Fall boys

5 10 2010

Being a loner isn’t strictly a situation of “human terms.” A couple of our boys are – sometimes, according to some inner chord that strikes them – loners. When I first saw Mesa, he was alone. Mostly, since he’s been with the southside boys, then the pintos, he stays with company. But Duke has shown his sometimes-preference for being alone – before he had Raven and Corona and, especially, since he lost them back to Kreacher. And Bruiser had been alone for weeks. Talk about wondering what they’re thinking!

So I was glad to see him with Twister and Cuatro! In my own human terms, I’d have loved to have seen Duke with them!

Duke is still wandering, and Poco and Roach hang together, by themselves, but our other bachelors are at least buddied up with families – with “Steeldust’s band” and with the pintos. These boys were close to Comanche’s little family, which includes Kestrel and Winona, and they were briefly close to Seven’s while Mona was leading them across the flats.

Cuatro looks so much like his mama now, it’s hard to see markers that may hint at the other contributor to his genes! Love the red still in his mane. Twister looks so much like Grey/Traveler now, I can hardly see anything else when I look at him. I recently looked at some pix from when I first saw him – with Bruiser and Cinch! – how little he was! Already fuzzy – that was October, I think – keeping up with the big boys. Hasn’t been an easy life for this youngster – by human terms? – but he seems so self-assured and seems to take his “responsibility” for Cuatro seriously. Mona and Kestrel were very nearby, but they seemed only mildly interested in them, and Comanche was worried less about them than about elder Bruiser (how old IS Bruiser?) – though Bruise kept a pretty respectful distance, farther than the boys, who might have seemed part of the band if you didn’t know better.

Just love their little-boy faces! And Twister, who has always seemed small, looks now taller than stout Bruiser!

From a day

18 09 2010

The horses were at significant distances from the roads lately, possibly because of the activity going on – ponds getting dug out! Because two of the three ponds on the priority list filled up with water from the rain this summer, BLM looked outside the box and had the two dry ponds dug out – as well as the one dry pond on the list. The two “extra” ponds were still a little wet – in fact, the first one the BLM dozer guy dug out now actually has a little water in it from last week’s rain! And the other dry pond had gotten wet and muddy from a previous rain, and that one, the dozer guy eventually had to abandon – possibly for later – because it was still pretty wet and he had concerns about getting stuck. But it’s deeper than it was, and we’re dry again, so more rain could come at any timely moment for us!

This pond is right off the road in the eastern part of the basin. In the distance you can see the boundary ridge with the unnamed promontory and McKenna Peak (the “pyramid” sticking up behind the treed ridge, which is part of what I call Lizard Mesa).

Wider view …

Pushing sticky wet dirt/mud up the bank …

Farther east and a bit south of the previous pond, this area is called “sorrel flats.” It was on the original list of ponds to be dug out.

This is the pond up in the northwest part of the herd area. It rarely holds water and usually briefly, but of course, now that it’s on the list (anchoring the fifth and last spot), it has water – and for weeks. It’s very shallow – you can see the vegetation sticking up – but water in that area encourages the horses to use that area. Very pretty backΒ  there – and great views of most of the basin!

While the dozer was out, the operator smoothed some of our “rough edges,” aka arroyos that were in need of “smoothing”! This one is near sorrel flats and had become a “drainage hole” with just a Jeep-size squeezable slot to drive through (ask me how I know – there’s an arroyo crossing I call “the squish” because it’s almost always a little wet and muddy; this arroyo was in danger of becoming “the squeeze” … and then impassable!). We appreciate the extra work. πŸ™‚

And of course, we did see some horses …

Grey/Traveler napping with his girls … (Gemma is being shy)

There’s mama Houdini and lovely girl Gemma.

Very near the first pond that was dug out (a couple of weeks ago). It was dug out deep enough, and the water is still shallow enough, that we couldn’t see it, but Hollywood’s band knew it was there – and took advantage!

We also saw Liberty and Cinch just off the road.

He trotted with her a short distance away …

… then stopped and watched again. I’m not sure what he’s looking at here, but Liberty is clearly very much at ease with him.

We also spotted these boys – Twister and Cuatro – WAY on the other side of the basin from where they were last week – and minus Duke.

Two Boots and baby Rio in the shade of Filly Peak. Driving up, I almost didn’t see them because of the glare. Chrome didn’t move too much – he’s a fair distance to the left.

Hayden and his mama, Jif.

Wonderful day – full of sunshine and good spirits … and a few tears. Glad to see the ponds dug out. Now we just need them full!

A few cute boys

11 09 2010

Look who we found, speaking of good-looking boys! I visited the basin with friend and artist Karen Keene Day, and what a wonderful visit it was. When we walked up to visit Steeldust’s band (Comanche’s have split away again), we had the great luck of finding youngsters Twister and Cuatro with them, as well as Duke!

