It was the evening of July 4, just yesterday, that I witnessed a new life come to the Pryor Mountains. And along with that new life came a guardian angel in the form of the oldest stallion on the mountain, Chino. Chino was born in 1992, the son of Hightail and Hercules and he arrived on this day, just in time.
I was busy taking photos of little Pegasus, who I saw shortly after her birth the previous week. When I looked up and saw my friend and assistant for this trip, Jeanne (who had gone to the truck), waving her hand at me to come over. I immediately walked over, and that is when she told me a foal was being born. No one there knew who it was, but when someone told me she had a blaze, I knew it was Jacinta. I hurried over towards where they pointed.
For those of you that have been on the range, it was in the “tiered” field to your right just as you enter the range from the Sage Creek Road. There were over 100 horses around near that, and the first thought had been:
1. how odd that she was foaling at 6 pm with so many horses around and
2. I hope nothing happens to the foal with so many horses around.
It was just 2 years ago that I witnessed a similar birth at my campsite with LaBrava and it did not end well. Please read my Nacer post if you want to learn more about that. Since then, I admit, I have tried to look at the horses with more of a “watching a National Geographic special” sort of state of mind, when it comes to these intense happenings on the range, but so far my love and emotions have won out and I can’t quite capture the “don’t feel the pain” emotion. I guess that is who I am, and I guess it is how I will always be, and I am not ashamed to say, I cry a lot on the range.
It wasn’t long after I arrived and spotted them, when “all hell broke loose”. I am not sure what set the horses off, but while Jacinta tried to encourage her filly to stand for the first time, 75-100 horses decided to race above them. I do apologize for the quality of these shots. The sun was setting and unfortunately in the wrong place for good photos.
And as if a giant hand swooped down to pick them up, the next thing I knew was the other members of Garay’s band (where Jacinta belong), disappeared in the mist along with them. This set Garay into a blind frenzy. He wanted his other band members (Kohl, Peite Colur and Meriweather), but also wanted to be there for Jacinta and Patriot.
His desire for his other band members won out and he gallop off towards where they had run. I wondered how he would sort them out of 100 horses and get them back. It seemed liked an impossible task, and I doubted he would be able to do it.
And it was then, that I looked at Jacinta and watched her standing alone, with a new-born foal. I found myself a bit angry that Garay had chosen to run away when she needed him the most.
Then, I looked to the left and saw Chino, trotting right towards them. I wasn’t sure this was a good thing, or if it would end well, but I barely had those thoughts when Jacinta took charge.
I held my breath as they danced dangerously close to the newborn foal. But it was then that I looked in the opposite direction and saw 4 bachelors, (yes one was Jackson, and yes, he had the filly Nirvana for 24 hours but then lost her) running directly towards them. I knew in my heart that this story would have a painful ending if a miracle did not happen.
A small miracle did occur, 3 of the bachelors moved to the left, but London stayed behind.
And that is when little Patriot’s guardian angel appeared in the form of the oldest stallion on the range.
This old stallion has been through a lot in his life, the only stallion or horse for that matter that has ever lived on every part of the range. He is a legend just by being himself to this point in his long wild life, but what I witnessed next, placed him even higher in my heart and soul.
I am sure he did not think about what could happen to his old self, all he cared about was saving Jacinta and Patriot, and watched it unfold before my eyes.
He charged at London like a stallion 1/3 his age and he never backed down.
Jacinta also did her best to keep him away. I have had two children, and I can’t imagine getting up and doing kick boxing minutes after their birth. How do these horses do it? The will to survive and protect what is theirs clearly wins out whatever pain she was feeling after the birth of her daughter. And all the while that she was fighting London off, she was frantically trying to get her little one to stand for the first time.
Chino decided that he needed to be even more aggressive to fight off London, and he gave it his all.
I am normally a quiet observer on the range, and ask that my guests do the same, but I found myself crying out ” Please, don’t let this little one get hurt or die, please…”
Patriot was up now, and Jacinta was using her body to push her further away from the stallions.
Finally London decided he had met his match, and he trotted away. I wondered how Jacinta would react to Chino now. She had fought him off earlier, would she do it again? My answer was granted in just a few seconds, as I watched her gratefully accept what Chino had done for her and her new foal.
