4 06 2011

Got to spend some time with these cute critters last week, the first time since Cougar was even littler! His baby coat is shedding, and he’s like a little teddy bear right now – or a maybe a cuddly cute mountain kitty!

He seemed to head for a snack every few minutes. Big growing boy!

Sweet ponies

Poco is in charge.

Roach still is part of the family.

Nap time with Poco.

Mama and baby

The little guy found this dead pinon just about perfect as a scratching post, and he spent quite a bit of time there trying to get just the right spot!

The basin is too low and too dry for lupine, but for a brief time in the spring, we have these yellow flowers called prince’s plume. Perfect for a little prince!

Baby knows where to find shade!

Iya and Cougar. πŸ™‚

Lovely visit with one cute “cat” and his family!

A family for …

6 05 2011

One of the first groups of horses I saw this week was the new – and growing – boy band, led somewhat intermittently by Duke. He seems to let them go when they wander outside what I’ve come to think of as his territory … but he blew that theory out of the water this week by leaving the boys “home” and wandering (alone) halfway across the basin. When I first saw them, Duke and Twister were standing together and three boys were playing together.

Wait, three? Was Storm back with Cuatro and Ze? No, wrong coloring (and he’s still with Baylee and Tenaz). But from the distance, I couldn’t tell.

When I got to a better vantage point, I found Duke above Spring Creek (which is NOT a flowing creek in the usual sense of the word – it never flows continuously – it has some water seeping up in places), looking down into it, and I thought the boys had found water. I waited, Duke walked along the top, crossed, came up the other side … climbed a hill – alone. Change happens just that fast! With no two-legged the wiser. I have no idea where they went, whether they outran Duke … or whether he let them.

The next day, I spotted four boys waaaaaaay over on the western edge of the basin, and I started to have an idea about that fourth mystery horse. I found Duke later, alone, far from “home.”

The current make-up of the boy band is a 4-year-old and three 2-year-olds (one will be 2 in about a week).

And this is the new familia:

Though Iya looks like Bones in color and her big blaze exclusively, it tugs at my heart to see her with Poco and Roach – in *their* home territory. By a friend’s weekend photos, this happened sometime after Sunday morning. You know who that fourth horse is now, with the boys? I never got close enough to their end of the basin before they left to take pix, but Sage has joined the boy band. (Insert guitar riff here. πŸ™‚ )

I’ve decided to name the colt Cougar after our encounter last week with a mountain lion just southeast of the basin. I hope it will serve him as a talisman of protection, rather than a jinx. It’s a bit of a tough-guy name for a baby, but it’s a great name for the stallionΒ  I hope he grows up to be …

Roach’s solo adventure of a week or so ago left him with a collection of healing scabs on his neck. And speaking of Roach … an odd happening with another stallion has me wondering whether Roach’s roach all those years ago may have been natural after all. I have no explanation for either. To come.

Rounding out the split

2 05 2011

Bringing more details to the “As Spring Creek Basin Turns” opera, let’s recap the biggest “story line” lately.

Hollywood’s band once included Piedra, Baylee, Iya, her new colt, Sage and Tenaz. Then Comanche snapped up all but Piedra and her even newer filly, leaving them with down but not out Hollywood.

Then Comanche lost them – or let them go? – and he was back to normal with Kestrel and Winona.

But Baylee, Iya, the colt, Sage and Tenaz didn’t stay together – and why did they split and/or who stole whom?

Baylee (possibly Piedra’s sister … ever-so possibly … possibly not) and Tenaz (Piedra’s and Hollywood’s yearling son) are now with Storm.

This all happened within the last two weeks.

This, unfortunately,Β is the “best” image I have of Storm, Tenaz and Baylee all together. Baylee seems comfortable with Storm – as long as he keeps his distance. But the angle does show that, even with her being 4 years old now, I am not expecting a foal from this girl this year! Storm will be 3 in late July – his first band! I’m so proud (we’ll see how long he keeps them)! (Though Storm’s ears look a little back here, he’s just sniffing the youngster, who very soon after this wandered off with Baylee to graze together, while Storm stood and watched after them for a few moments, then wandered off in his own direction.)

