Memorial Day

31 05 2010

Freedom is never easily attained. It should never be taken for granted.

I am the granddaughter of two World War II veterans. I am the daughter of an Army veteran. I am the niece of a Navy veteran. I am the cousin of a Navy SEAL. I am an American by the grace of birth. I am free by their service.

Thank you to all who serve, to all who sacrifice and have made the ultimate sacrifice, to those who sacrifice time with loved ones so they may serve to protect us.

Hollywood’s band

30 05 2010

Handsome Hollywood, pretty Piedra and nursing Tenaz

Now that her baby boy is a wee bit older, she’s more willing to show him off – and show off, he did! What a doll!

I went out and sat, and she grazed her way closer …

… and he stayed right at mama’s side at first … Look how big and beautiful he is.

Iya also came to see. Look how silvery she has turned as she sheds out. She’s 2 this year.

And Sagey-m’-boy. He has a bit of a boo-boo on his left hind cannon, but it looks like it’s healing just fine.

Baylee, 3 this year, and Iya. Interestingly, Baylee doesn’t appear to be pregnant, despite the fact that she’s been with Hollywood for more than a year now.

That Sage is a little love bug. (He’s pretty good-sized, by the way, but Iya is a pretty big girl. See in the previous pic how she’s almost as big as year-older Baylee. Sage is a yearling.)

But he usually has an ulterior motive!

Which is probably how he got his boo-boo!

They always forgive the little rascal. 🙂

And take a little revenge!

I was taking pix of Piedra and Tenaz when Sage walked into the frame – mama and her boys.

If I have *definitely* not figured one thing out (and there are many things I haven’t!), it’s why they eat what they eat. Here, Piedra is nibbling on saltbush or greasewood – I can’t quite tell from my pix because it’s not nearly as “leafed out” (do you call that stuff on greasewood “leaves”??) as the others in the area.

Now some pix of the happy little ham:

He’s a little past a month old now.

Maybe he’s going to be bay? I guess we’ll know for sure when his legs darken. I’d love to see Hollywood sire a dun foal, or grulla like I think his mama was. His mane is pretty dark, but you can see how light his tail is at the top before it darkens to black. Gideon is just about the same color. And Spring, too … though a little more obviously bay … a shade darker … not as “reddish”? (I’ve seen her several times but too far for pictures. Have not seen Wind and his family for a few weeks.)

Walking over to see what the “big babies” are looking at.

Still trying to manage those long-long legs!

Love this one … surrounded by family.

Bye for now, my lovelies!

We haven’t seen the last of Hollywood, who, when I saw him just a little bit later, seemed at least as surprised to see ME there as I was to see HIM there! Ha!

Stallion action

29 05 2010

The following series of pictures are of stallions – Steeldust and Mouse – fighting. Editor’s note: I seldom take such pictures let alone post them because such events are fairly rare – though not during this particular time of year (mares foaling, then coming into heat to be rebred). But so many people seem to have this Hollywood idea that stallions fight all day long that I do my best not to play to that particular misconception. But as with most of what I try to convey, there’s more to this kind of behavior than simply trying to steal a mare. Steeldust was NOT going after Mahogany; he was protecting his band, which has the rather odd makeup of another stallion (likely at least 4?),  two mares, a foal and an almost-2-year-old stallion who is clearly maturing sexually – and Steeldust seems to now be playing the lieutenant role to the other, younger stallion (Butch), who, I’m more convinced than ever, is his son (the resemblance is showing itself more and more). Luckily, Alpha is now out of heat, so all the attention was on Mahogany.

My other aim is to simply show the strength, power and agility of these horses. This all happened in a matter of seconds while I was sitting slightly uphill with Kestrel and sleeping Winona and guardian Comanche, and I didn’t “see” what you’ll see right away until I looked at the pictures on the computer.

Steeldust postures between Mahogany, Sundance and Mouse – in front of him – and his small band – behind.

Clearly a message to stay back. Notice his ears. At left: Sundance in front and Mouse behind him. Mahogany is out of the frame, but SunD’s attention is mostly on her, while Mouse is clearly now focused on Steeldust – perhaps a challenge he can conquer? (As he’s not having much luck getting between SunD and Mahogany.)

Look at Steeldust’s hind hooves – completely off the ground.

My impression of the incident was of Steeldust rearing very high and Mouse also rearing and then bulling into him like a freight train. The momentum must have been tremendous.

Sundance kicking at them … Didn’t connect.

Look again at Steeldust!

As hard as Mouse must have hit him, I’m surprised Steeldust didn’t go down.

The elder won … for now … Notice his ears now.

