Cinch’s band – and distractions

11 09 2011

Cinch’s band, from left: Spook (3), Gaia (3), Cinch and Liberty (2).

In keeping with my random thought process, seeing Spook makes me think of Bruiser, which makes me think of Duke, which makes me think of the other bachelor boys. Which has nothing to do with Cinch’s band.

Duke was very near the bands up in the northwest … I think he has been enjoying the company. The horses have been rarely in this area in the last few years – the forage is usually good, but the water is not. The northwest pond is still on the list to be dug out, but it filled (as much as it was able, as shallow as it is) and held water quite awhile this summer (it’s down now to mud), and so horses have been taking advantage of it – and wandering between it and water that comes up in seeps in Spring Creek, particularly in and near the canyon, which isn’t far away. When Duke was hurt a couple of years ago (and lost Raven and Corona back to Kreacher), he favored this area … now he’s sharing it with lots of company.

Isn’t he handsome??

Bruiser, after losing Spook to Cinch, wandered between alone and with the young bachelor boys. He was with them, and they were with Chrome’s – playing with young Mr. Hayden – who will soon celebrate his second birthday, which makes him five months younger than the oldest and 2.5 months younger than the next youngest. (These boys being, in order of age from eldest to youngest (they’re all 2): Ze, Sage, Cuatro and Milagro.) Aspen was with them, then alone, the week before … but I haven’t seen lone Sundance for a couple of weeks.

Other things distracted me from a visit with Chrome’s and the boys, so no pix of them.

Speaking of distractions …

Hi, Varo! See how dark he’s gotten? His family was also on the hill, very close to Cinch’s. I napped with them later and studied the clouds and tried not to think about the trapsite, behind and below them.

So much of the day was trying to distract myself with the horses … knowing what’s coming, knowing they do not … Pretty freakin’ hard.

And back to Cinch’s. I think they were watching Mouse and Steeldust … Steeldust is dominant again – still? Cinch and the girls held their ground for a while, then the hill became too crowded (Hook’s came up, too), and they retreated to graze.

It all makes perfect sense … and I am in need of distractions. As positive as I’m trying to be, because it’s necessary, I cry often …





Gettin’ the girl(s)

14 08 2011

Cinch is adding to his little family.

Cinch at right, Gaia, Liberty and Spook.

Gaia and Spook are 3 years old (less than two weeks apart), and Liberty is 2. Alegre is Gaia’s dam; Molly-girl was Liberty’s dam; Kiowa is Spook’s dam. Seven is Liberty’s sire; Gaia’s and Spook’s are unknown (likely gone with the last roundup).

Spook almost looked like she could have been coming into or going out of heat.

Pretty good size difference between the girls, eh?

Liberty seems to have taken Spook under her wing, much like Gaia did with her when mama Molly died (when Liberty was a weanling).

Liberty is just as sweet and generous as her mama was. She’s a year younger than Spook, but she acts like the leader of the two.

I didn’t see Bruiser, who had had Spook for a couple of months or so (I’d have to look back for certain), but he was seen last week – alone but near a couple of bands.

Interesting little change.





Pictures from a tough day

3 08 2011

It felt like a betrayal to even lift my camera to take pictures after what happened to Twister … though, when I saw the BLM truck leave the basin, I felt unmistakable relief. Like when I drive by Bones Valley, I think of Bones and her foal … I’ll probably always now think of that hill above Wildcat Spring as Twister’s Hill. This is what attachment and memories and love do to us, I suspect. Life.

It wasn’t until I walked out to Iya’s band later in the day, though, that the guilt of continuing seemed OK, better than OK … what I still need to do. I’ll have those pix in a separate post.

Bounce with his kids: 2-year-old son Whisper and baby daughter Aurora. Whisper had just risen from rolling – and Bounce was rolling earlier – you can see the ground right under them. Is it just me or does young Whisper look bigger than his daddy? He gets that from his mama. Aurora and Whisper are very close, despite their ages, and I suspect Whisper gets that from his big sister, Gaia. A few weeks ago, I found Alegre, seemingly alone. She looked up from her grazing, regarded me for a moment as I sat in the Jeep, then returned to grazing. Bounce appeared to see what was up, and a few moments later, Whisper came trotting out of the trees, Aurora stuck to his side like glue. I wonder how many older siblings are mistaken by observers for mothers in those kinds of situations.

Perfectly proportioned.

Zoomed out to show him on the bank of a pond that recently went from dry to water (it was dug out last year).

