Jumping, Part II

5 03 2011

This was too cute not to share right away (and then I got carried away …). I was looking back for pix of Gideon with the big boys after I did the last post and found these. He came across the arroyo and was sniffing noses with Twister when Mister Mouse came striding up and sent Gideon went scurrying around to the other side of Storm.

I just adore this:

Mouse sniffing Twister, Twister sniffing Gideon over Storm’s back while Storm looks up the ridge at Hook’s!

Talk about jumping around. And this would probably have made for exceptionally interesting video to really tie it all together as I’m obviously failing to do. This, right here, is how I know without a shadow of a doubt the boys’ “fighting” was play – practice for a year or so in the future when it will be for real – to win or keep or add mares – to prove their strength and courage – and intelligence. That really struck me as I watched them spar. There’s definitely *thinking* at work – it’s not just brute strength – there’s craftiness and cunning – and obviously learned behavior. They circle – closely – shove their shoulders into each other … What do we do when walking behind a horse? We give them a LOT of room – or “don’t walk behind the horse,” parents tell children at the fair – or we talk to them, keep a hand on their side, hip, hindquarter, tail, as we walk right around them – close – too close for a kick to land.

Play and learning, youth and exuberance – a little showmanship? They learn their moves, they learn the moves of their peers. Steeldust is the only one I’ve ever seen with his courbette move – charge – rear – vertical leap. How did he learn that one? Fighting against bigger stallions? It certainly seemed to have helped him (and the chaos of the last roundup, too?). He had the biggest – by far – band after the last roundup.

The “before” pic to the top pic … Mouse approaching while Twister greets Gideon during a break in his play with Storm (behind).

Mouse is the lone bachelor left following Steeldust’s band – which is really Luna’s band. Spoiler: Mahogany, Sundance and Aspen are together – separate. (Only distance pix for documentation.) Mouse has been with the band since before Gideon was born. Gideon has never not known Mouse, though he’s always been on the outskirts – and always protective.

When Mouse got closer, Gideon spooked and ducked behind Storm (who is family) – and then the top photo. I couldn’t tell what sparked that … and what was Mouse’s motive to walk over in the first place? Protection? Curiosity? “Pick on someone your own size”? Though clearly Twister was not threatening the little guy in any way.

A few moments later:

Mouse wandered off again, Storm turned around. Storm and Gideon are the same ages (about) as Pinon and Fierro.

And here comes Mouse again. Isn’t that interesting?

Wide view (how *exquisite* is that light on the far hills!): Mouse and boys in the lower foreground, and above, left to right: Pinon, Fierro, Hook, Sable (Ember and Hannah behind).

I missed the “drama” of Steeldust hustling Fierro back to his band because I was so focused on the interactions of the closer boys, but …

Gideon takes advantage of the action to sneak a sniff of Mouse – they’re watching as Fierro walked past Hook and seemed on his way down the ridge to join the fun … but Luna and Butch and Alpha and Steeldust are at right – Steeldust on duty. Steely Dan put the kibosh to curious George’s track … and then this:

Check out Hook’s look – directly at Steeldust. Is that a “hey, thanks, man, I owe you one”? It appears I wasn’t the only one distracted by the play of boys. πŸ˜‰

(Again, that light in the background!)

And that’s all I have time for – work calls. More to come!





Jumping

5 03 2011

As I go through the images from the other day, I just want to share them all NOW. It takes longer to tell the stories that go with them … and the stories are what I most love to share. Oh, the dilemma.

Here are some that don’t have a particular story … almost between stories, if you will … just lovely.

Hook’s had been moseying along the top of the arroyo where the boys’ play was happening, and when mama Luna led the way away, Hook’s meandered on away, too. Another band was beyond not too far, so I moseyed along after Hook’s as the trail led – they diverged low, and I continued on the trail high up the spine of the ridge. The other horses are behind me, but there’s something that always gets me about a horse looking – somewhere, at some thing beyond your vision or ken to notice … The cloud was still over us, but stray sheets of light were randomly hitting the far hills. You can’t tell at all, but it was another windy day. πŸ™‚

Taken about the same time. Most of the horses were grazing with their butts to me. Fierro was broadside, gorgeous lit Knife Edge providing a stunning backdrop to his handsome little self.