Iya and her colt – Hollywood’s baby son – are now with Sage – Hollywood’s 2-year-old son – and those three are with … drum roll please ………..

Sage, colt and Iya at left … who’s that bay guy?

A better look … Does something tug at you, seeing that solid bay with a big-blaze grey?

And there’s the giveaway – Roach, Poco, Iya, baby and Sage.

Wow, huh? Roach in his customary lieutenant-stallion spot … Poco guarding the mare and foal … and Sage. He baby-clacked to Poco earlier, but given his repeated attempts to breed Iya the week before – and still with her and the baby – how easily will he give up his “role” in this little family? And how long will this association last? I like seeing Poco and Roach with company (and I like seeing Roach back with his buddy, Poco).

Sweet mama with her firstborn. I do have a name in mind for him … just holding it for a little bit longer …

To come: Pix of Hollywood, Piedra and Bri.

Happy birthdays

1 05 2011

This spring will go down in record books as busy. Just darn busy. So I’m behind with birthday wishes for not one but a few – I’m sure they won’t mind.

April 26 – Corona

About a week ago. I still don’t know quite what her color is – I’m calling her pale palomino – but it’s a little “richer” this year with a bit of an apricot tinge.

As a baby with mama Raven … Daddy Corona from Sand Wash Basin is a handsome palomino.

Here’s a link to Nancy Roberts’ blog and a post about Corona’s band that includes pictures of our Corona’s newest little half-sister, who looks a lot like her!

She has a few of those darker “red” spots (her neck just above her shoulder) on her body and legs like tiny birthmarks. She definitely gets her wavy forelock, mane and tail from daddy, nicknamed “Fabio”! She’s now 2.

April 27 – Iya

I thought it was appropriate to celebrate Iya’s birthday with a photo of her and her firstborn, whose birthday was just two weeks earlier than her own!

Iya was born the spring after the roundup to mama Houdini (still in the basin, of course, with Grey/Traveler and their three youngest daughters) and, I think, the stallion she was with in the spring (with baby Two Boots) but escaped capture with – Junior. Iya is now 3.

With mama and sister Two Boots (who is now nearly unrecognizable from this photo!) two days after she was born.

Before the baby. Strong, curious and brave – and carrying on the tradition of being an excellent mama!

April 27 – Tenaz

Taken Wednesday – his birthday. πŸ™‚ The little mister is the son of Piedra and Hollywood, and he’s now 1 year old. His band had some recent upheaval, and he’s now with “auntie” Baylee and young Storm (who will be 3 this summer).

As a baby with mama Piedra. She guarded him tenaciously, even more so (it seemed) than she did her firstborn, Sage. Hence his name Tenaz.

My camera adores him … I can’t begin to understand why … πŸ™‚

*HE* clearly adores mistress Winona!

From birthday-day again.

Soooooo much like daddy!

April 29 – Sage

Sage is Piedra’s and Hollywood’s firstborn, now 2 years old.

He’s changed a bit. πŸ™‚ He takes more after mama than he does daddy – the reverse of his little brother Tenaz.

He’s been a very good big brother.

Pondering his next move back in February.

With brother Tenaz at right, daddy, Iya and littlest brother in the background.

May 1 – Spook

Nothing like birthday look-backs to tell you how you’re doing on easily-accessible photos of certain horses. Once she has her baby, I’m sure that number will increase by leaps and bounds!

These were taken in March. I’ve seen the band most visits since then but mostly from afar as I just check for new little bodies. Here, Spook – black and white – is with Puzzle, Maiku and Milagro.

With little brother Maiku, who will celebrate his birthday in June. Spook is 3 today. She shares her birthday with Terra and my “little” brother, Jeff! (Happy birthday!!)

