Admiral & Kapitan

28 07 2011

As most of you have heard, Pryor Mountain lost a great stallion, Admiral, and his son Kapitan recently when they were struck and killed by a driver suspected of being under the influence of alcohol.

Admiral, Kapitan, Hightail, Seneca and Jesse James were the last horses I saw in the Pryors last summer on my way to Billings for PZP training. Matt Dillon took me out to see the horses, and we picked up some other visitors as well who spent a beautiful morning marveling at the peacefully grazing horses. I am such a sucker for bays, and dark, rich glorious bays such as Admiral – as Admiral himself – are just stunning.


Kapitan & Seneca (?)


25 07 2011

Life is full of changes, some good, some bad, some that happen, some that require a leap, whether it’s a push or voluntary.

Change of the forcible kind hit me last week when the world jolted off its reassuring axis and crashed.

I have a fantastic blue-sky pendant made by a local silversmith-artisan-beautiful-person that is stamped on the back: “Freedom lies in being bold.” I bought it last year after looking at it and thinking about it, right before my trip to Montana, during which I crammed in two drive-throughs of America’s oldest national park and a friend’s wedding in one of the perfect places on Earth and my PZP training.

I wear it to try to be bold … wishing I could be as bold as it suggests. Knowing I fall well short of the mark. I wear it for courage, to take in the power of sunshine in the heavens … and I needed every ounce last week. His was more than mine.

I simply cannot – and so often don’t try to – express my gratitude enough that so many people love and enjoy the mustangs of Spring Creek Basin. Through ups and downs, amazement and sorrow, pain and frustration and the greatest joy I’ve ever known, I am grateful to all of you for coming along on this journey with me. For those of you I’ve met, for those of you I’ve met only through comments and emails, for those of you I’ve never met but have met the horses, fallen for them, tumbled head over heels for these incredible beings that live so simply, that have stirred the national conscience about what’s right and wrong with how we treat animals, each other, all our neighbors on this big blue round rocket in the infinite every-sphere we call home.

I am a loner. Pure and simple, I am the lonest of lone wolves. After almost four years of visiting the horses almost weekly, I finally realized one day this spring during a peaceful pleasant daydreaming hill-time with Alegre’s family (before Aurora’s arrival) that I think of myself as neither lonely NOR alone (“alone but not lonely”). I mean, duh. I’m with the horses.

But I love sharing them. With people. With YOU. Whether I know you or not, that you know the horses brings me the most incredible joy. When I’m not ranting (to myself) about the ills and craziness of the world (Norwegian dude goes and bombs people, then spends an hour and a half shooting people –  KIDS?! – while dressed as a cop?!), near and far, I am thinking about how to share the beauty of their world, them, the beauty of a particular place and beings in the world that I have come to know so well, want everyone to love as much as I do.

Sometimes, bad, horrible, awful, hurtful things just happen. No one is at fault, the world won’t end, most of the world won’t even know about it. But he was here and real and living and breathing and traveling and touching my life (heart, with his, huge) and that of others and beautiful and doing what he did, and he is gone, and though my heart has shattered (again), it is already healing with the help of what is left behind – those he knew and who knew him – and thought of him: loved.

Not yet … not yet …

I am an independent sort, and one of my biggest frustrations in this life is the need to rely on others for certain things – things that rarely get done as well as I think I could do them – if I could. Physically? No. The “yes you may” kind of being able to do what needs to be done. Permission. Allowance.

Because that’s the way of it.

It comes full circle in waiting for bureaucracy.

But sometimes, even in the most bureaucratic of bureaucracies, things get done because they must – because to do the thing is the right thing to do. I witnessed that last week, and it gave – gives – me hope.

Remember that when I found Hook’s band without Ember’s new foal – Indy – Twister also was missing? I thought he’d turn up. I thought he’d be with the youngsters or with Duke or maybe Sundance. I thought he’d be fine.

He did turn up. He wasn’t fine.

He was way up the hill above Wildcat Spring – near the place where I first visited with Indy – and he was hurt. Badly, horribly, no-turning-back hurt. He had lost a lot of weight. I don’t know when he’d had his last drink of water.

Some would tolerate that suffering. Some would not, and they came in the morning and freed a beautiful wild soul in the last – best – compassionate act they could perform for him. For that, they have my eternal gratitude.

Sometimes, you do need someone else, who not only has permission but ability – and the compassion to do what must be done – and well.

