I met Laura Curtis and her husband John last summer. They both were guests of mine on a day tour. This year I will no longer be giving day tours (only camping), but I made an exception for Laura, and probably always will.
Laura (and John) make the trip from Colorado several times a year, driving up the Dryhead to see the horses. They were just here just last week and I asked if she would mind sharing some of her beautiful photos. Here are the ones she sent. Thank you so much Laura!
Every morning, we would make a trip up the Dryhead before heading up the mountain. It seems I have had my best luck finding horses in the Dryhead in the early morning. Each day we were able to see several. I was especially happy to see so much of Hidatsa and Johnston. Hidatsa is the full brother to Valerosa, one of the Pryor Horses I adopted in 2009.
Below is the collection of photos I took over the many days that we visited the Dryhead.
The first morning we were treated to a Mustang Flat bachelor run! Fiero was in the mix, I am not sure what was going on with that. But it seems Fiero has to be one of the most ever-changing stallions in the Dryhead, taking the place of a now stable acting Blizzard.
I am pretty sure the horses were: Hidatsa, Johnston, Seattle, Isaquah, Joseph and Fiero.
Another highlight of one of our morning trips was finally being able to see the last foal born in 2013. Bakkens filly Nina, born in mid-late September, 2013. It was good to see she made it through the winter and looked so healthy!
While we watched Nina, Blizzard, Blizzard noticed Fiero approaching. I believe Fiero was going his own way, minding his own business, but then happened to be in the line of fire. I could almost see the “opps” look on his face when he came around a bush and was near Blizzard and his band.
Fiero was last sighted with Strawberry, Sacajewa and her new foal. But today, they were no where in sight.
Sacajewa has always been a very independent mare, heading off where ever and when ever she pleases. Strawberry is the same way. So I am betting they were together somewhere off away from all the bachelor games.
Another morning we caught a sleeping Hidatsa and Johnston right by the road. We took a few photos and left them to their nap. They never made a move while we photographed them.
The next morning we got to see some action from these same boys. I noticed in one of the photos that Johnston had a pretty ugly-looking scare on his left back leg.
During this trip, we were able to see 29 Dryhead horses, including the Dryhead horses that we saw many miles up Sykes.
My next post will be more on our other Burnt Timber Days.
The next day, Monday was as different a day as it could get from the warm, clear day before. This day brought wind and clouds. We got up early to check out the radar before deciding what to do.
After looking at the radar, we decided we had some time before the snow hit. But heading up Sykes or even Burnt Timber with the impending storm, would not be a wise thing to do. We decided to head up the Dryhead.
I knew that Nancy (PMWMC) had hiked the Dryhead area and found Bakken the day before. I texted Nancy to ask for directions. Nancy texted me back and let me know where to possibly find them. (Thank you Nancy!). It was where I thought, the Layout Creek area. I had never hiked this area and was looking forward to exploring there.
The day before we were in T-shirts and Jeans for part of the day. Today, we had jeans, insulated wind pants, jacket, scarves, hats and a wind breaker jacket on. And, we were not the least bit hot while hiking, (or cold!!).
There were plenty of tracks (and some tiny ones too!). I knew we were on the right trail. The beauty of this area was incredible, I am sure I said it out loud several times.
The wind was picking up and I could see the storm getting closer, but we knew, even if it snowed hard, we could find our way back to the truck. So we continued down the well worn path.
We continued hiking until we got to the part of the trail where it became only about 10 feet from the edge to the drop-off of the Bighorn Canyon. No protective rails were here! With the wind increasing in speed and the snow starting to come down, we decided it was not safe to go any further. We reluctantly turned around. Without finding horses.
By the time we were almost to the truck, the wind was gusting hard enough to make us weave in our tracks. I decided to take a short detour and go down to Layout Creek. It was more protected there and I wanted to see how much water was still in it.
We were glad to reach the warmth and protection of the truck. No horses were seen this day. I was grateful for those I had seen on this trip. There is always next time.
