Subtlety

23 03 2011

This will be at the top of posts until the deadline – Monday, March 28 – to call the Dolores Public Lands Office at (970) 882-6800 to request placement on the mailing list to be sent the scoping letter for the Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area roundup this fall. That should be coming out very soon.

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The following are photos from my visit with Hollywood’s, Comanche’s and Mahogany’s bands last week. They were once all part of Steeldust’s large band (except the youngsters and Iya) – though not for a couple of years now. πŸ™‚ Mahogany leaving with Sundance and bachelor Aspen is the most recent development.

Full brothers Tenaz, almost a yearling, left, and Sage, almost 2, right.

Here’s the rest of that story:

“Reading” stud pile messages. Iya in the background.

Mahogany (bay) and Sudance. SunD stays close to her to ward off Aspen. Mahogany is in much better shape this year after a year’s rest from raising a foal.

Mahogany is the dam of Baylee (almost 4), Pinon (almost 3) and Sable (almost 2). Bayles is with Hollywood; Pinon and Sable are with Hook. She should be due in May.

Aspen with Round Top in the background. See the road? It ends just above the curve you can see. That’s where I parked the day before and walked around the west side (to the right) and came back to the Jeep from the east side (left). Seven’s and Bruiser were “behind” it on the leftish side – basically southeastish.

I’m positive Iya is pregnant.

Baylee sure doesn’t look pregnant …

Watching me carefully while she rubs an itch using that greasewood! (Check out her lip!)

What do YOU think?

Straight-on of Baylee …

Straight-on of Iya.

Hang in there, mama Piedra. Only about another month for you.

If she’s as consistent as she was with Sage and Tenaz, she’s due around the end of April.

Sundance – check out that groovy, wavy mane.

Camouflage, naturally. (Did anyone see him in one of the pix above of Baylee?)

As he grows up, he reminds me more of Chrome in his carriage.

Comanche

I had been photographing Sage and Tenaz playing over the stud pile when I noticed ‘Nona moseying in our direction. Hollywood’s had spread out grazing, but Tenaz was lingering even after Sage had wandered off. Oh, sly boy, I wonder why? πŸ™‚

Winona walking down into the shallow arroyo. Sure-footed and beautiful.

Earlier, Tenaz sticking to big brother.

Big trot …

Do you see the future? Mr. Tenaz guarding his family? Brother Sage and auntie Iya in the background.

Watching daddy Hollywood, who hadn’t yet crossed the arroyo. Don’t you see Hollywood in this boy?

Curious George, err, I mean Tenaz. πŸ™‚

I went on up the hill to watch them, and Mahogany and SunD came up and past me again … Lack of golden sunshine didn’t diminish the beauty of the basin.

Someone in Telluride asked me (basically): Of all the wonderful places in the West that are loved and cherished and protected and should be protected, what’s so special about Spring Creek Basin?

An innocent question (I think … I hope) … one whose answers completely undid me.

“It’s magic,” I finally managed. I can’t remember what else I said through my tear-choked throat.

Is magic enough? To protect this place that most would see as empty, desolate, scrubby and lonesome and well off anyone’s definition of a beaten track?

I think I tried to say that I write a blog to try to tell people just what’s so special about it … Mostly, my attempts fall short.

The wind, howling the day before, howling overnight, was still at dawn and for a couple of hours … until it returned seemingly out of nowhere about midmorning. I got up to head back down the hill, and saw that Winona had laid down for a nap not far below me.

Ordinary? She’s watching a pair of noisy (mating?) ravens flying across the hill that had been with us all morning. Maybe, to her, alert to the goings-on of her world. Extraordinary.

Loved the soft light illuminating her mane, the dark eastern ridges rising above her, complementing her buckskin gold.

Head. So. Heavy.

What’s so special?

Really?

Do words even exist??


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4 responses

23 03 2011
Lanny Boone

Do we know which horses will be removed. It’s going to break my heart. I look a your pics and sometimes live through their eyes. I will miss seeing some of theses hroses. It really struck me when you were discribing the play fighting between storm and twister. You mentioned something about strom growing into a fine band stallion but he my not get the chance. That would kill me. I would love for him to stay.

23 03 2011
TJ

The “easy” answer is no, we don’t know which horses will be removed – mostly because we don’t know exactly who will be rounded up and won’t till the roundup. The more complicated answer is that I’ve been told I will be able to play a key role in that selection. Genetics is going to play the biggest role in that (for me).

Specifically, Storm is Alpha’s only confirmed offspring in the basin – that ought to weigh very heavily in his favor – as well as the influence PZP-22 has had on his growth (by preventing his mother from getting pregnant, thus allowing her to devote more time and nutrition to him). Are we (is BLM) really leaving the best horses wild?

Getting more complicated, mares like Luna and Kiowa and Houdini have a few known offspring each – who stays? Who goes? Luna – and her offspring – represent outside genetics, introduced *because* of our small herd size and limited genetics. But, although I’d sure love to give Luna a break of at least a year or two, she might have more offspring. What about her vs. her offspring? What horse has the best chance of being adopted, of adapting to domestic life: a 12-year-old mare or a 2-year-old filly that might quickly (relatively) become someone’s riding cherished horse.

Part of my thinking includes the realities of the poor adoption market. BLM sends the younger horses to adoption because they’re the most likely to be adopted – most before they’ve reproduced, aka contributed their genetics. For just that reason (let alone other factors), roundups and removals are absolutely devastating to a herd. In the current management scheme, with roundups happening every few years, genetic material is being removed every few years. Two of the ways PZP contributes to a herd’s genetic variability is that PZP is reversible (meaning, unlike removing horses or gelding stallions, giving it doesn’t preclude a mare from reproducing later) and its use lengthens the time between roundups – giving more horses more opportunity to reproduce and contribute their genetics to the herd. Does that seem counter to “limiting” births? It’s because it’s spread over a longer period of time – fewer births per year.

While genetics are important, it’s also important not to treat the basin like a breeding farm, looking at characteristics like “pretty heads” or particular colors. Interestingly, here, our “exotic” colors are dun and buckskin – which are introduced. So when I recommend those horses stay, it’s not because of their pretty colors. (Though I suspect those particular horses were introduced in the first place because of their colors.)

My heart has been breaking for what seems like a long time now. Foaling season this year seems bittersweet, and our first baby isn’t even on the ground. I’d rather make informed decisions about who stays and who goes than leaving it to BLM’s random decisions … but how on Earth do I make those selections? 😦

Part of it is educating people about the horses, trying to get a strong adopter pool in place ahead of time, informing people about how limiting births is better for the herd’s future. None of it is easy … it’s all worth it for the horses.

I so much appreciate your support and that of all the other readers – lovers of these horses.

24 03 2011
Pat Amthor

I feel your heartfelt love of these beautiful creatures of the herd. I agree that THE most important idea to support is that we limit pregnancy. Also, that “we” pre-advertise to find the greatest adopters who will have the caring patience to work and train these willing horses. These horses can be the best horse you ever had.

24 03 2011
Marcia

You let me see that part of Colorado I might never see in person and it is beautiful, as are the horses that you are able to capture so magnificently! Kudos to you for giving me and everyone else who visit your blog that up close and personal visit through your camera lens!

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