They’re totally rock stars

12 08 2017


Earlier this week, I visited the BLM state office in Denver (Lakewood). As we walked into the entry way … I was drawn to the photo of mustangs on the wall (naturally, right?!).


Photos also were on the opposite wall, but the mustangs catch your eye (of course!). (Above: Already out the door is BLM’s Ben Smith, wild horse and burro specialist based in Grand Junction, and holding the door while yours truly geeked out taking photos of a mustang photo is Jim Hyrup, president of Friends of the Mustangs, which is the group that advocates for Little Book Cliffs mustangs near Grand Junction.)


This is the view of the photo as we walked into the building. It’s the view EVERYONE has as they walk into BLM’s state office!

I stopped to look closer … and was about to ask if anyone recognized the horses … when *I* suddenly did.

I might have gotten a little loud. 🙂

Pictured are Hayden, Jif, Chrome, Two Boots and Rio (now named Legado, owned by an NMA/CO board member). The BLM people didn’t know who took the photo, but it had to have been taken in 2010.

Because our wild beautiful ponies are just that famous. 🙂

In other pretty awesome news, we were there to support friends who advocate and volunteer and partner and collaborate with BLM for the good management of our Colorado mustangs on Colorado’s herd management areas and wild horse range: Sand Wash Basin, Little Book Cliffs, Spring Creek Basin (specifically) and Piceance-East Douglas (coming soon, we hope!). BLM folks, including Laria Lovec (on-range management), Steve Leonard (off-range management) and Ben Smith (wild horse and burro specialist based in Grand Junction), were there to recognize folks including Michelle Sander and Aleta Wolf (with Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary and Sand Wash Advocate Team), and Jim Hyrup (president of Friends of the Mustangs).

FOM has been involved with Little Book Cliffs mustangs for more than 30 years and have been using PZP for more than a decade. SWAT and GEMS are about 5 years old, and advocates have been darting in Sand Wash Basin for at least the last three years. We are so happy and proud to support their efforts and call them friends and heroes/heroines for mustangs!


Left to right: Steve Leonard, Laria Lovec, moi, Michelle Sander, Aleta Wolf, Jim Hyrup and Ben Smith.

Many of our valued volunteers couldn’t attend the meeting, but Stella Trueblood and Connie Wagner (SWAT), Marty Felix and Billie Hutchings (FOM), and Pat and Frank Amthor and Kat Wilder (Disappointment Wild Bunch Partners) are standout folks who spend hours working for our mustangs – and have done so for years and years. Marty earns the longevity award for more than FORTY years with Little Book Cliffs’ mustangs! Pat and Frank Amthor have logged TWENTY years supporting Spring Creek Basin’s mustangs!

In the “coming soon” category, Dona Hilkey and Pam and Tom Nickoles have been visiting, photographing and documenting Piceance-East Douglas’ mustangs for at least 12 years. They’ve been working closely with BLM, and folks are close to forming an advocacy group for that herd (and perhaps casting an umbrella over West Douglas as well). When that happens, it will mean every mustang herd in Colorado will have the support of volunteer advocates!

THANK YOU to every one of our dedicated volunteers!

And THANK YOU to BLM for recognizing and appreciating their work for our Colorado mustangs!


Black is beauty

17 08 2016


Pretty Raven in the secret forest.

Many readers know that Raven was born and raised in Sand Wash Basin and came here in 2008 with Mona and Kootenai to help boost our genetics. Because Spring Creek Basin’s appropriate management level currently is just 35 to 65 adult horses, BLM periodically introduces horses in order to help keep our herd’s genetics viable, per a recommendation by equine geneticist Dr. Gus Cothran (at my alma mater, Texas A&M University).

An EA has recently been released for a bait-trapping operation in Sand Wash Basin. Information about where to send your comments by the Sept. 4 deadline may be found here, in a news brief in the Craig Daily Press.

“The BLM seeks comment on the Environmental Assessment of this gather plan, available at the Little Snake Field Office at 455 Emerson St., Craig, CO 81625 and online at: Public comments will be most helpful to the BLM if received by Sept. 4. Written comments can be mailed to the Little Snake Field Office or submitted via email to”

(Note that the website indicated in the press release leads to an error page.)

Of note in the very positive category, Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary and Sand Wash Advocate Team are specifically mentioned for their partnership with BLM in managing this herd: “Our partnership with SWAT and GEMS has been vital to meeting our goal of maintaining the health of the Sand Wash wild horses and the lands they depend upon,” BLM Northwest District Manager Joe Meyer said in a news release.

Also: “While confined in a corral, BLM employees and Sand Wash Advocacy Team members would identify mares, that would be treated with a contraceptive called PZP, which delays fertilization, before being released back to the range. Up to 50 young wild horses would be removed for placement in the Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary training and adoption program.”

