13 04 2011

Well, folks, bad news about Spring. I finally found Poco and Roach today – right off the road (of course!) – and she’s not with them. Unless she’s wandering around by herself – not likely, especially after all this time – the poor girl has ascended to a “higher pasture.” I only hope her passing was as quick and painless as possible.

The other big news is that Twister and Cuatro have “lost” Duke – who is back to his lone ways and sticking closer to “home” – but they’ve gained two new compadres: Storm and Ze! Twister is 4 this spring (the lone colt left of 2007); Storm will be 3 in July; Cuatro will be 2 in May; Ze just turned 2. Oh, what havoc will they wreak?! Ha – look out!

I saw David, Shadow (who was due Monday) and Wind – but just behind a hill and for about 30 seconds before they went totally out of sight. I hiked in from the Disappointment Road later than I had intended and then couldn’t find them, so although I *saw* them, I didn’t get a good enough look to see whether a little one is shadowing Shadow’s hooves.

Just checked the weather, and western Colorado is a swath of green (rain). Not much sleep last night but SO worth it! I left work at 10 till midnight, drove to the basin, arrived at about 2:20 a.m., breathed deep the glorious air, reveled in the stars so almost within reach, slept about three hours to be up before sunrise over the east ridges and Knife Edge – which caught me with the REAL reason that made the trip so worth while … coming up.


11 04 2011

Wow. Things have been so busy here – and the status of one little girl so unknown – that three birthdays have passed with no mention. I’m going to do them all – and the fourth – today – in this post and then try to do a better job for the youngsters whose birthdays are coming.

Spring – April 2

This is the last good photo I have of Spring – from November. The last time I saw her was Feb. 3 with Bruiser (very far pix against snow). Before that, I saw her Jan. 5 with her family (Seven’s band). She’s either with Poco and Roach (I haven’t been able to find them since March 3, though I’ve been looking very hard, for this very reason) … or she’s not with us anymore. She’s a yearling if she’s still with us.

Ze – April 6

Ze, right, is now 2 years old. You can see by his face that he’ll turn grey like daddy Seven. His sorrel mama, Roja, is behind them, and “little sister” Shane is at left (she’s Mona and Kreacher’s little girl; now they’re with Seven’s band).

Hannah – April 8

Hannah-girl, center, is also 2 now. Her mama is queen-mama Luna – so prominent that she not only has alpha-mare status, she commands her own band. Pinon, left, (3 next month) and Sable (2 next month) are likely her half-siblings – courtesy daddy Steeldust, who now claims Alpha while Butch claims Luna. Hannah and these two – and Ember and her boy, Fierro – are in Hook’s band, since last spring. Hannah was named after a very generous young lady named Hannah, who, for the last two years, has sent $100 of her babysitting money to the Colorado chapter of the National Mustang Association.

I believe the silly girl is pregnant.

Always the comedienne. πŸ™‚

Wind – April 11

This is the most recent photo I have of Wind, right, with daddy David (mama Shadow is lower to the left), taken March 17. I saw them all on March 31 – too far for pix. This is one of the most elusive bands and most wary of people, and I don’t bother them too much, even when I do see them – so I don’t have as many photos of Wind as of the other babies (though the same can be said of both Spring and Ze). He’s a year old today!

In September

Sharing a quiet moment with mama back in June. Look how dark he’s become – now very dark like Liberty and Spring.

Happy birthdays, all you beautiful babies!

Spring, spotted

3 02 2011

Across the basin or across another coupla-few months? Well, it was feeling like March here lately, until the storm that blasted most of the country and left us with just a skiff of new snow and much colder temps.

This was as close as I got to them, and “this” was not close to where I left the Jeep.

When I entered the basin this morning on frozen ground, it was a balmy 8 degrees. When I decided the thawing mud I was avoiding wasn’t going to be limited to where I was walking, I drove out on “soft” ground … The Jeep’s outside temperature gauge read a downright tropical 26 degrees.

So it’s really hard to see in the pic, but Spring’s with Bruiser! He’s been alone for a while, and I hadn’t seen him for a while, so I suppose it’s only fitting that I find them together (only fitting in human terms).

Very nearby:

Fairly far east of where they were last week – Seven’s band. From left: Seven, Roja, Ze, Shane and Mona (in a fairly straight line across the bottom of the photo).

I also some some other elusive creatures I was happy to spot (though I’ve seen them since I last saw Bruiser): Duke, Twister and Cuatro. Still together and fairly close to Kreacher’s band.

And I got to this spot because I had seen two dark horses beyond a hill and through some trees … but it wasn’t who I thought it might be (though I later saw those horses, too). πŸ˜‰

I thought it would be a longer trip, but as fast as it warmed up, I really did not want to get stuck in the mud! I did see a number of bands from the interior and had a nice hike and quiet visit with the horses I did walk out to. We have more chance for snow this weekend. I almost hate to wish for it when so much of the country has been slammed (including my brother in the Chicago area and uncle/aunt/cousins in Ohio), but we could sure use some more snow!