Looking back as I went on up the trail … Hannah, looking at me, framed by half-siblings Pinon (left) and Hannah – who are (likely) full siblings.

Share now or wait till the play discussion? Hmm. When I came back from visiting the other band (all in good time), Hook’s had wandered lower from the trail that took me back to my destination. Little Fierro, who had watched the play with great interest but not been allowed to join in – by protector Steeldust and then right away by stepdaddy Hook – was practicing his moves with his best bud-“big brother”-favorite Uncle Pinon. πŸ™‚ I wish I’d been close enough for pix of THAT! Cuter ‘n heck! Such a progression … baby to colt to stallion … so much he has to learn.

As I jump from subject to subject, bear with me. It was a full, full, full day!





Merry bands of Hook and Hollywood

28 02 2011

Hook’s is an interesting tale (that I know) … young bachelor, bottom of the totem pole, following after his pals and Steeldust’s band. Last spring – early, probably at least this time of year – I started to notice Ember and Pinon together, at the edge of the band, Hook always nearby. And then they were together – separate from the band. Shortly, Hannah joined them … then Sable. Both fillies – both yearlings – left their family band before their mothers had even had that year’s foals (Mahogany lost hers; Luna’s Gideon is quite robust). Hook is an admirable band stallion, much more cautious of me now that he has a family to protect … except that all these youngsters have known me since the day they were born (Sable) or soon after, and the mother of two of them (Luna, dam of Ember and Hannah) is the most patient and tolerant mare in the basin, and in fact, was the first to use me to shed her pesky stallion. So Hook keeps a watchful eye, and the girls and Pinon treat my presence as acceptable.

Hollywood also has an interesting tale (OK, who doesn’t!). When I first started documenting the horses, the day Grey/Traveler was brought back to the basin after the roundup and his trip to Canon City and his three weeks in quarantine, Hollywood and Jif were the first other horses I found – close to Steeldust’s band, as they would be until Grey somehow managed to steal Jif right out from under the noses of Steeldust’s band and the closely-following Bachelor 7 the next April. Maybe Hollywood already had his eye on Piedra … in any case, rather than follow Jif (in Grey’s smaller band), he stayed with Steeldust’s bigger band (and still followed by the Bachelor 7 at that time) and wooed Piedra (yes, he really did), and eventually they broke off together into their own little band … followed shortly by Baylee, daughter of Mahogany (and Pinon’s elder sister). I have speculated that Piedra may be Baylee’s elder sister, and that’s why she followed … and that idea seemed strengthened by what happened with the siblings following into Hook’s band … but something has always nagged at me about Piedra’s more graceful appearance than Baylee or Pinon or Sable … and this year, particularly, I really start to doubt a blood-bond there. (Though they do share those ears!)

Ember had Fierro last July – already pregnant before she joined Hook’s band (likely sire, Mouse, though I can’t confirm). Shortly before Hannah left Steeldust’s band for Hook’s (sister Ember’s?), she managed to “stray” into Hollywood’s band. I was visiting Bounce’s (the calendar’s April photo was taken during that visit) and watched the chaos while they ignored it all (or seemed to). Hannah was frantic to get back to her mother’s family; Holls was just as adamant that she stay with him. As young as she was (yearling), I knew what that meant … I don’t know how she ended up with Holls, and I don’t know how long she was with him – running the whole time I watched at least – half an hour? An hour? – but she made it back to mama Luna. Very shortly after that, as I remember, she was with Hook and his little band. And now what do you see in the photo above? Like her sister Ember, she’ll be a mama at 2.

And Sable?

