A Tribute To The Horses That Have Passed, Or Are Missing in 2015

Chino, July 31, 2012
Chino, July 31, 2012

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.

Tonapah, August 2011,
Tonapah, August 2011,

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.

Dukes Band
Dukes Band, Tonapah in the middle, August 2012

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.

Chino and Topper Too, April 29, 2013
Chino and Topper Too, April 29, 2013
The famous Toppers
The famous Toppers “over the shoulder” look.
Topper Too leaving.
Topper Too leaving.
Chino and Topper, May 19, 2012
Chino and Topper, May 19, 2012
Topper 1 and Topper too, September 1, 2012
Topper 1 and Topper too, September 1, 2012  A typical greeting from these two!
Topper 1 and Topper 2
Topper 1 and Topper 2
Topper Too and Topper, August 31, 2012
Topper Too and Topper, August 31, 2012
The Toppers, July 31, 2012
The Toppers, July 31, 2012
Topper Too, July 31, 2012
Topper Too, July 31, 2012
Chino, Topper and Topper 2, June 17, 2012
Chino, Topper and Topper 2, June 17, 2012
Chino's band, July 31, 2012
Chino’s band, July 31, 2012
Chino, Topper One and Topper Too.
Chino, Topper One and Topper Too.
Chino and Topper and Topper Too. May 2012.
Chino and Topper and Topper Too. May 2012.

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.

Galaxy, Gringo and Chino, September, 2011
Galaxy, Gringo and Chino, September, 2011
Jasper, Gringo, Horizon and Galaxy challenge Chino, September, 2011
Jasper, Gringo, Horizon and Galaxy challenge Chino, September, 2011
Chino, September 2012
Chino, September 2012
Chino, May 2012
Chino, May 2012
Chino, April 2014
Chino, April 2014
Chino, April 2014
Chino, April 2014
Chino fighting London, July 4, 2015
Chino fighting London, July 4, 2015
Chino, May 19, 2012
Chino, May 19, 2012

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.

Hightail, April 16, 2012
Hightail, April 16, 2012
Hightail, June, 2015
Hightail, June, 2015
The Greeters, April 2012
The Greeters, April 2012
Hightail and Seneca, April, 2012
Hightail and Seneca, April, 2012

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.

Hawk and Issaquah, April, 2012
Hawk and Issaquah, April, 2012
Hawk and Issaquah, April 2012
Hawk and Issaquah, April 2012
Issaquah, April, 2013
Issaquah, April, 2013
Issaquah, April 28, 2013
Issaquah, April 28, 2013

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.

Sandy

21 thoughts on “A Tribute To The Horses That Have Passed, Or Are Missing in 2015

  1. Sandy,

    My heart aches for you and all your friends who love and document these wild horses for those of us who may never see them. You give them a life and a story. Hightail, brave Chino, the Toppers, and Issaquah live on through your pictures, your stories, your love and your tears. Thank you for sharing their unique and wild lives.

    Nanina

  2. Not being sure of the time line, I have to ask if you think Tonopah died giving birth, or was she seen after the time that foal would have been born? She may have been able to move out of the area before she actually passed away, or the foal’s body may have been moved by predators who didn’t get to “finish the job”, I suppose. I certainly hope Issaquah is spotted somewhere like Kitalpha did, after a long absence. However, I realize he may have fallen victim to a rattlesnake bite, injuries from fighting, a fall from one of the many high places, or one of many other possibilities. He was/is a real beauty. I enjoyed “being near” he and Hawk as they did their bachelor thing, more than once on the Dryhead. Thanks for a very nice post.

    1. And I too, will miss seeing Chino. He was a very special guy. I hope patriot lives a long and happy life on the range. It will be sort of a memorial to Chino.

  3. What a beautiful tribute to the horses. I am so glad I got to see Chino this summer, and I second Linda D’s wish for Patriot to be his memorial. Thank you for posting about the horses who are gone. It may be sad, but at the same time it is lovely to read about their lives.

