Mountain Top Update, July 30, 2012 (Afternoon)

After spending some time with the horses down in Britton Springs, Lori and I headed up Crooked Creek Road.  I had not been up Crooked Creek for 2 years.  Last year it was closed most of the time while they did some work on it.  I could feel my heart starting to beat a little faster as I turned to go up it.  I have a bit of a fear of heights, so this road really tests that fear.

They did do a good job improving the road.  However, it could have been wider!  HA  I know that would be an almost impossible task to do, given the steep cliff side that the road is on.  It is still a road that I would not like to meet anyone coming towards me from the opposite way.  I still prefer Sage Creek Road over this one.  Even Burnt Timber is better for me.

We made it up to the top and stopped and looked at the trap site.  It was pretty quiet there.  We decided to go to my camp site and set up our tents.

I was unloading my camp stuff when I saw something out of the corner of my eye.  It must be a horse I thought, so I turned to look.  Well, it was not a horse, but a bear.  He was standing up on his hind legs looking at me, no more than 50 feet away.  Perhaps I should have grabbed my bear spray, but instead I grabbed my camera.  While I was fumbling with the camera, he stood up again and started to run off. He turned to look at us one more time.   I snapped this photo of him right before he ran into the woods.

July 30, 2012

There are a lot of bears in the Pryors, especially this year.  I have seen at least one every trip I have taken.  This trip I would see 5.  I also will add that all 5 were seen from my campsite.  I keep a very clean camp.  I used to cook some food at night, but this year I only eat cold food.  The only time I use my camp stove is to boil water for coffee in the morning.  I have never had a bear get in my stuff.  I would like to think that is because of my clean camp.  I hope everyone else that camps up here will be as careful.  Lori and I decided that  we would sleep in our vehicles instead of our tents.  I am sure we would have been fine in our tents, but I believe we got more sleep by sleeping in our trucks.

We continued to set up camp.  Custer’s band came over to watch us and then turned and headed towards the pond where the trap was set up.  It would be the last time I would be able to photograph Leo in the wild.

Custer band, July 30, 2012

The light was pretty bright, so the photos are not the best.  But I like to take photos any time of day on the mountain.  I don’t really care if the light is perfect, I just want the memories.

Fiasco, July 30, 2012

I thought Fiasco looked like she might be pregnant.  I know she had Kaibab and Leo in August, so I am hoping she may have a foal yet this year.

Winnemucca and Custer, July 30, 2012
Leo, July 30, 2012.  Moments before his removal

We finished setting up camp and headed towards the pond.  I wanted to see if Jared Bybee was there yet.  I had sent him an email to thank him for ending Lakota’s suffering, but I wanted to thank him in person.

When we got to the trap site, we were surprised and disappointed to see Leo in there.  Custer was driving his mares away from the trap.  It was pretty painful to watch, so after talking with Jared for a few minutes we decided to leave.

Just before we left I saw Santa Fe.

Santa Fe, July 30, 2012

As we headed down the road back to our camp, we saw Custer and his mares standing calmly.  I learned over the few days that I watched the removal, that the horses would settle down pretty fast when they were away from the trap site.  But when they were near by and hearing the whinnies of the horses, or the sound of the trailer,  it could get pretty intense.  But it was nice to know that once they were a distances from it that life seemed to go on.  It was a small comfort.  Life will be fine on the mountain.

Custer’s band minutes after Leo’s removal.

I knew the next thing I needed to do was to go and see Lakota.  I know I already told you a bit about his memorial in my post a few days ago. If you want to read that click on Lakota.  There were a few things I wanted to add.  The feather that I added to the rocks was one that I found. (it is not the most visible feather that you see, it is dropped down in the middle of the rocks and you can just see the very top of it).  I was riding my horse Oreo in the mountains above our land on Monday, July 23, the day that Lakota died.  I happened to look down and there laid a perfect feather from a Red Tail Hawk.  I got off and picked it up.  It was beautiful.  I did not know what I would do with it, but later that week I realized it would be perfect for Lakota.

My hope is that those that knew Lakota will stop and add a rock or feather to his memorial.  I also hope that those that pass, will not take his bones.  I know some will disappear, but I hope that most will remain there.

Lakota’s memorial

A saw 3 horses off in the distances towards Penn’s Cabin.  It was Garcia’s band.  This is one band that I never seem to see very often.  I drove over to see them.

