I first met Lakota in October 2010.  I know that I had seen him before on a couple of my other trips, but this was the first time I actually knew who he was.  I was spending the day on the mountain with my friend Wendy H. from Billings and Matt Dillon from the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center.

We met Matt near the intersection of Burnt Timber Road and Sykes Ridge Road.   He immediately told us that Quelle Colour had her foal and wanted to check on her.  This was pretty late in the year to have a foal, I thought, and worried if she would make it through the winter.

Quelle Colour and Kole, October, 2010

When I saw Lakota in October of 2010 his band consisted of:  his lead mare Quelle Colour, Kole, Mariah, Kalispell (2010), Half Moon and Kiowa (New Moon) (2010), Heritage (High Noon) and Koda (Kootenai) (2010). Heritage and her foal were in the trees that day, so I was unable to get any photos of them.

Kiowa (New Moon), October 2010

Kiowa  is a solid dun.   Although she  was born with a hernia,  it has healed and is gone now.  She is a real beauty with the perfect Spanish looks,  the only foal out of Half Moon and Lakota.  She should be allowed to stay on the range and pass on her bloodline to future generations.

Kiowa, December 2011, photo by Lori Graham, PMWMC
Lakota and Half Moon, October 2010
Mariah and Kalispell, October 2010

I asked Matt if he thought Kole would make it through the winter.  He said he was pretty sure she would because Lakota was such a good stallion.  Lakota took very good care of his band and would know where the best place to go that winter to protect her.  I was instantly in love with this big beautiful grullo stallion.  He is one of my favorites, I have several favorites, but he is really up there on the list.  No one knew as we looked at little Kole that she would most likely be his last foal.

Kole, Kalispell and Mariah, October 2010

We will talk more about that later in this post.   But now, with the help of my blog partner Alex, we are going to go back to the year Lakota was born, 1992.

Lakota was born in 1992 to the mare Tonapah and the stallion Blacky.  Tonapah was stolen by the red roan stallion Jeronimo before or shortly after Lakota was born.  In 1993 Tonapah had another foal, War Bonnet, who was sired by Jeronimo.

Tonapah (1986), August 2011, she is currently in Duke's band.

In 1994 Lakota was gathered in a round-up with his band.   He became a bachelor upon his release.   Even as a two-year old he was much bigger and more muscular than other two-year old colts.  Not much is known about his bachelor years.  Approximately in the year 2000 he won his first mare Quelle Colour, who was the only chestnut mare on the range.  He obviously prefers red heads!

Quelle Colour, October, 2011

The following year (2001) Lakota, Quelle Colour and her black foal were captured in a round-up.  But once again they released Lakota and his little band with one surprise addition.  A beautiful Palomino mare named  Blanca(Mariah) was added to his band, because her band stallion was removed.

Blanca (Mariah), July 2011

So Lakota’s band grew by one and  in 2003 he acquired the mare War Bonnet (his chestnut roan half sister born when he was a yearling) from the band stallion Teton/Diamond.

Lakota had several foals during the years.  In 2005 he had three foals including a buckskin filly from Blanca (Mariah).  But that year both Blanca’s (Mariah) filly and War bonnets foal died.  Leaving only one foal, Quelle Colours black filly, but in 2006 he would lose that filly as well.  She was removed in the bait trap gather that year.

The spring of 2006 brought Lakota two more foals.  Blanca (Mariah) gave birth to a black filly named Galena and Quelle Colour gave birth to a black colt name Galaxy.

Galena, 2006.
Galena, October 2011
Part of Lakota's band, 2006
Lakota's Band, 2006
Dusty and Galaxy, 2006
Galaxy, July, 2011

In 2007 Lakota’s band had grown.  During the winter he had acquired 3 new members to his band.  The grulla mare Demure, her mother Broken Bow and the yearling Filly Gabrielle.

That year Lakota had two foals.  One was a dun colt out of Blanca (Mariah).  His name was Hunkpapa, but he was removed in the 2009 round-up as a two-year old bachelor.   The other foal was a roan foal named Heritage.  She is a reflection of her mother War Bonnet.

