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?





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.





Brilliance

7 01 2011

Really, I have no time and fewer words for the incredible beauty and magic that is the basin and its inhabitants right now.

“I am blessed” “I am blessed” “How blessed am I?”

Kept running through my head all day(s) long.

I’m working on more.

Winona

Alpha

Baylee, Sage and Hollywood

Hollywood

Winona (buckskin and blue and white)

Ice flake crystal





Safe travels

22 12 2010

To everyone traveling to spend Christmas with family, friends and loved ones, please be safe and have a very merry Christmas!





Duke with

20 10 2010

Bruiser and Tenaz, who is with …

Hollywood, of course.





Hollywood’s … and more

27 09 2010

Back in the “meadow” of the east pocket, I was concentrating on Mona and her new baby – with Seven’s! – but after a very short while, we all became aware of other visitors when Hollywood’s band burst out of the trees and over a ridge, heading straight for us. They stopped momentarily – surprised, I think – when they saw Seven’s (and they must know the makeup of families as well (better!) as I do, so I wonder what they made of the new additions) – then me – then they started off again – straight toward me!

You know that strange phenomenon … you’ve found the perfect campsite in a not-too-crowded campground, away from the other people – and a late arrival sets up right next to you. Or you’re alone on a bus, and the next fare chooses a seat – out of all the empty seats! – right next to yours. Hollywood and his family could have gone in any direction – away from Seven’s – and away from me, too, and yet here they came. That’s not the first time it’s happened, and I imagine (hope?!) it won’t be the last. Fear – the prey species drive – fuels these beautiful animals, has kept them alive – and thriving! – for centuries, and yet, they have this amazing curiosity that also directs them, allows them to know how close they can get to satisfy that curiosity … how far they must stay to appease that fear.

Here they come – Hollywood in the lead followed by alpha mare Piedra and baby Tenaz.

So graceful … I just love Piedra.

Coming to that edge … Piedra and Tenaz, Hollywood now waiting for everyone to catch up, Baylee at left.

Now some watch Seven’s – Sage, right, and Baylee – and some watch me! Iya at left. Holls has gone out a little to man the line between his family and Seven’s, who didn’t move a step away from his new girl.

Wider view to include Holls – and that amazing backdrop of what I call the east pocket! Those hills and ridges make up part of the natural eastern boundary of Spring Creek Basin.

Baylee, 3, and Iya, 2, are best of friends. They tend to stick fairly close to each other.

Mama Piedra, daddy Hollywood and their sons, Tenaz and Sage.

Piedra and her boys

Now she’s made her decision – nothing to fear, and she’s satisfied her curiosity – and is getting down to the important business of grazing.

Handsome Tenaz

Hollywood. So far, none of our duns have thrown their color. Only Luna – in the time I’ve been documenting the mustangs – has thrown her color, in 3-year-old Kestrel – and she reproduced it in her very first foal, Winona. Both foals this year with dun parents are bay.

Hollywood with his boys, Tenaz and Sage

Full-brothers Tenaz, 5 months, and Sage, yearling

Now for the *more* …

Look who decided to join the party. 🙂 Roja, masking her curiosity by nibbling on a saltbush.

And who is this darling girl we rarely get to see? That’s Spring, looking like a mini version of (I’m pretty sure) grandma Molly.

Spring has left mama to come see the baby … here she is with daddy Seven, lost in the bliss of saltbush nibbling.

Daddy with two of his babies (he also had a bay filly that was rounded up in 2007. She was named Hershey for her darker splotch; I believe she was adopted).

Handsome Seven – with son Ze – looking for Roja. Isn’t he incredible? Great genes!

Mama Mona and baby Shane showing off their similar face markings.

She is a doting mama …

… and fierce as a grizzly when provoked! And that curious-Ze just didn’t seem to get the message! This was a “bluff charge”; she never left Shane’s side. But I was happy to see this side of lovely, gentle, sweet, laidback Mona!

I do love the mamas and babies – are they beautiful or what?!





From there to there

14 08 2010

Not 15 minutes inside the basin for the first time in three weeks, I had to leave again because of a wall of rain coming straight at us from the western hills. I just had time to spot Hollywood’s … then Comanche, Kestrel and Winona …

The road in isn’t as bad as I expected – though there’s evidence one poor person got stuck: s/he left staves in the road from where s/he dug him/herself out of the mud. But it is cut in numerous places where hard-rushing water flowed in mean little rivulets from high to low. When the road is dry, you may not need four-wheel drive, but you definitely want high clearance – and good shocks.