Please take a look at the EA and send comments. SWAT volunteers are currently using fertility control in Sand Wash Basin, and they need support in order to continue their efforts to manage this herd well.

‘Mustang Tales’

24 07 2016

It may not be the tale she wanted to tell, but Kat Wilder’s latest “Mustang Tales,” written exclusively for American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, tells a tale that mustang adopters should read.



NMA/CO to show ‘Unbranded’

16 10 2015


The Colorado chapter of the National Mustang Association will feature a showing of “Unbranded” at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26, at the Sunflower Theatre in Cortez, Colo. See the above for more information. If you’re local, we’d love to see you there!

Visit NMA/CO’s website to purchase tickets online.

“Unbranded” is the story of four Texas Aggies and their 16 mustangs on a journey across some of America’s most stunning public lands, from Mexico to Canada. It’s a must-see testament to the mustangs that represent the freedom and pioneering spirit on which America was built.

Special visitors

31 05 2015
Katie and Ben Masters in Spring Creek Basin with Chrome's band.

Katie and Ben Masters in Spring Creek Basin.

The “Unbranded” crew may not have ridden through Colorado, but ahead of Telluride’s Mountainfilm festival last weekend, Ben Masters and his very lovely wife, Katie, came to Spring Creek Basin to see our “beautiful” mustangs.

We talked about wild horses and wild burros and public lands and challenges and solutions. As you might imagine, Ben’s mustangs, partners in his and friends’ trip of a lifetime, have made him a mustang advocate. “Unbranded” has catapulted him into a unique position of being respected by a variety of disparate interests.

Ben Masters checks out the NMA/CO sign on the water catchment in Spring Creek Basin with wife Katie. Chrome's band is beyond.

Ben checks out the NMA/CO sign on the water catchment in Spring Creek Basin with Katie.

One does not travel from Mexico to Canada with mustangs and friends alone. It requires preparation and support from numerous people along the way. When traveling across public lands with a pack string and a camera man (at least one), one needs permits from the government: the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service. Observant travelers notice the tread of others on those lands, and Ben and Ben and Thomas and Jonny were no different. To say they made the most of their observations and appreciation of America’s remarkable public lands is a huge understatement.

Katie and Ben Masters in Spring Creek Basin's east pocket with Comanche's, Aspen's and Hollywood's bands.

Katie and Ben enjoy a wonderful visit with beautiful mustangs in the basin.

“Unbranded” is a journey story, and like all good journeys, it includes challenges and obstacles and perseverance and education. While their physical journey may have ended at the Canada border, their education is ongoing, and their search for solutions for America’s wild horses and burros likewise is ongoing.

Ben Masters with Chrome's band in Spring Creek Basin.

Ben was pretty stoked by his visit with our mustangs!

Not surprisingly to the sold-out crowds fortunate enough to see “Unbranded” in Telluride (350 people in line were turned away from the Saturday showing after the theater filled), the film won the Audience Award.

This was the second film festival for “Unbranded”; it was the second Audience Award. Ahhhhhhhhhh-mazing!

When you get the chance to see “Unbranded,” see it. It’s not the typical mustang film. It will leave you wanting more – more mustangs, more conservation of public lands, more involvement, more “what can I do.”

Ben Masters with Chrome's band in Spring Creek Basin.

Ben … mustangs … a wide-open place.

We were so fortunate to meet Ben and Katie Masters and some of the rest of the “Unbranded” crew. What an amazing film. They’re carrying an important message, as Ben says, to show the worth of America’s mustangs.

Pati Temple

5 02 2013


Mustang angel and lover of all wild life Pati Temple passed away yesterday evening.

Look out, God, whirlwind coming your way!

Pati was one of the most influential people in my life, despite having known her for just the last few years. Words cannot come close to describing the dynamo that was Pati, and at this point, the heartbreak is too raw to try.

God speed, Pati, on the wings of your beloved mustangs. You are much loved and will be most incredibly missed.


15 01 2013

With all the craziness surrounding the wild horse “issue,” here’s something that looks pretty cool:

From the email that alerted me to this endeavor:

Backcountry  Horsemen,

This is Ben Masters. Myself and three friends are training 11 mustangs and riding them 3,000 miles from Mexico to Canada starting in March. Our route will take six months through Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. We’re making a documentary: Unbranded that aims to promote conservation of open spaces, inspire mustang adoptions and get people outside horseback.

We’re trying to promote our journey and documentary. We need your help by pledging your support and sending the information to others who like horses, the backcountry and conservation. Here is the video, it’ll put a smile on your face:

For more info, our website is

Western Horseman’s blog over our trip:

Thank you,

Ben Masters

Check out their story; I’m sure you’ll follow them as I will! Have I ever mentioned I’m an Aggie? Gig ’em, Ags. What a ride it will be!