Grijala

Grijala, August, 2012
Grijala, August, 2012

When I started this blog in February, 2012, I was planning, every once in a while, to post a blog on just one horse.  Touch base with their history and share what experiences I have had with them.

Somehow, besides just a few, I have not followed through with that.  2015 is a new year, and I vowed I would once more highlight a horse.  I won’t be able to do this in the summer months (as I will be camping for most all of it on the top of the mountain), but I will give you these stories during the winter months.

I am going to start with a horse, that in 2011, took the band from my favorite wild horse, Lakota.  I never thought I would want to highlight this horse or turn a focus on him, he was after all the one that I felt contribuated to the death of Lakota.  But as all things in life, time heals wounds, and I find myself thinking a lot about Grijala, I even felt a pull towards him this last summer.  I can’t explain why, but each and every time I saw him, I felt a smile come to my face.  For whatever reason, he has been especially on my mind this winter, and so I decided to share with you Grijala’s story like I know it.

Grijala, October 2010
Grijala, October 2010, near the Big Ice Cave

I first came to know Grijala in 2010.  I had heard about him during the 2009 roundup, but never saw him then, which was good, because every horse that called the Custer National Forest their home, was rounded up and taken off their land.  There were a few that escaped that gather.   Grijala was one of those.

Born in 2006 to Conquistador and Cavalitta (both removed in 2009), Grijalla lived and thrived in the Custer Forest.  He is bigger than many of the other stallions, and part of me wonders if this is due to the fact that he did reside in the National Forest, where there is an abundance of forage.

The first time I saw Grijala, he was with his brother Hernando, just about 1/4 mile from the Big Ice Cave.  It was in October.  I remember that day well, it was the day that they finished the new fence that would lock out the horses from the Custer Forest.  But as I headed down the mountain that day with tears in my eyes, I saw these two still on the land that they were ban from.

Grijala and Hernando, October 2010.  Just above the Big Ice Cave.
Grijala and Hernando, October 2010. Just above the Big Ice Cave.

I am not quite sure how they got them back on the range, but the next time I saw Grijala, was in July 2011, and he very much on the existing horse range, right by my tent in fact, fighting with Lakota to claim his band.

Grijala and Lakota with part of Lakota's band in the early morning light of late July, 2011.
Grijala and Lakota with part of Lakota’s band in the early morning light of late July, 2011.
Kohl, Knight, Jenny and Grijala, July 2011
Kohl, Knight, Jenny and Grijala, July 2011
Lakota, Knight, Grijala and Kohl, July 2011
Lakota, Knight, Grijala and Kohl, July 2011

I watched this story unfold for several days while I was there.  I was concerned for the wounds that both these horses had (I later learned this is where Garay lost part of his ear, he was one of the horses that was challenging Lakota).  These fights weren’t for fun, their wounds were deep and oozing.

Lakota and Grijala
Lakota and Grijala
Kohl, Knight, Grijala and Lakota
Kohl, Knight, Grijala and Lakota
Grijala, 2011
Grijala, 2011
Knight, July 2011
Knight, July 2011
Lakota
Lakota
Grijala and Jenny, 2011
Grijala and Jenny, 2011
Grijala and Kohl, 2011
Grijala and Kohl, 2011

Grijala started to collect several mares, when I saw him in March 2012, he had one more with him,  Kachina.  But, Jenny was now gone, with the stallion Doc, I believe.  Knight, the young orphaned colt, was still with him as well, but shortly after this, Grijala kicked him out.

 

Here is a video I did with footage from 2010-2011.  Grijala is in it with Lakota, filmed in 2011.

Grijala, March 2012
Grijala, March 2012

 

Grijala and his band, March, 2012
Grijala and his band, March, 2012

By May 2012, Grijala had added several more to his band.  Oddly enough, the mares had names that all began with the letter “K”.  I labeled his band members, “The Special K’s”.  With him now, were:  Kachina, Katrina, Kohl and Quelle Colour (which sounds like it begins with “K”.)