The next day, we would be leaving and I would be heading for The University of Montana/Western, in Dillon, Montana. I was scheduled to present a slide show and talk about the Pryor Horses to the students and faculty of the Equine Programs (Natural Horsemanship) and also some local horse folks. I was looking forward to it. I enjoy sharing my photos and knowledge with those that do not know about these horses.
Bakken has finally had her foal or finally someone has spotted her with her foal!! It is a filly. Thank you Cass from NPS for providing the extra photo on this page.
This is from Bighorn Canyon National Recreation’s Facebook page:
We have big news today here at Bighorn Canyon NRA. Bakken has been seen with her new late-season foal. This image was captured by one of our remote cameras just this morning! Alongside Bakken were Blizzard and Strawberry. Congrats to the whole herd!
The clouds and radar said there was a storm coming. The weather warning confirmed it. But around 5 we decided to take our chances and head up the Dryhead. It looked like some of the rain had passed.
I never know who I will see when I head up the Dryhead. I was pretty confident we would see The Greeters, and I was not disappointed. They were much further up the road than I have ever seen them. Almost to the cattle guard just before Devils Canyon overlook.
Missing from The Greeters group since I last saw them was Jesse James. It was a bit strange to only see the three together.
We continued down the road just a short way when we came around a bend and there we saw Blizzard with his four mares. Strawberry, Bakken, Cascade and Sacajewa. Sacajewa was a new addition to this band since I had last seen them 10 miles up Sykes in April. Blizzard was doing a great job holding his band together. I wondered how long it would last now that he is down were there are so many bachelors.
We stood and watched them for several minutes while they enjoyed the mud puddle that looked like it had formed just earlier this evening.
After several minutes playing in the water they headed down the road and we went the opposite way.
Next was Fiero, alone again, just like I have seen him the last several times. He looked great as always.
Another storm was coming and we stayed in the truck as the rain started to come and the lightening flashed around us.
Fiero seemed unconcerned with the rain and wind. We left him to his grazing.
By now it was pouring raining, but far off on Mustang Flats I spotted 3 more horses. They were: Hawk, Issaquah and Joseph. We watched them for a short time through binoculars.
Continuing down the road the opposite way I saw Blizzard again up on the side of a steep hill, his mares just down from him. Wondering why he was so far up the steep hill, I glanced up and saw Merlin and Kemmerer just above him. They stayed for only a few minutes before they acted as if they were leaving. I have a feeling some changes may occur with Blizzards band soon.
We head up the morning right after sun rise.
I have heard that Crooked Creek road may be washed out in a few places. I don’t think I want to find out for sure, so I won’t be going up that way tomorrow morning. Burnt Timber was another option, but it seems that may not be good either . Unless I hear otherwise, it looks like my road of choice is going to be Sage Creek. Not only my only other choice, but probably the safest with the amount of rain that has come down. I will keep you posted.
I always love good news about the horses, and yesterday Lori gave me some. She had spotted Seattle! He had not been seen for a while. He looks really good. Heavier than I have seen him in a while.
I head to the top of the mountain soon for the first camping trip of the year! I am so looking forward to it. My daughter Amber will be joining me. Lori and Brianna will be joining us to for a couple days too! Linda Dombeck is planning on joining us on the last day there. It will be a great time with the horses and good friends.
Thank you for the report Lori!
I decided to take a trip out to the range as I have not been out there for a couple of weeks.
I was so happy that I did because I found Seattle, who I have not seen since last fall. I was beginning to wonder if something had happened to him, or if he had survived through the winter. He was out on Mustang Flats and alone.
Seattle is one stallion who appears and disappears. He is very elusive, shy and is very protective of his harem and offspring. I felt happy and relieved that I was lucky enough to find him, yet sad that he was alone. He has always been thin, and also has the scars to prove just how tough he is. I am hoping that he will win back Sacajawea this summer.
Another pleasant surprise was just around the bend. I saw Merlin and his son Fiero. They had just come from Layout Creek where there is plenty of water for the horses. This creek is at the very north end of the range. They both looked to be in good shape. I spent some time with them and then they walked off heading out of view. I felt blessed to have seen these two and especially together. I don’t think I have ever seen them together.
