Basin wonderland

11 01 2011

The day I took these pictures, it was a little warmer in the basin than it had been the day before – 17 to 20 degrees vs. 15-17 degrees. And you thought I meant a lot warmer!

Steeldust, Butch, Luna and Storm

Steeldust’s band was closest this day, and I broke trail on a little-used road to get to within fairly close walking distance.

Winter is just a magical time. It’s soooooo quiet. Can you see the flakes reflecting the sunlight in the photo above? The ponies go about the business of living like any other time of the year. There were a lot of tracks around the Flat Top pond, but the center was untracked – frozen solid. How much snow do they have to eat to satisfy their moisture requirements? Whatever it is, they seem satisfied.


In the dry months, I look for light spots – the greys – against the khaki desert. In the snow months, I look for the dark spots – then look closer to determine equine from bovine.

Alpha is in her element here.


She’s always watchful … curious, though she rarely acts on that curiosity, content just to see what I do, it seems.

I was watching and photographing bachelor Mouse, grazing nearby. I hadn’t yet seen Hollywood’s and Comanche’s bands, but I was watching Mouse graze intently enough that when I saw Piedra and other members of her band pawing through the snow during their grazing, I realized Mouse hadn’t been.


Isn’t he a handsome boy?

And then I realized someone was watching, and closer than I had seen her approach.


Isn’t she just divine? With her beautiful dark eyes and glowing wisdom, she’s the queen of her environment.

Storm came around for a look, too.

Look at that amazing scenery!

Look at that snow-covered schnoz! How this boy has grown.

Beauty all around.

A few cute boys

11 09 2010

Look who we found, speaking of good-looking boys! I visited the basin with friend and artist Karen Keene Day, and what a wonderful visit it was. When we walked up to visit Steeldust’s band (Comanche’s have split away again), we had the great luck of finding youngsters Twister and Cuatro with them, as well as Duke!

Cuatro is the son of Grey/Traveler or Twister. Which one? I don’t know, though earlier, I thought I saw a resemblance to Twister, adored yearmate of mama Two Boots. While watching Twister and Cuatro, I saw a striking resemblance, all right, but it wasn’t between Cuatro and Twister …

Do you see it? I wasn’t trying to see it, wasn’t even thinking about it.

In those big eyes, the broad, intelligent forehead, the tapering muzzle? The color doesn’t hurt.

Twister, Cuatro and Duke … the younger with the elder …

Sundance, Twister and Aspen

Handsome Duke

I’d rather see more of Twister – or less – but this was too nice of Duke to pass up. Such a lovely boy.

Mouse and Sundance …

A few seconds later. 🙂

Sundance in the foreground, Mouse at right, Aspen at back left. Three handsome boys against the blue wild sky.

Cuatro and Twister – son and sire … or brothers?

So have you wracked your brains as to resemblance?

Is it there? Do you see it? Or is it just me, something I hope to see?

I’ll leave you with one more of handsome boys, forever cast on a hillside of late-summer green light and golden grasses.

Stallion samba

1 08 2010

Here’s the little series I’ve been wanting to show for a while …

It was a beautiful morning in early June. Remember this?:

Gideon napping while Mouse (bachelor) stands guard and Aspen (bachelor) grazes nearby.

Napping was the “activity” that morning:

Head … so … heavy … This was seconds before he was flat out …

Which Storm found utterly irresistible! However, Butch is a bit different than playmates Hannah and Pinon, and he was NOT amused, and Storm did NOT stick around to bother him – even though Butch didn’t get up.

Big guy … They look so vulnerable like this, don’t they …

Not far away: Gideon still napping … Mahogany grazing while Sundance, Mouse and Aspen (in that order) try to catch some winks behind her. They’re still following her like this (which was less than a month after she lost her foal).

And pretty soon, she also laid down … She’d kind of nibble around her … then have a great, legs-to-the-sky rollover … then quiet again …

Comfortable enough to stretch full out with the boys standing guard over her. Interestingly, I’m sure Sundance is the youngest of these stallions; I think Mouse and Aspen are roughly the same age. Sundance grew up with “rank” in the band, though, while Mouse and Aspen came in as bachelors.

