Heaven in a meadow

4 08 2011

The northwest “meadow” is the new east pocket.

There’s grass. There’s water.

Horses are there.

Four beautiful bands … and Kreacher’s – and Duke – were just to my left.

Beautiful day. How could I have thought he wouldn’t still be there?


19 07 2011

Now for some girls. πŸ™‚ From the same evening with Comanche’s and Hollywood’s band.

Briosa and Eliana with Eli’s mom and Bri’s (likely) grandma – Mahogany.

A little girl (Juniper) in a great big country. The hill in the middle distance is Flat Top.

Juni walking up to big sister Winona.

Later … I’m not entirely sure whether she was whinnying at Hollywood or Bri and Eli.

Briosa with mama Piedra

Eliana with mama Mahogany

Mama/grandma Mahogany with her girls …

… She seems to have a little more patience for both of them together. Piedra has less patience with Eliana … but watching Eliana and Briosa, it’s easier to tell which of the mares outrank which – Eliana, the little princess, is clearly the leader between her and Briosa – even though Bri is older and bigger.

But Bri is a bit more curious!

They do hang out quite a bit together now. πŸ™‚

Besotted? Who, me?! πŸ™‚

Little red misses

27 05 2011

I’m liking this change:



What do they have in common?

! πŸ™‚

What else might they have in common?

Mahogany might be Piedra’s mother, which might make Eliana Piedra’s sister … Briosa’s aunt.

Mahogany and Eliana

Piedra and Briosa. The funniest thing about this photo is the backstory. Briosa had been nursing and must have slurped a bit too hard because mama delivered a swift reprimand in the form of a snap to her little heiney – which provoked a little kicking fit from both of them! “Don’t bite the udder that feeds you”?! Learned early! πŸ™‚

Hollywood was working to keep his girls close … because Aspen showed up on a hill a short distance away.

To recap, Sundance had Mahogany for a bit more than a year, then two weeks ago, he finally lost Mahogany and Eliana to Aspen the day after I first met Eli. Sometime in the last two weeks, Hollywood managed to steal them from Aspen. To go a little farther back, the winter before this last, Hook briefly stole Piedra and Sage from Hollywood. He had them a shorter than the winter before, when Aspen stole them!

Shall we go even further back in time?

Mahogany and Piedra were originally part of Steeldust’s band. When I first started documenting the horses, Hollywood had Jif … and then they started hanging out with Steeldust’s … that was in the days when the Bachelor 7 were running around with them, too. Then Grey/Traveler stole Jif to add to Houdini and Two Boots and Twister, and Holls turned his attention to lovely Piedra. Bri is their third baby!

Bri is a month old, and Eli is about 2 weeks old – enough age difference that Bri is more independent than her aunt Eli (!), who still sticks pretty close to mama.

So here’s a question: Who is alpha? Piedra, who has been with Hollywood for a few years now, or Mahogany, who is older – and possibly Piedra’s dam – but newly come to the family?

Oh, the wild ways of the wild ones!

Can you stand the cuteness?

How amazing it will be to watch these red babies grow together!

Little beauties. How amazing they are! And together!? Look out! πŸ™‚

Eliana and family

17 05 2011

Eliana is the daughter of Mahogany and Sundance. When the fracturing of Steeldust’s band started in earnest last spring, Mahogany ended up with Sundance – and bachelor Aspen. Just a day or two after Eliana was born – and the day after I first saw her – Aspen finally succeeded in stealing her from Sundance. Among the meanings of her name is “daughter of the sun” – and so she is, not to be forgotten, though Aspen now has her and Mahogany.

Mahogany lost her foal last year before I ever saw it. This adorableΒ  little red girl is healthy and strong and full of spunk!

Mama Mahogany and her beautiful, sunny girl.

I love how the babies’ ears are curled after they’re born.

Though I don’t like to think about how any of the babies may have died, I am glad Mahogany got a break last year. She’s an older mare, though I don’t know how old, and she looks much better with Eliana than she did last year.

Aspen, Sundance, Mahogany and Eliana.

Handsome daddy Sundance – this was the next day, when he was alone and nursing some wounds.

Check out that wavy mane … who else has a wavy mane like that? Maybe he has passed it to his daughter – daughter of the Sun.

Grand ol’ beautiful lady is also an excellent mama.

Baby girl has a wide blaze like mama’s, but Eliana’s tapers over to the right side. Since I’ve known Mahogany, she has had two dark bays like herself (Pinon may be even darker) and a black foal. Piedra – grey – *may* be her daughter … and David may be her son (scroll down a couple of posts to compare). Eliana is the first sorrel she has had in that time.

I love, too, how the mamas constantly touch and sniff their newborns. Constant contact builds strong bonds.

