Not yet

31 08 2009
0821jif

Big-belly girl

No ETA on Jif. Surely that belly is hiding more than an overabundance of high-quality forage?? This photo was taken last weekend, but there has been no change … and yes, Chrome, seen behind her, is still with the band.

Think all out-of-season births are caused by PZP? It would almost be nice if the explanation here was that easy. 🙂

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Pryor thoughts

30 08 2009

Lots of controversy surrounds the Pryor Mountain gather set to begin soon, but I would urge you to visit the Pryor Wild blog – http://pryorwild.wordpress.com – and click on the link to Matt’s thoughts in the current first post. He might spend more time on that range than anyone, and as director of the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center, it’s his job to spend a lot of time thinking about those horses and their long-term health and well-being.

This statement particularly caught my attention: “Why not work with the BLM when such a relationship is for the benefit of the PMWHR and the herd?”

Why not, indeed? Our Disappointment Wild Bunch Partners group here is trying to do just that, and while the wheels of government turn slowly (enough to frustrate a saint), I think we’re starting to see the benefits of our partnership with the BLM … for the benefit of the – our – herd. I do hope to have a post up soon about last weekend’s visit by Dan Elkins and Karen Herman from New Mexico, who came to visit the herd area for a hopeful contract gather in the future. Dan does the gentle, humane, very successful type of gathering and removing wild horses called bait trapping, and we’re very excited to know him and Karen and encourage a partnership with them and BLM in Spring Creek Basin in the future.

In the meantime, please do read Matt’s thoughts on the Pryor herd.





Bad news first

25 08 2009

Because there’s more good news, and I want to get this out and move on.

After a truly marvelous weekend, the very last thing I saw – that I didn’t see, more accurately – put a damper on the whole thing.

Low visibility

Low visibility

On my first pass down the Disappointment Road, showing our visitors the herd area boundary, I saw Cinch and Bruiser, then what looked like the pinto band walking away out of some trees … except that as they got into a more open area, I could see that Chipeta, her colt, Ty and Mesa were not right with the band. It became apparent that they weren’t just lagging behind, either.

We got to the cattle guard where the boundary ends, turned around and went back. I stopped at dysfunction junction to hike up a hill overlooking the road to see if I could see Kiowa’s group better and get a broader look downward.

Kiowa, Milagro and Spook

Kiowa, Milagro and Spook

They were heading up this ridge when I caught up with them, and yes, that is a stormy sky in the background. I’m hopeful the basin got more rain (part of the good news). Milagro got his name this weekend, simply by being a tiny, minor, extraordinary miracle. They all are, of course … Spook is Kiowa’s yearling daughter. Also with this band is Kiowa’s 2-year-old daughter, Reya, bay band stallion Copper and black-and-white pinto bachelor Corazon.

At the top, they disappeared into the trees. Chipeta and her beau “appeared” close to Cinch and Bruiser – who had wisely moved up a hillside on the other side of the arroyo to watch the goings-on from a safe position – and David and Shadow … and finally Mesa. The first picture is how I first saw them, mostly obscured by greasewood and other brush. So I still didn’t know at this point where her colt was …

Then David, in the background of that picture, crossed the arroyo, and when he came up, Chipeta spooked … and I could see that the foal was not immediately at her side. And then it was just a matter of confirming he was not there at all.

Chipeta

Chipeta

And that confirmed it; her colt is missing, presumed dead. Now I know I didn’t see him last weekend in the one quick flash of open ground they crossed because he wasn’t there to see.

Chipeta and her colt

Chipeta and her colt

He was likely 2-3 weeks old; this photo was from my only sighting of him, on Aug. 2. Chipeta got the PZP; she wasn’t supposed to have a foal. But she did, and so his was a life to be valued as much as any of them. Posthumously, I named him Joven, which simply means “young.” Rest in wild peace, little one.

Honeymoons over

Honeymoons over

Ty chased David away – and Mesa – then “urged” Chipeta away across the hillside. Moments later, Mesa was with them, and they were perfectly calm. My gut feeling is that with all the stallions around, little Joven may have been accidentally trampled. As far as I know, he was Chipeta’s first. She’s a terrible flirt anyway, and she probably couldn’t protect the youngster in the chaos. Now she seems to be in heat.

As you can also see from the first pic, Ty is definitely grey in the face, but his body is still remarkably dark.