Quelle Colour and Grijala, May 2012
Quelle Colour and Grijala, May 2012
Kohl and Kachina, May 2012
Kohl and Kachina, May 2012
Katrina, May 2012
Katrina, May 2012
Kachina, May 2012
Kachina, May 2012
Katrina, Kohl and Kachina, May 2012
Katrina, Kohl and Kachina, May 2012

Just before I arrived in June for my first camping trip of the year, I learned that Lakota was dogging and challenging Grijala for his band.  By the time I arrived, Lakota had broken his front right leg, and Grijala had acquired a few more “K”s.  Now, not only did Grijala have the other K’s I saw in May, but he had added a couple more, Kindra and Kalahari.    Now his band consisted of:  Kindra, Kalahari, Kohl, Kachina, Katrina and Quelle Colour.

Part of the "Special K" band, June 2012
Part of the “Special K” band, June 2012
Lakota watches them from above, June 2012
Lakota watches them from above, June 2012
Lakota watching Grijala, June 2012.
Lakota watching Grijala, June 2012.
Grijala and Katrina, June 2012
Grijala and Katrina, June 2012
Garay and Grijala, June 2012
Garay and Grijala, June 2012
Grijala, June 2012
Grijala, June 2012

Life went on for Grijala and his band, in July 2012, but life ended for Lakota in this month.  Grijala did not know it, but in the following month, his life would change too.

Kalahari, Grijala and Kachina, June 2012
Kalahari, Grijala and Kachina, July 2012

The last removal operated by the BLM in Billings, MT was in the summer of 2012.  It started on the mountain top in late July.   I watched in the last few days of July and the first few in August, the removal of several horses.  It was a painful thing to watch, family bands being stripped apart.

Grijala’s band would be one that would take a hard hit, with the removal of several of his “Special K’s”.  He would lose Kachina, Katrina and Kalahari.

The removal was handled well, I respected Jared and Ryan with how they handled the horses.  One of the things they did was to quietly capture each band at a time.  This was a bait trap removal, which meant that several pens were set up and the horses were captured by placing “bait” or treats of hay and mineral blocks in the pens.  From there, the horses were taken according to a well thought out removal process, based on history and lineage, which horses would be removed.

However, Grijala was in a panic as he watched his band members captured.  He was unaware that he would be getting some back.  But at this minute in time, he thought he was losing them all.  I watched him go from calmly standing guard by the pen they were in, to frantically racing around as they loaded some in the trailers.

Grijala keeps watch over his mares, August 2012
Grijala keeps watch over his mares, August 2012
Grijala, August 2012, calling for his mares that are being loaded.
Grijala, August 2012, calling for his mares that are being loaded.
Grijala
Grijala
Grijala in a panic.
Grijala in a panic.
Grijala
Grijala

At the end of that day, he would be left with Kohl, Quelle Colour, and Kalahari.  But Kalahari would be removed the next day.  Kindra had been stolen by Garay in all the confusion.  His band of Special K’s were now down to just Kohl and Quelle Colour.

One more day with Kalahari before she was removed.  August 2012.  Quelle Colour, Kohl, Kalahari and Grijala
One more day with Kalahari before she was removed. August 2012. Quelle Colour, Kohl, Kalahari and Grijala
A Wildfire influenced sunset at the end of that day, August 2012.
A Wild Fire influenced sunset at the end of that day, August 2012.

The horses all adapted to the changes of the removal.  When I came back in September, I was surprised at how life just seemed to go on.  It was so odd to see Grijala and his now very small band of just mother and daughter (Quelle Colour and Kohl).

But, I was even more surprised when I saw Grijala in June 2013, back to being a bachelor.  Quelle Colour and Kohl were now with Garay, but in the winter of 2012-13, Kindra had somehow disappeared.   Most members of the Special K mares were now gone.  (Kalahari lives in Virginia with the other Pryor 8, Katrina and Kachina, both giving birth to Grijala offspring in the spring of 2013, live in Montana).

