‘Puzzle’ – solved

16 12 2012

It happened awhile ago that David acquired Puzzle, but I hadn’t seen them close enough for pix until this week. I was visiting Ty’s merry little band – with Copper, who, earlier in the week, was with Corazon’s band – when I spied Puzzle away off yonder. I bid grateful fare-thee-well to Ty, Chipeta and Seneca and beat feet for a visit with David.

A slow and cautious approach enabled some photos before Ty’s group followed me down the hill and sent the wary band in search of quieter environs.

David, Shadow and Puzzle

Puzzle – the pretty pinto pony – is the big sister of Asher and Seneca (same dam: Chipeta; different sire: Copper). David, left, has had Shadow since she was a long yearling. They’ve had two colts: Wind and Coal. Both were adopted last year.

Puzzle and Shadow, David's mares.

Puzzle was 2 on Sept. 1. Shadow was born in 2007 and orphaned that winter when her dam, Ceal, died. She returnd to the company of Bruiser’s band until the late summer / early fall of 2008, when the “southside boys” bachelor band stole the band; that’s when David stole Shadow and started his own band. He has had her almost continuously since then (Storm stole her after the roundup; David stole her back; Storm stole her back; David stole her back – and kept her).

David & his Shadow

29 09 2012

They came to visit the baby, but the visit didn’t last long! Or maybe it was just a case of “oops, is this meadow already taken?”

Baby Seneca had just awakened from her nap and was nursing. Daddy Ty and uncle Copper were still napping … and then there was a bit of a commotion – and up popped a familiar blaze face! Followed by his little black Shadow.

Ty stayed with Chipeta and Seneca, and David took his Shadow away from Copper. Shiny, healthy ponies!

Not long, but their visit was fairly calm.


26 05 2012

Had a surprise viewing of David and Shadow and the pintos! I’m still torn on Shadow’s pregnancy (or not) status, and my view of her was obscured by greasewood or distance.


Shadow. If she’s not pregnant, she’s sure healthy – and she is. Look how shiny and great she looks!

Baby S’aka taking a nap under the watchful eye of Corazon. The dynamic may have changed slightly with the pinto band. Corazon seems very possessive of Reya, with Ty giving them some space. Copper is still low man, and I couldn’t see him well enough because of the greasewood, so it was hard to see the status of his injured knee. He was moving pretty well, though.

Ty, also looking very healthy.

Puzzle and mama Chipeta. Several of the horses were coated in mud, but Puzzle was bright-white and clean! There are a surprising number of places in the arroyo nearby that have water. Muddy, salt-crusted water, but more than none.

Maiku with big sister Reya and little brother S’aka.

Puzzle and Chipeta and Maiku and Copper. Copper is Maiku’s and Puzzle’s daddy.

Puzzle, Chipeta and Copper

Reya and her baby boy – he’s been playing in the mud!

Do be due

13 04 2012

Miss Shadow has been one of the first foalers of the year. She was due today, in fact!

When she first realized I was there.

Curious girl.

I don’t think the girl is having a baby today. She’s thick enough through the belly that I think she *is* pregnant. But if so, she’ll be later this year.

Handsome Mr. David. He lost her during the roundup. Storm got her. David got her back. Storm got her back. David has her back. (Storm may have Mona.)

David and Shadow

Watchful David.

Two of a kind.

Storm saga

20 11 2011

I’m taking advantage of more time this week to post lots more photos … I really didn’t get a lot posted from the previous week’s visit. That was the week I found Bounce, Tenaz, Seven and Storm together – a welcome change (to this human anyway) from Seven and Storm being alone. But Storm was fairly standoffish from the other boys, though, collectively, they were all fairly close to Hollywood’s and Comanche’s during my visit.

Another wow moment this week: Spotted Storm … then David … where’s Shadow? Oh, there she is – with Storm! Or rather, with Storm between her and David. This, I told my visitor, is one of the reasons I go back every week – to see what changes in the lives of these horses in the last few days! And to at least ask these kinds of questions (I’m not sure I’ll ever have answers):

Why, when David loses Shadow, does he hound them still, trying to get her back?

Why, when Seven lost his band, did he seem to lose all interest, not even in the same vicinity of his band, now led by Aspen?

Length of time?

David stole Shadow as a long yearling in the late summer/early fall of 2008.

Seven stole Molly and Roja from Kreacher when Grey/Traveler stole Houdini, Two Boots (H’s daughter) and orphan Twister from him in March 2008.