  4. What a beautiful tribute-your last line really made me tear up 😦

    I love that first picture of Chino-what a stallion! I so wish I had gotten to meet him, and all the others listed above. But they will always be part of the mountain and my experience with the range through the stories I’ve heard about them. Thank you so much for doing these memorial posts. It must be terribly hard but it is soothing to think that these horses are being honoured and will never be forgotten. They are with their ancestors in the sky now. Chino died a hero’s death and is Patriot’s guardian angel, and Hightail and Tonopah have long been legends of their own! The Toppers and especially Issaquah died too soon, all three were beautiful horses. I love the over the shoulder glare picture-what personality!! may they all rest in peace.

  5. Everyone of these horses will be missed so much!
    Chino caught my eye right away when I first saw him. He always seemed so elegant yet powerful. And he had the most beautiful eyecolor.. It seems so right that the last thing he was seen doing was protect a mare, that wasn’t even his, and her foal. He is one for the storybooks, that’s for sure! ❤
    Tonopha must be the most iconic mare on the mountain.. The legacy she left behind tells the story. It's a really interesting theory that she might be the mother of the foal. I guess her old age might explain the disformation on the filly as well? If it is the case it's a tragic ending for one as legendary as Tonopha.
    It's something strange about loosing both Hightail, Chino and the Toppers in such a short time:/ They will all be missed! And it's also tragic if Issaquah really is gone. There is so much that can happen to a horse without us ever knowing, but I sure do hope he shows up again, like Kitalpha..

  6. Sandy, I’m just not ready to accept that something has happened to Hightail. Seems like she was off by herself for quite a while a couple of years ago, so I hope she is just being ultra-independent again. She seemed to be looking pretty good in the summer, so I have high hopes. However, I do know she may have joined those who have gone before. Maybe she was missing Sam…

    1. It certainly would be possible, as well as with Issaquah, there is a lot that we don’t always see because of the vastness and even just with the terrine changes. As you probably have observed as well, you can see horses one minute and then they vanish into what looks to be a flat piece of land! So it could be that they are still very much alive and well out there somewhere!

  7. I hope Chino is just MIA…but I do find it ironic that the last time he was seen is also the birth of another rare buckskin colt (rare on the range) And I am 100% sure he saved Patriot that day and left feeling content like a good days work was done. Maybe he past the flame to the little guy. Either way Chino will be sorely missed if that indeed was the end of his story.

  8. As I was going back and rereading posts on here I realized that the comment I had thought I made at the time this post was originally posted must not have gone through. I hadn’t realized that Ozette may have belonged to Tonopah. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about that foal and who she could have possibly belonged to. I’m still so surprised at her sudden appearance after going unnoticed for so long. Tonopah certainly never seemed to look or feel her age! I agree with you that she must have left things world feeling young and beautiful. I was so sad about Topper Too’s passing just weeks before I made my first trip. I loved the attitude her and her mother shared. When this post was first made I thought that Chino and Hightail might still turn up. Especially Hightail. But now, after all this time, I think they’re gone. The last photo you posted of Chino is my favorite photo of him. He was so handsome! It’s surprising he seemed to be doing really well before suddenly disappearing. But maybe that was how he wanted it. To go out on top with a final grand gesture. I certainly will miss seeing him. Hightail has such an independent nature that I thought maybe she was just off on her own, but it’s been so long now. I’ve thought that Issaquah was gone for a long time now. Writing my recommendations for the 2015 removal I assumed him to be gone. I think it was because him and Hawk were so attached at the hip that when Hawk appeared without him and stayed that way, it wasn’t long before I felt that Issaquah was gone. I felt it really important that La Nina stay as an offspring of Bakken and especially since she was female since with Issaquah gone then Joseph was Bakken’s only other offspring. I was very relieved when La Nina was able to remain. I know every one of these horses will certainly be missed.

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