Her mama is Kiowa, and she was born the year after the roundup, so her sire is unknown. Kiowa and Chipeta, the two released pinto mares, both ended up with Bruiser – also released – after the roundup. From my photos of the roundup, the mares came in together in a large group – but not with Bruiser. (Yes, I removed that old bit of fence.) Spook, like older sister Reya (released with her mother), looks pregnant, so between anytime now and September, I’m expecting four foals in this band! If they stick together, Kiowa will have her foal and two grandbabies all together! This will also be Kiowa’s fifth foal since I started documenting … and she holds the distinction of still having most of her foals with her; almost-yearling Milagro recently took up with elder bachelor (and former lead stallion of this band) Bruiser.

A baby pic of Spook …

Spook, right, last summer with big sister Reya. Spook and Corazon – and Raven, from Sand Wash Basin – are our only black-and-white pintos. The others range from very dark bay to red-bay.

May 1 – Terra

Gorgeous 2-year-old daughter of Grey/Traveler and Houdini.

With little sister Gem in the background.

From March, with Mama in the background …

Also from that day in March, with Daddy.

Baby girl with Houdini


All beloved wild beauties of Spring Creek Basin. You are loved, always.

Wha-huh? Oh! … Uh …

24 04 2011

Changes happen all the time – that’s nature. Because foaling season and re-breeding season in horses happens one right after the other (no separate “rut” like with deer and elk) – and usually (but not always) in the spring – ’tis the season of changes. I like to focus on the behavior and all the “other” going on. So you’ll rarely see “fight shots” on this blog unless I can use them to illustrate the behavior behind it (such as the play fighting with the youngsters awhile back). Also, because images of stallions fighting are so prevalent, some folks then have the idea that the stallions just fight constantly, and that’s simply not the case. Stallions do fight to protect their mares and families – but they don’t fight all the time – and what else is going on?

When I first saw Hollywood’s band last week, I was confused. Kestrel and Winona were nearby – that has been fairly typical lately – but not Comanche … and not Hollywood. This was all from a distance through binoculars, by the way – and then realization hit me: Comanche WAS there – WITH Hollywood’s band – WITHOUT Hollywood …

Comanche stole Hollywood’s band – minus Piedra and, as I found later that day, their new daughter. (So much for the belief of the visitor who was adamant Hollywood could “kick that grey stallion’s ass.”)

When I finally figured out what I was seeing, it looked like the band must have been new because there was a lot of chaos swirling – and Kestrel and ‘Nona were staying apart from it.

As it turned out, I found Grey/Traveler’s band with their new filly and, late in the day, Hollywood and Piedra and Bri, and I never walked out to Comanche’s new band until the next morning.

By then, Comanche was sort of bridging the continuing gap between “Hollywood’s band” – seen above – and his original girls, Kes and ‘Nona. And except for one brief bit of interest in Baylee, Comanche seemed to be leaving them alone – and I didn’t quite understand that, either …

I’ll skip the graphic details, but Iya was clearly in her foaling heat … and it was SAGE trying to breed her! The little guy is just 2 (end of this week), and he was pretty awkward. Add to that his “auntie” Baylee, who has now fully switched her allegiance from Sage and his brother Tenaz to Iya’s little boy, and it left this human feeling confused. Why wasn’t Comanche filling that duty?

They went round and round, and Sage still found gaps in her defenses and tried to breed Iya several times while I was with them. I don’t know whether he was successful … and we won’t know till next year!

Baby was NOT hurt, I want to make very clear, and he was never in direct danger from either Sage, his half-brother trying to breed his mother, OR from Comanche, who just stole his mother and the others. Anything can happen, of course, and have foals never been trampled by a stallion trying to get to a mare to breed her? I’m sure they have been. But I know the “cult rumor” has reached epic proportions that “a stallion will kill any foal that’s not his” (I have BLM as well as non asking me this all the time), and I want to make it clear: Even in his zeal to get to Iya, Sage avoided the baby, and, as I’ve said, Comanche almost completely ignored them altogether.

