Big sister, little brother

7 08 2012

Same sire: Copper.

Big sister Puzzle takes good care of little brother S’aka, who clearly adores her. (Reya was immediately to the right.)

Puzzle’s mama is Chipeta, who is probably about 7 years old and due to foal around Sept. 1; S’aka’s mama is Reya, who is 5 years old.

Diggin’ the spots

6 08 2012

Today was a good day to check the status of the Round Top pond. On the way, I stopped for a visit with the pinto ponies.

Copper walks past the Round Top pond.

Then there was some of this:

Mama Reya and baby S’aka.

And a bit of this:

Copper, with Brumley Point in the background.

And a teeny bit of this:

Puzzle with mama Chipeta and stepdaddy Ty.

And we got a nice downpour later. What a wonderful day!

Corazon and no-name

12 02 2012

Corazon in the shade below sunlit unnamed promontory.

Corazon with Chipeta and Puzzle. His relationship with the horses – and band stallion Ty – continues to be a source of curious fascination to me. This young stallion (I think he’s probably around 6 now?) has free rein with the horses, and both he and Ty are relentless in keeping Copper away (when he’s with the band). Maybe he’s Kiowa’s son … which would make him half-brother of Reya and Maiku … or …?

Greasewood sea

8 02 2012

Usually, the pintos are horses I see every now and then, usually when I see them from the road and can hike directly to them. But lately I’ve been looking for them because they’ve been a bit easier to find than the horses “interior” where I haven’t gone fearing mud (and potential Jeep-stuck-ness). I am getting terribly anxious to see the other horses, but for now, I am content with spots.

From about a week ago. Reya (front) and Puzzle grazing among the greasewood. Except for the lack-o-green, it doesn’t look very wintry, does it? And the greasewood is not really as thick and dense as it seems from the lens compression. But I thought it was an interesting perspective, as tall as it is, the horses seeming to wade through it like through water.

Spots – and not – and snow

8 02 2012

Because of weather and general busy-ness, I haven’t actually driven into the basin in weeks … but I have done a lot of hiking.

On the day of my most recent hike, it snowed and was brilliantly sunny – toward the end, at the same time. Not unusual here! But we also got a huge dumping of snow this week – about a foot in the mid-Disappointment. That will definitely help our moisture levels this winter. It was getting scary. Bare ground is NOT something you expect to see in February in Colorado, and we had it everywhere.

Copper has been hanging out with the pintos for quite a while – since right after the roundup – but on that last hike, I found him separately. I had seen him from a distance and walked out, only to find no horses at all. But I found his tracks and followed them … Quite interesting to follow in his footsteps for that distance. He didn’t always pick the easiest path – though he did briefly pick up a trail – and he didn’t always go around vegetation but sometimes straight through it. And he went way out around an area … only to end up back very close to where I’d first seen him. Looking. I finally caught up to him, and he whinnied at me.

Poor guy. He was clearly looking for his pals. Behind him is the frozen surface of the Round Top pond. I waited out of sight for him to go down and drink, and this was him coming back up into view. The pond is frozen nearly edge to edge, but there was a small little hole that had either thawed or he pawed to get some water. Above the ice in the background is the dirt of the side of the pond. Behind him, the wall of the pond, which faces northwesterly, had some snow still.

This was earlier, when it was still snowing.

I hadn’t seen hide nor hair of the pintos, and I was just about to drop down into a drainage and walk out … when I spotted Corazon and Chipeta – way back near where I had first seen Copper. Of course. Their tracks – which I followed later – had come out of another drainage. So close … and yet so invisible.

Puzzle (left) and Chipeta with grand unnamed promontory in the background, fresh with snow.

Pretty Reya. She reminds me so much of Kiowa. Of all her foals, Reya always resembled her most, I think.

The snow that day was light and flying and didn’t stick – as you can see. A few days later, we’re covered in humped marshmallow mounds of fresh, glowing snow. Amazing how it transforms a landscape.


21 09 2011

All the BLM folks have been amazing. I’m not sure whether I should name them because I don’t want them to be targets any more than they already are, but they were excellent in all regards. We couldn’t have done anything that we did – and have done – without them. JD, WW, CC, TR, LA, JG, SB, LB, SW, JJ, MJ, HP, KW, SM, AB … thank you so much for your support and calm and level-headed approach – and for always thinking of the safety of the horses and humans. We appreciate you more than we can possibly express. We’re so grateful to have achieved what we have with your partnership, and we look forward to achieving our future goals with your help.

BLM has plans to re-seed the trapsite area, and that could happen as soon as next week.

Monday, after everything was over and everyone else was gone, I went back to basin.

If you go out looking for horses, be patient, use your binoculars, scan slowly and in seemingly unlikely places – and some of the same – and you will find them.

I saw Aspen almost right away (though I thought initially he was Duke, right in his home territory). Then Seven’s … Then black and grey – Bounce and Alegre?! Horses in trees … and below them … and nearby …

Bounce sticks out here … but he’s not with Alegre – he’s with Houdini. She’s right above the “C” in Creek.

While I was looking at them, I spotted another pair:

Right by the brown guzzler, Chrome and Hayden.

I went back around to where I’d seen horses in the hill, and that’s where the wild magic started to work its healing.

Traveler (back right) with Alegre (grey), Gaia (sorrel) and baby Aurora.