Mama Alegre had already left the pond and was grazing among the greasewood when ‘Rora found her for her own mid-morning snack.

Those were all taken from the Jeep.

Back around under the north hills, I found Seven’s and Spook and Bruiser where they had been the day before. They like this area because of the proximity of water (Wildcat Spring) and the grazing and the trees to seek when the gnats are just too much. I parked the Jeep almost exactly where I had the day before with Grey/Traveler’s band and just watched them for a while. Seven’s band were immediately off the road, and Spook and Bruiser eventually crossed the road.

Roja, Killian, Shane and Mona

Seven, Mona and Killian. They drifted farther from the road when Spook and Bruiser crossed, and I took this as I drove by. Roja grazing while I’m near represents a major leap in her behavior. Seven still watches for quite a while before he goes back to grazing.

Spook, one of only three true black-and-white pintos in the basin (Raven, from Sand Wash Basin, and Corazon are the others).

Bruiser

Spook and Bruiser. Seven’s are actually closer to me – they’re what Bruiser’s looking at.

Iya’s turned up deeper in the valley, on the north side of the arroyo that runs along the base of the north side of the east-west hill – basically down left-ish of Spook and Bruiser. Quite a distance from their normal territory. Unlike most of the horses, Poco and Roach have mostly stuck to a particular location in the basin, though they occasionally go wandering. And it may be Iya’s influence that has them wandering here, though both double ponds had water (both had gone dry; one was dug out in 2009).

Twister is up, way up, to the right … a guardian now, joining the others that have gone before.





More miscellaneous (magic)

14 06 2011

No rhyme or reason, really, just beautiful horses. 🙂

Queenly Alpha.

If Alpha is a queen, Luna is an empress. She continually amazes me with … with everything about her.

Little Varoujan was named by our visiting Armenian journalist Aghavni, you might remember. My friend N, visiting this day, wanted to get pix of him to send to her. We visited with them out in a “meadow,” then moved on and stopped again to wait for Grey/Traveler’s band to move out from the pond. After they did, we walked down to check its depth (so shallow, you can see the mud and mat-like vegetation (?)). We also saw these crazy tadpoles?! HUGE. Leggy, turning-into-frogs creatures they were that gave us shadowy glimpses before darting into mud or mat. We also started seeing flashes of glittery greenish-goldish things that looked suspiciously scaled.

We started to move around the edge of the pond, and so engrossed were we that when I happened to look back, I was stunned to see Luna, leading her band to the pond! I nudged N, and we continued on around and sat down, trying to be as quiet and inconspicuous as possible – though obviously the horses weren’t at all bothered by our presence.

N had me in tears yesterday, telling me how magical was her visit to the basin and how she couldn’t stop thinking about the horses.

I start thinking, “maybe it’s just me.” “Maybe I’m crazy that after all this time, not only do they STILL affect me, they affect me – every time – more than the last time.”

But no. It’s not just me. These amazing horses truly are magic.

Handsome Mouse. One of my favorite bachelors. With any luck, he’ll be left and will find himself a mare …

Big brother Gideon resting his chin over little brother Varoujan’s heiny, mama Luna close at hand.

Spook and Bruiser. We watched them between leaving Luna’s and waiting for Grey’s to leave the pond. We wandered all around that day, and like N remarked, we almost always saw Spook and Big B no matter where we were.

Varoujan skipping ahead to Luna as they neared the pond. Alpha’s expression is directed more to Gideon, bringing up the rear, than to baby Varo. You can just see the edge of the pond at the bottom of the photo, and N and I have moved around it to sit down out of their way.

I couldn’t decide which perspective I liked better. Gideon adores his “auntie” Alpha.

Baby Varoujan and mama Luna

Big bro and little bro

Loved how big brother and mama’s tail “frame” the littlest mister.

I posted one similar to this last week … Couldn’t resist this one, too.

Another similar one … I’ll end it here for today …

If you could explain magic, it wouldn’t be. I can’t explain it. I know it. I believe in it.





Miscellaneous

12 06 2011

If you haven’t checked out the preliminary EA for our upcoming roundup, please do (give it a little while to come up – I’m on a fast connection, and it still took a few moments to appear). I’m still wading through it – so far, the first half-dozen pages are already littered with my sticky notes.

“Alternative 1 – Proposed Action” (Page 10) is what we want to support at this time. The information to comment by the deadline – July 11 – is here.

“Alternative 2” is a waste of money given the timing of the roundup and the lack of efficacy of PZP-22 here in the past during the same relative timing.

