From a day

18 09 2010

The horses were at significant distances from the roads lately, possibly because of the activity going on – ponds getting dug out! Because two of the three ponds on the priority list filled up with water from the rain this summer, BLM looked outside the box and had the two dry ponds dug out – as well as the one dry pond on the list. The two “extra” ponds were still a little wet – in fact, the first one the BLM dozer guy dug out now actually has a little water in it from last week’s rain! And the other dry pond had gotten wet and muddy from a previous rain, and that one, the dozer guy eventually had to abandon – possibly for later – because it was still pretty wet and he had concerns about getting stuck. But it’s deeper than it was, and we’re dry again, so more rain could come at any timely moment for us!

This pond is right off the road in the eastern part of the basin. In the distance you can see the boundary ridge with the unnamed promontory and McKenna Peak (the “pyramid” sticking up behind the treed ridge, which is part of what I call Lizard Mesa).

Wider view …

Pushing sticky wet dirt/mud up the bank …

Farther east and a bit south of the previous pond, this area is called “sorrel flats.” It was on the original list of ponds to be dug out.

This is the pond up in the northwest part of the herd area. It rarely holds water and usually briefly, but of course, now that it’s on the list (anchoring the fifth and last spot), it has water – and for weeks. It’s very shallow – you can see the vegetation sticking up – but water in that area encourages the horses to use that area. Very pretty backΒ  there – and great views of most of the basin!

While the dozer was out, the operator smoothed some of our “rough edges,” aka arroyos that were in need of “smoothing”! This one is near sorrel flats and had become a “drainage hole” with just a Jeep-size squeezable slot to drive through (ask me how I know – there’s an arroyo crossing I call “the squish” because it’s almost always a little wet and muddy; this arroyo was in danger of becoming “the squeeze” … and then impassable!). We appreciate the extra work. πŸ™‚

And of course, we did see some horses …

Grey/Traveler napping with his girls … (Gemma is being shy)

There’s mama Houdini and lovely girl Gemma.

Very near the first pond that was dug out (a couple of weeks ago). It was dug out deep enough, and the water is still shallow enough, that we couldn’t see it, but Hollywood’s band knew it was there – and took advantage!

We also saw Liberty and Cinch just off the road.

He trotted with her a short distance away …

… then stopped and watched again. I’m not sure what he’s looking at here, but Liberty is clearly very much at ease with him.

We also spotted these boys – Twister and Cuatro – WAY on the other side of the basin from where they were last week – and minus Duke.

Two Boots and baby Rio in the shade of Filly Peak. Driving up, I almost didn’t see them because of the glare. Chrome didn’t move too much – he’s a fair distance to the left.

Hayden and his mama, Jif.

Wonderful day – full of sunshine and good spirits … and a few tears. Glad to see the ponds dug out. Now we just need them full!





Up the hill

6 07 2010

Bounce’s band were up the hill and across the canyon from Wildcat Spring when I visited with them last week. I can identify some of the grasses out in seed – needle and thread, Indian ricegrass – something that grows in green bunches, maybe one of those. Bounce was trying to get maximum scratching power out of a just-barely-tall-enough juniper, and I thought – not for the first time – oh, if only I could help you …

He’d shift forward and backward and – as you can see here – side to side.

Then he gave a whinny and strutted up the hill for a flirty (!?) visit with Miss Gaia.

You can see by their tousled forelocks that we had a bit of wind to keep away the gnats.

Most-lovely Alegre and Whisper were just a few steps up the hill. In addition to the grass, the hills hold much more surface rock and cacti. I always marvel at their ability to make comfortable the roughest places.

And little Liberty investigating a fallen tree …

Steeldust’s band was farther up the hill across a little drainage (at the top of this hill, the land falls off in a rugged cliff to the “canyon confluence” behind Wildcat Spring). I went to visit with them … and Bounce decided that was a good idea, too. He played with Storm for a few minutes until Steeldust chased him away. More to come.





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.





Tres amiga/os

22 06 2010

Yearling Liberty, 2-year-old Gaia and yearling Whisper.

Mama Alegre was barely showing the last time I saw her … I expect her to have – at least! – quite a belly by now.

I can hardly wait another second to see them again!





Happy birthday, Liberty!

25 05 2010

Our little Liberty-girl has known tragedy in her short life, but like most wild horses, she has adapted and persevered.

