Every year we loss a few horses, none are ever easy, or pass unnoticed, but some are harder to accept. Each of us have our favorites, whether we want to admit it or not. This year is no exception to that, but to me, it is an especially hard year. The mountain just will not be the same without these horses. And so, with this post, I tell you about what I know of them and dedicate in their honor.
1. Tonapah, born in 1986, she was the oldest living horse on the mountain for many years. Her sires are unknown, but she had many offspring, Lakota, Warbonnet, Baja and Brumby are just a few. Part of her will live on through these horses.
Tonapah was with the band stallion Duke for many years, until she decided to leave him and join Horizon/Fiesta band in the summer of 2013. A part of me wondered if she left him because she was trying conceive (she was on PZP). She clearly sought out much younger stallions to be with. In the end, she may have conceived, as many of us think the dead foal that Liz found this summer may have been hers…
Whether that is true or not, this wise old mare was a great asset to the Horizon/Fiesta band. Taking this unorganized and unsettled band under her care, she turned them around to become a stable and strong force on the mountain.
Tonapah never showed us her beauty on the mountain top this summer.
I loved to tell guests, that she was the oldest mare on the mountain, she was a beautiful and strong mare for all those years, she never looked her age. The saying is true for her “you are as old as you feel” and I think Tonapah passed to the other side feeling beautiful and young. I will deeply miss her.
2. Topper Too, born in 1995 to the mare Topper (who died in the winter of 2014) and the stallion Beauty. She has only one known offspring on the mountain, Fiasco (who is also the daughter of Chino).
Topper Too and her mother Topper were long time mares of the stallion Chino. I smiled a million smiles watching mother and daughter with Chino. They were two of the most unsocial horses on the mountain while together with Chino, and made it clear many times that they would rather not be around humans. Chino lost them in 2013, Topper went to Corona’s band and Topper Too went with Baja. I did not think they would stay separated long, but they continued to live out their lives apart from one another.
Topper Too died from a lightning strike, while in Mescarlo’s band, on May 31, 2015.
3. Chino, born in 1993, to the mare Hightail and the stallion Hercules. It is with much sadness and tears that I type about Chino. He was last seen on July 4, 2015 after saving the life of a young foal (you can read my post about that, by clicking on CHINO.) As you can see from the photos above and below, I saw this stallion constantly. He was always one of those horses that showed himself to me. I pray that he may still show up, but in my heart, I feel he is gone. But what an amazing life he led! There are many stories I could tell about Chino, but none as great as on the last day I saw him.
He is the only stallion on the mountain that has lived in all areas of the horse range: Dryhead, Burnt Timber, Sykes, he knew this mountain better than any horse has or will. He was a patient stallion, putting up with his unsocial mares ( Topper and Topper Too). He seemed to give them up without much fight and go into his second bachelor hood with ease. He excepted it, but never lost his drive. I watched him in April 2014 dog Cloud and his band for an entire day.
Chino has been one of those horses that I never really realized was a clear favorite, but my camera knew, I have hundreds of photos of him. My heart aches to think of the mountain without him.
4. Hightail, born in 1990 to the mare Calamity, Hightail has been a fixture on at the entrance of the Dryhead for years. She is one of the “Greeters”. She was last seen in August of this year, so there is still hope that she may show herself, but in the many years that I have seen her, I have never seen her away from her close companion, Seneca.
Hightail was the very first wild horse I ever saw. She very quietly and purposely walked slowly in front of my truck at sundown on July evening. I will never forget that moment. She then continued to lead me to the rest of her band, that included Admiral.
I find it sadly ironic that she and her son Chino disappeared within a month or so from each other. Perhaps this mother and son are together in another place, healthy and running with the others that have passed before them.
5. Issaquah, born in 2008 to Bakken and Seattle, he has been missing for over a year. I saw him alone several times part way up Sykes Ridge Road, so maybe he will show himself. That is a very vast area that few people travel, he may still be there.
In his early bachelor years, Issaquah was always with the stallion Hawk. In fact, I called them HawkandIssaquah, because they were so inseparable.
Issaquah died way before his time, unlike the horses above, he had not lived a long enough life.
As of today, these are the horses that have passed or are missing. My wish is that this year will draw to a close without another one added to this list.
Rest in Peace, you lived wild and you died wild, just as it should be.