Hannah’s hooves

7 11 2010

Because the horses were on the hard, clear surface of the road, I got a really good look at their hooves. I love seeing their perfect outlines where the horses have come and gone, but this was an opportunity to get a good look at the hooves themselves, not obscured by saltbush and other vegetation.

Joe Camp, author of The Soul of a Horse, is a big advocate of barefoot horses, and this post on his blog will tell you a little bit about why: http://thesoulofahorse.com/blog/after-ten-months-of-record-setting-weather/#more-1058. I think you can find more if you poke around, or if you read his book, which I highly recommend (thanks, Pam!).

Is that a little “mustang roll” on those gorgeous hooves of Hannah’s? And aren’t those the hardest, toughest, most solid-looking hooves you’ve ever seen? Nothing soft about THOSE white hooves! 😉


Hook’s band

6 11 2010

Hook’s band: Him at left, Sable, Pinon, Hannah, Fierro and Ember

While Hook and Comanche were having a chat, Ember and her siblings were waiting at the road, so I went down to keep them company until Hook could join them.

Hannah, her nephew, Fierro, and her sister and his mother, Ember

Ember and Fierro. I sat down on the road, thinking the ponies would take a trail up to the catchment, but they decided to investigate instead.

Ember’s little sweetheart

I don’t think I’ve posted many pix of these horses this summer. They’ve been wandering and mostly keeping their distance from other bands. The youngsters – siblings and half-siblings – stick close together, and Hook, a young stallion with his first band as far as I know, is very protective. With the abundant water (all the ponds continue to hold water), the horses are dispersed but visible.

One of the interesting things about this band is that, except for Hook, they’re all related. Ember and Hannah are Luna’s daughters; Pinon and Sable are Mahogany’s son and daughter. I assume they’re all Steeldust’s progeny – except Fierro. With the attention Mouse was paying Ember – and her big sister Kestrel – last year, my assumption is that Mouse is the sire of Winona and Fierro. How interesting, though, that low-man Hook – who had been lowest on the bachelor totem pole surrounding Steeldust’s band – and Comanche, who was outranked by Mouse – ended up with the girls … in Hook’s case, Ember and her year-mate, Pinon, before their siblings followed, first Hannah, then Sable.

Are the boys closest to the action a little myopic in their world view? High in rank but short-sighted in vision? It happens to the best of us, I suppose.


18 10 2010

Jif pauses in her grazing to look … I think she was looking at or for Cinch and Liberty. I couldn’t see them, but we all knew they were there. I love the way she seems to be surveying her home.

Just about every landscape looks better with a horse in the foreground! The pyramid-shaped feature is McKenna Peak, and that’s the unnamed promontory behind and to the right.

While those two pix featured the same horse, the next three feature the same feature …




Do you know the land feature behind them in each pic? These were all taken immediately before sunset, and that’s Brumley Point, out on the southeastern border of the herd area. I know a Brumley (her married name is different), and she’s one heck of a wonderful lady – her husband’s pretty nice, too! I wish I knew a McKenna (McKenna Peak, McKenna Peak Wilderness Study Area) … it’s just another connection, another piece of the history of this land and its inhabitants.

The near hill is Flat Top, and the one behind it (that you may or may not know is a separate hill) is Round Top. The very far ridge at the horizon is not part of the herd area. End of the day … the sun has set … Look closely – see them? The white “dots” are nooooooottt mountain goats! That’s Grey/Traveler and Houdini, and behind them are Terra and Gemma. Every landscape …

And just before I took that picture, I took this one:

Do you see the pillar of light?

Every landscape is magic that harbors mustangs!

Curve of the day

27 06 2010

Some more pix from the first day of our visit last week.

Hayden and Jif. They were relaxed but shy and grazing.

Grey/Traveler’s band. Gemma is going grey first right over her butt and from a distance looks a little like an Appaloosa with a blanket pattern.

We saw a collared lizard on our walk back to Wildcat Spring, but it wasn’t interested in visiting with us. This guy, however, defended his rock – right in the middle of the road – while I drove right by him! He looks fierce, eh? But I think this was his way of venting some heat – although getting off that cooker of a rock may have helped, too! We had a nice breeze (not enough to rid us of the gnats), but it was warm – up to 92 by the Jeep’s gauge. I love these lizards’ bright colors and muscley little legs!