Crossing a couple of the interior arroyos, you have to dodge rocks (I moved one for you, but you’ll still have to squeak between the wall of the arroyo and the new “drain hole”) and climb or descend a couple of new sandy ledges formed by the fast-moving water. At one of the Spring Creek crossings, there’s evidence the water reached 12 yards above the base of the arroyo!! WOW. I don’t think your Porsche or your mini van is going to cut it for a travel vehicle there. (Even the Jeep scraped bottom on one of those new sandy shelves – still “pristine,” not yet worn down.)

After waiting out a second wave of rain (!), I went cautiously back into the basin.

From a long way away, I saw horses running – Comanche’s had joined Hollywood’s – ‘Nona was leading the whole group, playing ahead of mama Kestrel.

Kestrel and Winona in the lead, followed by Comanche in foreground, center. Piedra and Tenaz almost behind the greasewood behind Kestrel, Hollywood and Sage, Baylee and Iya.

I gained a higher vantage, but I couldn’t tell that they were running *from* anything, and they were running basically toward me (in the Jeep), so I wasn’t the cause of their – dare I say it – joyful celebration?!

Coming up out of Spring Creek

They paused once to look at me … (you can see by their blowing forelocks that it was pretty windy)

… then continued on their way, following Comanche following Kestrel. (Check out Baylee; her ears are forward in every photo!)

They were close to me now, so I stopped and waited for a while – I thought I had an idea where they were going, but I was wrong. When I thought I’d given them enough time, I eased up the road, looked all around … and finally spotted them way out “yonder” … and that’s how I found out Cinch had Liberty. They settled in a big “valley” full of – you guessed it – more green, and that’s where they stayed the rest of the day. Twister and Cuatro were even farther beyond them, but they were nearly hidden, and I didn’t know at that point who they were. I thought I’d seen other horses that I thought may have been Hook’s band, but as it turned out, Hook’s were one of the few horses I didn’t see (along with David’s little family and Bruiser).





Catch-up

19 07 2010

The morning I found the tree on fire, I had seen bands at a distance and was headed out to visit them. After I called in the fire (with randomly and surprisingly found cell service), I went on to visit.

What a(nother) great surprise to find Duke with Twister (center) and Cinch (right)! Bruiser still not with the boys, but I’ve had a recent update from this weekend that he has been seen – alone but apparently just fine. I stopped the Jeep and took pix from it …

… but the boys “made a mad dash” anyway. 🙂 Look at that handsome Duke! So elegant! His mind is on Cinch, and Cinch’s mind is on Duke, and young Twister (3 years old) is just happy to be part of the gang.

Stopped again. I didn’t know it at this point, and I’m not sure whether they did … but somebody(s) were up the hill in the trees ahead of them …

I drove on, looking for Hollywood’s band, which I had seen earlier, and it does seem like these boys – Cinch and Twister before Duke joined them – are hanging out close to Holls’ band again. Just below a little “rise” or “edge,” almost to the fence, I found them. They were napping under a tree, and the proximity to the fence was unfortunate because they felt the “squeeze” and immediately started walking out into the open. I stopped a little way on so I didn’t block them, then got out to watch the parade.

Iya leading – she’s not terribly long-legged for her size, but she is a big girl. Sage tossing his head against the gnats, big Tenaz and mama Piedra.

Hollywood in the lead, followed by Baylee, Piedra and Tenaz (Iya and Sage now bringing up the rear).

Piedra, Tenaz (look at him looking!) and Iya, sneaking in a sniff of baby where mama Piedra can’t warn her away. See the dapples in their summer-slick coats. 🙂

Following Baylee. A couple of things about this image: First, see how big he is! His bay-black legs are starting to shed through his baby-fine . But do you see how much he resembles Hollywood? I think Sage tends to resemble Piedra, but this big boy definitely looks like daddy! He’s about a week away from being 3 months old.

Sage and Iya broke off for a little detour visit. Brave ones of the group, these two.

Meanwhile, Holls and the girls and his little mini-me waited at the stud pile(s) for them to catch up. 🙂 Look at that handsome Tenaz – cute!!

On they went, then, heading up the valley toward the boys … who went closer to the hill and found …

Do you see them? Everybody in Kreacher’s (lower left) band is at least partially visible – though not very well, admittedly. 🙂 Mona is above Kreacher; Kootenai is to the upper right; and nearly smack dab in the middle, you might be able to make out Raven’s legs through the tree … and immediately left of her, Corona.