Switching back to Hollywood’s band, although coming-3-year-old Iya looks pregnant at a glance …

coming-4-year-old Baylee (elder sister of Pinon and Sable) seems still girlishly slim:

Bay-Baylee-girl

But Kestrel, who had Winona last year as a 3-year-old and elder sister of Ember and Hannah, kept her “condition” quiet until close before she foaled, so that’s just observation at this point.

Normal? Symptom of our small herd size – which is bigger now? Coming-4-year-old Reya’s condition is unknown. Her coming-3-year-old sister, Spook, lost her foal last year … Just something to make us go “hmm”?

Fierro and Ember, Pinon and Hook

Hannah

Baylee, Iya and Hollywood. I liked that I could see all their eyes. Bayles took another couple of steps that made an even better composition, but then she closed her eyes!

Iya and Holls

Pretty Piedra

Mama Piedra and her youngest, Tenaz

How toasty warm he must be in that fuzzy coat!

Tenaz and daddy Hollywood

This one is meant to show a comparison between Iya’s and Baylee’s bellies … Round Top at right, Brumley Point straight back – Tenaz at far right.

Brumley Point. To get your bearings, McKenna Peak and the unnamed promontory are to the left. The far background rimrock hills are outside the herd area.

We’ve talked about how wonderful it is to enjoy horses in their quiet moments. I am incredibly fortunate to spend such time with these horses that I can witness those moments. But they’re wild and ever watchful. Spooks do happen. πŸ™‚

Hollywood initiated a “charge” of maybe 30-50 yards? From in front of me to up the hill a little to my right, into the light …

So unfortunately out of focus …

They didn’t go far …

Calm again. Holls and Bayles … love that light illuminating his eye! Another of my favorite images of the day.

They are wild … sensitive to movement and sounds – and that darn mud made it hard to move in steady motion.

Moments after:

Piedra

Piedra and Sage

Hollywood and Sage … I just liked their shapes in the sunlight.

And bidding farewell when everything was back to calm. Love the little hitch to his nostril.

Of the pix of Holls and his band running – like or dislike? Why? Does it matter that you know “the rest of the story”? It happens … with or without my presence … It’s part of the story thread of the basin …

I still had a decent trek to the Jeep, in the mud … I didn’t know at this point what was waiting for me at the bend … But I knew I was deliriously happy, right then, right in those splendid moments in the wild American outback. Give and take. Still and in motion. Light and shadow. Questions and wonder and mystery. How much will we know? How much do we want – need – to know?





Random happiness

23 02 2011

Life got in the way of me posting yesterday (though I started one), so I didn’t quite make good on my promise to post every day for a week. The snow-weather that prevented weekend visits has given way to warm and wet (melting) weather now, so a visit to the basin this week may not be in my cards. The good news is I have a lot more photos from last week’s visit!

Here are some random images from the day that don’t necessarily fit into a “category” … they just are as they are.

Tenaz checks out some tasty morsel mama Piedra seems to have found.

Kestrel protested mildly, but Winona finally got her way.

Comanche – Kestrel and Winona were just up the hill to the right.

What a … stud! πŸ™‚ Isn’t he just wonderfully handsome?

Scenery interlude: All the near foreground is within Spring Creek Basin. The La Sal Mountains in the background are in Utah.

What caught my eye was that through-the-clouds spotlight on the mountains. A long lens is essential for photographing wildlife, and it’s also perfect for isolating parts of landscapes. The first two “layers” in the foreground are in Spring Creek Basin – the hills in front and the hills rising up behind. Then the next couple of layers are outside the basin, in Disappointment Valley. And the mountains beyond.

The entire foreground here is Spring Creek Basin.

Layers and layers of beauty

Fierro catches a snack surrounded by family – Sable just out of sight to the right.

More coming …





Some boys

19 02 2011

Tenaz and his daddy, Hollywood

Comanche

Fierro

Hook (it was very windy!)

Pinon

Pinon, Fierro and Hook

Sage in a rare moment of looking at me long enough to set, focus and fire my camera!

Tenaz (check out the mud splattered on his face – such a little boy!) – I see you, peek-a-boo boy!

Hollywood – I love that light illuminating his eye.