But idyllic summer mornings don’t last long … Pretty soon, Mahogany was up again, which prompted some stallion action, which alerted Gideon, who realized Mama had grazed away a short distance …

While stallions’ “snaking” behavior looks rather fierce and “mean,” it’s really a protective gesture, meant to move horses in a particular direction – including wayward sons back to the protection of the band/their mothers. You can see by Gideon’s body language and ears that he’s alert to and responding to Aspen’s signal to move, but he’s not afraid of Aspen.

Then Mahogany cut across behind him (probably also a protective gesture on her part), which prompted Gideon into a gallop – but he’s still relaxed.

Such grace …

He found Mama nearly immediately and with the single-minded focus of foals was concerned – immediately – about connecting with his morning breakfast! But look at Luna – very tense and ears focused on the drama behind her. She did not allow him to nurse just then. Too much going on to fall into the trance state of baby nursing.

This is quite an illustration: They’ve come around and are now “in front of” Luna and Gideon and Butch (back to the right). Mahogany is looking for a way forward from Sundance (behind her) and Mouse (left) and away from Steeldust (right), who is blocking her from getting to “his” band, which includes Alpha and Storm and Luna & Co. – *because* she brings trouble – aka Sundance, Mouse and Aspen – with her. She had first tried to go to Steeldust’s right, but he blocked her, and now she’s going around his left.

That’s right – you’re on camera! Mouse now turned toward Aspen to keep him away from Mahogany – and Sundance. Poor Mouse … always the bachelor, never the, uh, groom.

I’ve mentioned before, but the dynamics of the band formerly known as Steeldust’s band have changed, and that’s what I’m trying to illustrate here (although I didn’t include pix of Alpha, she stays pretty close to Luna). Butch ignores Alpha in favor of Luna (and Gideon). In an interesting switcharoo, Steeldust has become the “lieutenant” to Butch – who is very likely his son – in his effort to keep Alpha, who has apparently bonded tightly to Luna (interestingly, the bond from Alpha to Luna is more apparent than vice versa … it may be because Luna has had foals the last two years, and Alpha has not (she got the PZP-22 at the 2007 roundup, and it worked only on her of four surviving mares; because of her likely age – 15+? – I’m grateful, at least, for the break in babies for her)). Mahogany found herself pretty much on the outskirts – with Kestrel for a while, until Kes had Winona – and surrounded by hale and hearty young stallions. They separated for a while – with Kestrel and her new stallion, Comanche (former first sergeant to Lt. Mouse), following at a slight distance – but just after Mahogany foaled and lost it, she was back with “Steeldust’s band,” which, I suppose, is more appropriately now called Luna’s band because, although the stallions very zealously guard their girls, Luna clearly is alpha in all senses.

So now we come to the little series I thought was so interesting and amazing at the time and had planned to post long before life took other directions (which simply means I didn’t have time, then forgot about it).

In the course of all the running around, Mahogany “pooped.” (Really, is there a delicate term?) And thus began the topic of this post: the stallion – and soon-to-be – samba:

Gideon and Butch were the first to discover the delightful pile – eau de Mahogany (sorry – really!).

But Butch asserted elder dominance and claimed it even while Gideon was *trying* to mark it – see Butch pawing and see Gideon “clacking”?

Gideon gave way, and there’s Butch with one more particular sniff before stepping forward to pee on it. (Look at Gideon’s face …)

Butch finished, Gideon took his turn … but look who’s coming up behind him …

Now this one, I just LOVE: Check out Steeldust – he is completely crowding the young mister, who is NOT giving way! Look at his face – the posture of his head and neck. He’s a little intimidated but determined! “I had to wait for Butch, Daddy, now you wait your turn!” This little one is one to watch!

Now look at him – all relaxed and happy! Steeldust pees while Butch pretends to graze while he shepherds the young man back to Mama – who is just ahead of him – I think you can see her shadow on the ground through his legs.

But wait!

Here’s Storm, almost 2, last in the samba line, giving it a determined sniff …

Circle of/cycle of life … importance of mamas AND daddies (even stepdaddies) and all ages to learn the ways of the world. It’s a small world, but it’s THEIR world.

Pretty damn incredible, right?

Gideon see, Gideon do

30 07 2010

These pictures never made it to the blog … victims of lack of time, I suppose. They’re from back in June, during T&L’s visit from Florida.

It’s pretty safe to say – in any context – that Gideon adores Butch. His mimicry of his stepdaddy is pronounced. I realized when I looked back at these photos that there’s another little series I had wanted to show and apparently never gotten around to … Maybe that will be my next post.