Later, after I’d gone back to watch the fire and then was on my way out, I found them again:

Drinking at the trickle – found enough water to splash in! It collects a little below this but is pretty stagnant there; they drink uphill, where it comes out – a barely slurpable trickle, but clear. (Mona was just to the right.)





Hollywood’s band

30 05 2010

Handsome Hollywood, pretty Piedra and nursing Tenaz

Now that her baby boy is a wee bit older, she’s more willing to show him off – and show off, he did! What a doll!

I went out and sat, and she grazed her way closer …

… and he stayed right at mama’s side at first … Look how big and beautiful he is.

Iya also came to see. Look how silvery she has turned as she sheds out. She’s 2 this year.

And Sagey-m’-boy. He has a bit of a boo-boo on his left hind cannon, but it looks like it’s healing just fine.

Baylee, 3 this year, and Iya. Interestingly, Baylee doesn’t appear to be pregnant, despite the fact that she’s been with Hollywood for more than a year now.

That Sage is a little love bug. (He’s pretty good-sized, by the way, but Iya is a pretty big girl. See in the previous pic how she’s almost as big as year-older Baylee. Sage is a yearling.)

But he usually has an ulterior motive!

Which is probably how he got his boo-boo!

They always forgive the little rascal. 🙂

And take a little revenge!

I was taking pix of Piedra and Tenaz when Sage walked into the frame – mama and her boys.

If I have *definitely* not figured one thing out (and there are many things I haven’t!), it’s why they eat what they eat. Here, Piedra is nibbling on saltbush or greasewood – I can’t quite tell from my pix because it’s not nearly as “leafed out” (do you call that stuff on greasewood “leaves”??) as the others in the area.

Now some pix of the happy little ham:

He’s a little past a month old now.

Maybe he’s going to be bay? I guess we’ll know for sure when his legs darken. I’d love to see Hollywood sire a dun foal, or grulla like I think his mama was. His mane is pretty dark, but you can see how light his tail is at the top before it darkens to black. Gideon is just about the same color. And Spring, too … though a little more obviously bay … a shade darker … not as “reddish”? (I’ve seen her several times but too far for pictures. Have not seen Wind and his family for a few weeks.)

Walking over to see what the “big babies” are looking at.

Still trying to manage those long-long legs!

Love this one … surrounded by family.

Bye for now, my lovelies!

We haven’t seen the last of Hollywood, who, when I saw him just a little bit later, seemed at least as surprised to see ME there as I was to see HIM there! Ha!





Dapple light

20 05 2010

Had a simply gorgeous time in the basin … despite the forecast that called for – you guessed it – rain/snow – again – right smack dab on my weekend. The forecasters were wrong! (Please forgive my wicked glee!) The sky looked threatening the whole way out, but then it was sunshine and layer upon layer of thick fluffy white clouds from here to the horizon. Ma Nature brewed her dark clouds over the La Sals to the northwest, and assistant Wind dutifully carried them east and south, but Storm’s corridor was just along the northern and eastern ridges and on down to the far southern reaches of Disappointment Valley and beyond, leaving the basin just a paradise on the edge of the world.

An example – this patch of sunlight illuminated the finger hill Bruiser, Twister and Cinch (reunited) were standing on while the ridge behind them stayed in shadow. They were looking down on Hollywood’s band, who eventually went north, while the boys moseyed down off the hill and across the arroyo and up onto the bench that carries the west-side loop road toward Round Top and points east.

Even more is blooming now – late this year. I’ve been keeping track, but – crazy! – I haven’t stopped to photograph the flowers yet. The paintbrush has been trying its best to find the sunshine and warm breath of spring, and more is blooming every week. Prince’s plume started last week … the globe mallow was out just this week – not so much in the basin but very much along the private road leading to the basin. Hardy phlox – white and pink – has been out for weeks and still blooms, some of the petals looking a bit windblown. Loco weed also pops up in places. Some isolated yellow daisies-something-or-other. The cheat grass is still green but starting to flag.  Greasewood is greener than green (it’s possible) and was budding last week. Water holes are dry or very shallow. One pond holds decent water, and a couple of bands are in the vicinity of Wildcat Spring. At least one band is using the catchment, but they have to range far for forage because it’s just not that great in that area. The claret cups are tightly furled within their nests of thorns … not blooming yet. I saw a couple of bunches of lupine (my very favorite wildflower) near Dolores, but that was it. We don’t typically get lupine in the basin (I’m so jealous of the opportunity on Pryor Mountain to photograph babies in fields of blue lupine!)), but there are spots along the Dolores-Norwood Road where they’ve been insane in past years. Given the great snow we had this winter, I’m looking forward to a great show of wildflowers here in Colorado this year.