I did see the Greeters, minus Jesse James. I am thinking that maybe Hickok told him it was time to grow up and find his own band. Last year he and Hickok would come and go from Seneca and Hightail. If this is a permanent thing then I sure hope that Jesse James can find his own place in the herd and win a mare. I would love to see Admiral and Sam’s bloodline passed on through Jesse James.
I kept on looking for him as I drove through the range but never did see him. Maybe he is over on Sykes where there are more mares to win. So far this year I have not seen one mare at all in the DH. I have seen only bachelors.
I hope for the day when there are more horses, (mares, foals and stallions) on the Dry Head. The balance of males and females is definitely off. It would be a wonderful experience for the people who come many miles to view this herd, if they were able see more horses and have the chance to observe the family life of these special horses.
Most mornings and all evenings we would drive up the Dryhead to see who we could see. On this trip we would see 27 of the 39 Dryhead Horses, 9 of those would be seen in the Dryhead. The rest of the Dryhead horses that I saw were up on Sykes Ridge. You can read about that day by clicking on SYKES. Here are some of the photos I took while in the Dryhead. We saw more Bighorn Sheep and Mule Deer in the Dryhead area than we saw horses.
We saw 73 mountain horses plus 9 unidentified horses (maybe another foal!), which I will add to the total here. Total mountain horses: 82.
Total Horses: 109. It was a great trip! Of course there were other horses I would have loved to have seen. But considering the time of year, I felt this trip was very successful. Anh and I were both happy and discovering 3 new foals, just made it all the more special!
Lori went out to the Dryhead on Saturday. Here is her report! Thanks so much Lori!
I went out to the range on Saturday, and I am glad that I went early because it rained this afternoon, and the Pryor’s got some MUCH needed moisture. It snowed on the Pryor’s, but I am sure it rained down in the lower elevations.
I saw the greeters, and Hightail looks a little bit better than last I saw her. Maybe she is finding some of the newer forage to eat and she seems to have more spunk.
They were near the road and all together, unlike the last time I saw them when Hightail was all alone away from the band. This is a good sign that she is keeping up with her family. I stopped and took some photos, and then Hickok decided that they should all move. I watched them for awhile, but they clearly did not want me there, and so I left.
The next horses that I saw were out on Mustang Flats. They were far away so I hiked out to them, but not too close. It was Hidatsa, Johnston and Chief Joseph. I just stood there with them for awhile and unlike the Greeters they did not seem to mind me there at all. They look a bit thin but nothing to worry about and now they are starting to have some new forage to eat. That is what they did the whole time I was there with them. I have a thing for Hidatsa as I have known him for quite some time now.
I decided, after some time that I would just let them be and started to walk back to my vehicle when I noticed a dark head pop-up from behind some bushes. It was Hawk, another one of my bud’s out there on the Dry Head. He was very alert and kept on watching me. I did not want to disturb him as he seemed very intense in who and what I was. It was a meeting I was very happy to have with him as I have not seen him close up for quite awhile. I said hello & goodbye and thanked him for showing himself to me. He is a beautiful stallion and I wish that there were more mares out there for some of these bachelors.
I hiked back to the car and went on my way to the end of the range. I decided to go into Ewing-Snell and see if the creek was running and it was.
I think that there is water in the Layout Creek now. I got my binoculars out and saw one lone black horse way out on the range. I could not tell at all who it was, but am thinking maybe it was either Seattle or Issaquah. I have not seen Seattle in a long time and wonder how he is and if he is still has Sacajawea.
There were some mule deer down by the creek and I tried to not alarm them, but they saw me and started to move away form the creek. I quietly got back into my car and left as they watched me. They seemed to be calm and not running away. There were about twenty of them.
I drove back through but did not see anyone else. I was blessed though, as I did get to spend time with some of the wild ones. It was a good day.
I hope I start seeing more of the horses soon. Last year I saw more of the horses in April. They must know something that I don’t.
I spent time today with Liesl and Kaibab….they are so cute and doing real good. After I fed them their good stuff, they were playing with their dishes, and so it gave me an idea to bring them a toy!
