Skipper update

5 12 2011

Last week, I went to Skipper’s new home at the edge of the San Juan National Forest to visit with him and his adopters, Keith and Amy. He’s not phased by much, and although he wasn’t terribly keen about it at first, he allowed me to stroke his neck and eventually was pretty relaxed. He definitely has a bond with Keith and has quite a bit of trust in him – even blindfolded!

From Amy: “Our little Skipper is now a gelding; he was gelded just two days before Thanksgiving, and everything went very well. In fact, Keith took Skipper to the vet clinic to have it done because the vet thought that only one testicle had dropped, but as it turned out, they were both there so it was a simple procedure. Keith did a trial run, taking Skipper to the vet clinic the Friday before his appointment. Skipper did great! He walked into the clinic as if he had been doing that all of his life; so that made the actual trip to get the gelding done much easier!”

“We didn’t want him to think that every time he gets into a trailer he was going to the vet. So on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, we took Skipper to friend’s house who lives outside of Cortez. She has horses and had a good place to unload him and also a round pen that we could put him in. So off we went and once again, he did a great job of going to a strange place with horses that were running round (they don’t get vistors very often), and Skipper was very nonchalant about being there. Keith worked him over some very small cavaletti, and Skipper was very willing to do what was asked of him. We think he liked it there because he was a bit reluctant to get back into the trailer, but he finally did.”

Doesn’t he have the sweetest little face? (His mama and daddy are Kiowa and Copper.)

These two are well-matched, though Keith says Skipper will be Amy’s trail horse. Amy is a music teacher at the local elementary school and was actually giving a piano lesson to Tif’s beautiful daughter most of the time I was with Skipper and Keith. I’m pretty sure that just means I’ll have to go back to get pix of Skipper and Amy! ๐Ÿ™‚

“He’s been a great horse to work with. He’s not a super affectionate guy but has a great attitude about doing what is asked of him. He’s very calm and has had lots of visitors come and see him, which he takes in great stride.”

Very quiet boys.

“We’d like to thank TJ for taking these most recent pictures of Skipper and also all of the people that have come to visit him. Thank you, Tif, for all of your helpful tidbits of information as to what to do about handling Skipper. This has certainly been a learning project but very enjoyable. I still have a picture in my mind of Skipper standing in one of the bucking chutes at the fairgrounds that Sunday morning that the BLM was going to take the horses back to Canon City that hadn’t been adopted. The little Skipper was tugging at my heart strings, and I said to Keith, ‘Go and get the trailer!’ I just couldn’t bear the thought of him being taken to Canon City. So here we are, and we think that we have the best little horse in the world. Keith refers to him as ‘the little mustang that could.’ He’s certainly gotten a lot more of our attention than our other horses lately, and hopefully in the next couple of weeks, we’ll be turning him out with the rest of the gang!”

A progression of the blindfolding (which they’ve done before):

Here, he had shaken it off his head, and it fell on the rope. But this was his only reaction – to look at it. What a smart pony!

Licking – thinking it over.

Such a sweetheart.

One of my favorite shots from the evening. ๐Ÿ™‚

Tucking the edges under Skipper’s halter.

Although Skipper has followed Keith before while blindfolded (talk about trust!), he didn’t want to do it with me there, lurking somewhere unknown in his round pen. Pretty amazing what these mustangs will do!

Keith and Amy have three other horses, a warmblood-cross gelding, a Tennessee Walking Horse mare and a little Icelandic. The big gelding and the mare – both shiny jet black – came to the fence quite a bit while we were in the round pen with Skipper, watching to see what we were doing with the little guy. They have a great setup for Skipper: The round pen opens to a smaller pen attached to a small barn, part of which is an indoor “stall” for Skipper. They also used the trailer backed up to the pen when they first brought him home, and he also quickly figured out how to use it for shelter during bad weather!

Thank you for the visit! ๐Ÿ™‚ Love seeing all the progress he has made!

Skipper update

4 11 2011

Sounds like Amy and Keith are doing very well with Skipper (Milagro)!

In Amy’s words: “We’re making progress with Skipper. This last weekend, we were able to get a neck rope on Skipper and lead him without food. I also got a halter on him but haven’t led him in the halter yet. Yesterday, Keith was able to get a halter on him without food so that was a big step. Skipperย still is not the friendliest horse, but I thinkย he enjoys being worked with.”