The horses are mostly shed out now – last year’s youngsters still fuzzy in most cases. Nights still dipping into the 20s (occasionally) and 30s (commonly). The temp reached at least 72 while I was out. Just beautiful.

The first horses I saw were Chrome’s: Jif, Hayden, Two Boots, Cuatro and Chrome, taking his time, bringing up the rear. Can you tell that Jif is slick while Hayden is still fuzzy? Oddly enough, because he was born so late in the year, I’ve never seen Hayden shed out. His face is starting, though, and I think he’s going to stay sorrel – he’s going to be just as handsome a devil as his daddy!

Two Boots is starting to look a little closer … Can you see the little hunks of hair Hayden is trying to shed?

“Wait for me!” They walked on by and down the hill on a horse trail, then Chrome looked up from his lolly-gagging (grazing) and decided he was being left behind, so he went galloping after them.

I saw Seven’s close to Grey/Traveler’s close to Bounce’s, who turned out to be close to Kreacher’s who were close to … Luna’s. (Some stallion weirdness I’ll explain in a minute, so for now, it’s Luna’s band because everyone is following her!)

Didn’t take pix of Seven’s or Grey’s. Seven’s were very close to where I saw them last week. I just sat in the Jeep and watched them. Roja grazed and watched and watched and grazed for about 10 or 15 minutes, then oh-so-casually led her family away. She is so wary and so protective, and because I’ve witnessed them being chased (a couple of summers ago, after which I never saw Molly’s filly Starla again), I just don’t have much heart for even attempting to get too close for her comfort – which isn’t close at all.

Grey’s were moving toward the road on which I had stopped, so I enjoyed my vantage of being able to watch them as they grazed their way closer and eventually crossed to where Seven had had his band.

Who’s who? Doesn’t Whisper, left, look just like daddy Bounce? He’s going grey, though … I love seeing the resemblance.

Gaia and Liberty

And this girl is pulling a Luna on us – two weeks past her “due date,” and she barely looks pregnant at all. Even with her most recent spa treatment in evidence, isn’t she just beautiful?

Raven and Kootenai. You may remember a few posts ago, I referred to their mid-morning nap … here we are smack in the middle of their middle-of-the-afternoon nap!

Corona – no, she is NOT white! – Mona and Kreacher. I know she looks white – she’s blown out, too – but she’s not. She has this very unusual flecking of her palomino color … like Ma Nature couldn’t decide what color to paint her.

All but Mona, who was just off to the left.

And there’s baby Gideon with Mama Luna and Butch, Storm and Alpha at right. Steeldust was nearby but not too close.

Steeldust

Who could resist this gorgeous matriarch? One of the great grand dam(e)s of Spring Creek Basin.

Storm and Alpha watching Kreacher’s band. (And yes, he’s still nursing.)

While I was watching this, I kept one eye on Steeldust, who watched but never moved a hoof. Butch has bred Alpha in the past, but he didn’t now, though she’s clearly in heat.

Butch did a little dance (like a very slow motion passage) over to Steeldust, who didn’t go after him, but neither did he back down. It did provoke him to mark his territory, and Butch went back to Luna, who took the opportunity to walk away …

… followed by Alpha …

… to the very shallow nearby pond. Here’s Steeldust at left – rear – while Butch leaves a territory marker as Luna leads Gideon and Alpha and Storm around the pond – effectively separating Steeldust from the mares.

Luna walked around the pond, but Alpha stopped. Butch continued after Luna, and Steeldust stopped with Alpha.

Think that looks terrible?

How about this?

The good news is that BLM is supposed to have several more ponds – hopefully including this one – dug out because they’re all very shallow (because of the highly erodable soil). The bad news is that neither of the two ponds dug out finally last fall have water right now (I was so optimistic), and the ponds to be dug out aren’t even on the schedule until August or September.

Here’s Butch getting great enjoyment out of his “spa treatment”! Check out how he’s tilted his head and closed his eyes to avoid splashing mud. 😉

He splashed a few times, laid down just so his cheek appeared to touch mud, then got right back up again.

Kreacher, Mona and Raven watch Luna lead the band away from the pond. Butch is looking back at Alpha and the others.