Seven did have a small, seemingly minor wound on his right gaskin, but it wasn’t bad enough to hinder his movement … shouldn’t have made him give up on his band?

Neither David nor Storm appears to have any injuries beyond minor cuts.


Well …? That’s maybe the better question … with no measurable answer.

Seven is still with Bounce and Tenaz. This marks the longest Aspen has had a band since I’ve known him. (He stole Piedra briefly from Hollywood a winter or two ago – that lasted a few weeks, I remember; he stole Mahogany and Eliana from Sundance for all of about a week this spring before he lost them to Hollywood.)

Shadow – the prize.

Storm – the current victor.

David – down, but don’t count him out.

And watching from the sidelines (almost):

Aspen, center, Roja and Killian at left, and Mona and Shane grazing at right.

Shadow didn’t try to get back to David, wasn’t trying to leave Storm. Storm followed her wherever she headed and stopped frequently to discourage David – and chased after him a few times to discourage him further. Didn’t work. The above photo of Storm is him trotting back to Shadow; the photo of David is him following.

Aspen, left, and David had a brief sniffing discussion (literally just seconds long) before David turned to follow Shadow and Storm, who had moved on to graze some distance away. Aspen’s band is back to the left.

One very interesting thing that I couldn’t capture with the camera because they were never close enough while I was there: the obvious size difference between Storm (3 in late July) and David (probably 8-10ish or older). This was easier seen Wednesday (when I didn’t have a camera – crazy, I know) – even from a distance, it was apparent. Storm looks compact, and David looks long and lean. Both are true, but Storm is noticeably bigger – taller, wider, stouter. An advantage of PZP-22 (it worked on Alpha alone of the mares it was administered to in 2007) and/or good genetics/nutrition/better forage from removal of some horses and less pressure on the basin? Never know. 🙂

(Clarification: We’re using native PZP here now, not PZP-22.)

Stuff to make ya go “hmmmm” … and keep me going back to follow their amazing lives. Most times quiet … sometimes, quite a saga.

David makes his appearance!

20 10 2011

And then there were just two I haven’t seen yet … and still Poco and Roach remain elusive.

But I went up on Round Top to get a bird’s-eye view of the basin … and had to laugh when I saw David right below … right off the saddle trail.

And no, your eyes aren’t deceiving you! He has Shadow back!

Besides Poco and Roach, the only horse I didn’t see this week was Storm – who previously had Shadow. Bounce and Tenaz are together.

There’s another surprise – no, not Mona, though it is her band …

David’s at attention

9 08 2011

Because I’m putting together this ID booklet for BLM for the roundup, I’m more conscious of the kinds of photos I need. Early in my documentation project, I worried less about “pretty” pictures and more about photos that showed – from the side as much as possible – the full horse, including legs. Even among the sparse vegetation of the basin, it’s sometimes difficult to show some of the lower leg markings.

As time went on, my focus has shifted to wanting to show the relationships between the horses – their behaviors.

Now that I’m thinking about “conformation” shots again, I’ve realized how difficult it is! I was joking to Chipeta and Puzzle (I talk to them – habit): “All right, step forward, please, into the open, careful the background, and turn just so …” You’ll be just as stunned as I was that I was not obeyed upon the instant. 🙂

At least in some cases I have no trouble whatsoever getting four pairs of ears at attention!

David at left, his yearling son, Wind, then mama Shadow and baby Coal.

You can plainly see Wind’s left hind sock – you can’t see his right hind pastern. You may or may not see Coal’s teeny star – it could be mistaken for a bit of glare on his shiny handsome face. And how many legs of David’s have white? Not only does he have the right hind sock, he has a left front fetlock and left hind pastern.

I walked back down and over to visit them after I left Ty’s (they were not that close and not within sight of each other). Mama Shadow was first to see me, but she went back to grazing. I got within an arroyo of them and sat down on the long “hump” (not tall enough to be called a ridge, it’s just where the land humps up between arroyos or “washes” that have eroded down from a much bigger ridge that actually marks the edge of a long sloping hill). They continued grazing for a little while, then some unseen/unheard signal called everybody to mama – they stood like that for a few moments, then turned and walked over the next “hump.” I like to be the one to walk away and leave them alone, but sometimes, they’ve had enough of me before I’ve had enough of them. 🙂

Seldom seen

25 06 2011

It was hot enough to feel like July in the basin this week. Many horses were close to the roads, and I took advantage of the Jeep’s shade. In fact, I waited for about an hour when I first arrived for Boreas, Rio and Two Boots to give up their claim to a certain stretch of road by Filly Peak. Chrome, Jif and Hayden were up on the flanks of Filly Peak, browsing among the boulders. When Boreas laid down, Rio dutifully stood guard over little brother, just like Whisper has been watching over little sister Aurora. I can’t tell you how much I love watching that kind of simple, beautiful interaction between siblings.