Cinch and Bruiser

Cinch and Bruiser

The spotted pair were back in the south – they’re on the hill, watching the action below. All the horses were in this area because of a tiny seep in a corner of the arroyo that is part of the drainage down from the (dry) pond behind Round Top. Never much water in that area – WSA – of the herd area.

David and Shadow

David and Shadow

These two followed Ty and Chipeta and Mesa, and in this pic, they’re looking on while Ty drank at the seep, guarded by Mesa. Chipeta stayed in the arroyo next to Ty after she drank first.

So we’re back to 10 foals … and I’m spoiling the next post.





Family visit

20 08 2009

In this case, the family was mine – literally. My mom and dad’s 40th anniversary (!) was last weekend, so they decided to come to Colorado for their first summer visit ever. My uncle T and cousin K also came – for their first visit to Colorado ever! Naturally, a visit to my four-legged family was high on the list.

It would have been top of the list but for the rain the visitors pushed into Colorado ahead of their visits from points southeast and west. We waited a day to allow the basin to dry out, and except for the washes across the Disappointment Road as we drove there, all was otherwise dry …

But almost immediately we saw the most beloved horse – of this family, anyway! – in the basin: Grey/Traveler’s band, still shadowed by Chrome. They were very near the road to the old trap site, and Kreacher and the girls were also close by, closer to the shallow pond – the only pond that has water currently.

All at ease

All at ease

The boy with his girls and one little boy. Yes, yes, you see only two little bodies; our dear Jif is taking her own sweet time.

Shadow-Chrome

Shadow-Chrome

There’s Chrome at right, looking pretty worn out. I guess his plan isn’t working against the old man of the basin. The horses were considerably calmer than the first time I saw Chrome with them. Ahh … the young men, always thinking their youth is more than a match for wisdom – usually wrongly.

Away, the girls

Away, the girls

After we had watched the horses for a few minutes, Kootenai decided to leave, so she turned and led the horses toward the pond. They paused there but didn’t drink. They ended up at the catchment, followed by Traveler’s band.

Keepin-up Kreacher

Keepin-up Kreacher

This is one young man who knows who the boss is! He followed his girls, lickety split.

Traveler’s band looked quite calm, so we headed on to see who else we could see.

Steeldust’s band was up on the northeast hills – we could see them through the binoculars. All was looking good for us getting to where they were … until we came down the hill and around the curve and stopped dead at the wash of mud and boulders where the road had previously gone over the first Spring Creek crossing. Uh oh. To be sure, there were only four boulders, and none were very big – except the first one, closest to the Jeep side of the crossing – but the whole situation stopped us as if we’d been facing a raging river. There was a bit of water still flowing from previous rains, which is always good for the horses, so it was hard to be totally upset that I’ve been able to take everyone else out to the basin to see the horses, but then when my very own family comes, I get stymied at the first major arroyo! 🙂

I do have to mention the bet my uncle lost. He bet that the dry pond by Flat Top would have water in it from the recent rain. Unfortunately, I won.

But of course, all was not lost. Grey/Traveler and his band and Chrome and Kreacher and the girls were calmly grazing west of the catchment, so we got to see them again as we drove out. (Oh, and Cinch and Bruiser were up on the hill with Steeldust’s band.)

We headed down the Disappointment Road with the high hopes of seeing the pintos. Not too far into Dolores County, my dad sounded the horse alert: David and Shadow RIGHT inside the fence RIGHT off the road! So we had a nice little visit with them while they grazed and browsed on greasewood. Shadow barely looked up, and they eventually let us slide on by while they kept on doing what they were doing! Cool!

Unfazed Shadow and David

Unfazed Shadow and David

This was our view – David looking at us and Shadow … well, not.

Two faces

Two faces

Ah, and there they are, both looking at us calmly. You can see the fencepost at right. We didn’t get out of the Jeep – just shot right out the windows.

Just a little farther down the road, we had the other great good fortune to spot the pintos back in the “valley” below their old favorite hill. Mesa was on the east side of the arroyo, and the rest of the band was on the west side. We couldn’t see everyone because of hills and trees, even when they crossed to the east side of the arroyo, so I wasn’t able to get a good look at the as-yet-unnamed colts, but it was good to be able to point out those ponies that are seldom within view.

Mom and Dad, T and K, thanks so much for “meeting in the middle” and allowing me to show off my “other” family. 🙂





A day under the sun

9 08 2009

This might be the shortest basin-visit report ever – only two pix! – but it was nice. Hardly a cloud in the sky and the thermometer didn’t rise above 82 degrees! Yep, it’s August, and I don’t care what the weatherman says; the monsoons are NOT here.