They’re really all quite polite with each other. Whether that’s something conscious – “don’t want to get involved in THEIR drama” or “I think I have enough …” – or bonds keeping them together, who knows? The girls from Sand Wash Basin seem quite content with their boy.

Alegre napping at the base of the hill while the babies (not “babies” anymore!) graze in a bunch. Bounce was down a bit watching the two bands.

He has such a presence, but he’s really not a very big boy in size.

Our very own wild black stallion. He has a heart of gold.

Mahogany, Sundance and Mouse …

Kestrel, Winona and … Comanche, still guarding the girl and the babe!

Notice anybody missing?

There’s Aspen at far right …

Notice anything else, hmm, “odd”? Kestrel and Winona in the background … and in the foreground, Mahogany (front), surrounded by boys, left to right behind her: Mouse, Sundance and Aspen. And not quite ready to present her baby … but close …

Comanche … Hey, who’s that behind him?

Do you see? Recognize? Now do you see who was missing from Mahogany’s band?

Hannah and Sable. When I saw Mahogany – without Sable – I hoped fervently that she had joined her yearmate and big brother Pinon older half-sister Ember with Hook. This kind of thing makes me wonder how “off” our herd dynamic is with massive roundups that take most of the horses every two to four years. Hannah and Sable are yearlings. In a normal environment, I don’t think they’d have left their dams this soon. In both cases, they left before their mothers had even had this year’s foals.

Left to right: Pinon, Hook, Sable, Ember’s head, Hannah

Kestrel

I thought she was going to put on a show like Gideon did last week …

But this wee girl is more reserved than her uncle.

Mama and first-born daughter

Snack time

Love her expression here … *drinker of the wind*! Trying to catch a whiff of this weird two-legged.

Baby girl laid down when Kestrel was grazing with her head hidden from me by a greasewood bush. But then Kestrel grazed her way around her like this, and it looked to me like a little “hug” of the baby – a cocoon of sun-warmed grass and mama’s protective presence.

Comanche grazes by Kestrel as she stands over Winona. The other horses were never far away. I wonder whether Kestrel will continue to follow Mahogany or whether she and Comanche will eventually split off on their own.

Baby napping under guardian legs. Could anything be sweeter?! (Don’t answer that, and if you’ve made it this far, more sweetness is coming …)

With all those boys together, there’s bound to be a little of this. Mouse, left, and Sundance.

And then Hook had the audacity to strut up the hill from his little flock toward Comanche, Kestrel and Winona. Kestrel never looked up, and it didn’t – immediately – interrupt Winona’s nap – but Comanche took immediate notice. And Hook got a little shock:

He took off after him – HARD. I had started to leave them, so I missed the beginning stages of this chase with the camera.

So Hook, former lowest man on the bachelor totem pole, has a band of four now, and Comanche, former first sergeant for Steeldust’s band and then low on the bachelor pole that developed when SD’s band split, seems to have acquired a mare and her foal … and former Lt. Mouse seems to be still in that position – to Sundance, who seems to have been born into and at least grew up in the band? – with Aspen at the low end of THAT heirarchy. Following in the footsteps of low-man Kreacher and low-man Copper … Smarts, not necessarily brawn, with this group?! Or is the bottom of the heap the place to be when it comes to “acquiring” those that lag behind (whether youngsters or a mare that goes off to foal)? Always a myriad to ponder …

Hollywood’s band was almost the last I saw (I saw Cinch, Bruiser and Twister again, far off). Not too far from the road, and I was able to get a nice look at Piedra’s newest son.

No lupine … and greasewood doesn’t quite have the same luminous quality, but baby in a sea of green appeals just as well to my heart.

Piedra and her little boy – see how his star makes a heart at the top – like Hayden’s? Or another upside-down aspen leaf …

Baylee and Sage

After a bit, he got up to nurse, but I loved this look he’s throwing back over his shoulder.

Then Piedra decided that was enough exposure to a two-legged, and she walked down to Hollywood. Iya in the foreground. She turned to follow them, and I wish I’d been about five steps to the left or right because Holls bent his neck around to greet his son for a few seconds before Piedra turned and walked a bit farther before settling back to grazing. The whole moment was blocked because I was behind Iya in a direct path. Oy. As much as I love to capture the interactions between the mamas and their babies, I love to capture that between the stallions and babies – just more rare to see. They like to portray this stoic tough-guy front, but they’re big softies when it comes to babies! Just like all of us!

The Four Corners Back Country Horsemen’s annual wild horse count is this weekend – I hope you folks see all the horses and new babies and have weather as great as mid-week!