Merry bands of Hook and Hollywood

28 02 2011

Hook’s is an interesting tale (that I know) … young bachelor, bottom of the totem pole, following after his pals and Steeldust’s band. Last spring – early, probably at least this time of year – I started to notice Ember and Pinon together, at the edge of the band, Hook always nearby. And then they were together – separate from the band. Shortly, Hannah joined them … then Sable. Both fillies – both yearlings – left their family band before their mothers had even had that year’s foals (Mahogany lost hers; Luna’s Gideon is quite robust). Hook is an admirable band stallion, much more cautious of me now that he has a family to protect … except that all these youngsters have known me since the day they were born (Sable) or soon after, and the mother of two of them (Luna, dam of Ember and Hannah) is the most patient and tolerant mare in the basin, and in fact, was the first to use me to shed her pesky stallion. So Hook keeps a watchful eye, and the girls and Pinon treat my presence as acceptable.

Hollywood also has an interesting tale (OK, who doesn’t!). When I first started documenting the horses, the day Grey/Traveler was brought back to the basin after the roundup and his trip to Canon City and his three weeks in quarantine, Hollywood and Jif were the first other horses I found – close to Steeldust’s band, as they would be until Grey somehow managed to steal Jif right out from under the noses of Steeldust’s band and the closely-following Bachelor 7 the next April. Maybe Hollywood already had his eye on Piedra … in any case, rather than follow Jif (in Grey’s smaller band), he stayed with Steeldust’s bigger band (and still followed by the Bachelor 7 at that time) and wooed Piedra (yes, he really did), and eventually they broke off together into their own little band … followed shortly by Baylee, daughter of Mahogany (and Pinon’s elder sister). I have speculated that Piedra may be Baylee’s elder sister, and that’s why she followed … and that idea seemed strengthened by what happened with the siblings following into Hook’s band … but something has always nagged at me about Piedra’s more graceful appearance than Baylee or Pinon or Sable … and this year, particularly, I really start to doubt a blood-bond there. (Though they do share those ears!)

Ember had Fierro last July – already pregnant before she joined Hook’s band (likely sire, Mouse, though I can’t confirm). Shortly before Hannah left Steeldust’s band for Hook’s (sister Ember’s?), she managed to “stray” into Hollywood’s band. I was visiting Bounce’s (the calendar’s April photo was taken during that visit) and watched the chaos while they ignored it all (or seemed to). Hannah was frantic to get back to her mother’s family; Holls was just as adamant that she stay with him. As young as she was (yearling), I knew what that meant … I don’t know how she ended up with Holls, and I don’t know how long she was with him – running the whole time I watched at least – half an hour? An hour? – but she made it back to mama Luna. Very shortly after that, as I remember, she was with Hook and his little band. And now what do you see in the photo above? Like her sister Ember, she’ll be a mama at 2.

And Sable?

Switching back to Hollywood’s band, although coming-3-year-old Iya looks pregnant at a glance …

coming-4-year-old Baylee (elder sister of Pinon and Sable) seems still girlishly slim:

Bay-Baylee-girl

But Kestrel, who had Winona last year as a 3-year-old and elder sister of Ember and Hannah, kept her “condition” quiet until close before she foaled, so that’s just observation at this point.

Normal? Symptom of our small herd size – which is bigger now? Coming-4-year-old Reya’s condition is unknown. Her coming-3-year-old sister, Spook, lost her foal last year … Just something to make us go “hmm”?

Fierro and Ember, Pinon and Hook

Hannah

Baylee, Iya and Hollywood. I liked that I could see all their eyes. Bayles took another couple of steps that made an even better composition, but then she closed her eyes!

Iya and Holls

Pretty Piedra

Mama Piedra and her youngest, Tenaz

How toasty warm he must be in that fuzzy coat!

Tenaz and daddy Hollywood

This one is meant to show a comparison between Iya’s and Baylee’s bellies … Round Top at right, Brumley Point straight back – Tenaz at far right.

Brumley Point. To get your bearings, McKenna Peak and the unnamed promontory are to the left. The far background rimrock hills are outside the herd area.

We’ve talked about how wonderful it is to enjoy horses in their quiet moments. I am incredibly fortunate to spend such time with these horses that I can witness those moments. But they’re wild and ever watchful. Spooks do happen. 🙂

Hollywood initiated a “charge” of maybe 30-50 yards? From in front of me to up the hill a little to my right, into the light …

So unfortunately out of focus …

They didn’t go far …

Calm again. Holls and Bayles … love that light illuminating his eye! Another of my favorite images of the day.

They are wild … sensitive to movement and sounds – and that darn mud made it hard to move in steady motion.

Moments after:

Piedra

Piedra and Sage

Hollywood and Sage … I just liked their shapes in the sunlight.

And bidding farewell when everything was back to calm. Love the little hitch to his nostril.

Of the pix of Holls and his band running – like or dislike? Why? Does it matter that you know “the rest of the story”? It happens … with or without my presence … It’s part of the story thread of the basin …

I still had a decent trek to the Jeep, in the mud … I didn’t know at this point what was waiting for me at the bend … But I knew I was deliriously happy, right then, right in those splendid moments in the wild American outback. Give and take. Still and in motion. Light and shadow. Questions and wonder and mystery. How much will we know? How much do we want – need – to know?





Random happiness

23 02 2011

Life got in the way of me posting yesterday (though I started one), so I didn’t quite make good on my promise to post every day for a week. The snow-weather that prevented weekend visits has given way to warm and wet (melting) weather now, so a visit to the basin this week may not be in my cards. The good news is I have a lot more photos from last week’s visit!

