Squeezed

9 08 2011

I’m so easily distracted … I was looking at other photos when I came across this one:

Young master Varoujan tried to squeeze between big brother Gideon and mama Luna. I’m pretty sure it was Gideon who kept the squeeze on that never did let Varo inch his way totally between them.

In the background at right is Steeldust, Gideon’s sire and Varo’s grandsire (Butch, Varo’s sire, is Steeldust’s son). I swear, the old man sports new scars every time I see him. Mouse – seen through legs in the back at left – was dominant again.

This was toward the end of the day as a big storm cloud was threatening the sun. Earlier in the day, the band was arranged in almost a crescent around Varo, who was laid flat out taking a nap. I walked around them, and once in a while, someone would turn his or her head to look at me, but Varo was out cold – eyes shut tight and little lips slack. There’s a definite heirarchy, and little Varo is king – well, most of the time. πŸ˜‰





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?





Boy band

13 07 2011

Is there anything as fun as watching bachelors? πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚

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

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





Stallion action

21 06 2011

My friend Karen Keene Day came out to visit the horses with me last week, her first trip back to the basin since she and her husband are back in Colorado for the summer. We got to witness some changing of the guard between former dominant band stallion Steeldust and bachelor Mouse.

Steeldust was formerly in charge of the biggest band in the basin – the biggest after the roundup, with only Alpha having been rounded up (and released). (As an aside, for people who are worried about the effects of PZP and PZP-22 on mares, Alpha has been with the same band since her release, bred by just two stallions – Steeldust and Butch – and oddly enough, not only did PZP-22 apparently work really well on Alpha, she still has not foaled. (It didn’t work on the other three mares, ranging from no effect at all to a delay in foaling of two months.) The point is, she has been coming into heat since she last foaled in July 2008, and not only has she not been “raped,” the bachelors once with the band have all dispersed but one and found their own families, and the band has naturally broken up as youngsters grew up and dispersed. And, as it happens, she’s in fantastic condition – and so is her almost-3-year-old son, Storm, who has had his own band since this spring (as a 2.5-year-old).)

Mouse, the bachelor still with the band, managed to get between Steeldust and the band a few weeks ago, but Steeldust quickly re-established his dominance over Mouse, if not son Butch. Last week, Mouse had managed to turn the tables again.

Mouse, right, chases Steeldust. This photo is quite a bit cropped; the band is almost directly behind me.

Circle of life … It was hard to see Steeldust, still in his prime, so frantic to get back to “his” band, even knowing it’s nature’s way. Imagine all the stories those scars tell. When we left, though, the stallions were grazing calmly together, with Alpha and Luna and Gideon and Varoujan nearby.

The future … Varoujan

And a guy in his own prime – Kreacher

Life goes on …





Light and beauty, beauty and light

22 05 2011

Truly, sometimes I have no words. In the basin, with them, I just hang on tight to the moment, the moments, the glorious beauty all around me, us, them. They carry it with them … the world accentuates all that they are.

What’s the saying?

When God created the horse, he said to the magnificent creature: I have made thee as no other. All the treasures of the earth shall lie between thy eyes. Thou shalt cast thy enemies between thy hooves, but thou shalt carry my friends upon thy back. Thy saddle shall be the seat of prayers to me. And thou fly without any wings, and conquer without any sword. ~ The Koran

How could it be said any better?

These images were all taken from about half an hour before sunset to a little past the same day as the pictures in the “Till Dawn” post.

It’s plentiful, it’s prickly, it has slender, rubbery “leaves,” and the horses seem to think of it as candy. I’ve seen them surrounded by grass – actual grass – and still nibbling (as Gideon here) on greasewood.

Grey/Traveler and his daughter Terra

Mama Houdini, baby Deniz and yearling Gemma were out of sight in a little draw down and behind Grey and Terra.

King, emperor, knight in shining silver of Spring Creek Basin.

Alpha, queen, empress, once his favorite …

Mouse

Varoujan and daddy Butch

And good night …





Till dawn

19 05 2011

Pre-dawn is a truly lovely time of day. These photos were taken from about half an hour before dawn to just after, when the light was just kissing the trees in our corner of heaven.

Cinch

Liberty gives Cinch an early morning nuzzle.

Pretty Gaia with Liberty

Luna’s band at one of the ponds. From left: Steeldust, Gideon, Alpha, Varoujan, Luna, Butch and Mouse.

Mama Luna and her boys. She’s actually drinking out of a puddle there. I’m not sure why she drank there rather than from the main part of the pond.

Love all their faces. Butch is looking at Comanche’s band, who are at the other side of the pond.