I know this has been a rambling post, off-kilter with things seemingly unconnected. I could have listed the things I knew about Twister – orphan, maybe a sire, probably a brother, definitely a son, a young stallion looking for his own family. A fuzzy little odd-colored colt with a wonky knee who adored a filly named Two Boots who took his son/brother under his wing and who grew into a silver reflection of our great stallion Traveler.

But that’s only what I knew. He was so much more. They all are. And that’s why we fight for them – for what we k-n-o-w, for all that we don’t know anything at all.

Now he’s always free. Always home. Always with us. Always ours.

And for what we knew, I’ll keep bringing you the stories I know, theirs to share with the greater world, so we know a little more beauty, to counter a little more of the hell we read about every day.

Twister with Corazon and Cinch

Twister & Corazon & Cinch

Twister (far right) with Two Boots, Houdini & Seven

Grey (right), Houdini, Twister & Two Boots

Twister & Two Boots

Grey, Twister, Two Boots, Houdini

Twister & Two Boots

Twister & Two Boots

Twister, Grey, Houdini, Jif

Jif, Two Boots, Twister, Iya & Houdini

Iya, Two Boots & Twister

Jif, Twister & Grey

Twister & Iya

Twister & Two Boots

Jif & Twister

Grey & Twister

Iya & Twister

Houdini, Iya, Jif, Two Boots & Twister

Twister & Iya

Grey & Twister

Twister & Two Boots


Twister, Cuatro, Two Boots

Twister & Two Boots with Cuatro

Bounce, Hook & Twister

Twister & Hook

Twister & Storm

Cinch & Twister

Bruiser & Twister

Cinch, Bruiser & Twister


Twister & Cuatro

Cuatro & Twister

Sundance, Twister & Aspen

Twister, Cuatro & Duke


Twister, Cuatro & Bruiser

Cuatro & Twister


Cuatro & Twister


Twister & Duke

Twister & Cuatro

Twister & Cuatro

Twister & Cuatro

Twister & Storm

Twister & Storm

Twister, far left, with Hook's band



Fly now with angels …

On hold …

21 07 2011

Was having a really good time in the basin with some really important visitors … and then it was shattered. I’m not quite ready to post about it except to say Spring Creek Basin is less one beautiful soul … and that I am beyond grateful to BLM’s Tom Rice and Sean Wagner (sp?) for their kindness and compassion.

I beg your patience if the blog is quieter than usual for a little while.


Cougar and his stepdaddy, Poco – they’re just fine. After weeks of not seeing them, I saw their band both days and spent some healing time with them today.

The love I have for these horses has such power … to break … and to heal … my fragile little heart.

BLM seeks comments on Piceance-East Douglas Roundup EA

19 07 2011

Thanks to photographer Pam Nickoles for this heads-up about the environmental assessment now out for comment about the upcoming Piceance-East Douglas roundup scheduled for Sept. 20-30 (just after the one here in Spring Creek Basin, which is set for Sept. 15-18). She has been visiting this herd and has some awesome photos of these beautiful mustangs.

From the BLM website:

July 7, 2011

Contact: Tom Alvarez, public affairs specialist, (970) 244-3097

Environmental Assessment for Piceance-East Douglas Wild Horse Gather Available for Public Comment

Meeker, Colo. — The Bureau of Land Management, Northwest District, White River Field Office (WRFO) is releasing a preliminary Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Piceance-East Douglas Herd Management Area Wild Horse Gather Plan for public review and comment. The gather is needed to help balance wild horse populations with other resources, restrict wild horses from areas where they were not “presently found” at the passage of the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act and to manage wild horses within the area designated for long-term wild horse management.

The WRFO manages wild horses within the 190,130 acre Piceance-East Douglas Herd Management Area (HMA), located in Rio Blanco County, Colorado. The Appropriate Management Level (AML) in the HMA is 135-235 wild horses. The Proposed Action analyzes the impacts of gathering the current estimated population of 382 wild horses from inside and 78 wild horses from outside the HMA; to implement fertility control, sex ratio adjustments, and a selective removal of excess wild horses. If the Proposed Action is fully successful, the HMA will consist of approximately 135 wild horses; the lower range of the appropriate management level of 135 to 235 wild horses. The BLM would select the 135 wild horses to maintain a diverse age structure, herd character, body type (conformation) and implement a sex ratio adjustment of 60 percent studs to 40 percent mares. All mares, over two years of age, released back to the HMA would be treated with Porcine Zona Pellucida (PZP) immunocontraception (fertility) drugs. In addition, the BLM has fully analyzed three additional alternatives to the Proposed Action to address issues and concerns brought forward during the initial scoping process.