She was a tiny little thing from the beginning – Molly leading Liberty and Ze, Roja’s colt.

As an aside, I recently saw a picture in a local artisans gallery that showed both Molly and Roja with a sorrel stallion and three other horses – obviously before the roundup. I’ve wondered whether Molly is Roja’s dam … at least now I know they were together before the 2007 roundup.

She grew fairly well, though, eh? This was in August.

… and by November, she had lost her mama (that’s Gaia (2 now) in the picture above, who seemed to take on a bit of a mothering role to the girl) …

… and been adopted by Bounce and his family.

Just as orphan Twister found a home with Houdini and Two Boots and first Seven, then Grey/Traveler, so Liberty has found a family with Bounce and his youngsters (only Whisper is biologically his).

Whisper doesn’t feel sorry for her in the least. πŸ™‚ (And maybe he has a little crush on her.) Whisper was born a couple of weeks before Liberty, but notice how much bigger he is. He’s his mama’s second foal … Liberty was Molly’s who-knows-how-many”th” foal …

Liberty and Whisper

Alegre makes no bones about favoring her own babies over Liberty, but I think she’s growing on her.

Happy birthday, tough, beautiful girl! Your mama would be proud of you!





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.Β  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.

Steeldust

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. πŸ˜‰

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

Kestrel

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!





Bounce’s and Chrome’s

14 05 2010

They weren’t close – in fact, they were miles away from each other – but this is a grouping of pix of these two bands because I didn’t post them earlier.

They’re looking up toward Grey/Traveler’s band and Steeldust’s band.

Alegre and Liberty. Liberty is small, but she’s doing well.

Love this beautiful girl … we have a bit of a wait till we see her baby, methinks …

Alegre and 2-year-old Gaia

And I know VC has been waiting for word about Chrome’s band … πŸ™‚

Funny … only Hayden looking at me.

Cuatro and Two Boots … 2B doesn’t look all that close, either, does she? She’s “due” in a couple of days.

I could never get tired of seeing the horses just like this – and all it means in terms of their bonds with each other.

Nor like this! At home in a big little slice of country.

Jif. Don’t be fooled by her little belly – Hayden is only almost 8 months old.

VC, just for you – handsome Chrome, actually taking a break from grazing to look at me for a picture!

And one for the birder folks who so unfortunately got rained out Thursday when they were supposed to be able to see the horses during their tour:

How beautiful is this little wonder of nature?! Western tanager





Positively pony time

13 05 2010

Remember this?:

That was last week.

This is now!:

Welcome, Gideon, to your world! (from Emmy Lou Harris’ “Red Dirt Girls”) This is the first time Luna has had a colt since I’ve known her – and no, he doesn’t match the colt of my dream …

But this little one almost does:

I found Kestrel first and her nearly-brand-new buckskin filly! I named her Winona, which means “first-born daughter.” Coincidentally, she may share her birthday with my grandpa – my dad’s dad – who lived with my grandma in a town called Winona all their married lives.

Yesterday was simply gorgeous from about daybreak till about 2 p.m., when the clouds just took over and hogged the formerly turquoise sky. No rain till about midnight last night, though, which was good for my visit … but a real bummer for the dozen or so people who had signed up for the wild horse tour today as part of the Mesa Verde Ute Mountain Ute Birding Festival. We did see a little yellow bird (goldfinch?), but, because of rain, we couldn’t even drive into the basin and therefore didn’t see a single horse. Last year, I was so happy to be able to show folks all the “northern” horses … but this year, it just wasn’t to be. Interestingly, the very first time I went out to see the horses, it was with a smallish group, and it also rained, and we also couldn’t even drive in and didn’t see horses. I went back later by myself … and the rest, as they say, is history!

Hopefully, if any of you are reading this after the fact, you’ll be able to “virtually” see some of the horses I saw yesterday and early this morning.

Kestrel’s was the first new foal I saw yesterday, but her group wasn’t the first of the day. Pinon was leading Ember and Hannah along a ridge down by Spring Creek … and Hook was nowhere to be seen. I couldn’t believe he’d gone off and left them, but that’s exactly what he did. Where did I find him? Running circles around Kestrel and filly, fended off by Comanche, with Sundance, Mahogany (close but not yet), Sable, Mouse and Aspen right nearby. What a goofy boy. Like he has any chance of getting one little mare of two mares guarded by four stallions! This morning, he had reunited with his flock, and all was well.