Garcia, Millicent and Greta, July 30, 2012
Garcia’s Band, July 30, 2012

We decided to take a break and sit in the shade, it had been a pretty emotional day.  As we sat there, we heard something.  It dawned on me what it was.  I told Lori to grab her camera.  The sound of thundering hoofs was coming our way.  We could not see them yet, but I knew it would not be long before we did.

July 30, 2012
July 30, 2012
Quelle Colour, July 30, 2012. Is she pregnant? I thought she was, but not sure now.
July 30, 2012
Washakie and her new filly, July 30, 2012
July 30, 2012
July 30, 2012
Teton, Missoula and Half Moon.
Missoula and Half Moon, July 30, 2012
July 30, 2012
LaSalle, July 30, 2012

Once again, the light was way to bright for these photos above, but I wanted the memories.  It would be the last time I would see many of these horses running together.  I didn’t care about the light.

It was getting late and we decided to eat something.   We had forgotten  to eat lunch (something that seems to be pretty easy to do up here!)  It seemed quiet and we wondered if they were done for the day.  Some people stopped by to talk and wanted to know where they might see some horses.  Shawn came by and said that they were still working the trap.  Lori and I decide to head down there and see who they had removed.

It was almost 7 by now.  Jared and Ryan were patiently working the trap. Despite what is said in other posts and blogs right now about this removal, I was here first hand watching and I was impressed with Jared and Ryan.  They were patient, respectful and caring towards the horses.

Tonopah was whinning nearby.  They had Jedediah in the trap.

All of the horses in the area were watching.

Duke’s Band, July 30, 2012
July and her colt, July 30, 2012
Galaxy and his band, July 30, 2012
Ireland and Maia
Gringo and Kechikan (Gold Rush’s daughter)
Pocochino, July 30, 2012

Grijala was very worked up.  His whole band of “Special K’s”, minus Kalahari were in the trap.  Quelle Colour was in it as well.  Kalahari wanted to run away, but Grijala kept snaking her back and running around in a panic.  I knew they weren’t going to keep all the K’s, Kindra and Kohl would be let out of the trap along with Quelle Colour.  But Grijala did not have any way of knowing this.  He would loss Katrina and Kachina that day.  But as soon as they let QC, Kohl and Kindra out, he settled right down.  I would see them the next day.

Grijala watches QC and the Special K’s in the trap, July 30, 2012
Grijala calls for his mares.
Grijala, July 30, 2012

A few other bands came in to watch.  Doc’s band remained calm.  But Horizon, Fiesta and Juniper were constantly trying to stir things up.

Doc, July 30, 2012
Horizon, Juniper and Fiesta
Part of Galaxy’s and Gringo’s band watches.

Gringo and his band were pretty worked up as well.  I knew that they had LaSalle.

Gringo’s band, July 30, 2012
Gringo’s band
Gringo’s band
July 30, 2012
July 30, 2012

When the trailer started to back up to the pens it seemed to trigger a memory for Baja.  He came out of nowhere calling.

Baja, July 30, 2012
Baja calls out.

Custer’s band watched silently and Garciana and Jacinta called for their offspring.

Custer’s band, July 30, 2012
Garciana, July 30, 2012
Jacinta, July 30, 2012


Neither Lori or I wanted to stay any longer.  It was very hard to see this.   I did and still do support this removal.  But that does not mean that I or anyone else who supports it, did not feel the pain.

I felt a lot pain that day.  Pain for the removal of band members, pain for the loss of Lakota.  Pain for the unrest that filled the air.

Custer’s band leaving.

At day’s end  July 30, 2012, six horses were removed.  They were: Katrina and Kachina from Grijala’s band.  LaSalle from Gringo’s band.  Leo from Custer’s band. Kane from Blue Moon’s band and Jedediah from Duke’s band.

It had been a very long and emotional day.   I did not sleep well that night.


Logo designed by Amber Bushnell

20 thoughts on “Mountain Top Update, July 30, 2012 (Afternoon)

  • I would not want to watch these horses getting separated either. 🙁 It sounds like entire horse families are being ripped apart. I understand these removals are necessary so that the horses don’t overpopulate the area but it’s still hard to read about. As usual I love your pictures! 🙂

  • WOW Sandy! How on earth do you know the names of ALL these horses?? Your photographs are splendid, regardless of the light. So many magnificient animals.

    Do you ever think that you will create a headstone for Lakota’s monument, just to remind passers that this is hallowed ground, and the remains are sacred?

    Get some rest, you deserve it. D.