Katrina and her new foal, April 2013.
Katrina and her new foal, April 2013.
Kachina and her foal, April 2013
Kachina and her foal, May, 2013
Kachina, Grijala colt, General.
Kachina, Grijala colt, General.
General today, Grijala and Kachina's colt.  Photo by Trisha Hagen
General today, Grijala and Kachina’s colt. Photo by Trisha Hagen

I didn’t expect Grijala to remain a bachelor for long.  He had worked so hard at being a band stallion.  But he seemed content to just “hang with the boys”.   Maybe the responsibility of being a band stallion was just to much for him, I don’t know the answer, but I was sure it would not continue for long.

Hamlet, Grijala and Inali, June 2013
Hamlet, Grijala and Inali, June 2013
Grijala and Inali
Grijala and Inali
Grijala with Inali with Knight, London and Hamlet.  June 2013
Grijala with Inali with Knight, London and Hamlet. June 2013
Grijala and Knight
Grijala and Knight
Grijala with the boys, June 2013
Grijala with the boys, June 2013

The summer of 2013 moved on, but still, Grijala was on his own, most often spotted with some other bachelors.  He seemed content.

Grijala on far right, part of the "Boys of Summer".  July 2013.
Grijala on far right, part of the “Boys of Summer”. July 2013.

Wild in the Pryors

Grijala with Jasper, July 2013
Grijala with Jasper, July 2013
Chino, Grijala, Jasper and Custer, July 2013
Chino, Grijala, Jasper and Custer, July 2013
July 2013
July 2013

Grijala was still with the bachelors, when I spotted him in late October.  Although he looked a bit different now.  He was heavier than I had seen him since 2010.  Bachelorhood was agreeing with him.

Grijala, October 2013
Grijala, October 2013
Grijala with his look alike brother, Hernando, October 2013.
Grijala with his look alike brother, Hernando, October 2013.
Grijala, October 2013
Grijala, October 2013

I returned to the mountain in Mid-February, 2014.  As I was heading down the dirt road towards Burnt Timber, I looked towards the mountain.  I thought I saw movement, so I stopped the truck and glassed towards the mountain.  I could see two horses trotting at a steady pace right along the fence line of the range.  I hurried to Burnt Timber and unload Ophelia (my UTV) and headed up the snow-covered road.  My timing was perfect, just as I reached the entry to the range, I saw the two horses, still going at a pretty steady pace.  It was Jasper and Grijala.  They both looked like healthy fuzzy ponies.

They seemed to be on a mission, and I immediately thought perhaps they were planning on working together to gain some mares from another band stallion.

Grijala, February, 2014
Grijala, February, 2014
Grijala
Grijala
Jasper and Grijala, February 2014
Jasper and Grijala, February 2014

I would see them often on this trip, watching  Cappuccino’s band.  I was sure that when I returned in April that I would see Grijala with some mares again.

Sunset on Burnt Timber Road, February 2014
Sunset on Burnt Timber Road, February 2014

When I got to the mountain top in June 2014,  I expected to find Grijala with some mares, but again, I was surprised to still see him without any.  He was still with the bachelors.  It appeared he was taking the time to train some new ones.

It impressed me that he was taking the time to take these recently “kicked out” two-year olds under his careful guidance.  Even though Grijala is only 8, he has a lot to teach and share with these young stallions.

Grijala and Mica, June 2014
Grijala and Mica, June 2014
Grijala
Grijala
Grijala, Mandan and Mica
Grijala, Mandan and Mica
Grijala and Mandan, June 2014
Grijala and Mandan, June 2014
Grijala, Mandan, Mica and London, June 2014
Grijala, Mandan, Mica and London, June 2014

I continued to see Grijala stay with the boys, I don’t believe I ever saw him alone.  It seemed like he really enjoyed harassing the other band stallions.  I often saw him just running through and around a band with his “gang” of boys.  It humored me to watch him do this simply for the thrill of it, as if to see how far he could push the band stallions, very much like a teenage boy pushing the boundaries with his parents.

Pushing Doc's buttons
Pushing Doc’s buttons
Moorcroft, Grijala, London and Jasper, August, 2014
Moorcroft, Grijala, London and Jasper, August, 2014

Wild in the Pryors

Grijala, Mandan and Moorcroft
Grijala, Mandan and Moorcroft

I spotted Grijala and some boys up on the Skyline meadow, one mid-August day.  I was hiking with a friend.  Coming out of a group of trees, we almost bumped into him as he stepped out of the dark woods.