In the meantime, Steeldust’s band – which is sort of “back together,” but Steeldust is not particularly in charge – was up above a steep little canyon in the north hills. It’s rockier up there, with lots of cacti around, but there are trees – and grass, actual long-stemmed blades of the stuff.

When Chrome first laid down, Gideon walked up right behind him to investigate. Here’s the big guy – my size!

But when the big guy started throwing those long legs around, things got a little alarming!

Love this expression on Gideon’s face as he watches Butch roll.

A little rest after a successful roll. Mama Luna in the background, by the way.

The next thing we knew, after Butch got up, Gideon laid down in exactly the same spot!

Woo hoo! This IS fun!

A mid-roll check to make sure Mama hasn’t left the vicinity.

Oooh, it feels so good just to lie here in the sunshine … Alpha strolling in the background …

Gathering for the final effort …

And up he goes again!

It must have felt good to both of them. I’m just glad they didn’t hit one of these, which I found later, not toooo close …

Unfortunately, what led me to find this prickly beauty was a beer can some nincompoop had stuck bottoms-up on a dead tree, that I walked over to retrieve. Really? You’re going to carry it all the way up there, presumably sit and knock it back – enjoying the view – then leave it to spoil someone else’s?!

So I leave you with a better thought:

Gideon with (likely) daddy Steeldust, sharing a moment of hang-out time under a tree. 🙂

Black and not

23 06 2010

Sable and Hook. They had come down the hill and across the road to the vicinity of Grey/Traveler’s, where I was just walking away after sitting with them. He got all puffed up when he saw them; mama Houdini wisely started leading Terra and Gemma away; Hook wasn’t quite sure what to do about me; Grey wasn’t either, I guess, and finally turned and sauntered after his girls. Though it doesn’t matter in the slightest, I was relieved. Hannah was right behind Sable, grazing with Pinon and Ember, unconcerned.

Happy (belated) Father’s Day!

21 06 2010

While I was on vacation, I gave my dad a card and gift for Father’s Day – on Sunday, June 13. The funnies page in their hometown newspaper alerted me to the fact that it was NOT, in fact, Father’s Day yet. So while I’m late with this post – by a day – I was actually a week early!

Butch and Gideon

As humans remind us, daddies are special in their children’s lives, whether they’re joined by biology or by fate. I hope to have a funny little series of just what young man Gideon is learning from stepdaddy Butch soon. He clearly adores the big guy and seems to hang out with him as much as possible. I’m pretty sure Butch is pretty fond of his little shadow, too.

Dads, thank you for all you do for your children – for all children – with your gifts of time and attention and love. It shapes us as surely as anything in our lives. We are grateful.

Some boys

15 06 2010

Baby Gideon uses stepdaddy Butch as a rubbing post … Duke in the background!

Come again

1 06 2010

Is that a phrase that get used much anymore? There was quite a bit of disbelieving “huh” on my part when I realized Mahogany did NOT have a foal and WAS in heat and clearly HAD had her foal. And it refers also that the big band that had fractured had come (together) again … if perhaps only temporarily.

And whoever coined the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” clearly hadn’t met these ponies. I think it took me a thousand pictures to try to convey the goings-on.

These three – Comanche, Kestrel and Winona – are clearly “together” now … but not far from the others.

Um, Hollywood?! Where’d you come from? His band wasn’t all that far away, but they weren’t close.

While the other horses graze, Steeldust sees his duty to keep away the intruder (Hollywood). All the other horses are seen here, left to right: Luna, Gideon and Butch in the group at left; Storm, with Mahogany and Sundance directly behind him; Steeldust looking at Holls and Mouse directly behind him; Alpha; and Aspen at the back. Comanche, Kestrel and Winona were up a bit to the right.

Storm and Alpha

This was after Steely Dan had come back from chasing Holls away – which didn’t entirely work.

Gideon laid down … and there’s Mahogany and her hangers-on behind them now. While Winona was able to get several minutes at a time of shut-eye, Gideon was up and down several times because of the commotion all around.

Close-up of the sleepy boy.

When they weren’t fired up chasing her or fending each other off, this was a common sight – Mahogany grazing and Sundance and Mouse right behind her.

