Comanche, by Veryl

21 06 2011

I visited my friend Claude Steelman yesterday at his gallery in Durango, and he asked me the identity of a horse in a photo he had taken in about 2009. I had been eyeing it, and as best I can tell by the angle, it’s Comanche. Then he pointed to a bronze sculpture on the counter, “Dust Devil,” and said it’s Veryl Goodnight’s rendition of  Comanche in the photo.

Photos of it are featured in her new book, No Turning Back; The Art of Veryl Goodnight.

I don’t think Claude has the photo on his website, but if you were to look at the sculpture from the back left, with him facing more forward than in the pic of the sculpture on the website, that’s the photo Claude caught of Comanche, backlit with dust wreathing his hooves.

Our Comanche – in bronze. One of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.

Stallion action

21 06 2011

My friend Karen Keene Day came out to visit the horses with me last week, her first trip back to the basin since she and her husband are back in Colorado for the summer. We got to witness some changing of the guard between former dominant band stallion Steeldust and bachelor Mouse.

Steeldust was formerly in charge of the biggest band in the basin – the biggest after the roundup, with only Alpha having been rounded up (and released). (As an aside, for people who are worried about the effects of PZP and PZP-22 on mares, Alpha has been with the same band since her release, bred by just two stallions – Steeldust and Butch – and oddly enough, not only did PZP-22 apparently work really well on Alpha, she still has not foaled. (It didn’t work on the other three mares, ranging from no effect at all to a delay in foaling of two months.) The point is, she has been coming into heat since she last foaled in July 2008, and not only has she not been “raped,” the bachelors once with the band have all dispersed but one and found their own families, and the band has naturally broken up as youngsters grew up and dispersed. And, as it happens, she’s in fantastic condition – and so is her almost-3-year-old son, Storm, who has had his own band since this spring (as a 2.5-year-old).)

Mouse, the bachelor still with the band, managed to get between Steeldust and the band a few weeks ago, but Steeldust quickly re-established his dominance over Mouse, if not son Butch. Last week, Mouse had managed to turn the tables again.

Mouse, right, chases Steeldust. This photo is quite a bit cropped; the band is almost directly behind me.

Circle of life … It was hard to see Steeldust, still in his prime, so frantic to get back to “his” band, even knowing it’s nature’s way. Imagine all the stories those scars tell. When we left, though, the stallions were grazing calmly together, with Alpha and Luna and Gideon and Varoujan nearby.

The future … Varoujan

And a guy in his own prime – Kreacher

Life goes on …

Mamas and babies – and more

21 06 2011

Where does the time go? Father’s Day is past, so I thought I’d show off some mamas and babies …

Aurora checking out mama’s lovely ear.

Kestrel and her Juniper-girl

Enjoying the sunshine – love their sweet faces.

Mama Kestrel – back right – with her gorgeous girls: yearling Winona and baby Juniper.

More, random:

Juniper, glowing in morning sunlight.


Winona and baby sister Juniper.

Mama and her girls


With baby sister Aurora.

One on the way …

Handsome Apollo, son of:


Kreacher has just two babies that I know of (Shane (Mona) and Apollo (Raven)), but I’ll never know how many babies venerable Bounce has sired. Whisper and Aurora are the latest.

It was so cool so see her seek out this dead branch – that mama had walked past – up to it, sniff it, then deliberately walk over it. I love the concentration on her little face as she tucks that hind leg WAY up to step over the branch! Mustang skillz!

I don’t think I posted this one already? Whisper, 2, is apparently remembering the goods while baby sister Aurora nurses, and Alegre is nuzzling baby even as she pins her ears at her elder offspring, who has wisely approached from baby’s side, using her as a shield!

Using mama’s tail to rid her of the gnats, which aren’t that bad this year, probably because of the near-constant wind. Not that it’s rarely windy in the basin – it’s always windy – but this year seems particularly windy, though we haven’t had the awful dust storms of past years.

Lovely Alegre – her grace and beauty just astound me.