“Alternative 3” is simply unviable and would cause more harm to both the horses and the environment on which they depend.

We will continue to push bait trapping rather than helicopters for the future – as we have the last almost-four years – but for now, and with no movement on that front, we’re nearing a critical point between population and limited resources. At least five of our ponds are already dry, and the remaining ponds are shallow, which will eventually leave 80+ horses trying to get salty water from trickling seeps and springs or the one fresh-water source – the catchment. After the roundup, with a fertility-control plan firmly in place (for at least the next five years), we’ll continue to push bait trapping (and figure out the infrastructure necessary) as well as more and better quality water sources.

BLM plans a 60% stallions to 40% mares gender-skewed ratio. While we do not agree with this avenue of management, particularly in light of the PZP plan to be put in place, given everything else, it’s not a battle we plan to fight right now. Because of lack of knowledge on BLM’s part, it was 56%/21% after the 2007 roundup. All things considered, 60%/40% doesn’t seem so bad. Over the course of the years of PZP application, we’ll watch to see how that evens out and what it means to the herd as a whole, and perhaps in the future, we can nix that particular demand.

If anyone has questions, please leave a comment or email me at mtbgrrl (at) fone (dot) net.

Now some pix, in no particular order:

Juniper and mama Kestrel looking at daddy Comanche.

Handsome young Twister. He’s hanging out with Hook’s band now. He looks so much like Grey/Traveler, it’s amazing.

This was taken the next day and shows Twister, butt to the camera at left, with Hook’s band – that’s big grey Hook standing by Sable, heavy-pregnant Ember (due around early July), Hannah and Fierro. Pinon also is part of this band (he was off to the right, I think). In the background, Spook and Bruiser. A bit to the left were Seven’s, out as far as Spook and Bruiser but to the right were Bounce’s, and behind and leftish were Sundance and Aspen. Rarely are so many of our horses in the same general area except in the spring, when they’re back here with good forage and fairly good water. In fact, two of the remaining four ponds with water are back in this general area. Another reason to have good, scattered water sources – disperse the horses’ grazing.

Cuatro watching after his bachelor pals, a new generation of bachelors now that many of our bachelors have found mares. By pushing back the frequency of roundups by using PZP, I hope to see a clearer, more settled pattern of band dynamics emerge without the interruption of devastating roundups. We have several small bands now; I’ve heard people say there used to be just a few bands, but the were much larger (more horses). I wish I knew then the number of bachelors floating around. Most bands now have at least one foal, but only one band has two foals.

Look at these two handsome, oh-so-innocent devilishly sweet boys. That’s Ze, Seven’s son, on the left and Sage, Hollywood’s son, on the right. they’re hanging out with Cuatro and Milagro now – minus Duke. Milo stood either with his butt to me or nearly out of sight behind the bigger boys. They’re all 2, born between early April and early July; Ze and Sage are clearly the leaders, and between them, I tend to think Sage has a bit of an edge. Both going grey (as is Cuatro), but Ze’s holding his brown a lot longer. Sage clearly favors his beautiful mama, Piedra, but he’s stout like papa Hollywood.





Spook and Bruiser

3 06 2011

As I commented last week, Spook, 3, is with Bruiser (NOT Butch – thanks, Lynn, for catching my big typo!). They were far enough away when I saw them last week that I could tell she didn’t have a foal with her but couldn’t tell about her pregnancy status. As you see here, she clearly does not have a foal with her and just as clearly is no longer pregnant. Bruiser looks massive next to her, doesn’t he? She’s pretty small – he’s a short, stout guy!

Judging by the dried blood on her hind legs, it was fairly recently.

They’ve done a fair bit of traveling, this pair, and have ended up in the far eastern part of the basin.

Did I mention the wind was a stiff son-of-a-gun? You can tell by this photo – any wind stout enough to push Bruiser’s heavy mane to the other side of his neck is worth reckoning. I’m surprised I have any sharp photos from the day as much as it was pushing us all around. Day in the life of the ponies!

The Albuquerque news (which we get here in the southwest corner of Colorado, given that we’re in that viewing area and far closer to New Mexico than to Denver) last night showed images of the Duke City shrouded in smoke from a big fire in the Gila Wilderness in Arizona. Wednesday, it got a bit dense here, too, and though I would have believed it was dust because of the wind, it sure smelled smoky. That fire was reported at 60,000 acres last night, almost as big as the 70,000-plus-acre wildfire north of Durango the second year I lived here … Also on the news was a report of a 1,000-acre wildfire on the Carson National Forest in northern New Mexico. The Forest Service manages a herd of wild horses on the Carson … I don’t know where they are in relation to the fire, but include them in your prayers, as well as the firefighters battling all the blazes. It’s dry out there, folks. Really, really dry.

