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