Hook’s band was only mildly interested in us. Right to left: Hannah, Sable, Hook, Ember and Pinon.

Toward the end of the day, we decided to take one more pass past Wildcat and had a nice surprise: Bounce’s and Kreacher’s bands, right off the road.

From left: Raven, Corona, Kootenai, Kreacher and Mona

Whisper and Liberty. They’re not as close as they appear, and Liberty is standing a bit farther up the hill. They look pretty similar in size here because of lens compression of the scene, but Liberty is still noticeably smaller than Whisper.

Whisper in the foreground and Alegre at right.

T spotted the almost-full moon coming up over the eastern ridges. This is looking out toward the east pocket. A little farther to the right would be McKenna Peak and the unnamed promontory.

Mona and Kootenai caught in a rare moment of affection. Usually Kootenai bugs Mona, who is very laidback, and Raven usually comes to her rescue by pinning her ears at Koot.

Kreacher, Raven and Kootenai walking toward us.

Kreacher, Raven and Corona. You can really see Corona’s wide blaze here in her mother’s shadow. She’s also still nursing.

We were able to sit with them for a bit in the evening light – wonderful! There’s Bounce in the background … and they’re watching some newcomers.

Seven and his band – Roja, Ze and Spring – were coming up toward Wildcat for an evening drink. They hadn’t been visible when we parked and walked out to sit just off the road with Bounce’s and Kreacher’s bands, but as it turned out, I had parked a bit “ahead” of where the trail comes out, and Seven was not pleased. (As a side note, can you see the extreme resemblance to Grey/Traveler??)

He trotted back and forth, looking hard and blowing at the Jeep while Roja stayed some distance back with Ze and Spring. I keep coming back to this, but they haven’t forgotten and so neither have I. It was almost two years ago that they were chased by a man in a truck. They remain extremely wary of not only people but also vehicles. It’s important to know here that although I was parked in their line of sight, the Jeep was not blocking their wayS to water. But because of their extreme sensitivity, it might as well have been. Most of the other bands respond very well to quiet, careful viewing, but Seven’s have never gotten over that incident – maybe others? This is their home, so we quietly walked back to the Jeep and drove away, taking the “danger” with us.

Roja and Spring – pic taken from the Jeep. Look how big Spring is! (I haven’t taken many pictures of her *because* of their wariness.) She looks so much like Molly. She has little black spots on her knees, and I’m sure her legs will darken. Check out Roja’s loooooong dredlock!

And Seven and Ze … now much calmer and at ease. A great sight to leave with.

Under cover

12 06 2010

Hannah and Sable, yearling fillies, are with Hook – and their siblings Ember and Pinon. As it gets hotter and that high-desert summer sun beats down on them, many of the horses take refuge under trees. It’s interesting that all these siblings – Sable last – left their mamas (Luna and Mahogany) and rejoined each other as part of a new little band, with former low man Hook as band stallion. He’s doing a good job … even though he seems a little bewildered that they don’t follow him straight away when I come to visit.

Dapple light

20 05 2010

Had a simply gorgeous time in the basin … despite the forecast that called for – you guessed it – rain/snow – again – right smack dab on my weekend. The forecasters were wrong! (Please forgive my wicked glee!) The sky looked threatening the whole way out, but then it was sunshine and layer upon layer of thick fluffy white clouds from here to the horizon. Ma Nature brewed her dark clouds over the La Sals to the northwest, and assistant Wind dutifully carried them east and south, but Storm’s corridor was just along the northern and eastern ridges and on down to the far southern reaches of Disappointment Valley and beyond, leaving the basin just a paradise on the edge of the world.

An example – this patch of sunlight illuminated the finger hill Bruiser, Twister and Cinch (reunited) were standing on while the ridge behind them stayed in shadow. They were looking down on Hollywood’s band, who eventually went north, while the boys moseyed down off the hill and across the arroyo and up onto the bench that carries the west-side loop road toward Round Top and points east.