Close but far enough away to be out of the commotion – though Comanche did go down to have a chat with Hollywood at one point.

Even tough-guy manly stallions like to take some time to stop and smell the globe mallow.

Finally, it seemed he had had enough and was headed back to Piedra and the gang …

… but not before a stop to say hello. “What ARE ya doing?” “No, what are YOU doing?!” Funny boy. Then away he went.

When I turned back around, I realized the commotion had sent Gideon to his feet. Even Luna woke up long enough to watch him go.

Then this was really interesting – talk about stallions being very tolerant of babies. Gideon swung his butt around and then backed up so his butt was right up against Butch’s chest. I don’t know if you can quite tell it from the picture, but he is literally butt-to-chest with Butch, who now has his nose right at the crest of Gideon’s neck. He stood solid as a rock for a few moments, but it was like he didn’t quite know how to take it, this tiny little thing “cuddling” up to him, and he soon stepped aside and went to pursue “manly” things – like running off Sundance and Co. 🙂

So Gideon turned to mama for comfort …

One of my very favorite images from the whole day.

With all the commotion, these horses in particular seem to nap often.

Storm and Alpha – even though he kept getting a wild hair and going off to try to breed Mahogany, he kept coming back to mama. You can see he’s still shedding out a bit of reddish baby fuzz.

Love their relaxed faces.

Winona, Kestrel and Comanche …

… right before Winona laid down again. 🙂 She was mostly flat out on the ground, her little side heaving in the warm sunlight … and her front leg would occasionally “wave” out in circles … I think she was dreaming of racing the wind.

Kestrel and Comanche napping over baby Winona, clearly not his baby. He didn’t even acquire Kestrel until after she had foaled. He had been low man on the totem pole in the bachelor hierarchy. And yet he now *protects* her as if she were, indeed, his own. I repeat again, stallions do NOT go around willy nilly killing foals that aren’t theirs.

After about half an hour, Winona still stretched flat out, Kestrel and Comanche started to graze – away from sleeping babe.

She looked up a couple of times, then back down … until she finally realized she was “alone.” I don’t know if you can quite tell here, but she’s whinnying for mama to come back and “rescue” her – which mama Kestrel completely (as far as acquiescing to baby’s plaintive demands) ignored. Obviously, she wasn’t THAT far away.

When it became apparent that mama was not, in fact, coming back for her, Winona got up and headed over … Check out the sweat on her flank.

And reunited. 🙂

She had a snack …

… and down she went for another nap! On her opposite side. 🙂

And that was my cue to farewell the ponies for another day.

One big – calm for now – family …

Thanks for reading … ya’ll “come again,” ya hear? 🙂

Dapple light

20 05 2010

Had a simply gorgeous time in the basin … despite the forecast that called for – you guessed it – rain/snow – again – right smack dab on my weekend. The forecasters were wrong! (Please forgive my wicked glee!) The sky looked threatening the whole way out, but then it was sunshine and layer upon layer of thick fluffy white clouds from here to the horizon. Ma Nature brewed her dark clouds over the La Sals to the northwest, and assistant Wind dutifully carried them east and south, but Storm’s corridor was just along the northern and eastern ridges and on down to the far southern reaches of Disappointment Valley and beyond, leaving the basin just a paradise on the edge of the world.

An example – this patch of sunlight illuminated the finger hill Bruiser, Twister and Cinch (reunited) were standing on while the ridge behind them stayed in shadow. They were looking down on Hollywood’s band, who eventually went north, while the boys moseyed down off the hill and across the arroyo and up onto the bench that carries the west-side loop road toward Round Top and points east.

Even more is blooming now – late this year. I’ve been keeping track, but – crazy! – I haven’t stopped to photograph the flowers yet. The paintbrush has been trying its best to find the sunshine and warm breath of spring, and more is blooming every week. Prince’s plume started last week … the globe mallow was out just this week – not so much in the basin but very much along the private road leading to the basin. Hardy phlox – white and pink – has been out for weeks and still blooms, some of the petals looking a bit windblown. Loco weed also pops up in places. Some isolated yellow daisies-something-or-other. The cheat grass is still green but starting to flag.  Greasewood is greener than green (it’s possible) and was budding last week. Water holes are dry or very shallow. One pond holds decent water, and a couple of bands are in the vicinity of Wildcat Spring. At least one band is using the catchment, but they have to range far for forage because it’s just not that great in that area. The claret cups are tightly furled within their nests of thorns … not blooming yet. I saw a couple of bunches of lupine (my very favorite wildflower) near Dolores, but that was it. We don’t typically get lupine in the basin (I’m so jealous of the opportunity on Pryor Mountain to photograph babies in fields of blue lupine!)), but there are spots along the Dolores-Norwood Road where they’ve been insane in past years. Given the great snow we had this winter, I’m looking forward to a great show of wildflowers here in Colorado this year.

