Kiowa’s band

21 08 2011

Some pix from the short visit with Kiowa’s band:

Bachelor Corazon. I have a pic of him running with Mouse and some others in the spring of 2007, when I guessed they were probably young, 2 or 3 years old. If I was right, they’re about 6 or 7 now.

Corazon showing the “heart” that gave him his name, band stallion Copper behind him and 4-year-old filly Reya at right. Ty, Chipeta and Puzzle are down the hill to the left.

We had some gorgeous cloud-filled skies while it was raining to the south and west, and I couldn’t get enough of photographing cooperative ponies against it! Corazon again with bachelor Mesa. He’s probably about the same age as Corazon … low man in the pecking order.

Yearling colt Maiku with half-sister Reya (Kiowa is their mother).

Kiowa and her baby girl, Hacho. Kiowa has been prolific and protective. All of her offspring since 2007 (at least) have survived. She and Reya were released after the 2007 roundup (with Chipeta). Until this year, all her babies were still with her. Spook, 3, is now with Cinch (after being with Bruiser for a while), and Milagro, 2, is with the bachelor boys. (Referring to a recent comment on another post, you can see Kiowa’s “DC” brand clearly here. It designates that she was given the PZP-22 at our August 2007 roundup. It did not work on her other than – possibly – to delay her foaling from May 2008 to July 2009 … then June 2010 and May 2011.)

This is everybody but Corazon and Mesa: from left, Reya, Maiku, Hacho, Kiowa and Copper. This view is looking basically north, and you can see the top of Knife Edge (the nearly horizontal line topped by bits of dark trees) and the northern boundary hills/ridges in the background.

See how sweet are Hacho and mama Kiowa?

It’s the small things that matter most.


5 07 2011

Some more pix of Hacho and her mama and some of her family. Smoky again in Southwest Colorado … Las Conchas Fire south of us still burning, only 19 percent contained as of yesterday’s news. But the massive Wallow Fire (burning in eastern Arizona and into western New Mexico) is apparently about 95 percent contained.

I’ll start with stalwart bachelor Mesa. One of the original Southside Boys, he has lingered with the pinto band even as it has split. One of three solid bays in the basin. Handsome guy.

That wind was just whipping – this is where witchy knots and dreds come from!

Kiowa and Hacho. That wind was a tiring beast for the little girl.

Doesn’t this have the look of a diorama in a museum? Where the background is painted and lacks dimension? It was that crazy dust and smoke in the air. Band stallion Copper at left (he looks a lot like Mesa, but he’s redder, and he has left fetlock markings), Kiowa and Hacho, and big sister Reya at right.

I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Fourth!

Extended family

20 09 2010

No one’s curious about Mona and Shane and their new band? No one at all?

Good – because this post is not about them. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s about the wonderful little family of spots and solids and very black-dark turning grizzled grey: The pintos.

Minutes before sunrise, looking toward the unnamed promontory (left) and Brumley Point (right); the pintos are grazing on the hill behind me.

Mama Chipeta and Puzzle

Band stallion Copper and 2-year-old Spook

Mama Kiowa and baby Maiku

Isn’t she adorable?

I’m not often confident enough to pan with a slower-than-normal shutter speed, even though I love the effect. In the shade of pre-sunrise, the ponies gave me a good opportunity: Maiku and Spook and Chipeta ran a short way down this little finger of a hill when Mesa popped up behind them.

I watched the rising sun light the hills to the west in a slow creep … then the valley below … but when it hit our hill, it seemed like it was all at once – wow!

Milagro – and yes, I think that’s a prickly pear spine in his little face. He looks so much like daddy Copper.

Milagro is Maiku’s yearling big brother (probably full). Spook, pictured here with Maiku, is his 2-year-old big half-sister.

Big girl loves the little brother.

Maiku had been napping in the sunshine while mama and his sisters grazed around him. Here he’s stretching as Puzzle walks past, following mama.

