Sage, Cuatro, Hannah and Briosa

5 10 2011

Update about Sage, Cuatro, Hannah and Briosa. They look like they’re settling in and doing very well!

Briosa and Hannah
Cuatro and Sage
Cuatro (left) and Sage

Don’t they all look great? And even some nice fall color from our corner of Colorado.

Photos by Alice (who is going to adopt Liberty). Neighbor Dana adopted these four beauties.

Boy band

13 07 2011

Is there anything as fun as watching bachelors? πŸ™‚

Most of our older bachelors have found families, and we have a new generation of bachelors. They’ve been together, they’ve paired up, they’ve split, they’ve found older boys, they’ve found boys slightly less old. During last week’s visit, all the young boys were with Aspen and Sundance (who have their own history), and they were all hanging out close to Luna’s band, which has Lt. Steeldust (formerly the band stallion) and satellite Mouse (and those two have gone back and forth in recent weeks). This visit, Mouse was entertaining the boys while Steeldust and Butch stayed close to the girls (Luna and Alpha).

Bachelor boy butts. πŸ™‚ Might as well start with a chuckle, eh? In back is Milagro, then left to right: Sundance, Cuatro, Ze, Sage and Aspen.

Luna’s band: Steeldust at back left, Butch, Gideon barely visible, Alpha, Luna and napping Varoujan. He kept lying down … and the girls would graze away, and he’d get up and follow … and lie back down … and they’d graze away …

The little with mama Luna and “auntie” Alpha.

Sage, Cuatro and Mouse

Butch finally decided to leave the girls (and Steeldust) and come check out the competition, all of whom were politely respectful. That’s Sage he’s stretching toward, Ze to Sage’s left, Mouse in back and Aspen at right. Who spots napping Varoujan?

Varo napping while Cuatro grazes.

Ze walking past napping Varo. He was followed by Aspen – most of the boys are to the left, and Varo’s band is to the right. None of the stallions made so much as a threatening flick of the ear toward the little boy.

Sundance mostly ignored the goings-on. Milagro tended to stick back with him. He’s quite a bit smaller than the other colts, as you can see in the first pic of their butts toward me. He, Sage, Ze and Cuatro are all 2 years old. Sundance is probably about 6; Aspen and Mouse are probably about 6-8ish.

Mouse, right, and Cuatro.

Mouse, front, and Sage.

Ze – that’s Cuatro, grazing, at right.

Ze and Cuatro again – comfortable with each other. They’ve been together and apart … the pal-pairs are Sage and Ze and Cuatro and Milagro.

Just makes me smile. πŸ™‚ From left: Cuatro, Aspen, Sage and Mouse.

And wider, to show some of the beautiful background – looking eastish.

Varoujan napping, framed by grazing daddy Butch.

Can you even stand how cute he is?! Just a tired little boy who’s been playing in the mud and is now all tuckered out. πŸ™‚

Taking steps to convince mama it’s lunch time. How DO little boys get so covered in mud?! πŸ™‚

I caught up on some pix of ponies today – more coming.


12 06 2011

If you haven’t checked out the preliminary EA for our upcoming roundup, please do (give it a little while to come up – I’m on a fast connection, and it still took a few moments to appear). I’m still wading through it – so far, the first half-dozen pages are already littered with my sticky notes.

“Alternative 1 – Proposed Action” (Page 10) is what we want to support at this time. The information to comment by the deadline – July 11 – is here.

“Alternative 2” is a waste of money given the timing of the roundup and the lack of efficacy of PZP-22 here in the past during the same relative timing.

“Alternative 3” is simply unviable and would cause more harm to both the horses and the environment on which they depend.

We will continue to push bait trapping rather than helicopters for the future – as we have the last almost-four years – but for now, and with no movement on that front, we’re nearing a critical point between population and limited resources. At least five of our ponds are already dry, and the remaining ponds are shallow, which will eventually leave 80+ horses trying to get salty water from trickling seeps and springs or the one fresh-water source – the catchment. After the roundup, with a fertility-control plan firmly in place (for at least the next five years), we’ll continue to push bait trapping (and figure out the infrastructure necessary) as well as more and better quality water sources.

BLM plans a 60% stallions to 40% mares gender-skewed ratio. While we do not agree with this avenue of management, particularly in light of the PZP plan to be put in place, given everything else, it’s not a battle we plan to fight right now. Because of lack of knowledge on BLM’s part, it was 56%/21% after the 2007 roundup. All things considered, 60%/40% doesn’t seem so bad. Over the course of the years of PZP application, we’ll watch to see how that evens out and what it means to the herd as a whole, and perhaps in the future, we can nix that particular demand.

