David’s at attention

9 08 2011

Because I’m putting together this ID booklet for BLM for the roundup, I’m more conscious of the kinds of photos I need. Early in my documentation project, I worried less about “pretty” pictures and more about photos that showed – from the side as much as possible – the full horse, including legs. Even among the sparse vegetation of the basin, it’s sometimes difficult to show some of the lower leg markings.

As time went on, my focus has shifted to wanting to show the relationships between the horses – their behaviors.

Now that I’m thinking about “conformation” shots again, I’ve realized how difficult it is! I was joking to Chipeta and Puzzle (I talk to them – habit): “All right, step forward, please, into the open, careful the background, and turn just so …” You’ll be just as stunned as I was that I was not obeyed upon the instant. ๐Ÿ™‚

At least in some cases I have no trouble whatsoever getting four pairs of ears at attention!

David at left, his yearling son, Wind, then mama Shadow and baby Coal.

You can plainly see Wind’s left hind sock – you can’t see his right hind pastern. You may or may not see Coal’s teeny star – it could be mistaken for a bit of glare on his shiny handsome face. And how many legs of David’s have white? Not only does he have the right hind sock, he has a left front fetlock and left hind pastern.

I walked back down and over to visit them after I left Ty’s (they were not that close and not within sight of each other). Mama Shadow was first to see me, but she went back to grazing. I got within an arroyo of them and sat down on the long “hump” (not tall enough to be called a ridge, it’s just where the land humps up between arroyos or “washes” that have eroded down from a much bigger ridge that actually marks the edge of a long sloping hill). They continued grazing for a little while, then some unseen/unheard signal called everybody to mama – they stood like that for a few moments, then turned and walked over the next “hump.” I like to be the one to walk away and leave them alone, but sometimes, they’ve had enough of me before I’ve had enough of them. ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

Seldom seen

25 06 2011

It was hot enough to feel like July in the basin this week. Many horses were close to the roads, and I took advantage of the Jeep’s shade. In fact, I waited for about an hour when I first arrived for Boreas, Rio and Two Boots to give up their claim to a certain stretch of road by Filly Peak. Chrome, Jif and Hayden were up on the flanks of Filly Peak, browsing among the boulders. When Boreas laid down, Rio dutifully stood guard over little brother, just like Whisper has been watching over little sister Aurora. I can’t tell you how much I love watching that kind of simple, beautiful interaction between siblings.

But before I saw them, I saw these seldom-seen ponies:

David’s family! I was looking deep into the herd area from the Disappointment Road, looking for tell-tale spots (that hold my heart)ย and was a little startled to see these guys so close –ย just inside the fence across a deep arroyo.

Sweet little Coal. I didn’t even step into the basin to take these photos – just took ’em right from the fence while the horses grazed without a care in the world. Love the rich bays and deep blacks of these ponies.

As an aside, when that wind quits blowing (the wind quits blowing??), the gnats are now out in force. I just had a conversation about this with a friend … I do use bug spray – and haven’t found itย very effective –ย but the thing I’ve found that works best by far is a simple net over my head. Friends have nets that incorporate a thin, flexible metal band that keeps the net held out a bit from your head. I couldn’t find one like that, so mine just drapes. The visor I always wear keeps it away from my face, but it can get a little stifling when the wind does pause for a bit, and it makes your view darker, of course. But it’s better than being driven insane or devoured! It doesn’t help with the biting flies that go for any exposed skin, but the gnats seem to like faces. If you spend a lot of time out-a-doors, I’d heartily recommend the small investment.

Shadow ponies

4 06 2011

These ponies shun human contact, and I don’t often see them. It was the fact that I saw them from a distance that I went walking out and found Kiowa’s band and her new little one. Had a brief visit with these guys, just enough to check that everyone was fine, then left them alone.

The only reason I wasn’t freaking out at this point was that I had seen all four before I went out to the pintos, so I knew Coal must have been napping nearby. What did surprise me was how close both David and Shadow allowed me to get with baby napping. Then they stood there for a while, and I DID start to wonder … I thought Shadow would have roused baby right away. That she didn’t … maybe I’m growing on her. ๐Ÿ™‚

And then he got up, stretched and walked over to big brother Wind and mama for a snack … Totally cool, this little mister, not a care in the wide world.