She’s a little too little yet to interact much with him, but I’m sure they’ll become great pals, these (likely) half-siblings.

Once upon a time, in the wilds of Spring Creek Basin, Colorado, there lived a beautiful spotted princess and her mother and daddy and extended family.

She was strong and beautiful and well-adapted to her hilly home.

Her mama knew the importance of feeding the princess well to build strong bones and muscles so she could run with the wind in her curly little mane on strong little legs and flinty little hooves.

Mama also made sure there was plenty of time for baby to nap in the lovely warm sunshine.

The little princess knew the value of appearing graceful and poised at all times.

She knew she was so well cared for she could sleep safely in the presence of her mama, a princess in her own right, and the queen and her brother, and that all would be well when she awakened.

So the little princess slept soundly on her bed of grass and earth on the hill near the top of her beautiful world.

And when she had awakened and stretched and turned for mama, there she was, watchful and protective and waiting for her daughter, the littlest princess of Spring Creek Basin!

Not the end. ๐Ÿ™‚ Some more:

Baby girl nursing surrounded by family: Kiowa and Maiku at left, Spook and Copper right of Chipeta and Puzzle, and Milagro at bottom right.

Ty and Copper – do you see the little sunflowers in front of Ty?



Kiowa and Maiku grazing while Puzzle naps.

Puzzle and Chipeta, Maiku and Spook

Family: Left to right: 2-year-old daughter of Kiowa, Spook; band stallion Copper, sire (likely) of Milagro and Maiku and Puzzle; Maiku, baby son of Kiowa; Kiowa, dam of Reya, Spook, Milagro and Maiku; Reya, 3-year-old daughter of Kiowa; and Milagro, yearling son of Kiowa and Copper, in the background. Milo’s ears are up, but he’s half-asleep, but how’s that for getting six pairs of ears up at the same time!

The gang’s all there. Mesa at lower left. Chipeta and Puzzle, then Corazon, then Spook, Copper (you can just see his face), Maiku now lying down, Kiowa, Reya and Ty, and Milo in the back. This was their after-sunrise nap, and they enjoyed that wonderful sunshine as I bid them another “thank you” and farewell – only until next time!

Some spots and not

4 09 2010

Some pix from my last trip to the basin:

Little Maiku, growing fast, loves the first rays of the sun.

And he loves big sister Reya!

Big brother Milagro struts his stuff on top of the world.

Corazon, left, and Mesa have a friendly chat among friends.

Baby Maiku with his mama, Kiowa.

The light was just gorgeous, not a cloud in the sky to diminish its golden waves. Still green but dry. Autumn almost here. Beautiful.

Heavens, open

28 07 2010

Heavy rains hit SW Colo, set off rock slides
NORWOOD, Colo. (AP) โ€” Heavy rains in southwestern Colorado have caused rock slides, closing part of a highway.
San Miguel County spokeswoman Jennifer Dinsmore says rocks and debris about 4 feet high slid onto Colorado 145 between Norwood and Telluride on Tuesday. No cars were trapped, and no one was injured.
Highway crews hoped to reopen the highway by Tuesday evening. The slide occurred three miles east of Norwood.
The area was under a flash flood warning until early evening. Dinsmore says the soil is saturated from heavy rains the past few days.


That was the content of an email I sent a friend last night with the pronouncement: We’re not getting into the basin tomorrow.

Norwood is almost directly north of the basin as the raven flaps or the kestrel darts or the golden eagle soars.

We have been getting RAIN. Last week’s episode was just a teaser of things to come. I can hardly wait now to get back and see – and report on – all the ponds rippling with water (hopeful, hopeful!). But it’s going to have to wait because the arroyos are likely running and/or thick with mud that hasn’t had a chance to dry so *I* can cross ’em! (How selfish of me!)

