Happy Thanksgiving!

25 11 2010

I am so thankful for the opportunity to get to know these incredible wild creatures. They give me so much more than I could ever return.

I am thankful …

I am thankful …

I am thankful …

I am thankful …

I am thankful …

I am thankful.

Ours, before we were U.S.

24 11 2010


From the Reno Gazette-Journal

“Best science” gets harder and harder to ignore.

Kreacher & his girls

24 11 2010

Kreacher – he and his girls have such a good relationship.

Kootenai …

… and Corona – their own personal model walk.

Corona and her “auntie” Kootenai


Raven’s own glamour shot against the mountains!

All the bands have their own personalities. Raven and Kootenai are young – 4 this year – and I think Kreacher also is fairly young, maybe around 8ish? That makes them seem like a tight little group of friends. Kreach leads, he follows, whatever works – he always defers to alpha Raven! – and he can be fiercely protective of *his* girls! But mostly, he’s very laid back and easy-going, and that attitude pervades this little band.

Buckskin and blue

23 11 2010

Any Ian Tyson fans out there?

“We will ride to the end, on the wings of the wind, until we’re home, and our circle is through. May the children read, may they understand, what is of true value, so the truth may be known. The glory of God, and the dark side of man. The one thing, they must ride on alone. And may they stay, where the river runs through, the range and the sky, buckskin and blue. May they ride to the end, on the winds of the wind, till their home and their circle is through…” ‘Til the Circle is Through, Ian Tyson

“Buckskin and blue” started sticking in my mind after an extended autumn trip to Yellowstone country last year. The buckskin grasses of fall, waving below turquoise-blue skies brought that song back to me. And now I think of it often when I’m out with our own buckskins, under the blazing-blue sky that is the dome above Spring Creek Basin.

Do blue mountains count? This is looking too much toward sunset for the sky there to be so blue, but the snow on the La Sals carries the tones.

These buckskin girls surely count! Winona and Kestrel

Not buckskin, but I liked how Comanche’s brown-grey dappled color mimicked the colors of his snow-dotted background.

Buckskin and buckskin and saltbush and winterfat and pinon and juniper hills. Little girl in a big country.

Aspen light

22 11 2010

Steeldust’s band was partially visible near one of the roads, but I had seen Seven’s band and not Shane, so I went to them first on my last visit. I had such a good visit with them and Hook’s and Comanche’s bands that I lost track of time (like that never happens …), and then I had forgotten to change the daylight saving time setting on my GPS device, so even though the sun was about a finger’s width from the horizon, I kept telling myself I had plenty of time to get over to see Luna and the gang. Ha. (I know exactly where I am, but I’ve found it handy for sunrise/set and moonrise/set times, though, in Colorado, with hills and ridges and mountains along every horizon, the time is usually off between about 17 and 23 minutes.)

With the very, very last kiss of sunlight on the grasses, I caught sight of Aspen over a hill … and that was it.

I love the light and Aspen’s pose and the illustration that the horses can be so nearby (this is not far from the road) and so out of sight.

Black as Raven

21 11 2010

Just something about Raven … some weird, wild, wondrous, witchy thing that grabs the imagination and makes you fall in love.

And Raven’s daughter, Corona, light to her dark. Love that mane she inherited from papa Corona, aka “Fabio.” Stallion Corona is still wild in Sand Wash Basin; witness accounts put Raven with his band before the roundup there in October 2008. It follows that Corona-filly, born in 2009, is his daughter. (And yes, I named her after him.)

Sun(light) & moon(rise)

20 11 2010

Watchful Roja


Swelling moon, up around 3:30 p.m., I think

Handsome Seven, chatting with Hook (you can barely see his tail through the tree at lower right)

Sweet Shane, nearly gave me a heart attack when I didn’t see her at first, from a distance

Did I mention Hook’s band was very nearby? Just a bit of snow left from the last storm … and we’re expecting more this weekend …

Mona and Shane and purple mountain majesty

They had stopped so Shane could have a snack; meanwhile, I took in the scenery!