What really confused me was Comanche’s behavior.

He was completely calm. Other than following them and making sure Kestrel and Winona followed him, he seemed to mostly ignore Sage AND Iya. That was the most confusing part. With her so obviously in heat (she stood for Sage patiently every time he tried), why was Comanche ignoring her? Wasn’t that probably the catalyst for Comanche stealing them in the first place? (Hollywood did not emerge unscathed from their apparent encounter, but he’ll be OK.)

Comanche at right, Sage in the middle, Tenaz, Iya and the baby in front of him and beside Baylee. Sage is in a rather tentative “stallion” position here, between Comanche and his band/family … but in the next moment:

Baby clacking!

Sage then went to the mares, and Comanche went back to grazing. Comanche showed no outward sign of injury, though he certainly could have been bruised. His attitude – in very human terms – seemed to be one of just biding his time.

Kestrel seemed to ignore the new additions even more completely than Comanche did. Here, the horses are behind her and up to the right. She’s looking long down the hill, possibly at Seven’s in the far distance (very visible this week).

Tenaz tried to take advantage of the situation by sticking as close to Winona as she would allow, but she wasn’t too interested in playing with him.

I was so hoping ‘Nona would turn her head and present me with a lovely shot of Tenaz, her and Kestrel all in a row … but she wasn’t so accommodating. πŸ™‚ Comanche is just behind them, and the others are in the arroyo beyond.

Iya – the eye of the storm – seemed exactly as calm, taking everything in stride, focused almost completely on grazing and her baby.

No mistaking these two!

Comanche watched Iya, baby, Baylee and Sage in a wide arroyo before he led Kestrel, Winona and Tenaz down to join them.

Sunrise was almost completely cloudy (and storm-cloudy) except for this bit of softness.

Always changes … always more to learn … ALWAYS more wonder!


18 04 2011

Some of Hollywood’s other family members …

The sun had lit the west, but we were still in shade when Hollywood and his firstborn, Sage, appeared in relief on a ridge against the sky. Between seeing them and training my lens on them, Sage’s expression drooped, and in the next half-second, off he went. They do appear very different, don’t they?

Curious George of colts …

… and George II – brother Tenaz, too! This little guy more closely resembles their daddy.

Watching Comanche’s crew … Tenaz and Hollywood were just to the left … baby and mama Iya at right.

It’s no wonder he was (at least) once mistaken from a distance for a sorrel – how red he glows in the early light!

Mama Piedra stood thus entranced for quite a long while (notice her shedding along her topline), and I couldn’t quite figure out what she was so intent about …

… until I looked up the hill and saw this little – still her youngest – moseying about, sun behind him from mama’s view. What was she thinking? What was he? … I could be completely wrong, but he demonstrates this lagging behavior every time ‘Nona is in the vicinity … πŸ™‚

More baby

15 04 2011

Some more pix of Hollywood’s and Iya’s baby boy:

Such balance! Look at his heavenly zebra stripes and dark curled little ear tips. Just perfection! The sun had risen, and the light was marching steadily toward us, the roll of the Earth conquering the massive bulk of Knife Edge (to the right here).

Comanche, Kestrel and Winona were very nearby … I love this of Hollywood with two of his girls and one of his boys, wide expanse of sunlit basin behind them – dawn of another day. Comanche’s and Hollywood’s have often been near each other this year – since winter. ‘Nona and Tenaz like to play together … Piedra, Baylee and Kestrel all used to be with the same band (Baylee and Kestrel, at least, are likely half-sisters (daddy: Steeldust)) … what (else) draws them together?

Still keeping an eye on Comanche.

Hello, beautiful! Look what a treasure you have!

