The Boys of Summer

I thought I would publish one more post before I headed to the Pryors.   I want to tell you about a couple of the bachelor bands on the mountain.    I called them the “boys of summer”.

The first group of these boys that I saw this year was in July.  We (myself and 4 friends)  were sitting on the rocks above Mystic Spring early one day when we saw the horses below us look up.  We followed their eyes and saw 5 young stallions staring back.  Looking back at us and the other horses were: Galaxy (2006) ,Gringo (2006), the son of Duke and Madonna , Garay ( 2006), son of Conquistador and Mariposa,  Inali ( 2008, the young colt that got tossed out of Cabaret’s band the summer before they died and the son of Eclipes and Invernese), and Hamlet, the 2007 colt of  Delilah and Pierre.   I can always spot Garay, he is the grullo missing part of his left ear.

Inali, Garay, Hamlet, Galaxy and Gringo, July, 2011
July 2011
Gringo and Galaxy, July 2011

This group varied from one hour to the next.  Sometimes the older stallion Two Boots would join in and sometimes Jackson’s two-year old son, Jasper (Lakota’s grandson) would join them for a short time and then go back to his family.  Two year old stallions will do that.  Play with other bachelors for a while and then go back to their band.  That will go on for a while until the band stallion decides that they need to stay away and not rejoin the band again.

Jasper back with his family (4th from right), July 2011

Another group of young stallions that I saw was Fiesta (Fiddle), 2005 son of Diamond (Teton) and Phoenix, and his gang.  That particular July day it consisted of just two more, Horizon (He Who), 2007 son of Felina and Morning Star, and Jupiter (Jasper), 2009 son of Flint (Blue Moon) and Feldspar.

Those three boys always seemed to be full of mud.  I actually did not realize that it was Jupiter with them, until I saw his face.  His grullo color was completely covered in mud!  Later in this post you will see a photo of Jupiter minus most of the mud!

Horizon (He Who), Jupiter (Jasper) and Fiesta (Fiddle), July 2011

Fiesta was constantly trying to start something with some of the other stallions nearby.

Fiesta, sparing with Mescalero, July 2011
A muddy Fiesta (Fiddle), July 2011

Over the next few days we saw these groups of bachelors several times, plus or minus a member or two.

July, 2011
July, 2011
July, 2011

The next time I was on the mountain was the end of August.  It was about a week after the fire near the Dryhead Vista had started.  I was not sure if I would be able to reach the top due to the fire, but we decided to try.  My daughter Amber was coming back with me.  I had accomplished what I wanted to on my first trip with her a month before.  She was in love with the horses too!  The fire was pretty much out and the firefighters were just doing a mop up.  The road had just been re-opened.  We were lucky!

As we reached our camp spot we saw a few horses.  Red Raven (Coronado) band was grazing nearby.  There was only one other band that we saw that night.  I did not realize who it was at the time until I was looking through my photos for this post.  It was Garcia and his band!!   It is not a very clear photo, it was getting dark, but I may post it sometime.

It was quiet on the mountain top that night.  We were the only campers  there.  There were several storm clouds in the sky and we could hear thunder and see lightning in the distance. The smoke and thunder clouds in the sky made for an incredible sunset that night!

We decided it would be safest to sleep in the truck that night.  We were glad we did when we were woken up by wind, pouring rain and  nearby lightning strikes during the night.

July, 2011

The next morning we woke up to a cloudy day.  There were no horses in sight.  It was a far different morning than the one we had experienced in July.  That morning we had started the day with Lakota’s band surrounding our tent.

We drove around for a couple of hours, not seeing a single horse.  We hiked around a bit and then met up with Jared Bybee from the BLM, Billings office.  We went with him up to the water guzzler (see post on The Empty Meadow).  After spending a few hours with Jared we decided to take a drive down Sykes Ridge a ways.  Not seeing anything we turned around and were stopped looking at the storm coming our way (it had rained off and on the whole day).  We were right by Penn’s Cabin.

August, 2011

We were almost about to drive off when I saw a head come out of the woods.  It was Fiesta and his gang.  The first one out was Fiesta.

Fiesta (Fiddle), August 2011
Fiesta (Fiddle), August 2011

Next out of the woods was Horizon and Jupiter.  They all still had mud on them, but a little bit less than when I saw them in July!

