I knew Sunday would possibly be my last day to be on the range. There was a snow storm predicted for the next day. I wanted to get an early start. We were heading up the Dryhead just as daylight came.
This was day two of my wide-angle lens. After reviewing my photos from the day before, I realized I had several shots with some lens flare. Today I would have to be more aware of where the sun was.
I was deeply in love with this lens, despite the challenge it seemed to be presenting to me. The photos it took made me feel as if I was actually bringing the range home with me.
We saw some horses right as we entered the range. The Greeters. But this morning it was only Seneca and Hightail. I could not see Hickok anywhere. I have seen Hickok missing from this band a couple of times over the last year. I always thought he was just around a hill close by. But this morning I would find him a few miles away.
We stayed for just a few minutes before we continued down the paved road of the Dryhead.
We saw Johnston and Hawk way out on Mustang Flats. Since this day was most likely our last on the range, we decided not to spend the time hiking out to them.
We turned on the road that lead to the Devils Outlook parking lot. I wanted to get some shots with the wide-angle lens.
From the Dryhead, I headed to lower Sykes and unloaded the ATV. After checking the water catchments in this lower area, I turned to head up the road towards the red hills.
Just past the red hills I stopped. I could see a dark horse heading our way. It was Hickok! He briefly stopped to look around and then continued right past us.
Hickok seemed to be on a mission to get somewhere, and if I had to guess where, I would say most likely back to his mares, Seneca and Hightail, who were a couple of miles away.
After Hickok left, I parked the ATV. We spent some time hiking and looking through the binoculars.
My plan for the day when I mapped it out before I realized there would be a storm, was to head up Sykes. My perfect plan for this trip would have been: Day One on BT, Day Two on Sykes, Day 3 back to BT.
As I drove further up Sykes, I began to think about this plan. I knew it could be 8-10 miles up this road before I saw horses. I really wanted to see these horses, but with my luck from the day before, I hated to risk driving that far and not finding any. I knew if I went back to Burnt Timber, I could find horses there AND see the horses on Sykes from a couple of areas on BT. After spending a minute or two talking it over, we turned around and headed to Burnt Timber instead.
I really wanted to see Baja and check on their new foal Nahwa who had just been born in September.
Again I headed up far enough to be able to get a good look around. We saw Jackson’s band again where we left them the afternoon before. We decided not to hike to them, but to continue on in search of other horses.
We reached Cheyene Flats, where I stopped to look over to Sykes through the binoculars. I immediately saw several horses and concluded that it was Bolder’s Band and Coronado’s Band. I have uploaded these photos in full size so you can click on them to have a closer look. Please let me know if you think they are different horses than what I have concluded.
I also briefly saw what appeared to be a band of 3 horses, or part of a band. The stallion snaked them away from these bands and into the trees before I could Identify them or take a photo.
We were now entering Cheyenne Flats, a beautiful open area about half way up Burnt Timber Road.
We were still not seeing any horses here. But we only had to go a short distance before we spotted a few of my favorite Bachelor Stallions. Grijala, Hernando and Jasper. I have never seen Grijala look so fat. Without a band to defend, he has really put on some weight. They saw us and immediately started heading our way.
They did not stay very long with us. They flexed their stallions muscles a little over a stud pile and headed into the trees.
I took another look over at Sykes and saw another band. This one was even harder to identify, but I believe it is Morning Stars. Although at one point I counted 9 horses on this ridge. Morning Star’s band only has 7, so I am not quite sure what is going on or if I may have misidentified them. I spent a long time looking through the binoculars and concluded (with some relief) that if it was Morning Star and band, they DID NOT have a new foal with them. I have uploaded these photos full size so you can see them closer. Note: Morning Star’s Band is on the ridge below where you can still see part of Bolders and Coronados. Look closely at the photos, they are on the ridge and also a few are just below it on the side of the hill.
We stayed here and ate our lunch. We had an incredible view of all of Cheyenne Flats and then over to Sykes. I wanted to check on Morning Star’s band a bit more, just in case I had missed a new foal.
After lunch I decided maybe we should continue up the road to where we had gotten stuck in the snow the day before. We still had not seen many horses and I thought perhaps some may still be further up the mountain.
Not seeing any horses or any signs of horses (we were again about 2 miles from the top), we headed back down to Cheyenne Flats to do some hiking.
We hiked down to the water guzzler that is there. It was just about as full as it could get. For those of you that have never seen a guzzler, let me explain the best I can how it works. The guzzlers are installed on a slope. The black “tarp” is the water catchment and catches rain and snow. From there the water (or snow as it melts) goes in a tube and into the holding tank. The fence is installed to keep the horses (or other wild life) off of the tarp. There is a spring-loaded gate installed in case a young foal, horse or even a deer accidentally gets in this area. With a light push they are able to get out. This gate was open, as you can see in the photo. I wondered what had gotten in there, but there was no damage or evidence of anyone being in there. I re-closed the gate after I took this photo.
We saw plenty of horse hoof prints, and we followed their paths for a while. I couldn’t believe how warm this day had become. At one point on the hike, I took off my vest and fleece and was only wearing a t-shirt. The end of October. I barely had days on top of the mountain this summer warmer than that! I knew it would not last long, I could see clouds starting to form in the distance.
Not finding any horses, we returned to the ATV and slowly made our way back down the mountain.
