‘A resource with a beating heart’

2 05 2022

We had such a great time with the mustangs and visitors Saturday at Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum!

A little background: Last year was the 50th anniversary of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. CANM had a wonderful special exhibit all year that celebrated mustangs – especially our Colorado herds in Spring Creek Basin, Little Book Cliffs, Sand Wash Basin and Piceance-East Douglas. To help promote that, we were invited to a very special one-day event last fall, to introduce a couple of our local adopters of Spring Creek Basin mustangs, have advocate and author Kathryn Wilder read from her memoir, Desert Chrome (published in May), and take limited numbers of visitors (still under Covid protocols) through the exhibit inside the museum.

It was such a success, Amala Posey-Monk, supervisory park ranger with CANM, asked if we’d like to make it an annual event. How fast could we say YES?!

So Kat returned and read again from Desert Chrome, which is being sold in the new bookstore area in the visitor center and museum (which looks fantastic, by the way; drop by and see (among the museum’s other wonderful exhibits about the cultural history of our area) the particular wall full of ways to appreciate our very dark skies). She also signed copies of her book for folks who were there to visit the mustangs.

Tif Rodriguez brought her gentle giant, Whisper, and Keith Bean brought his teddy bear, Skipper, who are so calm and willing to meet lots of admiring strangers! We had one little incident before the event started when the wind caught the little popup tent, but as Keith said, most domestic horses would have catapulted into any of the nearby states if they’d been there. Skipper and Whisper were very startled, but they hardly left the plaza. πŸ™‚ Tif and Keith answered questions and talked about numerous topics related to mustangs and adoptions, and Skipper and Whisper greeted everyone from seniors to the littlest visitors.

Our excellent herd manager, Mike Jensen, kicked off the day with an introduction to BLM wild horse management, particularly in Spring Creek Basin, and also answered lots of questions from visitors. As he said, mustangs are the only resources BLM manages that have beating hearts. πŸ™‚

Mike talks about mustangs at the beginning of the event.

Keith says that seeing Skipper without something to eat in his mouth is unusual. Tif’s mom (not pictured), Lyn Rowley, brought snacks for both people and horses, which were particularly appreciated by Skipper. πŸ™‚

Amala and her 4.5-year-old daughter, Geneva (who came with husband/father and baby sister), also got to meet the mustangs.

Skipper may have liked his treats from little hands best of all. See the very end of the carrot? πŸ™‚ (Lyn pictured in the background.)

And a couple of pairs of little hands are even better!

I know. I should have prepared ya’ll for the overload of cuteness. πŸ™‚

Skipper and Whisper spend a lot of time on the trail together every year with Tif and Keith as they do miles and hours of trail work on public lands (both BLM and Forest Service). Little Skipper is the guy in charge, apparently … and he also evidently loves his big friend!

Thanks to one of our visitors for taking these pix of me, Mike, Whisper, Tif, Skipper and Keith. Unfortunately, we missed getting Kat corralled for this group pic; Mike was trying to get home to his family for Saturday activities, and Kat was signing books inside the museum.

And I’ve been so long out of the journalism game (and my computer-driven slideshow while she was reading was giving me fits), I completely spaced taking any pix of her reading from Desert Chrome in the museum’s wonderful theater. She read excerpts about her first meeting with Maka, the big bay mustang from Divide Basin, Wyoming, that she adopted from CaΓ±on City, then bringing him home. People asked some great questions. A couple of visitors had bought Kat’s book a day or two earlier, then came back to hear her read and get their books signed! This is a pic of her reading last year:

If you haven’t read it yet, find it at your local bookstore or order from Torrey House Press!

To close out this post, a little humor from wiseacre Whisper:

There’s always one. πŸ˜€

Our deepest appreciation and gratitude to everyone from CANM who made this event possible (Amala, Anna and Nick, at least), to Mike, to Kat, to Lyn, to Tif and Whisper, and Keith and Skipper, and to all the visitors to came, whether drawn by interest in the gems of cultural history found in this part of the Colorado Plateau or particularly by the opportunity to meet two amazing Spring Creek Basin mustangs!