Tenaz and Corona. Tenaz was almost caught … Baylee was caught (she’s awaiting adoption – big, beautiful bay girl), and Storm gave observers a show when he galloped away right past them on the hill above the trapsite.

Watching the pintos …

Left to right: Reya (4), Maiku (1), Puzzle (1) and Chipeta. They’re a long way from “home” territory. Chipeta is the dam of the foal that has now been adopted. We don’t know how they got separated. The helicopter pilot was excellent about not even targeting the horses we asked him not to. That’s why he left the bunch alone when he realized they were with the youngest foal. What a story that foal could tell … I’m not even sure who the horses were that were with Chipeta’s band when the pilot did see the group. So all the pintos (and their hangers-on) are accounted for except stallion Corazon.

Here they are with Ty, who is now dominant over …

Copper, who is sticking with them.

I finally left them to find Seven’s and see whether Mona had had her foal yet. The pilot had seen “the pregnant mare” and of course left her alone. (We did see Kreacher’s band before the roundup even started – they ran across what would later be “the observation hill” with SUNDANCE immediately behind them and Kreacher following (?!). Chrome broke away from his band to follow them … leaving his band separated for quite a while (they were later captured all together). People were camped farther north on that hill at the time … we didn’t see the horses again. I am very eager to find them.

From left: Roja and Killian, Seven, Mona and Shane.

The lone bay turned out to be Aspen.

I also saw Shadow the end of the day Sunday – alone. But if I had to guess in normal circumstances where she might be, she was right there. Wind and Coal came to the trapsite with Iya and Cougar. Have not seen David.

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. 🙂 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. 🙂 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!

Baby girl

9 09 2010

Who is this gorgeous little filly??

She’s curious and has a very new baby’s joy in absolutely everything!

She’s Chipeta’s girl, of course!

How cute is she!?

Proud mama

Look at those gorgeous long legs!

Chipeta and baby with Kiowa and baby Maiku

Welcome to your beautiful world, baby girl!

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.

Wet and dry, green and rain

6 08 2010

The basin is greener than I think I’ve ever seen it – even in spring. And it’s not just the “false” green, looking over the countryside and seeing the green of greasewood and saltbush and pinon/juniper – there’s also grass. Bright green tufts of it. Everywhere. Evidence of insane amounts of carving water iseverywhere – in some places, it was at least 3 feet deep. It’s been over the county road – and a(t least one) big mud flow prevents safe travel into the basin.

But hiking in from dysfunction junction was no problem. Not totally dry, but much drier than I had warned visitors it was likely to be!

Our wonderful friends Karen Keene Day (see her website in the blog roll) and her husband, F, and their friends R&K (and collectors of their art) visited the basin this week – from the lowlands of South Carolina! K&R said their house is at 16 feet. The basin is roughly 6,000 feet higher than that! I’m pretty sure I swatted at four mosquitoes.

I should have taken more pix of the wild and awesome evidence of the power of Ma Nature, but we were late to the basin already, and I wanted very much for them to see horses – if any kind of luck was with us.

The last time I was out – also with Karen – I was driving along the herd area, marveling at the water running in arroyos, thinking “look at this water! I wish horses were here to take advantage …” – and shazam – there were Shadow and Wind and David!

Would you believe luck struck again? I was thinking, “Please be visible for these folks from South Carolina. They really want to see you, and so do I …” – Can I say it again? It’s so much fun! SHAZAM!

David, our David. Isn’t he a handsome boy?

Shadow was perfectly content on the other side of the big arroyo, “hiding” behind greasewood, and this is the only time while we watched that I saw her actually look at us; I never saw her even lift her head.

Neither did Wind! I can’t believe how much he looks like Liberty, in color, at least.

There was still a possibility we’d see the pintos up the next drainage … and as we proceeded down the road, I spotted a pinto I thought at first was Corazon. But when I looked through the binocs, I realized it was Bruiser! He’s still by himself … but Lady Luck was completely on our side, and the pinto band was nearby. He’s keeping his distance, but he’s also keeping an eye on them.

With the second storm wave since Karen and I arrived passing across the north end of the basin (rain might have fallen on the north hills), and lightning flashing – but us in partial sunshine – we hiked in – on dry land. The side arroyos were dry, but the big arroyo that comes through that drainage was still muddy. No standing water that we saw in our brief glimpses, but I’d be astounded to learn that any possible “pond” in the basin is not holding water right now. We’re right smack dab in the middle of our normal monsoon season … but this isn’t quite normal!

We got up to within hailing distance of the ponies, and Ty, then Mesa finally saw us as they trailed after the band, slowing grazing along the base of “their” hill (really, aren’t all the hills theirs?!). Mesa came out between us and the band, not alarmed, and Corazon, before he knew what Mesa was looking at, came out to meet him.

Kiowa finally saw us – Maiku took advantage of her pause to grab a snack. Copper in the foreground, Chipeta behind Kiowa and Spook at right.

Back to grazing.

No foal yet from Chipeta …

Bruiser stayed near the base of the hill across the arroyo where I found the band last time, just watching.

We kept our eyes on the lightning and pretty soon decided to head back.

No agenda; just luck. Amazing.

Just amazing.

It started raining about dawn the next morning, and two hours later, it was still raining, so I thanked my lucky stars and headed home. A few weeks ago, it was so dry, all the ponds were dry, and the horses were relying on little trickles in secret pockets for their water. Now, it’s like a second spring in August. Monsoons in a Colorado summer – gotta love ’em!


Disappointment Creek (outside the herd area)