Once again, we stopped several times along the way, looking for horses. When I got to the spot with the clear view of both lower guzzlers, I stopped and looked through the binoculars for several minutes. At one guzzler I could see horses and at the other one where Jackson had been that morning, I saw several. I have to mention, there has only been one other time (October 2012) where I have not seen Cloud and his band when I have been on the mountain. It does not seem to matter what time of the year it is, he always seems to be very visible to me. I wondered if his band was there. I was just a bit too far away to make a positive ID. It seemed there was a light colored horse (or two), but wasn’t sure.
We stopped at the first guzzler that we could see from the road. I quickly realized it was Cappuccino’s band. I was really happy to see them. The last time I had seen this band was at the end of August and the handsome yearling colt, McKeahnie had a puncture wound on his right hip. I was pleased to see that it had healed and that McKeanhie was walking without a limp.
I wanted to stay with this band for a while, but we also wanted to see who the other horses were at the next guzzler, so we left after few minutes.
We parked and made the familiar hike towards the guzzler. As we approached the open area that contained the guzzler, I was surprised to see that it was Jackson and band. Again!
For whatever reason, this band still seemed a bit uneasy, so we did not go any closer. I instead hiked around in the hills above them. Looking for more horses and taking some landscape shots of the area. The wind was picking up now and I was beginning to think that the weather prediction was going to be right. But at this moment in the late afternoon, the sky was still a beautiful blue.
We decided to take a different path back. One that was up high so we could continue to look for horses on our way back to the road.
Once again, by the time we hiked back to the road (it took a bit longer as the way I chose ended up to be a ridge line over further than what I thought. Something that can easily happen on this range. But it was a beautiful horse path!) it was starting to get dark and much colder. We got to the truck and headed down the road just as the last glow of the sunset was beginning to fade.
Our horse count so far this trip was 53 horses.
20 thoughts on “October in the Pryors. Part Two.”
Those are some beautiful landscape photos you have posted! Naara is so big and looking great! Those three bachelor boys all look great too. Grijala is definitely fat too. Jasper looks so similar to Grijala and Hernando he could be their third brother hahah! It also seems like Heritage and Jasmine are close. Looks like Hickok wanted to do some exploring. Since he didn’t grow up in the “Greeters” area I think he likes to sometimes move around other areas to see what’s going on. I think if Seneca and Hightail weren’t so opinionated on their desire to stay in “Greeters” area Hickok would like to move around more and frequent other areas of the Dryhead. I think if he had younger mares, that would happen. Haha but these two girls are set in their ways. So sometimes I think that’s why he goes on other adventures from time to time.
Thanks Sarah. When you get a chance, I would like you to take a look at those horse photos from over on Sykes. Thanks!
I was at a horse show over the weekend so I didn’t get the chance to pull up the photos in their large format until today. My best guess would be the same as yours. Bolder’s and Red Raven’s bands
Thanks Sarah. How about Morning Star on that second ridge?
Morning Star’s would be my best guess on that one too. I think I may even be able to see Hailstorm’s big belly in the one photo. If she’s pregnant I really hope she will hold out until at least March.
Grand photos Sandy! Jasper is a noble creature indeed, as are the other dark boyz! Take care! D.
Beautiful pictures, Sandy. Thanks!
Thank you Karen!
Great photos! Enjoyed every one. Glad for the good news on McKeanie 🙂 Maybe the small group of horses you saw briefly that went into the trees was Cloud’s. Some of them may have been in the trees already. It sure is always a mystery who you’re going see. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!!!
Thanks Linda. Clouds usually winter over on Burnt Timber. But it possible with the early storm that some went down Sykes instead. There are so many places that they could be and not be seen.
Sandy thanks for mentioning my beloved Cloud. Others are probably just as worried as I am but he hid as a bachelor for years–so maybe we have nothing to fear. Besides you didn’t find remains.
I hardly recognize any of the mountain! I mean on the whole I do but sections of it–no way. And the trails–never saw a sign of them 3 years ago.
This just reinforces the idea that I really do have to hit the gym and get into shape. Ugh how come there isn’t an app for that?! I think if its okay with you I’ll print out that steep looking BT pic and post it all over the house for inspiration.
Thanks Margaret. I am sure Cloud is just fine. There were a lot of other horses I did not see as well. This time of year can sometimes be hard to locate them. They are all tough horses.
Boy, Seneca sure does look PG again, doesn’t she? She must really have stored up a lot of fat for the winter. I hope Hightail has a chance to put on a bit more before the deep winter sets in. I don’t think she can keep up the pace that the younger Hickok and Seneca can, and I find it touching to hear from Nancy at Pryor Mustangs that Seneca seems to stay with her even if Hickok wanders off. They didn’t have that kind of relationship to begin with. 🙂 And I can’t get over how very primitive Naara looks. She’s a true Pryor Mountain Mustang! 🙂
Yes, Naara is a little beauty! Seneca is very round, but so are a lot of the horses. A good place to be with winter coming.
Congrats on your 250th post Sandy! Nice shots with the wide angle lens, it certainly gives life to the ruggedness of the Pryor’s. Great pictures of Jasper, Grijala & Hernando! Thanks for sharing!
Yes Linda, I agree that Naara sure is a little beauty!!
On one of my recent trips to the Dry Head I happened to see Seattle! He looks good, and I was real happy to see him back in the DH and looking good going into the winter. He is always a bit on the thin side anyway, but he looks better this year than last winter.
Thanks Lori! I am so glad you saw Seattle! That is really great news. I had not heard of anyone seeing him since I saw him on top of the mountain in July!
Loving the wide angle lens pictures. Not that your pictures were not clear before, but I feel almost these pictures could be the “after” in a Claritin Clear commercial (the way they always “peel off” the screen of the commercial to reveal more vivid colors).
Thanks Amelie! I know, I really love that lens too! 🙂