Neither seemed any worse for wear, but I’m sure there were at least bruises left behind.

Chrome’s band

28 05 2010

There’s such a calm that seems to come over the boys when a baby arrives. They seem to “settle.” I can’t really explain it.

Young mama has the hang of it. She looks pretty great, doesn’t she?

Another gorgeous mama – doesn’t she just epitomize “wild and beautiful”? Jif and Cuatro.

Hayden makes mama stop so he can nurse.

Followed by a nap in the sunshine and breeze. (It was a pretty hefty wind, actually, but he looks like such a peaceful babe, asleep, all right with the world, eh?) He’s shedding … slowly but surely.

Baby going down …

Baby coming up! This cracks me up because he’s getting up butt first. 🙂 This demonstrates his keen intelligence – not waiting for big brother to get close enough to pull a big-brother prank!

Mama Two Boots and her boys. She also was already in heat.

Cuatro napping …

Rio napping …

Being a daddy – even a stepdaddy – is hard work. Chrome napping. 🙂

Hayden still sleeping while Chrome starts to follow the others.

Such a stretch!

All in the family.

The end. 🙂

Meet Rio

28 05 2010

In honor of water and how precious it is – and what a disappearing resource it is every year – I named the newest addition to our herd Rio.

He’s Two Boots’ colt and Cuatro’s brother, and his sire is either Grey/Traveler or Twister … He’s sort of smoky black like Whisper was, and I’m sure he’ll go grey, too. He has just a wisp of a star and a clean little right hind fetlock.

Tall, dark and handsome!

Big brother Cuatro checks out the baby.

Do you remember that Cuatro was sort of an indeterminate brown when he was born? This little fellow is much darker, but Two Boots herself was coal black when she was born!

The Pryors have lupine … we have prince’s plume.

Some favorites to tease you with until I can go through more photos. This is our good news to counter the bad …

Bad news … with a silver lining

27 05 2010

To get it out of the way, because there’s good news coming, here it is: Mahogany obviously has had her foal. That foal just as obviously is nowhere in sight … with the resulting obvious conclusion that s/he didn’t survive.

Here she is with Sundance immediately behind her – he seems to have claimed her and is guarding her against all comers – and Mouse beside her at right, as close as he can get without being overtly challenging. Aspen also is vying for her, and they’re both protecting her from him …

… as well as still-nursing, almost-grown-up, almost-2-year-old mama’s-boy Storm. (Yes, the bands were back  “together” in the sense that they shared the same geography, but Steeldust is now acting as Butch’s lieutenant, protecting him, Luna, Gideon, Alpha and Storm (except when he goes on his hopeful breeding forays) and keeping the others at bay. Comanche has Kestrel and Winona – pictures to come – and they were close but far enough away that they were insulated from the chaos.)

Mahogany is definitely in heat (definitely no foal seven days ago), and Sundance has mounted her – as well as Storm – though I don’t know how successful either has been yet. And compare these pix with those from last week; she’s definitely no longer heavy in-foal.

So the loss of the foal is the bad news (it hit me hard, like they all do, but I’m trying not to dwell …).

The silver lining is that Mahogany – an older mare, though I don’t know how old (likely at least 10) – will have a year of rest before her next foal …

Happy birthday, Liberty!

25 05 2010

Our little Liberty-girl has known tragedy in her short life, but like most wild horses, she has adapted and persevered.

She was a tiny little thing from the beginning – Molly leading Liberty and Ze, Roja’s colt.

As an aside, I recently saw a picture in a local artisans gallery that showed both Molly and Roja with a sorrel stallion and three other horses – obviously before the roundup. I’ve wondered whether Molly is Roja’s dam … at least now I know they were together before the 2007 roundup.

She grew fairly well, though, eh? This was in August.

… and by November, she had lost her mama (that’s Gaia (2 now) in the picture above, who seemed to take on a bit of a mothering role to the girl) …

… and been adopted by Bounce and his family.

Just as orphan Twister found a home with Houdini and Two Boots and first Seven, then Grey/Traveler, so Liberty has found a family with Bounce and his youngsters (only Whisper is biologically his).

Whisper doesn’t feel sorry for her in the least. 🙂 (And maybe he has a little crush on her.) Whisper was born a couple of weeks before Liberty, but notice how much bigger he is. He’s his mama’s second foal … Liberty was Molly’s who-knows-how-many”th” foal …

Liberty and Whisper

Alegre makes no bones about favoring her own babies over Liberty, but I think she’s growing on her.

Happy birthday, tough, beautiful girl! Your mama would be proud of you!