Isn’t she divine? Almost the spitting image of her mother – and her grandmother!

Just a little bitty thing

She doesn’t seem to have a speck of white on her unless it’s just hard to see right now on her light coat.

Kestrel has never really taken on any babysitting duties that I could see, but she is a doting mother.

So where was Steeldust? Well, the Steeldust-led big band is no more. Not only have youngsters Pinon, Ember and Hannah gone off to seek their fortunes with Hook, Steeldust and Alpha and Storm have followed Luna and Butch. I’m not sure who Winona’s sire is … possibly Mouse, who I noticed was very interested in Ember last year. Kestrel never seemed to draw the same attention, so daddy is just unknown.

But I am assuming Steeldust is Gideon’s sire, as I assume he’s at least Hannah’s sire and possibly Ember’s.

The little guy is the same color as Tenaz, Piedra’s son. The edges of his mane and tail look dark here, so I’m guessing they’ll darken – like their legs – and both boys will be bay.

Grey/Traveler’s band was close by …

… as was Bounce’s band. No baby yet for Alegre, and she doesn’t look like she’s close, despite being a week past her due date. All the bands were very cordial of each other, and there was no interaction at all.

Seven’s – I saw later – also were in the vicinity. I watched them nap this morning, but no pix because I couldn’t get into position to take pix without suddenly “appearing” on them, so I didn’t take any and just crept away. Right after that, I realized I was in trouble of getting rained upon – I did – so I boogied out of there! But that was today.

Here are more pix from yesterday:

The always lovely Alpha …

Alpha and her almost-2-year-old son, Storm sharing a scratch …

Storm looking for a little snack while Steeldust looks on … but I think that free lunch is about at an end. The PZP-22 did work on Alpha (and only on Alpha), so we may be looking for another July baby from the girl.

He’s just as sweet as can be …

!! And look how big her “baby” boy is!

Gideon nursing with Terra, Gemma and Houdini in the background.

Speaking of Gemma, here’s the 3-week-old girl:

To give you an idea of her size, here she is with mama Houdini:

She’s a big girl!

Daddy Grey/Traveler with his 2-year-old “baby” girl, Terra.

Gideon

He’s going to be cheeky, like big sister Hannah … I can see it coming.

And he’s off!

Keep those legs untangled, mister!

Didja see me, Mama? I was RACIN’!

Every growing little boy (and girl) needs plenty of milk …

… and plenty of shut-eye.

πŸ™‚

Babies have lots o’ itchies!

No question this little girl will turn grey.

Big sister is going grey, too.

Daddy, of course, is pure silver!

Isn’t he gorgeous??

I took some also of Bounce’s family members, and at the end of the day, I found and took pix of Chrome’s band. I’ll have those up later.

It’s still one-day-spring, the-next-day-winter in Colorado on the Western Slope (and I think the Denver area got slammed Tuesday with snow?), so these babies have to be tough right out of the womb. Good thing they have excellent mamas watching over them. πŸ™‚





The faraway ponies

3 04 2010

Some horses were far away when I saw them. Some were mere horses … some were mountain goats!

From a ridge above Steeldust’s napping band, I saw deer … then the two pinto bachelors Bruiser and Cinch with orphan Twister. The pinto band was nearby, but David and Shadow, who had been close to Bruiser, Cinch and Twister the last couple of times I’d seen them, were nowhere in sight. While I watched from faraway, Mesa, lowest man on the pinto band totem pole, watched then walked out to have a little howdy-do with the other boys.

Veteran Bruiser makes “first” contact. Mesa, Cinch and the other stallions with the pinto band used to be part of the “southside boys” bachelor band.

From left: Corazon, Copper, Spook, Kiowa, Milagro and Chipeta

This made me go “hmm.” Reya, almost 3, stood napping over Ty, who was lying down. Interesting.

Bounce’s band were almost the last horses I saw: up on the flank of Lizard Mesa.

Do you see everybody? Can you see the steepness of the hillside?

How ’bout now?! πŸ™‚ Bottom to top: Alegre, Whisper, Liberty, Bounce and Gaia!

Around another bend or four, I found these lovelies with their fawns of last year:

Good thing it’s not hunting season – the silly girls were not too worried, and I was able to photograph them, then drive right by them.

The last band I saw was Kreacher’s, on my way out.