Also wanted to point out what sharp-eyed readers will already have noticed – a healing cut to Bruiser’s upper forearm. Four Corners Back Country Horsemen spied it a few weeks ago during the count, and I hadn’t been able to confirm it until now. It looks to be healing, and he doesn’t seem bothered by it.





Happy birthdays

1 05 2011

This spring will go down in record books as busy. Just darn busy. So I’m behind with birthday wishes for not one but a few – I’m sure they won’t mind.

April 26 – Corona

About a week ago. I still don’t know quite what her color is – I’m calling her pale palomino – but it’s a little “richer” this year with a bit of an apricot tinge.

As a baby with mama Raven … Daddy Corona from Sand Wash Basin is a handsome palomino.

Here’s a link to Nancy Roberts’ blog and a post about Corona’s band that includes pictures of our Corona’s newest little half-sister, who looks a lot like her!

She has a few of those darker “red” spots (her neck just above her shoulder) on her body and legs like tiny birthmarks. She definitely gets her wavy forelock, mane and tail from daddy, nicknamed “Fabio”! She’s now 2.

April 27 – Iya

I thought it was appropriate to celebrate Iya’s birthday with a photo of her and her firstborn, whose birthday was just two weeks earlier than her own!

Iya was born the spring after the roundup to mama Houdini (still in the basin, of course, with Grey/Traveler and their three youngest daughters) and, I think, the stallion she was with in the spring (with baby Two Boots) but escaped capture with – Junior. Iya is now 3.

With mama and sister Two Boots (who is now nearly unrecognizable from this photo!) two days after she was born.

Before the baby. Strong, curious and brave – and carrying on the tradition of being an excellent mama!

April 27 – Tenaz

Taken Wednesday – his birthday. 🙂 The little mister is the son of Piedra and Hollywood, and he’s now 1 year old. His band had some recent upheaval, and he’s now with “auntie” Baylee and young Storm (who will be 3 this summer).

As a baby with mama Piedra. She guarded him tenaciously, even more so (it seemed) than she did her firstborn, Sage. Hence his name Tenaz.

My camera adores him … I can’t begin to understand why … 🙂

*HE* clearly adores mistress Winona!

From birthday-day again.

Soooooo much like daddy!

April 29 – Sage

Sage is Piedra’s and Hollywood’s firstborn, now 2 years old.

He’s changed a bit. 🙂 He takes more after mama than he does daddy – the reverse of his little brother Tenaz.

He’s been a very good big brother.

Pondering his next move back in February.

With brother Tenaz at right, daddy, Iya and littlest brother in the background.

May 1 – Spook

Nothing like birthday look-backs to tell you how you’re doing on easily-accessible photos of certain horses. Once she has her baby, I’m sure that number will increase by leaps and bounds!

These were taken in March. I’ve seen the band most visits since then but mostly from afar as I just check for new little bodies. Here, Spook – black and white – is with Puzzle, Maiku and Milagro.

With little brother Maiku, who will celebrate his birthday in June. Spook is 3 today. She shares her birthday with Terra and my “little” brother, Jeff! (Happy birthday!!)

Her mama is Kiowa, and she was born the year after the roundup, so her sire is unknown. Kiowa and Chipeta, the two released pinto mares, both ended up with Bruiser – also released – after the roundup. From my photos of the roundup, the mares came in together in a large group – but not with Bruiser. (Yes, I removed that old bit of fence.) Spook, like older sister Reya (released with her mother), looks pregnant, so between anytime now and September, I’m expecting four foals in this band! If they stick together, Kiowa will have her foal and two grandbabies all together! This will also be Kiowa’s fifth foal since I started documenting … and she holds the distinction of still having most of her foals with her; almost-yearling Milagro recently took up with elder bachelor (and former lead stallion of this band) Bruiser.

A baby pic of Spook …

Spook, right, last summer with big sister Reya. Spook and Corazon – and Raven, from Sand Wash Basin – are our only black-and-white pintos. The others range from very dark bay to red-bay.

May 1 – Terra

Gorgeous 2-year-old daughter of Grey/Traveler and Houdini.

With little sister Gem in the background.

From March, with Mama in the background …

Also from that day in March, with Daddy.

Baby girl with Houdini

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All beloved wild beauties of Spring Creek Basin. You are loved, always.