Mustangs for the win!

1 05 2022

Our event at Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum yesterday with mustangs Whisper and Skipper, their adopters Tif Rodriguez and Keith Bean, author Kathryn Wilder and Spring Creek Basin herd manager Mike Jensen was wonderful!

Spring Creek Basin herd manager Mike Jensen, center, talks to visitors after being introduced by CANM employee and mustang supporter Amala Posey-Monk – smiling. πŸ™‚ Tif Rodriguez and her big grey boy, Whisper, and Keith Bean and his little bay boy, Skipper, attended the event to allow visitors to greet mustangs and ask questions about everything from mustang hoof health to adoption! We had a special visitor from the Land of Enchantment: Barb Kiipper, director of Jicarilla Mustang Heritage Alliance in New Mexico. She works with the U.S. Forest Service to gentle and train mustangs from the Jicarilla District of the Carson National Forest for adoption. Barb is at far left.

Awesome mustangs with awesome mustang folks. πŸ™‚

It was a beautiful spring day with friends, mustangs and visitors. We particularly relish opportunities like this to talk about our mustangs and what great horses they are. Thanks to all who made this day possible! I’ll have some more pix tomorrow.

**********

P.S. Happy May Day birthday to my brother, Jeff! πŸ™‚





Come meet the mustangs!

29 04 2022

Reminder: If you’re local and want to meet a Spring Creek Basin mustang, come to Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum – 27501 Highway 184 above Dolores – between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, April 30.

Big grey Whisper and little bay Skipper, along with their adopters, Tif Rodriguez and Keith Bean, will be very glad to meet you! Tif and Keith will talk about their adoption/mustang experiences and answer anything you want to know about potentially adopting your very own mustang. πŸ™‚

In addition, Kat Wilder will read from her memoir, Desert Chrome, published last year. Books will be available for sale and signing.

We’ll be in the plaza outside the museum between the above hours – you won’t be able to miss the mustangs and their admirers!

From last year: Skipper, Keith Bean, Alice Billings, moi, Lyn Rowley, Amala Posey-Monk, Kat Wilder, Karen Keene Day, Tif Rodriguez & Whisper.




*Special* special event

25 10 2021

As far as we know, Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum‘s special exhibit this year celebrating Colorado’s mustangs and highlighting the 50th anniversary of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act is the only one of its kind in the country.

From the museum’s website:

*The BLM Canyons of the Ancients Museum and Visitor Center is proud to announce our new exhibit, β€œHome on the Range; Managing Wild Horses on Colorado Public Lands” opening to visitors in 2021. The exhibit celebrates the 50th anniversary of the β€œWild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act” of 1971 through captivating photographs and in-depth information about the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program. The exhibit features information about Colorado’s four BLM Herd Management Areas and stunning photographs by TJ Holmes. Visitors will learn about BLM’s work to manage wild horses, unique traits of different herds, and how the public can get involved in stewardship and adoption. The BLM will announce public programs in 2021 to engage visitors and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Act.*

While we are hyper aware of the enormous challenges surrounding the management of wild horses and burros on America’s public lands, we’re also very well aware of the positive management going on in our own backyard: Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area in Disappointment Valley. Humbly, it is the celebration of these positives and understanding of the challenges that has led us to what we consider to be one of the best managed herds in the country. Why *wouldn’t* we celebrate that? And why wouldn’t we celebrate America’s wild horses (and burros, though none of Colorado’s wild herds include burros), their beauty and diversity and strength and the way they bring us together? THAT is the real message of this very special exhibit of Colorado’s mustangs in a very special visitor center and museum in Southwest Colorado.

Thank you, particularly, to all the visitors who came yesterday, whether you came specifically to see the mustangs or whether your travels brought you at just the right time and day. We very much enjoyed meeting all of you and talking about our hearts’ dearest subjects: our mustangs.