If anyone has questions, please leave a comment or email me at mtbgrrl (at) fone (dot) net.

Now some pix, in no particular order:

Juniper and mama Kestrel looking at daddy Comanche.

Handsome young Twister. He’s hanging out with Hook’s band now. He looks so much like Grey/Traveler, it’s amazing.

This was taken the next day and shows Twister, butt to the camera at left, with Hook’s band – that’s big grey Hook standing by Sable, heavy-pregnant Ember (due around early July), Hannah and Fierro. Pinon also is part of this band (he was off to the right, I think). In the background, Spook and Bruiser. A bit to the left were Seven’s, out as far as Spook and Bruiser but to the right were Bounce’s, and behind and leftish were Sundance and Aspen. Rarely are so many of our horses in the same general area except in the spring, when they’re back here with good forage and fairly good water. In fact, two of the remaining four ponds with water are back in this general area. Another reason to have good, scattered water sources – disperse the horses’ grazing.

Cuatro watching after his bachelor pals, a new generation of bachelors now that many of our bachelors have found mares. By pushing back the frequency of roundups by using PZP, I hope to see a clearer, more settled pattern of band dynamics emerge without the interruption of devastating roundups. We have several small bands now; I’ve heard people say there used to be just a few bands, but the were much larger (more horses). I wish I knew then the number of bachelors floating around. Most bands now have at least one foal, but only one band has two foals.

Look at these two handsome, oh-so-innocent devilishly sweet boys. That’s Ze, Seven’s son, on the left and Sage, Hollywood’s son, on the right. they’re hanging out with Cuatro and Milagro now – minus Duke. Milo stood either with his butt to me or nearly out of sight behind the bigger boys. They’re all 2, born between early April and early July; Ze and Sage are clearly the leaders, and between them, I tend to think Sage has a bit of an edge. Both going grey (as is Cuatro), but Ze’s holding his brown a lot longer. Sage clearly favors his beautiful mama, Piedra, but he’s stout like papa Hollywood.

Birthday catchup

19 05 2011

Still can’t get to the basin. Snow and rain and graupel, oh my! Moisture is good!

So it’s a good time to get caught up to a couple of youngsters whose birthdays have passed – not unnoticed but unremarked. To remedy!

Happy birthday, Pinon! May 13

Pinon is one I don’t often focus on, but he is a presence. His mother is Mahogany, and he and Ember (mother: Luna) are year mates – they’re 3 – and likely half-siblings (sire: Steeldust). Last winter, he stuck close to Ember, even as Hook began to stick close to Ember. At the time, Hook was a bachelor – and lowest bachelor on the shrinking Bachelor 7 totem pole. (Oddly, the highest ranking bachelor on that pole is the one still without his own band …) Eventually, Hook, Ember and Pinon split away from Steeldust’s band … then joined by Hannah … then joined by Sable. Ember’s little full sister is Hannah. Pinon’s little full sister is Sable. Are you following? Pinon has always been fairly low-key – a youngster. This spring, all that started to change. He’s now quite an aggressive mister. Hook has chased him, and every visit for weeks, I’ve expected to see Pinon in the ranks of bachelor boys, but it has not yet happened. On the day this photo was taken, Hollywood, Piedra and Briosa were in the area, as were Sundance – who had just been with Sage and Ze when I saw them from the east end of the valley. Sage and Ze wisely kept their distance. Pinon, though he’s not quite old enough, big enough and/or strong enough to take on Hollywood or Sundance (even a little wounded), it didn’t stop him from testing his mettle.

This must be what it’s like for a mama to realize her baby has grown up …

πŸ™‚ Do you recognize mama Mahogany and her foal’s “ahh, mom” look? That’s the little mister, just a wee coupla-few days old.

Just when DID he grow up into such a big strapping boy?!

He meant to snake Winona here, something Comanche immediately put a stop to in just a few more steps.

I couldn’t quite figure out why Mahogany looked different in this pic, then I realized – her mane is a lot shorter now.

Pinon and buddy Storm in September of their birth year. Though Storm was born two and a half months after Pinon, he caught up quickly.

Yearling Pinon

His sisters (Hannah, back, and Sable) adore him.

Maybe I’m so surprised to see him suddenly so aggressive in the protection of “his” band because he’s always been such a laid-back, easy-going guy.

Can’t deny he has grown up into a handsome boy!

Happy birthday, tall, dark and handsome boy!