Sun(light) & moon(rise)

20 11 2010

Watchful Roja


Swelling moon, up around 3:30 p.m., I think

Handsome Seven, chatting with Hook (you can barely see his tail through the tree at lower right)

Sweet Shane, nearly gave me a heart attack when I didn’t see her at first, from a distance

Did I mention Hook’s band was very nearby? Just a bit of snow left from the last storm … and we’re expecting more this weekend …

Mona and Shane and purple mountain majesty

They had stopped so Shane could have a snack; meanwhile, I took in the scenery!

Lessons from the herd

12 10 2010

Two fathers met in a wide valley and thought to meet with a swagger, each self-assured of his own dominance, while their families occupied themselves nearby – apart.

But then a wee daughter was curious and walked out toward the fray.

The fathers knew to protect the babe above all else – whether she was theirs or another’s.

Swagger dropped. Family men were calmed.

And all because of an innocent babe.

I have to admit I was nervous when I saw Winona walking directly toward Seven (seen at back left) and Comanche (center), who were together in the sniffing-striking posture. But I could see exactly when THEY became aware of her walking to them, and they broke apart, and that’s what you see here. Kestrel is grazing at left, in front of Seven. Cuatro (darker) and Twister are grazing at right. ‘Nona is with her adored stepdaddy, Comanche, center. Seven hung around just a little bit as if to say, well, I’m not afraid of you, and don’t take this as me backing down, but there are children present after all … then returned to his band.

Meanwhile, Bruiser in the foreground, and Spring, Shane, Mona and Ze in the background. The other horses are out farther and to the right.

Baby girl and ‘daddy, heading back to mama. She adores him, as I mentioned … and it’s clear the feeling is mutual. He’s simply a daddy wrapped around four tiny black hooves.

Back with mama, and all is well.

Meanwhile, look who came to visit:

Twister. πŸ™‚ Isn’t he a handsome boy!

How do they know when to posture and when to nurture?

Elder … Not challenging, just watching Seven’s in the distance. This is what I was aiming at when Comanche then walked past, resulting in the photo a couple of posts earlier.

Followed by Winona and Kestrel.

Seven watching in return …

How astonishing are they?!

It seems to me you could illustrate a whole book on how humans *ought* to interact with each other and treat each other with photos – lessons – “from the herd” … Much like Cowboy Ethics, a collaboration by photographer David Stoecklein and writer James Owen.

Defend your family.

Children above all else.

Know when to walk away.

Be curious.

Know the land beneath your feet.

Learn from and respect your elders.

Live in the moment.


What else?

Wordless (almost)

9 10 2010

Mona and Shane

Raven, Corona and Kootenai

Seven’s band

Ze, Shane and Mona

Worth going in the fall?

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. πŸ™‚ 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?!

Seven’s band is +2

21 09 2010

Did you guess?? I sure didn’t. In fact, when I first saw this band, through trees and around a ridge – a side, a back – I saw colors: light grey, sorrel, dun. The dun with the sorrel and the light grey said “Chrome’s” to me. But when I came around the curve in the trail, face to faraway face with Roja, I instantly knew my mistake! They’re watching Hollywood’s band here, who had just surprised us by trotting into the “meadow,” probably toΒ  give some room to Steeldust’s and Bounce’s and Grey/Traveler’s bands nearby (taking advantage of water in this part of the basin).

The familiar family: Seven, Ze, Spring and Roja. They’re eyeing Mona and baby, and Seven is walking her way. With another stallion/band in the immediate vicinity, Seven decided to focus on the new girl, and Roja decided to let him. She and Spring disappeared over a little rise, and Ze stayed with daddy and the newcomers.

Seven circling his newest additions – Ze at right.

By this point, Roja and Spring had come back into view and were napping under a tree (it was rather warm, and I was following their example!). Seven is whinnying rather insistently for her to join him, and she’s rather steadfastly ignoring him. She did eventually mosey out, and Spring couldn’t resist the magnetic pull of a baby, eventually choosing daddy over mama and proximity to the fascinating new little creature. Spring was baby No. 1 this year, and she’s 5 months old.

Seven watched me watching them. I had a great seat under a wonderful large old juniper that provided lovely shade and seemed to draw a little breeze. The horses were out across a little arroyo, and Hollywood’s were farther left.

And there you go! Seven has (hopefully still) Mona and her cherished baby girl. I’d love to have been a fly in the mane for the journey that took Mona clear across the basin – before, after she had the baby? Seven’s band is one of the most difficult to view, but they were so very terrific to allow me to view the almost-newborn that day!

We are apparently about to get hammered by “heavy rain” and “likely flash floods.” Foremost in my mind at that kind of news is how fast will it fill those newly dug ponds?! Snow in the high country also is likely. There are a few cottonwoods in the basin, in particular in the little arroyo that drains Wildcat canyon and up in the northwest; the NW tree was just fantastically gorgeous last year. So think pond filling … and wish Hayden a happy birthday tomorrow – oops, it’s already today: Sept. 22!

Green and grey

15 08 2010

And sorrel and bay and turning-grey.

Grey/Traveler’s band and Seven’s band were grazing/napping companionably close to each other when I saw them and walked out for a visit. My “goal” was Grey/Traveler’s band, and my path took me first toward Seven’s. Always a thrill to visit with these horses, as shy and wary as they are.