Chino stood guard while the bachelors continued to circle, but never had the courage to come closer have his with Chino’s incredible show of courage and strength.
But Chino’s guardian Angel role was short-lived, as Garay returned with the rest of his band. (How did he do that, gained his band members back among 100 horses?? That is story no human witnessed and can never be answered).
But with his return, Chino exited the scene as quickly has he had entered it. With tearful eyes, I watched this amazing stallion gracefully conceded and walk away without a fight. He had done the job he was asked to do and excepted it as if he did it everyday of his life. I wondered how many more times he had stepped up and done the same without a human to witness and write about it.
I found myself feeling sad for Chino, as he turned and looked over his shoulder towards Jacinta and her filly. But he did not stay there long, he turned and walked towards me, and I told him out loud how wonderful I thought he was.
He stopped and yawned, and continued on his way, because for Chino, it was just a day in the life of a legend stallion.
41 thoughts on “New Life And A Guardian Angel”
I have to say that reading this story had made me cry. After seeing Chino in person on the range, it makes the story so much more immediate, and with your photos I felt as though I was there watching it. Good for Chino, defending Jacinta and little Patriot, and thank goodness for the happy ending.
Thank you Kate! So glad to meet you!!
Amazing reporting and images. Thanks for your updates, and your caring for and observation of these beautiful horses. It would be impossible to stay emotionally detached and you must really go through a roller coaster of feelings being there on the mountain with them as much as you are.
Wonderful story. You have me crying too. I am so glad it had a happy ending but I do feel bad for Chino. It has to be hard on this old guys losing families and choosing to live alone. He looks good though and apparently can still kick butt, if needed too.
This is the second time this year that I’ve seen, in photos, this huge group of horses running around. Is that common? How do the stallions keep their families together when its almost all the horses running around at the same time?
Thank you Fay!
Wow, what an amazing thing for Chino to do. Absolutely the hero and guardian angel of this story! <3 Wish Garay had stayed to protect the most vulnerable of his band members, but thank goodness it was a happy ending!!! And it gave you the opportunity to observe (and share) more of Chino's greatness. It truly seems as though he did it solely out of the good of his heart. What an incredible stallion. And good for Jacinta too! Even if she misjudged Chino at first, she did her absolute best to protect her new filly! Just goes to show how strong these mares are. I hope Patriot has a less stressful follow-up week to her day of birth!
See you soon Abbie!
Oh my gosh. This is incredible. I can’t even find words to express how truly amazing this is. You are so blessed to have witnessed something like this. Jacinta is my favorite mare and I was so excited when I saw her at the beginning of June and saw that she was pregnant. I’m so glad her little foal did not get hurt. I almost wish Garay hadn’t come back for them and they could’ve stayed with Chino. He is such an outstanding stallion. Thank you so much for sharing Sandy!
Sandy, I am speechless. Chino truly is an angel. What courage. What an amazing series of events to witness. So happy you were there to testify to Chino and Jacinta’s bravery.
Thank you so much!
Amazing Sandy, absolutely amazing. What an epic event to have witnessed. There are so many dangers for the mares and foals at that vulnerable time and this was certainly a really risky situation.
I feel so bad for Jacinta to have had to deal with all that just moments after delivering that beautiful baby, but she sure did show how deep maternal love goes, with no thought for her own comfort, only for the safety of her foal. I am SO glad the outcome was positive in this case. It would certainly have been heart breaking otherwise. I’ll bet it was hard to get to sleep that night. The horses are all so beautiful. London is really becoming one amazing stallion, and Chino—well , there just aren’t words for what I feel for him for taking on the role of protector for Jacinta and little Patriot. The pictures are great and so, too, are your observations, as usual. Thank you so much for sharing.
Thank you so much Linda!
Beautiful story, sooo glad for the happy ending.
Thank you Collette!
“Just a day in the life of a legend stallion” indeed.
I always refer to Chino as an “epic” stallion, he’s been one of those extraordinary horses to watch over the years.
Garay will be one of those two I think.
So many special horses on the Pryors, appreciate it when you share parts of their stories.
You are welcome Scott! I hope to see you on the mountain one of these days soon!
Holy smokes! What an experience! Thank you for sharing! And the pictures help fit in all the dialogue!