Heritage (High Noon), October 2011

In the spring of 2008 Lakota’s handsome son Galaxy (who is another one of my favorites) became a bachelor.  The winter of 2009-2010 Lakota lost his mare War Bonnet to the stallion Teton (Diamond).

So now we are back to the year 2010.  That winter (2010-2011) Lakota lost part of his band.  Half Moon and her beautiful filly, Kiowa (New Moon) were taken by the stallion Teton (Diamond).  The mare Blanca (Mariah) was taken by the handsome dun stallion Cappuccino.  In the process Blanca’s healthy dun colt Kalispell (pictured at the top of this post), mysteriously disappeared. Heritage (High Noon),was taken by the stallion Jackson.  Her colt Koda (Kootenai) was separated from her and now lives with Cappuccino’s band.  Even though Koda(Kootenai) is line-bred, he appears to be healthy.

Koda(Kootenai), July 2011
Kootenai, December, 2011, photo by Lori Graham, PMWMC

When I arrived on top of the mountain July 24th, 2011 I was hoping that I would see a lot of horses.  There were two bands that I really wanted to see.  The last two that I had seen last fall,  Cabaret’s and Lakota’s.  We know  that I would not be able to find Cabaret.

I was bringing 4 other woman, one of them my daughter Amber, all of whom had never been to the Pryor’s.  I was looking forward to  Amber seeing the horses and the Pryor’s.  I wanted her to know how special this place was.   We arrived late in the afternoon and set up camp.  We saw several bands that evening.  I knew it would be a good trip.

As Amber slept soundly on the other side of the tent, I lay awake.  The sounds of thundering hoofs, whinnies and stallion cries kept me awake.  There was some peace that night as the stallion cries quieted and I heard the quiet sound of the horses munching grass outside my tent.

When I awoke around 5 that morning, there was a little bit of light in the sky.  I love Montana with its long summer nights and early sunrises.  July was a perfect time to be there.  I lay there for a few minutes and then quietly unzipped the tent and went outside.  I was the first one up.

It was low light and I was not using a tripod, so most of my early morning shots before the sun rose are a bit blurry.  I thought I would share this one anyway.  It is of Lakota and Grijala running in the early light.

Lakota and Grijala, outside my tent in the early morning light of July, 2011

At the time I took that photo I did not realize that it was Lakota.  As I watched, they moved closer to my camp site.

Lakota outside my tent, July , 2011
Lakota, July 2011

I realized as I looked around me that this was Lakota’s new band.  He had lost some, but this strong stallion had helped his young filly Kole survive the worst winter in 50 years.  She had grown into a beautiful, soon to be yearling over the winter.

Kole, July 2011

Not only had Lakota helped his filly Kole to survive, but he had also taken in another yearling.  Young Knight was also with his band.  Knight is the son of Gunivere and Cappucino.  Gunivere (at age 21) did not look healthy the  summer of 2010 when I saw her,  and I don’t think any of us thought she would make it through the winter.  I believe she held on for Knight as long as she could.  Kind Lakota had taken him in and he looked wonderful!

As I looked around I also realized who the other stallion was.  He was the young bachelor stallion Grijala (2006).  He was trying to take Lakota’s band!  Both Lakota and Grijala had open wounds.

Lakota, July 2011

One minute they were grazing peacefully, the next fighting.

Grijala and Lakota, July 2011
Lakota and Grijala, July 2011

We all watched this for an hour or so, and then they moved on.

Lakota's New Band, July 2011

I saw Lakota once the end of August when I was there.  He was alone then, but I had heard that he had Jenny and Knight for a while before that.

I did not see him in September.

In the early part of October I was about to leave the mountain.  There was a storm approaching and I wanted to start back down before it hit.  Just as I was about to get into my truck and leave, I turned and saw a horse coming towards me.

Lakota, October, 2011

It was Lakota, and he was alone.  I had been watching Jackson’s band and they were still there in the meadow below the road.   I watched Lakota approach.  As he got closer to me I noticed the lifeless look to his eyes.

