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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One minute they were grazing peacefully, the next fighting.
We all watched this for an hour or so, and then they moved on.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!