Mapping weeds and counting horses

21 05 2012

For 13 years now, members of the Durango-based Four Corners Back Country Horsemen have been visiting Spring Creek Basin every spring to help BLM monitor the mustangs. Members often set up work projects during the count weekends, and this year was no different, with help from Mike Jensen, the Tres Rios Field Office’s weed guru (I don’t know his actual title? he also was a former manager of SCB), and Kathe Hayes with San Juan Mountains Association. Mike gave a great talk Friday evening about the particulars of knapweed, in particular. Kathe readied maps and record sheets for the groups and led the horseback riders Saturday.

Special thanks to Pat and Frank Amthor, long-time 4CBCH members and organizers for most of the last 13 years of the count. Their knowledge and experience is invaluable! (And I have to give a special nod not only to the food in general but specifically to Frank’s awesome homemade strawberry ice cream!)

We had one group of horseback riders and one of vehicle drivers (horseless but not clueless – ha!). Between our groups, we mapped 14 sites for weeds – knapweed, musk thistle and tamarisk – so BLM can cut, dig, spray and/or “de-weed.”

One highlight of the weekend – besides the food (oh, the food!) – was the Irick family of Denver (area), who came with their Spring Creek Basin mustangs, Breeze (adopted in 2005) and Sage (adopted in 2007). Brother Luke stayed home, but Teresa and Steve rode with the group, and daughter Sara rode with our vehicle group and helped with recording the weeds.

Teresa and Steve riding out on Breeze, pinto, and Sage.

It was an emotional ride, Teresa said afterward, seeing the boys remember their home. They’re not the first who have brought their adopted mustangs home to the basin, and I hope they won’t be the last! These boys are so loved and cared for – part of their family.

I didn’t take any pix of the horseless few, but here are the rest of horse folks who rode their horses to inventory weeds:

Kathe giving the safety talk at the beginning of the ride. Crow has obviously heard it all before!

Todd and Judy and their horses, Red and Dandy.

Nancy and Aspen, who came all the way from Corrales, N.M., where Aspen holds the distinction of “pet mayor”!

4CBCH president Bob and his lovely horse – whose name I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t ask, though I was very taken with this handsome fellow (regular readers may know my fascination with dark bay horses!). Just a young guy – 5 – but he did very well.

Riders heading out in the morning.

Riding into the sunrise.

Thank you to the Four Corners Back Country Horsemen, BLM and SJMA – and to Mother Nature for the truly excellent weather. After Friday night’s wind and chill, Saturday and Sunday were simply spectacular! Weed inventorying and eradication is part of our partnership objective with BLM under the Director’s Challenge grant we recently received. What a great start!



2 responses

22 05 2012

sure makes a big difference when you have a group who really cares about the range and the horses to help out. You all are doing a great job down there.

22 05 2012

Absolutely! And these folks have been awesome, keeping tabs on the horses for 13 years now! We’re talking about a road trip to visit Colorado’s other herds and volunteers. I will let you know when we plan to be at Little Book Cliffs to see your gorgeous mustangs!

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