Even more is blooming now – late this year. I’ve been keeping track, but – crazy! – I haven’t stopped to photograph the flowers yet. The paintbrush has been trying its best to find the sunshine and warm breath of spring, and more is blooming every week. Prince’s plume started last week … the globe mallow was out just this week – not so much in the basin but very much along the private road leading to the basin. Hardy phlox – white and pink – has been out for weeks and still blooms, some of the petals looking a bit windblown. Loco weed also pops up in places. Some isolated yellow daisies-something-or-other. The cheat grass is still green but starting to flag.  Greasewood is greener than green (it’s possible) and was budding last week. Water holes are dry or very shallow. One pond holds decent water, and a couple of bands are in the vicinity of Wildcat Spring. At least one band is using the catchment, but they have to range far for forage because it’s just not that great in that area. The claret cups are tightly furled within their nests of thorns … not blooming yet. I saw a couple of bunches of lupine (my very favorite wildflower) near Dolores, but that was it. We don’t typically get lupine in the basin (I’m so jealous of the opportunity on Pryor Mountain to photograph babies in fields of blue lupine!)), but there are spots along the Dolores-Norwood Road where they’ve been insane in past years. Given the great snow we had this winter, I’m looking forward to a great show of wildflowers here in Colorado this year.

The horses are mostly shed out now – last year’s youngsters still fuzzy in most cases. Nights still dipping into the 20s (occasionally) and 30s (commonly). The temp reached at least 72 while I was out. Just beautiful.

The first horses I saw were Chrome’s: Jif, Hayden, Two Boots, Cuatro and Chrome, taking his time, bringing up the rear. Can you tell that Jif is slick while Hayden is still fuzzy? Oddly enough, because he was born so late in the year, I’ve never seen Hayden shed out. His face is starting, though, and I think he’s going to stay sorrel – he’s going to be just as handsome a devil as his daddy!

Two Boots is starting to look a little closer … Can you see the little hunks of hair Hayden is trying to shed?

“Wait for me!” They walked on by and down the hill on a horse trail, then Chrome looked up from his lolly-gagging (grazing) and decided he was being left behind, so he went galloping after them.

I saw Seven’s close to Grey/Traveler’s close to Bounce’s, who turned out to be close to Kreacher’s who were close to … Luna’s. (Some stallion weirdness I’ll explain in a minute, so for now, it’s Luna’s band because everyone is following her!)

Didn’t take pix of Seven’s or Grey’s. Seven’s were very close to where I saw them last week. I just sat in the Jeep and watched them. Roja grazed and watched and watched and grazed for about 10 or 15 minutes, then oh-so-casually led her family away. She is so wary and so protective, and because I’ve witnessed them being chased (a couple of summers ago, after which I never saw Molly’s filly Starla again), I just don’t have much heart for even attempting to get too close for her comfort – which isn’t close at all.

Grey’s were moving toward the road on which I had stopped, so I enjoyed my vantage of being able to watch them as they grazed their way closer and eventually crossed to where Seven had had his band.

Who’s who? Doesn’t Whisper, left, look just like daddy Bounce? He’s going grey, though … I love seeing the resemblance.

Gaia and Liberty

And this girl is pulling a Luna on us – two weeks past her “due date,” and she barely looks pregnant at all. Even with her most recent spa treatment in evidence, isn’t she just beautiful?

Raven and Kootenai. You may remember a few posts ago, I referred to their mid-morning nap … here we are smack in the middle of their middle-of-the-afternoon nap!

Corona – no, she is NOT white! – Mona and Kreacher. I know she looks white – she’s blown out, too – but she’s not. She has this very unusual flecking of her palomino color … like Ma Nature couldn’t decide what color to paint her.

All but Mona, who was just off to the left.

And there’s baby Gideon with Mama Luna and Butch, Storm and Alpha at right. Steeldust was nearby but not too close.


Who could resist this gorgeous matriarch? One of the great grand dam(e)s of Spring Creek Basin.

Storm and Alpha watching Kreacher’s band. (And yes, he’s still nursing.)

While I was watching this, I kept one eye on Steeldust, who watched but never moved a hoof. Butch has bred Alpha in the past, but he didn’t now, though she’s clearly in heat.