Cuatro is the son of Grey/Traveler or Twister. Which one? I don’t know, though earlier, I thought I saw a resemblance to Twister, adored yearmate of mama Two Boots. While watching Twister and Cuatro, I saw a striking resemblance, all right, but it wasn’t between Cuatro and Twister …

Do you see it? I wasn’t trying to see it, wasn’t even thinking about it.

In those big eyes, the broad, intelligent forehead, the tapering muzzle? The color doesn’t hurt.

Twister, Cuatro and Duke … the younger with the elder …

Sundance, Twister and Aspen

Handsome Duke

I’d rather see more of Twister – or less – but this was too nice of Duke to pass up. Such a lovely boy.

Mouse and Sundance …

A few seconds later. πŸ™‚

Sundance in the foreground, Mouse at right, Aspen at back left. Three handsome boys against the blue wild sky.

Cuatro and Twister – son and sire … or brothers?

So have you wracked your brains as to resemblance?

Is it there? Do you see it? Or is it just me, something I hope to see?

I’ll leave you with one more of handsome boys, forever cast on a hillside of late-summer green light and golden grasses.


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. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚ 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.)

Boys with spots – and one grey

5 06 2010

This photo is actually from last week. I saw the boys again this week but from a greater distance. They were down on the sort of southern end of Poco and Roach’s territory, but I didn’t see the bay and sorrel boys.

Cinch is standing slightly uphill and in front of the other boys, but I don’t know whether that alone makes him look so much bigger. I think he’s a fairly big boy, and I know Twister is not very big, and Bruiser, while, well, a “bruiser” in terms of being short but stout, isn’t very tall, either! They’re all in good condition, though, and while they’re traveling quite a bit, don’t seem to have been too crazed by the “spring stampede.”

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.Β  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.


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. πŸ˜‰

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


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!

Struttin’ their stuff

15 04 2010

Wednesday, I found Bruiser, and he was alone. He did lead me – in a roundabout way – to the pinto band later in the day. But I sure wondered where the heck were Cinch and Twister …

Today, all was back to normal when he showed up again with Cinch and Twister not too long after a visit with Shadow and David and their baby. Friend TB also got to see the youngster, and we chatted long enough that the boys finally came down from a ridge – to the pond behind Round Top, or so we thought.

We waited out away from the pond so they could drink, but they really came strutting over to check out TB’s handsome palomino mustang!

Bruiser in the lead, Twister at right and Cinch at back left.

Bruiser and Twister. Twister is 3 this spring.

Bruiser at the “long trot”!

And flying!

He has grown over the past few months. He’s part of the “class of 2007” – roundup-year babies. Looks a lot like Cuatro … or vice versa …



And no display of strutting stallions would be complete without this, which looks dramatic but resulted in no injury to either party. πŸ™‚

Cinch at left, Bruiser right

And the center of their attention?

This big handsome fellow is from White Mountain in Wyoming (which means, if I remember correctly, that he shares his home range with a certain also-handsome buckskin-pinto fellow). TB also has a mustang from the Twin Peaks area of CA/NV – a mustang advocate for sure!

It was certainly nice to see these elusive boys, and – even better – it was great to see them all together!

Also out on horseback today were herd area manager Bob Ball and a contingent of Forest Service/BLM folks, out to collect water samples from various sources within the basin – and enjoy the gorgeous day! I suppose they could call it “work,” but I hope they had a wonderful day and saw plenty of horses!

The faraway ponies

3 04 2010

Some horses were far away when I saw them. Some were mere horses … some were mountain goats!

From a ridge above Steeldust’s napping band, I saw deer … then the two pinto bachelors Bruiser and Cinch with orphan Twister. The pinto band was nearby, but David and Shadow, who had been close to Bruiser, Cinch and Twister the last couple of times I’d seen them, were nowhere in sight. While I watched from faraway, Mesa, lowest man on the pinto band totem pole, watched then walked out to have a little howdy-do with the other boys.

Veteran Bruiser makes “first” contact. Mesa, Cinch and the other stallions with the pinto band used to be part of the “southside boys” bachelor band.

From left: Corazon, Copper, Spook, Kiowa, Milagro and Chipeta

This made me go “hmm.” Reya, almost 3, stood napping over Ty, who was lying down. Interesting.

Bounce’s band were almost the last horses I saw: up on the flank of Lizard Mesa.

Do you see everybody? Can you see the steepness of the hillside?

How ’bout now?! πŸ™‚ Bottom to top: Alegre, Whisper, Liberty, Bounce and Gaia!

Around another bend or four, I found these lovelies with their fawns of last year:

Good thing it’s not hunting season – the silly girls were not too worried, and I was able to photograph them, then drive right by them.

