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.





Lessons from the herd

12 10 2010

Two fathers met in a wide valley and thought to meet with a swagger, each self-assured of his own dominance, while their families occupied themselves nearby – apart.

But then a wee daughter was curious and walked out toward the fray.

The fathers knew to protect the babe above all else – whether she was theirs or another’s.

Swagger dropped. Family men were calmed.

And all because of an innocent babe.

I have to admit I was nervous when I saw Winona walking directly toward Seven (seen at back left) and Comanche (center), who were together in the sniffing-striking posture. But I could see exactly when THEY became aware of her walking to them, and they broke apart, and that’s what you see here. Kestrel is grazing at left, in front of Seven. Cuatro (darker) and Twister are grazing at right. ‘Nona is with her adored stepdaddy, Comanche, center. Seven hung around just a little bit as if to say, well, I’m not afraid of you, and don’t take this as me backing down, but there are children present after all … then returned to his band.

Meanwhile, Bruiser in the foreground, and Spring, Shane, Mona and Ze in the background. The other horses are out farther and to the right.

Baby girl and ‘daddy, heading back to mama. She adores him, as I mentioned … and it’s clear the feeling is mutual. He’s simply a daddy wrapped around four tiny black hooves.

Back with mama, and all is well.

Meanwhile, look who came to visit:

Twister. πŸ™‚ Isn’t he a handsome boy!

How do they know when to posture and when to nurture?

Elder … Not challenging, just watching Seven’s in the distance. This is what I was aiming at when Comanche then walked past, resulting in the photo a couple of posts earlier.

Followed by Winona and Kestrel.

Seven watching in return …

How astonishing are they?!

It seems to me you could illustrate a whole book on how humans *ought* to interact with each other and treat each other with photos – lessons – “from the herd” … Much like Cowboy Ethics, a collaboration by photographer David Stoecklein and writer James Owen.

Defend your family.

Children above all else.

Know when to walk away.

Be curious.

Know the land beneath your feet.

Learn from and respect your elders.

Live in the moment.

Share.

What else?





Fall boys

5 10 2010

Being a loner isn’t strictly a situation of “human terms.” A couple of our boys are – sometimes, according to some inner chord that strikes them – loners. When I first saw Mesa, he was alone. Mostly, since he’s been with the southside boys, then the pintos, he stays with company. But Duke has shown his sometimes-preference for being alone – before he had Raven and Corona and, especially, since he lost them back to Kreacher. And Bruiser had been alone for weeks. Talk about wondering what they’re thinking!

So I was glad to see him with Twister and Cuatro! In my own human terms, I’d have loved to have seen Duke with them!

Duke is still wandering, and Poco and Roach hang together, by themselves, but our other bachelors are at least buddied up with families – with “Steeldust’s band” and with the pintos. These boys were close to Comanche’s little family, which includes Kestrel and Winona, and they were briefly close to Seven’s while Mona was leading them across the flats.

Cuatro looks so much like his mama now, it’s hard to see markers that may hint at the other contributor to his genes! Love the red still in his mane. Twister looks so much like Grey/Traveler now, I can hardly see anything else when I look at him. I recently looked at some pix from when I first saw him – with Bruiser and Cinch! – how little he was! Already fuzzy – that was October, I think – keeping up with the big boys. Hasn’t been an easy life for this youngster – by human terms? – but he seems so self-assured and seems to take his “responsibility” for Cuatro seriously. Mona and Kestrel were very nearby, but they seemed only mildly interested in them, and Comanche was worried less about them than about elder Bruiser (how old IS Bruiser?) – though Bruise kept a pretty respectful distance, farther than the boys, who might have seemed part of the band if you didn’t know better.

Just love their little-boy faces! And Twister, who has always seemed small, looks now taller than stout Bruiser!





From a day

18 09 2010

The horses were at significant distances from the roads lately, possibly because of the activity going on – ponds getting dug out! Because two of the three ponds on the priority list filled up with water from the rain this summer, BLM looked outside the box and had the two dry ponds dug out – as well as the one dry pond on the list. The two “extra” ponds were still a little wet – in fact, the first one the BLM dozer guy dug out now actually has a little water in it from last week’s rain! And the other dry pond had gotten wet and muddy from a previous rain, and that one, the dozer guy eventually had to abandon – possibly for later – because it was still pretty wet and he had concerns about getting stuck. But it’s deeper than it was, and we’re dry again, so more rain could come at any timely moment for us!

This pond is right off the road in the eastern part of the basin. In the distance you can see the boundary ridge with the unnamed promontory and McKenna Peak (the “pyramid” sticking up behind the treed ridge, which is part of what I call Lizard Mesa).

Wider view …

Pushing sticky wet dirt/mud up the bank …

Farther east and a bit south of the previous pond, this area is called “sorrel flats.” It was on the original list of ponds to be dug out.

This is the pond up in the northwest part of the herd area. It rarely holds water and usually briefly, but of course, now that it’s on the list (anchoring the fifth and last spot), it has water – and for weeks. It’s very shallow – you can see the vegetation sticking up – but water in that area encourages the horses to use that area. Very pretty backΒ  there – and great views of most of the basin!

While the dozer was out, the operator smoothed some of our “rough edges,” aka arroyos that were in need of “smoothing”! This one is near sorrel flats and had become a “drainage hole” with just a Jeep-size squeezable slot to drive through (ask me how I know – there’s an arroyo crossing I call “the squish” because it’s almost always a little wet and muddy; this arroyo was in danger of becoming “the squeeze” … and then impassable!). We appreciate the extra work. πŸ™‚

And of course, we did see some horses …

Grey/Traveler napping with his girls … (Gemma is being shy)

There’s mama Houdini and lovely girl Gemma.

Very near the first pond that was dug out (a couple of weeks ago). It was dug out deep enough, and the water is still shallow enough, that we couldn’t see it, but Hollywood’s band knew it was there – and took advantage!

We also saw Liberty and Cinch just off the road.

He trotted with her a short distance away …

… then stopped and watched again. I’m not sure what he’s looking at here, but Liberty is clearly very much at ease with him.

We also spotted these boys – Twister and Cuatro – WAY on the other side of the basin from where they were last week – and minus Duke.

Two Boots and baby Rio in the shade of Filly Peak. Driving up, I almost didn’t see them because of the glare. Chrome didn’t move too much – he’s a fair distance to the left.

Hayden and his mama, Jif.

Wonderful day – full of sunshine and good spirits … and a few tears. Glad to see the ponds dug out. Now we just need them full!





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. πŸ™‚

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.