This is the meadow that the BLM installed a water guzzler in 2010, (and also where the horse Big Foot lived for his last few years) with the intent to try to encourage the horses to go up there and graze this meadow.  I made a post about this meadow in February, 2012.  If you would like to read more about it, you can click on MEADOW to go there.

Needless to say, seeing him along with 3 other horses up there, was very encouraging.  Hopefully we can get a new generation of horses using this area again.

And so, the summer of 2014 came to a close and Grijala still continued to be a bachelor.  However, I did start to notice something interesting.  There are a few foals and young horses (under 2) that have that “Grijala Star”.  Two of them belong in Garcia’s band, and since I saw Garcia try to mount his yearling “daughter” several times this summer, it made me think, that perhaps she IS Grijala’s, not Garcia’s.  Just my own personal observation, I have no documentation to proof if I am right…. But it does explain Grijala’s contentment.  Does he have the best of both worlds?  A carefree bachelor life along with a few “flings” on the mountain to keep him happy?  It certainly is something to think about..and watch.

Grijala offspring?
Grijala offspring?  Orlando and Norma Jean from Garcia’s band.  Photo by Brianna Harvey

Regardless,  I am looking forward to seeing what happens with this amazing stallion in the upcoming year and years ahead.  He is a strong force on the mountain, that will no doubt have an impact on the future generations of Pryor Mountain Wild Horses.

Sandy

Grijala, August 2014
Grijala, August 2014

 

23 thoughts on “Grijala

  1. What a wonderful blog entry! Such a treat to be able to follow the lives of these wonderful horses. Thanks so much, Sandy, for sharing your experiences and insights!

  2. It is interesting to see all the horses running around on the plains, in many ways they act like humans. I loved the blog and the continuing life patterns that emerge. It is great to see these horses so healthy. I love to hear more Sandy, are you going to continue writing your blog on these horses, or are you going to follow another group. In your blog you mentioned Lakota had broken his leg, obviously he lost his band to Grijala, Did Lakota die? I know this is the circle of life in the wild, but doesn’t it make you cry after seeing him for so many years. Was there a way to save him? Would he let me help him? these are some of the questions i would ask myself. Do you feel that you could have done anything to help? Leg breaks are usually no fixed the horses are usually put down. I know you can’t save everyone but do these questions ever go through your mind. I have a big heart, and i have loved horse all my life, to see them wild would be a treat indeed. I have seen horses wild in the UK where i was born, the New Forest Ponies, they are part of the heritage trust and they can not be removed or killed. I wish more of the United State wild horses can be preserve in this way. Please continue to follow the progress of this band i would like to follow along. It is very exciting you doing this.Love this blog.

    1. Hi Tracy,

      Thank you so much. The Pryor Mountain Horses are the only herd that I follow and plan on following. They are like family to me. I offer camping trips in the mountains with these horses in the summer months.

      Lakota was (and is) my favorite horse. The BLM euthanized him after giving him 6 weeks. It was very apparent that he would not be healing. It was and still is one of the most painful things I have had to deal with. I was in love with this horse. I have shed many tears with all that goes on up there. But, it is part of life. It doesn’t make it any easier, but I have to remind myself that these horses are living the life they love and we must take the good and bad that happens to them, accepting it as natures way. They are wild, and they live and die wild without little human interference. Thank you for following my blog!

  3. I love these spotlight posts! 🙂

    I can appreciate how hard it must have been for you to come to terms with Grijala. Sadly it’s the way of the wild 😦 Lakota will forever be remembered as an integral member of the Pryor Mountain Mustang herd, however 🙂

    That’s a really interesting theory about Grijala being a “secret sire!” I hope that’s the case with Norma Jean…. It would seem to make sense too as she was only a yearling and normally stallions don’t harass their young daughters. Would help with genetic diversity too as I think Garcia and Greta are potentially half-siblings (through Chino)?