Kreacher. I loved that light enveloping the horses. He’s right at the edge of the road … Raven, Corona and Kootenai are to the left. They’ve found a bit of snow, and they’re getting their fill like kids at the neighborhood ice cream truck. Kreach stood here so quietly … he never moved a step from when I first saw him from the Jeep. Talk about a passive leader (I think I mentioned him in an earlier post where I was referring to Beautiful Mustang’s recent posts) … so calm. So confident. So young (still relatively dark).

Just as the sun slipped over the edge of the world, the girls were finishing their snow and making their way toward him. That was his cue – was he just waiting for them that whole time? – and he started off up the road. Stopped once to leave a pile, which the girls investigated thoroughly (?), then on up the road and finally up the hill at the next bend. They grazed not far off the road when I slipped past them … the basin covered in shadow – light just on the upper ridges of the eastern boundary, McKenna’s point, the promontory’s rocky face. Kreacher does lead … and his girls do follow him.

All these boys … so amazing.





Messy mud and glorious beauty

18 02 2011

That’s my right boot, covered in mud. It’s hard to see the distinction of mud on my boot and where the ground is, but there’s a thick layer on both sides (and my heel) and up on the toe. (Anyone trying to lose weight? Come quick, while the weights – I mean mud – are/is still plentiful!) I’m not tall enough to be able to focus on the ground with my camera to my face, so I’m holding the camera over my head and aiming at the general direction. Messy mud. πŸ™‚ Every step was a slide backwards of 3 to 6 inches, depending on just how saturated and recently melted the snow was in any given area – not to mention sinking an inch or 2 deep. But it was the best slog I’ve ever had!

Some more pix I’ve tweaked so far, in no particular order … (I am so, so, SO glad I decided to go ahead back out!):

Iya, left, and Baylee. Iya is definitely pregnant … Baylee should be, but it’s hard to tell. Hollywood’s band.

Little Fierro, in Hook’s band. Doesn’t he have the most awesome star with that little comet-tail?

Handsome Comanche, pausing photogenically in front of the La Sals.

Another grey day here today. How thankful am I for yesterday?! I don’t believe I’m going overboard gushing about how gorgeous yesterday was and the visits I had with these horses (three different bands – rare this winter). I’m going to try to get some pix up every day this week; I think I have enough for that!





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.





Ember & Fierro

19 11 2010

I’m running out of superlatives to describe the horses, the way I feel when I’m with them, the magic held within the basin as if under some transparent dome …

So quiet, except the bawling of cattle out on the Disappointment Road and the trucks and trailers rumbling back and forth. Moving to winter grazing. (Other cattle will be sharing the basin with the horses soon enough.) Interesting how that sound carries right into the heart of the basin, where the horses were – and I with them – on a glorious November morning. A truck also drove slowly out of the basin, in early, apparently, awaiting a trophy of hunting season (over Nov. 21; can I say I’ll be relieved, though as far as I know, we’ve had no problems this year, as most years?). Breezy early, then without so much as a by-your-leave, I realized it was nearly gone. Still and quiet and golden beautiful. Horses all around. Familiar. Secrets still to be revealed.

What left to say? Fortunately, I have a lot of pictures to illustrate what I’m at a loss for words to express!

Ember and Fierro pictured, watching the boys – do you see Kootenai and Corona in the background? Kreacher’s band was there, and, immediately across a narrow but deep arroyo (deeper than two of me, maybe three, and I’m not short), Comanche, Kestrel and Winona were there.

Here, Hook’s band and Duke with los lobos (wolfy loner boys), Twister and Cuatro. Recently, they had been seen with Bruiser. I saw him, too, not wild-horse-far away, loner again. Also not far but unseen for folds and ridges and sweeps and swells of country, Steeldust’s band (again, a misnomer but habit) and Seven’s. Chrome’s likely in the vicinity.

When I saw a bobcat in the morning dim before dawn, I knew it was going to be a fabulous day … and it was.





Alignment

18 11 2010

Hook’s band against the La Sal Mountains