Skipper and Amy – first time with the halter on, she says!

With the halter on and the rope over his back.

Keith getting Skipper used to things in his mouth.

Keith leading Skipper.

Amy and Skipper

A man and his mustang – love this. ๐Ÿ™‚

Update to the update: “Skipper’s kind of a funny horse in that he isn’t super interested in us, he’s very independent.ย He’s not bothered by loud sounds or having the tractor driven into the building where we’ve made a stall for him at the back of it, even when he’s standing in his stall. Since I sent you those pictures, Keith worked with him yesterday, putting a rope over his back and pulling it off of him. He was a little skittery the first couple of times, and by the third time, he was more at ease.”

Love the pix and the updates! It all happens differently with the different horses and adopters, and I just love watching it all unfold. Thank you, Amy and Keith, for this glimpse into your journey with Skipper!ย ๐Ÿ™‚

Milagro – now called Skipper

24 10 2011

Milagro, now Skipper, is doing well with his adopters, Amy and Keith. Tif, who adopted Ze and Asher, went to visit recently and sent this write-up and photos of the little guy (Kiowa and Copper’s son).

Here’s her report: “Talk about a lucky mustang! Skipper (formerly known as Milagro) has what I would call a chateau at his new home in the forest.ย  Keith and Amy absolutely adore him, work with him often and have come a long way. Skipper is calm, confident and aloof, is how I would describe him. I was honored when they invited me up to their place to visit with them and see how well Skipper is doing. He eats right from their hands, works for them, lets them touch him and pet his face and all in all is really calm in their presence. It warms my heart to see how well this little guy is doing. They are in the process of getting his place ready for winter. Yes, I did say “his place,” complete with access to a beautiful round pen, a run that leads right into an indoor stall inside their barn. Wow. I’m impressed. I better not let my boys over to play, they may get a little jealous! Thank you, Keith and Amy, for letting me see how well Skipper is doing and how patient you two are. Thanks, too, for letting me join in the fun!”

Skipper at his new home in the pines.

Keith and Skipper

Amy and Skipper. He definitely takes after daddy.

Such a sweet photo!

Whatcha lookin’ at?

And coming up to Tif!

Amy, Keith and Tif, thank you so much for letting us know how he’s doing! It’s wonderful to see!

Boy band

13 07 2011

Is there anything as fun as watching bachelors? ๐Ÿ™‚

Most of our older bachelors have found families, and we have a new generation of bachelors. They’ve been together, they’ve paired up, they’ve split, they’ve found older boys, they’ve found boys slightly less old. During last week’s visit, all the young boys were with Aspen and Sundance (who have their own history), and they were all hanging out close to Luna’s band, which has Lt. Steeldust (formerly the band stallion) and satellite Mouse (and those two have gone back and forth in recent weeks). This visit, Mouse was entertaining the boys while Steeldust and Butch stayed close to the girls (Luna and Alpha).

Bachelor boy butts. ๐Ÿ™‚ Might as well start with a chuckle, eh? In back is Milagro, then left to right: Sundance, Cuatro, Ze, Sage and Aspen.

Luna’s band: Steeldust at back left, Butch, Gideon barely visible, Alpha, Luna and napping Varoujan. He kept lying down … and the girls would graze away, and he’d get up and follow … and lie back down … and they’d graze away …

The little with mama Luna and “auntie” Alpha.

Sage, Cuatro and Mouse

Butch finally decided to leave the girls (and Steeldust) and come check out the competition, all of whom were politely respectful. That’s Sage he’s stretching toward, Ze to Sage’s left, Mouse in back and Aspen at right. Who spots napping Varoujan?

Varo napping while Cuatro grazes.

Ze walking past napping Varo. He was followed by Aspen – most of the boys are to the left, and Varo’s band is to the right. None of the stallions made so much as a threatening flick of the ear toward the little boy.

Sundance mostly ignored the goings-on. Milagro tended to stick back with him. He’s quite a bit smaller than the other colts, as you can see in the first pic of their butts toward me. He, Sage, Ze and Cuatro are all 2 years old. Sundance is probably about 6; Aspen and Mouse are probably about 6-8ish.

Mouse, right, and Cuatro.

Mouse, front, and Sage.

Ze – that’s Cuatro, grazing, at right.