I adore this moment – for itself and because I have a nearly identical photo from when Pinon (now 3) was a baby – with the exact same expression on his face as mama Mahogany reassures herself that her baby is just fine. πŸ™‚

Happy birthday, Sable!

7 05 2011

Sable is 2 today!

She’s an auntie (with Fierro there) …

… and a sister …

And I think she’s close to becoming a mom.

Hard to believe, eh?

Happy birthday, Sable-beautiful girl!

Beauty in nature

1 04 2011

How many ways can I say it?

Let the magic speak for itself!

Mahogany’s, left, and Hook’s. This is taken from almost as far east as you can get in the basin – below the eastern ridges – looking west-northwest. They had been napping earlier … and later ended up separated again.

Pretty darn beautiful, eh?


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??

(winter) March

15 01 2011

From the colder of the two days last week:

The sun was very near the horizon, and it was getting noticeably colder. Especially with dark Mahogany (back left) and Aspen (to her left), you could see the steam of their breath against their bodies and against the shadowed ridge behind them. Sundance is just out of the frame behind Mahogany, his usual position. Mouse was marching them back to the rest of Steeldust’s band, grazing in the opposite direction, in glittering silver sunlight.


Kootenai standing sentinel, watching Corona and Kreacher graze.

When C and I first stopped on the road, Raven seemed nervous and kept looking behind us (the direction we had come from). I thought she must be looking at cattle, though the only ones we had seen were down by the trapsite pond. But as we started walking the road, I realized what must have happened when we passed what looked to me like a narrow, shallow arroyo – and what was causing her nervousness: Corona, Kootenai and Kreacher were on the other side of the arroyo, and I think instead of crossing it, Raven had grazed her way along it up to the road and around the head of it and down the other side. It was juuust wide enough maybe she didn’t feel comfortable crossing it? Although they know that area well enough I’d have thought she’d know a place … but maybe the road was the crossing. I usually like to stop well ahead of the horses and walk out around them, but in this case, we went back to the Jeep and drove slowly out around them – past the arroyo and Corona, Kootenai and Kreach – and although those horses never seemed worried, Raven was immediately and noticeably still, though she made no attempt to cross the arroyo to be with the other horses. And they didn’t move except to graze. We watched from the road. Raven apparently never came back across the arroyo. When we saw them again, on our way out, they were all together up at the base of Filly Peak – across the road.

Raven, still watching something we couldn’t see. Never were sure what she was looking at or for. Also farther left was the road and Filly Peak. We’re around the curve here, toward the catchment.

Kootenai, Corona and Kreacher. Raven was not too far behind and to the left.

C wanted to look through my camera and lens – and took some pix! Here’s Corona rolling practically under Kootenai’s hooves – she wasn’t impressed and took a few steps away.

C commented on Kreacher’s dapples and shades of grey – and that he grazed with his eyes closed!

Like Corona. πŸ™‚

Don’t you love the warmth of her color in the snow-white landscape?

Marching toward spring. I do love the turn of seasons here. More than any other place I’ve lived, the seasons are spectacular, defined, all beautiful, like the wild creatures who live here.

Somebunny loves snowbunnies

6 01 2011

Snow-white Alpha at home in the snow.

What a super visit to kick off the new year! It was a visit of some firsts: first visit of the year, first visit ever to see wild horses … I had a special visitor today! We had tried a couple of times last year to get out to see the horses but were stymied by bad weather each time. Today proved worth waiting for with bright sunshine, pristine snow and freezing conditions perfect enough to drive right in!

She’ll be back for sure … C, I hope you enjoyed your first visit!

We saw lots of horses – very far away – and visited with just Steeldust’s and Kreacher’s bands. We helped a fellow in need, who was performing ice-breaking duty for the horses and for the cattle that are in through February. Always nice to have a set of eyes out there – and the ice-breaking is awesome! Thank you, B! All around, a wonderful day!



Gideon, Steeldust, Alpha and Storm


Storm and mama Alpha

Mahogany and her boys



Very cold – in the mid-teens – but it didn’t feel that cold in the sunshine … until the sun was very low on the horizon. The snow is just amazing – pristine, glittering like infinite rainbows … and when the sun hit low and orange – WOW! Unbelievable gorgeousity!

Special thanks to another C, who gave the thumbs-up on driving in after her lovely visit on New Year’s Day!

Stallion samba

1 08 2010

Here’s the little series I’ve been wanting to show for a while …

It was a beautiful morning in early June. Remember this?:

Gideon napping while Mouse (bachelor) stands guard and Aspen (bachelor) grazes nearby.

Napping was the “activity” that morning:

Head … so … heavy … This was seconds before he was flat out …

Which Storm found utterly irresistible! However, Butch is a bit different than playmates Hannah and Pinon, and he was NOT amused, and Storm did NOT stick around to bother him – even though Butch didn’t get up.