The last band I saw was Kreacher’s, on my way out.

Corona, Raven and Mona – Kreacher and Kootenai were back to the left. Snow lingering on the back eastern-boundary ridges makes for a dramatic background … defines one of the natural boundaries of the basin.


5 03 2010

It was April 3 last year before I reported in my notes that I did not see cattle in the basin. Shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that some cattle remain in the basin past their deadline to be out again this year.

That’s the herd area boundary fence. I’m on the road, just before crossing the cattle guard into the horses’ home.

She looks darkΒ  – she’s dark red. No calf. The other cows I saw both have calves.

This was just one of those stellar kinds of day. It included horses and hikes and back to the Earth, staring wide-eyed and grateful at clouds in the turquoise heavens. Can you imagine it? It was warm, but there was a nip – still – to that returned March wind (ooh, yeah, it’s back). Perfect day to be walking around the far-out outback, a place filled to the brim with wild still-muddy magic.

So it’s a bit messy … life ain’t perfect. πŸ˜‰

Steeldust’s mob were the first visible, so I made for them. They were napping as early clouds gave way to sunshine. Aspen and Hook are still hanging on. Storm, Hannah and Alpha were lying down when I arrived; Comanche, Pinon and Kestrel laid down while I visited. Ol’ Steely Dan has a few new scars. He continues to stick close to Alpha; Storm continues to take advantage of the mommy bar.

Nap time (back, left to right: Alpha, Storm and Steeldust; front from left: Sundance, Mahogany, Sable, Luna and Pinon)

Did you see this in the background of the above pic?

Then there was this …

How familiar does this look? (Notice Comanche giving them a wide berth in the background as Steeldust guards Alpha.)

Boy’s got it bad for the girl. πŸ˜‰

Ember’s hanging out with big boys Aspen and Hook.

Kestrel and Mouse

Sleepy tired boy Pinon

The sun finally cleared the clouds, and I left the ponies to their naps (Butch makes an appearance here, behind Luna; SunnyD is beside her, Kestrel behind them).

All hills make for good mysteries – what’s over the summit? What’s around the bend? In the basin, the potential for horses to be around every bend, on the other side of every hill, below every ridge, is enormous.

Seven’s were out on the saddle, relaxed and soaking up the shine of late-winter sun.

At first glance, they were alone, but guess who was around another bend – or three … a ridge or two?

Pinto ponies

And look who else was closer:

Bruiser …

David and Shadow (oops! I thought I had put their picture into the post but realized later I didn’t) …

… and Cinch and Twister!

It was great to see them, but our visit didn’t last long. They decided they’d rather be on the other side of that hill, and I just didn’t have the oomph to continue on through the mud in the “away” direction. So I went back to share lunch with Seven’s.

OK, so they weren’t interested in what passed for my lunch, but we shared a little stretch of real estate between hills, bounded by ridges, together under the sun.

They were as relaxed as I’ve ever seen them, OK with me sitting on a branch, elevated above the mud.

They’ve been playing in the mud fields …

I might feel compelled to eat my shoe if I ever found out he was NOT a son of Grey/Traveler’s. If he was aged correctly, the boy is 10 this year (hard to believe, eh?). He certainly has gone grey-er in the past couple of years. Handsome, handsome mister … just like daddy.

Speaking of, two white “dots” sandwiching a dark speck way out yonder turned out to be my boy and Houdini and Terra. Seven decided to take a nap under a tree, so I hit the trail.

Headlights caught my eye, flashing as the truck to which they belonged popped over a hill on the road out yonder. The road was a little soft, a little dry, a little damp … I was surprised to see it. But before long, it stopped … hit reverse … discharged a camo-clothed passenger … swapped end for end, re-admitted the man and headed back the way it had come. I found their ruts later.

Bounce’s band came into view … then Hollywood’s. Then … Jif! She was walking up out of an arroyo kind of between me and Bounce’s band, and pretty quickly, Hayden and Cuatro, then Chrome, then Two Boots followed her. What a wonderful surprise! And a reminder how easy it is for horses to be out of sight very nearby.

Hayden is nursing.

Cuatro grazing with stepdaddy Chrome.

Cuatro grazing with stepbrother Hayden!


See the white dot, the dark dot and the grey dot “above” Jif? That’s Grey/Traveler, Terra and Houdini.

Sweet, sweet day in the company of many of those I hold dear. Always a wonderful way to spend a day.

Troubling encounter

5 11 2009

We’re almost to the end of hunting season. I was hoping we’d make it through with only the respectful people I’d seen thus far, but it wasn’t to be. Despite the fact that we reclaimed the old illegal road to Wildcat Spring, hunters apparently drove in a new “route” up on top of the next hill right above the spring! I guess they couldn’t read the very large sign at the entrance to the herd area telling ’em to stay on designated routes!