Happy birthday, Cuatro! May 16

Young Mr. Cuatro was a surprise. He’s his mama’s firstborn, and she was just 2 when she had him. I had no idea she was even pregnant. I found him toward the end of the day – the day of that year’s 4CBCH wild horse count. So I asked the members if they’d name him – and they came up with Cuatro, in honor of his stockings and socks. His sire is either Grey/Traveler or Twister, who I’m sure is a son of Grey’s, so either way, this youngster is a descendant of basin royalty. Since he was about a yearling, he’s been out in the bachelor scene WITH Twister, so daddy-or-big-brother is showing him the ropes. Every now and then, they’re joined by elder Duke, so they have his good influence, too. πŸ™‚

Cute little guy! He’s also Houdini’s grandson.

Flashy trot to match his flashy legs!

Showing off his love of snow.

He was a great big brother to Hayden.

You might remember this as “February” for the calendar.


Cuatro with little brother Rio … Rio’s daddy also could be either Twister or Grey/Traveler. Mama Two Boots was pregnant by the time Chrome stole her the previous fall.

Cuatro and Twister

Happy birthday, little prince!


Happy birthday, Rio! May 20

Rio’s birthday is tomorrow, but I’m on a roll, so I’m including him here – plus, as Cuatro’s brother, he fits right in!

Prince’s plume always says “spring” to me in the basin, and the little mister was born right in the heart of it.

Sweetheart – like all of them. πŸ™‚

Flying effortlessly!

Mama’s little lovebug.

Horse as bird whisperer πŸ™‚

Happy birthday, little spring wonder!


13 04 2011

Well, folks, bad news about Spring. I finally found Poco and Roach today – right off the road (of course!) – and she’s not with them. Unless she’s wandering around by herself – not likely, especially after all this time – the poor girl has ascended to a “higher pasture.” I only hope her passing was as quick and painless as possible.

The other big news is that Twister and Cuatro have “lost” Duke – who is back to his lone ways and sticking closer to “home” – but they’ve gained two new compadres: Storm and Ze! Twister is 4 this spring (the lone colt left of 2007); Storm will be 3 in July; Cuatro will be 2 in May; Ze just turned 2. Oh, what havoc will they wreak?! Ha – look out!

I saw David, Shadow (who was due Monday) and Wind – but just behind a hill and for about 30 seconds before they went totally out of sight. I hiked in from the Disappointment Road later than I had intended and then couldn’t find them, so although I *saw* them, I didn’t get a good enough look to see whether a little one is shadowing Shadow’s hooves.

Just checked the weather, and western Colorado is a swath of green (rain). Not much sleep last night but SO worth it! I left work at 10 till midnight, drove to the basin, arrived at about 2:20 a.m., breathed deep the glorious air, reveled in the stars so almost within reach, slept about three hours to be up before sunrise over the east ridges and Knife Edge – which caught me with the REAL reason that made the trip so worth while … coming up.


8 03 2011

A scattering of pix in this post … mostly it struck me how intent Fierro was on the goings-on, despite his family – and Steeldust – keeping him safely out of the fray.

The little guy with auntie Hannah (mama Ember’s little sister).

With other auntie Sable (mama’s little half-sister).

With Uncle Pinon (mama’s half-brother). I’m not at all sure why Pinon didn’t join the games … I suspect it has a little to do with the little mister and possibly a little more to do with the girls. He’s very attached to Ember – year-mates. Probably the only reason Hook tolerates him in the family … and I wonder, too, how long that will last … and until Pinon finds himself with Twister and Co. (or?) …

Hook and Fierro, Hannah, Sable and Ember below. Fierro had earlier tried to snuggle up to Hook, but Hook wasn’t having any of it at the time. Here, Hook walked up to Fierro, who is now looking back at stepdaddy’s attention.

Luna and Alpha trying their best to catch some shut-eye with all the goings-on (across the arroyo to the left). This was just after Butch had rejoined Luna after his little foray with the boys. Luna looks decent for a girl who has had multiple foals in a row (this will be her fifth foal since I’ve known her (Kestrel, Ember, Hannah, Gideon). I’d love to give her a rest … She should stay, not only because of her outside genetics (she and two others came from Sand Wash Basin in 2001) but because of her wise alpha-mare status (like Alpha above her).

Some of the boys’ roughhousing brought them down into the arroyo and up the hill a bit, and Steeldust charged down in warning – you can maybe see a little of the dust obscuring the saltbush below him. I found it so interesting that he didn’t need to wade in – knew it was play – and he had his own role – protecting Alpha. What a dynamic this little band has. How long will it be before Storm leaves mama? Will Steeldust and Alpha and Butch and Luna stay together? Mahogany and Sundance and Aspen left … at whose instigation? Will Butch eventually challenge Steeldust for Alpha, too? Steeldust backed down to him last spring … but Butch was focused on Luna and never challenged for Alpha. And with Butch’s “must-be-at-her-side-always” style, how many mares does he think he can care for? I think Alpha will stay with Luna as long as possible.