Going back into the “vault” …

Iya as a babe with mama Houdini! She was 2 days old in this photo (her exact birth date is known), about the age I think her baby is here – see how big she was? A bit longer-bodied, and her legs go on for miles.

How fun is that?! πŸ™‚

Sticking out the tip of his little pink tongue.

I’m a sucker for family portraits.

We know what the mamas are thinking … what do the daddies think about these little creatures who suddenly appear with the family? They KNOW they’re to be protected … Are they proud? Do they know they had a part in the little’s existence? Anthropomorphic, sure, but I’d still love to know!

Essentials: baby and mama and daddy.

What a fantastic morning! I admit that when I first saw them and saw that light little “shadow” at Iya’s side, I yipped and yay’d with delight. Something about the miracle of birth … in such a place … wild circle of life. Death and birth – and, most important, life. They don’t need our help … and yet they do. Independent of man … and yet fenced into a dry land that bustles with often-overlooked treasures. So many liquid-clear bird songs that morning! Their absence (except for the ever-present ravens) is so noticeable, their songs when they return are, in fact, the heralds of new seasons. I looked all morning for those trilling, warbling birds and never saw them. Their songs changed location, but I couldn’t for the life of me catch sight of the birds themselves.

But this, first blooming about two weeks ago, is everywhere, carrying the oh-so-sweet fragrance of spring. Delicate/hardy phlox – tiny co-heralds of spring.


14 04 2011

Look at this handsome little guy! Having not seen Shadow except for her back from a distance on the other side of a hill, as far as I know, this little mister is the first baby of the year in Spring Creek Basin. His color and markings tell you just who he belongs to … Do you know?

Soft claybank dun and big, b(o)ld face …

Daddy, of course, is Hollywood – and, as far as I know, this is the first dun he has sired! (Sage, almost 2, is grey, and Tenaz, almost a yearling, is bay.)

Who’s mama???

Iya – of course! Look at those matching faces! It’s like she’s been a mama forever. She grazes along, and he follows. She’s not as outwardly affectionate as some other new mamas (at least not with “company”). I think he’s not more than a coupla-few days old – still a little “bunched,” still a little over at the knees, ears still the tiniest bit curled at the tips. Iya herself was a big, big, baby for her mama, Houdini, but this little guy seems just right for a first baby. It seems nearly unbelievable that such a creature could grow and rest in that belly, eh? All folded up and snug. Another miracle into the world.

Now out in the world … and welcome to your Spring Creek Basin, little one!


27 03 2011

Monday, March 28, is the deadline to call the Dolores Public Lands Office at (970) 882-6800 *to request placement on the mailing list* to be sent the scoping letter for the Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area roundup this fall. The scoping letter then should be coming out very soon. The scoping letter also will be online, and I’ll post that link when it’s ready. The deadline for comments will be in that letter.


Hollywood’s band was *right* off the road when I was making my way out of the basin, all hope of sunset light disappearing behind clouds. He made quite a striking figure standing sentry with some low hills, still spotted with snow, behind him (beyond the basin).

Though the golden end-o-day light didn’t break through as I had hoped, there’s something really lovely and soft about the last diffused light we did get – especially on Holls’ gorgeous dun coat.


Hollywood’s girls – and one of his boys: Baylee (left) will be 4; Iya will be 3 in late April; Sage, his son, will be 2 in late April; and mama Piedra is likely at least 5 this year.

BFFs Baylee and Iya. Has anyone else seen the news that the Oxford English Dictionary added that “word” recently? Like, OMG, I LOL at the ridiculousness – IMHO, of course. πŸ™‚ I (heart) Spring Creek Basin mustangs! I’d try to get *meep* in the discussion – you know, like the roadrunner “says” in the Wile E. Coyote cartoons? – but I just can’t come up with a basin meep. I’ve heard marmots meep but no mustang meeping. Heh. (Wait, is that a word?)

