The *special* in special exhibit

24 10 2021

Yesterday, Saturday, we were so privileged to have the opportunity to talk about Colorado’s wild horses – and Spring Creek Basin’s, in particular – at a special event tied to the yearlong special exhibit at Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum.

Several of our longtime advocates and adopters were at the event to talk to visitors about adoption, management, fertility control, helicopters vs. bait trapping roundups, wild vs. feral, responsibilities of management, documentation, the rainbow of mustang (equine!) colors, etc. Tif Rodriguez brought Whisper and Keith Bean brought Skipper – both rounded up in 2011 – to meet-n-greet visitors, and they were the undisputed stars of the show! They arrived around 9 a.m. and were there until at least 3 p.m. (the event was officially from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), standing on the paved plaza of the museum and allowing many hands to reach out and touch their fuzzy faces, necks, shoulders. I cannot give enough enormous praise to these boys (both 12 years old), who were so good, so calm, so accepting of it all. How many domestic horses could have been so patient?! Tif’s mom, Lyn Rowley, helped with the horses and talking to visitors.

Kathryn Wilder also was there to do a couple of readings from her book, “Desert Chrome: Water, a Woman, and Wild Horses in the West,” in the museum’s theater. Her family (two sons, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren from Dolores and sister from Oregon) was in attendance as well. 🙂 She also talked to many people about a variety of topics mustang-related.

Artist and advocate Karen Keene Day came with artist, advocate and mustang adopter (Spring Creek Basin’s Liberty among several others) Alice Billings to greet visitors and talk about adoptions and visiting mustangs on the range.

Tres Rios Field Office Manager Connie Clementson welcomed visitors and introduced folks to the visitor center, followed by Canyons of the Ancients National Monument Manager Ray O’Neil, museum curator Bridget Ambler (who was so instrumental in all the organizational aspects of getting the images printed and info panels created and designing the exhibit), and visitor services and recreation program manager Amala Posey-Monk. For all their contributions to the partnerships we so enjoy here in Southwest Colorado, we thank them hugely!

And with that, I’m going to share some teaser photos … because it’s late, and it was a long and wonderful day, and we were around more people than I see in a double handful of months (! all masked and observing Covid protocols). So you’ll have to wait another day for more pix of a couple of gorgeous Spring Creek Basin mustangs welcoming all those many people into the world of mustang lovers.

Because … how could people NOT fall in love with them? Because … that’s part of their magic. Because … mustangs. 🙂

Connie Clementson (brown vest) welcomes visitors to Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum. Amala Posey-Monk is behind her; Ray O’Neil is in the blue jacket; Bridget Ambler is in the white shirt beyond Whisper’s forehead; Tif Rodriguez and Whisper are at left, and Keith Bean and Skipper are at right.

Kat Wilder reads from “Desert Chrome” in the museum’s theater to a crowd of early attendees while a slideshow of Spring Creek Basin mustangs runs on the screen above her.

Skipper greets Ray O’Neil’s daughters and wife at the event. Is this guy a schmoozer or what?! 🙂

More to come!

Aurora & Whisper

10 09 2011

Trying to pull out some photos to share … busy time.

Here are a couple of darling Aurora (daughter of Alegre and Bounce) and her big brother, Whisper. These two are so much fun. I see in them Gaia and Whisper from a couple of years ago.


Big brother Whisper is 2.

I’m going to try to post more pix of them together.

Isn’t she a beauty?

One more, not related … but leads to a change …

Looking at us is Briosa. Harder to recognize from this view is Juniper. Briosa is in Hollywood’s band (his daughter, and Piedra’s), and Juniper is Comanche’s and Kestrel’s daughter. The bands have been hanging out together for weeks now, and I almost saw some interaction between these two a coupla-few weeks ago … but this is the first time I’d actually seen it. The horses were closer than I’d ever seen them, actually intermixing at times with Piedra and Mahogany closer to Comanche than to Hollywood. All calm.

Someone was missing … and it nearly gave me a heart attack … until I found her again. Can’t say I’m surprised about who she’s with … though the timing leaves something to be desired …

Return …

2 08 2011

I realize that by the time I publish this, I’ve already published my “education” post, that you’ll read it – if you wade through it at all – after you look through these. Nonetheless, I’m calling this post “return” because hopefully it marks a return to photos of the horses and place I’m so passionate about.

Without further ado … These are from the day of the tour.

Bounce’s band, early morning before anyone else arrived, just west of the east pocket.

The helicopter. I never even took pix Grey’s band, just hung out while they napped.

Later in the day, after the tour … before I knew about Twister:

Comanche’s band was very near Hollywood’s – still – and had done a bit of traveling during the day (though I can’t comment definitively on the particular cause). Earlier in the day, we could see them north of Spring Creek Canyon; here, they were just off the road above the dugout (east of their earlier location).