“The Bureau of Land Management is tasked with managing our rangelands for a variety of uses. Providing management for a healthy wild horse herd within the HMA so the thriving natural ecological balance is maintained for all plant and animal species on that range, in conjunction with all other resource uses, it is one of our most important responsibilities to the American public and public land users. The public’s participation in this analysis process is vital to the decision making process,” said Kent Walter, field manager for the White River Field Office.

The gather EA can be found on the BLM WRFO website at, and selecting Preliminary Environmental Assessment DOI-BLM-CO-110-2011-0058-EA. All comments must be submitted in writing and received by the WRFO by the close of business on Aug. 8, 2011. Comments may be sent via email to with “Wild Horse Removal Plan” in the subject line of the email. Comments can also be sent by regular mail to the Bureau of Land Management, White River Field Office: attention Melissa Kindall, 220 E. Market St., Meeker, CO 81641. For more information, call James Roberts at (970) 878-3873 or Melissa Kindall at (970) 878-3842.


I went looking for information about the specific fertility control to be used … “two-year PZP contraceptive vaccine,” according to the EA, but the language seems to mean native PZP and/or PZP-22 interchangeably. (Page 94 of the PDF; Page 85 of the EA document.)

It seems odd that BLM would continue to use PZP-22 given the known timing problems from the HSUS studies in Sand Wash Basin and Cedar Mountains – and the EA acknowledges that it is best given between November and February (though I’ve also heard between December and March, and I think the Spring Creek Basin preliminary roundup EA pegs it at between December and February). This roundup is scheduled immediately after the Spring Creek Basin roundup.

PZP-22 is not “fairly inexpensive”; PZP-22 was about $200 a dose when it was allegedly administered to the Spring Creek Basin mares in 2007. Native PZP, however, is quite inexpensive – less than $30 per dose. Also, PZP-22 can be given “in the field” if that means at the roundup … but not (yet, that I know of) without a roundup – like native PZP can be given. The efficacy percentages are attributed to Dr. Kirkpatrick, who works with native PZP (and percentages are low for native PZP, which has at least an average 90 percent efficacy rate – also, native PZP is effective for one year, so the rest of that would seem to be moot)). Dr. Turner, attributed elsewhere, works with PZP-22.

Just some “hmms” I had when reading that part of the EA. I am not familiar with this herd at all and plan to seek more information from people who know those horses and that area.


19 07 2011

Now for some girls. 🙂 From the same evening with Comanche’s and Hollywood’s band.

Briosa and Eliana with Eli’s mom and Bri’s (likely) grandma – Mahogany.

A little girl (Juniper) in a great big country. The hill in the middle distance is Flat Top.

Juni walking up to big sister Winona.

Later … I’m not entirely sure whether she was whinnying at Hollywood or Bri and Eli.

Briosa with mama Piedra

Eliana with mama Mahogany

Mama/grandma Mahogany with her girls …

… She seems to have a little more patience for both of them together. Piedra has less patience with Eliana … but watching Eliana and Briosa, it’s easier to tell which of the mares outrank which – Eliana, the little princess, is clearly the leader between her and Briosa – even though Bri is older and bigger.

But Bri is a bit more curious!

They do hang out quite a bit together now. 🙂

Besotted? Who, me?! 🙂


18 07 2011

Some pix of Comanche and Hollywood from the other night. Their bands were close to each other in this beautiful little meadow at the top of the basin, on the northwest side. All was calm until curious Georgie – I mean, Winona – grazed her way close enough to Holls to not be able to contain that curiosity any longer! Comanche then strutted down to put an end to THAT nonsense. Ha! Later, Duke came whinnying out of the trees across the valley to the north, and that got the boys’ attention, too. Comanche did go racing off to greet him, but I had crossed an arroyo to seek shade and was blocked by trees. I wish this “boys” post included pix of him, but I pulled a dumb newbie mistake and didn’t have an empty memory card in my pocket like usual – and I had no idea I’d taken so many pix – until right after Eliana left the pond. I just sat and watched while the horses grazed into the overtaking shadows, but when I walked back to the Jeep past Duke, it was just to greet him and admire his sleek and shiny bayness – not to take any pix.

He had a little fit of pique when Juniper got “too close” to his own girls, and this is him encouraging her to return “home.”

Comanche with a most-recognizable backdrop – McKenna Peak and the unnamed promontory.