The horses are mostly shed out now – last year’s youngsters still fuzzy in most cases. Nights still dipping into the 20s (occasionally) and 30s (commonly). The temp reached at least 72 while I was out. Just beautiful.

The first horses I saw were Chrome’s: Jif, Hayden, Two Boots, Cuatro and Chrome, taking his time, bringing up the rear. Can you tell that Jif is slick while Hayden is still fuzzy? Oddly enough, because he was born so late in the year, I’ve never seen Hayden shed out. His face is starting, though, and I think he’s going to stay sorrel – he’s going to be just as handsome a devil as his daddy!

Two Boots is starting to look a little closer … Can you see the little hunks of hair Hayden is trying to shed?

“Wait for me!” They walked on by and down the hill on a horse trail, then Chrome looked up from his lolly-gagging (grazing) and decided he was being left behind, so he went galloping after them.

I saw Seven’s close to Grey/Traveler’s close to Bounce’s, who turned out to be close to Kreacher’s who were close to … Luna’s. (Some stallion weirdness I’ll explain in a minute, so for now, it’s Luna’s band because everyone is following her!)

Didn’t take pix of Seven’s or Grey’s. Seven’s were very close to where I saw them last week. I just sat in the Jeep and watched them. Roja grazed and watched and watched and grazed for about 10 or 15 minutes, then oh-so-casually led her family away. She is so wary and so protective, and because I’ve witnessed them being chased (a couple of summers ago, after which I never saw Molly’s filly Starla again), I just don’t have much heart for even attempting to get too close for her comfort – which isn’t close at all.

Grey’s were moving toward the road on which I had stopped, so I enjoyed my vantage of being able to watch them as they grazed their way closer and eventually crossed to where Seven had had his band.

Who’s who? Doesn’t Whisper, left, look just like daddy Bounce? He’s going grey, though … I love seeing the resemblance.

Gaia and Liberty

And this girl is pulling a Luna on us – two weeks past her “due date,” and she barely looks pregnant at all. Even with her most recent spa treatment in evidence, isn’t she just beautiful?

Raven and Kootenai. You may remember a few posts ago, I referred to their mid-morning nap … here we are smack in the middle of their middle-of-the-afternoon nap!

Corona – no, she is NOT white! – Mona and Kreacher. I know she looks white – she’s blown out, too – but she’s not. She has this very unusual flecking of her palomino color … like Ma Nature couldn’t decide what color to paint her.

All but Mona, who was just off to the left.

And there’s baby Gideon with Mama Luna and Butch, Storm and Alpha at right. Steeldust was nearby but not too close.


Who could resist this gorgeous matriarch? One of the great grand dam(e)s of Spring Creek Basin.

Storm and Alpha watching Kreacher’s band. (And yes, he’s still nursing.)

While I was watching this, I kept one eye on Steeldust, who watched but never moved a hoof. Butch has bred Alpha in the past, but he didn’t now, though she’s clearly in heat.

Butch did a little dance (like a very slow motion passage) over to Steeldust, who didn’t go after him, but neither did he back down. It did provoke him to mark his territory, and Butch went back to Luna, who took the opportunity to walk away …

… followed by Alpha …

… to the very shallow nearby pond. Here’s Steeldust at left – rear – while Butch leaves a territory marker as Luna leads Gideon and Alpha and Storm around the pond – effectively separating Steeldust from the mares.

Luna walked around the pond, but Alpha stopped. Butch continued after Luna, and Steeldust stopped with Alpha.

Think that looks terrible?

How about this?

The good news is that BLM is supposed to have several more ponds – hopefully including this one – dug out because they’re all very shallow (because of the highly erodable soil). The bad news is that neither of the two ponds dug out finally last fall have water right now (I was so optimistic), and the ponds to be dug out aren’t even on the schedule until August or September.