    It was lovely to see pictures of some of the removed “K” horses-made me very sad though to think that they all lost their families and freedom shortly after the pictures were taken. There are so few “K” girls left! Especially since poor Kindra disappeared 😦

  4. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about Grijala and his choices. I hadn’t expected him to go without a band this long. I expected him to spend some time off and then make a play for some mares. I actually expected him to go take Quelle Color and Kohl back from Garay. Not to diminish Garay as he’s a strong stallion too, but I’ve wondered about how much of a fight Grijala put up against him. Both stallions emerged without many marks on them and after the knock down drag out Grijala and Lakota had that could have easily killed them both, it just seems like maybe Grijala kind of let them go. I’ve wondered if maybe his break from the ranks of band stallions had to do with “unfairness” of the removal as Grijala lost those mares through no fault of his own. I wish Grijala had gotten to raise his sons. I wonder if keeping some or all of the “Special K’s” he lost would have changed the way events played out. If he would still have that band. Haha I just realized how many times I’ve said “I wonder” in the past few sentences. He does have wisdom to share with the other bachelor boys. It’s been good they’ve got to learn from him. This past summer I definitely enjoyed seeing him take the young new bachelors under his wing. They have benefited greatly from that. He showed them the ways of bachelorhood while also being a protector. It reminds me of the other forest service boys becoming Knight’s protector when he was young. I really think Grijala enjoys harassing the other bands! Busting through the middle and causing all kinds of havoc! I swear in some of the pictures you can see the smirk on his face!!! And he is probably by far the most legitimate threat of the bachelors so it’s not like the band stallions can ignore him haha.

    I’ve given thought to him being the sire of Norma Jean and Orlando. I suppose Grijala could have come in and overpowered Garcia, bred Greta, and then decided not to keep her. I feel like it would be a coincidence for it to have happened twice, thought not impossible. Norma Jean was first spotted from afar and then it was several weeks before she was seen up close and Grijala wasn’t seen during that time so I assume he was off in seclusion somewhere, it could have been in the same area. I go back and forth. I’m not sure either way. The star does look like Grijala’s, but it could also be from Belle Star or Chino on Greta’s side. Their stars aren’t quite that big, but are of decent size. If only the horses could answer these questions for us haha! I know you said previously that we may see some foals with Grijala stars next year as he would try to sneak in and breed a mare in heat when he saw a chance. Any bands he paid particular attention to?

  5. Love this Sandy! So many great pictures, and interesting info. Sad memories of watching Lakota as he suffered physically and emotionally at that spot on Burnt Timber. Still brings tears; but it is as it must be, and Lakota will always live on in our hearts, as well as in his descendants. And it took a mighty stallion, and Grijala is that, to unseat Lakota. We CAN be thankful that he escaped the gather to keep the Forest Service bloodline going. Funny that you should point out that Grijala seems to enjoy getting the band stallions riled up and then just leaves. I commented that very same observation on a post that Kim Michels did earlier today of Horizon chasing he and “the boys”. She referred to it as “pushing their buttons”, which pretty well describes it. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for him to get serious about a band again. I wish we could really know what goes thru their minds about things… TY again for sharing.

  6. It’s so interesting to read about the horses here and I love learning about them. I’m really hoping to see them next summer if we can make a return trip to WY. My son saw some of them in 2013 when he traveled through the mountains, and he’s promised to take me there if we go again. He lives in Moran now. Thanks for such a wonderful blog!

    Lucy

  7. Completely random question-but I was wondering if anyone knows what colour the band stallion Froggie was, and what markings he had? I’ve seen him mentioned several times but never been able to find a picture of him 🙂

  8. Sandy –

    I love these stories! I can not wait to see Grijala out this summer and now that I know his backstory it will be all that more special thanks to you. As a newcomer, you make it absolutely wonderful to learn about the Pryor mustangs. Thank you! I will probably cry when I spot the horses I know because I am a sap. 🙂

    1. Hi Jamie! Thank you for your comment! I am looking forward to meeting you. There is nothing wrong with shedding a tear up there. I do it quite often. The power of the horses and the land can be a very emotional experience.

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