I brought them a big red ball to play with. Liesl found the part of it so that she could pick it up. They made me laugh and as always give my heart a burst of love.
I finally got to go out to the range and visited with Liesl & Kaibab after about 2 1/2 weeks of fighting off the flu.
I missed Liesl & Kaibab so much and I really believe that they missed me too! Of course I missed going out to the range even though there are not too many horses out on the Dry Head yet, but I did see more “signs” of the horses throughout the range.
The first horses I saw were the greeters, but only Jesse James & Hickok. I think that Seneca and Hightail were on the other side of the ridge and from where I was I could not see them. But I did see them on my way out.
Hightail was pretty far away from the others and she does not look too good. She looked thin to me and a bit on the scraggly side. I am worried for her, but then again she is, after all 24 years old. Maybe the spring forage will get her looking and feeling better. I sure hope so. The others looked ok and I am not worried for them as I am for Hightail. As always, it was good to see them and I hope that the little bit of rain we got overnight will start to green things up on the range.
I saw who I think was Hawk & Issaquah out near Mustang Flat, but they were very far away and the pictures that I took had the darn power lines in them. I could not find a better place to get any photo’s without the power lines. But I am almost sure it was Hawk & his half-brother, Issaquah.
I had to get my binoculars out when I saw one lone black horse very far out on Mustang Flat. I could not tell who it was and I could not even get a decent photo. It could have been Seattle and maybe Sacajawea & Kemmerer were nearby in the scrub, but I am not sure of that.
I will be going out to the range again in the next day or so and I hope Brianna will join me. Maybe we will see more of the Dry Head horses!
Speaking of Brianna; (sorry Brianna but I have to brag on you a bit about this!) Brianna received a gold medal for a State Star Event, “Promote and Publicize FCCLA.” The convention took place in Cheyenne, and this qualifies her to go to the National convention in Nashville, Tennessee July 6-11. I believe that if you get on the Lovell Chronicle website you can read about it there.
Her project was about the Pryor Mountain Wild Horses.
Congratulations Brianna, and I hope you can raise the funds to go to the National’s. You deserve it!!!!
Thank you Lori! I am so glad you are feeling better!
Congratulations Brianna! That is so great and we are so proud of you! I hope you are able to go too and I hope my little bit can help you get there!!! 🙂
We still had some light left in the day, so once we loaded the ATV back up in the truck we decided to take a trip up the Dryhead. This time of year seems to be really hard to spot horses in the Dryhead. I can count the many times I have gone up there in February and March and only see a few horses. I do believe they will be showing up down there again soon, but right now, it is very hard to see them. I saw a few today, way up on Sykes from my view on Burnt Timber.
Of course, it seems the ever faithful Greeters are always in the same area. I wondered if they ever moved much. They all looked really good, so they must be getting plenty of forage in the areas that they visit.
Today they were right by the road and I was finally able to get a good photo of Jesse James. It always seemed that he would move off and never really wanted to look at me. But today, he seemed confident and at ease with our presents. I thought perhaps it was his age now. He will be 4 this year.
Hightail was in the brush and too busy eating to even turn our way.
Seneca and Hickok had moved on the other side of the trees, so we were able to get a few photos of them.
We stayed for a few minutes and then slowy drove the length of the Dryhead paved road without seeing another horse.
When we returned to the entrance of the range, the Greeters were still there. I said goodbye and we left the range.
We decided to stop by the Center and see how Kiabab and Liesl were doing. Liesl immediately came up to the fence and stuck her head through for me to pet her. She took her sweet little nose and rubbed it in my hand. I really think she remembered me. She loved the attention. Kiabab was a bit more reserved and came up, but not close. I should have changed lens, but did not and was just able to get a couple good photos. They both look great.
They were both interested in watching the horses across the road. There were people riding them and a new foal too. So after a few minutes we said goodbye.
I also will add that I drove by Jalisco and Jumping Badger everyday. They both look great. They are out in a big pasture now with a few other horses. It was good to be able to see them both, especially Jalisco.
I will be back again next month. By then I am hoping to see some of the first foals on the range!