Being the high-desert mustangs they are, Whisper (left, with Tif Rodriguez) and Skipper (right, with Keith Bean) walked willingly onto the cobbled walkway that leads from the parking area to the plaza, but those brick pavers caused the horses to take a bit of a pause. After much encouragement from Tif and more than a few glances at his pal to see what Skipper thought of the while thing, Whisper was the first to set hooves on the bricks. Skipper, however, was the first to follow Keith fully onto the brick plaza at the base of the museum building.

The plaza is hollow underneath to allow for heating elements that keep it clear of snow in the winter. The horses took a few tentative steps across it at first, but it must not have sounded too different from crossing a trail bridge over a mountain stream – which these guys are well used to from all their backcountry travel and trail work – and pretty soon, they were right at home. (And yes, the size difference between gentle-giant Whisper and super-pony Skipper really is that great!)

Museum curator Bridget Ambler (responsible for printing all the amazing images and information panels and designing the special exhibit), who has horses of her own, got to meet Skipper before the visitors arrived.

What he really wanted was to check out her mask. No mask-wearing qualms here!

For people unfamiliar with horses, as many of the visitors were, this sign listed basic etiquette to help keep mustangs and people safe.

Tres Rios Field Office Manager Connie Clementson talks with Lyn Rowley and Tif Rodriguez, left, and Marianne Mate and Keith Bean. Interesting side note: Marianne was mayor of Dolores when I was editor of the Dolores Star.

Whisper was kind enough to pose with a poster of Hollywood on the outside wall of the visitor center and museum. Whisper is the son of Bounce (who passed away a few years ago) and Alegre, who is still wild in the basin – with Hollywood’s band!

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument Manager Ray O’Neil, with Connie Clementson at left and the visitor center and museum’s Amala Posey-Monk at right, welcomed visitors and gave them a brief introduction to the exhibit and why we were all gathered: to celebrate mustangs!

A very large portion of my gratitude goes to Bridget Ambler, supervisory museum curator, for working so diligently to select images and work with me and Spring Creek Basin herd manager Mike Jensen (who unfortunately couldn’t attend the day’s event) for captions for each, and for designing the exhibit hall, which, as I mentioned in a previous blog post, stopped me in my tracks the moment I first walked through the doors and caused me to bawl my eyes out! Kat Wilder and one of Ray O’Neil’s daughters listen in the background.

Amala Posey-Monk, visitor services and recreation program manager at the visitor center and museum, did an excellent job keeping us on schedule and bringing new groups of people into the special exhibit hall where Kat and I extolled all the virtues of Colorado’s wild horses – and adopters! Here, she’s introducing Kat, who read a couple of excerpts from her book, “Desert Chrome: Water, a Woman, and Wild Horses in the West,” in the museum’s theater. (If you’re interesting in purchasing a copy of Kat’s book, contact her through her blog! She’ll even autograph it for you!)

I’m afraid I didn’t take a lot of photos (OK, any) of the tours of people inside the exhibit, but you can see some of it again on my original post from back in June: ‘Home on the Range.’

Mostly, I wanted to take pix of the visitors greeting the mustangs, Whisper and Skipper. πŸ™‚

Skipper and Whisper listen attentively as Keith and Tif introduced themselves and their mustangs to the crowd of visitors.

Skipper wonders what the heck I’m DOING back there! πŸ™‚

Visitors were equally attentive, soaking up all the information given by Tif and Keith about their mustangs.

Skipper particularly enjoyed meeting all the pretty girls. πŸ™‚

And the kids. πŸ™‚ I haven’t met a mustang yet that didn’t love kids.

Big boy Whisper had his share of fans.

Most of all, he loves his mama Tif! πŸ™‚

Skipper was having too much fun being admired to leave Keith’s side. This image of the crowd of visitors was taken as introductions were being made at the beginning of the event. I’d love to know the total count of people who came to see the mustangs and the exhibit; we guessed at least 60?! Pretty good crowd for a crisp autumn day in Southwest Colorado!

These two were among our favorite visitors! Whether you’re new to the blog or go way back, you’ll recognize Sue Story’s name as an everyday commenter on the posts. πŸ™‚ She and her husband, Dennis, are local to Southwest Colorado, and they came by in the afternoon to meet the mustangs and see the exhibit. Most recently, we’d met almost head-on (! no, no, we were all going pretty slowly πŸ™‚ ) on a quiet and golden forest road while out looking at the glorious autumn aspen!