Butch did a little dance (like a very slow motion passage) over to Steeldust, who didn’t go after him, but neither did he back down. It did provoke him to mark his territory, and Butch went back to Luna, who took the opportunity to walk away …

… followed by Alpha …

… to the very shallow nearby pond. Here’s Steeldust at left – rear – while Butch leaves a territory marker as Luna leads Gideon and Alpha and Storm around the pond – effectively separating Steeldust from the mares.

Luna walked around the pond, but Alpha stopped. Butch continued after Luna, and Steeldust stopped with Alpha.

Think that looks terrible?

How about this?

The good news is that BLM is supposed to have several more ponds – hopefully including this one – dug out because they’re all very shallow (because of the highly erodable soil). The bad news is that neither of the two ponds dug out finally last fall have water right now (I was so optimistic), and the ponds to be dug out aren’t even on the schedule until August or September.

Here’s Butch getting great enjoyment out of his “spa treatment”! Check out how he’s tilted his head and closed his eyes to avoid splashing mud. 😉

He splashed a few times, laid down just so his cheek appeared to touch mud, then got right back up again.

Kreacher, Mona and Raven watch Luna lead the band away from the pond. Butch is looking back at Alpha and the others.

They’re really all quite polite with each other. Whether that’s something conscious – “don’t want to get involved in THEIR drama” or “I think I have enough …” – or bonds keeping them together, who knows? The girls from Sand Wash Basin seem quite content with their boy.

Alegre napping at the base of the hill while the babies (not “babies” anymore!) graze in a bunch. Bounce was down a bit watching the two bands.

He has such a presence, but he’s really not a very big boy in size.

Our very own wild black stallion. He has a heart of gold.

Mahogany, Sundance and Mouse …

Kestrel, Winona and … Comanche, still guarding the girl and the babe!

Notice anybody missing?

There’s Aspen at far right …

Notice anything else, hmm, “odd”? Kestrel and Winona in the background … and in the foreground, Mahogany (front), surrounded by boys, left to right behind her: Mouse, Sundance and Aspen. And not quite ready to present her baby … but close …

Comanche … Hey, who’s that behind him?

Do you see? Recognize? Now do you see who was missing from Mahogany’s band?

Hannah and Sable. When I saw Mahogany – without Sable – I hoped fervently that she had joined her yearmate and big brother Pinon older half-sister Ember with Hook. This kind of thing makes me wonder how “off” our herd dynamic is with massive roundups that take most of the horses every two to four years. Hannah and Sable are yearlings. In a normal environment, I don’t think they’d have left their dams this soon. In both cases, they left before their mothers had even had this year’s foals.

Left to right: Pinon, Hook, Sable, Ember’s head, Hannah


I thought she was going to put on a show like Gideon did last week …

But this wee girl is more reserved than her uncle.

Mama and first-born daughter

Snack time

Love her expression here … *drinker of the wind*! Trying to catch a whiff of this weird two-legged.

Baby girl laid down when Kestrel was grazing with her head hidden from me by a greasewood bush. But then Kestrel grazed her way around her like this, and it looked to me like a little “hug” of the baby – a cocoon of sun-warmed grass and mama’s protective presence.

Comanche grazes by Kestrel as she stands over Winona. The other horses were never far away. I wonder whether Kestrel will continue to follow Mahogany or whether she and Comanche will eventually split off on their own.

Baby napping under guardian legs. Could anything be sweeter?! (Don’t answer that, and if you’ve made it this far, more sweetness is coming …)

With all those boys together, there’s bound to be a little of this. Mouse, left, and Sundance.

And then Hook had the audacity to strut up the hill from his little flock toward Comanche, Kestrel and Winona. Kestrel never looked up, and it didn’t – immediately – interrupt Winona’s nap – but Comanche took immediate notice. And Hook got a little shock:

He took off after him – HARD. I had started to leave them, so I missed the beginning stages of this chase with the camera.

