We decided to go back up Burnt Timber again today. With the snow pack down and the ability to hike a short way once at the water catchment and see all of Turkey Flat’s below and a lot of Skyes Ridge, it seemed a better and less stressful choice than taking our chances going up (and back down) a slippery Sykes Ridge Road. I also wanted to check on Teton and see how that situation was going, hoping too that I would see Warbonnet.
The morning was cool, 23 at the bottom of Burnt Timber. The sky was clear for the most part. I welcomed the cooler morning as I knew it would firm up the road more and I would be able to get up higher on Burnt Timber. However the ride back down confirmed my earlier decision to avoid Sykes Ridge Road.
The first band we saw was Doc and his band. Doc, Broken Bow, Demure and little Mandan. Even from across the ridge looking through my binoculars, I could see that Demure was very pregnant! YAY! A Doc foal, probably in May. This is really great news.
The second band we encountered was a very sleepy Cappuccino Band. We stopped and said good morning, spent a few minutes, then left them to their morning nap in the sun.
I was really hoping to see Jackson and his band at the catchment. When we got there, no one was there. We briefly debated hiking for our look at Skyes and Turkey Flats, but decided to continue up the road while it was firm and save that hike for later.
We continued up the road to the mines and the picnic table. Still no more horses. After a brief check there, we continued. We were beginning to see drifts in the road, but the ATV busted through them quite easily. There was a steep hill in the road ahead, and Brigitte decided she wanted to get off and walk, so I stopped, let her off, and continued. I was determined to get up the hill. I always know, if I can not get up a hill, it will be an okay situation to just back right back down in my tracks. But I never go down a hill, I don’t think I can get back up. Does that make sense?!
This steep section had a pretty good snow drift on it. Some melted snow pack from the winter and then some new snow from yesterday. I hit the gas and made a run for it.
Yay! Made it to the top with very little slipping! I was happy. I kept going down and up one more section, until I saw the steep down hill I told you I would not go down, unless sure. It had an even bigger drift and a huge frozen muddle pond at the bottom. I decided to park the ATV and hike over to the edge and look down while I waited for Brigitte to catch up.
I was immediately rewarded for my efforts. There was Teton and his band along with Mescalero and his band. But this time I got to see that Warbonnet was there. They also seemed a little more separate then two days before. I thought maybe I had been wrong, and these two bands were simply banding together for whatever reason. Time will tell. But it gave me a much needed comfort.
I thought Warbonnet looked very round. I am hoping she is pregnant. Another Kayenta on the range would be wonderful, but I am afraid she may just be fat. Just as disappointing was the clear realization that Half Moon also looked as though she was not. I was also trying to decide if Phoenix looked like she received another PZP injection in the same spot as last year. There is a big round scar from last year, and I hoped she would not have another reaction. It was apparent that many of the mares had received their injections in recent days or weeks.
We watched them for a while and then decided to hike up to Cheyenne Flats. I knew we could not be more than a mile or so from there.
We returned to the road and started down. I looked to the bushes on the left and saw this looking back at me.
Galaxy! I was so happy to see them. Galaxy is one of my favorite stallions, he is after all Lakota’s son. But aside from that fact, he is one gorgeous stallion. He just oozes handsome. I had also hoped for a Hera/Galaxy foal, but right now, she is not looking pregnant to me.
Hera was just up the hill from these girls and she also peered through the bushes at us. After a few minutes, they all decided to cross the road and head up the ridge.
After they all crossed the road in front of us and were working their way up the ridge, we continued to hike down the road. Once we were down the hill and back up another we got an even better view of this wonderful band. I think Galaxy has proved to be a fantastic band stallion, and I am looking forward to seeing him raise many foals in the future.
We continued hiking up the road. It seemed like an easy hike compared to my last trip here. Only a few steps of knee-deep snow to get through this time. We reached Cheyenne Flats. There were no horses, but we decided it was a good place to stop, watch and have lunch. I did take this photo so you could see what it looked like. I also saw this horses off in the distance. Anyone want to venture a guess on who they think it is? I could not quite make out if he was Grullo or Blue Roan. So my thoughts were either Irial or Garay. I welcome everyone’s thoughts on this.
