Here is the latest update from Ginger. Click on TCF to go to that post.
Here is the latest update from Ginger. Click on TCF to go to that post.
Tonight I checked my email and found an email from my friend Jack Sterling. Jack is from Billings and was up on the mountain early this morning. He discovered Ketchikan with her new colt just below my campsite. This is a really special foal. The bloodline of Ketchikan is very rare, with few horses to carry on his important line. I pray that this beautiful and his mother can survive the winter. He looks strong, and Ketchikan also looks great. The fall weather has been mild and hopefully winter will hold off for a while.
Foal number 20, born to the mare Ketchikan, (born in 2010), daughter of Gold Rush and Two Boots. Father of this foal may be either the stallion Gringo or Tecumseh. The foal is a colt.
Jack was the person who discovered Odakota also. I look forward to finding out what he chooses for this one.
UPDATE: Jack said he will not be naming this foal, but that there will be an Alaskan theme, named by a friend of Steve and Nancy Cerroni.
Thanks so much Jack!
My friend and very devoted Pryor Mountain Wild horse observer, Laura Curtis, sent me a short report from her recent Dryhead trip (couple weeks ago) with her husband John.
Her are Laura’s photos and her summary. Thank you so much Laura!
We got to the Dryhead early Saturday morning.( 09-20-14) We saw Fiero with Sacajawea, Oregon and Strawberry near the road, so we had a long time with them.
Oregon has matured so much from when we saw her in July. Sacajawea is very thin. I am concerned for her going into winter so thin needing to provide for nursing Oregon. I love her beautiful two-tone mane, looks like Oregon may have that mane also. Fiero, Oregon and Strawberry looked good.
The big surprise for me was that Hickok now has a harem. Saturday morning he had Kitalpha, her yearling filly Nova, Seneca and Hightail. They were up the sandy draw behind the high ridge where the “greeters” hang out, so my view of them was very distant even after climbing up the ridge.
Sunday morning Hightail was off by herself with a good view in the area where the greeters are often seen even though she wasn’t close to the road. Considering her age each time I see her, I feel especially blessed.
We saw Hawk, Chief Joseph and Johnston each drive; they seemed happy together and healthy.
And I was overjoyed at the Center when they showed me a recent photo of Medicine Bow taken in the Dryhead and he looked great!! Such happy news!!
Thank you again for everything. Have a wonderful Fall. Laura
Foal number 19 of 2014. Born to the mare Inocentes, 2008 daughter of Fiasco and Baja and Cloud, 1995 son of Phoenix and Raven.
The foal was discovered today by Steve Cerroni of the Pryor Mustang Center.
Welcome to the world little one. You certainly had us all guessing.
I was about to announce the arrival of Galadrials much anticipated foal, when I realized I never made a formal announce for Washakies foal, so this post will cover both of those.
Foal number 17 was born to:
Washakie, daughter of Sitka and Shamen, born in 1994 and Baja, son of Tonapah and Looking Glass, born in 1996, had a foal, born on August 6, 2014. The foal is a filly and was discovered by Shawn Ivie. The chosen name for this filly is Ojai.
Foal number 18 was born to:
Galadrial, daughter of Atlantis and Duke, born in 2006. Sire of this foal could be one of two stallions:
Tecumseh, son of Warbonnet and Flash, born in 1998. OR Gringo, son of Madonna and Duke, born in 2006. I am hoping that the foal is Tecumseh’s.
This foal was discovered by Steve Cerroni of the Pryor Mountain WIld Mustang Center. The photos are from their facebook page.
Steve thought the foal may be a filly, no name has been chosen yet.
This year 18 known foals have been born on the range, with 15 remaining alive. I hope that all survive the upcoming winter. Foals lost this year were from Morgana, Demure and Moenkopi.
My last camping trip of the year was at the end of August. I would be on the mountain for my single longest trip to date, 7 days. I must admit, I was having a hard time thinking about coming off this mountain. It had been my home, pretty much, for the entire summer, and I worried how coming down would affect me.