When Storm and Twister resumed their play after their intermission and greeting of baby Gideon – and Mouse stepped in – Gideon retreated to mama. Check out his body language. Doesn’t it scream “little brother sent home”? πŸ™‚ Patience, little.

Clearly still finding comfort with mama, who has just as clearly weaned him and wasn’t in the mood to baby him. He sought a snuggle, and she pinned her ears at him for his efforts. Though she didn’t mind his nearness – nor Butch’s, immediately on her other side. (I’m not sure I’d be less grumpy with a baby in the belly.)

Fierro was looking for somebody to “practice” on, and Sable seemed to fit the bill – at least briefly.

Twister and Cuatro walking up away from the arroyo. Storm followed closely – Duke and Mouse stayed below (grazing).Β  They paused at a stud pile – which Twister contributed to, which prompted yet another “discussion.” πŸ™‚

Hook eventually chased his group away over the ridge and to the next ridge – which led to them going the opposite direction as the others ended up going. But that little Fierro just couldn’t get enough!

And Hook couldn’t resist a last look, either. πŸ™‚

The process of learning

6 03 2011

Relationships matter most …

Duke napping in the early morning sunshine with Hook’s band behind him.

Cuatro with Hook’s in the background. This was the beautiful sunshine we had early in the morning after sunrise before the cloud band came up.

Steeldust’s band – which I’m going to start more appropriately calling Luna’s band henceforth – was off to the northwest – watching Hook’s and Duke’s bands when I first saw them. Another band I wanted to visit was farther east, and I had been thinking about how I was going to visit both (so greedy) when Luna’s started coming toward us. The first evidence of this was Steeldust chasing Mouse.

It caught the attention of all of us:

Hook’s watching Steeldust and Mouse.

Hook’s watching Mouse and Storm bringing up the rear. You can see we’ve now been covered in shade while the east-west hill and north(ish) hills are still glowing in sunlight.

I thought it was particularly interesting that Gideon followed Alpha … mama Luna and Butch were up ahead. Steeldust is most likely his sire, though Butch has claimed Luna since a little before Gideon was born.

Duke and the boys watching Luna and Butch …

… watching Alpha, Gideon and Steeldust.

They came down almost to the bottom of the arroyo … where Luna apparently decided it was time for a nap and everybody stopped.

Then it started to get interesting (!):

Storm caught up and walked down past mama and Luna and the others, crossed the arroyo and headed up toward …

Duke, Twister and Cuatro. Twister waited till Storm was on his side, then walked down to meet him.

Typical first greeting … (and I don’t think this is actually the first time they’ve met) …

Getting right down to business …

Cuatro followed very quickly …

A different greeting with a younger colt …

Twister takes the rear, Cuatro takes the front! From left, Twister is almost 4, Storm will be 3 in July, and Cuatro will be 2 in May.

They started with a little of this …

They know right where to aim, but note their ears – relaxed.

Check out the shoulder-check. This is what I was talking about in an earlier post. Now check these out:

From the shoulder-check, he goes for Storm’s front legs – which causes Storm to “bow” to get away …

Which leaves his back legs vulnerable. Something else interesting – the benefit of just a year or? – Storm doesn’t go for *Twister’s* hind legs – right in front of him – he goes into defensive mode.

Which just allows Twister to come around him …

And get him on the other side! And look how close he stays.

Twister is clearly calling the shots, and Storm is reacting.

Twister comes around again – look how tight. Storm has tucked his hindquarters to avoid bites, but he’s too close to get up the momentum for a kick.

Have you been keeping an eye on young Cuatro?

Now Storm’s going for Twister’s front legs, forcing Twister into defensive posture – but Cuatro’s helping his pal from the rear angle.

Then the action got a little hotter, and Cuatro here is heading back toward big bud Duke.

And yes, there was some of this.

Are you fascinated by the thought process?? Storm is bigger, but Twister is a year older (which means he has a year on Storm in learning these things) and smart – and quick.

Meanwhile, across the arroyo (except Gideon, who’s at the edge) … The only one (actively) payingΒ  attention is Butch, and this is still several minutes before he decided to join the goings-on.

Wondering where Mouse is during all of this? There he is at right – grazing on the edge of the arroyo. Another reason to show this – are you getting a sense of the size difference between these colts, one born in 2007, the other in summer 2008? It’s not great, but it’s enough to acknowledge. If Twister wasn’t an orphan, would it be so noticeable? If Twister wasn’t an orphan AND Storm wasn’t the son of an alpha mare who had no foals since Storm (because PZP-22 worked on her) and has been able to care for him exclusively these last couple of years – opposite ends of the spectrum – would it be so noticeable?

