We. Have. PONDS!

31 08 2020

Storm helps illustrate the fact that at least three ponds in Spring Creek Basin now have water for the first time in months (and months and months). A very small portion of the pond behind him is reflecting the fiery sky, but the pond is much larger than that little reflection point.

Saturday’s drenching didn’t cover all of Spring Creek Basin, but it hit a good portion of the eastern region, from the east pocket in the north to the southern tip.

At least four bands are taking advantage of two of the ponds, and I’m pretty sure a fourth pond also has water. … I ran out of time to hike back to check it because I was having too much fun hanging out with ponies – and that was before the giant, heart-leaping thrill when I saw the first of the three ponds with water. (I might have yelled and screamed and hollered really, really loudly.)

Thanks to all for your hopes, prayers, wishes and dances! πŸ™‚

Mud drench

18 05 2017



Magnificent mustangs must make mud baths marvelous!

Copper knows the value of spa treatments. πŸ™‚


Did anyone order rain?

Ma Nature delivered SNOW!

You really have to laugh at how well she came through for us. πŸ™‚ It’s spring snow and packed with moisture.

Life, sustained

17 08 2014

We interrupt your regular mustang programming for a peek at other wildlife in Spring Creek Basin:

Tadpoles in the east-pocket pond!

Tadpoles in the east-pocket pond!

Tadpoles in the east-pocket pond!

Tadpoles in the east-pocket pond!

Whaaaat?! πŸ™‚ Pretty crazy cool, huh? The east-pocket pond is the only pond that hasn’t been dug out in the last few years. It’s fairly small and fairly shallow, but it does hold water – and tadpoles!

After the recent rain, the two ponds that were dug out in June now also have water! In fact, all but one pond in the basin now are offering water to thirsty critters. πŸ™‚


6 08 2014

Hayden drinks from the east-pocket pond.

So much better than drinking out of muddy hoofprints. πŸ™‚ Hayden drinks his fill from one of the ponds filled from recent rains in Spring Creek Basin.

(After this photo was taken and Hayden wandered off to graze, the musk thistle at back left met its demise at the point of my shovel.)

Green ‘n water

20 07 2013

Northwest pond has water.


Trapsite pond has water!




Two different ponds, previously dry. Both dug out last year.

Mustangs already have found both.


29 03 2013


Grey/Traveler, center, drinks from a pond with his band, from left: Alegre, Maia, Mariah and Houdini. Water is the most precious resource of all in this high desert region.


2 12 2012

The Tres Rios Field Office in Dolores, Colo., has honored Pati and David Temple with an award that recognizes their dedication during the last 15 years to the mustangs of Spring Creek Basin.

In 1997, Pati and David joined the board of the newly formed Colorado chapter of the National Mustang Association. They have served continuously on the board since then.

Some major projects have been completed in Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area at Pati and David’s urging:

* The water catchment in the basin was funded by NMA/CO – about $18,000. Although there are several ponds and seeps/springs, the catchment provides the horses with the only clean water source in Spring Creek Basin (the others being, at the least, very salty because of the alkaline soil).

* About a decade ago, NMA/CO raised $40,000 to buy cattle AUMs from a rancher who held grazing rights in the basin and, after a five-year struggle, succeeded in retiring those AUMs. Not only that, a grazing EA was prompted, which reduced the remaining AUMs and changed the grazing season to dormant-season grazing only (Dec. 1 until Feb. 28). The National Mustang Association, based in Utah, was instrumental in finally accomplishing this goal.

* Because of Pati and David, magazine subscriptions, horsemanship training videos and countless pairs of boots have been donated by NMA/CO to the inmate training program at the Canon City prison facility, where BLM has a short-term holding facility.

* Pati and David have assisted with the removal of old fences and wire from within the basin as well as construction of new boundary fences and the repair and maintenance of fences.

* For close to a decade, San Juan Mountains Association has hosted University of Missouri students during alternative spring break, which has included projects in the basin. David is an arborist, and NMA/CO regularly has funded chemical spray (Garlon) for tamarisk removal. David (pictured below at right) also has volunteered his time and expertise to help with eradication efforts.


* Because of Pati’s single-minded determination and her refusal to give up on him, when Grey/Traveler was sent to Canon City at the end of the 2007 roundup, we got him back. Pati and David hosted him at their ranch for three weeks (quarantine) until he could be returned to Spring Creek Basin (pictured below). Long-time readers of this blog will know that he not only rebuilt a band, he has the largest band in the basin at the tender age of “aged,” as aged at the last (2011) roundup.


* Pati and David represent NMA/CO in our coalition advocacy group Disappointment Wild Bunch Partners. They bring to Wild Bunch – and BLM – all their historical knowledge of BLM management of Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area, as well as modern visions that fit with our advocacy goals, which they use to encourage new projects to benefit the horses. With the previous herd manager, one project Pati and David suggested and we convinced BLM to undertake was digging out ponds to increase storage capacity. Some hadn’t been dug out since the 1980s. In 2009, two ponds were dug out. In 2010, three ponds were dug out. In 2012, three ponds were dug out. All but two ponds in the basin have been dug out, and at least one of those still is on the priority list to BE dug out. Currently, in a desperately dry year, all but three ponds have water. To further illustrate how impressive this is – how visionary – ranchers throughout the region are hauling water to their cattle because water sources on their grazing allotments are dry.


* Also as members of Wild Bunch, Pati and David are an integral part of the partnership with BLM that resulted in the Tres Rios Field Office being awarded $25,000 as part of the Director’s Challenge this year.