It had been an incredible summer, great guests, some new, some returning, reconnecting with a dear friend from over 30 years ago, it seemed perfect in so many ways, and I found myself dreading the drive off the mountain in this final camping trip of the year.
But on this last trip up the mountain, I had with me a friend whom I had just met in June. Bonded by the wild horses, Meg has quickly become a very close friend. This trip was to also be with the University of Montana/ Western students, but Meg and I decided to head up the mountain a day early.
The air had a feeling of fall to it, and even though it was just August, I knew there could be some season changing weather ahead of us this week.
The 12 students arrived late the following afternoon. Meg and I eagerly pitched in to help them set up camp. accompanying them were 3 faculty members, including a vet. I knew that this group would be too large to camp in my normal spot. The horses frequented my campsite, and I did not want them to have to change their patterns for such a large group. I had them set up camp tucked in the trees towards Krueger Pond. Anyone that knows me, knows that first and foremost, above anything else, my concern is about the horses, and it did not take me long to realize, this was just going to be too big a group.
The students were wonderful, caring, kind, and their enthusiasm was a joy to be around. On one of the first days there, I grab one student and Meg and I took her to get a bit more of an up-close and personal experience with the horses. My plan was to do that several times a day, so that by the end of their 4 days on the mountain, they would each have that experience. But the weather did not co-operate with us, the rain came down hard and with that came the University’s decision to pull up stakes and head down the mountain a day early.
In the few days that the students were on the mountain, one interesting thing did occur. Heritage left Doc and went with Custer. Although I am not sure that is how it worked (maybe Custer took her). She did not seem happy with this new situation and was back with Doc after just a couple days. She continued to still look unhappy, (distancing herself from the band a little), even after she returned to Doc.
Despite the mud, rain and cold (the high was around 45 most days), Meg and I decided to stay. We were rewarded many times with the mountain to ourselves. It doesn’t get much better, being on the mountain top, with just the horses as company. And by the end of the week, we WERE the only people, both day and night.
Each night I crawled into my tent, which by now had a very distinct horse odor to it, and lied there listing to the rain hit it. Reflecting on how good life was up here on the mountain and how blessed I am to be able to be a part of these horses lives.
The horses were staying hidden on these rainy days, they were no longer hanging at the campsite, but tucked away deep in the trees to avoid the wet and cold.
Meg and I started each morning with a hot cup of coffee and some personal time to do some meditating. On my tour before this one, I had a guest ( thank you Julia) that showed me some meditating yoga moves and I loved starting out each day doing them. Most mornings I hiked a short way, usually to a rocky ridge. This view usually gave me a clear view of the range (and beyond) to reflect and also perhaps to see into my own soul. My own personal church.
Even in the pouring rain, Meg and I found the horses. The road was getting very difficult to drive, but we still slowly made our way down to where the horses might be. Most times we were lucky, and spent many hours watching, and just being in their presence .
One afternoon we watched Miss Olivia (Halcyon and Blue Moon) approach and “greet” Ohanzee. I am going to say she played with him, but rather just put him in his place and let him know who was the boss. Ohanzee wasn’t quite sure what to think of her bold and bossy ways. Olivia is an amazing and very self-assured filly. I look forward to watching her become her “own”. She seems to have the most bold personally that I have seen in a young filly.
Another afternoon we spent some personal close up time with Blue Moon’s band and Gringo’s band. Galadrial looked so close to foaling then, but as of today, I have not heard that she has foaled. These mares love to keep us guessing!
On our last night on the mountain, it poured rain all night. The temperature was 45 and the wind was blowing hard. I moved my bedroom into the truck that night (Meg was also in her jeep), and I was happy I had made that decision. The rain never stopped and the next morning the road was so muddy I could barely stand up on it.