And then came the last-minute other-wrench – I have to work my Saturday. Well, if I can’t get out to the basin, OK – it’s raining, after all – though it’s not great for my mental outlook to work six days and have only one off, in any kind of weather.

But I figured if I can’t present new pix, I ought to be able to come up with past pix that I haven’t posted yet. This is one of those:

This was after their little rearing episode: Corazon and Mesa greet each other politely while Ty paws in the background. Aren’t they handsome with their arched necks and alert expressions?

Spots after rain

24 07 2010

Chipeta is – should be – very close.

So when I saw her – standing oh-so-still way out yonder – across the muddy green gloriousness (I swear the greasewood are greener), the sacrifice of my shoes was a foregone conclusion.

As it turned out, she was just resting, not standing over a small something I couldn’t see across the distance. Doesn’t she look – ahem – *glowing*? Radiant, even?

That light WAS sublime.

And so was every glimpse of this in the big arroyo:

Looking down from above, after sun had set.

As I was about to walk across. Two notes: Can you imagine what my shoes looked like? This is why we didn’t drive into the basin!

OK, so it looks like the mud pots of Yellowstone, but it’s running water. See the riffles? See the trickles? See the life force of the desert? Of the horses that call this slice of desert home?

*Shutter click* Well, hello there, big. While I was focused on the band, I managed to “sneak” up on Mesa, browsing along the edge of the big arroyo. He didn’t seem to know I was there until he heard the click of my camera shutter and turned his head to smile for the camera.

Big bro and little bro – Milagro and Maiku.

Corazon, on guard. I’m not sure why he seems to have “preferred” status with the band. He’s walking away from Ty here … to scuffle with Mesa … and later with Ty … They both seemed to have the upper, uh, hoof, but they also both walked away.

And Ty seems to “have” Chipeta … except when he doesn’t. When I first saw them, they were slightly apart from the band (Mesa even farther), both standing, napping. Chipeta ended up with the band, and Ty walked on … past Milagro, who stood facing him, ready to clack, ready to be submissive, very curious in the big grey boy … past Corazon the first time … In this photo, he was actually walking back up toward the band from grazing down the hill toward the arroyo.

Milagro at bottom right; Spook, upper left; Kiowa and nursing Maiku and Copper behind them.

Milagro and big sisters Reya, center, and Spook.

Milagro and daddy Copper. My, don’t THEY look alike?! Almost the last of the sun before it slipped below the near hill …

Chipeta and Spook and mama Kiowa

Kiowa and Maiku. That little jag over his withers – see his tuft of white mane? – is the only “pinto” he got from mama.

Just a tiny bit on this side. Big baby boy!

Reya, 3 (big Chipeta grazing away at left)

The sun had slipped away by this point, so then it was just a sweet, quiet visit with these seldom-visited ponies.

More rain that night … the next morning … with it, cooool breezes. Oh lovely days.


Kiowa has a little boy

15 07 2010

I figured she’d had her foal … but I haven’t seen the pinto band since before I went on vacation. I don’t know where they’re finding water – somewhere obviously. I couldn’t find it.

Chipeta, Ty and Mesa were visible from the Disappointment Road on my way out with the fire management officer, but the other horses were not. We watched them for several minutes, but if the other horses were in the arroyo, out of sight, they were there longer than we were there watching. Makes sense if there was only a little water, and they had to wait for it to seep to the surface then take turns.

I climbed Round Top to look for the pintos (check), for David and Shadow and Wind (nope), for Poco and Roach – and Bruiser? (nope). Nice and windy – and windier from there – gnats were few. Ty and Chipeta were close to the pintos, which again makes me think they may have been close earlier. They had followed a drainage – and Ty and Chipeta had climbed a hill – and were only partially visible to me: Mesa, looking very, very dark in the very, very bright sunshine, and Copper, and, for a few moments, Milagro, and Corazon, I thought.

