Till dawn

19 05 2011

Pre-dawn is a truly lovely time of day. These photos were taken from about half an hour before dawn to just after, when the light was just kissing the trees in our corner of heaven.

Cinch

Liberty gives Cinch an early morning nuzzle.

Pretty Gaia with Liberty

Luna’s band at one of the ponds. From left: Steeldust, Gideon, Alpha, Varoujan, Luna, Butch and Mouse.

Mama Luna and her boys. She’s actually drinking out of a puddle there. I’m not sure why she drank there rather than from the main part of the pond.

Love all their faces. Butch is looking at Comanche’s band, who are at the other side of the pond.

Mama Kestrel (Luna’s daughter), Juniper and Winona (Luna’s granddaughters!) get a drink at the pond.

Winona and Comanche

Comanche, watching Luna’s band.

Sweet Varoujan gives mama a nuzzle.

Off to graze.

Juniper and Kestrel

Good morning, beautiful girls!

Daddy, Juni and mama -dawn. You can’t miss that piece sticking out from his nostril … I’m not sure what he did there, but it does seem to be a piece of skin that he ripped somehow. Doesn’t seem to bother him for grazing or drinking. He’s looking at Grey/Traveler’s band.

Peaceful, beautiful, all right with the world. Out here … it’s easy to believe in everything that should be right with the world …

What more to say? 🙂





All up

30 03 2011

Also going back a couple of weeks to photos I didn’t have time to tweak and post. A visit to Luna’s was my last of this particular day.

They were napping out past the double ponds. One got dug out two years ago; the other wasn’t because of some sort of problem. The non-dugout one has been dry for a while already this year. I saw tadpoles there earlier this spring (later this winter?), and the one that got dug out is probably dry now (it was down to a puddle last week) – though it did have a shallow bit of water there when the horses were there.

When I walked out, Mouse was off a bit, napping, and the others were almost all in a row. Luna was grazing (baby is getting bigger all the time), but the others were watching me walk up – I had to go out of their view past the lower pond, into and through the arroyo and up the hill – and I climbed up to five amazing pairs of ears – all but Luna’s at first – greeting me!

You may notice I just changed the “banner” pic at the top of the blog. Aren’t they the cutest? I love Alpha and the boys. It may be because of Storm, but Gideon seems to really have become attached to Alpha. I love their big-to-little arrangement … though Storm’s as big as Alpha! Notice Steeldust. Guess where Mouse is.

I dropped to the ground as soon as I came up the hill to this amazing view – just had to take it all in! Mouse here is framed through the branches of the tree on my left. And between him and the band is … you guessed it. Steeldust.

Well, here, I have five ears of four horses … but only two eyes! The wind was blowing really hard from the south. They were somewhat protected here in this little valley – there’s a tall ridge/hill above the arroyo to the right – but it was still blasting. I love to see them so wonderfully relaxed.

Now different eyes, and Gideon’s letting me know what he thinks about the whole thing.

Before I knew it:

I really love it when they’re this relaxed.

Awww … but you know what’s coming …

That’s karma, kid! I couldn’t help laughing about the times he did exactly this to his younger “sisters” in the band.

Ugh – breath mint lately? he seems to ask.

And over he goes. 🙂 Isn’t he adorable? Soooooo sweet and innocent??? Alpha knows what’s coming, though …

… and she’s outta there. Check out Luna’s expression. Gideon had to step back when Storm rolled up – and yes, his forehead is right against Gid’ th’ Kid’s chest.

And what goes around comes around – literally. When Alpha walked behind them, it prompted Butch to move Luna – and there’s Storm about to come to his feet. Poor guy – his nap was so short-lived.

He went over to stand by mama. Look how big he is.

Gideon went to his mama, but she is in the grouchy don’t-bother-me stage of pregnancy. She IS a mama, though – HIS mama – and he did find some comfort:

Just don’t interrupt the girl’s nap. 🙂

And I left ’em to it and tiptoed away through the wind.





Portraits

9 03 2011

Lovely, lovely Alpha-mare

Cute-n-curious Gideon

The boy with his mama Luna

When Storm and Twister finally had enough and went their separate ways, Storm came innocently back across the arroyo and up the trail toward mama. But it was also the track straight to Luna, and Butch was charging after him in a flash – not play but a definite warning! Storm got away and came up the hill on the other side of mama – where she was napping still as you see in the photo.

Butch back with Luna – I noticed these interesting curls on the back of his hind legs. How cute is that?





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.

Steeldust

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.

Alpha

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.

Mouse

Isn’t he a handsome boy?

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

Alpha

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. 🙂