After our break we headed down. We saw Galaxy and his Girls out on another ridge. Then, we spotted another horses, closer to us. It was Santa Fe! He was alone. Oh great, I thought, I REALLY wanted to see him with Firestorm. Now I have to wonder where she was. I was really hoping he would be able to keep Firestorm, his long-lost mare of 2007. He bred her, and she wanted to join him and his band, but Cloud Daddy would not allow it. (Thanks Sarah for reminding me of this!) Where was she now? Hopefully back with Jackson.
After watching my own horses and these horses for several years, I can almost always read what a horses slightest actions may lead too. I see a horse move a certain way and say “they are about to roll, or they are about to lie down, or he is going to try to sneak up on Galaxy’s band”. Brigitte asked me how I knew these things would happen. I said ” I have ten horses AND I send over 40 days a year with theses”. After you spend that much time with them, you begin to read and know their moves. I am not always right, but most times I am. I was right this time, and we watched Santa Fe sneak his way slowly towards Galaxy’s Girls.
I was not too worried. I would however love to see Santa Fe with a mare of his own again. Since Doc took his band last spring, he has only had Judith, and she was removed last summer.
Santa Fe retreated and looked up at us. Then walked away over a ridge.
I decided that the best way to get down this part of the road, was by myself and asked Brigitte to walk down the hill. It was a good decision, as our time away had caused the sun to melt the new snow and make an ever so wonderful ice rink underneath for me to slip and tip on the way down. I made it up right and we continued down the road.
Back at the mines, I pulled in hoping for horses. We caught a glimpse of Mescalero, Polaris and Rosarita on the ridge above us. Had they moved off without Teton’s band? I hoped so.
The rest of the way down the road was interesting and exciting in spots with the melting snow and muddy red dirt. But we arrived to the place in the road where the view of the water catchment was best, without to much of a problem.
We looked down and saw 4 horses. I got my binoculars out and confirmed it was Doc and his band! Another great thing! I had not spent any close up time with this band since last summer, and even then, there was so much action going on around me, that I did not get to enjoy and alone time with this small band.
We pulled over and started hiking closer to them. I had not seen this band up close since last September and I have never gotten any really good photos of Doc. He never wanted to look towards me, or even left his head up from eating.
As we got closer I was able to confirm my earlier thoughts that, yes, Demure is very much pregnant. No doubt. Besides her very big belly, she looked thin to me and she was the one who never lifted her head. I was relieve that the snow had melted down this low. If it was still knee deep like it had been 4 weeks ago she would be in worse shape. She was making up for lost time now.
Broken Bow was not please to see us. She has always been a bit grumpy each time I see them. Not unlike the 2 Toppers. But this time I could clearly see why she might feel this way. There was a mark on her right hip from a recent PZP injection. She wanted nothing to do with people, and I could not really blame her. She tried to leave and each time she did, Doc would go and snake her back.
Doc, however was relaxed with our presents and decided to lie down and nap for a while.
Doc looked amazing, fat really, especially for this time of year. He is another one of my favorites.
Mandan had grown so much since I last saw him. He was beautiful. I had almost forgotten that he is Santa Fe’s son. Doc has been the only father he has known. I was there a few days after he was born in May. I am looking forward to watching him grow.
Doc was not able to nap long, as a curious and playful Mandan decided to go over and bug his step-father. Doc was amazing patient and good natured about the disturbance.
Demure was working her way towards us and I took a few photos before we decided to leave them and hike over for a look of Sykes and Turkey Flats.
We sat for a while glassing over Sykes and Turkey Flats below. I saw no horses on Turkey Flats today. I did see 3 horses up on Sykes. I believe they were Corona, Waif and Topper, but they were far enough away that I could not confirm that. I could just make out their colors.
We made our way back towards the water catchment and on the way got to spend some more time with Doc. Broken Bow was even less pleased to see us. So after watching Doc snake her in yet again, we decided we should leave them alone.
We hiked up a hill for another look around, then returned to the ATV and started to head back down the mountain. We stopped several times, but did not see anyone else. I was disappointed that I had not seen Jackson and his band.
We still had some daylight left and decided to head up the Dryhead to see who else we could spot.