Hollywood’s band

Piedra and Briosa. Comanche’s were just up the hill to the right. This was taken from just off the road.

Briosa. Isn’t she a stout big girl?

Eliana, Spring Creek Canyon in the background.




I so enjoyed visiting with them, taking these pix of the horses against the Colorado sky with the favorable clouds we’ve seen so little of this year. I didn’t want to leave, though I was headed to check on Twister. I wasn’t aware yet of what I would find with him.

After I’d finally gotten in touch with BLM about Twister, I couldn’t stay in the basin (I didn’t leave the area so I could lead BLM to Twister in the morning). Almost didn’t even stop to greet David’s band when I found them, just inside the fence along the Disappointment Road.

Shadow and Coal

Yearling Wind wiggling between mama and baby brother. You can see the fence strands in the foreground – that’s how close they were.

Handsome baby Coal

Horrible day … and yet a good day, too. Seems to be a contradiction that settles over my entire mustang experience. Can’t explain it … and I guess, overall, I really wouldn’t change it. The “good” is really just that phenomenal.

Bounce’s band

13 07 2011

First to arrive, last to leave the east pocket … Bounce’s band is still there. They have it – and the Sorrel Flats pond (east-pocket pond is dry) – all to themselves now, as far as I can tell. Storm’s band (Baylee and Tenaz) may still be back in the area, but they stayed out of my view both days.

I caught these handsome ponies about to head into the shade. Nice overnight – and a few sprinkles – but it gets hot fast, and the bugs are bad.

Baby girl Aurora watching me with daddy Bounce – mama Alegre uses son Whisper to shed some bugs.

This was not planned, just a random catch of the camera. 🙂 Those lighter specks against ‘Rora’s dark coat are gnats – mama’s tail is handy!

Family portrait – sleepy mama!

🙂 Bounce giving me the horse laugh – and keeping an eye on me to boot!

Daddy Bounce with son Whisper …

Whisper with mama Alegre. Alegre’s 3-year-old daughter, Gaia (her first foal, as far as I know), is with Cinch and Liberty. Two-year-old Whisper is still with mama and daddy and baby sister. Gaia was an excellent babysitter for baby brother, and he is now an excellent babysitter for his baby sister!




Baby Aurora 🙂

Mamas and babies – and more

21 06 2011

Where does the time go? Father’s Day is past, so I thought I’d show off some mamas and babies …

Aurora checking out mama’s lovely ear.

Kestrel and her Juniper-girl

Enjoying the sunshine – love their sweet faces.

Mama Kestrel – back right – with her gorgeous girls: yearling Winona and baby Juniper.

More, random:

Juniper, glowing in morning sunlight.


Winona and baby sister Juniper.

Mama and her girls


With baby sister Aurora.

One on the way …

Handsome Apollo, son of:


Kreacher has just two babies that I know of (Shane (Mona) and Apollo (Raven)), but I’ll never know how many babies venerable Bounce has sired. Whisper and Aurora are the latest.

It was so cool so see her seek out this dead branch – that mama had walked past – up to it, sniff it, then deliberately walk over it. I love the concentration on her little face as she tucks that hind leg WAY up to step over the branch! Mustang skillz!

I don’t think I posted this one already? Whisper, 2, is apparently remembering the goods while baby sister Aurora nurses, and Alegre is nuzzling baby even as she pins her ears at her elder offspring, who has wisely approached from baby’s side, using her as a shield!

Using mama’s tail to rid her of the gnats, which aren’t that bad this year, probably because of the near-constant wind. Not that it’s rarely windy in the basin – it’s always windy – but this year seems particularly windy, though we haven’t had the awful dust storms of past years.

Lovely Alegre – her grace and beauty just astound me.

And one more …

Sego lilies before dawn (or at least before the sun topped the eastern ridges) that morning. On my way to looking for horses before the light found us, I “stopped to” admire the segos. They’ve been up for a couple of weeks now, but this was the first time I found them with just a light breeze, not the stout, alive thing that made them whip impossibly to photograph.

Resistance is futile

17 06 2011

Juniper and Winona



Whisper and Auroa

Conclusion – Don’t try to resist! 🙂

From the vault

6 06 2011

Not too long ago, though … I’m avoiding vacuuming … looking for some pix I took a couple of weeks ago of Apollo … and came upon these that I couldn’t resist pulling into Photoshop for cropping and saving.

So for no other reason than “wow, aren’t they beautiful,” enjoy!


Daddy Bounce – loved the early morning light on their dark, handsome faces!

Cinch – he’s always watchful, and I relish being able to capture him when he relaxes.

