Lori and Brianna were here with us now. Brianna had never been up on the mountain top before. It was fun to watch her expressions seeing the horses for the first time and also good to see Lori.
We were all eating lunch when my eyes spotted a horse a distance away. When I am on the range, I am constantly scanning for horses, no matter what I am doing. It was especially important this time, because there were a few horses that I really wanted to see. They had not been seen for a while, so it was a top priority of mine to see if I could spot them. Starman, Prince, Kindra, Grijala, Meadowlark and Jasper.
I already knew by now that Meadowlark was probably gone. No one had seen Grijala since late February or early March. I was pretty confident that Grijala would turn up. But this land can be unforgiving, especially in the winter months. There are many places on this range where a horse could slip and fall to their death at any time of the year. Add snow to that and it becomes even more dangerous.
I immediately got up to look through my binoculars. This horse would not turn his face my way, but I was about 90% sure it was Grijala.
Brianna, Amber and I decided to get in the truck and drive closer for a better look. I headed down Burnt Timber road. I knew he was beyond where the road turned to head down the mountain, so I pulled over and parked where the road began to turn. We hiked the rest of the way. Heading down along the ridge line, coming over a small hill and down another. There he was. This time he turned his head to look at me. It was Grijala.
He was up on the hill watching all of the horses far below him. From where he was, he could see the same land that we had been earlier in the morning. Probably trying to figure out who he would challenge, maybe who looked the weakest, or who was not attentive to their bands. Waiting patiently.
Grijala looked good. He is two years older than when he took Lakota’s band in July of 2011. And two years wiser. I had no doubt he would win another mare or two. Soon. I wondered who it would be.
We watched him for a few minutes and then went back to camp. I could easily keep my eye on him from there.
I wasn’t back for very long when I noticed the four boys (Knight, London, Inali and Hamlet). They were on the same side of the road as we were and they were also watching Grijala. Hamlet decided to run out and greet him.
The other three boys were close behind him. I was amazed at how London and Knight had filled out. They are two examples of how strong these horses are. Both loosing their mothers, before they were even yearlings. Now they were strong bachelors. Even though London is only 2, he seemed much older in his actions. I think it is probably because he was forced to grow up fast. He did not have the typical life of other young horses (still being in a band and maybe even still nursing). He was forced to join the boys as a yearling and they seemed to have taught him well. Probably making him tougher.
Knights story was similar. He lost his mother Guinevere when he was about 6 months old. When I saw him again, in July 2011, he was with Lakota’s band. Lakota had taken him in. Then after Grijala took Lakota’s band, Knight remained Grijala until he kicked him out sometime in the spring of 2012. ( I still saw him with Grijala and band in March 2012). Knight had the chance to remain with a band and grow up with its protection for a year or more. I don’t think London ever got that chance. But now, they both seemed so grown up. Raised for the most part by other bachelors. And I thought how much Knight’s body was beginning to look like his fathers. A little tank. (His father is Cappuccino.)
It was time to get closer. I was sure we would see some good action with these boys and I would not be disappointed!
The interaction of the stallions in bachelor bands is one of my favorite things to watch and study. I could feel my heart beating a bit harder with the excitement I was sure we would witness. All four of us jumped in the truck. I labeled us the “Wild Horse Chasers”. Not unlike the weather “Storm Chasers”. I don’t think it could have been any less exciting.
I have gotten to know this range quite well, and I was pretty positive I knew exactly where they would be popping up. I was right, and it seemed they were waiting for me.
Let the show begin! We all just stood there and watched the action unfold. Note: we were not far from the truck and could use it for quick protection if needed. When these boys play and spar among themselves, they often don’t look where they are going. So to walk towards them without any form of “cover” for protection would be a foolish thing to do.
Immediately these boys started taking note of which bands were around them. I could feel their excitement. With Grijala’s experience and knowledge and the power of the others as a group, they were sure they could win some mares. But for the immediate future, they just decided to watch and spar among themselves.
There was a pause in the action. It was then that I noticed some horses down below by the mud holes near Penns.
Then it was Knights turn to “play fight”. What I noticed most about this was how kind Grijala was to him. It was apparent that Grijala was showing him how it was done. It was very interesting and really touching to watch.
The boys decided to take a time out and head to the water hole. We watched them go. There were a few bands around me that I wanted to get some better photos of, so I stayed where I was.
Custer and his band were close by. Nodin had grown so much since Anh and I had discovered him over on Sykes Ridge back the end of April. Nodin has some good caretakers. Custer is a really caring and loving stallion. Nodin’s mother Fiasco and the lead mare Winnemucca (who will be 26 this year) are also very attentive.
Teton’s band, Mescalaro and his two mares and Gringo (with Tecmuseh) were also close by. I was especially looking forward to getting some better photos of Missoula.
There was a storm moving in. The wind had picked up and temperature was dropping fast. The horses were starting to move into the trees for protection. We headed back to camp just as a few rain drops hit the windshield of the truck. It was 7:00 pm. What a day it had been. Fourteen and one half hours of wild horse energy. In many ways it seemed like it had been two days, instead of one.
My friend Linda D was going to be joining us on the mountain sometime later this evening. I was looking forward to seeing her. The last time she and I had been on the mountain was exactly a year ago and we got snowed on. I wondered what this storm was bringing with it. Would it be a repeat of last year?
It had been an incredible day. I couldn’t wait to see what the next day would bring.
PS: This is my 200th post since I started this blog in February 2012. Thank you to all that follow this blog and read it!