This is what the sign says: “Travel restricted to maintained roads. Cross country travel prohibited.”

Who thinks driving off the road and up onto a hill is OK? These guys.


It’s hard to see the trucks and stock trailer and utility trailer and big canvas tent up on the hill, but they’re there. Note the old road to Wildcat at lower left. Lots of tire traffic and some boot traffic to the boulders (and walking past) to check it out. One of the dead trees the students “planted” was knocked over, whether human-caused or natural, I don’t know. I stood it back up. Thank goodness for the boulders, methinks.

To make matters worse, three men – one on an ATV and two on a “gator” or “mule” or some little golf-cart thing – came up behind my Jeep while I was watching and photographing Kreacher’s band from the road, drove around me and sent the horses galloping away.


Check out the passenger shading his eyes so he can see the horses better. The carsonite sign at left marks the intersection with the road to Flat Top.


This was my next view of Kreacher’s band. 😦

I just read a really great Writers on the Range (High Country News) column written by a guy who used to be an avid off-road ATV rider … until the day he was hunting elk and a group of off-road ATV riders zoomed up and scared off the elk … and didn’t understand why the author was PO’d.

To go back in time to a more positive encounter, when I first passed Kreacher’s band, just onΒ  the other side of the road from where this happened, I was heading back to get a closer look at the camp. I drove slowly past the band and took pix through my passenger’s side window. Then I noticed a truck coming up behind me. I drove on, watching carefully in my rear-view mirrors, but they were very respectful and also drove very slowly past the horses, who stayed right where they were, completely relaxed.

Do you get the point? Some visitors respected the horses and were able to get an amazing view of them. Then three visitors completely disrespected them, and the horses galloped away to protect themselves, making it impossible for anyone to enjoy them further at that time.

In addition to the fact that chasing/harassingΒ  the horses is completely illegal, it’s just plain stupid, disrespectful to the horses and rude to other visitors. ARGH!

I sent an email to BLM that night, and I received a near-immediate reply that not only had they had law-enforcement rangers in the basin the day before but that they would follow up on my report. Very much appreciated.

Let’s go back to the beginning.

There were still patches of snow in the basin – more than I expected, truth be told – but it was obvious there had been plenty of vehicle traffic because the roads were mostly good (though a bit more rutted). I did hear what sounded like a stuck truck, but I could never figure out where it was coming from.

Kreacher’s were first on the flats below the catchment. There were a lot of human “visitors” in the basin. I parked up near Flat Top and hiked the old road around the hill. Grey/Traveler’s band was on the north side of the hill. I followed some ATV tracks that went up actually onto the hill … maybe before the sign went up … maybe ignored. I spent some time just visiting with Grey’s band but didn’t take any pictures, then kept going around to the “saddle.”

Hook and Twister were hanging out in the middle under some trees. Twister was lying down with Hook standing over him when I first saw them. πŸ™‚ The trail was somewhat dry – and considerably drier than the ground right off the trail (snowmelt) – so I sat down on the trail to watch the boys.

Steeldust’s band was out by the west-side loop road; Hollywood’s were a little closer to Flat Top. They ended up going all the way over past the pond to the roller-coaster ridge, up on top, then back to the west end. Aspen was with them when I first saw them, but I didn’t realize until I looked through my photos at home that Hollywood’s followed them.

Bounce’s band was over by the west end of Knife Edge … without Molly and Liberty. I never did see them. (Also didn’t see Duke that day, or Chrome, Jif and baby Hayden.)

Cinch and Bruiser also were on the saddle – closer to Round Top – and then I saw David and Shadow back toward that far yucky water puddle. It and the one close to Flat Top both have a little water, and by the hoof prints, horses are drinking at both.


You can see the snow … and the salt in the soil around the puddle.


While I was watching David and Shadow, I saw another “shadow” under some trees in the middle of the saddle, between D&S and Cinch and Bruiser …


Ze, Roja and Seven … Bruiser in the background.



It’s so weird to see them without Molly and Liberty.

I went back around the hill – Grey/Traveler’s were right up at the base of the hill then – and took the horse trail to the pond. It’s shrinking every time I see it.

I was almost back to the main road when I saw the camp and went to investigate.

That’s when I passed Kreacher’s band the first time.


Corona has been playing in the mud. πŸ™‚

And then on the way out …



Loved that halo-light on the ponies …


A little lovely light, a little lovely background … a little lovely wild.


It was such a wonderful end to the day … until the horses heard the ATV.

Let’s review again how the day really ended:


I want everyone to feel about the horses the way I do. It’s a rude realization when I’m reminded that’s not the way it is.