Here’s the spoiler you’re waiting for: Mistress Jif has not shared her firstborn yet with the world … but she is looking a bit more “droopy”! Chrome was back with the band – and Aspen out of sight (and Hook and Twister, too) – but they were calmer … but still moving all over the basin. The good news is that when I finally headed out and away, they were in the immediate vicinity of the water catchment. I didn’t actually see them drinking there, but it’s a hopeful sign. Cinch and Bruiser also were very close, having come down from the northwest hills; I’m certain they’ve found the fresh water.

Kreacher and the girls, so visible in that area in recent visits, had wandered away, but I have it on good authority that they’ve been over to Wildcat, near which I found Steeldust’s band today, napping under the trees.

Seven and his family made another appearance today! But they were right by the road down by Lizard Mesa, so I stopped where they could see me but not too close, took the day’s only photos and then just watched them.

Sevens family

Sevens family

Sweet Molly-girl is a bit thin, but little Liberty looks pretty good, if not as stout as Starla last year, and look how big little Mr. Ze is! He’s the oldest of this year’s babies (April 6).

And look who was nearby:

Walk on by

Walk on by

In the background, Alegre at left, Whisper lying down in the middle, Bounce and Gaia at right. In the foreground, Seven following Liberty and Molly; Roja and Ze were leading the way, already out of the frame. That’s what I call Lizard Mesa as the hill in the background.

Whisper was under a tree behind Alegre when I first saw them. Seven’s band had to walk to the left to cross the arroyo, then Roja led them back across in front of Bounce’s band. In the meantime, Whisper sauntered out and laid down!

Hollywood and his band and hangers-on Poco and Roach were hanging out on the northwest hills, lower than Steeldust’s band last weekend. Poco and Roach were attentively guarding the family from Cinch and Bruiser earlier in the day. They had moved up to the area between the boundary and the road to the old trap site by the time I headed home.

I had a great hike around the west side of Round Top and out to the ridge and down and up the hill looking down a drainage below the dry pond … and guess who I saw down at the seep near the road? Mr. David. I didn’t see Shadow in the trees, but David walked a few steps down the trail, pooped on the stud pile there (I know it’s there, I couldn’t actually see it so far away!), then turned around and cocked a hip! He turned his head a couple of times to look at something I couldn’t see, and it was strange that he picked the stud pile tree to hang out under. I’m sure Shadow was nearby. I glassed the hill where I found the pintos last weekend, but they weren’t there. (I had a flat tire last weekend on my drive to the basin – many thanks to mustang advocate and all-around great guy David Temple for stopping a couple of minutes after I had my flat! But I’m waiting on a new set and driving on the spare and thought pavement might be a better choice for this weekend’s trip, so I didn’t have the chance to look for the pintos – or David and Shadow again – on my drive there or home. David T is one of David’s namers, by the way. 🙂 David O and David J are the other two contributors, and now you know the rest of the story!)

It was a beautiful day for a visit with the ponies!





Good relations

6 08 2009
Home

Home

If there are any landmarks that say “this is Spring Creek Basin,” they might be pyramid-shaped McKenna Peak and the promontory that has no name. Kind of fitting to see two natives and a transplant within the same frame.

Corona and Raven

Corona and Raven

Nourishment

Nourishment

Family

Family

That’s mud on the upper part of Corona’s forehead. She has a blaze, but I still can’t make out any other markings … or even her color. She’s quite a beauty, though, eh?

Weren’t those worth the wait? 🙂 Seeing the ponies is always amazing … sometimes you get lucky with an amazing combination of horses and light and background. We see it in a photograph as something special, a moment in time. They see it as home, under rain and sunlight, height of day and depth of night. The horses complement the landscape, and the landscape shapes the horses. 

Love the horses, love their home. Protect them both.





Some good news

5 08 2009

Federal judge blocks BLM plan to remove wild horses from the West Douglas Herd Area!

http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/20295785/detail.html

Here’s another link from Pam Nickoles’ blog: http://thesoulofahorse.com/blog/federal-court-slaps-the-blm-says-mustang-removal-illegal/

I was thinking about the mustangs in Nevada the BLM wants to remove when I read this article, and this next-to-last sentence is perfect: “To my knowledge, this ruling on the Colorado herd is the first ever that addresses the BLM’s illegal actions against the wild horses. It could be the beginning of a new day for this icon of the American west.”