Mama Kestrel (Luna’s daughter), Juniper and Winona (Luna’s granddaughters!) get a drink at the pond.

Winona and Comanche

Comanche, watching Luna’s band.

Sweet Varoujan gives mama a nuzzle.

Off to graze.

Juniper and Kestrel

Good morning, beautiful girls!

Daddy, Juni and mama -dawn. You can’t miss that piece sticking out from his nostril … I’m not sure what he did there, but it does seem to be a piece of skin that he ripped somehow. Doesn’t seem to bother him for grazing or drinking. He’s looking at Grey/Traveler’s band.

Peaceful, beautiful, all right with the world. Out here … it’s easy to believe in everything that should be right with the world …

What more to say? πŸ™‚





All up

30 03 2011

Also going back a couple of weeks to photos I didn’t have time to tweak and post. A visit to Luna’s was my last of this particular day.

They were napping out past the double ponds. One got dug out two years ago; the other wasn’t because of some sort of problem. The non-dugout one has been dry for a while already this year. I saw tadpoles there earlier this spring (later this winter?), and the one that got dug out is probably dry now (it was down to a puddle last week) – though it did have a shallow bit of water there when the horses were there.

When I walked out, Mouse was off a bit, napping, and the others were almost all in a row. Luna was grazing (baby is getting bigger all the time), but the others were watching me walk up – I had to go out of their view past the lower pond, into and through the arroyo and up the hill – and I climbed up to five amazing pairs of ears – all but Luna’s at first – greeting me!

You may notice I just changed the “banner” pic at the top of the blog. Aren’t they the cutest? I love Alpha and the boys. It may be because of Storm, but Gideon seems to really have become attached to Alpha. I love their big-to-little arrangement … though Storm’s as big as Alpha! Notice Steeldust. Guess where Mouse is.

I dropped to the ground as soon as I came up the hill to this amazing view – just had to take it all in! Mouse here is framed through the branches of the tree on my left. And between him and the band is … you guessed it. Steeldust.

Well, here, I have five ears of four horses … but only two eyes! The wind was blowing really hard from the south. They were somewhat protected here in this little valley – there’s a tall ridge/hill above the arroyo to the right – but it was still blasting. I love to see them so wonderfully relaxed.

Now different eyes, and Gideon’s letting me know what he thinks about the whole thing.

Before I knew it:

I really love it when they’re this relaxed.

Awww … but you know what’s coming …

That’s karma, kid! I couldn’t help laughing about the times he did exactly this to his younger “sisters” in the band.

Ugh – breath mint lately? he seems to ask.

And over he goes. πŸ™‚ Isn’t he adorable? Soooooo sweet and innocent??? Alpha knows what’s coming, though …

… and she’s outta there. Check out Luna’s expression. Gideon had to step back when Storm rolled up – and yes, his forehead is right against Gid’ th’ Kid’s chest.

And what goes around comes around – literally. When Alpha walked behind them, it prompted Butch to move Luna – and there’s Storm about to come to his feet. Poor guy – his nap was so short-lived.

He went over to stand by mama. Look how big he is.

Gideon went to his mama, but she is in the grouchy don’t-bother-me stage of pregnancy. She IS a mama, though – HIS mama – and he did find some comfort:

Just don’t interrupt the girl’s nap. πŸ™‚

And I left ’em to it and tiptoed away through the wind.





The process of learning

6 03 2011

Relationships matter most …

Duke napping in the early morning sunshine with Hook’s band behind him.

Cuatro with Hook’s in the background. This was the beautiful sunshine we had early in the morning after sunrise before the cloud band came up.

Steeldust’s band – which I’m going to start more appropriately calling Luna’s band henceforth – was off to the northwest – watching Hook’s and Duke’s bands when I first saw them. Another band I wanted to visit was farther east, and I had been thinking about how I was going to visit both (so greedy) when Luna’s started coming toward us. The first evidence of this was Steeldust chasing Mouse.

It caught the attention of all of us:

Hook’s watching Steeldust and Mouse.

Hook’s watching Mouse and Storm bringing up the rear. You can see we’ve now been covered in shade while the east-west hill and north(ish) hills are still glowing in sunlight.

I thought it was particularly interesting that Gideon followed Alpha … mama Luna and Butch were up ahead. Steeldust is most likely his sire, though Butch has claimed Luna since a little before Gideon was born.

Duke and the boys watching Luna and Butch …

… watching Alpha, Gideon and Steeldust.

They came down almost to the bottom of the arroyo … where Luna apparently decided it was time for a nap and everybody stopped.