Big guy … They look so vulnerable like this, don’t they …

Not far away: Gideon still napping … Mahogany grazing while Sundance, Mouse and Aspen (in that order) try to catch some winks behind her. They’re still following her like this (which was less than a month after she lost her foal).

And pretty soon, she also laid down … She’d kind of nibble around her … then have a great, legs-to-the-sky rollover … then quiet again …

Comfortable enough to stretch full out with the boys standing guard over her. Interestingly, I’m sure Sundance is the youngest of these stallions; I think Mouse and Aspen are roughly the same age. Sundance grew up with “rank” in the band, though, while Mouse and Aspen came in as bachelors.

But idyllic summer mornings don’t last long … Pretty soon, Mahogany was up again, which prompted some stallion action, which alerted Gideon, who realized Mama had grazed away a short distance …

While stallions’ “snaking” behavior looks rather fierce and “mean,” it’s really a protective gesture, meant to move horses in a particular direction – including wayward sons back to the protection of the band/their mothers. You can see by Gideon’s body language and ears that he’s alert to and responding to Aspen’s signal to move, but he’s not afraid of Aspen.

Then Mahogany cut across behind him (probably also a protective gesture on her part), which prompted Gideon into a gallop – but he’s still relaxed.

Such grace …

He found Mama nearly immediately and with the single-minded focus of foals was concerned – immediately – about connecting with his morning breakfast! But look at Luna – very tense and ears focused on the drama behind her. She did not allow him to nurse just then. Too much going on to fall into the trance state of baby nursing.

This is quite an illustration: They’ve come around and are now “in front of” Luna and Gideon and Butch (back to the right). Mahogany is looking for a way forward from Sundance (behind her) and Mouse (left) and away from Steeldust (right), who is blocking her from getting to “his” band, which includes Alpha and Storm and Luna & Co. – *because* she brings trouble – aka Sundance, Mouse and Aspen – with her. She had first tried to go to Steeldust’s right, but he blocked her, and now she’s going around his left.

That’s right – you’re on camera! Mouse now turned toward Aspen to keep him away from Mahogany – and Sundance. Poor Mouse … always the bachelor, never the, uh, groom.

I’ve mentioned before, but the dynamics of the band formerly known as Steeldust’s band have changed, and that’s what I’m trying to illustrate here (although I didn’t include pix of Alpha, she stays pretty close to Luna). Butch ignores Alpha in favor of Luna (and Gideon). In an interesting switcharoo, Steeldust has become the “lieutenant” to Butch – who is very likely his son – in his effort to keep Alpha, who has apparently bonded tightly to Luna (interestingly, the bond from Alpha to Luna is more apparent than vice versa … it may be because Luna has had foals the last two years, and Alpha has not (she got the PZP-22 at the 2007 roundup, and it worked only on her of four surviving mares; because of her likely age – 15+? – I’m grateful, at least, for the break in babies for her)). Mahogany found herself pretty much on the outskirts – with Kestrel for a while, until Kes had Winona – and surrounded by hale and hearty young stallions. They separated for a while – with Kestrel and her new stallion, Comanche (former first sergeant to Lt. Mouse), following at a slight distance – but just after Mahogany foaled and lost it, she was back with “Steeldust’s band,” which, I suppose, is more appropriately now called Luna’s band because, although the stallions very zealously guard their girls, Luna clearly is alpha in all senses.

So now we come to the little series I thought was so interesting and amazing at the time and had planned to post long before life took other directions (which simply means I didn’t have time, then forgot about it).

In the course of all the running around, Mahogany “pooped.” (Really, is there a delicate term?) And thus began the topic of this post: the stallion – and soon-to-be – samba:

Gideon and Butch were the first to discover the delightful pile – eau de Mahogany (sorry – really!).

But Butch asserted elder dominance and claimed it even while Gideon was *trying* to mark it – see Butch pawing and see Gideon “clacking”?

Gideon gave way, and there’s Butch with one more particular sniff before stepping forward to pee on it. (Look at Gideon’s face …)

Butch finished, Gideon took his turn … but look who’s coming up behind him …

Now this one, I just LOVE: Check out Steeldust – he is completely crowding the young mister, who is NOT giving way! Look at his face – the posture of his head and neck. He’s a little intimidated but determined! “I had to wait for Butch, Daddy, now you wait your turn!” This little one is one to watch!

Now look at him – all relaxed and happy! Steeldust pees while Butch pretends to graze while he shepherds the young man back to Mama – who is just ahead of him – I think you can see her shadow on the ground through his legs.

But wait!

Here’s Storm, almost 2, last in the samba line, giving it a determined sniff …

Circle of/cycle of life … importance of mamas AND daddies (even stepdaddies) and all ages to learn the ways of the world. It’s a small world, but it’s THEIR world.

Pretty damn incredible, right?