Ze and Cuatro again – comfortable with each other. They’ve been together and apart … the pal-pairs are Sage and Ze and Cuatro and Milagro.

Just makes me smile. ๐Ÿ™‚ From left: Cuatro, Aspen, Sage and Mouse.

And wider, to show some of the beautiful background – looking eastish.

Varoujan napping, framed by grazing daddy Butch.

Can you even stand how cute he is?! Just a tired little boy who’s been playing in the mud and is now all tuckered out. ๐Ÿ™‚

Taking steps to convince mama it’s lunch time. How DO little boys get so covered in mud?! ๐Ÿ™‚

I caught up on some pix of ponies today – more coming.


12 06 2011

If you haven’t checked out the preliminary EA for our upcoming roundup, please do (give it a little while to come up – I’m on a fast connection, and it still took a few moments to appear). I’m still wading through it – so far, the first half-dozen pages are already littered with my sticky notes.

“Alternative 1 – Proposed Action” (Page 10) is what we want to support at this time. The information to comment by the deadline – July 11 – is here.

“Alternative 2” is a waste of money given the timing of the roundup and the lack of efficacy of PZP-22 here in the past during the same relative timing.

“Alternative 3” is simply unviable and would cause more harm to both the horses and the environment on which they depend.

We will continue to push bait trapping rather than helicopters for the future – as we have the last almost-four years – but for now, and with no movement on that front, we’re nearing a critical point between population and limited resources. At least five of our ponds are already dry, and the remaining ponds are shallow, which will eventually leave 80+ horses trying to get salty water from trickling seeps and springs or the one fresh-water source – the catchment. After the roundup, with a fertility-control plan firmly in place (for at least the next five years), we’ll continue to push bait trapping (and figure out the infrastructure necessary) as well as more and better quality water sources.

BLM plans a 60% stallions to 40% mares gender-skewed ratio. While we do not agree with this avenue of management, particularly in light of the PZP plan to be put in place, given everything else, it’s not a battle we plan to fight right now. Because of lack of knowledge on BLM’s part, it was 56%/21% after the 2007 roundup. All things considered, 60%/40% doesn’t seem so bad. Over the course of the years of PZP application, we’ll watch to see how that evens out and what it means to the herd as a whole, and perhaps in the future, we can nix that particular demand.

If anyone has questions, please leave a comment or email me at mtbgrrl (at) fone (dot) net.

Now some pix, in no particular order:

Juniper and mama Kestrel looking at daddy Comanche.

Handsome young Twister. He’s hanging out with Hook’s band now. He looks so much like Grey/Traveler, it’s amazing.

This was taken the next day and shows Twister, butt to the camera at left, with Hook’s band – that’s big grey Hook standing by Sable, heavy-pregnant Ember (due around early July), Hannah and Fierro. Pinon also is part of this band (he was off to the right, I think). In the background, Spook and Bruiser. A bit to the left were Seven’s, out as far as Spook and Bruiser but to the right were Bounce’s, and behind and leftish were Sundance and Aspen. Rarely are so many of our horses in the same general area except in the spring, when they’re back here with good forage and fairly good water. In fact, two of the remaining four ponds with water are back in this general area. Another reason to have good, scattered water sources – disperse the horses’ grazing.

Cuatro watching after his bachelor pals, a new generation of bachelors now that many of our bachelors have found mares. By pushing back the frequency of roundups by using PZP, I hope to see a clearer, more settled pattern of band dynamics emerge without the interruption of devastating roundups. We have several small bands now; I’ve heard people say there used to be just a few bands, but the were much larger (more horses). I wish I knew then the number of bachelors floating around. Most bands now have at least one foal, but only one band has two foals.

Look at these two handsome, oh-so-innocent devilishly sweet boys. That’s Ze, Seven’s son, on the left and Sage, Hollywood’s son, on the right. they’re hanging out with Cuatro and Milagro now – minus Duke. Milo stood either with his butt to me or nearly out of sight behind the bigger boys. They’re all 2, born between early April and early July; Ze and Sage are clearly the leaders, and between them, I tend to think Sage has a bit of an edge. Both going grey (as is Cuatro), but Ze’s holding his brown a lot longer. Sage clearly favors his beautiful mama, Piedra, but he’s stout like papa Hollywood.

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.