But before I saw them, I saw these seldom-seen ponies:

David’s family! I was looking deep into the herd area from the Disappointment Road, looking for tell-tale spots (that hold my heart) and was a little startled to see these guys so close – just inside the fence across a deep arroyo.

Sweet little Coal. I didn’t even step into the basin to take these photos – just took ’em right from the fence while the horses grazed without a care in the world. Love the rich bays and deep blacks of these ponies.

As an aside, when that wind quits blowing (the wind quits blowing??), the gnats are now out in force. I just had a conversation about this with a friend … I do use bug spray – and haven’t found it very effective – but the thing I’ve found that works best by far is a simple net over my head. Friends have nets that incorporate a thin, flexible metal band that keeps the net held out a bit from your head. I couldn’t find one like that, so mine just drapes. The visor I always wear keeps it away from my face, but it can get a little stifling when the wind does pause for a bit, and it makes your view darker, of course. But it’s better than being driven insane or devoured! It doesn’t help with the biting flies that go for any exposed skin, but the gnats seem to like faces. If you spend a lot of time out-a-doors, I’d heartily recommend the small investment.

Shadow ponies

4 06 2011

These ponies shun human contact, and I don’t often see them. It was the fact that I saw them from a distance that I went walking out and found Kiowa’s band and her new little one. Had a brief visit with these guys, just enough to check that everyone was fine, then left them alone.

The only reason I wasn’t freaking out at this point was that I had seen all four before I went out to the pintos, so I knew Coal must have been napping nearby. What did surprise me was how close both David and Shadow allowed me to get with baby napping. Then they stood there for a while, and I DID start to wonder … I thought Shadow would have roused baby right away. That she didn’t … maybe I’m growing on her. 🙂

And then he got up, stretched and walked over to big brother Wind and mama for a snack … Totally cool, this little mister, not a care in the wide world.

And there’s the family! Dark and handsome!

For 4CBCH: David’s

16 05 2011

Most of the horses are now in the interior part of the basin that is accessible by roads. W, those pintos’ ears must have been burning when we were talking about them because even they are “up”! I couldn’t believe my eyes (or my binoculars) when I saw them on the north side of Flat Top … and when they advanced all the way to Knife Edge? Wow! Looking for water? Adventure? In any case, they are very visible. The three mares – mama Kiowa and her daughters Reya and Spook – are all pregnant (and no, the fillies aren’t pregnant by their sire(s), who was (were) likely removed during the 2007 roundup) – though they and their mama are pregnant by (likely) the same stallion: band stallion Copper).

So just David and his family remain in the McKenna Peak Wilderness Study Area part of the basin – the area NOT accessible by roads. And the horseback group in Saturday’s count spotted them! They were the only horses I didn’t see, so between us all (and other folks who drove in saw more horses), we saw all the horses!

I thought I’d go back and tweak some more pix from the last time I saw Coal, Shadow’s and David’s new son – which was also the first time I saw him! He’s about two weeks old in these photos, taken about 2.5 weeks ago. I guess I need to go see them again!

David. Isn’t he striking? And though you can’t see it in any of these images, three of his legs also are touched by white.

David and his yearling son, Wind. You can’t see his legs, either, but he has a hind sock.

Early in the visit … Mama and baby and daddy …

Mama Shadow and baby Coal. He’s coal black – 🙂 – with just a little bitty star. Shadow is one of the wariest mamas in the basin, but after she seemed OK with me just standing there, she grazed very calmly while I was with them.

Shadow was orphaned during her first winter when her elder mama, Ceal, died. Shadow went back to the pintos, with whom she and Ceal had spent some time that fall, and David stole her away the next year when the Southside Boys bachelor band drove Bruiser away. She and David have been together ever since!

Handsome guy

Daddy and his big boy …

Mama and her boys. 🙂

All together. As wary as Shadow usually is, I had a really nice, lovely visit with them … and got very few images of her actually looking at me. I really don’t mind that at all. Wind always used to nurse like that, too – between her hind legs. I saw him nurse like that more often than I saw him nurse from her side. Funny how Coal does the same.

And one more of David, who WAS ever-watchful!