Here’s Butch getting great enjoyment out of his “spa treatment”! Check out how he’s tilted his head and closed his eyes to avoid splashing mud. 😉

He splashed a few times, laid down just so his cheek appeared to touch mud, then got right back up again.

Kreacher, Mona and Raven watch Luna lead the band away from the pond. Butch is looking back at Alpha and the others.

They’re really all quite polite with each other. Whether that’s something conscious – “don’t want to get involved in THEIR drama” or “I think I have enough …” – or bonds keeping them together, who knows? The girls from Sand Wash Basin seem quite content with their boy.

Alegre napping at the base of the hill while the babies (not “babies” anymore!) graze in a bunch. Bounce was down a bit watching the two bands.

He has such a presence, but he’s really not a very big boy in size.

Our very own wild black stallion. He has a heart of gold.

Mahogany, Sundance and Mouse …

Kestrel, Winona and … Comanche, still guarding the girl and the babe!

Notice anybody missing?

There’s Aspen at far right …

Notice anything else, hmm, “odd”? Kestrel and Winona in the background … and in the foreground, Mahogany (front), surrounded by boys, left to right behind her: Mouse, Sundance and Aspen. And not quite ready to present her baby … but close …

Comanche … Hey, who’s that behind him?

Do you see? Recognize? Now do you see who was missing from Mahogany’s band?

Hannah and Sable. When I saw Mahogany – without Sable – I hoped fervently that she had joined her yearmate and big brother Pinon older half-sister Ember with Hook. This kind of thing makes me wonder how “off” our herd dynamic is with massive roundups that take most of the horses every two to four years. Hannah and Sable are yearlings. In a normal environment, I don’t think they’d have left their dams this soon. In both cases, they left before their mothers had even had this year’s foals.

Left to right: Pinon, Hook, Sable, Ember’s head, Hannah


I thought she was going to put on a show like Gideon did last week …

But this wee girl is more reserved than her uncle.

Mama and first-born daughter

Snack time

Love her expression here … *drinker of the wind*! Trying to catch a whiff of this weird two-legged.

Baby girl laid down when Kestrel was grazing with her head hidden from me by a greasewood bush. But then Kestrel grazed her way around her like this, and it looked to me like a little “hug” of the baby – a cocoon of sun-warmed grass and mama’s protective presence.

Comanche grazes by Kestrel as she stands over Winona. The other horses were never far away. I wonder whether Kestrel will continue to follow Mahogany or whether she and Comanche will eventually split off on their own.

Baby napping under guardian legs. Could anything be sweeter?! (Don’t answer that, and if you’ve made it this far, more sweetness is coming …)

With all those boys together, there’s bound to be a little of this. Mouse, left, and Sundance.

And then Hook had the audacity to strut up the hill from his little flock toward Comanche, Kestrel and Winona. Kestrel never looked up, and it didn’t – immediately – interrupt Winona’s nap – but Comanche took immediate notice. And Hook got a little shock:

He took off after him – HARD. I had started to leave them, so I missed the beginning stages of this chase with the camera.

So Hook, former lowest man on the bachelor totem pole, has a band of four now, and Comanche, former first sergeant for Steeldust’s band and then low on the bachelor pole that developed when SD’s band split, seems to have acquired a mare and her foal … and former Lt. Mouse seems to be still in that position – to Sundance, who seems to have been born into and at least grew up in the band? – with Aspen at the low end of THAT heirarchy. Following in the footsteps of low-man Kreacher and low-man Copper … Smarts, not necessarily brawn, with this group?! Or is the bottom of the heap the place to be when it comes to “acquiring” those that lag behind (whether youngsters or a mare that goes off to foal)? Always a myriad to ponder …

Hollywood’s band was almost the last I saw (I saw Cinch, Bruiser and Twister again, far off). Not too far from the road, and I was able to get a nice look at Piedra’s newest son.

No lupine … and greasewood doesn’t quite have the same luminous quality, but baby in a sea of green appeals just as well to my heart.

Piedra and her little boy – see how his star makes a heart at the top – like Hayden’s? Or another upside-down aspen leaf …

Baylee and Sage

After a bit, he got up to nurse, but I loved this look he’s throwing back over his shoulder.