I had seen most everybody else – mostly from a distance – so I drove out and around and hiked in at dysfunction junction – maybe my first serious hike in from there since the summer before last when it seemed like I was hiking in there every other visit to visit the pintos on their hill. Made a decision at a confluence of arroyos near their heads … picked a hill to climb … and there they were, napping in that bright, hot (96?) sunshine – Ty looking down on them from a nearby hill. As it turned out, that brought the short visit to a quick end. Copper added to the stud pile nearby, and Mesa came over to investigate that, and Ty trotted down to investigate them, and Corazon, standing sentinel against the cloud-studded horizon, pretty as a picture, trotted over to warn him off, meanwhile, Chipeta used the diversion (clever mare) to make a run back to the band (aka Kiowa), which caused Ty and Corazon to break off their manly event and go racing off after her, which caused the whole band to decide nap time was over – long over – and they should be far away. Copper snaked and lunged – at the mares, at Milagro and Spook – at Mesa and Ty – at Corazon – and Kiowa led her baby – and the rest – to the grey far hills, away – naturally away – from my long walk back.

I usually fill my cooler with Gatorade and then put half the bottles back in the fridge upon my return … I drank them all this visit. Hot and warm and dry and dehydrating was the wind and sun – the hottest of the summer, so far, by my visits. And how must the horses fare, with temperatures so high, water so scarce?

I thought of the news of the Tuscarora horses, dying of dehydration, running in the summer heat ahead of the relentless helicopter … no relief at the capture site. I know someone who wants a return to the “good old days” of mustangs. You mean, where they chased them from pickups, roped them with lassos knotted to tires at their ends? Was that less inhumane than what occurs now? I’m not there. I don’t know the details. Common sense seems so scarce …

“Well, *I* wouldn’t drink that water.” Said with a laugh. Talking about our horses. Spring Creek Basin horses.

Unforgettable deeds and words. Unforgivable.

There are plenty of sites dedicated to wild horse and burro news – I read them – my purpose here is different. But my heart is crying … even while I celebrate the gift of another life.

Welcome to your delicate life, little one, Maiku (“my-kuh,” “a friendly greeting” in the Ute language). Be strong and swift and fearless. I will help you until I can’t.

The story in pictures:

Spook, Kiowa, Milagro, Maiku (see him?) and Copper; Corazon on the ridge.

Zoomed in – see the baby on the ground?

Reya, closer, looking up from grazing.

Ty, on the hill, looking down at the band. Mesa has left them and walked down … Chipeta is behind Ty, out of sight …

Copper prepares to add to the stud pile (see how massive it is – I guess I know where the pinto band has been hanging out!) …

Copper (kicking) and Mesa discuss their territory.

Corazon watching … just before Ty decided to join the discussion, which led to Corazon’s involvement.

Corazon thought he’d take advantage of the diversion and head toward Chipeta – Ty is in pursuit. Corazon, so chunky and stout. Ty, so spare and long-legged. Sleek. Going about the business of being wild.

Their discussion reaches its peak and provides its own diversion, which Chipeta (close … so close) takes advantage of …

And which brought their “discussion” to a near-immediate end as they fastened their attention back on Chipeta – too late.

Maiku – just barely a pinto pony – and mama Kiowa

Milagro looking back … See Maiku’s legs through Milo’s? Kiowa, and Spook past her.

And then up and over the ridge … I walked to the top of it and watched Copper snaking his family to, snaking the boys fro, Kiowa with baby tight to her side, leading her family this way and that to escape the snake.

Kiowa is the only mare with babies this old all still with her: Reya, 3, was released with her after the roundup (nearly a weanling at the time),ย  2-year-old Spook, yearling Milagro and baby Maiku.

Isolated, this band – segregated by geography – not without family drama.

Chipeta is due to foal the end of this month. I hope this year has a happier outcome.