And one more …

Sego lilies before dawn (or at least before the sun topped the eastern ridges) that morning. On my way to looking for horses before the light found us, I “stopped to” admire the segos. They’ve been up for a couple of weeks now, but this was the first time I found them with just a light breeze, not the stout, alive thing that made them whip impossibly to photograph.

Happy Father’s Day!

19 06 2011

To all our daddies …

… from all your children and mamas and families who love you …

We love you and appreciate you and thank you for all you do!

Happy Father’s Day!



Seeing spots

18 06 2011

On my way to the interior basin, there are a couple of places I always look for horses from the Disappointment Road, which runs along the southwestern border until just past the Perkins corrals. This year, with the Round Top pond holding water and the horses able to drink there instead of searching for elusive salty seeps, I haven’t very often seen horses from the road, which means hikes into the McKenna Peaks Wilderness Study Area (non-motorized) to look for them – and why I don’t often see David’s band, the pinto band led by Kiowa or the new band of Ty, Chipeta and Puzzle. A couple of weeks ago, I saw David’s from afar and hiked in to see them (it’s always easier when you know their location, though it’s not a far “speculation hike” to get to a point where there’s a decent view), and that was the day I found Kiowa’s new baby. But I hadn’t seen Ty, Chipeta and Puzzle since earlier this spring, shortly after they made the split from the pinto band.

So when I spotted Ty and Chipeta from the road, that was a good enough excuse to park and climb through the fence and walk out to see them – plus, I couldn’t see Puzzle and wanted to make sure she was there. She was – napping.

Boy, has she grown!

If I didn’t know she was 9 – almost 10 – months old, I’d never guess (well, and if I didn’t know, I’d never guess she’d been born in September).

Would *you* ever believe she’s only 9.5 months old?! I never thought Chipeta was all that short until I saw her with her own less-than-year-old daughter!

Ty. He is a lesson in persistence, he is. He would seem to claim Chipeta only to lose her back to the band and Copper. But he seems to be keeping his little family far away from any temptations. He has also always had that short tail – I have no idea why.

Chipeta is clearly pregnant. Due Sept. 1, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she foals into August … and would be happier for her to have a slightly older foal by the time of the roundup. Mona, by contrast, is due the day the roundup starts – Sept. 15 – and yes, we have already talked about that with our BLM folks – and will continue to. Jif also is due anywhere from about late August to late September.

Because the Spring Creek Basin mustangs are documented and easily identified (individually AND by band), and because I know we have at least three mares due to foal very close to the roundup, and because, per BLM, we plan to be in radio contact with the helicopter pilot, we hope to convince him to ignore those horses and their very-young foals. Bait trapping would make this kind of selective removal much easier … but hopefully we’re moving in that direction now for next time.

Pretty Puzzle and mama Chipeta

We had company …

For Pat A: This was WAY south of where we saw the buck and does during the count – same guy? I keep seeing the does in the same general area – no fawns yet – and no buck, either.

I like the illusion of this photo, but in reality, there’s at least 2 feet of space between Puzzle and stepdaddy Ty. 🙂

Mama picked up a sprig of greasewood. She wasn’t terribly impressed with or worried about me, and I had a devil of a time getting both ears. 😉

That Puzzle is a pretty little (big!) girl, isn’t she?

Insanity in Wyoming

17 06 2011

I saw this news just before I left for the basin this week … to visit with wild horses and their foals. BLM officials for two Wyoming wild horse herds – White Mountain and Little Colorado – plan to make the herds completely sterile, non-reproducing and totally unnatural.

Pam Nickoles has information on her blog with this post.

This sort of death knell to rational – sustainable – management cannot be allowed to be set as precedent. Slow population growth, don’t stop it.

As readers of this blog are aware, I am a huge proponent of native PZP, and we plan to implement such a plan of annual darting here this fall. I am absolutely against sterilization of wild horses (and burros).

Please visit Pam’s blog for all the pertinent contact information to urge AGAINST sterilization of these herds (of any herds).

Resistance is futile

17 06 2011

Juniper and Winona



Whisper and Auroa

Conclusion – Don’t try to resist! 🙂