Horizon (He Who)  and Jupiter (Jasper), August 2011
Horizon (He Who), August 2011

The last one out of the woods was Indigo Kid, he is the 2008 son of Prince and Electra (Ireland).  He was the newest member of this band of bachelors.  I had not seen him with them in July.

Indigo Kid, August, 2011
Indigo Kid, August, 2011

Amber and I had a lot of fun that August day watching these boys of summer play and spar.  They didn’t seem to have a care in the world.  Too young to want a family of their own and too old to be part of a family band, these horses had formed their own family.

Horizon and Fiesta, August 2011
Jupiter, missing most of the mud! August, 2011
Indigo Kid and Jupiter, August, 2011
Indigo Kid and Jupiter, August, 2011
Horizon and Fiesta, August, 2011
Fiesta and Horizon, August, 2011
Horizon, August 2011
Horizon, August, 2011
Horizon, August 2011

I would see some of them again when I came back in September.

I was looking forward to this September trip.  The weather in September can be just about everything you can think of.  Cold, hot, raining, dry, you just never know what you will get at 8,500 feet.   Unfortunately for us we got cold, rain and snow.  We arrived on the mountain just in time to get our tent pitched and eat a quick dinner before it got dark.  Bolder and his band were close by.

The next morning it snowed, enough to cover the ground a little, but it was gone by noon.  There were no horses to be seen.  We spent several hours hiking around.  Still no horses.

Then as we were coming back to our campsite from another hike, mid afternoon, I saw a few horses towards Penn’s cabin.  We got in the truck and drove towards them.

Galaxy and Gringo, September, 2011

They were quite a distance away, but I could tell that it was Galaxy and Gringo.  As we got closer we saw Horizon.  With him was the young stallion Jedediah (2009) son of Granciana who is in Duke’s band.  I would see him play with these 3 for a while and then go back to his family.

Jedediah,Horizon and Galaxy, September, 2011
Horizon, Jedediah and Galaxy, September, 2011
Horizon, Jedediah and Galaxy, September, 2011

We watched them for a several minutes and then Gringo came back into the picture.  It seemed that the carefree attitude that these young stallions had the past few months had gone.  There was an intensity to their play that seemed to be more serious.  Indigo Kid, Jupiter and Fiesta were nowhere to be seen and it seemed that Horizon had joined the more serious group of stallions.  Jackson’s son Jasper (Lakota’s grandson) was with this group now too.

Galaxy and Gringo, August, 2011

We saw that several bands were coming down to what was left of Mystic Pond.  It had gotten a lot smaller since August.  We decided to grab a seat on the rocks above.  Band after band came down to drink.  The bachelors, lead by Galaxy were there to challenge every stallion that came to drink with their bands.   The other boys mostly stood by and watched, but Galaxy seemed intent on winning a family.  Chino (1991) and his mares, Topper One and Topper Two (who he lost the summer of 2010, but won back during the winter of 2010-2011) were heading to the pond.  Galaxy immediately ran over to challenge him.

Jasper, Gringo, Horizon and Galaxy challenge Chino, September, 2011
Galaxy, Gringo and Chino, September, 2011

After a while the bachelors retreated towards Penn’s cabin.  I saw Jackson’s band up on the bluff towards Sykes road.  There seemed to be something going on.  Apparently Jasper wanted to return to his family and the other bachelors decided to follow.  That set Jackson into a fiery.

Jasper heads back to his family, September, 2011
Jasper reaches his family.
Jackson chases the boys off.
Jackson makes contact with Horizon

I turned away for a minute to watch Custer and his band go down to the pond.  At that time Jackson decided that Jasper could no longer stay with his band.  He chased his son off, then returned to regroup his band.  Some of them wanted to follow Jasper, but Jackson made it clear that was not an option.

Jackson regrouping his band.
Jackson and band, September, 2011

It was clear now that the games were gone.  These stallions were ready for family of their own.  Jackson, Chino and the other older stallions were able to keep the boys away.  But how long would that last?

When I returned in October I did not see any of these bachelors.  I heard that Border’s young filly, Juniper (Jewel) was with Horizon.  I hope I can give you an update on these bachelors when I return from my trip.  I am looking forward to seeing where everyone is and what changes have occurred.

Next summer when I head to the mountain I am sure there will be another group or two of “The Boys of Summer”.  I look forward to seeing a new generation of boys forming their groups and enjoying the carefree days on Pryor Mountain.


PS: If you have not read Matt’s Blog that he posted a couple of days ago, you should.  There is some really great news!

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