Then it started to get interesting (!):

Storm caught up and walked down past mama and Luna and the others, crossed the arroyo and headed up toward …

Duke, Twister and Cuatro. Twister waited till Storm was on his side, then walked down to meet him.

Typical first greeting … (and I don’t think this is actually the first time they’ve met) …

Getting right down to business …

Cuatro followed very quickly …

A different greeting with a younger colt …

Twister takes the rear, Cuatro takes the front! From left, Twister is almost 4, Storm will be 3 in July, and Cuatro will be 2 in May.

They started with a little of this …

They know right where to aim, but note their ears – relaxed.

Check out the shoulder-check. This is what I was talking about in an earlier post. Now check these out:

From the shoulder-check, he goes for Storm’s front legs – which causes Storm to “bow” to get away …

Which leaves his back legs vulnerable. Something else interesting – the benefit of just a year or? – Storm doesn’t go for *Twister’s* hind legs – right in front of him – he goes into defensive mode.

Which just allows Twister to come around him …

And get him on the other side! And look how close he stays.

Twister is clearly calling the shots, and Storm is reacting.

Twister comes around again – look how tight. Storm has tucked his hindquarters to avoid bites, but he’s too close to get up the momentum for a kick.

Have you been keeping an eye on young Cuatro?

Now Storm’s going for Twister’s front legs, forcing Twister into defensive posture – but Cuatro’s helping his pal from the rear angle.

Then the action got a little hotter, and Cuatro here is heading back toward big bud Duke.

And yes, there was some of this.

Are you fascinated by the thought process?? Storm is bigger, but Twister is a year older (which means he has a year on Storm in learning these things) and smart – and quick.

Meanwhile, across the arroyo (except Gideon, who’s at the edge) … The only one (actively) payingΒ  attention is Butch, and this is still several minutes before he decided to join the goings-on.

Wondering where Mouse is during all of this? There he is at right – grazing on the edge of the arroyo. Another reason to show this – are you getting a sense of the size difference between these colts, one born in 2007, the other in summer 2008? It’s not great, but it’s enough to acknowledge. If Twister wasn’t an orphan, would it be so noticeable? If Twister wasn’t an orphan AND Storm wasn’t the son of an alpha mare who had no foals since Storm (because PZP-22 worked on her) and has been able to care for him exclusively these last couple of years – opposite ends of the spectrum – would it be so noticeable?

As Storm and Twister learned each others’ moves, there was some of this …

… and some of this …

… and eventually a few moments of this …

… and this. πŸ™‚

They were by no means done. Duke waded in not long after this – followed closely by Cuatro – but his main attention seemed to be on Mouse, and soon after, Twister and Storm had apparently sufficiently rested to start again. Butch eventually joined briefly, too, and Gideon, which you’ve already seen pix of.

SO much more to this than the “obvious.” What significant, subtle conversation(s) am I missing? I’d wager it’s much more than I’m able to “see” and/or interpret.

Fascinating!





Jumping, Part II

5 03 2011

This was too cute not to share right away (and then I got carried away …). I was looking back for pix of Gideon with the big boys after I did the last post and found these. He came across the arroyo and was sniffing noses with Twister when Mister Mouse came striding up and sent Gideon went scurrying around to the other side of Storm.

I just adore this:

Mouse sniffing Twister, Twister sniffing Gideon over Storm’s back while Storm looks up the ridge at Hook’s!

Talk about jumping around. And this would probably have made for exceptionally interesting video to really tie it all together as I’m obviously failing to do. This, right here, is how I know without a shadow of a doubt the boys’ “fighting” was play – practice for a year or so in the future when it will be for real – to win or keep or add mares – to prove their strength and courage – and intelligence. That really struck me as I watched them spar. There’s definitely *thinking* at work – it’s not just brute strength – there’s craftiness and cunning – and obviously learned behavior. They circle – closely – shove their shoulders into each other … What do we do when walking behind a horse? We give them a LOT of room – or “don’t walk behind the horse,” parents tell children at the fair – or we talk to them, keep a hand on their side, hip, hindquarter, tail, as we walk right around them – close – too close for a kick to land.

Play and learning, youth and exuberance – a little showmanship? They learn their moves, they learn the moves of their peers. Steeldust is the only one I’ve ever seen with his courbette move – charge – rear – vertical leap. How did he learn that one? Fighting against bigger stallions? It certainly seemed to have helped him (and the chaos of the last roundup, too?). He had the biggest – by far – band after the last roundup.

The “before” pic to the top pic … Mouse approaching while Twister greets Gideon during a break in his play with Storm (behind).