Daddy and Ze and Spring and mama. Spring had just nursed, and Roja had just turned to watch my angled approach – Grey/Traveler’s band was to the left.

Interestingly, I had nearly crossed their viewpoint on my way to the other band when Roja decided that as I was going away, it was now time for her to lead the way away as well. I think I’m growing on her. πŸ˜‰ Here, Seven and Ze are walking their long-strided walks to catch up to where she and Spring wait, just a bit to the right.

Every so often I get glimpses of horses that reveal their resemblance to other horses. Roja here – except her color, which she gave her daughter – is the spitting image of Molly. And look what a big, strapping boy Ze is. Good forage and less competition these last couple of years.

Hold this image of Seven in your minds … wait till you see Grey/Traveler.

They’re standing below the level of the foreground-ground, but I love the vision of them seeming to stand in grass up to their knees.

Now …

Tell me Seven is not related to Grey/Traveler.

Almost certainly his sire, don’t you think? Seven is chunkier. πŸ™‚

Daughter Terra

Daughter Gemma with mama Houdini

Grey’s girls: Terra, Gemma and Houdini

I adore this girl!

Napping at the edge of the road … Terra loves her baby sister.

Road to paradise: Lizard Mesa in the background

Three grey girls

Grey/Traveler with his girls – he does throw beautiful babies, doesn’t he?

With all his girls …

Terra sees a visitor, the one whose approach earlier caused Houdini to head toward the road before she decided to go back to grazing in the meadow. But this time, he came all the way down, and that was the end of my visit with Grey’s family and the beginning of a wonderful sighting of …


Doesn’t he just shine with vim and vigor??

Houdini was long gone by now, and he’s stopped to watch. Looks almost wistful, doesn’t he? His trend has been to seek company … then shun it again … then seek it … for reasons known only to him.

Loved-loved-loved seeing him … bittersweet to see him alone again. He was with Twister and Cinch the last time I saw him, as they were kind of hanging out with Hollywood’s band. Those youngsters – Twister and Cuatro now – could learn a lot from this elder statesman.

When I headed back toward the Jeep, he followed me at a distance … but then I lost him in the rolling folds, and I didn’t see him again this trip. Always happy to see my boy Duke. πŸ™‚


4 07 2010

Talk about symbolism: Here you see sort-of-leafy, sort-of-green things … not lush, exactly, but browsable things. What you don’t see is what Comanche has his head down for, sipping in trickles the tiny bit of water that seeps up to ground level and is *available* for sipping. What you also see in the background – the green, feathery thing tufted with bits of pink – is tamarisk, also known as saltcedar. Until recently, the government has told us it’s the scourge of the West’s limited water sources, and eradication efforts (yes, even within the basin) have been wide-ranging and dedicated. Now, however, the government says it’s no more a scourge – sucks up no more precious water – than cottonwood or willow and is precious bird habitat to boot, and we’re to let the poor things be.

When I say the water where Comanche is drinking – and Kestrel is waiting to drink – is coming out in a trickle, if you take that to mean drip by drop where it doesn’t collect so much as glistens over top of rocky, sandy soil, I’m not exaggerating.

Well, I never said he was a particularly careful drinker. πŸ™‚ See it dribbling from his tongue? Kestrel takes the opportunity to take her turn at the source.

Now Comanche waits patiently (seemingly so) while Kestrel sips. And Winona decides it’s time for some liquid nourishment as well. ‘Nona looks small again from this angle, but I tell you, I think she’s grown between last week and this!

We’re finally starting to get some rain again, and I know some of it has reached the basin with its lovely purple fingers. But it never seems to be enough. The ponds are dry. Wildcat Spring has water (liquid but stinky), and seeps like this produce it at a maddeningly slow trickle, but the ponds are dry, including the two dug out last year. We’re hoping the rest will be dug out later this summer, but there has to be rain to fill them. Despite the snowfall of last winter, the rain earlier this spring, the ground proved itself as thirsty as any living thing and just sucked it all up. Other ranges enhance their springs and provide guzzlers. We have what’s called a water “catchment” that provides good, clean, fresh (non-alkaline) water … but it’s on the dry west side, and most of the bands seem to avoid that area. We’re working on ideas for more and better quality water sources. On a managed range like this, water cannot be un-managed.

Tamarisk-control? Well, that’s another subject – related.

And look who else was nearby – and as calm and relaxed as I’ve seen them lately?

Roja and Seven

This picture isn’t “glamorous,” but it’s my favorite in this particular collection because of the horses’ behavior – relaxed, heads down (Spring-baby-girl was keeping an eye on me), grazing, unconcerned. This sight made my heart soar. With these particular horses, it’s a huge moment to be this close (almost 200 yards, across a little arroyo) with them so relaxed.

They finally did look up, of course – left to right: Spring, Roja, Ze (look how big!) and Seven. And they did eventually walk down off the top of this little hill and out of sight. What a marvelous, quiet, visit!

And one more of a beautiful pair:

Beautiful baby Winona and her lovely mama, Kestrel.

Overflow of: love, appreciation, marvel, wonder. Not so much: Water.