* NMA/CO always has championed the use of fertility control. In 2007, NMA/CO paid for five doses of PZP-22 to be administered to the released mares. In 2010, NMA/CO signed on to the proposal submitted to BLM for the implementation of a program to use native PZP in Spring Creek Basin to slow population growth and reduce the need for frequent roundups. Also in 2010, NMA/CO paid for my PZP training at the Science and Conservation Center in Billings, Mont. Then they paid for the darting rifle. When fertility control using native PZP was approved for the Spring Creek Basin herd ahead of the 2011 roundup, we were ready to volunteer.

* Pati and David have adopted several mustangs over many years (including those they’re riding in the photo of the plaque above). In 2011, they adopted yearling Rio (Grey/Traveler or Twister x Two Boots) and renamed him Sherwood, in honor of one of the founding members of NMA/CO. Pati is a genius at groundwork, and at 2 years old, Sherwood loads readily into a trailer and accepts a cinched saddle, among other things.


* In 2012, Hollywood and Piedra had a filly. She was named Temple in honor of Pati and David.

Temple, foreground; Madison, background.

Pati and David are true mustang angels in every sense of the words. Their passion about and commitment to mustangs, particularly Spring Creek Basin mustangs, is legendary in our part of the world. Personally, I am grateful to Pati and David a million-fold for their support and friendship. Their work has laid the foundation for the excellent health of the herd today and into the future. This list hits just the highlights, but I hope it conveys how inspiring they are and should be to mustang advocates everywhere. In addition, they are two of the nicest, most generous people you’ll ever know.

The plaque reads: Presented to David and Pati Temple. Thank you for your many years of unselfish commitment and dedication to the Spring Creek Basin Wild Horses and the Herd Management Area. The support that you have provided to the BLM has been invaluable to the long-term goal of a sustainable and healthy herd area in Disappointment Valley. Without your devotion to the horses, advocacy, hard work and persistence, many maintenance, enhancement and fertility control projects would not have been accomplished. November 2012. Bureau of Land Management Tres Rios Field Office.

The photo on the plaque, taken by Durango photographer Claude Steelman and featured in his book Colorado’s Wild Horses, shows Pati on Bandolier and David on Concho, their Sulphur Springs mustangs.

With appreciation beyond words and always grateful for you both, thank you, Pati and David, for your generosity, commitment and passion. It is contagious and has infected us all! And thank you, Tres Rios, for honoring Pati and David for all they have done for our mustangs.

Bay beauty

23 11 2012

Had a welcome sighting of this handsome bay boy:

Poco, sporting his fuzzy winter coat!

While I was taking pix of him, I hiked over to look at the double ponds to check the water status.

Good news!

The pond that was dug out in 2009 has good water! The second double pond – which was not dug out – has no water, but the center is muddy.

Interestingly, some of the ground between the road and the good pond was moist on the surface. Given that we haven’t had any moisture for a couple of weeks (and that, not much), that’s just something to “make ya go hmm.” Most of the ponds do still have water, and as noted in a couple of previous posts, there are some water-producing seeps in arroyos.

Keep dancing. Mother Nature, like BLM, moves at her own pace. πŸ™‚

Die, thistle, die!

6 10 2012

To follow up from the knapweed spraying seen at the northwest pond, here are some pix of sprayed musk thistle at the east-pocket pond:

On the western edge of the pond.

On the south edge of the pond – and dying already! (Note the water.)

Dying musk thistle, full pond – what’s not to love?

Did I mention full pond? The east-pocket pond now is one of only two ponds in the basin that have not gotten dug out in recent years. It did go dry this year but rebounded (a couple of times) with rain. And the Sorrel Flats pond,Β which was dug out in 2010, is just to the south.

Thank you to the Forest Service and BLM for your continued partnership with Four Corners Back Country Horsemen and Disappointment Wild Bunch Partners in managing Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area to the best of its potential! It’s fantastic to come back and see the fruits of our labors – GPS’ing sites in the spring – come to fruition in the fall!

Knapweed spraying

5 10 2012

For two days this week, a Forest Service crew directed by BLM has sprayed Russian knapweed around all the ponds in Spring Creek Basin. In May, Four Corners Back Country Horsemen members and guests GPS’d several sites (including ponds) of weed infestation to help BLM identify sites for future spraying. This is all part of the Director’s Challenge grant, which was awarded to the Tres Rios Field Office based on its affiliation with Disappointment Wild Bunch Partners.

We happened to catch G, with the Forest Service, leaving the basin after his second day of spraying and got the scoop.

After visiting with Duke and Kreacher in the northwest “meadow,” we surveyed the northwest pond and spraying activity.

This was a fitting day to get the news about weed spraying; Pat Amthor, who, with her husband, Frank, has honcho’d 13 years worth of wild horse counts in Spring Creek Basin with Four Corners Back Country Horsemen, was visiting. From our vantage with the boys, it was Pat who spied water in the pond.

The vegetation around the pond is the particularly nasty Russian knapweed, noted in a previous post about the pond and it being dug out this summer (also with Director’s Challenge funds). If the green looks a little unnatural, that’s OK – that’s the chemical spray.

Note: Russian knapweed is toxic to horses if ingested in great enough quantity. The good thing is that horses rarely eat it if other forage is available. And we have plenty of other forage available, especially this year.

As we continued around the basin, we did note that all the ponds we saw showed signs of having been sprayed. Yay!

As a side note, we ended up seeing every single horse in Spring Creek Basin, including – again – the elusive Mr. Poco.