Mouse is the lone bachelor left following Steeldust’s band – which is really Luna’s band. Spoiler: Mahogany, Sundance and Aspen are together – separate. (Only distance pix for documentation.) Mouse has been with the band since before Gideon was born. Gideon has never not known Mouse, though he’s always been on the outskirts – and always protective.

When Mouse got closer, Gideon spooked and ducked behind Storm (who is family) – and then the top photo. I couldn’t tell what sparked that … and what was Mouse’s motive to walk over in the first place? Protection? Curiosity? “Pick on someone your own size”? Though clearly Twister was not threatening the little guy in any way.

A few moments later:

Mouse wandered off again, Storm turned around. Storm and Gideon are the same ages (about) as Pinon and Fierro.

And here comes Mouse again. Isn’t that interesting?

Wide view (how *exquisite* is that light on the far hills!): Mouse and boys in the lower foreground, and above, left to right: Pinon, Fierro, Hook, Sable (Ember and Hannah behind).

I missed the “drama” of Steeldust hustling Fierro back to his band because I was so focused on the interactions of the closer boys, but …

Gideon takes advantage of the action to sneak a sniff of Mouse – they’re watching as Fierro walked past Hook and seemed on his way down the ridge to join the fun … but Luna and Butch and Alpha and Steeldust are at right – Steeldust on duty. Steely Dan put the kibosh to curious George’s track … and then this:

Check out Hook’s look – directly at Steeldust. Is that a “hey, thanks, man, I owe you one”? It appears I wasn’t the only one distracted by the play of boys. πŸ˜‰

(Again, that light in the background!)

And that’s all I have time for – work calls. More to come!





Stallion knot

4 03 2011

What’s going on here?

Yesterday was so full and beautiful and amazing I hardly know where to begin.

It started with sunshine and boys, but shortly after sunrise, clouds from the southeast rose and stretched and covered the sky in a single wide band that just so happened to block the sun. What kind of punch would these photos have had otherwise, eh? The good news is that it didn’t last all morning or all day, which turned again nearly clear, very sunny and very basin-beautiful.

You all know – I hope – that I don’t post photos of stallions fighting just to show pictures of stallions fighting. The above photo is to get you in the mood to see photos of stallions – young stallions – play fighting. It was an amazing thing to witness. Three bands were present – two family bands and a bachelor group – and the youngsters played while the elders observed, took care of business and seemed to “referee” (in Duke’s case). Twister, an orphan colt who will be 4 this year, was at the center of it all.

He’s with elder Duke, whom he seems to respect absolutely, and with youngster Cuatro, his bud. Cuatro will be 2 this year, and though he was intensely interested in what was going on and was frequently in the thick of things, he wasn’t the center like Twister was. Just fascinating behavior. (By the way, I didn’t name Twister as any sort of storm or hurricane reference but after Oliver Twist, orphan).

Hook’s band passed on the ridge above, with Hook observing. Steeldust once sent errant Fierro back to him, and Hook jumped in to snake him back to the band. Otherwise SD stayed out of it. Butch left Luna’s side briefly to engage Twister – then right back to Luna’s side. Interestingly, Steeldust gives Alpha plenty of space; Butch seems to need to be right with Luna all the time – talk about not-so-passive “leadership”! It was Luna who finally decided she’d had enough – maybe a long enough nap – and simply walked away, and that was the end of that. Not. I went on to visit another band, and I could hear squeals every now and then from beyond the ridge. Duke’s boys followed Luna, too … and Kreacher’s ended up close by. Hook’s meandered off on their own.

So do you know who’s in the picture above?

Mouse is in front. I’d guess him to be probably 7-8?

Storm is at left. He’ll be 3 this summer.

Duke is in back. He’s probably at least older than 10 (maybe a few years older than 10?).

Cuatro (2 this spring) has his face in Twister’s cheek at left (Twister will be 4).

They’re on uneven ground, moving, moving, moving … but can you get an idea how big Storm is? He was the first to walk out to meet Twister – Twister let him come and met him just in front of where he, Duke and Cuatro had been watching the band come. It’s not a fair comparison, really. Twister is an orphan (as I found him after the roundup), and Storm’s mother is an alpha mare and has been nursing him until fairly recently (I’m not sure whether that continues, but I don’t think so) because PZP-22 worked on her, and she has had only Storm to care for and nurture these past almost-three years. Healthy mom, extremely healthy colt. How will that affect his chances at stealing – and keeping – mares? Just something to make ya go “hmm.” πŸ™‚

Earlier. πŸ™‚