There of course were no horses in sight. We made our coffee and drank it in the truck, hoping that maybe the sun would come out and the rain would stop. It didn’t. So we put on our rain gear, jumped in Meg’s jeep and slid down the muddy road in search of horses.
It was as if they were waiting for us that morning. Nine bands were lined up on the edge of the woods, protected by the rain, under trees. Even though it was pouring rain, Meg and I felt joy. Our love for these horses made any kind of weather tolerable and we found ourselves laughing with happiness. The mountain is special, no matter what the day.
We spent 6 undisturbed hours with these bands. No other people we on the mountain and no one wanted to come up that day. It was perfect actually.
Meg and I had planned to stay one more night. But when we drove back to our campsite, the wind was blowing 30-40 mph and starting to snow. I knew if we did not get out now, we might not get out for a few days. We packed up as fast as we could and were heading down the mountain. I took Sage Creek Road down, knowing Burnt Timber and Crooked Creek would be too unsafe. It was the scariest drive I have done on this mountain. Even going slowly, the mud made the final decision on which way to go, causing me to go a bit too close to the edge a few times. Heading through the Crow Reservation, the mud was easily 1 1/2 feet deep, I prayed I wouldn’t get stuck.
But just as I was about to exit the Crow Reservation Road, a Falcon appeared right on the side of my truck. It dove and soared right next to me for about 500 feet, escorting me off the Reservation. A took that as a very good sign, and I am pretty sure it was.
As the summer progressed, I found myself putting my camera down more and just savoring the horses and beauty of the mountain with just my heart and eyes. I still took plenty of photos, but 1000’s of photos shrunk to just a few hundred. The horses were settling into their summer routine with very little conflicts between the bands. There were still a few more foals to be born, but for most part, the foaling season was done by mid-July.
As with the post before this one, I am presenting you with many photos to look at, and along with that a few stories to explain what is going on, but mostly, I believe the photos tell their own stories.
Coronado gradually adjusted to the loss his band to Irial. For now anyway.
I was surprised to discover that Ohanzee had change colors while I was away for about a week. My prediction is that he will end up being a smokey black in color.
I saw Chino and Coronado hanging out several times together. Chino is one of those stallions that has excepted his band stallion retirement well. Except for a few “dogging” incidences this spring and summer, he seems content to be by himself, in the company of another older stallion, or teaching a young bachelor a thing or two.
As the single oldest stallion at the age of 21, he is doing well. Thin this past spring, but nice and fat this late summer. I hope I am blessed to continue seeing him. He is an incredible stallion.
This was the day of Obsidian’s death. A cold windy day that only got more windy after his passing.
The bachelors continued to entertain us. One of my favorite things to watch are the bachelors. I watch every detail of their movements. That being said, I will step out and say that I think Jasper may be the next to gain a mare. He seems ready in every way.
Grijala watches the “boys in training”. You can almost see the approval on his face.
Grijala smiling with approval at the progress Mica has made with his sparring skills. These two were together most of the summer. While they sometimes took a few days off from each other, they were together more often then not.
The dysfunctional Bolder band. Killian is still there and still being a handful. Still nursing his mother Celt and still trying to breed the mares.
During one trip, myself and guests hiked to the “little ice cave”. In 2012 while searching for the wounded Lakota, I spent some time talking with the “cavers” in this area. They informed me that shortly after the entrance to this cave, it dropped down 6 feet, requiring that to safetly enter this cave, you would need ropes and the proper lights. I don’t really like small, cold, slippery, dark areas with bats flying around, so I never plan to enter this cave.
More photos of the “Odd Couple.” Fiesta seems to be a bit further back and not as included as he seemed just a few months ago. I feel sorry for him. He so wants to be included in this band and takes his “Satellite Stallion” position very seriously.
Hernando is proving to be a very caring and stable stallion. Having two wise and older mares has certainly helped him achieve this goal faster than most. Both Phoenix and Warbonnet seem to have settled in to being with this young and handsome stallion.