Ember & Fierro

19 11 2010

I’m running out of superlatives to describe the horses, the way I feel when I’m with them, the magic held within the basin as if under some transparent dome …

So quiet, except the bawling of cattle out on the Disappointment Road and the trucks and trailers rumbling back and forth. Moving to winter grazing. (Other cattle will be sharing the basin with the horses soon enough.) Interesting how that sound carries right into the heart of the basin, where the horses were – and I with them – on a glorious November morning. A truck also drove slowly out of the basin, in early, apparently, awaiting a trophy of hunting season (over Nov. 21; can I say I’ll be relieved, though as far as I know, we’ve had no problems this year, as most years?). Breezy early, then without so much as a by-your-leave, I realized it was nearly gone. Still and quiet and golden beautiful. Horses all around. Familiar. Secrets still to be revealed.

What left to say? Fortunately, I have a lot of pictures to illustrate what I’m at a loss for words to express!

Ember and Fierro pictured, watching the boys – do you see Kootenai and Corona in the background? Kreacher’s band was there, and, immediately across a narrow but deep arroyo (deeper than two of me, maybe three, and I’m not short), Comanche, Kestrel and Winona were there.

Here, Hook’s band and Duke with los lobos (wolfy loner boys), Twister and Cuatro. Recently, they had been seen with Bruiser. I saw him, too, not wild-horse-far away, loner again. Also not far but unseen for folds and ridges and sweeps and swells of country, Steeldust’s band (again, a misnomer but habit) and Seven’s. Chrome’s likely in the vicinity.

When I saw a bobcat in the morning dim before dawn, I knew it was going to be a fabulous day … and it was.


18 11 2010

Hook’s band against the La Sal Mountains

Hannah, our Hannah

15 11 2010

This post is to give a shout out to a remarkable young woman who has supported our Colorado chapter of the National Mustang Association for the last couple of years, Hannah. Last year, Hannah sent $100 of her babysitting money to NMA/CO to be used in our efforts to advocate for the wild horses of Spring Creek Basin. This fall, she sent $100 again. Hannah, we so appreciate your interest in the horses!

I don’t very often (OK, maybe never) talk about our group, but I think it’s time to start “tooting our horn,” so to speak, and this may be a good time to start.

NMA/CO is a nonprofit chapter of the original organization, based in Utah, that oversees a wild horse sanctuary in Nevada. Members of that original organization had a hand in promoting the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range before the 1971 Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burro Act went into effect, an interesting fact I learned when I read Hope Ryden’s America’s Last Wild Horses. Locally, members have been staunch advocates of the Spring Creek Basin herd for more than a decade (approaching 15 years now, I believe). Our group focuses solely on the wild horses of Spring Creek Basin, and, interestingly, it was originally started at the request of a former BLM manager of the herd.

I got involved around the time of the 2007 roundup and now am president of the chapter. NMA/CO has done numerous projects in the basin, including removing old fences, building new fences and maintaining boundary fences; building the current water catchment, which provides the only source of fresh water to the horses in the basin (the other sources being extremely alkaline); providing boots to inmates in the inmate training program at Canon City; cutting and spraying tamarisk, also known as salt cedar; helping subsidize trips each spring for “alternative spring break” students from the University of Missouri who do projects on San Juan public lands in Southwest Colorado, including in the basin; trash pickup; and, perhaps the biggest project of all, buying and permanently retiring $40,000 worth of cattle AUMs in the basin several years ago, leaving only one grazing-rights holder, who runs cattle in the basin from Dec. 1 to Feb. 28. These are all projects Hannah and other members contribute to making happen for our wild horses.

Last year, I named the first filly born in Spring Creek Basin after young Hannah. The suggestion was put forward by a member of our board and unanimously – and enthusiastically! – approved by all.

Hannah-filly, now a yearling and thriving.

Hannah with her best friend, year-mate and half-sister, Sable.

Hannah-girl, thank you so much for your generous contributions to our Spring Creek Basin mustangs! You are thought of often, in fact, every time I see Hannah-filly!

From Hannah-filly and the rest of us, thank you!


I hope this works … The above is a link to our current (Fall/Winter 2010) NMA/CO newsletter. As you can see (if it works!), we have a lot going on. I think it’s also time to start talking about management strategies we are encouraging in Spring Creek basin, which includes the use of fertility control. It’s about to be roundup year in the basin, and the more facts I can disseminate, the better informed people will be about our realities.

The first fact: Because of the herd population and the limited resources in the basin, a roundup is necessary. Second: With the future use of fertility control, we hope to slow (not stop) population growth and push roundups to as few and far between as possible. Local BLM is considering our proposal, and we hope that will have a favorable outcome.

More to come on this issue.