Dapple light

20 05 2010

Had a simply gorgeous time in the basin … despite the forecast that called for – you guessed it – rain/snow – again – right smack dab on my weekend. The forecasters were wrong! (Please forgive my wicked glee!) The sky looked threatening the whole way out, but then it was sunshine and layer upon layer of thick fluffy white clouds from here to the horizon. Ma Nature brewed her dark clouds over the La Sals to the northwest, and assistant Wind dutifully carried them east and south, but Storm’s corridor was just along the northern and eastern ridges and on down to the far southern reaches of Disappointment Valley and beyond, leaving the basin just a paradise on the edge of the world.

An example – this patch of sunlight illuminated the finger hill Bruiser, Twister and Cinch (reunited) were standing on while the ridge behind them stayed in shadow. They were looking down on Hollywood’s band, who eventually went north, while the boys moseyed down off the hill and across the arroyo and up onto the bench that carries the west-side loop road toward Round Top and points east.

Even more is blooming now – late this year. I’ve been keeping track, but – crazy! – I haven’t stopped to photograph the flowers yet. The paintbrush has been trying its best to find the sunshine and warm breath of spring, and more is blooming every week. Prince’s plume started last week … the globe mallow was out just this week – not so much in the basin but very much along the private road leading to the basin. Hardy phlox – white and pink – has been out for weeks and still blooms, some of the petals looking a bit windblown. Loco weed also pops up in places. Some isolated yellow daisies-something-or-other. The cheat grass is still green but starting to flag.  Greasewood is greener than green (it’s possible) and was budding last week. Water holes are dry or very shallow. One pond holds decent water, and a couple of bands are in the vicinity of Wildcat Spring. At least one band is using the catchment, but they have to range far for forage because it’s just not that great in that area. The claret cups are tightly furled within their nests of thorns … not blooming yet. I saw a couple of bunches of lupine (my very favorite wildflower) near Dolores, but that was it. We don’t typically get lupine in the basin (I’m so jealous of the opportunity on Pryor Mountain to photograph babies in fields of blue lupine!)), but there are spots along the Dolores-Norwood Road where they’ve been insane in past years. Given the great snow we had this winter, I’m looking forward to a great show of wildflowers here in Colorado this year.

The horses are mostly shed out now – last year’s youngsters still fuzzy in most cases. Nights still dipping into the 20s (occasionally) and 30s (commonly). The temp reached at least 72 while I was out. Just beautiful.

The first horses I saw were Chrome’s: Jif, Hayden, Two Boots, Cuatro and Chrome, taking his time, bringing up the rear. Can you tell that Jif is slick while Hayden is still fuzzy? Oddly enough, because he was born so late in the year, I’ve never seen Hayden shed out. His face is starting, though, and I think he’s going to stay sorrel – he’s going to be just as handsome a devil as his daddy!

Two Boots is starting to look a little closer … Can you see the little hunks of hair Hayden is trying to shed?

“Wait for me!” They walked on by and down the hill on a horse trail, then Chrome looked up from his lolly-gagging (grazing) and decided he was being left behind, so he went galloping after them.

I saw Seven’s close to Grey/Traveler’s close to Bounce’s, who turned out to be close to Kreacher’s who were close to … Luna’s. (Some stallion weirdness I’ll explain in a minute, so for now, it’s Luna’s band because everyone is following her!)

Didn’t take pix of Seven’s or Grey’s. Seven’s were very close to where I saw them last week. I just sat in the Jeep and watched them. Roja grazed and watched and watched and grazed for about 10 or 15 minutes, then oh-so-casually led her family away. She is so wary and so protective, and because I’ve witnessed them being chased (a couple of summers ago, after which I never saw Molly’s filly Starla again), I just don’t have much heart for even attempting to get too close for her comfort – which isn’t close at all.

Grey’s were moving toward the road on which I had stopped, so I enjoyed my vantage of being able to watch them as they grazed their way closer and eventually crossed to where Seven had had his band.

Who’s who? Doesn’t Whisper, left, look just like daddy Bounce? He’s going grey, though … I love seeing the resemblance.

Gaia and Liberty

And this girl is pulling a Luna on us – two weeks past her “due date,” and she barely looks pregnant at all. Even with her most recent spa treatment in evidence, isn’t she just beautiful?

Raven and Kootenai. You may remember a few posts ago, I referred to their mid-morning nap … here we are smack in the middle of their middle-of-the-afternoon nap!

Corona – no, she is NOT white! – Mona and Kreacher. I know she looks white – she’s blown out, too – but she’s not. She has this very unusual flecking of her palomino color … like Ma Nature couldn’t decide what color to paint her.

