A Tribute To The Horses That Have Passed in 2016



As we enter the last months of 2016, I felt I needed to do a post on those horses who have passed this year.  It has been a very hard year for those of us who follow the horses.  We have lost some very significant members of the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Herd.  They are and will continue to be missed by all of us.  I found myself looking through more than 30,000 photos that I have taken over the years, trying to find the best photos of each of these horses, something that would give us all a great memory when we hear their name mentioned in the future.

This year there were 11 foals born, 3 of those have died, leaving a total of 8 foals.  Six adult horses have died with a total of horses lost this year of 9, leaving a population growth within the herd of only 2 for 2016. (Although the BLM did not include Chino in last years population loss (I did in my 2015 post on the horses that passed), so with that taken into account, the population growth for the herd for this year would be 1, not 2.)

Below are the photos of those that are no longer with us, listed in alphabetical order.

1. Cloud, born in 1995, son of Raven and Phoenix. Last seen in November of 2015.  What can I say about Cloud?  Wow, this has left a giant hole on the mountain for all of us.  I found myself still expecting him to walk out of the trees by my camp, something he did often, especially in the evenings.  I have had many guest sit and enjoy his presence in the light of the sunset.

It was heartbreaking to witness him loss his band and watch from a distance, clearly in emotional pain of his loss.  He was not one of those stallions who excepted his second bachelorhood with grace.  His family was his life, and the pain of it slowly took his away.

I will miss him, and I don’t believe there will be a single trip that I make to the mountain, that I won’t think of him and all the joy he brought to so many.  He will continue to live on with his offspring and his memory.

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2.  Coronado, born in 1996, son of Raven and Isabella.  Last seen in November 2015 with Cloud.   He was also known as Red Raven by many, Coronado was an amazing and caring stallion.  He lost his band in July of 2014 to the stallion Irial.  He was another stallion who did not take kindly to a second bachelorhood.  For days after he lost his band ( I was there to witness it), he stood alone, barely eating or drinking.  He finally tried to move on, often seen with Cloud in the summer of 2015, but in the end, he too disappeared without a trace.

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3.  Durango, born in 1995, son of Guinvere and Lancelot.  I believe the last time he was seen was in the fall of 2015.   Born in the Dryhead portion of the range, I was fortunate to be able to see him many times.  His coat was an apricot, dun, roan, and his missing half-ear and white ring on his neck (in later years), made him easy to identify.  I am sorry I did not get to spend more time with him, but feel lucky have known him.

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4.  Merlin, born in 1997, son of Guinvere and Lancelot.  He was a beautiful Grullo stallion, living in the Dryhead, and produced some of the finest examples of the Pryor Herd known.  I was particular fond of him because he is the sire of my Valerosa, who I adopted in 2009.  (Valerosa is now living with my good friend Jeanne). 

Merlin survived many wounds, and turned up a few times when some of us thought he may be gone.  A couple of these photos are from Laura Curtis.  Laura really loved Merlin, and I felt she took some of the best photos of him I have seen.  Thank you Laura for letting me use these.

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5.  Sitting Bull, born in 1996 to Guinvere and Lancelot. I believe he was last seen in the spring of 2016.  Sitting Bull was once discribed to me as one of the wildest stallions in the Pryors, and he most certainly lived up to that discription.   He lived in the Dryhead and kept out of sight for most of his life.  He prefered to live with his band, in the lower Sykes area, away from most people and other horses.  Every time I saw him, I considered it a rare gift, and felt very privileged with each sighting.

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6.  Quest, born in the spring of 2016, son of Hataali and Morning Star, he did not live very long.  Cause of death was never known.  The photo below was taken by NPS Bill Picket.


7.  Quietstorm, daughter of Firestorm and Doc.  Born in the early morning of July 14, 2016, right near my campsite.  This little one was discovered by my friend Liz, shortly after I left to head down the mountain.  She was a beautiful little filly and very much loved by her band, especially her brother Okomi.  She disapeared in late September, cause of death is unknown.   The beautiful photos below were taken by Anh, I thought they captured her personality beautifully.

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8.  Quicksilver, son of Audubon and Hamlet, born in mid September, 2016, he disappeared in late September, early October 2016.  Cause of death is unknown.  The below photo was taken by Jack Sterling.


9.  Winnemucca, born in 1987, daughter of Black Star and Konik.  Winnemucca lived to the age of 29, and with that, became the oldest every known Pryor Horse to survive on the range.  She died the end mid-end of September, 2016.  You can read more about her in the post I did on her this past spring.  Click on Winnemucca to read it.  She was an amazing mare, and will be very missed.