Varoujan – really … do I ever need a reason to post such divine cuteness?! 🙂

The claret cups are blooming. A few years ago – a couple of years ago? – we had a wonderful variety of colors from pale pink to yellow to this deep rosy red. This year, I haven’t seen anything but red, but they’re very vivid. In my notes about the horses, I also keep track of other details about the range – the timing of greenup, what ponds are holding/shallow/dry, what’s blooming when. For such a dry place, we have a fairly wide variety of blooming wildflowers right now: wild blue flax, white daisies, still some phlox, Indian paintbrush, 4 o’clock, larkspur, prince’s plume, globe mallow, some little purple flowers, evening primrose. Last week, I saw the first sego lilies of the year. As great as the contrast between prickly cactus and gorgeous claret cup blooms, the oddness of seemingly fragile sego lilies in our rocky, dry, tan environment always blows me away. It was WAY too windy to even try to photograph the lilies, but they have won a place as one of my favorite wildflowers – for all they represent, for their ability to grow and thrive in such an unforgiving place, to bring beauty to a place some might call harsh, to bring life to a place some might call empty … and you know I’m not really talking about flowers anymore, don’t you? 🙂

Happy birthday, Whisper!

7 05 2011

Whisper was 2 yesterday!

He’s tall and handsome and takes as much after daddy Bounce as he does mama Alegre.

About a week old here.

With mama a couple of weeks ago! A few of his yearmates are off on their own already, but Whisper is still with mama and daddy.

And big sister Gaia went off with her own new family this winter. What a fabulous big sister she was to the little mister.

Playing with daddy Bounce.

Happy birthday, handsome boy – keep your sense of humor and don’t forget your lessons!

Waiting …

29 04 2011

I swear Alegre gets more beautiful every time I see her.

Love this look from cheeky Whisper!

He and Gideon were both in a mood to play when their families were together – they bucked and whirled and galloped – celebrating the new baby? Maybe! Who’s to say?!


19 04 2011

My greatest joy is the time I spend with these amazing horses (I know, I use amazing a lot; if not amazing, incredible; if not incredible, wonderful … you get the idea). This time of year, there’s particular purpose behind my time: Documenting the foals born and the mares’ foaling dates. It all adds up to the store of knowledge I keep in notes and files … it all adds up to the increasing knowledge in my head, heart and soul that is added to every single time I visit them. I will never know all there is to know about them. I will never stop learning about them – soaking in all they have to teach me – and after a (relatively short) lifetime with horses, I soak up every beautiful lesson as if I were a child.

When I first spotted Bounce quite a distance away, Alegre and Whisper were out of sight. In fact, when Bounce turned and trotted farther away, sudden terror seized me that something was wrong. Alegre lost her foal last year – in May – and I’m not sure how quickly she bred back, so I’m not entirely sure when she might be due (as you’ll see, I think she’s probably on track for at least May again). But then he calmly allowed me to approach him, and Alegre and Whisper were completely fine. I said a little prayer of thanks … but it didn’t explain his odd (to me) behavior, though I have suspicions.

From our visit …

Alegre, I think, is a daughter of Alpha and Grey (Al(e)gre – get it? 🙂 I pronounce it “ah-leg-gruh”). As gorgeous as both, more beautiful than either alone.

Whisper, of course, has no chance whatsoever …

Between gorgeous mama …

… and handsome daddy …

… he is quite doomed to be a knockout! 🙂

Sister Gaia left this winter, so it’s just him, mama and daddy – until mama has her new little. He’ll be 2 in early May … he has amazed me lately at how tall and leggy he seems. Alegre has a bit of size to her, and I think he inherited that – daddy Bounce isn’t very tall!

You can’t see it under that long, thick forelock – that may be courtesy of daddy! – but it’s hiding a big-big star! (You can see a bit of it in the first photo of him above.)

Doesn’t she just make you sigh? With all the craziness and ugliness in the world – much of it human-caused – these horses teach us every day about treating each other with decency and kindness. Know everything about them?! I never will! I can only hope that I learn and learn and learn till the day I die! They are our teachers … not the other way around.

This might be my favorite photo of Bounce to date – and I love him so much I can hardly narrow that down! After incredibly, knowingly trusting me with Alegre and Whisper for quite a long while as they grazed and I enjoyed (that first pic is of him looking back to check on us – and he’s farther away than he appears), he decided to join us – and here he is with that jaunty step of his – tail up, mane waving, ears relaxed, in his home, part of his home … You can see just a hint of that … and I think that – knowing him so well, not knowing him nearly well enough – is what I love about it and him.

If I could bottle what they teach, I would give it freely away. It’s without any number-value estimation … and the world needs more of it. Hmm. The world HAS it – obviously! – whatever IT is, whatever THEY have that they so freely give (and some so rapaciously take and take) … The world just needs to recognize it more than we do.

Thank you and thank you and thank you and thank you …