Thank you Margaret!
Chino has my vote for Stallion of the Year!
Thank you so much!
Sandy, this is one of your best posts! Photos and dramatic text kept me on the edge of my chair, holding my breath! What a gallant stallion, Chino. Kudos to you grand one. Let wee Patriot thrive…keep us posted please, and Sandy, thanks again for all your love of the Pryor horses. Diane
Thank you so much Diane!
Thank you Sandy for letting us see this moment. Chino has me balling at work, and my coworkers are looking at me like “oh god there goes the crazy horse girl again” lol. I love him, I love the horses, I love you for sharing, and I can’t wait for the moment my body and soul is on that mountain experiencing it for myself.
Thank you Jamie! Looking forward to meeting you!
Thank you Sandy for this post. I remember Chino, last year, when he came out of the forest and stayed with us for a while.
Thank you Cedric!! Good to hear from you. I have fond memories of you and your family. I hope to see you again sometime!
Thank you Sandy for capturing this very special event, my emotions got the better of me too the more I read, so happy at the outcome and in awe of Chino……
What an incredible experience!! We are so fortunate you were there to document the minute-by-minute new life and the dangers. As you said, the records of the Pryor horse events will never become documentaries to those of us who follow their activities so closely. We laugh, we cry, we get mad sometimes, we are always excited at each glimpse, and at the end we go to the depths of grief in our affection for these very special beings who truly, by love, have become members of our families!! I will always treasure the time with Chino and close-up photos I took on our trip with you. Thank you!!
Sandy, you told the story so beautifully!!!! I love reading the language of the horses, and I owed a wonderful gelding named Joe that literally saved another of my horses when she was a filly with another gelding. She had just arrived at my house 5 months old, we needed to get a halter on her to work with her, she was roped (but never pulled tight) and spooked because it looped around her front leg and ran to the one and only weak spot in her whole enclosure (my mistake) a corner with 5 strands of barbwire :(. She popped through it so fast and snapped all of them I thought for sure I was going to have to put her down. Even worse she ended up in the neighbors fully open 10 acre pasture!!! I was NEVER going to catch her!…she ran as fast as should could towards the other end of that pasture hit the hog wire fence with 2 strands of barbwire on top so hard that she bounced over 15 feet backwards (all while the rope is still half on her neck and figure 8 around her leg. Then out of no where comes my gelding Joe (age 27 at the time) and Rooster (age 22 at the time). They ran to her as fast as they could and sandwiched her in-between them. It was an amazing site to behold, they KNEW she was a baby, they KNEW she needed help and they both coddled her and kept her between them. While I walked over to the end of the rope, thinking for sure she would take off with me in tote as soon as I touched it. But the most amazing thing happened, I stepped on the rope and when she hit the end of it trying to walk away, she stopped….never pulled on it again. She was halter broke and leading back to my place in less than an hour. Best part, she only had 3 scratches on her nose!…her registered name is “Barbwire Breakin Leo”.
Chino reminds me of my gelding, old and wise, and doing it for the right reasons, not for gain but he obviously knew that it was a dire situation and intervention needed to happen while the young hot heads where around.
Great narration on this wonderful experience you had, and so many people are now blessed to see it unfold to show the amazing life of these beautiful and wonderful horses as they live in their natural habitat.
Ohh, my goodness! This was a dramatic story, and the photos, showing battling stallions next to the mare with her fragile, new foal had me transfixed! You captured the exciting event perfectly. Why not use it for a young people’s book and put the proceeds towards mustang preservation? 🙂 Thank you for transporting me to the Pryors for that exciting, insightful moment in time! Bless you!
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I just found a video of this event on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/AlPerryNaturePhotography/videos/1144053205622156/?fref=nf
Hi, Yes, I did see that. Thanks for sharing!
Was Chino a bucskin? And if he was do we know if he was relative with Isabella and Phoenix because I thought only theie line had the creme gene because they descent from some palomino horse introduced in the eighties.
Yes. Chino was a buckskin. He had a partial dorsal stripe. So I guess technically he would be a Dunskin. His parents were Hightail and Hercules. He was not related to Isabella or Phoenix. Hightails parents were Calamity and unknown sire. Perhaps that is where it comes in.