Lakota, October, 2011

He was still the beautiful stallion that I had fallen in love with a year ago, but his eyes lacked the spark that I remembered.  His outside wounds had healed, but it was clear his inside ones were still there.  He approached Jackson slowly.  I hoped that Jackson would not be too hard on him.  What I saw next really touched my soul.  These two stallions, Jackson (1998) and Lakota (1992) greeted each other tenderly.  I try not to humanize these horses, but sometimes it is hard to see clearly.  As I watched, Jackson gently touched Lakota.  For less than a minute they paused.  Then Lakota continued to walk on, alone.

Jackson and Lakota, October, 2011

I stood there for a few minutes and looked up.  There coming the same way that Lakota had come, were four more horses.  They were Quelle Colour, Grijala, Kole and Knight.  Jenny was missing, but I last heard she was with the stallion Santa Fe.

Quelle Colour, Kole, Grijala and Knight, October 2011

I watched the beautiful Sorral Red head mare follow her stallion that she had been with since 2000.  It was clear she was following him.  I knew they were on their way to Krueger Pond.

October, 2011

I got in my truck and headed to the pond.  I got out and ran towards the pond.  The only horse I saw was Lakota.

Lakota, October, 2011
Lakota, October, 2011

I waited, hoping that Quelle Colour was close behind.  She did not come and Lakota continued walking alone.  My heart broke as I watched him continue down the fence line of the range.  I hope I see you soon Lakota.  Remember how great you are and try to stay strong.

Lakota, October, 2011

Thank you Deb Little and Lori Graham for your photos!  Thank you Alex for Lakota’s history!  Don’t forget to click the photos to enlarge them.  Also you can push “follow” at the top of this page and you will get an email when my next post comes out!

Thank you!


122 thoughts on “Lakota

  1. Oh, Sandy…..I am sitting here tearing about Lakota, I can feel his pain by you describing his lack of twinkle in his eyes and sense of alone..Also how Jackson embraced Lakota was so touching. The sense of how they are so tied together and family bond is just so sweet. As I do with the other 3 blogs I often go back and re- read, such an amazing journey with the Mustang’s. They are blessed to have you checking on them and documenting everything you can but I also can imagine how it tugs on your heart when some are ripped away by the BLM….regardless how others look at these Mustangs, to me taking them away from their rightful land is just horrid…Thanks again, Sandy, I so enjoy reading your blog, more, more, lol

  2. Lakota is one of my “many favorites”, too. I love his rich grey coloring, and those ears…they are so light colored, except for the outside edge, that in my first picture of him, taken on Cheyenne Flats in 07, it looks like he doesn’t have ears. It was just the right angle, surroundings and the right lighting for the effect. He was napping, but kept an eye on us. Jackson and his band were not far away. Guess they’ve been friends for a long time…

    Great stuff. Keep it coming.

  3. Was the stallion Blacky the father of Cloud’s father Raven? What color was War Bonnet’s foal that had died in 2003? When I saw that picture of Galaxy and Dusty, I got a bit sad when I saw that photo. Dusty and Cloud’s sister Gemini were the two foals killed in 2006. I wish they were still alive. Im glad that Koda Wakan has survive the winter but maybe this year he’ll become a bachelor stallion. When I was on the Pryor wild wordpress, I saw a photo of High Noon and she looks so much healthier this year than she was when she got seperated from her band and she seems more happy

    1. Jonathan,

      Blacky was a black stallion that lived in the 90’s and 80’s . No he is not the father of Raven,His parents are the chestnut stallion Hercules and the black mare named The old Mare.
      The death of Dusty and Gemini , was very sad , but they were not the only foals that died in 2006. that’s how it works up there, not all survive, but even if they lived for a short time , they still lived wild and experienced the fun and joy that a wild foal get to live! Luckily there genes will live on in there full siblings.

      1. Yes he was. Ravens full sibligs are : Belle star, Peppy , And Cortez.

        That is why Raven has produced Red foals , Like Red raven, Electra , and helped Phoenix produce Mariah and Cloud. Since Palomino is chestnut with one cream dose.