I hope for happier outcomes …

More spots – and three bays and a grey

5 06 2010

The pinto gang was my last sighting of the visit – right off the Disappointment Road. Although the solids almost equal the spots now, I’ve always thought of this as “the pinto band” because, although Copper seems to be at the top of the hierarchy, there are three other stallions mingling and following. Truth be told, it’s really Kiowa’s band – girls rule! This girl certainly does.

Mama Kiowa and Milagro. She’s looking right “on (new) schedule” to foal the end of this month or early July. (It’s her new schedule since she – apparently – got just enoughย  PZP-22 toย  delay her last pregnancy two months but not prevent it altogether.)

Milagro is still very fuzzy. I have noticed that the youngsters are always the last to shed out, but goodness. The little boy still looks like a fuzzy teddy bear! It was pretty warm in the basin – into the 80s both days. Mid-50s at sunrise – that’s crazy warm for us!

Band stallion Copper with 3-year-old Reya and 2-year-old Spook (Kiowa’s daughters). Reya looks as slim and girlish as 3-year-old Baylee – I don’t think either of them are pregnant.

Chipeta, also on her “new schedule” looking pregnant. She foaled the end of July last year.

And the hangers-on:

Corazon, with his “tell-tale heart.”

Ty, very most definitely going grey.

And easy-going Mesa, bringing up the rear as usual. ๐Ÿ™‚

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?! ๐Ÿ™‚ 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.

Spots at the end ‘o day

1 03 2010

This may have been the longest day ever, judging by how long it has taken to get the pix selected, tweaked and posted.

When I left Bounce’s band, the youngsters were moving from grazing mode to play mode.

While I sat with Bounce and Alegre, the babies had grazed their way farther along the slope. I turned from the ultra-relaxed mare and stallion to see the three playmates kicking up their heels down to what must have been a crossing spot over a shallow arroyo that ran just behind Bounce and Alegre and come back toward us on the other side. I wanted to include these couple of pix to show some behavior but also again to show the size difference between Whisper and Liberty.

This “initiation” has been going on since Molly briefly lingered with the band. What is it we say about human little boys who “torment” and harass human little girls …? ๐Ÿ™‚

Meanwhile …

Mama and Daddy are nearby and unconcerned. Alegre was a few feet behind Bounce, but I liked the juxtaposition of their faces, so I cropped in.

I had seen most of the horses I had particularly wanted to see – not Poco and Roach – and I think they remain the horses I haven’t seen in the longest time, since early winter. I headed out of the basin and saw Grey/Traveler and Houdini and Terra on my way out. I debated driving down the county road to try to spot the pintos again – and/or David and Shadow and/or Bruiser, Twister and Cinch. The sun had dropped below clouds, and end of the day in the basin is always so gorgeous …

I thought, no way will I get lucky two visits in a row and see the pintos right off the road, but I decided to drive down anyway, just to see what I could see.

Deer were out by the hundreds, at least – all does and last year’s fawns from what I could tell. With the lack of snow, the Disappointment is a friendly place for them right now.

Shot right through the window of the Jeep from the Disappointment Road.

I drove on down … and who do you suppose I saw, not only right off the road again but even closer to the road this time??

Kiowa leads Milagro and Copper through the mud, which was sloppy-messy in the southern part of the herd area.

Chipeta was buzzing around trying to incite jealousy or I’m not sure what … Mesa was mostly just annoyed …

… especially when it worked on Ty, right (this pic taken immediately after the pic above).

She calmed down a bit when she got back around to Kiowa and nursing Milagro. That’s almost-3-year-old Reya in the background.

Spook in the middle now (isn’t she a big girl? 2 in May) and widened to include Copper.

Sometimes the older “babies” just aren’t ready to give up Mama … Spook, cutting off Milagro to be close to Kiowa.

Corazon is still with the band; I just realize he didn’t make it into my pictures this visit.

And there you finally have all the pony sightings of that lovely day last month (can you believe it’s March?!)! The horses are all wintering extremely well, I think, as you can tell by their luxurious coats and ripe little bellies!