around to watch me from the edge of some trees.

So I walked down and through the arroyo – just in case. It took them so long to drink because they had to sip muddy water as it seeped up into the cups made by their hooves. I went up on the other side, found a fallen tree and sat down because the boys hadn’t moved. They watched me just a few minutes more, then Poco took off again up-valley at what seemed to be a determined walk. I let them go a ways, then followed at the west side of the valley. Poco stopped again and turned to face me. Roach stopped near him.

Two mark the spot

Two mark the spot

Do you see the raven? Bones and her foal were almost directly behind Poco and Roach – I just didn’t know it yet.

I looked around some through the trees on “my” side of the valley and found nothing. Poco hadn’t moved, so I sat down under a tree across from them to see what he might do next. He didn’t move. After awhile (no idea how long?) I got up and walked past them and farther along on that little “hump” that you can see behind them where the raven is. I was going to go on farther up-valley, but I happened to look back toward them and saw movement off to the side, which I immediately pounced on as the flicker of a foal’s ears, low to the ground. But when I walked back, a great golden eagle flew away up the arroyo … and I knew.

And there they were, right behind where Poco stopped.

Poco and Roach

Poco and Roach

Poco and Roach greeted me again when I left Bones, and I cried and told them how sorry I was at the loss of their girl and her baby.

Wow. This is hard.

I like to think her “better place” is exactly where she is.

Awaiting new arrivals

25 04 2009

The title says it all. Although I was certain and sure of seeing new faces this weekend, the girls have other ideas. As far as I know – and I’ll explain that later – Ze and Hannah are our only babies.

I haven’t taken many pictures during the last two weekends (which may shock you), but I’ve been more on lookout patrol and giving expectant mamas their space. Alegre, Piedra and Houdini are closest, Jif and Raven are unknowns, and Mahogany is due in May. Ze and Hannah are growing like wild weeds. Strong Ze loves to run, and dainty Hannah is brave, not easily intimidated by the chaos of her extended family.

Last weekend, after I found dear Bones, I was able to spend some time with that big family, a salve for my heart. Like Alpha last year, Luna has been so generous sharing her treasure. She was in foaling heat then and … Butch was after her? So much for my theory that he and Sundance are her sons. He even mounted her … but he didn’t breed her. How’s that for weird? Are you  – like me – used to questions without answers?

Duke was wandering again, and Chrome and Hook were wandering together. This weekend, Duke – and Chrome and Hook – had re-joined the big band; the next morning, Duke was gone again. At the end of the day, he was waaaaay across the basin, having found a big sea of green in the north hills that he had all to himself.

Seven has decided to show off his strapping boy to the world, and they were easily visible last weekend. They had retreated a bit by this weekend, but who can blame them? One of the biggest “stories” of the weekend was the flow of human admirers (and, unfortunately, a very few who fell in the “not so much” category)  in the basin.

Poco and Roach did appear one morning close to the road, but reports have them continuing to hold vigil with Bones and her baby. Do horses grieve? I believe they do – and are.

Grey/Traveler kept a low profile last weekend, but he was more visible this weekend. He and his band have discovered the water tanks at the catchment again and are drinking there regularly.

Bounce and his girls have retreated to the east pocket exclusively. The pond back there still has good water. In fact, Steeldust’s band was back in that area by Lizard Mesa, but then they wandered back to “the front country” for easy visibility. The drawback of that comes from people who aren’t considerate of the horses and their imminent foaling dates because they’re racing around on their ATVs. Steeldust’s band had the unfortunate timing of being right on the road when the folks on ATV came racing up on them, causing them to run for the hills.

And with that, let me introduce some honored guests in the basin this weekend. Lynn and Kathy from New Mexico have been following the blog since the beginning and have created an AMAZING map that tracks all the bands by color-coded stickers! I’m so incredibly humbled by their attention to the horses. THEY witnessed the ATVs running the horses off, and THEY were able to talk to the people and tell them the importance of being careful around the horses, especially during this sensitive time. You go, girls!

We spent a whole day together so they could see horses and landmarks and learn TJ-speak, which I learned includes a lot of “ishes.” 🙂 As in “northish,” towardish,” etc. It was so wonderful to share the horses with people who clearly cherish them and are so full of enthusiasm! We laughed a lot and smiled constantly – except when it came to Bones, and even that wasn’t so bad as shared sorrow. What an absolute treat to meet you both, my new friends! I hope this meeting is just the first of many.

During the past two weekends, I’ve also seen the southern horses: the pintos, David and Shadow, and Cinch and Bruiser – all but the pintos as recently as today. So. Who didn’t I see? I saved the mystery for last. Kreacher and the girls eluded me all last weekend, but I saw Kreacher, Mona and Kootenai the first day this weekend. They were way out on the hill above the corrals, and figuring for distance, trees and the hill, I figured Raven was just out of sight. But that theory was blown today, when I saw Kreacher, Mona and Kootenai walk down to the roller coaster pond – minus the black-and-white girl. Uh oh.

Getting to the heart of the matter, they headed to the saddle between Flat Top and Round Top, where they met David and Shadow. How are you for conspiracy theories? By the time I high-tailed it over there, the saddle was clear of equines, David and his girl were down below and headed toward the (dry) pond, and there was not a single sign of Kreacher and the duns. Did I mention that the first time I saw them, on the corral hill, I drove out there and hiked up, along, down and up across the valley … and never found a sign but hoof prints? These horses have never been hard to find, so what’s up? AND WHERE IS OUR GIRL RAVEN?

Before you theorize that she took up with another stallion, remember that I saw them all. Didn’t see the Duke today, though; mayhap she returned to familiar north hills and found herself a new beau. Or perhaps – and most hopefully – she required a bit of alone time during which to bring forth a little bundle of four-legged, equine joy. Cross yer fingers.

The wind was furious yesterday; the dust was ubiquitous (what a word). Today … When I went looking for Kreacher and the girls, the wind was a solid thing, threatening to tumble me off the ridge. Think an unliving thing (surely can’t call it inanimate!) can’t be “furious”? It was spewing rocks at me! What’d I ever do to the wind?!

The earth never filled the sky yesterday as it has in the past – and I don’t have the foggiest idea why. It was blowing hard enough. It just waited till today – when it also decided to try to rain. Fickle, rocky Mother Nature. I think she got rid of all of us who don’t call the basin home.

And there’s your news ‘o the basin, trimmed down to near-nutshell length. I’ll have a sampling of photos to come.

Happy Earth Day birthday, Gaia!

22 04 2009


She’s standing all goofy here, but this is a big, bold, curious girl.

Gaia and Alegre

Gaia and Alegre

Almost as big as mama. She’s also a daddy’s girl and loves (step) Daddy Bounce.

Baby girl

Baby girl

Baby picture, taken four days after she was born. Can you believe she grew up into such a big strapping girl? She is Alegre’s firstborn.

Happy birthday, delightful girl!

Mustangs need help – and burros, too

21 04 2009

Click that link and scroll down to the links under “What’s New” and “Latest News” to read about horses at the Nebraska ranch that need donations of money and/or hay. Details are listed at the end of the press release. It is important to NOT send anything directly to the ranch. Go through Front Range Equine Rescue as detailed in the press release.

Also follow this link – – to a short brief in the local newspaper.

Continuing with the “if you can help” theme, visit this blog – – for information about some burros that need homes. Fresh Start Horse Rescue is a small farm here in Southwest Colorado, but the folks who run it have huge hearts.