And there’s the family! Dark and handsome!

For 4CBCH: David’s

16 05 2011

Most of the horses are now in the interior part of the basin that is accessible by roads. W, those pintos’ ears must have been burning when we were talking about them because even they are “up”! I couldn’t believe my eyes (or my binoculars) when I saw them on the north side of Flat Top … and when they advanced all the way to Knife Edge? Wow! Looking for water? Adventure? In any case, they are very visible. The three mares – mama Kiowa and her daughters Reya and Spook – are all pregnant (and no, the fillies aren’t pregnant by their sire(s), who was (were) likely removed during the 2007 roundup) – though they and their mama are pregnant by (likely) the same stallion: band stallion Copper).

So just David and his family remain in the McKenna Peak Wilderness Study Area part of the basin – the area NOT accessible by roads. And the horseback group in Saturday’s count spotted them! They were the only horses I didn’t see, so between us all (and other folks who drove in saw more horses), we saw all the horses!

I thought I’d go back and tweak some more pix from the last time I saw Coal, Shadow’s and David’s new son – which was also the first time I saw him! He’s about two weeks old in these photos, taken about 2.5 weeks ago. I guess I need to go see them again!

David. Isn’t he striking? And though you can’t see it in any of these images, three of his legs also are touched by white.

David and his yearling son, Wind. You can’t see his legs, either, but he has a hind sock.

Early in the visit … Mama and baby and daddy …

Mama Shadow and baby Coal. He’s coal black – ๐Ÿ™‚ – with just a little bitty star. Shadow is one of the wariest mamas in the basin, but after she seemed OK with me just standing there, she grazed very calmly while I was with them.

Shadow was orphaned during her first winter when her elder mama, Ceal, died. Shadow went back to the pintos, with whom she and Ceal had spent some time that fall, and David stole her away the next year when the Southside Boys bachelor band drove Bruiser away. She and David have been together ever since!

Handsome guy

Daddy and his big boy …

Mama and her boys. ๐Ÿ™‚

All together. As wary as Shadow usually is, I had a really nice, lovely visit with them … and got very few images of her actually looking at me. I really don’t mind that at all. Wind always used to nurse like that, too – between her hind legs. I saw him nurse like that more often than I saw him nurse from her side. Funny how Coal does the same.

And one more of David, who WAS ever-watchful!


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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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!

Wet and dry, green and rain

6 08 2010

The basin is greener than I think I’ve ever seen it – even in spring. And it’s not just the “false” green, looking over the countryside and seeing the green of greasewood and saltbush and pinon/juniper – there’s also grass. Bright green tufts of it. Everywhere. Evidence of insane amounts of carving water iseverywhere – in some places, it was at least 3 feet deep. It’s been over the county road – and a(t least one) big mud flow prevents safe travel into the basin.

But hiking in from dysfunction junction was no problem. Not totally dry, but much drier than I had warned visitors it was likely to be!

Our wonderful friends Karen Keene Day (see her website in the blog roll) and her husband, F, and their friends R&K (and collectors of their art) visited the basin this week – from the lowlands of South Carolina! K&R said their house is at 16 feet. The basin is roughly 6,000 feet higher than that! I’m pretty sure I swatted at four mosquitoes.

I should have taken more pix of the wild and awesome evidence of the power of Ma Nature, but we were late to the basin already, and I wanted very much for them to see horses – if any kind of luck was with us.

The last time I was out – also with Karen – I was driving along the herd area, marveling at the water running in arroyos, thinking “look at this water! I wish horses were here to take advantage …” – and shazam – there were Shadow and Wind and David!

Would you believe luck struck again? I was thinking, “Please be visible for these folks from South Carolina. They really want to see you, and so do I …” – Can I say it again? It’s so much fun! SHAZAM!

David, our David. Isn’t he a handsome boy?

Shadow was perfectly content on the other side of the big arroyo, “hiding” behind greasewood, and this is the only time while we watched that I saw her actually look at us; I never saw her even lift her head.

Neither did Wind! I can’t believe how much he looks like Liberty, in color, at least.

There was still a possibility we’d see the pintos up the next drainage … and as we proceeded down the road, I spotted a pinto I thought at first was Corazon. But when I looked through the binocs, I realized it was Bruiser! He’s still by himself … but Lady Luck was completely on our side, and the pinto band was nearby. He’s keeping his distance, but he’s also keeping an eye on them.