Here are some random images from the day that don’t necessarily fit into a “category” … they just are as they are.

Tenaz checks out some tasty morsel mama Piedra seems to have found.

Kestrel protested mildly, but Winona finally got her way.

Comanche – Kestrel and Winona were just up the hill to the right.

What a … stud! 🙂 Isn’t he just wonderfully handsome?

Scenery interlude: All the near foreground is within Spring Creek Basin. The La Sal Mountains in the background are in Utah.

What caught my eye was that through-the-clouds spotlight on the mountains. A long lens is essential for photographing wildlife, and it’s also perfect for isolating parts of landscapes. The first two “layers” in the foreground are in Spring Creek Basin – the hills in front and the hills rising up behind. Then the next couple of layers are outside the basin, in Disappointment Valley. And the mountains beyond.

The entire foreground here is Spring Creek Basin.

Layers and layers of beauty

Fierro catches a snack surrounded by family – Sable just out of sight to the right.

More coming …





Some boys

19 02 2011

Tenaz and his daddy, Hollywood

Comanche

Fierro

Hook (it was very windy!)

Pinon

Pinon, Fierro and Hook

Sage in a rare moment of looking at me long enough to set, focus and fire my camera!

Tenaz (check out the mud splattered on his face – such a little boy!) – I see you, peek-a-boo boy!

Hollywood – I love that light illuminating his eye.

Kreacher. I loved that light enveloping the horses. He’s right at the edge of the road … Raven, Corona and Kootenai are to the left. They’ve found a bit of snow, and they’re getting their fill like kids at the neighborhood ice cream truck. Kreach stood here so quietly … he never moved a step from when I first saw him from the Jeep. Talk about a passive leader (I think I mentioned him in an earlier post where I was referring to Beautiful Mustang’s recent posts) … so calm. So confident. So young (still relatively dark).

Just as the sun slipped over the edge of the world, the girls were finishing their snow and making their way toward him. That was his cue – was he just waiting for them that whole time? – and he started off up the road. Stopped once to leave a pile, which the girls investigated thoroughly (?), then on up the road and finally up the hill at the next bend. They grazed not far off the road when I slipped past them … the basin covered in shadow – light just on the upper ridges of the eastern boundary, McKenna’s point, the promontory’s rocky face. Kreacher does lead … and his girls do follow him.

All these boys … so amazing.





Happy Thanksgiving!

25 11 2010

I am so thankful for the opportunity to get to know these incredible wild creatures. They give me so much more than I could ever return.

I am thankful …

I am thankful …

I am thankful …

I am thankful …

I am thankful …

I am thankful.





Alignment

18 11 2010

Hook’s band against the La Sal Mountains





Hook’s band

6 11 2010

Hook’s band: Him at left, Sable, Pinon, Hannah, Fierro and Ember

While Hook and Comanche were having a chat, Ember and her siblings were waiting at the road, so I went down to keep them company until Hook could join them.

Hannah, her nephew, Fierro, and her sister and his mother, Ember

Ember and Fierro. I sat down on the road, thinking the ponies would take a trail up to the catchment, but they decided to investigate instead.

Ember’s little sweetheart

I don’t think I’ve posted many pix of these horses this summer. They’ve been wandering and mostly keeping their distance from other bands. The youngsters – siblings and half-siblings – stick close together, and Hook, a young stallion with his first band as far as I know, is very protective. With the abundant water (all the ponds continue to hold water), the horses are dispersed but visible.

One of the interesting things about this band is that, except for Hook, they’re all related. Ember and Hannah are Luna’s daughters; Pinon and Sable are Mahogany’s son and daughter. I assume they’re all Steeldust’s progeny – except Fierro. With the attention Mouse was paying Ember – and her big sister Kestrel – last year, my assumption is that Mouse is the sire of Winona and Fierro. How interesting, though, that low-man Hook – who had been lowest on the bachelor totem pole surrounding Steeldust’s band – and Comanche, who was outranked by Mouse – ended up with the girls … in Hook’s case, Ember and her year-mate, Pinon, before their siblings followed, first Hannah, then Sable.

Are the boys closest to the action a little myopic in their world view? High in rank but short-sighted in vision? It happens to the best of us, I suppose.





Landscapes

18 10 2010

Jif pauses in her grazing to look … I think she was looking at or for Cinch and Liberty. I couldn’t see them, but we all knew they were there. I love the way she seems to be surveying her home.

Just about every landscape looks better with a horse in the foreground! The pyramid-shaped feature is McKenna Peak, and that’s the unnamed promontory behind and to the right.

While those two pix featured the same horse, the next three feature the same feature …

Hannah

Pinon

Hook

Do you know the land feature behind them in each pic? These were all taken immediately before sunset, and that’s Brumley Point, out on the southeastern border of the herd area. I know a Brumley (her married name is different), and she’s one heck of a wonderful lady – her husband’s pretty nice, too! I wish I knew a McKenna (McKenna Peak, McKenna Peak Wilderness Study Area) … it’s just another connection, another piece of the history of this land and its inhabitants.

The near hill is Flat Top, and the one behind it (that you may or may not know is a separate hill) is Round Top. The very far ridge at the horizon is not part of the herd area. End of the day … the sun has set … Look closely – see them? The white “dots” are nooooooottt mountain goats! That’s Grey/Traveler and Houdini, and behind them are Terra and Gemma. Every landscape …

And just before I took that picture, I took this one:

Do you see the pillar of light?

Every landscape is magic that harbors mustangs!