So Hook, former lowest man on the bachelor totem pole, has a band of four now, and Comanche, former first sergeant for Steeldust’s band and then low on the bachelor pole that developed when SD’s band split, seems to have acquired a mare and her foal … and former Lt. Mouse seems to be still in that position – to Sundance, who seems to have been born into and at least grew up in the band? – with Aspen at the low end of THAT heirarchy. Following in the footsteps of low-man Kreacher and low-man Copper … Smarts, not necessarily brawn, with this group?! Or is the bottom of the heap the place to be when it comes to “acquiring” those that lag behind (whether youngsters or a mare that goes off to foal)? Always a myriad to ponder …

Hollywood’s band was almost the last I saw (I saw Cinch, Bruiser and Twister again, far off). Not too far from the road, and I was able to get a nice look at Piedra’s newest son.

No lupine … and greasewood doesn’t quite have the same luminous quality, but baby in a sea of green appeals just as well to my heart.

Piedra and her little boy – see how his star makes a heart at the top – like Hayden’s? Or another upside-down aspen leaf …

Baylee and Sage

After a bit, he got up to nurse, but I loved this look he’s throwing back over his shoulder.

Then Piedra decided that was enough exposure to a two-legged, and she walked down to Hollywood. Iya in the foreground. She turned to follow them, and I wish I’d been about five steps to the left or right because Holls bent his neck around to greet his son for a few seconds before Piedra turned and walked a bit farther before settling back to grazing. The whole moment was blocked because I was behind Iya in a direct path. Oy. As much as I love to capture the interactions between the mamas and their babies, I love to capture that between the stallions and babies – just more rare to see. They like to portray this stoic tough-guy front, but they’re big softies when it comes to babies! Just like all of us!

The Four Corners Back Country Horsemen’s annual wild horse count is this weekend – I hope you folks see all the horses and new babies and have weather as great as mid-week!

Meet Hook’s band

10 05 2010

There they are, the basin’s newest band! Left to right: Pinon (2-year-old colt), Hook, Ember (2-year-old filly) and Hannah (yearling filly and Em’s sister)

Pinon, Ember and Hook

Pinon and Hook

Pinon and Hannah with big-country home in the background – looking basically eastish.

Ember and Hannah napping in the wind. Those long legs have Hannah almost as tall as her big sister!


He tried his “big mean stallion” routine, but they weren’t too worried.

These babies have known me literally all their lives, and their daily routine has involved several stallions in/with the band, so they don’t ruffle easily.

He actually led them back to the big band later this day … but they stayed together – seemingly of their own desire – and they were all separate again at the end of the day.

Changes …

Happy birthday, Ember!

18 04 2010

Curious girl checking me out last fall.

These two are from last week’s visit right at sunset. Check out that bit of curly mane at her withers; she gets that from her mama, Luna. She and Pinon are hanging out with Hook currently, interestingly enough, still close/with Steeldust’s band.

She’s very laid back and calm – not too much seems to ruffle her.

I still remember her as a spindly youngster …

Baby girl the first time I saw her. 🙂 They grow up so big and beautiful, don’t they?

Ember, right, with her little sister, Hannah, from last fall.

Happy second birthday, easy-going girl!

Happy birthday, Hannah!

7 04 2010

Little Miss Leggy was born about April 8, which makes her birthday Thursday. But I’ll be in the basin, so I’m posting her birthday announcement a day early.

What a wee little lass in the great big wild!

No shortage of sassiness here … This one has sass times 10! She’s definitely more outgoing than either of her sisters.

Our lovely Hannah, whose pictures have graced many of this blog’s posts, was named after an 11-year-old girl I’ve never met. Hannah-the-girl donated $100 of her babysitting money to our Colorado chapter of the National Mustang Association that we may put it toward bettering the horses’ lives. (We are trying very hard to do just that!) I think of Hannah-the-girl quite a lot and her generous donation … and I’m bonkers over our Hannah-girl. 🙂

It should be noted that Hannah (and Ember and Kestrel – at least) are daughters of Luna, who was introduced to Spring Creek Basin from Sand Wash Basin in 2001 with two other mares (both now gone). Hopefully they’ll all have the opportunity to contribute their genetics in the future.

Happy birthday, cheeky girl!

Easter blessings

4 04 2010

Happy Easter!

From my wild family to yours, I wish you all the joy and optimism of spring of a new year, when all of life is bursting with joy at its new beginnings and ripe potential.

I had forgotten … but now it all makes sense: Storm’s adoration of lovely Mistress Hannah. He was smitten from the very beginning. 🙂