With the second storm wave since Karen and I arrived passing across the north end of the basin (rain might have fallen on the north hills), and lightning flashing – but us in partial sunshine – we hiked in – on dry land. The side arroyos were dry, but the big arroyo that comes through that drainage was still muddy. No standing water that we saw in our brief glimpses, but I’d be astounded to learn that any possible “pond” in the basin is not holding water right now. We’re right smack dab in the middle of our normal monsoon season … but this isn’t quite normal!

We got up to within hailing distance of the ponies, and Ty, then Mesa finally saw us as they trailed after the band, slowing grazing along the base of “their” hill (really, aren’t all the hills theirs?!). Mesa came out between us and the band, not alarmed, and Corazon, before he knew what Mesa was looking at, came out to meet him.

Kiowa finally saw us – Maiku took advantage of her pause to grab a snack. Copper in the foreground, Chipeta behind Kiowa and Spook at right.

Back to grazing.

No foal yet from Chipeta …

Bruiser stayed near the base of the hill across the arroyo where I found the band last time, just watching.

We kept our eyes on the lightning and pretty soon decided to head back.

No agenda; just luck. Amazing.

Just amazing.

It started raining about dawn the next morning, and two hours later, it was still raining, so I thanked my lucky stars and headed home. A few weeks ago, it was so dry, all the ponds were dry, and the horses were relying on little trickles in secret pockets for their water. Now, it’s like a second spring in August. Monsoons in a Colorado summer – gotta love ’em!


Disappointment Creek (outside the herd area)

Glorious rain

23 07 2010

It rained. It poured.

The day turned dark. The lightning came in bolts.

The arroyos started running with the liquid of desert life.

The land carried water until it could swallow it all in.

Just as I was thinking “I wish horses were here to take advantage of THIS water running in THESE arroyos,” there was a black horse … and her foal …

I thought I was seeing things – my wish come true!

Sure enough, David – having already rolled in the wet, heavy, muddy goodness! – was very nearby his Shadow and their Wind.

I wish I could have kept sight of them in that sublime, post-storm light – as golden as it had been purple-dark earlier – but the trees … the hills … the washes … alive with water …

Advantage being taken.


For friends

26 06 2010

The following pix are specifically for my Girls Horse Club friends Rochlia, Victory Cowgirl and Toppyrocks. ๐Ÿ™‚ I was thinking about ya’ll when I took pix of your favorites!

Chrome, looking very handsome. From the same visit as the pix of Rio in the post below.

Here’s Cuatro very submissively greeting him; Two Boots and Rio behind them.

Our jet black girl Shadow and her baby, Wind. His dark coat is starting to shine through his baby coat.

Ty was right with them, but the pintos were nowhere in sight. I’m sorry I didn’t get a better “stallion” picture of the boy – he was so relaxed, he barely looked up from his grazing, and never long enough for me to catch him at it! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Just for reference, here’s Shadow’s stallion, David, calmly browsing on greasewood – but definitely between Shadow and Wind and Ty. We were very excited to see these horses right off the road each time we drove by. But we never saw the pinto band (which are not all pintos).

Long time no see

4 06 2010

I hiked around Round Top to look for the pinto ponies and got a nice little surprise – David, Shadow and Wind!

David came to check me out.

Growing boy. He’s gained some size, hasn’t he? ๐Ÿ™‚

Another one of David … at the edge of the world.

I didn’t see Poco and Roach during my visit, but I did see everybody else, including some horses I either hadn’t seen recently or hadn’t seen close. I should have more pix of those ponies as well as some of the usual cast of handsome characters soon. (Spoiler: I did see the pintos … eventually!)

Although my original hope was that my hike would yield a glimpse of the pintos, David’s band was the only one I saw behind the hill. Pond is dry. They were grazing their way away from the area of the yucky water puddle … Wind was standing alone under some trees when I first spotted David … then Shadow, grazing some distance away from him. Pretty independent little guy!

Lots blooming right now, and I was kicking myself for not taking my macro lens. I did take some pix, though, and I’ll post them as I get through them – including one interesting little pink, many-petaled flower I haven’t been able to identify. Maybe one of ya’ll can help?