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There is one last horse that I am going to list here.  It is a bit early to really make a call on him, but I am publishing these photos in hopes that it will bring attention to him, and perhaps someone will go up  on the mountain and see him and let us all know.  He was last seen in early-mid September.  Fiesta, born in 2005, son of Phoenix and Teton.  He has been with the stallion Horizon for years.  Early on as two bachelors, and then in the past several years, he has acted as a very devoted Sattelite Stallion.

He was the big protector, the one who would step up and fight to protect his little band from whatever and whom ever he saw as a threat.  It is very unusual and odd that he is not with them, and I am worried.  I hope and pray he shows up soon and gives us all some peace.  I love this horse,  I can’t imagine the mountain without him.  Fiesta has made me smile and laugh so many times, I can’t begin to count them.  If anyone spots him, please let me know.

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This year has been a year of loss.  I believe this is the largest loss of horses since the winter of 2010-2011, when 15 horses died.  Next year we will have new life once again to the mountain, the birth of the new foals will help ease the pain of the ones that will no longer be there.  But these horses and the others that have pasted before them, will not be forgot,  their spirits will continue to live on in one of the most beautiful places on earth.  Rest in Peace dear wild ones, I am sure you are looking down and protecting the ones that you love.


Cloud and his son Mica, summer of 2015.




74 thoughts on “A Tribute To The Horses That Have Passed in 2016

  • My heart breaks for you and everyone who goes regularly to the mountain to check the bands and share with us so far away. My heart breaks a little for me, for all the way back east, my spirit horse was Sitting Bull. I didn’t want him to be gone, but I know he has left.

    Every last one will run free across celestial pastures. My we witness them when our time arrives

      • Thank you Sandy, for keeping a tally and explaining what you knew about these special horse’s passing. I am so sad because I’d hoped this would be the year I’d get out of Canada and visit the herd I’ve watched from afar for so many years. Heartbreaking for all–Fiesta was also favorite of mine, too. And Cloud of course–I knew when he didn’t show up in the spring, it was for a reason. 🙁 Maybe in the next life, I’ll see them if not in this one.

    • This is a lovely post and I admire your dedication to the horses. However, you really need to work on editing your writing before you publish. It should be “accepted” not “excepted” and “loose” instead of “lose” at certain points. Also, past is already past-tense, so the world “pasted” doesn’t exist.

      • Thanks for your comment Avid! I write from the heart, and I know that my writing is not perfect. I don’t claim to be a professional writer, just enjoy putting my feelings to paper for others to enjoy.

        I do read my posts over and over before publishing, but as I know others that write have experienced, we don’t always catch our mistakes, even then.


      • If you are going to call someone out on their spelling, you should check yours as well. It is not “loose” – the correct term would be “lose”.

        I think the main point of these posts is to let you know about the horses, which is all anyone really cares about, not whether the text is spelled correctly.

        Thank you Sandy for taking the time to let all of those who love these horses know about them.

  • Beautiful post, Sandy. It is so hard to think of those horses not being there anymore. I will always admire your devotion to this herd. And as always, beautiful photos.

  • Thank you for making this post, summing up the year’s events in sections. This one is hard of course. I’m sad to hear the Dryhead brothers are no longer with us, I had no idea they are gone.
    And I too hope Fiesta will show himself with the bachelors. Perhaps the tension of gaining a new mare caused him to leave. I grew attached to him earlier this summer, too. He will be missed if that is the case; Teton’s line is in need of representation and he looks so much like him.

    • Your welcome Clarissa. I never really realized how much he looked like Teton until just a few years ago. There profiles are almost identical! A very underrepresented line for sure. 😔

  • Thank you for writing this post Sandy, it is beautiful and certainly made me cry. I think it’s so important to honour the horses that are gone by continuing to share their photos and memories. In that sense they live forever as part of this amazing herd.

    Thank you for including so many photos of these horses, too. It was wonderful to look back on photos of them from several stages of their lives.

    Winnemucca was such a special mare and I am so happy I got to spend the time I did with her! I am so glad I was able to meet Cloud last year and so wish I had met Coronado, he was always one of my favourites to read about!! I wish had been able to meet the others, too. It will be strange not looking for updates on these central figures in the herd, and it’s sad to think we will never see a grown Quest, Quietstorm or Quicksilver. Even in their short lives I know they were so loved by their families.

    May all of these horses run forever free and watch over their families below ❤️

  • I know Winnemucca had been seen…and was very thin and frail. I hope that she had an easy passing when that time came.

    Cloud…oh how my heart breaks. But Cloud gave me some wonderful memories that I hold dear to my heart from 2014. How he zoomed back and forth thru camp. By the time we got there, there wasn’t any other horse around…except my plush Alex who was in my tent. I figured that Cloud was mad that Alex wouldn’t come out to greet him. Alex got the up close, in person introduction we all wanted but didn’t get.

