For those of you that know nothing about the Pryors , it is pretty much divided (by the horses) into the Dryhead herd, which consists of approximately 45 horses and the mountain herd which consists of approximately 120 horses. They stay separated like this for most of the year. The only exceptions are in the winter months. I am hoping to be able to see that first hand when I go over the first part of March.
The Dryhead is just that. It is dry and very desert like. There are some areas that are greener, but mostly it is very dry. I often wonder how the horses can survive there, but they seemed to be doing just fine. My Pryor horse Valerosa (whom I adopted in 2009) is from this area.
The mountain top is more lush, although it is not all rolling green meadows. There are many areas that are rocky and very rough. Those horses stay up there most of the warm months and then move down the mountain as the days turn darker and colder.
I will talk about the differences in the area in more detail on a different post, but I wanted to give everyone an idea of what I am talking about when I say “mountain top” or “Dryhead”.
It was July 2010. I arrived in Lovell, Wyoming one summer evening. The Pryor Mountain Horse range is right on the Montana/Wyoming border, with most of it in Montana. I was in a hurry to finally be able to see these horses, in their home, relaxed and away from the round-up. The way it was meant to be.
It was too late in the day to head up to the top of the mountain, so I headed up the Dryhead. It is only about a 20 minute drive from Lovell. I headed out there about 7 pm, a little over 2 hours from dark. I seemed to be the only one on the road in the Bighorn Canyon that night. After driving a few miles and not seeing anything, I passed a sign labeled “Mustang Flats”. I stopped to read it and looked off in the distance! HORSES! I was so excited! I drove a bit further down the road and pulled off. I grabbed my video camera and started walking. I was about 100 feet from the road when I looked down at my feet. In my hurry to get to the horses I realized that I was wearing my flip-flops. Not a good idea in rattle snake country, but I was willing to take my chances this time. I set up my camera. Looking through the lens I realized that the horse I was seeing was my filly, Valerosa’s mother Sacajawea. She was with Corona’s band. I was pretty sure it was her, but at that time I really did not know any of the horses. She was about the only one that I could be sure of. After spending an hour watching, I decided that I should head back down, it was starting to get dark. I drove slow, looking for more horses. I was almost out of the range, when I came around a bend in the road and there in the middle of the road was Hightail, Admirals mother. I did not know who she was at the time! But she was a wild horse and I was going to follow her! She led me down to the water where I saw Admiral and his band drinking. It was a wonderful site. The mosquitoes were really bad and it was getting dark, but I stayed and filmed and snapped some photos with my little “point and shoot” camera. You can see this photo above. The one of them at dusk, surrounded by the red light of the setting sun.
The next day I met some friends and we all got into my truck and made our way up the mountain. I have to say, I am pretty afraid of heights and the road going up was quite a test to my nerves! I have gone up and down that road several times, never liking it, but it seems to get easier. I know it is my way up to the horses, so I do it. I have since found another way up that is not quite as scary, but every bit as rough. So if you are planning on driving up yourself, you will need a 4 wheel drive car or truck. I prefer a truck.
That July day was sunny and clear. I could not have asked for a more beautiful day. As we reached the Big Ice Cave area, we began to see signs of horses. Stallion piles were in the middle of the road. I did not know this until then that stallions like to poop on top of other stallions poop. Kind of their calling card to say “I was here”. Still no horses. At that time in 2010 the new fence was not up to keep the horses off this area. More on that in another post…
Finally just as we arrived on the top we saw horses. EVERYWHERE. I think we counted over 100 that day. All surrounding us in a field of Lupine. It seemed like a dream. We pulled off the road and got out. My first photos that day were that of Cabaret and his band. I thought I would share them with you. These were just taken with my little “point and shoot”.
Thinking about this first trip. One of the first bands I saw in the Dryhead was Admiral. He along with his son Kapitain (Climbs High) were killed by a drunk driver this past summer (2011). The next band that I saw on the mountain top was Cabaret. His band, Duchess, Kalika, and Jericho were found dead this year. The young stallion Fortunatus, who was also with this band is missing and presumed to be dead. I find this strange that the first Pryor Horses I saw are now dead. So I felt I wanted to start my first official blog as a tribute to them. I hope you enjoy seeing these photos as much as I did. You can stop the photos from moving by just putting your arrow on the photo and clicking the stop square.
The beautiful sorrel stallion is Fortunatus. The little foal is Kalika, Duchess is the beautiful black mare, Cabaret is the stunning grullo and little Jericho is the black colt with the left hind sock.
Thank you Admiral, Kapitain, Cabaret, Duchess, Kalika, Jericho and Fortunatus. You touched my heart and soul and gave me my first look into my new passion. For that I thank you.
This is my most recent video of the horses: