We did not know what to expect on this third day up Burnt Timber. The weather forecast was not good: high of 40 degrees with 20-30 mph winds and gusts to 40 mph. I wondered if we would even see any horses today.
I dressed just like I did when I was there in February and even then, the wind cut through. There were periods of snow falling as well, but there was also some sun. Just enough sun to warm us and make us want to continue.
Our trip up the Dryhead was pretty successful considering the weather, so I was feeling a little more confident that we would see some horses up Burnt Timber. I reminded myself that every day was a gift and every horse that showed itself to me was a gift. I was having a great trip and thankful for those I did see. No expectations, then you are never disappointed.
No one was at the first water guzzler, so we continued far enough up the road so that we could see where, and if there were horses anywhere to hike to.
We all wondered what was happening with Cloud and Santa Fe. The day before we had spent on Sykes Ridge, so we had no idea if Santa Fe was still dogging Cloud.
I stopped in my favorite “scanning” place and looked around. No horses. Really not surprising. They were all tucked away out of this wind and the snow that was now falling.
We continued up the road and that was when I spotted Tecumseh/Gringos to the left. They were in a small protected area amongst some low-lying bushes.
I noticed right away, that Jacinta was still not with them. Three days since I had last seen them. I had hoped she would be back. Perhaps she got taken by one of the bachelors. I hope she is alright.
As we stood there and watched, I noticed that Tecumseh had some fresh wounds on him. They may have been there 3 days ago, they looked like they were healing some. Gringo had none. Was it as peaceful as I had thought? Was Tecumseh still keeping his role as Satellite bachelor, protecting and fighting off anyone who comes near? I do believe it is the latter. It still seemed that Gringo and Tecumseh were at peace. Grazing near one-another with no conflict.
I continued to drive up to Cheyenne Flats. No horses were visible over on Sykes today. We all decided that it would be a good day to hike down to the water guzzler here. It would be out of the wind and seemed like a perfect place for some horses to be.
We reached it and saw no one. Not even any fresh tracks in the soft ground.
We had just returned to Ophelia when I spotted a horse in the trees not far away. It was Mica, looking particularly handsome in a patch of white snow.
It did not take us long to hear some commotion coming from behind those trees. It was Cloud and another horse. Santa Fe must still be at it. But when I saw the other horse, it was not Santa Fe. It was 21-year-old Chino.
We followed and watched the scene unfold. It appeared to me that Chino was more aggressive than Santa Fe had been. Keeping Cloud and his band on the move. We would later see them (about 1/2 hour later) about 5 miles down Burnt Timber.
The one thing I did notice, was that Cloud seemed to look ever so slightly better than when I had seen him two days before. Not quite as thin. I think that is most likely due to being able to hydrate. I know that when a horse is very dehydrated, they look very “sucked in”. What ever the reason, it was good to see him look a little better and I was glad that he may have had a break.
The rest of Cloud’s band just continued to graze unless Cloud snaked them further from Chino.
We had hiked quite some distance following them. They were clearly heading down the mountain, so we turned to go back and head down the road.
As I neared the lower water guzzler, I noticed a band there. It was Galaxy and his band. We parked and started to unload. It was then that I turned and saw all of Galaxy’s band looking in the distance, past the guzzler to the east. I could see a lone dun horse running fast towards them. It took me a minute to realize that is was MacKeahnie, Cappuccino and Gabrielle’s two-year old colt.
I think he was just thirsty and decided to run towards the water, not realizing that Galaxy was there. He quickly learned the error of his way.
Galaxy chased him off, but MacKeahnies thirst or perhaps it was his loneliness made him try a second time. It appeared to me that MacKeahnie had been kicked out of his family band. The first few months are hard for a young colt. They no longer have the comfort of being in the protection of their family. But hopefull in a short while, he will find some comfort in a new band. A bachelor band. They will become his new family, and in some ways, this can be a carefree time, until he reaches the age of wanting to start a band of his own. Endless summer days of sparring and eating, sleeping and doing it all over again. He will become a new “Boys of Summer”. I am looking forward to watching MacKeahnie become one.
But on this day, it was impossible not to feel sorry for him. He was alone. Galaxy refused to give him any slack. When MacKeahnie decided to try again, Galaxy chased him off yet again, but this time it was in a more aggressive way.
MacKeahnie next decision was to take some comfort by staying closer to us. We sat by Ophelia and watched him work his way closer to us. It seemed to give him comfort to be by ANYONE. My heart hurt for him. But other than being alone, he looked good.
He stayed by us for over an hour. It was good to relax and just be in the moment. We decided to stay until he chose to move on. I was sure he had enough of horses leaving and rejecting him in the time that he had been kicked out of his family. I did not want to be yet another that turned his back on him. After an hour or so, he again (but this time gradually) made his way towards the guzzler. I could see that Galaxy was beginning to move on and hoped that MacKeahnie would finally be able to get the drink he wanted.
We then drove the short way to park and hike back to the mineral lick. But no horses were there. It was time to head back down for the night.
It had been an amazing trip, we had seen 91 horse, many of those I had not seen since last fall. No expectations, then you won’t be disappointed.