All but Mona, who was just off to the left.

And there’s baby Gideon with Mama Luna and Butch, Storm and Alpha at right. Steeldust was nearby but not too close.


Who could resist this gorgeous matriarch? One of the great grand dam(e)s of Spring Creek Basin.

Storm and Alpha watching Kreacher’s band. (And yes, he’s still nursing.)

While I was watching this, I kept one eye on Steeldust, who watched but never moved a hoof. Butch has bred Alpha in the past, but he didn’t now, though she’s clearly in heat.

Butch did a little dance (like a very slow motion passage) over to Steeldust, who didn’t go after him, but neither did he back down. It did provoke him to mark his territory, and Butch went back to Luna, who took the opportunity to walk away …

… followed by Alpha …

… to the very shallow nearby pond. Here’s Steeldust at left – rear – while Butch leaves a territory marker as Luna leads Gideon and Alpha and Storm around the pond – effectively separating Steeldust from the mares.

Luna walked around the pond, but Alpha stopped. Butch continued after Luna, and Steeldust stopped with Alpha.

Think that looks terrible?

How about this?

The good news is that BLM is supposed to have several more ponds – hopefully including this one – dug out because they’re all very shallow (because of the highly erodable soil). The bad news is that neither of the two ponds dug out finally last fall have water right now (I was so optimistic), and the ponds to be dug out aren’t even on the schedule until August or September.

Here’s Butch getting great enjoyment out of his “spa treatment”! Check out how he’s tilted his head and closed his eyes to avoid splashing mud. 😉

He splashed a few times, laid down just so his cheek appeared to touch mud, then got right back up again.

Kreacher, Mona and Raven watch Luna lead the band away from the pond. Butch is looking back at Alpha and the others.

They’re really all quite polite with each other. Whether that’s something conscious – “don’t want to get involved in THEIR drama” or “I think I have enough …” – or bonds keeping them together, who knows? The girls from Sand Wash Basin seem quite content with their boy.

Alegre napping at the base of the hill while the babies (not “babies” anymore!) graze in a bunch. Bounce was down a bit watching the two bands.

He has such a presence, but he’s really not a very big boy in size.

Our very own wild black stallion. He has a heart of gold.

Mahogany, Sundance and Mouse …

Kestrel, Winona and … Comanche, still guarding the girl and the babe!

Notice anybody missing?

There’s Aspen at far right …

Notice anything else, hmm, “odd”? Kestrel and Winona in the background … and in the foreground, Mahogany (front), surrounded by boys, left to right behind her: Mouse, Sundance and Aspen. And not quite ready to present her baby … but close …

Comanche … Hey, who’s that behind him?

Do you see? Recognize? Now do you see who was missing from Mahogany’s band?

Hannah and Sable. When I saw Mahogany – without Sable – I hoped fervently that she had joined her yearmate and big brother Pinon older half-sister Ember with Hook. This kind of thing makes me wonder how “off” our herd dynamic is with massive roundups that take most of the horses every two to four years. Hannah and Sable are yearlings. In a normal environment, I don’t think they’d have left their dams this soon. In both cases, they left before their mothers had even had this year’s foals.

Left to right: Pinon, Hook, Sable, Ember’s head, Hannah


I thought she was going to put on a show like Gideon did last week …

But this wee girl is more reserved than her uncle.

Mama and first-born daughter

Snack time

Love her expression here … *drinker of the wind*! Trying to catch a whiff of this weird two-legged.

Baby girl laid down when Kestrel was grazing with her head hidden from me by a greasewood bush. But then Kestrel grazed her way around her like this, and it looked to me like a little “hug” of the baby – a cocoon of sun-warmed grass and mama’s protective presence.

Comanche grazes by Kestrel as she stands over Winona. The other horses were never far away. I wonder whether Kestrel will continue to follow Mahogany or whether she and Comanche will eventually split off on their own.

Baby napping under guardian legs. Could anything be sweeter?! (Don’t answer that, and if you’ve made it this far, more sweetness is coming …)

With all those boys together, there’s bound to be a little of this. Mouse, left, and Sundance.

And then Hook had the audacity to strut up the hill from his little flock toward Comanche, Kestrel and Winona. Kestrel never looked up, and it didn’t – immediately – interrupt Winona’s nap – but Comanche took immediate notice. And Hook got a little shock:

He took off after him – HARD. I had started to leave them, so I missed the beginning stages of this chase with the camera.