Another new and favorite band of mine is Hamlet and his band. Consisting of Hamlet, Audubon and the yearling filly Niyaha. They went from an isolated spot past Penn’s cabin in June ( I labeled their band The Prisoners” for a short time) to joining all the bands by July. Many times grazing and walking past Audubon and Niyaha’s former band, Morning Star.
Garay and his band are doing great. I found it interesting that Quelle Colour (who died this past winter), was replaced by Jacinta, another chestnut, white blaze faced mare who has taken on the position of lead mare.
Every summer, I like to be up on the mountain for the full moon. The beauty and energy of it always takes my breath away. This summer was not a disappointment, and I enjoyed every full moon the summer had to offer.
Demure and Jupiter showing some affection to each other. Demure was in heat and Jupiter was very protective of her. In the photos below, you can see Knight trying to flirt with Demure, but Jupiter would stood his ground to protect her.
August brought the birth of the newest Baja band member, Ojai, a beautiful strong and healthy filly born to the 20-year-old mare, Washakie.
An afternoon hike in August, looking for horses and enjoying the beauty of the mountain.
In mid-July of this summer brought the new sign dedication in the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. Two of my photos are on the signs. The first one is at the pull off just as you enter the range, the other one is located at Mustang Flats and shares a space with my friend Linda Dombecks photo.
On the same morning that Obsidian died, Cedric, his family and I watched a long play/fight session performed by Cappuccino’s son McKeahnie and Blue Moon’s son Miocene. Both of these two year olds showed how strong they were becoming. Blue Moon and Cappuccino briefly joined in the sparring for a few minutes.
I am going to end this post with a photo sequence of some of Obsidians last moments. I hesitated to share anymore of Obsidian’s death, but while looking through those photos, I felt it would be important to share with you how the horses reacted when he passed. Although it was hard to re-live that day, it also touched my soul how the horses reacted at the time his death.
I am not going to caption the sequence of events, I will let the photos tell their own story.
Finally I am able to catch up on my thousands of photos that I took this summer while on the mountain. I spend hours going through them, editing and savoring each and every moment that I spent on the mountain. I never forget how lucky I am to be able to spend my summer on the mountain and share the horses with so many people. The mountain is special in many ways, even on the days when the horses don’t choose to show themselves. The healing power of the mountain, both physically and mentally is a gift, one that I will never take for lightly.
Below is just a taste of some of the many photos I took. This post starts with my June 21st trip and ends mid-July.
UPDATE: After reading Lola’s comment below about wishing I had told a few stories with the photos, I decided to add a few to these. Some photos tell there own stories, but some become better by knowing what is going on. So here you go!
Reaching the top of the mountain can be difficult anytime of the year, but this year was particular tough. The only access to the top until July the 3rd was up Burnt Timber Road. While that is my road of choice, it is not for many, which made the mountain even more quiet for the month of June.
We did however get a huge storm involving hail so thick it looked liked two inches of snow. The photo below is of Galaxy and his band just before that storm hit.
While on the mountain on July 9, a helicopter mapping out the fire remediation, startled the horses and those that remembered that sound from 2009 and before, immediately ran for the trees to avoid being rounded-up. While this made for some amazing photos, it made me sad that they would feel such panic with that sound. This is one of those photos.
June and July this year gave us all many opportunities to photograph the horses in the snow. The snow above Mystic pond was so deep and wide. The horses loved to come and stand on a warm day (65 degrees was warm this summer). I think the reflection of the sun warmed them, while the snow kept the temperature comfortable. The flies were not bad yet, so they weren’t there to avoid them.
The “Boys of Summer” (the bachelors) would occasionally just come charging through, for accomplishing nothing more than to stir up the many bands napping on the snow. Grijala especially seemed to enjoy bothering them.
All summer, I have said that Grijala is throughly enjoying life. Best of all worlds. The carefree life of a bachelor, doing whatever, whenever he chooses without the responsiblity of a family. But occasionally sneaking in and breeding a mare in heat that may have stood just a little bit away from her band. I joked that every band on the mountain may end up having a foal with a big “Grijala Star.”