    • Thanks Diane. No, I want to keep the area as natural as possible. Any horse’s remains that die are sacred, I think. So hopefully even without them knowing that it is Lakota, they will still be respectful.

  • Sandy,
    I could imagine how hard for you and Lori being there to witness the removal. The horses calling for the family members being taken way was very very painful. I hope they will not remove any more horses and things will return to normal soon.
    Thank you the photos and the update.

  • So Happy that all the horses trapped will be adopted into a forever home, as IT SHOULD be FOR ALL the Wilds, Yah well it is not

  • What an emotional day. I had tears in my eyes reading this. Thanks for sharing something so meaningful!

  • Thank you so much for the wonderful pictures. Many of us will never see these horses in person, but this is the next best thing. Thanks again

  • So they didn’t remove London and Ketchikan after all? That’s good news!

    Ireland is looking big, do you think she’s gonna foal soon? It appears she will leave a great legacy with many offspring.

    Missoula looks like he’s going to be a flaxen sorrel. He’ll be as handsom as Fortunatas!

    Love your pix and posts as usual!!

    • Yes, that is good news about London and Ketchikan! Yes, I am thinking Ireland may be pregnant, time will tell…
      Yes, I was so surprised to see Missoula’s flaxen tail! It will be great if he is a flaxen sorrel, we need another one of those on the range!

  • This was heart breaking for me to read. This is so stressful for the horses that are loosing members of thier band. Contrary to what some people may think, these horses are very emotional animals and especially in the wild they are very family oriented. And you can see how even the bands who aren’t near the trap sight come running when they hear the desperate cries of the other horses. I can’t imagine being there, it must have been so hard. Ketchikan looks so much older than two! I’m so happy her and London will be staying. I was also SO excited to see Missoula’s flaxen tail! We need another sorrel on the mountain. I’m so glad he didn’t roan out too! I recently saw a picture of his great grandfather Flash and they look so much alike! And I know his other great grandfather (Raven’s father) was flaxen sorrel. I’m excited that Fiasco may be pregnant! I didn’t realize she usually foals in August and had thought she wouldnt be having another foal. At least Custer will hopefully have a new little son or daughter on the range. Looking forward to Dancer’s, Electra’s, and Ceclia’s foals too and any other suprises we might get 🙂

  • Beautiful photo’s Sandy! Thank you for all of these memories!
    The time I spent on the mountain will be etched in my mind and heart forever!
    I am glad that the gather is just about over, but it was way better this way than using a helicopter and running the horses down the mountain! i appreciate, respect and acknowlege all of the hard work that Jared and Ryan did to make this gather as “easy” on the horses as possible.
    Everyone needs to know that!
    Now the Pryor herd can get back to their normal life.
    Check the Pryor website, the news section. I have posted a picture of our shelter being built.
    Matt will be posting some photos on his blog soon, as several of us from the Center went out to Britton Springs yesterday.
    They are all so beautiful and I pray that they all get adopted to great homes.

    Thank you Sandy, for the memories on top of the Pryors!

    • Thanks Lori! The shelter looks great, Jimmy is doing a great job!
      I had a wonderful trip with you too Lori. Look forward to doing it again.
      I am looking forward to Matt’s post.

  • Sandy, please know how much sharing this is appreciated, even though it gives me a stomach-ache…. hopefully the auction will give you some emotional release.

    Lori, the shelter looks great! Thank you and Jimmy 🙂 Good Luck at the auction, too.

  • It has to be very difficult to write about experiences that were so painful, but you bring up a very important point that may get lost on some advocates – – that you can regret the need to gather these young horses without opposing it. No one who cares about these horses – – and that includes Jared – – WANTS to separate these families. I have seen other blogs describe BLM as being arrogant and lawless in their actions but it is so far from the truth. Your blog (and the Center’s blog) are a good balance and I hope many people are reading them.

    • Thank you Chris. Yes, I have seen those other blogs as well. The latest I have seen are comments about Lakota’s death. Those people just love to take and twist anything into something evil. It makes me really upset.
      I am hoping that others do step back and try to find out the truth or another opinion, instead of believing only one side.

    • Christine, thanks so much for wording it this way — regretting the removals without opposing it. Many of those on the other blogs who are trashing and yelling and being totally obnoxious and hateful, not only have never been to the Pryors, but don’t even know in what state the range is located. And these same people who are acting this way, don’t realize that many of us who have been there, even if it is only once or twice, and who support the removal, are feeling the pain of it, emotionally and even physically. It will be much easier to breathe when it is all over… hopefully.

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