Corona, Raven and Mona – Kreacher and Kootenai were back to the left. Snow lingering on the back eastern-boundary ridges makes for a dramatic background … defines one of the natural boundaries of the basin.





Mudders

5 03 2010

It was April 3 last year before I reported in my notes that I did not see cattle in the basin. Shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that some cattle remain in the basin past their deadline to be out again this year.

That’s the herd area boundary fence. I’m on the road, just before crossing the cattle guard into the horses’ home.

She looks darkΒ  – she’s dark red. No calf. The other cows I saw both have calves.

This was just one of those stellar kinds of day. It included horses and hikes and back to the Earth, staring wide-eyed and grateful at clouds in the turquoise heavens. Can you imagine it? It was warm, but there was a nip – still – to that returned March wind (ooh, yeah, it’s back). Perfect day to be walking around the far-out outback, a place filled to the brim with wild still-muddy magic.

So it’s a bit messy … life ain’t perfect. πŸ˜‰

Steeldust’s mob were the first visible, so I made for them. They were napping as early clouds gave way to sunshine. Aspen and Hook are still hanging on. Storm, Hannah and Alpha were lying down when I arrived; Comanche, Pinon and Kestrel laid down while I visited. Ol’ Steely Dan has a few new scars. He continues to stick close to Alpha; Storm continues to take advantage of the mommy bar.

Nap time (back, left to right: Alpha, Storm and Steeldust; front from left: Sundance, Mahogany, Sable, Luna and Pinon)

Did you see this in the background of the above pic?

Then there was this …

How familiar does this look? (Notice Comanche giving them a wide berth in the background as Steeldust guards Alpha.)

Boy’s got it bad for the girl. πŸ˜‰

Ember’s hanging out with big boys Aspen and Hook.

Kestrel and Mouse

Sleepy tired boy Pinon

The sun finally cleared the clouds, and I left the ponies to their naps (Butch makes an appearance here, behind Luna; SunnyD is beside her, Kestrel behind them).

All hills make for good mysteries – what’s over the summit? What’s around the bend? In the basin, the potential for horses to be around every bend, on the other side of every hill, below every ridge, is enormous.

Seven’s were out on the saddle, relaxed and soaking up the shine of late-winter sun.

At first glance, they were alone, but guess who was around another bend – or three … a ridge or two?

Pinto ponies

And look who else was closer:

Bruiser …

David and Shadow (oops! I thought I had put their picture into the post but realized later I didn’t) …

… and Cinch and Twister!

It was great to see them, but our visit didn’t last long. They decided they’d rather be on the other side of that hill, and I just didn’t have the oomph to continue on through the mud in the “away” direction. So I went back to share lunch with Seven’s.

OK, so they weren’t interested in what passed for my lunch, but we shared a little stretch of real estate between hills, bounded by ridges, together under the sun.

They were as relaxed as I’ve ever seen them, OK with me sitting on a branch, elevated above the mud.

They’ve been playing in the mud fields …

I might feel compelled to eat my shoe if I ever found out he was NOT a son of Grey/Traveler’s. If he was aged correctly, the boy is 10 this year (hard to believe, eh?). He certainly has gone grey-er in the past couple of years. Handsome, handsome mister … just like daddy.

Speaking of, two white “dots” sandwiching a dark speck way out yonder turned out to be my boy and Houdini and Terra. Seven decided to take a nap under a tree, so I hit the trail.

Headlights caught my eye, flashing as the truck to which they belonged popped over a hill on the road out yonder. The road was a little soft, a little dry, a little damp … I was surprised to see it. But before long, it stopped … hit reverse … discharged a camo-clothed passenger … swapped end for end, re-admitted the man and headed back the way it had come. I found their ruts later.

Bounce’s band came into view … then Hollywood’s. Then … Jif! She was walking up out of an arroyo kind of between me and Bounce’s band, and pretty quickly, Hayden and Cuatro, then Chrome, then Two Boots followed her. What a wonderful surprise! And a reminder how easy it is for horses to be out of sight very nearby.

Hayden is nursing.

Cuatro grazing with stepdaddy Chrome.

Cuatro grazing with stepbrother Hayden!

Fuzzy-fuzzy!

See the white dot, the dark dot and the grey dot “above” Jif? That’s Grey/Traveler, Terra and Houdini.

Sweet, sweet day in the company of many of those I hold dear. Always a wonderful way to spend a day.