Many have wondered how Broken Bow is doing in her new band, Mescalero’s. She seems to be just fine, enjoying life with them. Perhaps it was time for her to move on and be separated from her daughter Demure. Just like Topper and Topper Too, they each seem to be where they want to be at this time.
Cloud often came by our camp. He came through so much, I nic-named it: “Camp Cloud.”
Chino is another one that is enjoying his life. So wonderful to see him accepting his life without a band. I did see him dog a band or two, just for fun. But mostly he was either on his own or teaching a few young bachelors a thing or two.
Coronado lost his band to Irial during the helicopter appearance. For the first week, he took it very hard. Standing for hours without eating or drinking. I made a point of visiting him while he stood alone with his head down. Eventually he picked himself up and pushed on, joining his one time enemy Santa Fe. I watched them together alot. I do believe they may be planning a take over of the band. But Irial is very tough and vigilant and the mares seem to be settling in and accepting the change.
Galaxy was convinced that the best grass was on this side of the fence around Penn’s Cabin, and he easily either walked or jumped over the falling fence.
The wildflowers this year were more incredible than I ever expected, lasting even into the end of August. There was a big rain storm every single time I was on the mountain for a trip. Meaning about every 3-5 days the mountain received a good drenching.
After a day of horses, my June group did a short but incredible hike to a special place I share with only a few.
Everyone can rest assured, that Jackson is doing just fine. To me he seems to be enjoying the break. He never looks sad, but instead looks content, fatter than I have seen him look for many years. Often he is alone, but sometimes he joins the other bachelors.
While taking a special hike with a good friend, we discovered Jackson along with 3 other bachelors (Grijala, Mandan and Moorcroft) way up on the Skyline Meadow. A meadow seldom used by any of the horses.
Surprisingly, the horses chose to hide in the trees one early July day. Giving us the opportunity to find them in another part of the range. I love days like this, different backgrounds for our photos.
Below are the photos that will be in the 2014 calendar. Also included with each calendar orders will be a sheet listing who is the photo each month.
Contact me to pre-order. Calendars will be $23.00 including shipping within the US. To contact me call: 406-360-8959 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I always hope that with each post I can be inspired by something. Something that will make you all want to read and feel how I feel. I always hope I can continue to do that.
As always, my summer with the horses as been well beyond my human expectations. Each and every day I spent with them was truly a blessing that I hold to my heart. For the most part each and every guest has become a very close friend, or a soul mate of sort, someone that was there and re-discovered or someone I just met, bonded by not only the horses, but the mountain. I feel very blessed. And for those few that did not “get it” I wish you well and hope you have peace in your life like those of us who did find it on the mountain this summer.
I had planned to do an early September trip, but because of the death in early July of a very close person in my life, I have decided to forgo that trip and instead return to my native state of Michigan, sharing the memory of him with some close friends. I know the horses will understand. It is something I need to do.
Life is short. I know we have all heard that term before, but this summer, perhaps, it has effected me even more than ever. I have spent my summer with some of the most wonderful people I have thought I could never know. Some will be with me as best friends for the rest of my life, and I cherish that thought. I am also looking forward to the new ones I am yet to discover.
Each of us never know how much time we have on this journey of life we call home. We need to make the most of each moment, feel it, and be happy with our decisions.
There have been many people on the mountain this year, but few remain to camp with the horses. For whatever that reason, I hope it continues that way. I would like to think that the horses choose who they want on their mountain. Please let it always be that way.
I leave you with a few photos from my last few trips, and know that I will be back soon and yes, I will share with you. Isn’t that what life is all about? Sharing and giving. I try to remind myself of that everyday.
And even when I am not on the mountain, I still am. Thanks Meg, for capturing that thought.
I promise, as this summer becomes fall and the fall becomes winter, I will continue to share with you the photos I took throughout this most meaningful summer.