Most loved horizon

28 09 2021

The night I realized fall has sprung … err, fallen? … across the slopes of Utah’s La Sal Mountains!

Edge of Spring Creek canyon’s rimrocks at lower left; hills along northern Disappointment Valley across the midground.

‘Home on the Range’

4 06 2021

“Managing Wild Horses on Colorado’s Public Lands”

On the heels of this week’s feel-good good-news stories, here’s another one to end your week on a high: Through the end of the year, Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum (formerly called Anasazi Heritage Center) will host “Home on the Range: Managing Wild Horses on Colorado’s Public Lands,” an exhibit to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. Images and information about Colorado’s three herd management areas (Spring Creek Basin, Sand Wash Basin and Piceance-East Douglas) and one wild horse range (Little Book Cliffs) are included in the exhibit, as well as an adopters corner, which highlights a few awesome adopters of some of Spring Creek Basin’s awesome mustangs with a poster and short video. (Thank you to Tif Rodriguez and Whisper, Keith Bean and Skipper, Alice Billings and Liberty, Steve and Teresa Irick and Breeze and Sage, and Olivia Winter Holm and Ellie!)

The exhibit is a collaboration between CANM (Bridget Ambler), our local Tres Rios Field Office (Mike Jensen and Connie Clementson) and Colorado BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program (Ben Smith and Eric Coulter). I can’t begin to describe how incredible it looks. I walked through the doors, stopped dead in my tracks and burst into happy tears! The poor CANM employee who showed me in waited ever-so-politely for me to regain my senses (it took a little while). It’s THAT beautiful!

The center/museum is located on Colorado Highway 184 above the town of Dolores and McPhee Reservoir. If you’re in Southwest Colorado this year, please stop by to view the exhibit and the rest of the museum for a glimpse of ancient life here on the Colorado Plateau!

Below is a selection of photos of the exhibit. Really, it’s best viewed in person!

If you know me, you know that I’m the biggest emotional softie when it comes to my mustangs. Therefore, it will surprise none of you to read that when I drove up the road to the parking area below the building and saw handsome Hollywood and his beautiful mares, that was the first burst-into-tears event of the visit. Notice also the vertical sign on the side of the building in the background – also Hollywood. (Really, this guy should have his own star on a walk of fame!)

This was the next – and biggest – burst-into-tears moment: when I first walked into the exhibit hall and saw all those beautiful mustang faces. At right: Sand Wash Basin mustangs. In the background: Little Book Cliffs mustangs. At farthest left: Spring Creek Basin mustangs (the pic they used on the outside banner). Piceance-East Douglas mustang fans, don’t worry; your ponies are around the Sand Wash Basin wall. And the little section out of frame to the far left is the rest of the Spring Creek Basin area.

Right around the corner from the doors into the exhibit hall, the adopters are featured. Belatedly, I realized the mistake about Steve’s and Teresa’s mustangs: They’re both geldings. But I love the photos and quotes from everyone! These people all recognize the beauty and value of America’s mustangs (particularly our Spring Creek Basin mustangs), and I’m so glad BLM wanted to highlight their horses and parts of their stories. (The mustangs were adopted in 2005, 2007 and 2011.)

The exhibit also pays tribute to Colorado’s mustang advocacy groups – at least one for each herd in the state! Our mustangs are blessed to have people involved in every aspect of their observation and management (of course, we advocates know that WE are the blessed ones!).

No exhibit of mustang management in Colorado would be complete without a display of some of the tools of our fertility-control trade (on the wall across from this is an info-graphic panel about fertility control). We use CO2-powered darting rifles in Sand Wash Basin and in Spring Creek Basin, and they use .22-type rifles to dart in Little Book Cliffs. At upper left is a teeny branding tool for foals. Hopefully coming soon is a darting program in Piceance-East Douglas; all the pieces are being put in place.

Let’s see some pix of the pix (they are beautifully printed on canvas; each of them will go to the respective offices (Tres Rios, Grand Junction, White River and Little Snake) when the exhibit closes at the end of the year):

One of the walls of Piceance-East Douglas beauties.

A cozy corner of Little Book Cliffs mustangs with some of the astounding scenery shown. Part of Little Book Cliffs also is a wilderness study area (like McKenna Peak in Spring Creek Basin).

Some lovelies of Sand Wash Basin.

And of course, my most-beloved Spring Creek Basin wildies.

Deep, heartfelt gratitude to Bridget and Mike and everyone who conceived of and then brought this exhibit to reality. It didn’t open in January as planned because, you know, Covid, but it’s been open since mid-April and will be open the rest of the year (check the link at top of the page for visitor center/museum hours). (As of this writing, they’re following safety protocols with limited capacity in the building and social distancing.)

If you’re coming to or through Southwest Colorado in 2021, please, please, pretty-pretty please make a stop at Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum and take time to walk through, and/or sit, and very most definitely enjoy this exhibit of some of the mustangs that call Colorado home. We are SO proud of our mustangs!

Evening sublime

15 05 2021

When the light is as sublime as this, you’d think the mustangs would drop everything and pose like the wild beauties they are. …

Not so much. 🙂

So you have to catch them as you can, before the light is gone for another day. Pretty Temple is the day’s lovely model.

Stallion seeking mares

10 05 2021

It’s hard keeping one’s ladies in line. They’re independent thinkers, those girls, and though a stallion can mostly get them lined out in the “right” direction, they do like to dawdle here and there and everywhere.

Here, Storm was on the march to collect a couple of wayward grazers as they made their way (I think) toward and in the direction of – eventually – water. He was well aware of a band just leaving the water source, not too far away, and that might have lent a little urgency to his mission. I was with them until the sun did hit the horizon, and though they moved to the other side of a big arroyo, they didn’t seem in too big a hurry to challenge the other band on the path to evening water.

Relaxed & alert

3 04 2021

The Easter revelers are already out in Disappointment Valley in/on their buggies and wheeled vehicles that whine and growl and chug and make other noises that are annoying. (It’s worth acknowledging that the human(s) in control are largely responsible for the level of annoyance of such vehicles.)

Killian and his band had run from the road about an hour before I took this pic of him, far interior in the basin and away from any road. (And yes, they ran because the noise and annoyance level from two dirtbikes, a souped-up dirtbuggy and an ATV was excruciatingly high.) He was napping and watching one mare while his other mares grazed around him.

Blue hour

22 03 2021

Blue eyes and blue mountains: Our Kwana makes any grey-brown bravissimo.

Wide berth

10 03 2021

Shadow is another little old lady of the basin (though not nearly as old as Houdini) who’d rather not bother with two-legged interlopers, thank you very much. Just because the rest of the band doesn’t seem to be bothered, Shadow knows what she knows, and no one will convince her otherwise … even during lovely naps on lovely, sunny, not-quite-spring days. 🙂

Open invitation

6 03 2021

Temple seems to be issuing an invitation to enter her wild world. It’s not still quite that white … but it’s still wonderfully wet.

Snow all the way to Utah

19 02 2021

The snow is still deep, still awesome.


19 01 2021

Craziness: When you walk into the basin hoping to find a particular band, not expecting to see any other bands in the area in which you’ll be hiking … and find FOUR other bands … and still not the band you were *hoping* to find.

It happens. 🙂

Spirit looks fabulous against a backdrop of La Sal Mountains, still semi-snowy. With any beautiful luck, our world will be white in the morning.