Karen Keene Day (left) had the quick thought to ask Amala to capture us and Alice Billings (right) in the exhibit hall for a photo in front of one of photos (Hollywood and his band). I’m so glad these ladies joined us from Ridgway!

A couple of key people had left for the day by the time we quit yakking and took a group pic in front of the banner below Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum. From left: Skipper, Keith Bean, Alice Billings, yours truly, Lyn Rowley, Amala Posey-Monk, Kat Wilder, Karen Keene Day, Tif Rodriguez and Whisper.

We want to extend our sincere, grateful and enthusiastic gratitude, respect and love for everyone who made this special exhibit and special event, well, SPECIAL.

Thank you, thank you and more thank yous!
It takes a herd, and we have the best herd in the country. πŸ™‚





The *special* in special exhibit

24 10 2021

Yesterday, Saturday, we were so privileged to have the opportunity to talk about Colorado’s wild horses – and Spring Creek Basin’s, in particular – at a special event tied to the yearlong special exhibit at Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum.

Several of our longtime advocates and adopters were at the event to talk to visitors about adoption, management, fertility control, helicopters vs. bait trapping roundups, wild vs. feral, responsibilities of management, documentation, the rainbow of mustang (equine!) colors, etc. Tif Rodriguez brought Whisper and Keith Bean brought Skipper – both rounded up in 2011 – to meet-n-greet visitors, and they were the undisputed stars of the show! They arrived around 9 a.m. and were there until at least 3 p.m. (the event was officially from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), standing on the paved plaza of the museum and allowing many hands to reach out and touch their fuzzy faces, necks, shoulders. I cannot give enough enormous praise to these boys (both 12 years old), who were so good, so calm, so accepting of it all. How many domestic horses could have been so patient?! Tif’s mom, Lyn Rowley, helped with the horses and talking to visitors.

Kathryn Wilder also was there to do a couple of readings from her book, “Desert Chrome: Water, a Woman, and Wild Horses in the West,” in the museum’s theater. Her family (two sons, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren from Dolores and sister from Oregon) was in attendance as well. πŸ™‚ She also talked to many people about a variety of topics mustang-related.

Artist and advocate Karen Keene Day came with artist, advocate and mustang adopter (Spring Creek Basin’s Liberty among several others) Alice Billings to greet visitors and talk about adoptions and visiting mustangs on the range.

Tres Rios Field Office Manager Connie Clementson welcomed visitors and introduced folks to the visitor center, followed by Canyons of the Ancients National Monument Manager Ray O’Neil, museum curator Bridget Ambler (who was so instrumental in all the organizational aspects of getting the images printed and info panels created and designing the exhibit), and visitor services and recreation program manager Amala Posey-Monk. For all their contributions to the partnerships we so enjoy here in Southwest Colorado, we thank them hugely!

And with that, I’m going to share some teaser photos … because it’s late, and it was a long and wonderful day, and we were around more people than I see in a double handful of months (! all masked and observing Covid protocols). So you’ll have to wait another day for more pix of a couple of gorgeous Spring Creek Basin mustangs welcoming all those many people into the world of mustang lovers.

Because … how could people NOT fall in love with them? Because … that’s part of their magic. Because … mustangs. πŸ™‚

Connie Clementson (brown vest) welcomes visitors to Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum. Amala Posey-Monk is behind her; Ray O’Neil is in the blue jacket; Bridget Ambler is in the white shirt beyond Whisper’s forehead; Tif Rodriguez and Whisper are at left, and Keith Bean and Skipper are at right.

Kat Wilder reads from “Desert Chrome” in the museum’s theater to a crowd of early attendees while a slideshow of Spring Creek Basin mustangs runs on the screen above her.

Skipper greets Ray O’Neil’s daughters and wife at the event. Is this guy a schmoozer or what?! πŸ™‚

More to come!