As Storm and Twister learned each others’ moves, there was some of this …

… and some of this …

… and eventually a few moments of this …

… and this. πŸ™‚

They were by no means done. Duke waded in not long after this – followed closely by Cuatro – but his main attention seemed to be on Mouse, and soon after, Twister and Storm had apparently sufficiently rested to start again. Butch eventually joined briefly, too, and Gideon, which you’ve already seen pix of.

SO much more to this than the “obvious.” What significant, subtle conversation(s) am I missing? I’d wager it’s much more than I’m able to “see” and/or interpret.


Stallion knot

4 03 2011

What’s going on here?

Yesterday was so full and beautiful and amazing I hardly know where to begin.

It started with sunshine and boys, but shortly after sunrise, clouds from the southeast rose and stretched and covered the sky in a single wide band that just so happened to block the sun. What kind of punch would these photos have had otherwise, eh? The good news is that it didn’t last all morning or all day, which turned again nearly clear, very sunny and very basin-beautiful.

You all know – I hope – that I don’t post photos of stallions fighting just to show pictures of stallions fighting. The above photo is to get you in the mood to see photos of stallions – young stallions – play fighting. It was an amazing thing to witness. Three bands were present – two family bands and a bachelor group – and the youngsters played while the elders observed, took care of business and seemed to “referee” (in Duke’s case). Twister, an orphan colt who will be 4 this year, was at the center of it all.

He’s with elder Duke, whom he seems to respect absolutely, and with youngster Cuatro, his bud. Cuatro will be 2 this year, and though he was intensely interested in what was going on and was frequently in the thick of things, he wasn’t the center like Twister was. Just fascinating behavior. (By the way, I didn’t name Twister as any sort of storm or hurricane reference but after Oliver Twist, orphan).

Hook’s band passed on the ridge above, with Hook observing. Steeldust once sent errant Fierro back to him, and Hook jumped in to snake him back to the band. Otherwise SD stayed out of it. Butch left Luna’s side briefly to engage Twister – then right back to Luna’s side. Interestingly, Steeldust gives Alpha plenty of space; Butch seems to need to be right with Luna all the time – talk about not-so-passive “leadership”! It was Luna who finally decided she’d had enough – maybe a long enough nap – and simply walked away, and that was the end of that. Not. I went on to visit another band, and I could hear squeals every now and then from beyond the ridge. Duke’s boys followed Luna, too … and Kreacher’s ended up close by. Hook’s meandered off on their own.

So do you know who’s in the picture above?

Mouse is in front. I’d guess him to be probably 7-8?

Storm is at left. He’ll be 3 this summer.

Duke is in back. He’s probably at least older than 10 (maybe a few years older than 10?).

Cuatro (2 this spring) has his face in Twister’s cheek at left (Twister will be 4).

They’re on uneven ground, moving, moving, moving … but can you get an idea how big Storm is? He was the first to walk out to meet Twister – Twister let him come and met him just in front of where he, Duke and Cuatro had been watching the band come. It’s not a fair comparison, really. Twister is an orphan (as I found him after the roundup), and Storm’s mother is an alpha mare and has been nursing him until fairly recently (I’m not sure whether that continues, but I don’t think so) because PZP-22 worked on her, and she has had only Storm to care for and nurture these past almost-three years. Healthy mom, extremely healthy colt. How will that affect his chances at stealing – and keeping – mares? Just something to make ya go “hmm.” πŸ™‚

Earlier. πŸ™‚

The bliss of snow

1 12 2010

A wee bit of snow have we in Colorado.

The ponies love it!

Duke expressing the bliss of the snow. I think it must be like ice cream for horses – they all get the same look on their faces when they eat it!

Hannah likes it!

After the dry seasons, it must be nice toΒ  get moisture just by eating it off the ground. They’re still looking for water in liquid form, though. Before and right after our last snowfall (Sunday, we got dumped on), it was pretty frigid, so now the horses have to break through ice in the ponds, even while they’re surrounded by frozen water everywhere!

It was cold enough to drive into the basin on snow and somewhat firm roads – but not too far. If you’re contemplating a visit, consider the “thaw factor.”

What a gorgeous day! Happy December, everyone!

Happy Thanksgiving!

25 11 2010

I am so thankful for the opportunity to get to know these incredible wild creatures. They give me so much more than I could ever return.

I am thankful …

I am thankful …

I am thankful …

I am thankful …

I am thankful …

I am thankful.