Tenaz seems to be floating above Spring Creek canyon, which is really quite a distance away. That tiny glow of pink in the sky is all the color we got at the close of another wonderful day.


23 03 2011

This will be at the top of posts until the deadline – Monday, March 28 – to call the Dolores Public Lands Office at (970) 882-6800 to request placement on the mailing list to be sent the scoping letter for the Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area roundup this fall. That should be coming out very soon.


The following are photos from my visit with Hollywood’s, Comanche’s and Mahogany’s bands last week. They were once all part of Steeldust’s large band (except the youngsters and Iya) – though not for a couple of years now. πŸ™‚ Mahogany leaving with Sundance and bachelor Aspen is the most recent development.

Full brothers Tenaz, almost a yearling, left, and Sage, almost 2, right.

Here’s the rest of that story:

“Reading” stud pile messages. Iya in the background.

Mahogany (bay) and Sudance. SunD stays close to her to ward off Aspen. Mahogany is in much better shape this year after a year’s rest from raising a foal.

Mahogany is the dam of Baylee (almost 4), Pinon (almost 3) and Sable (almost 2). Bayles is with Hollywood; Pinon and Sable are with Hook. She should be due in May.

Aspen with Round Top in the background. See the road? It ends just above the curve you can see. That’s where I parked the day before and walked around the west side (to the right) and came back to the Jeep from the east side (left). Seven’s and Bruiser were “behind” it on the leftish side – basically southeastish.

I’m positive Iya is pregnant.

Baylee sure doesn’t look pregnant …

Watching me carefully while she rubs an itch using that greasewood! (Check out her lip!)

What do YOU think?

Straight-on of Baylee …

Straight-on of Iya.

Hang in there, mama Piedra. Only about another month for you.

If she’s as consistent as she was with Sage and Tenaz, she’s due around the end of April.

Sundance – check out that groovy, wavy mane.

Camouflage, naturally. (Did anyone see him in one of the pix above of Baylee?)

As he grows up, he reminds me more of Chrome in his carriage.


I had been photographing Sage and Tenaz playing over the stud pile when I noticed ‘Nona moseying in our direction. Hollywood’s had spread out grazing, but Tenaz was lingering even after Sage had wandered off. Oh, sly boy, I wonder why? πŸ™‚

Winona walking down into the shallow arroyo. Sure-footed and beautiful.

Earlier, Tenaz sticking to big brother.

Big trot …

Do you see the future? Mr. Tenaz guarding his family? Brother Sage and auntie Iya in the background.

Watching daddy Hollywood, who hadn’t yet crossed the arroyo. Don’t you see Hollywood in this boy?

Curious George, err, I mean Tenaz. πŸ™‚

I went on up the hill to watch them, and Mahogany and SunD came up and past me again … Lack of golden sunshine didn’t diminish the beauty of the basin.

Someone in Telluride asked me (basically): Of all the wonderful places in the West that are loved and cherished and protected and should be protected, what’s so special about Spring Creek Basin?

An innocent question (I think … I hope) … one whose answers completely undid me.

“It’s magic,” I finally managed. I can’t remember what else I said through my tear-choked throat.

Is magic enough? To protect this place that most would see as empty, desolate, scrubby and lonesome and well off anyone’s definition of a beaten track?

I think I tried to say that I write a blog to try to tell people just what’s so special about it … Mostly, my attempts fall short.

The wind, howling the day before, howling overnight, was still at dawn and for a couple of hours … until it returned seemingly out of nowhere about midmorning. I got up to head back down the hill, and saw that Winona had laid down for a nap not far below me.

Ordinary? She’s watching a pair of noisy (mating?) ravens flying across the hill that had been with us all morning. Maybe, to her, alert to the goings-on of her world. Extraordinary.

Loved the soft light illuminating her mane, the dark eastern ridges rising above her, complementing her buckskin gold.

Head. So. Heavy.

What’s so special?


Do words even exist??