  4. Love this, Sandy! (I’m behind in following your blog.) Love having all of Lakota’s history and pictures here to read and refer to. Having been one of the lucky ones to have been with you on that July morning in 2011, I also have a special feeling for Lakota…I remember his eating grass so close to where I was sitting with my camera focused on him that I could hear him chewing. I hate thinking of him being alone and loved that interaction he had with Jackson (wish Jackson had invited him to stay!)…wonder where Quelle Couleur and her followers ended up that day in October when you thought she was on her way to him. Can’t wait to hear who’s where when you go on this next trip…I pray they all have survived.

  5. I’m a huge horse lover, getting out to the barn all week after work, and this story really moved me. I’ve always wanted to go camping out in the open with wild horses and just watch them be free. Truly sounds like a blessing that you were able to be around the horses so much. Really, truly moving story and photos. I felt for Lakota. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Lakota lived through the winter of 2011 and came back strong. Unfortunately he broke his leg in June 2012 and was euthanized July 23, 2012. His spirit will live on in the Pryors, I am sure of that.

  6. This is beautiful! Amazing photos and such a great story to highlight the lives of some stunning creatures. There are some feral horses that roam near where I grew up in Alaska and I’ve loved hearing their stories and watching them interact. The personalities really show and you grow to care for them. Lovely post!

  7. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! I’d not seen your blog before today and you have brought a tear to my eyes with this blog. Thank you for these pictures and story, I miss the wild horses of the plaines. Living in the city SUCKS!

  8. I’ve just been introduced to this blog and omgs it’s so beautiful and heart touching. I’m not for sure but something tells me that Lakota might not survive the winter, but I hope he does and that he again gets a band of his own horses. It’s so sad that he is so alone. 😦 I’m crying right now, but I hope and pray he is still there when you go back and in better form.

    1. Hi Selena. Thank you for your comment on my Lakota post. Lakota did live through the winter and came back strong. However, he broke his leg in June of 2012 and had to be euthanized in July 2012.

  9. What an absolutely beautiful story — both in words and in pictures. Such gorgeous animals — glad they have a place where they can live free. Thanks for sharing this. Congrats on being FP’d.

  10. what a beautiful blog….I am moved to tears. I shall follow your bog and hope to hear soon how Lakota is …thanks for sharing, ceri.

  11. I love horses and feel a great affinity for them. Thank you for posting this marvelous and wonderous story.

  12. What an intriguing topic to post about! The idea of untamed horses roaming in the wilderness brings me peace.

    Their unbridled freedom, prancing across the land and exploring new territory, makes me at once believe that everything is possible.

    Thank you for the reminder:)

  13. Thank you for such a beautiful post. (: I really love horses alot, and your story is really inspiring and beautiful. Even though I do not have a chance to observe horses in such a manner due to the country I’m in, but it sure will be something on my list which I would love to do! Thank you so much for this and hope to continue hearing more from you! 🙂

    1. Hi Houseband, Lakota came back strong in the spring of 2012. Trying to win back his former band. But unfortunately he broke his leg in the process (June of 2012) and was euthanized in July 2012. It was heartbreaking. I am sure is spirit is living on in the Pryors, but I miss him terribly.

  14. Loved reading this again and seeing so many great pics of Lakota, and the other horses in his life. Still shed some tears that he is gone and that he suffered so much. But, he lived a rich and wonderful life on the range and left a great legacy. He lives on. 🙂

  15. Your observations of how Jackson responded to him serves to reinforce my belief that Jackson is a very special horse/stallion. He chose his friends wisely, and seems to be a “firm, but gentle” leader. 🙂

  16. Thanks for reposting this! I remember reading this, but now when I know the horses better it puts it in a different light:) It’s a beautiful story about a very brave stallion.. only so sad an end.. but as we can see now with Tecumseh, some stallions would rather die than lose their bands. He dies fighting for his band, and that’s about as gallant as it gets.
    If only we could have this detailed story on all the horses!! *dreaming*

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