    What brings me the most joy is knowing that aside from several roundups and a couple bait traps…Cloud managed to live his life free. I know he HATED roundups…one only has to watch the videos to understand that he knew what was going on. But he managed for most of his life to bring people to an understanding of what freedom and family meant to him. At the same time he almost understood he was a spokes horse for the wild horses.

    My heart aches tonight…from the first moment time I saw Cloud’s picture…he reached in, grabbed my heart and never once gave it back. Wherever you dear boy I hope you have sunny days, green grass and soft footing. May Sitka find you and be your ever faithful companion from now to the end of forever. And someday I hope my heart heals…till then Talulah fills that spot (but I think you knew that)

  • A sad post to read indeed, especially for the little ones who died so young. But the consolation is that they died as they lived, free as the wind. Thank you for the update. I hope someday to visit the Pryors and see the horses for myself.

  • As always, Sandy, beautiful and meaningful photos! Touching post. Thanks for all you have done and continue to do for the horses. And thanks for all you do for those of us who follow this herd. A sad year indeed.

  • Sandy, your memorial for each of the horses that we will be missing expresses the deep love we all feel for them. So many tears, so many memories of time spent with them. Our lives are blessed in so many ways for the time they were here. We were able to share even more of their lives through your blogs and photos. They live on in our hearts forever — loved, wild and free!!

  • Thank you for your lovely post. It is sad. I guess it is rough country for anyone to come across remains to identify so it makes it difficult to have final closure.

  • Almost too sad to read Sandy. Cloud, Cloud, the horse who educated millions about the wild horse.

    I write with tears flowing, and hope the end for all these magnificent horses was kind and quick.

    Thanks to all there who record images and behaviors for those of us who follow.

    Perhaps a calendar of the great wild horses would be appropriate…Diane

  • Beautifully written, you are an amazing spokesperson for the Pryor horses. Your love for them shows through in your posts and tours. I consider myself extremely lucky to have been able to spend time with you in the most sacred and special place I have ever been. Thank you 💕

  • I am very saddened at all the losses…a lot of stallions but more so THREE full brothers! Sitting Bull, Merlin & Durango…I hope they each have a successfully producing offspring. All though full siblings each so different, not only in color but personalities. I really hope the reason for all of these missing stallions is just a simple end of life it just seems to surreal. Maybe (as it has happened before) one or two might just show up again, I feel they all should have had a few more years in them the oldest being 21…compared to Winnemuca at 29…thank you Sandy for your updates although painful they do bring joy knowing they lived free and lived well and hopefully died free.

    • Hi Gina. The average life of a stallion in the wild is approximately 19 years old. They have a much tougher life of fighting and defending their bands. Winnemucca along with Tonapah, who lived to be 28, are the very rare exceptions. Although the mares typically live longer than the stallions. Unfortunately theses next few years are going to be tough, as several of the key stallions on the mountain are approaching that age.

  • Tough to see that list. This current generation of mustangs that are slowly leaving us, are the noble beauties and wonderful personalities I’ve fallen in love with over the last 12 years. Going to really miss them.
    Heart wrenching to see what I considered the mainstays pass on.
    Happy they were able to live thier whole lives on the range. Excited to watch the new guard come up.
    I know it’s not looking good, but I’m still holding out hope for Fiesta, the fearless clown prince of the Pryors.
    Great post as usual Sandy.

    • Thanks Scott! I missed seeing you and Kim on the mountain this summer. I hope we can connect next year. What a great description of Fiesta, I like that: Fearless Clown Prince of the Pryors. I am holding on to hope about Fiesta too. I can’t imagine the mountain without him. And he is way to young to go….

  • I’ve been hanging on all summer waiting for a Any word of Cloud. Following all his adventures was rewarding. This is the first time that I’ve notice any information on Cloud. And it is his obituary

  • The emotional hart broke feeling of why can the BLM keep getting away and being aloud to continue murdering history of the USA This has to be and needs to be put to a stop🐎🐎 RIP Thank you so much for sharing this post and pictures

    • Hi Rhonda, thank you for your comment. We are lucky here in the Pryors to have a good group of people working for us in the BLM. I feel fortunate that they take our thoughts and input to consideration when they make their decisions for this herd.

  • I will miss Cloud. He was the reason I started following the wild horses. I know all their spirits will always be alive on the Pryors.

  • Sandy,

    I am so saddened reading your passing post. Have the remains to Cloud been found or is he just still missing with no sightings? I want to believe that he is undercover and still alive. I enjoy your blog , pictures and posts. I live my wild horse journey through you and Ginger. Keep up the great work. God Bless!


    • Hi Renee, Thank you for your kind words!! Clouds remains have not been found along with about 90% of all other horses that die on the mountain. I think they want it to be that way. The rule adapted by the BLM and Center is that if a horse is not seen for 1 year, he is considered to be deceased. I would happily make a post sharing that he is still alive, but realistically, I don’t believe that to be the case.