So Hook, former lowest man on the bachelor totem pole, has a band of four now, and Comanche, former first sergeant for Steeldust’s band and then low on the bachelor pole that developed when SD’s band split, seems to have acquired a mare and her foal … and former Lt. Mouse seems to be still in that position – to Sundance, who seems to have been born into and at least grew up in the band? – with Aspen at the low end of THAT heirarchy. Following in the footsteps of low-man Kreacher and low-man Copper … Smarts, not necessarily brawn, with this group?! Or is the bottom of the heap the place to be when it comes to “acquiring” those that lag behind (whether youngsters or a mare that goes off to foal)? Always a myriad to ponder …

Hollywood’s band was almost the last I saw (I saw Cinch, Bruiser and Twister again, far off). Not too far from the road, and I was able to get a nice look at Piedra’s newest son.

No lupine … and greasewood doesn’t quite have the same luminous quality, but baby in a sea of green appeals just as well to my heart.

Piedra and her little boy – see how his star makes a heart at the top – like Hayden’s? Or another upside-down aspen leaf …

Baylee and Sage

After a bit, he got up to nurse, but I loved this look he’s throwing back over his shoulder.

Then Piedra decided that was enough exposure to a two-legged, and she walked down to Hollywood. Iya in the foreground. She turned to follow them, and I wish I’d been about five steps to the left or right because Holls bent his neck around to greet his son for a few seconds before Piedra turned and walked a bit farther before settling back to grazing. The whole moment was blocked because I was behind Iya in a direct path. Oy. As much as I love to capture the interactions between the mamas and their babies, I love to capture that between the stallions and babies – just more rare to see. They like to portray this stoic tough-guy front, but they’re big softies when it comes to babies! Just like all of us!

The Four Corners Back Country Horsemen’s annual wild horse count is this weekend – I hope you folks see all the horses and new babies and have weather as great as mid-week!

Happy birthday, Cuatro!

16 05 2010

This little boy had a bit of a wobbly start on an auspicious day: the day of last year’s wild horse count by Four Corners Back Country Horsemen.

Because he was born on their big day (the count is an annual event – this year’s is coming up this weekend, and I think it’s year 12?!), I asked members to come up with a name for the brown colt with the four white legs and great big star. What they came up with was simple and perfect – simply perfect!

I’d had no idea then-2-year-old Two Boots was even pregnant. They were back in the east pocket, along with several other bands. When I first saw her, I mistook her for Alegre (there is a pretty striking resemblance …), but I couldn’t figure out how she had gotten to where she had so quickly. Then it hit me that it was NOT Alegre, that it was, in fact, Two Boots, and what the heck was that little bundle at her feet?!

Yearling Iya checks out the newcomer …

Baby Terra didn’t know WHAT to think of this tiny little creature!

And when he finally wobbled to his feet, he wasn’t at all sure which flank was the correct flank! (That’s Twister – maybe his daddy? – he’s searching.)

But he finally found mama, and all was well.

He looked so much stronger the next week, I knew he was going to make it.

And Two Boots, young as she was, obviously learned well from her own mama’s care that she has done just fine.

August …

He wasn’t above little brother pranks, either!

Or showing off …

Or racing like the wind!

Cuatro and Terra … Terra is Grey/Traveler’s and Houdini’s daughter. Cuatro is Houdini’s grandson.

He loved playing in the snow. 🙂

And he has been a most excellent and tolerant “big brother” to Hayden since they’ve been in Chrome’s band with their mothers!

Did you ever see two cuter, more completely innocent little boys in all your lives?!

Look how grey he’s getting around his face.

Happy birthday, striking boy! From a wobbly start, you’ve blossomed!

Bounce’s and Chrome’s

14 05 2010

They weren’t close – in fact, they were miles away from each other – but this is a grouping of pix of these two bands because I didn’t post them earlier.

They’re looking up toward Grey/Traveler’s band and Steeldust’s band.

Alegre and Liberty. Liberty is small, but she’s doing well.

Love this beautiful girl … we have a bit of a wait till we see her baby, methinks …

Alegre and 2-year-old Gaia

And I know VC has been waiting for word about Chrome’s band … 🙂

Funny … only Hayden looking at me.

Cuatro and Two Boots … 2B doesn’t look all that close, either, does she? She’s “due” in a couple of days.

I could never get tired of seeing the horses just like this – and all it means in terms of their bonds with each other.

Nor like this! At home in a big little slice of country.

Jif. Don’t be fooled by her little belly – Hayden is only almost 8 months old.

VC, just for you – handsome Chrome, actually taking a break from grazing to look at me for a picture!

And one for the birder folks who so unfortunately got rained out Thursday when they were supposed to be able to see the horses during their tour:

How beautiful is this little wonder of nature?! Western tanager