Then Piedra decided that was enough exposure to a two-legged, and she walked down to Hollywood. Iya in the foreground. She turned to follow them, and I wish I’d been about five steps to the left or right because Holls bent his neck around to greet his son for a few seconds before Piedra turned and walked a bit farther before settling back to grazing. The whole moment was blocked because I was behind Iya in a direct path. Oy. As much as I love to capture the interactions between the mamas and their babies, I love to capture that between the stallions and babies – just more rare to see. They like to portray this stoic tough-guy front, but they’re big softies when it comes to babies! Just like all of us!

The Four Corners Back Country Horsemen’s annual wild horse count is this weekend – I hope you folks see all the horses and new babies and have weather as great as mid-week!

Two in one

2 05 2010

Happy May 2 – snow on the ground!

On to Steeldust’s band … which is kinda splitting at the seams these days. For the sake of convenience, I’m still referring to them collectively …

I think I mentioned that Hook – as of last week – was perfectly content and quite separate with Ember (2-year-old filly), Pinon (2-year-old colt) and Hannah (yearling filly). Hook had been a bachelor for as long as I’d known him. He appeared briefly this winter with Piedra and Sage (Hollywood’s mare and yearling son), then back with bachelor pal Aspen as hangers-on to Steeldust’s band.

I will take the opportunity to mention that this is at least the third time I’ve seen the “low man on the bachelor totem pole” end up with a band of his own (Copper took over the pinto band, Kreacher got the introduced girls; Duke was sort of in the upper ranks of the Bachelor 7 when he got Raven last year). However it worked, it worked.

Mouse and Comanche are still with “Steeldust’s band,” but Mouse is now apparently Sundance’s lieutenant keeping Aspen away, and Comanche is low man – as he was before Aspen and Hook came back. (Poor guy … but maybe some of the low-man luck will rub off on him!) Butch is glued to Luna, who stays with Alpha – or vice versa – they stay together – and Steeldust is glued to Alpha – and Storm, of course, still is glued – quite literally – to mama (he’s still nursing!).

So there I’ve *told* you what’s going on (via my observation; no doubt to the ponies it’s much more). Ready to *see* it?

I first saw them down in a “valley,” then Luna started walking along the arroyo. They went out of sight, and I waited awhile but didn’t see them reappear, so I walked out to the edge of a hill and found them like this: By a dry section of arroyo. One little puddle of water. It seemed as windy there as anywhere else, but there they were, napping. Front left, Luna; front right, Butch. Back left to right: Steeldust, Alpha and Storm.

And here’s Sundance and the gang, just to the right of Steeldust’s. Left to right: Mahogany, Kestrel, Sable, Sundance, Mouse and Aspen.

Then I saw this critter:

He was on my side of the arroyo from the horses, and I think he saw me just a second before I saw him – we looked at each other for another second, then he was off!

I like to see the pronghorn antelope. They sometimes act as sentinels for a band. One “barked” at me once, to alert the horses I was there. I think that was Steeldust’s band, too, and they weren’t worried, which seemed to bother the poor prongs.

The horses are watching the pronghorn, but Luna is watching something else …

… something that made SD a little restless. I also included this pic because I love the “frosted” effect of Storm’s winter coat as he sheds his baby red for big-boy grey.

Off he went across the arroyo to tell Comanche in no uncertain terms that his proximity was unwelcome!

And trotting back to his lady before Butch could get any ideas (too late for the ideas part …). And I included this photo in part to show how scarred Steeldust is. I’ve seen pix of grey stallions from other herds looking mightily battle-scarred, but not so many of our stallions show that degree of scarring – except this boy. (Mesa, the solid bay stallion with the pintos, shows a fair amount of scarring, and Aspen does, a bit, too, but they really show up on SD.)

Comanche was unperturbed and settled in for a nap of his own.

You have to use your imagination here a little, but he is definitely nursing – she finally took a step forward, raised her hind leg when he tried to go back for seconds – and he smacked his lips while enjoying up the last delicious yumminess of mama’s milk!

Love this. 🙂

Different angle on SunnyD’s: Aspen behind Mouse, Sable, Mahogany facing away, Kestrel and Sundance.

Butch and Luna at left; Sable, Mahogany, Kestrel, Sundance and Mouse clustering against the wind, and Aspen.

Together … separate.

Instead of getting kicked out of the band, Butch and Sundance seem to have figured out ways to stay … We’ll just have to stay tuned, won’t we!?