  • Sandy,
    Beautiful tribute post! I am still reeling from the loss of this year–and we haven’t even gone into winter yet . . . I am saying my prayers for Fiesta and keeping positive thoughts. Thank you for sharing all your gorgeous photos and representing each one of these special souls!

    • Thank you Liz! I am also hoping Fiesta will turn up, I would love to make a post about that!! I have really enjoyed spending time with you on the range and I am looking forward to many, many more times!

  • Thank You for sharing your stories and Photos. May all those that have passed, R.I.P., and never be firgotten.

  • Thanks for helping keep me up to date. I am surprised if Fiesta is really dead. I hope he found a mare or become a bachelor. He is such a strong stallion, he could have his own band. It makes me feel bad for him when he seems content to be a satellite stallion. I will miss all of them, especially Quicksilver. I wanted to see that foal so bad. He was so pretty.

  • To all the Angels who watch over the Pryor Mountain Horses, I would like to tell you all how significant each story you’ve told us has been important. Yes,
    Cloud was a favorite and I thought as you did. His survival depended on his herd, mares and offspring. I do believe he died of heartbreak, nothings’ worse then that. The legacy he leaves, however stamps his genes fair and square. In time we will see how miraculous his impact is, as if he never left. The Spirit of Cloud will show us all the way….. Happy Holidays to all …Ellen Brayshaw

  • Speechless!!! Saw Cloud 2012 in small group. It was my trip of a lifetime!! So close to him I could have pet him. In fact, many I photographed are gone. Thank you for updates and keeping hopes of their freedom. I really think Cloud should have a memorial with his picture and small script of his quest to live free. I will always have fondness for the wild!!

  • Love this post Sandy, even tho the subject matter is disheartening. I’ve also been wondering if anyone has mentioned seeing Issaquah. I don’t recall seeing anything for a long time. Unfortunately, I was only able to view the one pic of Kitalpha—don’t know why. Looking forward to crossing paths on the mountain next time I get out to the Range. Thanks for the post.

  • I too lost my beloved OTTB rescue to cancer 2016 left a huge hole in my heart. I have been looking for Cloud. Have a poster of him in my tack room. With a heavy heart I realize God calls all our horses home.

    • Only a small number of horses bodies are ever found. The range is 38 thousand acres of rugged wilderness. Unless a body is discovered right away, the remains quickly disappear from predators feeding on them. No, I do not believe any one is taking them.

  • Such dedication and devotion you have given these beautiful free wild horses I have come to know and love each and everyone. Those that have passed will surely be missed but life goes on and in their offspring we will see them. Keeping them free is the most important thing we can do for them. Your such a wonderful person sharing their lives with us some of us would have never known if hadn’t been for you and those like you sharing them with us in the wild. The roundups break my heart the uncaring cruelty bestowed on those caught is unforgivable so many times I wanted the copter to meet the ground, it hasn’t so the roundups continue is a shame. Thank you so very much for the up dates on those surviving and those that have not. I hope you and the others continue I know it’s not easy but its so heartwarming to follow with you God bless you and the others keep up the good work.

  • Hello,

    I was reading your current newsletter, which is wonderful and beautiful. I realized I didn’t know if Cloud was still alive or not, so I went googling around. I’m sorry to read here that he has probably passed away. And all these other beautiful horses. How lucky you are to get to know them and spend time in their presence. What a gift. When you say the horse has ‘disappeared’, what do you think has happened? Do you ever find their bodies? I’m sorry if that is a morbid question, but I’m curious. I remember seeing the story on PBS about Cloud years ago. It made a big impression and has stayed with me. Thank you for your work especially protecting these bands from the BLM and bringing the issues to the public awareness.

  • Sandy bless you from your heart and post. As my tears fall across my cheeks I know I am ‘Blessed’ for have seen and know this beautiful horses for a long time.

    ‘May your days be full of sunshine, your nights full of stars and the wind always be at your back.’

    Thanks for being you!

    Sue Dayley

  • i love the pictures i love the whole story on cloud i love horses ..the horses that died unknow if they were caught and gave what u said the hornmone shot i bet it was to kill the horse or make the baby sick so it would not make it ..it probably was not a hornmone shot why would they give horses a shot to make more if they were tryin to get rid of them …THE BLM MAKES ME SO PISSED OFF THERE MORE SAFE RUNNING FREE LIKE GOD WANTED THEM TO

  • Two of those horses look like they have very pronounced veins on their bellies. I was reading up on heart failure in cows and that was one of the symptoms. I’m wondering if it is the same for horses and that these horses simply developed heart disease in their old age and passed on a quiet, natural end.

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