Watching Duke, but he didn’t leave his mares … which is interesting because I watched specifically to see if he would. But maybe he’s learning, and it seemed to me that he quite remembered Comanche stealing almost all his family earlier this year (not long after Cougar was born). He has lost Piedra at least twice before because of his penchant for running off to spar, leaving her unprotected.

So handsome. So wild. So awesome.


I love his walk!

Hollywood and his little girls – Briosa (back) is his daughter, and Eliana is Sundance’s daughter … but her mother is possibly Briosa’s mother’s mother, which makes Eliana Briosa’s aunt! And Mahogany – Eliana’s mama – Bri’s grandma!

Comanche with Kestrel and baby Juniper. Love that background!

Never too late

17 07 2011

Another image from last week that didn’t fit into a particular category – a “just because” photo. Maybe that can be a new category. 🙂

Right before I first found Indy last week, I was sitting in my Jeep on the road watching a few bands – Cinch’s, Spook and Bruiser, Luna’s and Grey/Traveler’s. When I heard noises up the hill above the Jeep, I went to investigate and saw not only Hook’s band but Seven’s as well. Wildcat Spring is down on the other side of that hill, and the horses had likely been there drinking while I sat unaware on the road.

Another lesson – just because you can’t *see* horses doesn’t mean they’re not there!

A daddy and his boy

16 07 2011

I tried to get a bunch of images posted before I went to the basin last week … Didn’t get through all of them, but I wanted to get this one out there, of Kreacher and his son, Apollo (Raven is his mama). They were trying to drink at the trickle, and Apollo thought it was great fun to go for daddy’s ears while his head was down. Kreacher, in turn, would pick his head up and mouth Apollo’s neck, dribbling water through his little mane. I could see how annoyed he was – and how thirsty – but he never lost his patience. He actually walked away at one point … followed by both Apollo and Raven … then went back. Mini-me stuck right to him. 🙂

He was awesome with Corona. He’s fantastic with Apollo. I can’t wait to see him with Kootenai’s – coming.

And with the rain last week, nobody at or near the trickle. I hope that lasts for a while.

Boreas and band

15 07 2011

I almost didn’t walk out to Chrome’s band during last week’s visit, but then I decided it would be rude to just drive on by! So I went out for a quick howdy.

Hayden and stepdaddy Chrome. They were napping, Boreas was napping, and the girls and Rio were grazing.

I think of Chrome as a stallion of few words. A very solid, calm and reassuring presence to his family.

Mama Jif, grazing for two as she grows ever wider.

Baby Boreas enjoying the kiss of sunshine while he naps.

Big stretch …!

Then he’s off to find mama and other mischief. 🙂

The better news

15 07 2011

Before I found out about Indy, I found out the basin got a LOT of rain in the last week. I had heard it poured Sunday over Lone Cone, and Durango and my hometown of Mancos have been getting rain. I held off going out Wednesday … and I’m glad I did. There was evidence of rain – even some still-standing puddles.

But I didn’t realize quite how much we got! I was a little shocked to see the two “halves” of the trapsite pond with water … and the news got better from there. The Flat Top, east-pocket, roadside and northwest ponds also have water! They were completely dry. On the other hand, the roller-coaster ridge pond is completely dry (it had just a tiny puddle last week) and the double ponds are still dry. Round Top surprised me by being pretty shallow, and Sorrel Flats buoyed me by being less shallow than last week. Did you notice I mentioned the northwest pond has water? 🙂 I drove up there for the first time this year to check it (it’s almost always dry, but what the heck, I thought) – and on the way was when I spied Hook’s band and came to the conclusion that Indy was not with them, nor Twister. I came up over the last hill … and voila! Hollywood’s and Comanche’s! And the pond – rippling with water. It’s shallow, and it never lasts long, but there’s actually grass up there, and the horses were going to town. Duke also visited late in the day.

After our mild winter, the monsoons have apparently come a little early – our Christmas in July. I know they can’t come soon enough or with enough moisture for those of us in the parched Southwest, but I’d say it’s a good start!

Eliana, up to her knees and hocks in the northwest pond – she sank a little in mud. 🙂 Look at her little mane with the lighter line through it – reminds me of a fish’s fin! She waded way out almost to the middle, even after Briosa had had her fill and walked out to follow Mahogany. She kept reminding me of a moose calf, lifting her legs high, but I liked this image with the sparkle in her eye from the late afternoon sunshine.

She and Briosa are like sisters – they hang out together nearly constantly, and one mama is as good as their own mama, except when it comes to snack time. 🙂